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Tuesday, 16 May 2017

Is Reform.uk think tank a charity abiding by the rules, or a non-executive arm of privatising government?

Reform.uk home page rolling billboard messaging presents very mixed messaging!

The above 'screen capture' image is taken from the 'rolling top and bottom billboards' presentations that make up the bulk of the current home page of the 'think tank' Reform.uk.(1) I would argue that the messaging presented by the upper and lower 'billboards' shown in the above 'screen capture' image presents so much contrast as to be hypocritical.

I am reminded of what I recall an American singer-songwriter of the 'topical' or 'protest singer' gendre saying/writiting once of those whose standpoints he opposed: "You don't have to satirise them; you merely have to quote them."

Clashing billboard messaging

As indicated by the red dot at the bottom right of the 'upper billboard' in the above screen capture image, the 'upper billboard' message is the third of three. (The first and second of those 'upper billboard' screen captures are recruiting adverts for the organisation.) The upper billboard message shown reads:
As a charity, Reform will not be publishing or tweeting anything until after the general election.
Yet the lower billboard would seem to present this 'charity' as a non-executive arm of a privatising government:
I think Reform has made some very, very important arguments, which have really helped us as Ministers, who are trying to enact those very reforms.
Rt Hon. Jeremy Hunt, Secretary of State for Health

Global Corporate Private Sector involvement in a UK 'charity'

Priding itself as a 'charity abiding by charity status rules' regarding involvement in a UK General Election, Reform.uk still prides itself as being exactly in harmony with the 2015/17 government's agenda. Indeed, all the lower billboard statements on offer are sourced from Tory Government Ministers.(2) I further observe that the changes in the messages from government ministers shown has changed since I did screen captures of that home page on 27 April for Kwug Blog has functioned as providing more than a static-in-time home page.(3) Looking further into to the Reform.uk content, there is an item on The future of public services: digital jobcentres, as presented by Accenture, a global corporation.(4) Accenture's branding 'strap line' is 'High Performance. Delivered'.

Screen capture of the cover page of Accenture's report for Reform.uk
'The future of public services: digital jobcentres


So, what have Accenture previously delivered to us or their clients? To answer that question, I refer my readers to the previous Kwug Blog post, Terms and conditions in 'too commercially sensitive for public access' contracts between government and corporations.(5)

That earlier Kwug Blog post reveals that in late 2011, a 'Con-Dem' government awarded the primary contractor in building the 'customer facing systems' for Universal Credit [sic] to Accenture! "High performance. Delivered"? What were they contracted to do? Discourage claiming?(6)

Conclusion: If Reform.uk is a charity, what is Charity?

So, to sum up, given
if Reform.uk is a charity, what has Charity got to do with it? Maybe it's more to do with tax breaks and a love-in between corporate privatisers of public services and right wing government?

By Dude Swheatie of Kwug

Link references

  1. http://www.reform.uk/
  2. http://www.reform.uk/ browsed on Tuesday, 16 May 2017 
  3. http://kilburnunemployed.blogspot.co.uk/2017/04/revisiting-kwug-blogs-2015-uk-general-election-posting-pollsters-vision-excludes-those-offline.html
  4. http://www.reform.uk/wp-content/uploads/2016/07/The-future-of-public-services-digital-jobcentres.pdf
  5. http://kilburnunemployed.blogspot.co.uk/2016/08/terms-and-conditions-in-too-commercially-sensitive-for-public-access-contracts-between-government-departments-and-corporations.html
  6. http://kilburnunemployed.blogspot.co.uk/2017/05/us-workfare-monger-laurence-meads-work-makes-you-free-impact-on-uk-welfare-reform.html (Sorry for the accidental misspelling of Lawrence Mead's forename in that page address)
  7. http://kilburnunemployed.blogspot.co.uk/2017/04/let-us-not-help-theresa-may-bury-bad-news-about-universal-credit-rollout-suicides-and-homelessness-under-a-brexit-general-election.html
  8. http://kilburnunemployed.blogspot.co.uk/2017/04/terra-firma-benefits-services-closures-leave-the-economically-vulnerable-in-the-lurch.html

Monday, 15 May 2017

The Top 10 Kwug Blog Posts for the past month

Entry
Pageviews
24 Apr 2017

339
19 Jan 2017

304
17 Apr 2017, 1 comment

265
18 Apr 2017

237
27 Apr 2017
236
29 Apr 2017

206
6 May 2017

194
20 Dec 2016

191
7 May 2017

171
4 May 2017
157

Multi-millionaire to give money to pro-Brexit Tories. What's in it for him?

