We need many more MPs like Mhairi Black.
The UK Government are an absolute embarrassment. pic.twitter.com/ZJBF1xkE8M
— Mhairi Black MP (@MhairiBlack) December 11, 2018
In 2018, two anniversaries and a crucial decision loom large in the UK. We saw in the 70th anniversary of the NHS in July, while December 10 marks the 70th birthday of the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights by the United Nations. On December 11, the UK parliament will also vote on the prime minister’s EU withdrawal deal. The coming together of health, human rights and Brexit, raises questions of huge practical and constitutional significance.
The recent UK visit of Philip Alston, UN special rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights, highlighted the effects of government policies on austerity and universal credit. Life expectancy rises have stalled, infant and neonatal mortality rates have risen, and 4.5m children are living in poverty.
Human rights are constitutionally important in constraining what politicians and public bodies can do, and they can necessitate action. Government must not, for example, interfere with enjoyment of rights and must even prevent third parties, such as private companies, from doing so. In the UK’s system of parliamentary supremacy, human rights can always be taken away. But incorporating human rights into UK law – as the Human Rights Act (HRA) does with the rights to life, a fair trial, and the prohibition of torture, from the European Convention on Human Rights – makes this politically more difficult and controversial.
The HRA itself is not affected by Brexit because the law stems from the Council of Europe, a separate organisation to the EU.
However, Brexit will directly affect other rights. The EU’s Charter of Fundamental Rights, which includes many rights relevant to health and the social determinants of health, and the special emphasis in EU law on the rights of persons with disabilities, will no longer apply. Brexit would also allow parliament to downgrade, for example, the 24 EU-derived employment rights identified by the UK Court of Appeal.
Legal recognition of children’s rights has certainly increased but, like general economic and social rights – such as the rights to health, to an adequate standard of living, including food and housing, to social security and to just and favourable working conditions – they have never been guaranteed in UK law as human rights. This is despite the UK having accepted UN treaties recognising these rights in 1976 and 1991, respectively.
Many of these rights were also accepted by the UK as long ago as 1962 in the Council of Europe’s European Social Charter. However, Colm O’Cinneide, former vice-president of the charter’s monitoring body, recently wrote that there were “substantial defects in how the fundamental social rights set out in the charter are implemented within [UK] national law and policy”, with “serious failings … which in some circumstances have persisted for decades”.
In England, a public sector duty to reduce inequalities that result from socioeconomic disadvantage – enacted in the final days of the Gordon Brown Labour government – has still not been brought into effect. Theresa May, when minister for women and equalities, described it in 2010 as “ridiculous”.
Scotland has a slightly better story to tell. The duty was brought into effect there from April 2018. The human right to social security was at least recognised as a principle in June 2018, and recommendations of the Scottish first minister’s Advisory Group on Human Rights, due on December 10, are expected to suggest how social rights could be put into domestic law in the country.
The dismantling of the postwar welfare state, and outsourcing of health, social care, water and other public services to private companies has been an incremental process over several decades.
Policies such as the private finance initiative have brought into sharp focus the transfer of wealth, degrading work conditions and the creation of a two-tier workforce. If economic and social rights had been put into UK law as human rights, then eroding the legal basis for ensuring the social determinants of health would have been much more difficult.
Entrenching these rights would be no panacea – and ultimately parliamentary supremacy would remain in place – but they would be both a check on how politicians and public bodies exercise their power, and would compel politicians to act. As Alston said, legislative recognition of social rights should be “a central part” of reimagining what the UK represents and how it protects its people post-Brexit. Seventy years is too long to have waited to deliver on the promises of the Universal Declaration. In a divided, alienated, backward-looking “austerity” Britain, the time has come to make good on social rights.
Division Number: 273
Division Date: 04/12/2018
Privilege (Withdrawal Agreement legal advice)
Aye Count: 311
Noes Count: 293
Division Number: 273
Division Date: 04/12/2018
Privilege (Withdrawal Agreement legal advice)
Aye Count: 311
Noes Count: 293
This concerns my home town of St. Petersburg in the US. I’d just left…
Tyron Lewis was an unarmed teenager. Of course he was black. Hence automatically considered dangerous. And shot. Killed.
