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Sunday, 30 July 2017

New mental health workers and the centenary of Passchendaele

Today the BBC has announced a Government recruitment drive for more mental health nurses.(1) Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt appears to be acting like Kitchener, the man in the pointing finger 'Your Country Needs You' recruitment poster pin-up for World War 1. Hunt is also the Health Secretary who previously stated that the British should work more like the Chinese workforce.(2) In China they have a word 'guolaosi' referring to those worked to death in the production of consumer goods, as pointed out in my referenced comment on a previous Kate Belgrave blog post.

Today we are also at the centenary of the start of the WW1 battle of Passchendaele.(3) You may also wish to refer to my previous Kwug Blog posting [Department for Work & Pensions] making poor people mentally ill at great cost to the NHS as we approach centenary of a WW1 blood bath(4), and my comment on Kate Belgrave's blog post Student debt dominates debate — but where's the political sympathy for people crushed by council tax debt, DWP loans, rent arrears and sanctions debt?(5)

By Dude Swheatie of Kwug


  1. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-40752060
  2. http://www.katebelgrave.com/2015/10/being-treated-well-on-workfare-is-a-bonus-not-everybody-gets-that-bonus/
  3. http://www.bbc.co.uk/search?q=passchendaele+centenary&sa_f=search-product&scope=
  4. http://kilburnunemployed.blogspot.co.uk/2017/07/dwp-making-poor-people-mentally-ill-at-great-cost-to-nhs-as-we-approach-centenary-of-a-ww1-blood-bath.html
  5. http://www.katebelgrave.com/2017/07/student-debt-dominates-debate-but-wheres-the-political-sympathy-for-people-crushed-by-council-tax-debt-dwp-loans-rent-arrears-and-sanctions-debt/ 

Saturday, 29 July 2017

Employment Tribunal fees unlawful, says Supreme Court

The Institute for Employment Rights reports:

[Employment] Tribunal fees unlawful, says Supreme Court

 26 July 2017
Unison has won a landmark victory in the Supreme Court today (26 July 2017), as the highest judges in the land unanimously ruled that the government's tribunal fee system is unlawful.
The public sector union brought a judicial review against the government when it first launched tribunal fees in July 2013, and has continued to fight the case for four years.
Now that the Supreme Court has ruled that employment tribunal fees are unconstitutional, they will be scrapped and the thousands of workers who have paid up to £1,200 to hold their employer to account over the past four years will be reimbursed more than £27 million in total....

More at http://www.ier.org.uk/news/tribunal-fees-unlawful-says-supreme-court

Saturday, 22 July 2017

Boycott Workfare team up with Pluto Press to expose violence of workfare

"A new book chapter using testimonies compiled by Boycott Workfare exposes the violent impact of forced labour.

"When we talk about what’s wrong with workfare, we often mention the horrifying material impact on people’s lives of the benefit sanctions that underwrite it. The political impact of unwaged work is also important – the way it attacks workplace rights and destroys our freedom. And workfare is psychologically violent and humiliating: it is coerced labour that’s supposed to build skills and motivation but obviously does nothing apart from offer free work to businesses and charities.

"Now, in a freely available chapter of The Violence of Austerity, just published by Pluto Press, the accounts of 97 people who were on workfare schemes between 2011 and 2015 show how workfare is not only ruthlessly exploitative, but can also mean being forced into dangerous work in which health and safety laws are violated as a matter of routine...."

Thursday, 20 July 2017

Thursday 20 July 2017 latest Disability News Service headlines

Latest Stories

Conservative DWP calls pre-sanction interrogations 'Health & Work Conversations'

A conversation in theory involves balance of bargaining power and ability of both sides to discuss their concerns. If you follow the link http://kilburnunemployed.blogspot.co.uk/search?q=bargaining+power, you will realise that such conversations with benefit claimants is not what this Conservative Government is about.(1)

'Austerity' driving Conservative Government — and its Blairite predecessors — are and have been far more about finding fault with claimants so that they can cut our benefits and/or sanction us in the name of 'protecting the public purse'. Their savings are not really savings and their lack of monitoring service provision and recruitment and retention of Disability Employment Advisers have long demonstrated that they don't really care for claimant or staff wellbeing.(2)

Now, it emerges via a Freedom of Information (FoI) Request that the Department for Work & Pensions intend to further weaken the bargaining power of disability benefit claimants by calling interrogations toward sanctioning Employment & Support Allowance claimants 'Health & Work Conversations'.(3)

I am reminded of Theresa May's insistence that those made homeless by the Grenfell Tower blaze in a Conservative-led local authority should be rehoused with supreme urgency. Such supreme urgency can lead to people being offered places that are unsuitable at the best of times, and for the places to be offered long before the prospective rehousing fodder are in an emotional state fit to make any long-term commitments.