Jeremy Hosking, a London asset manager and Conservative Party donor, spent £1.7m ($2.19m) on the Vote Leave campaign and has vowed to funnel cash to Tory candidates who will not oppose Brexit.

He told the Observer that he wanted to give Prime Minister Theresa May "an army" of pro-Brexit MPs that was "fully equipped and as big as possible".

He will target constituencies where most voters backed Brexit, but which are currently represented by an MP that favoured Remain, offering upto £5,000 per candidate. With nearly 140 such constituencies, Hosking could end up spending close to £700,000 on the campaign.
 As an 'asset manager', he would consider it an investment to help make him and his clients much more wealthy.

But does he give a shit about public service workers at the front line of public service delivery such as paramedics on 1% pay increases who put their lives on the line for £12.35/hr in saving lives?(2)

Some 'give' more money than others make in a lifetime to make themselves and their clients more wealthy. Others give their lives to public service.

Link references

  1. https://uk.yahoo.com/news/millionaire-brexiteer-launches-bid-oust-113103244.html
  2. https://tompride.wordpress.com/2017/04/28/desperately-underpaid-paramedic-tells-theresa-may-ive-seen-things-no-one-should-have-to-witness/

Sunday, 14 May 2017

US evangelist Lawrence Mead's 'work makes you free' impact on UK welfare reform policies

Lawrence M Mead
“In my interviews with state officials [in the US] they did not blink about putting men in prison to enforce a work requirement,” says Lawrence M Mead. Photograph: Graeme Robertson
(Kwug Blog editor apologises for accidental misspelling of Mead's forename in the address for this Web page.)

In a recent Kwug Blog post I referred to my attendance on Monday 8 May at the book launch for Prof. Guy Standing's book, Basic Income: And How We Can Make It Happen.(1) I now turn briefly to flagging up a reference Guy made to the influence of Lawrence Mead on the ideas and strategies of now former Work & Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith and David Cameron from as far back as 2007.(2)

Mead's overriding message: "Make it harder for people to claim," reported Guy Standing.

This blog post is intended more as a reference source than an 'article'. I shall close it with reference to a blog post I wrote from dire personal experience that the British Broadcasting Corporation never properly reported on but that was far more widespread than the 2007 Blairite Government would have liked to have flagged up: Benefit claimants require firmer safeguards, not tougher sanctions.(3)

Since then, we have had introduction of food stamps as decreed by Lawrence Mead the evangelist of a 'despise thy claimant' theology.(4)

Laurence Mead: "Hitler was non-democratic, whereas work requirements claim a popular mandate."

I close this blog post with the closing paragraphs of the Guardian Society article Does getting tough on the unemployed work?(5)
The key intellectual insight for Mead when he began his assault on the American welfare state was that what changed behaviour was not economic incentives but tough government talking. "It was authoritative statements from people in authority that mattered. We should not [incentivise people] to work. We hope [they will]. We say it because you are supposed to do it, we expect you to do it."

Such sentiments have a whiff of 1930s Germany, something the Twittersphere buzzed with when welfare secretary Iain Duncan Smith said: "Work makes you free" – the same words hung over the entrance to the Auschwitz concentration camp. "I have faced this accusation," says Mead. "Hitler was non-democratic, whereas work requirements claim a popular mandate. There is something wrong when because of fascism we have to solve every problem with freedom and benefits."
In the wake of another Tory victory, would Theresa May claim a 'popular mandate' for the Gospel according to Lawrence Mead?