I watched the news about it on TV from Amsterdam but for most people around me, it was just another Rodney King story that happened on the other side of the world. It did not concern them.
Particularly for young people (?), the internet – still in its infancy back then, with most people not even using e-mail – enabling like-minded strangers from all over the world to connect has changed this.
(Or has it?)
I knew from my own experiences in St. Petersburg that there were officers in St. Pete who were scared. For their own lives. Expecting the worst. (I once had to ask for police assistance when I came home and found my front door locked from the inside. Seemed a bit peculiar, best to take no risks and let the professionals deal with it. To my astonishment, the officers were much more scared and nervous than I was.)
This video has great sound. One of the reasons why I am posting it.
I wrote an article about it on LinkedIn. If you’re interested, you can find it, and you don’t need me to post the link here. Southampton can’t do anything as drastic as this. Bournemouth can’t. Chichester can’t. London can’t. But Portsmouth can.
And Portsmouth can turn this into a giant plus and use it to boost the economy, but it won’t. Because it is drowning in crap such as bullying and corruption, also at city council level, and likes seeing itself as the powerless whining underdog a little bit too much. There is very little true vision left in this town, where too much of the focus is on traditional capitalism and on the past. The industries of the past are GONE, folks. Quit waffling about that and move forward.
Here are a few links to supporting studies:
All I hear is stupid excuses.
No space for trams. Sure there is!
Has an estate agent or private landlord refused to rent to you because you are on housing benefit? If so then please contact @Shelter on email@example.com as they may be able to bring a claim for discrimination at no cost to you. #EndDSSdiscrimination
— Disability Law Service (@DLS_Law) November 29, 2018
Time to reblog this.
Angelina Souren - victim of an extremely destructive phenomenon known as "sadistic stalking" including extensive hacking since 9 June 2008 - wants you to think about what a more inclusive, healthier world might look like that allows all people to be happy and flourish.
A pattern is starting to emerge. The British government does not display a lot of respect for the law.
View original post 608 more words
That’s what British economist John Maynard Keynes wrote at the end of the First World War, one hundred years ago (in The Economic Consequences of the Peace).
“England still stands outside Europe. Europe’s voiceless tremors do not reach her. Europe is apart and England is not of her flesh and body. But Europe is solid with herself. France, Germany, Italy, Austria, and Holland, Russia and Roumania and Poland throb together, and their structure and civilisation are essentially one.”
Now, one hundred years later, Britain’s inequality is staggering, so bad that it pulls down the measure for equality for the entire EU, yet Brits have been told that the EU is to blame for their misery, along with lots of other lies.
One hundred years ago, Keynes wrote about how odd it was for him, an Englishman based in Paris for a while, to go back to London for quick visits and find it so distant.
“But it is under the influence of Paris, not London, that this book has been written by one who, though an Englishman, feels himself a European also, and, because of too vivid recent experience, cannot disinterest himself – as opposed to the people in Britain at the time, AS – from the further unfolding of the great historic drama of these days which will destroy great institutions, but may also create a new world.”
Is England, one hundred years later, still as aloof, and still as deaf and blind to what is going on in the world?
And does the EU, in order to flourish, really need a Britain that loves to be proud of how it isolates itself from the rest of the world and how it milks its poor to balance its books?
I worry more about the negative influence that this may have on other countries than that I “worry” about the boost foreigners provide to the British economy year after year after year and what they do for people’s outlook on life.
When you hear Brits in southern England say, angrily, “What’s he got to be smiling about?” – and perhaps even with suspicion – about a young Polish man with a positive outlook on life, meaning that he won’t let the rain in his life bring him down, and when you literally hear Brits curse all day long you realise that Britain’s problem isn’t the EU.
Britain is the fifth richest nation in the world. This means that it could do so much better for its own people, but its government refuses to, and fights its own people, the EU and UN on these points, spending quite a bit of money on it, too:
Yes, I too feel that some European regulations are getting out of hand. It seems ridiculous that you literally can’t serve coffee or tea with cookies without needing to go on a course first. But if I then think of the two recent deaths that occurred in Britain because two young women with severe allergies were served food (in a commercial setting) that was supposed to be free from allergens but wasn’t, I see the point.
Why did they all lay down? To sleeheep?
