Tagged: Archbishop of Westminster

David Cameron Think’s He’s The Messiah – Poor And Disabled Left Waiting For A Miracle

 The life of PM David Cameron has just become a little bizarre. During his Easter Reception at Downing St, he reportedly said he was simply continuing the work of Christ when he launched the “Big Society” initiative of volunteering and civic responsibility.

“Jesus invented the Big Society 2,000 years ago, I just want to see more of it and encourage as much of it as possible.” Cameron said, adding  that the Government should seek to improve the “spiritual and moral state” of the nation and be unashamedly “evangelical”.

If that wasn’t bizarre enough, he then went onto compare himself to a company that unblocks drains. Offering his services to help the Church keep up its commitments to Jesus’ Big Society concept, he said: “If there are things that are stopping you from doing more, think of me as a giant Dyno-Rod”.

So has the PM, as one voter tweeted, “…gone mad”? Or is this the end result of what the PM has called a “difficult week” and why he had to fly off to Lanzarote? Either way, his bizarre comments do not reflect Coalition policy, and here is why.

 Dyno-Rod proudly state on their website: “Our priority is to deliver the best service we can, working to the highest standards – we know it’s what our customers expect”.
Unfortunately for Cameron, his coalition government has delivered the worst. Brutal welfare reform and spending cuts has seen living standards fall and the cost of living to rise. His priority is the wealthy – shown by tax cuts and bonuses. In addition, with George Osborne promising a year of “hard truths” and further spending cuts, people can expect things to get even tougher.

However, no matter how tough things get, the people of Britain can be assured that their suffering is all part of the continuation of Christ’s work – well, that is if Cameron is to be believed.

His assertion that he is simply doing God’s work is a refreshing change from blaming Labour, but his policies are far removed from anything Jesus ever said or did.

For instance, his claim that Jesus invented the Big Society cannot be found in any version of the bible. So, it would appears that Cameron, who claims to have a ‘strong faith’, hasn’t been reading his bible, or as he? Indeed, if Christ had created the idea behind the ‘Big Society’, that idea would have been very different to Cameron’s vision.

If Cameron is the Messiah that would make his cabinet – by default – the Twelve Apostles; who, according to scripture, were all early followers chosen to become Christs closest disciples, advance his kingdom and carry the Gospel message to the world. It’s not difficult to see the similarity between that and Cameron’s Cabinet – earlier classmates chosen to become close allies and so on. Ironically, the chosen disciples were neither scholarly nor had any exceptional skill. Indeed none were religious. Compare that, for example to Osborne, Chancellor of the Exchequer, yet he only has a single degree in history.

That is where the similarities end. The bible has generosity and helping the poor as one of its major themes, stretching from the Old Testament to the New. Whilst Cameron has got the generosity part right with his tax cuts and bonuses for the rich, when it comes to helping the poor he has done nothing.

Cameron once said: “Let us look at the issue of dependency where we have trapped people in poverty through the extent of welfare that they have”.

Rather than helping, he has embarked on some of the biggest cuts to welfare support since the formation of the welfare state, which has led to a five-fold increase in poverty-stricken families turning to food banks.

Yet, Cameron is still insisting that he is helping. When the Archbishop of Westminster, the Most Rev Vincent Nichols, criticized the cuts to the welfare state which had left many facing destitution and hunger, Cameron responded by saying it’s “simply not true” and that welfare reform was part of his “moral mission” for the country. Moreover, in his response – written in The Daily Telegraph – he said:

“Our welfare reforms go beyond that alone: they are about giving new purpose, new opportunity, new hope – and yes, new responsibility to people who had previously been written off with no chance. Seeing these reforms through is at the heart of our long-term economic plan – and it is at the heart, too, of our social and moral mission in politics today”.

In my view, Cameron’s policies are immoral. His long-term economic plan has created unprecedented demands on food banks, has subjected people who are disabled to degrading assessments and has caused unnecessary hardship and homelessness.

Yet he continues, ignoring the fact that his reforms are not giving new purpose, new opportunity or new hope. His disciple, Ian Duncan Smith (AKA – Secretary of State for Work and Pensions) blindly follows. Writing in The Daily Telegraph, he rejected claims that welfare reform will condemn thousands to a “Dickensian” way of life. Adding:

“If you’d listened to the scaremongers, you’d be forgiven for thinking we were ripping up the welfare state and telling people to fend for themselves. In fact, what we are doing is returning the welfare state to what it was meant to be: a safety net, not a way of life”.