"Arbeit macht frei" — the German for
"work makes you free"

By Dude Swheatie of Kwug

Link references

  1. http://kilburnunemployed.blogspot.co.uk/2017/05/universal-credit-application-processes-bleed-claimants-dry-simplicity-of-basic-income-application-processes-revives.html
  2. https://uk.search.yahoo.com/yhs/search;_ylt=A7x9Ukn3cRhZaEoAKjeP3olQ;_ylc=X1MDMTM1MTIxMjY4NwRfcgMyBGZyA3locy1tb3ppbGxhLTEwMARncHJpZAM4al95U19YelFyV3FyWU1tS0ZqV0ZBBG5fcnNsdAMwBG5fc3VnZwMwBG9yaWdpbgN1ay5zZWFyY2gueWFob28uY29tBHBvcwMwBHBxc3RyAwRwcXN0cmwDBHFzdHJsAzUxBHF1ZXJ5AyUyMmxhdXJlbmNlJTIwbWVhZCUyMiUyMCUyMmlhaW4lMjBkdW5jYW4lMjBzbWl0aCUyMgR0X3N0bXADMTQ5NDc3NTIwOQ--?p=%22laurence+mead%22+%22iain+duncan+smith%22&fr2=sb-top-uk.search&hspart=mozilla&hsimp=yhs-100&type=newtab
  3. http://kilburnunemployed.blogspot.co.uk/2016/07/benefit-claimants-require-firmer-safegards-not-tougher-sanctions.html 
  4. https://www.theguardian.com/society/2010/jun/16/lawrence-mead-tough-us-welfare-unemployed
  5. https://www.theguardian.com/society/2010/jun/16/lawrence-mead-tough-us-welfare-unemployed
  6. https://tse3.mm.bing.net/th?id=OIP.TXIkYO_C3vKprrqbIq501QEsDB&pid=15.1&P=0&w=241&h=157

Saturday, 13 May 2017

Ask well-informed questions of candidates while government bodies still gather the statistics!

Richard Osley of Camden New Journal and Islington Tribune writes in the Islington Tribune:

No mistakes: Justice Secretary Liz Truss can’t think of a single error made by Tory government (1)


JUSTICE Secretary Liz Truss was stumped today when the New Journal asked her if the Conservatives had made any mistakes at all in government since the last general election.

With cabinet members arriving in the target constituency of Hampstead and Kilburn at a rate of one every four days since Theresa May called a snap election, Ms Truss was in West Hampstead this afternoon (Thursday) to help with the local Conservative campaign aiming to unseat Labour’s Tulip Siddiq.

After rolling off a list of achievements and insisting that, despite her role in the Remain campaign, that her party had been right to call a national referendum on EU membership, the New Journal asked the simple question as to whether she could think of any mistake the government had made over the last two years.

She paused, looked surprised by the question, and then replied: “Well, I think given where we were as a country, given what we inherited in 2010, which was a country with serious financial problems, I think we’ve done a very good job in getting us back into a better position. We have record levels of employment, we’ve got more children in good and outstanding schools, we are putting more money into the NHS and that’s what people want to see....”

Perhaps that phrase ".... and that's what people want to see...." is the most telling piece of her speel, given the new policy of the Department for Work & Pensions closing jobcentres without a consultation of service users, and saying that closing jobcentres will 'improve the service'?(2) Her Party does not want the people who are not in regular 'nine-to-five' employment to be seen to expose the lies and statistical manipulations involved in her 'record levels of employment' vision that masks the misery of zero hours contracts and sanctions.

As William Davies writes of Tory leader yet to be mandated as Prime Minister, Theresa May: Theresa May's Vapid Vision for a One-Party State: (3)
.... The prime minister’s rhetoric since calling the general election has implied that the best outcome for “the national interest” would be to eradicate opposition altogether, whether that be in the news media, Parliament or the judiciary....
Elsewhere, the non-party-political Revd Paul Nicolson of Taxpayers Against Poverty writes:

Questions for all Parliamentary Candidates;
Each question should be prefaced with

IS IT FAIR…

The NHS has reported that over 7300 people were admitted to hospital with malnutrition in 2014/15. Up 50% in the four years since 2010? http://taxpayersagainstpoverty.org.uk/news/food-bank-britain-amid

That the Office for National Statistics has revealed an unprecedented increase in deaths in 2015 after decades of improvement? http://www.theactuary.com/news/2017/03/an-unprecedented-rise-in-uk-deaths-will-see-life-expectancy-fall/