The other America
You can find her Sunday
Sitting by a stream
On her own
The other America
Might show up on Tuesday
At your kitchen door
She will ask politely
“Is anybody home?
Or did they all lay down
To sleep through the now?
And if they all lay down
I’ll be waiting for them
At the river bed
Once they wake from their rest”
The other America
Takes herself to night school
To understand the law
She may bring you questions
When she finds the flaw
“Why did they all lay down
To sleep through the now?
And if they all lay down
I’ll be waiting for them
At the river bed
Once they wake from their rest”
We could be opening a doorway
Globally but that’s okay
Once upon a time you had faith
You would not be swayed
By fools untouched by clairvoyance
And you swore that we’d be brave
Well, not today
No, not today
Because we all lay down
To sleep through the now
And if we all lay down
She’ll be waiting for us
Where the rivers cross
Once we wake from our rest
“All the best,” the Other America
Where is the other Britain?
It may also shatter your illusions, however, if you still believe that police are the good ones, the ones (that you pay for through your council tax, in Britain) to help keep you safe and secure and protect your basic rights.
This morning, this caught my eye:
I suspect that police in England and Wales already are using these “kiosks” that hack into people’s phones and laptops, overriding passwords.
I am sure it can be great fun for some officers to play with these “kiosks”. You can almost hear them talk. “I knew it! She’s a lesbian!” and “Does he really think he stands a chance with that woman?” and “Oh my god! Trying to lose weight? Fat chance!”
Yep, very useful.</end of sarcasm>
We need an alternative to police. Because going to or contacting the police has become one of the worst things to do in almost any situation. (Unless your insurance company wants a copy of a report after a burglary or theft, but leave it at that and do not ask police to do anything else other than give you a copy of the report.) How it got to this point? It’s immaterial. It’s what we have in the here and the now.
As Michael Doherty (a former aircraft engineer who made the mistake of reporting something to police and expecting police to follow up on it) says in the video below, you do have the right to investigate on your own, to try to detect and stop crime on your own. If your investigation is successful, you can also prosecute on your own. (I am talking about England and Wales.)
But before you choose this path, as I have stated several times before, look into the Protection from Harassment Act 1997 because police and others can use this against you, assuming that you are unaware of 1(3)(a), which most people probably are. That means that, before you know it, you can already have confessed to a crime that you didn’t actually commit. To prevent this, you need to know what the law says.
I repeat and highlight:
(3) Subsection (1) [F4 or (1A)] does not apply to a course of conduct if the person who pursued it shows—
(a) that it was pursued for the purpose of preventing or detecting crime,
(b) that it was pursued under any enactment or rule of law or to comply with any condition or requirement imposed by any person under any enactment, or
(c) that in the particular circumstances the pursuit of the course of conduct was reasonable.
(Whether it says “and” or “or” makes a difference. It means that each of these conditions on its own applies, that they do not have to apply all at once.)
The video below dates back to 2015, is rather academic and particularly in the beginning lacks a logical thread, in my opinion, but does contain useful information.
You may want to read this as well:
The Human Rights Act Can Transform Lives Without Going To Court
(Also, if you want to protect yourself from police with a camera, you need to have one that does not have wifi or bluetooth.)
It is possible to resolve many situations or at least make them somewhat liveable without going to police, and much more successfully and/or peacefully. If you try this after you’ve been to police, however, police officers are likely to hold it against you. (This is mean because most people who contacted the police in the past decade will have been told that police wouldn’t investigate and would do nothing with what they told the police owing to a lack of resources and/or will have been referred to their GP and the local civic offices.)
Unfortunately, most of us learn these things the hard way – and you can’t undo having contacted the police.
Someone just shared this video on LinkedIn and it struck me that, say, the local LibDems have no reason not to take similar action here in town, say, once a month. It would show true leadership.
By giving people what they need.
By definition, you make people dependent if you don’t always give them what they need (because you don’t want them to become dependent on you). If they can count on you, they don’t become dependent on you and their whole life not longer has to revolve on how to get food, the way most wildlife lives.
Instead, they can start to focus on on how to get out of poverty.
Give people the experience of abundance and prosperity. Teach them that prosperity and abundance exist and also possible for them.
The need for food is part of biology. People do not decide to become “dependent on food”. We all are dependent on food.