The result would be that under long-established legislation, after turning down three offers, the rehousing fodder could be deemed to have made themselves 'intentionally homeless'.

What will the Department for Work & Pensions do to restore the trust of economically vulnerable people after successive Governments have screwed up on Disability Equality and Disability Rights issues for many people's life times? 'Care in the community', anybody?



Friday, 14 July 2017

13 July update on Disability News Service top stories

The Kwug Blog editor knows that today is 14 July, but the actual publication day of Disability News Service was Thursday 13 July and Thursday is that publication's regular publication date.

Latest Stories

Did the Tory war on the poor weed out magistrates opposed to 'push button' mass-destruction in the name of 'debt recovery'

Reflecting on the two most recent Kwug Blog posts,

  1. Unjustly treated Revd Paul Nicolson points to the mass-destruction perils of 'push button justice' over civil debt (1) and
  2. Alleged 'left wing bias' in schools and social work education
it strikes me that those two blog posts link in with previous Kwug Blog posts about magistrates. (3)

Magistrates are sworn to 'uphold the law' — whatever that law might be — and when Michael Gove was Justice Secretary [sic] he brought in legal charges that so disgusted some magistrates that they felt obliged to resign in protest to changes he sought to bring in regarding criminal courts charges. (4)

In my experience, when truly socially engaged professionals such as good Disability Employment Advisers have been faced with 'service constraints' that are against the interests of the people before them, they have sought employment elsewhere; what that leaves amounts to postholders that are purely 'functionaries' or mercenaries, serving really only as 'window dressing'.

Revd Paul Nicolson's court summons yesterday was in response to a civil debt rather than a criminal case, but I believe it does tie in with my point about 'service delivery'. Barrister Alan Murdie has written two Big Issue articles regarding the kind of justice meted out to Council Tax debtors:
It was those poor people's interests Paul seeks to highlight with his campaign of Civil Disobedience.

An eye-witness of yesterday's proceedings gives this account:
The Judge didn't allow an adjournment, despite RP [Revd Paul] needing more time to understand a council document, plus hadn't had a response from independent auditor. Judge stated his "hands are tied" and has "no discretion"...how can one 'judge' with such constraints? Council got eventually what they wanted, but look crumby!

Yesterday I wrote Paul that I regard him as a modern day Conscientious Objector. This was after I had blogged about the parallels between
  1. Paul's Guardian letter pointing out that people whose mental health had been severely harmed by benefit sanctions and the like being prescribed tranquilisers rather than a resolution of their sanctions by the Department for Work & Pensions, and
  2. World War 1 bullying of people into becoming 'combatants'.
Today, a statement by the late Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo reminds me of a world without people of courage such as Paul Nicolson:

'If you want to enter hell, don't complain of the dark....' (7)
Perhaps magistrates such as the one presiding over Paul's case are gatekeepers for such a hell, telling them that the harm done to society by Civil Disobedience must be punished while the hell that they are allowing to creep in is inevitable because magistrates are sworn to uphold the law?

It also strikes me that were someone to write someone else, "What words would you like to be your epitaph?" that query would be generally regarded as a death threat. Yet such a query can be an invitation to examine one's life and seek to live a better one.

Dude Swheatie of Kwug

PS: Meanwhile those who attack defenders of public spending and investment in society as 'politically motivated' while being keen to stand as Tory candidates in council elections (8) — especially when the defenders of public spending and investment invest their own lives in public service delivery — remind me of a Flanders & Swann comment in the 1960's that 'strictly non-political' translated in reality as 'very right wing'.

  1. http://kilburnunemployed.blogspot.co.uk/2017/07/unjustly-treated-revd-paul-nicolson-points-to-mass-destruction-perils-of-push-button-justice-over-civil-debt.html
  2. http://kilburnunemployed.blogspot.co.uk/2017/07/alleged-left-wing-bias-in-schools-and-social-work-education.html
  3. http://kilburnunemployed.blogspot.co.uk/search?q=magistrates+gove
  4. http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/criminal-courts-charge-mass-resignations-amid-judicial-revolt-against-extremely-unfair-fees-10492130.html
  5. https://bigissue.com/news/great-british-council-tax-scandal-big-issue-investigation/
  6. https://bigissue.com/news/council-tax-scandal-part-ii-human-cost/
  7. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-china-40585327
  8. http://camdennewjournal.com/article/face-of-governments-teacher-recruitment-drive-rails-against-lefty-bias-in-schools

Thursday, 13 July 2017

Alleged 'left wing bias' in schools and social work education

The Camden New Journal home page currently leads with
— a CNJ exclusive.

It reminds me very creepily of

Dude Swheatie of Kwug

Unjustly treated Revd Paul Nicolson points to the mass-destruction perils of 'push button justice' over civil debt

Guest blog post from Revd Paul Nicolson


Today Highbury Corner Magistrates court, as expected, issued a liability order against me to Haringey Council adding £115 costs. 