That the regressive impact of the market and austerity has damaged the health and wellbeing of millions of citizens since 1979 and in particular since 2010?http://taxpayersagainstpoverty.org.uk/news/tap-health-equality-campaign-of-9-blogs-against-a-national-disgrace-we-publ

That because rents are rising faster than incomes The Resolution Foundation has forecast ​ever ​lower incomes after housing costs reducing by 16% for the poorest citizens over the next four years while the highest incomes rise 4%? http://www.resolutionfoundation.org/app/uploads/2017/01/Audit-2017.pdf

That Income Support, Employment Support Allowance and Jobseekers Allowance all at £73.10pw and Universal Credit of £317pm are too low live on AND have to pay rent due to the bedroom tax and council tax http://taxpayersagainstpoverty.org.uk/news/the-great-injustice-in-cutting-esa-by-30-a-wee

That given what we know about the physical and emotional costs of moving house, the vulnerability of children’s education to frequent moves and the disruption to schooling and social networks, that councils are demolishing council estates rather than maintaining them?  http://www.urban.org/sites/default/files/publication/25331/412554-Housing-as-a-Platform-for-Improving-Education-Outcomes-among-Low-Income-Children.PDF

​To allow the UK to sleepwalk into a proliferation of insecure work which is short sighted, damages health and costs the taxpayers? http://taxpayersagainstpoverty.org.uk/news/allowing-uk-to-sleepwalk

In 2010 it was estimated that inequalities in health accounted for productivity losses of £31-£33 billion per year, and £20-£32 billion a year in lost taxes and higher welfare payments.  Additional NHS healthcare costs associated with inequality were estimated to be in excess of £5.5 billion a year?  http://taxpayersagainstpoverty.org.uk/news/health-inequalities-004
Rev Paul Nicolson
Those questions are based on official statistics that no doubt Justice Secretary Theresa May, Prime Minister Theresa May etc would rather have the public not see. So I would say, grab every opportunity you can! Ask those questions of candidates and highlight those statistical realities.

Otherwise, those who have landed Britain in such a mess in the name of 'austerity' and the reality of making economically vulnerable people subject to the bankers' debt, will abolish the requirement and budgeting for official bodies to gather the relevant statistics.


Successful legal challenges embarrass the abusers of vulnerable people in a very unequal and divided Britain, and so do the statistics resulting from a legal system designed and equipped to challenge injustice rather than perpetuate injustice.

Link References


  1. http://islingtontribune.com/article/no-mistakes-justice-secretary-liz-truss-cant-think-of-a-single-error-made-by-tory-government
  2. http://kilburnunemployed.blogspot.co.uk/2017/04/terra-firma-benefits-services-closures-leave-the-economically-vulnerable-in-the-lurch.html 
  3. https://www.nytimes.com/2017/05/11/opinion/theresa-mays-vapid-vision-for-a-one-party-state.html
  4. http://taxpayersagainstpoverty.org.uk/news/question-candidate-mps-more-deaths
  5. http://kilburnunemployed.blogspot.co.uk/search?q=Ministry+of+Justice

Friday, 12 May 2017

Universal Credit application processes bleed claimants dry. Simplicity of basic income application processes revives

I attended a book launch on Monday night (8 May) at London School of Economics, for the latest book by Professor Guy Standing of School of Oriental and African Studies.(1) His book Basic Income: And How We Can Make It Happen is being published by Pelican.(2)

Though I bought the book, I shall not be reviewing it here in this blog post as I am a very slow reader and have personally pressing priorities that get in the way of my reading it just now. I shall, however, refer a little to his presentation speech content and a film that was shown outlining a pilot scheme for an unconditional basic income that was trialed in India and has excited the Indian government.

Professor Guy Standing's new book Basic Income:And How We Can Make It Happen is published by Pelican

In his introductory talk, Standing referred back to his works on the precariat as a new socio-economic class that is particularly vulnerable to change in an environment in which the global wealthy seem to be pulling all the strings.(3) The means-testing embedded in the UK's welfare state over the past several decades has been ever more firmly embedded into the new Universal Credit, and that makes work far less rewarding especially for those in precarious employment he argued.