So either give them enough food or give them enough income.
When politicians get it wrong.
Steve Baker, a few days ago. Mainly about… Brexit?
Something similar’s happened before, too:
Living in an economically deprived English neighbourhood sometimes goes like this.
You quickly walk to a local supermarket (for two packets of oat cookies) and on the way, a guy seems to want to stop you to ask for directions. But what he says is “You walk like a young lady.”
He adds “You’ve got youth in your step!”
It emphasises my otherness.
What I have is purpose. What I have is two immediate deadlines on my desk, an online course to make, someone else’s grant proposal about to turn up, and also a research paper in the pipeline. He doesn’t.
In central Oxford, by contrast, most people have my fast pace, many actually walking much faster.
Most of county Hampshire is relatively sleepy to start with. Here where I live, many people have relatively little to do and saving whales is not on their mind when they’re out and about.
I didn’t know what to say back to him, so I simply laughed, taken by surprise.
Because what I also have is the absence of the British notion that people who are over 35 are no longer young. He was trying to make me feel young, but what he did was make me realize that he saw me as someone with one foot in the grave.
I LOL. It doesn’t matter.
Normally, when something like this happens, I’ll say something along the lines of “thank you” but today, feeling flabbergasted dominated too much for that.
Sorry dude. I know you meant well.
This is probably pretty hilarious (read: embarrassing) considering that I just wrote an article on LinkedIn about how we all share more than makes us different but that there is a lot more diversity among human beings than we’ve thought for a long time.
It enriches our lives.
I am sorry that I didn’t thank the guy. It was his awareness of his own mortality that made him say what he said and he saw that as a similarity. He was right.
Thich Nhat Hanh might have said that I didn’t give the guy my presence and that I had not been walking in awareness. He would have been right too.
This morning, I received an e-mail from Jacq who is part of the Campaigns team at The Children’s Society. As a result, I contacted my local council. (Council = local government.) Apparently, roughly half of Britain’s council’s are helping so-called “care leavers” with their council tax bills, whether Labour-led, Lib-Dem-led, Green-led or Conservative-led.
My council does not do that yet. It means that the roughly 230 care leavers in Portsmouth are worse off than care leavers in, for example North-Somerset, which has the same number of care leavers.
When young people who have been in a care home or in foster care are thrust into society on the basis of their age, they have had almost no financial education, apparently, and little or no preparation for what it means to live on your own.
Particularly council tax bills tend to get them into trouble. I think that makes sense. These so-called care leavers may never have heard of council tax, and they’re not seeing anything tangible in return for paying these bills. It makes sense for young people to ignore them. You pay water bills for water, electricity bills in return for electricity, council tax bills because you use… eh, what?
Since my move to Britain, I have tried to explain council tax to educated adults in other countries a few times and they too are flabbergasted by the idea of “council tax”. In response, I was even told once that I was paying someone else’s taxes, was paying bills I should not have to pay – by someone who’s probably never paid a bill late even once throughout his entire life.
If the concept of council tax is that incomprehensible to educated adults in other countries, it probably makes even less sense to young care leavers.
Unless councils step in to support these care leavers, council tax ruins these young people’s lives before they’ve even had a chance at a life.
(Of course, the real issue includes the lack of support they’ve obviously had while in care. Fixing that is more complicated and more expensive, however.)
I just found out about the incident in Bury St. Edmunds in which a woman had been attacked with eggs and flour. (An American told me about it. He’d read about it on Facebook.)
One of the hardest things for me to deal with is the poverty and misery in Britain. These days, that British poverty mindset drags me down on an almost daily basis, this belief and attitude that anything that you consider doing is “daft”, a “waste of time” or “above your station”, this pervasive conviction that you have to be obedient and patient, that you have no choice.
It did not used to be like that for me at first in Britain. If it affects me this badly after my years in Britain, you can imagine how it impacts people who have been living here all their lives and may never have set foot in another country.
In my home country too, there used to be this idea “wie als dubbeltje is geboren wordt nooit een kwartje” en “iedereen die met zijn kop boven het maaiveld uitsteekt wordt genadeloos afgehakt”. It is one of the reasons why I didn’t like my home country, this idea that everyone has to stick to a mould and not dare to be different, or excel. It’s not the same, but there are similarities.