But far more seriously the magistrate issued liability orders plus costs against 510 Haringey residents by signing a computer printout. That was a small number: sometimes it has been over 2000 at one time by signing a print out. The total number of summons issued by Haringey last year was over 27.000. Nationally there are 3.5 million a year. 

The vast majority are issued by computer against local people who can never afford to pay the tax because their benefit incomes have been shredded by central government. 

Haringey Councillors ought to be ashamed of themselves for letting such an oppressive law loose on the large number of vulnerable and impoverished residents in the borough. It creates serious hardship.  

Great efforts by council staff goes in to collecting the tax from people who cannot pay. No surprise that over £2million is left unpaid every year. 

A computer will now send the following threats to residents of the borough vulnerable or not. It is an inhuman process. 

Failure to contact 
​the council on receiving a liability order 
will result in the council taking one of the following methods of recovery to collect the outstanding Council Tax

DWP making poor people mentally ill at great cost to the NHS as we approach centenary of a WW1 blood bath

Yesterday I read Paul Nicolson's letter published in The Guardian about the Department for Work & Pensions making poor people mentally ill at great cost to the NHS in treating the symptoms resulting from the DWP's inhumanity.

This morning I heard on the news that the cenenary of the World War I blood bath known as Passchendaele takes place at the end of this month.

A film Passchendaele was based on the life of a previously medically exempted combatant highlights the bullying for the sake of 'nation' and 'empire', alongside whipping up of hatred toward the 'foreign enemy' that was used to marshal people into the military at that time.

Having seen that film on more than one occasion, it struck me that
  1. the DWP's making poor people mentally ill at great cost to the nation as well as the individuals concerned and
  2. the WW1 recruitment methods of the British Empire
are linked by the assumptions of 'authority' that go to create an unhealthy society.

By Dude Swheatie of Kwug

Wednesday, 12 July 2017

Reminder: Support nonviolent revolutionary Revd Paul Nicolson on trial for Civil Disobedience against unjust laws that exacerbate poverty and mental health problems

The place: Highbury Corner Magistrates Court, 51 Holloway Road, London N7 8JA location map (1)
Date: Thursday, 13 July 2017

Demonstration of support for Paul

Outside the court, 12 Noon till 1:30pm

The Court Hearing

From 1:30pm

Further details


See also
regarding the bigger picture of the threats DWP benefit claimants have imposed on them even without their being imposed upon by Council Tax demands by LB Haringey, etc.

Paul argues that cessation of such State brutality would relieve the NHS budget of unnecessary strain. Public spending cuts, anyone?



Friday, 7 July 2017

Social Work Action Network response to Grenfell Tower and Unison petition against National Accreditation and Assessment System

Social Work Action Network (Swan) brings together social work academics, students, practitioners and service users to campaign for social work that advances society rather than the twin dysfunctionalities of 'managerialism' and privatisation.(1)

The following is presented here with permission as a Guest blog post, having been received by the Kwug Blog editor as a Swan London mailing list member.

Social Work Action Network response to Grenfell Tower and Unison petition against NAAS

Dear SWAN London supporters,

Grenfell Tower

SWAN has issued the following statement on the Grenfell Tower tragedy:

Here is another insightful blog on the same topic posted on the BASW site:

National Assessment and Accreditation Systems (NAAS)

You may be familiar with Unison's recent national survey about the proposed National Assessment and Accreditation System (NAAS) for Childrens' Social Workers. SWAN support Unison's position that the government should scrap plans to roll out its new assessment and accreditation scheme for social workers because it will take up valuable time that could be spent helping families in need.

Unison has just launched an on-line national petition to call on the new Minister for Children to drop the NAAS.
Here is the link to the petition, which non- Unison members can also sign:
In solidarity
SWAN London

Social Work Action Network (SWAN) London

Visit the national SWAN website at http://socialworkfuture.org/
Sign up for the Critical and Radical Social Work journal at http://www.policypress.co.uk/journals_crsw.asp



Universal Credit's failings: Who are the DWP trying to fool, and are they succeeding?

One of the items I heard mention of in the first ten minutes or so of today's BBC Breakfast News (1) seems to have been about this report

Universal Credit 'failing' Welsh families, charity claims

This executive summary point was highlighted in the report:
"[Citizens Advice] said the UK government should pause a planned acceleration of the roll-out programme to Job Centres until key issues are addressed."
Meanwhile, the response from the Department for Work and Pensions was in line with a cartoon by Crippen the Disabled Cartoonist. (3)
"The Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) said most claimants were 'satisfied'." (4)
I also recall the BBC Breakfast report citing the DWP as saying that "Universal Credit is a great success." By what criteria? one might ask.

