David Cameron has now been Prime Minister of the UK since May 2010: five and a half years, five New Year messages so far.
In 2010, back when Cameron and Clegg were still pretending to be best mates, they did a joint press conference on 21st December, in which Cameron explained that the snow was a problem inherited from the previous government and Clegg assured the press that coalition meant the next election would be a very polite campaign.
Iain Duncan Smith says:
This government has embarked on one of the most aggressive programmes of welfare reform Britain has ever seen, and we already have a proud record of achievement. There is no doubt that changes to the welfare state are desperately needed. Our reforms will put an end to people being left on sickness benefits year after year; they will eradicate the trap that has left so many better off on benefits than in work; and they will ensure the benefits bill is sustainable over the longer term.
For example, someone like Steve, permanently disabled since an accident thirteen years ago:
I suffer from fibromyalgia, depression, severe pain in the lower back and neck and constantly have to have pain relief. My left leg is useless as a leg, and will if I don’t watch it get caught under my own wheelchair wheels as I’m not always aware of where it is. My right leg is better but standing upright, for even a few seconds’ causes a massive increase in pain then, I collapse and have even passed out.
As Channel 4 News publicly exposed the Universal Jobmatch site as a scammers paradise in December 2012: even easier than the old job scams offered via the JobCentre websites, this just required a scammer to register as an employer (no verification) and post job details, then harvest CV data from the jobseekers who applied.
From the Department of Work and Pensions website: Home \ Advisers and intermediaries \ Updates \ Universal Jobmatch:
Universal Jobmatch is the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) online service which is radically changing the way people look for and apply to jobs. It’s one of the biggest changes to the labour market in 27 years.
Universal Jobmatch is open to all jobseekers, regardless of whether or not they are claiming a benefit.
But if you are claiming a benefit, DWP can make you use it. Continue reading
How many children do you have?
I don’t have any. My sister has one son. Iain Duncan Smith has four – two sons, two daughters – and it appears we should ask him:
Which of your children do you think you could give up if you became poor?
Would he give up the two oldest children? Or the two youngest? Keep one boy, one girl? Both boys? Both girls? Which children would he willingly cut out of his family if he came one of the working poor who need to claim Housing Benefit because rents are so high, tax credits because wages are so low? If he lost his job and had to claim JSA?
925 million people are hungry.
Every day, almost 16,000 children die from hunger-related causes.
That’s one child every five seconds.
There were 1.4 billion people in extreme poverty in 2005.
The World Bank estimates that the spike in global food prices in 2008, followed by the global economic recession in 2009 and 2010 has pushed between 100-150 million people into poverty.
This year has been one of the wettest on record. In Edinburgh, we had the wettest April, May, June, and July since records began at the Royal Botanic Gardens in the 19th century. Across the UK:
Potato harvests are down by half in some areas. The NFU’s Scottish cereal survey indicated wheat yield was down by 18% from 2011, winter barley yield down 7%, spring barley yield down 18% and winter oilseed rape yield down 26%.
I’ve discussed this before (Scotland’s Food Programme) and also, for World Porridge Day, how stock brokers gambling on food prices rising is itself creating a bubble of high food prices to profit investors and make people hungry.
Government departments and their ministers, reshuffled
We’re in a recession heading for a depression, and George Osborne is Chancellor of the Exchequer. Osborne believes that the right thing to do when the economy is failing is to cut government spending and to make large numbers of people unemployed. Even economists who thought this theoretically might work realise it’s long since proved to be not working (Martin Wolf of the Financial Times was recommending in May that the government announce a change of plan): Nobel Prize winning economists Paul Krugman and Joseph Stiglitz, turn out – strangely enough – to know more about the economy than a man whose main qualification for being Chancellor is that he was in the Bullingdon Club with David Cameron.
Yet Osborne is set to continue cutting till May 2015. And short of revolution, we can’t get rid of him.
The Department of Work and Pensions say
“We will be contesting these cases vigorously. These schemes are not slave labour. They play an important part in giving jobseekers the skills and experience they need to find work. It is entirely reasonable to ask jobseekers to take real steps towards finding work if they are claiming benefits.”
Jamieson Wilson, 40, is a mechanic. He has been unemployed (according to the AP story) since 2008. His Job Centre decided that the entirely reasonable way of “helping” him with the skills and experience he would need was to spend six months doing 30 hours a week unpaid work … cleaning furniture.
Cait Reilly, 23, is a geology graduate who had arranged voluntary work for herself in a local museum. She had been signing on since August 2010. Her local Job Centre had not expressed any criticism of her efforts to find paid work, helpful or otherwise, but in January decided to “help” her with two weeks unpaid work, five hours a day, sweeping floors, cleaning shelves, and stacking goods for sale, at the Poundland near where she lived. Continue reading
At a table somewhere in Hypothetical Stories, there’s Dolly from Tunbridge Wells, who reads the Daily Mail and works 35 hours a week for £7 an hour and an evening job on top of that just to get by. And there’s Molly on ESA who’s been registered with WRAG as fit for work, even though she’s waiting on a heart operation. And there’s Polly from Wirral, who graduated from college last year and still hasn’t been able to find a job. There’s a plate with 12 biscuits on the table. Esther McVey and Chris Grayling sit down at the table. McVey picks up the plate and hands it to Chris, who takes 11 biscuits and gives a couple to Esther. And then Esther says to Dolly, “Watch out for the other two, they both want your biscuit,” and Chris nods and says “They’re SWP members – if they weren’t making such a fuss, there’d be more biscuits for everyone.”
David Cameron held a conference at the House of Commons this past Friday to tell Conservative MPs that from now on they had to prepare for the next General Election:
“Cameron told his colleagues they were in a ‘full-time campaign’ to win over the public. Continue reading
On Saturday 3rd March the Boycott Workfare campaign plans a national, UK-wide, day of action against workfare – and I had been wondering why no locale for a demo had yet been announced for Edinburgh or Glasgow, both of which have healthy UKUncut groups. Though companies have been backing off from the scheme since it became clear that even Daily Mail readers were switching sides (in January, Jan Moir penned one of her vitriol-loaded columns dripping bile and acid on Cait Reilly for thinking that if Poundland wanted her to stack shelves they could pay her: only a month later the Mail runs an article asking why big companies like Poundland and Tesco are getting workers for free).
According to Stephen Naysmith at the Herald, the answer is horrifyingly simple – the DWP have decided not to tell us which companies and charities are making use of unpaid workers: Continue reading
I say: those lovely people at Tesco have realised that it is wrong to employ people for nothing, who are showing up to work not because they’ll get paid but because if they don’t they’ll lose their benefits. (Turns out there were questions raised about this by the House or Lords in April 2011.)
So Tesco have decided…