Apparently, most Brits don’t like it when someone is very confident and enthusiastic, but confidence and enthusiasm are nothing to be embarrassed about. To the contrary. Maybe confidence and enthusiasm sometimes get confused with snobbery and arrogance?
Tuurlijk, “de” Brit bestaat niet. En er zijn ook massa’s Britten die ons helemaal niet haten. Maar Britten die ons wel haten, waar komt dat door? Ik heb het eens op een rijtje gezet.
Politici, de Britse overheid en media liegen hier aantoonbaar over en worden desondanks geloofd. Het is namelijk de emotionele respons die de overtoon speelt, niet de rationele.
Er is veel diepe armoede in het VK, dus veel angst, stress, onmacht en wanhoop.
Er is dus hoop nodig.
Het is voor veel Britten makkelijker om te geloven dat hun ellende door buitenlanders komt dan te accepteren dat hun eigen regering hen voortdurend uitmelkt en een poot uitdraait.
Dat leidt namelijk tot de hoop dat het ooit beter wordt.
Daar ligt dus de oplossing. Hoe voeg je hoop toe op een manier die de haat juist minder maakt? Niet door het rationeel aan te pakken maar door de emoties aan te spreken.
Dat zou bijvoorbeeld kunnen doordat buitenlanders met genoeg geld in de arme wijken Britse steden structureel (een keer per maand?) briefjes geld gaan verspreiden en er publiciteit aan wijden zodat de associatie tussen narigheid en buitenlanders wordt doorbroken.
Er is al iemand geweest die zoiets heeft gedaan, die in een stadsdeel her en der geld had verstopt.
Je zou vliegtuigjes kunnen laten overvliegen met een lange banner (“Holland/The EU/Poland/France/Italy/Spain/Germany/Denmark/… loves you!”) en van waaruit briefjes van 5, 10, 20 en 50 naar beneden dwarrelen.
Je kan ook vanuit het buitenland enveloppen met bijvoorbeeld een briefje van 20 pond erin anoniem gaan sturen aan adressen in arme Britse wijken met daarin bijvoorbeeld ook de tekst “The EU loves you!”.
Voedselpakketjes sturen mag natuurlijk ook.
(Voedsel vanuit vliegtuigjes droppen raad ik niet aan vanwege de eventuele schade.)
Het trieste van het bovenstaande is dat het Britse regeringsbeleid de mythes in realiteit aan het omzetten is. Door rijbewijzen en paspoorten in te nemen, mensen te pas en onpas op te pakken en voor onbepaalde tijd vast te zetten (en na vrijlating identiteitsbewijzen in beslag genomen te houden), het vinden van werk en woonruimte te blokkeren en Britten zeer hoge boetes te geven voor collaboratie met verdacht gemaakte buitenlanders (zoals het verhuren van kamers) en buitenlands gedrag te criminaliseren worden buitenlanders (maar ook soms ethnische Britten evenals Britten die een vreemde achternaam hebben of met een buitenlander zijn getrouwd) de ellende in gedreven.
Tegengas is dus hard nodig.
Hieronder staan wat linkjes naar Engelstalige informatie. Continue reading
No wonder Rees-Mogg is an ardent brexiter. If the UK is still in the EU after 2019, firms like his investment management vehicle with £9.6b under management which has dealings with companies with "tax haven status" will become subject to the new EU clampdown on tax avoidance
— will thorpe (@withorpe) February 6, 2018
Who he is, you ask? UK Government Health Minister.
Last year in October, he said, as reported by the Evening Standard, that the “British taxpayer” funds the NHS, which suggests that foreigners in the UK do not pay taxes. That could have been plain sloppy. Unfortunately, the Standard did not correct him. Continue reading
This call from The Children’s Society just passed by on my screen and I decided to respond to it. Below is my submission.
1. Poverty – worry about debts, about how to acquire necessities such as food for one’s children, and what to pay for first – can cause a drop in IQ of up to 15 points. This indicates how much stress debts can cause for a child’s parents, creating a stressful environment for the child, not to mention various forms of deprivation (for which forced adoption is definitely not the appropriate solution, but I shouldn’t have to explain that).
There are many other publications.