The poor, sick and disabled are left waiting for a miracle and used as scapegoats for our country’s economic ills, whilst David Cameron’s government continues to look after the interests of the greedy and most richest – the same people, who some may argue, caused the ‘economic crisis’ to begin with.

 By Jenny Howarth for the Welfare News Service (WNS).

Source – Welfare News Service  12 April 2014

http://welfarenewsservice.com/david-cameron-thinks-hes-the-messiah-poor-and-disabled-left-waiting-for-a-miracle/

70,000 Job Seekers’ Benefits Withdrawn Unfairly, Says Thinktank

This article  was written by Patrick Wintour and Patrick Butler, for The Guardian on Monday 3rd March 2014

Nearly 70,000 job seekers have had their benefits withdrawn unfairly, making them reliant on food banks, the right-of-centre thinktank Policy Exchange has said .

The intervention is the first by a respected rightwing voice claiming that something has gone wrong with the administration of benefits.

A chorus of churches, charities and Labour has been warning the work and pensions secretary, Iain Duncan Smith, for months that the administration of benefit sanctions has become too punitive.

Duncan Smith has commissioned a limited independent review into the administration of sanctions, and this is likely to confirm problems in the way they are imposed, but not challenge their level.

Policy Exchange says almost a third of all people who break their job search conditions for the first time have their benefits taken away by mistake and face unnecessary hardship as a result.

Guy Miscampbell, the author of the Policy Exchange report, said: “It is clear that there are a significant number of people who have their benefit taken away from them unfairly. Four weeks without any money is driving people to desperate measures including a reliance on food banks”.

The report suggests: “With some 874,000 adverse decisions being made between October 2012 and September 2013, and over 146,000 of them being successfully appealed or reconsidered it is clear that the possibility of wrongly applied sanctions, and what their effects might be, is an important one. With some estimates suggesting that 43% of those referred to food banks are there due to benefit stoppage or being refused a crisis loan, it is clear that there is not currently an adequate safety net for those who are wrongly sanctioned”.

The report comes as a public health specialist, Professor Elizabeth Dowler of Warwick University, said that poverty–stricken families who cannot afford to buy sufficient food are overtaking unhealthy eating as the most pressing public health concern.

The claim is made in a BBC Panorama documentary broadcast on Monday evening, which found that over a third of local authorities in England and Wales were providing funding for food banks, despite government claims that charity food is not a part of the social security system. “Food banks are an inadequate plaster over a gaping wound,” Dowler said.

On Sunday, Cardinal Vincent Nichols, the archbishop of Westminster, repeated his criticisms of the welfare system, saying that “some of the priests who are right there on the ground say it comes across as punitive”. He revealed that he was bringing a group of priests together to discuss the evidence, and welcomed the inquiry into food banks being chaired by the archbishop of Truro and Frank Field.

Policy Exchange suggests issuing first-time offenders, who may or may not have been fairly sanctioned, with a ‘yellow card’ in the form of a benefits card. It says this would be a more compassionate way of trying to help people back into work.

Benefits would be accessed via this card for a maximum of eight weeks. If the claimant continues to breach job search conditions, the card and benefits would be taken away. This system would provide a safety net, mitigating hardship while a sanction is appealed, forcing claimants to re-engage with Jobcentre staff and deterring non-compliance through the added inconvenience of daily sign on.

They would also be asked to sign on daily as part of a proposal to create a more compassionate but stricter sanctions regime.

It suggests that repeat offenders should be punished more seriously.

> So its still all sticks and no carrots…

The report also recommends more stringent penalties for people who consistently break the terms of their job search requirements. According to the research, between October 2012 and September 2013 there were 30,000 claimants on their third sanction or more for lower tier offences such as missing an interview with a Jobcentre adviser. Repeat offenders should have their benefits taken away for a longer period of time from 13 to 26 weeks for a third breach. For each offence, a further 13 weeks should be added.

Monday’s Panorama also uncovers evidence that a jobcentre appears to be explicitly alerting its staff to the financial savings to be made through “sanctioning” job seekers when they are judged to have broken benefit conditions.

A wall chart in a Grantham jobcentre explicitly sets out the cash savings available to the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) through stopping the benefits of claimants, ranging from £227.20 a week for a four-week sanction to £3,728 for a sanction lasting one year.The DWP told Panorama: “This was an isolated incident and does not reflect our policy on sanctions.”