The idea of a basic income has been around for centuries, he pointed out, and included in the writings of Thomas Paine in the 18th century, for example.(4) More recently, Norway nationalised its share of North Sea Oil and distributed the wealth among its own nationals. (UK government privatised its North Sea Oil.) He also pointed out that since the industrial revolution that happened in North-East England on account of local mineral resources, Middlesborough is one of the most deprived areas of the UK.

Standing observed that critics of an unconditional basic income have argued that it would breed laziness. Advocates of basic income, by contrast, state that an unconditional basic income, by fostering a more socio-economically stable and equal society promotes goodwill between state and citizens, and increases people's intelligence.

He presented a film of a basic income pilot scheme that was recorded in India with English subtitles. The overriding image for me from that film was of claimants congregating to receive their payments, and applying their thumb print as identification on a piece of paper. (Well, fingerprinting originated largely on the Indian sub-continent, and not as a means of tracking down criminals, as I recall reading years ago.)

Contrast that with the Department for Work & Pensions' (DWP) obsession with closure of face-to-face benefits outlets that has been going on for decades now in the UK.(5) Claimants are kept on hold for a long time at pay-as-you-go mobile phone call charge rates of £33/hr while the claimant has to wait for the 'adviser' they are speaking to to refer back to their supervisor. Claimants do this in isolation from one another, adding to their sense of alienation and isolation. And the DWP has a bullying insistance that jobcentres are no longer so necessary, because 75% of Jobseekers Allowance claims and 99% of Universal Credit claims are made online.(6) Whose choice is that?

In place of Guy's wording 'reciprocity' for the goodwill effect of a basic income, I believe people in the precariat would describe the liberation that an unconditional basic income would bring as "being freed from being bled dry." And I would also add that the 'conditionality' embedded in Universal Credit and Claimant Commitment procedures in alienation from what is represented of 'life' in the mainstream mass media puts people into a 'headless chicken' state of panic.

So, yes, Basic Income makes people more intelligent and frees society from the problems of low birth weight that Revd Paul Nicolson has helped to highlight;(7) but what gets in the way of people manifesting their intelligence?

I will close this post with a further referencing to means-tested benefits that Guy gave in, as I recall, the question and answer session. He pointed out that under means-tested systems, more benefits go to immigrants because they have experienced the most deprivation. Thus that creates more hostility between the indigenous poor people.

Link references

  1. http://www.lse.ac.uk/Events/2017/05/20170508t1830vOT/Basic-Income
  2. https://www.penguin.co.uk/books/304706/basic-income/
  3. http://www.bloomsbury.com/author/guy-standing/
  4. http://www.guystanding.com/files/documents/CDHE_Standing.pdf 
  5. http://kilburnunemployed.blogspot.co.uk/2017/04/terra-firma-benefits-services-closures-leave-the-economically-vulnerable-in-the-lurch.html
  6. ibid.  
  7. http://taxpayersagainstpoverty.org.uk/news/rev-paul-nicolson-to-appeal

Wednesday, 10 May 2017

Information, advice and guidance workshop for UK resident EU nationals at Swiss Cottage Library, Fri 12 May, 1:30pm to 3:30pm

The following appeared first in last Thursday's Camden New Journal print edition as a reader's letter.

Residents face uncertainty – there’s a workshop for EU nationals on May 12

04 May, 2017
• I AM deeply concerned by the uncertainty facing local residents following the vote to leave the European Union.

This uncertainty is a real issue for people making employment, housing, and family decisions for the years ahead. The Conservatives’ refusal to guarantee their right to remain, as Labour proposed, insults their profound contribution to life in the UK and was an entirely avoidable decision.


I will therefore be running a workshop for EU nationals who are anxious over their future residential status. The event will enable residents better to understand their rights and the possible options available to them, as they attempt to secure permanent residency in the UK.

The meeting will be on Friday May 12 at Swiss Cottage Library [88 Avenue Road, NW3 3HA] and people are free to drop in at any time between 1.30pm and 3.30pm. I look forward to welcoming all those unsure of their futures in the UK to this important workshop.

[Location map and how to get there]

TULIP SIDDIQ
Labour candidate,
Hampstead & Kilburn