Poverty is also linked to lower physical health, as you know from various studies conducted in Britain. Merely think of the combination of black moulds and cold homes. Tens of thousands of people die in Britain every winter as the result of being unable to afford to heat their homes properly. In insufficiently heated or insufficiently insulated homes, the probability of mould growth due to condensation against cold walls is higher as well. Then add lack of proper nutrition.
2. “Economic inequality harms societies”
Richard Wilkinson and other researchers, in various papers and presentations
3. “IMF research has shown that excessive inequality hinders growth and hollows out the country’s economic foundation. It erodes trust within society and fuels political tension.”
Christine Lagarde in a public speech at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, October 2017
4. Low wages are a major cause of poverty hence of debt in Britain. Parents have no control over this.
5. Problems with benefits are another major cause of severe poverty in Britain. Parents have no control over this either, but these issues can aggravate stress immensely, particularly debt-related stress.
6. All humans have human rights and human needs (such as the need for food and shelter), not just a few lucky people for whom fate decided that they were born and are growing up in lucky circumstances. Continue reading
Interview with Mark Easton, BBC. Date unknown, but near the end of Tony Blair’s premiership.
Keep in mind that “hooliganism” and “anti-social behaviour” are often labels used to indicate (and reject) people from a lower socioeconomic class in Britain and that this “hooliganism” for example gets expressed in graffiti.
Of course, causing (increased) financial hardship for parents by taking any benefits away is most definitely not “in the best interest of the child”.
Tony Blair did consider graffiti “anti-social behaviour”. During a photo-op as part of his crusade, he hosed down graffiti and said that older generations of his family would have abhorred such behaviour. It then turned out that his own grandmother had been a “commie” graffiti vandal.
There probably is a work by Banksy somewhere in response to all of this.
Tony Blair also criminalized a lot of behavior that is essentially merely human behavior. That too was in nobody’s best interest and probably did nothing toward decreasing inequality in Britain.
It did not enable (more) people to flourish.
The UK has a consumer debt crisis and it is young people, aged 18 to 34, who are most vulnerable. National unsecured debt – which includes credit cards, overdrafts and car loans – has topped £200 billion for the first time since the global financial crisis struck in 2008. But the concentration of debt, and the experiences of vulnerability, are not shared out equally.
Andrew Bailey, the head of the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), has warned that there is a “pronounced build-up of indebtedness amongst the younger age group”. He was responding to the FCA’s Financial Lives Survey which showed that 55% of 18- to 24-year-olds and 63% of 25- to 34-year-olds are in debt, owing on average over £8,000.
These numbers alone are cause for alarm, and that’s before even considering the harms and vulnerability that over-indebtedness brings. Any debt organisation will tell you about the damage which debt causes to mental and physical health. And yet so many young people are forced into debt, often before they start any meaningful form of work.
This problem should not be seen as a product of “binge” culture, and young people should not just be told to rein in their spending. Rather, this is a problem of affordability.
Rising housing costs; an increase in zero-hours contracts; inflation outstripping wages; the rapid rise in student loans – all of these issues are creating a cage of debt around young people. While the older generation retains financial security through assets (usually in the form of housing) and enjoys greater security in work, the younger generation is more likely to be exposed to the risks of private renting and job insecurity.
Amid the global panic arising from the 2008 financial crisis, the UK government propped up a failing banking sector with £1,162 billion in support. At this moment, the private financial crisis turned into a public state crisis.
Crises are usually defined by change, signalling an end to the unstable conditions of the past. Yet the enduring legacy of the financial crisis has been a transformation of the role of the state and public finances, which has left young people in an even more precarious position.
Ten years on from the financial crisis, and eight years after the introduction of the welfare-stripping austerity agenda, one thing still holds true: it is the people who contributed the least towards the crisis who are paying the highest price.
As the UK government continues to pay back its own debts by cutting costs and squeezing out savings, it is really young people who are carrying the burden of debt. What’s worse is, they don’t really have a choice.
In the years since the crisis, fiscal responsibility has been transferred from the state onto the individual. In other words, rather than the state providing services to ensure a basic level of well-being for everyone, it’s increasingly up to individuals to pay the price for their own education, housing and health care.
Nowhere is this clearer than in higher education; whereas the state once invested in the futures of the young, it now saddles university graduates with an average debt of £25,505 each.