> And we don’t believe you. 

In a way, its more comforting to believe that they do have targets…otherwise you’d be left with the impression that a large proportion of Jobcentre staff are vicious, sadistic bastards willing to wreck people’s lives on a whim.

Source – Welfare News Service,  03 Mar 2014

http://welfarenewsservice.com/70000-job-seekers-benefits-withdrawn-unfairly-says-thinktank/

Sanctions – A Personal Story

> The following was received by email. I’ve omitted the writer’s name and a couple of identifying locations – you never know who might be reading.

Hello,

I am emailing in connection with the Archbishop of Westminster’s recent acknowledgement of the unfair JSA sanctions being imposed on thousands of people throughout the UK during the last year or more.

I am one of these statistics myself, having been sanctioned in early Dec 2013 for ‘limiting myself‘ as regards my job seeking. This was in the same week I had attended and BEEN SUCCESSFUL at a part-time job interview!

I also believe that, as I had just started on the Work Programme in the very same week that there was more going on than met the eye. I had to attend to sign on at a different office ( XXXX  Road,   – linked with ZZZZZ JC+) and the new advisor immediately started becoming intimidatory towards me because I wasn’t logging my job searches on the Universal Job match system online (hand writing it instead – which is my right).

I informed her that I had researched this and that it wasn’t obligatory to document jobsearches online. She was apparently attempting to find any reason to impose a sanction on me and stated that I hadn’t applied for 10 jobs in the last fortnight according to my contract.

This contract had been created without my consultation when I originally started signing on at ZZZZZ  in Dec 2012. I stated this but it fell on deaf ears.

I have been in the process of following the complaints procedure ever since, having now written 3 complaint letters none of which has even been acknowledged never mind responded to – including one to the Director of Operations.

I am not signing on now, having found more part-time work this month and exceeding the 16hr limit. I intend to continue with appealing my unfair discrimination however regarding the 4 week sanction which left me without a penny to live on for  *7 weeks in total*. The Hardship Payment application wasn’t processed until mid Jan 2014 (the sanction dated back to 23/11/13).

I applaud the Bishop for speaking out against this disgusting legislation and practice imposed by this uncaring coalition government. I believe this is a violation of people’s basic human rights – to be paid the barely sustainable JSA to be able to eat, pay bills and attempt to find work in an employment climate that is unfavourable for many, particularly when we are often discriminated against just for being unemployed in the first place nevermind the dearth of suitable jobs.

Shame on Cameron, Osborne, Duncan-Smith and the rest of them! These people have absolutely no idea what it means to live on the barest minimum, so I suppose it is no surprise to really expect them to give a damn.

Of course my case is just another piece of evidence of our broken welfare system. The sooner this is addressed the better. I feel for those who are reduced to food banks or worse in these unjust and unequal times. I happen to be fortunate enough to have a small amount of savings not to have to do so.

What The Fuck Does David Cameron Know About Poverty?

the void

cameron-toff There are few things more vile than listening to a man born into a multi-million pound fortune lecturing the rest of us about whether people are really poor or not.

David Cameron’s pathetic tirade about poverty this week – during which he accused one of the most senior figures in the Catholic Church of lying about the extent of vicious cuts to social security – was exactly what might be expected from an aloof, out of touch Prime Minister who’s never had to do a real day’s work in his life.

Cameron claims that Archbishop of Westminster, Vincent Nichols’ statement that the safety net of the welfare state has disappeared for many people is ‘just not true’.  After all, David Cameron doesn’t know any poor people and life in Chipping Norton is simply spiffing.  He goes on to say how lucky those unable to find a job are to be…

View original post 836 more words

Record Number Of Sanctions Made Against Benefits Claimants In 2013

This article  was written by Patrick Wintour, political editor, for theguardian.com on Wednesday 19th February 2014

The total number of sanctions against benefit claimants in the year to September 2013 was 897,690, the highest figure for any 12-month period since jobseeker’s allowance was introduced in 1996.

The figures published by the Department for Work and Pensions cover employment support allowance and jobseeker’s allowance.

The number of JSA sanctions in the year to 30 September 2013 was 874,850, the highest since JSA was introduced in 1996. It compares with 500,000 in the year to 30 April 2010, the last month of the previous Labour government.