Posted by Dude Swheatie of Kwug

PS: As in Wales, so in England. (5)



Wednesday, 5 July 2017

High Noon at Highbury Magistrates Court on Thursday 13 July 2017! Show solidarity for civil disobedience vs fiscal policies bad for health

Guest blog post by Revd Paul Nicolson, founder of Taxpayers Against Poverty, writing in a personal capacity

CIVIL DISOBEDIENCE in solidarity with everyone in UK suffering mental or physical ill-health due to inadequate incomes and debt 

I have been summoned to appear at Highbury Corner Magistrates Court, 51 Holloway Road, London N7 8JA at 13.30 on Thursday 13th July.  There will be a demonstration outside the courts from 12-1.30. 

I am refusing to pay my council tax, as an act of civil disobedience, in solidarity with everyone in the UK suffering mental or physical ill-health due to grossly inadequate incomes and debt in work, self employment, unemployment  or zero hours contracts; particularly those who have been forced by national and local government to go to a food bank. 


How many more infant deaths, how much more diminished life expectancy, do there have to be before UK national and local governments accept the overwhelming and undeniable evidence that low incomes impact on mental and physical health? Some 52,400 more deaths were reported by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) to have occurred in the year to June 2015 as compared to the same period a year before,

Nine blogs on health equality 

Dr Angela Donkin Institute of Health Equity, Profs Kate Pickett and Richard Wilkinson Equality Trust, Maddy Power University of York, Carl Walker University of Brighton 
​​I will be asking the Highbury Corner Magistrates when and how they checked the costs of £115 they award this year against, mostly impoverished, council tax defaulters, 27,270 times in 2016/17.  ​
The bailiffs were dispatched by Haringey council to the doorsteps of Haringey residents 11,492 times in 2016/17​

There is a comprehensive description of how  £73.10 single adult unemployment benefit has been reducing in value since 1979 on the TAP website.  Its increases were frozen in 201I. It cannot afford 20% of the council tax, let alone court costs and bailiffs fees, introduced in 2013.  It also has to pay rent dues to the bedroom tax and the benefit cap.. 


​I have told the auditors that there is a profound public interest in the council and the magistrates ceasing to impose mental and physical ill health on the poorest ​Haringey ​tenants by enforcing an unpayable tax against grossly inadequate incomes adding court costs and bailiffs fees​, and failing to collect over £2million every year.  
Camden and Westminster Councils have already exempted benefit claimants from the tax. 
​Haringey's auditors BDO LLP  are authorised and regulated by the Institute of Chartered Accountants of England and Wales 
I have reminded the auditors that ​BDO LLP is authorised and regulated by the Institute of Chartered Accountants of England and Wales ("ICAEW") under registration number C001055835. .May I remind you of the ICEAW code of ethics. "ICAEW members are expected to demonstrate the highest standards of professional conduct and to take into consideration the public interest. Ethical behaviour plays a vital role in ensuring public trust in financial reporting and business practices and upholding the reputation of the accountancy profession".


Stephen Hill MRICS Churchill Fellow, Prof Danny Dorling University of Oxford, Fred Harrison Land Research Trust, Alison Gelder Housing Justice. 
Dr Angela Donkin Institute of Health Equity, Profs Kate Pickett and Richard Wilkinson Equality Trust, Maddy Power University of York, Carl Walker University of Brighton

Tuesday, 4 July 2017

Why this blogger is boycotting Direct Line insurance of any kind

From the social housing industry website Inside Housing to a Scottish Unemployed Workers Network report on last July's Boycott Workfare Action Gathering, the message has come out that long claim processing delays for Universal Credit are endemic and lead to rent arrears and thus evictions.(1) (2)

Now, for some months on televised adverts in the UK, I have witnessed Direct Line insurance capitalising on this situation as a business opportunity, though I've not seen actual Web links such as youtube to the ad in question. The scenario is that a landlord is having difficulties sleeping and Direct Line insurance's 'Mr Fixit' known as 'Winstone Wolfe' comes along and declares that the landlord's problems is caused by the landlord's tenants difficulties paying their rent.

Presenting Direct Line Landlord Insurance as the solution, 'Winston Wolfe' declares that Direct Line Landlord Insurance will pay the tenants' outstanding rent until the tenants are out. What kind of 'solution' is that? I suppose that the answer to my question is that it is the kind of 'solution' that absolves the real architects of Universal Credit calamity by inferring that such rent arrears arise out of the nature of the economically vulnerable tenants, and nothing else.

Given such a mindset, what are the ethics of Direct Line likely to be? Not worth my touching with the proverbial barge pole, I would guess. Anyhow, Direct Line, if you want caring people to do business with you, I reckon you will need to reconsider the true costs of your policies.

Posted by Dude Swheatie of Kwug