Even the government’s flagship apprenticeship scheme uses young people for cheap labour, with 18-year-olds paid as little as £3.40 an hour.
All this means that, unless young people have the financial support of a parent, they are forced to rely on an increasingly punitive and complex benefit system or (more likely) be pushed down the pathway to debt. In these circumstances, it’s unsurprising that debt has become a “lifeline” for so many.
Debt is a major political instrument of control, and it should be seen as such. Individuals shoulder the burden of debt, but it is not an individual problem; it is a problem of society. It is no accident that the young are indebted in the way that they are: it is the product of years of neglect and a lack of investment by the state. The political choices of the UK government got young people into this mess. Now, political action should be used to help them out.
A “bit like cutting off your nose to spite your face” someone said on Twitter this morning. Best description I’ve heard so far.
And what do we do about that? (See this for more info.)
I don’t know. British government is utterly useless in this respect. Everybody knows that.
Could local government be better? Instead of city councils sending out e-mails that encourage people to buy lottery tickets (!!), could they include a list of potential benefits people may qualify for? It might even stop those people from getting into arrears with their council tax, for example.
Other than that, I have no solutions. Anyone?
I got that in response to this:
Some time ago, the tone of your council tax payment reminders changed considerably. The letters can now be seen as condescending toward socioeconomic minorities.
Most people do not choose to ignore their council tax bills, after all. They are forced to.
You know as well as I do that people who are on any kind of benefit to do with the DWP often suffer from delays, sanctions and errors in their payments. Their income is not such that it can bridge those income gaps and the income gaps usually mean that people are not able to carry out bill payments.
This situation is going to get worse as a result of the roll-out of the universal credit system which currently results in payment gaps of 6 to 8 weeks.
May I suggest that instead of chiding people for being of the wrong class, you offer support and solutions?
One solution for bridging income gaps caused by the DWP could be to set up small local networks that offer peer-to-peer interest-free lending. Each individual might for example lend £5 or £10 to the person left in the lurch by the DWP, which would limit each individual’s risk. This could enable people to continue paying their bills instead of getting in arrears. When the delayed DWP payment finally arrives, they would have to return the loaned money. If they don’t, they’d be kicked out of the network. Any new delays would have to be covered through a new loan.
I know that Britain distinguishes between lesser and higher human beings, but that is against the law, even in Britain, and your letters could be perceived as discriminatory in nature.
Thank you for your consideration.
Of course, the above also holds for other situations, such as cleaners whose get their wages late or whose paid wage amount was incorrect. Benefit payments have been in the news a lot lately, however.
As most people in Britain know by now, the roll-out of universal credit leaves recipients without income for 6 to 8 weeks. Recipients of universal credit are not able to bridge such gaps, which means they develop arrears, often for the first time in their lives, and sometimes lose their homes as a result.
One solution for bridging these income gaps could be to set up local peer-to-peer interest-free lending networks. To be able to bridge the gap left by universal credit, such networks would have to include people with higher incomes (whereas smaller loans of, say, £50 to £100 can be provided by small networks of people who each lend a fiver or a tenner).
As soon as the delayed payment comes in, the recipient would have to pay off that loan.
This could be a solution that empowers people and prevents arrears.
I am aware that this would be a highly thoroughly un-British solution, but the usual endless whining of so many lone individuals – regardless of whether they write in the Guardian or not – does not help anyone bridge that monstrous income gap either.
And even if the gap were to be reduced to 4 weeks, this would still be too much to bridge.
The main motivation for universal credit appears to be a concealed benefit cut (without calling it that). “We want to make sure people who work get more money than people who depend on benefits”, the government has said. In a low-wage country, that is very bad news.
Iain Duncan Smith – he who laughed loudly when he heard of suicides and other forms of suffering among particularly disabled and chronically ill people as a result of benefit cuts – has said that the 6-to-8 weeks wait is actually a Treasury thing, not a DWP thing. If that is true, then the only reason that I can think of for the delay is the interest the government can make on the delayed UC payments. (This – interest – is the reason why many big corporations pay all their bills late.)
(I realize that UC is only still being piloted and running behind big time, but it’s about to push into its next phase and there are no signs that the government is going to remedy the mess.)