In the year to 30 September 2013 there were also 22,840 sanctions imposed on claimants of ESA – the chief benefit for the sick and disabled – in the work-related activity group. This is the highest for any 12-month period since sanctions were introduced for such claimants in October 2008.

The figures are derived from the latest quarterly set of sanctions totals published by the DWP.

The large numbers come before the government introduces its tougher claimant commitment that will require claimants to do more to prove they are actively seeking work.

Asked if an excessively punitive approach to sanctions claimants had contributed to the latest fall in unemployment, Esther McVey, the employment minister, said the DWP had brought the same clarity of requirements to those out of work that applies to those in work.

Critics, including members of the work and pensions select committee, will claim those on ESA and JSA are likely to be more vulnerable and chaotic than those in work. There is also criticism from charities about the way in which sanctions are administered and communicated.

The archbishop of Westminster, Vincent Nichols, the leader of the Catholic church in England and Wales, has also suggested something has gone wrong with the welfare state, prompting David Cameron to restate the moral case for his reforms.

Ministers have set up an external inquiry into how sanctions decisions are communicated to claimants, which is due to be published next month.

Analysis produced by Professor David Webster at Glasgow University of the latest set of statistics shows in the year to 30 September 2013, JSA claims were being sanctioned at the rate of 5.11% a month, and in the three months to 30 September 2013 at a rate of 6.00% a month. These are the highest rates recorded since the start of JSA in 1996.

Over the whole period of the coalition government, JSA sanctions have run at 4.42% of JSA claimants a month. This compares with approximately 2.46% during the Labour government from May 1997 to April 2010.

In the period 22 October 2012 to 30 September 2013 (a period of 49 weeks), 527,574 individuals received a sanction. The highest published number for any 52-week period was 528,700 in the financial year 2010/11.

The figures also show a large increase in sanction activity. A total of 560,371 decisions were taken in three months to September, of which 236,786 were adverse and led to some kind of benefit withdrawal, a further 157, 633 were non-adverse and 138,554 were cancelled.

The number of decisions is up from 513,327 in the same three months of 2012 when 217,871 were adverse and 137,713 were non-adverse.

This represents a doubling of sanctioning activity since the last full year of the Labour government. In the same three months of 2009 121,584 adverse decisions were taken and the total number of decisions was 237,622, less than half the activity of the same period in 2013.

Source – Welfare News Service   19 Feb 2014

New Cardinal Vincent Nichols: welfare cuts ‘frankly a disgrace’

Britain’s most senior Roman Catholic cleric has accused the Coalition of leaving increasing numbers of people facing “hunger and destitution”.

Cardinal-designate Vincent Nichols, the Archbishop of Westminster, said that while the need to reduce spending on benefits is widely accepted, the Government’s reforms have now destroyed even the “basic safety net”.

Archbishop Nichols, the leader of the Catholic Church in England and Wales, said the welfare system had also become increasingly “punitive”, often leaving people with nothing for days on end if they fail even to fill a form in correctly.

He said it was “a disgrace” that this was possible in a country as rich as Britain.

His intervention  comes as he prepares for a Consistory in Rome where he will receive a red Cardinal’s hat from Pope Francis.

The Archbishop’s criticism will be felt acutely by the work and pensions secretary Iain Duncan Smith, who is a practising Roman Catholic.

Last year Mr Duncan Smith accused Church of England bishops who criticised aspects of the reforms of ignoring the concerns of ordinary people.

“People do understand that we do need to tighten our belts and be much more responsible and careful in public expenditure,” said the Archbishop.

“But I think what is happening is two things: one is that the basic safety net that was there to guarantee that people would not be left in hunger or in destitution has actually been torn apart.

“It no longer exists and that is a real, real dramatic crisis.

“And the second is that, in this context, the administration of social assistance, I am told, has become more and more punitive.

“So if applicants don’t get it right then they have to wait for 10 days, for two weeks with nothing – with nothing.

“For a country of our affluence, that quite frankly is a disgrace.”

The Archbishop is one of 19 senior clerics from around the world chosen by Pope Francis to be elevated to the highest rank of Roman Catholic clergy. It grants him a place in the secret Conclave which will elect the next Pope.

A Department for Work and Pensions spokesperson said: “The benefits system this Government inherited was broken, trapping the very people it was designed to help, with around five million on out of work benefits and millions of children growing up in workless households.

“Our welfare reforms will transform the lives of some of the poorest families in our communities with Universal Credit making three million households better off and lifting hundreds of thousands of children out of poverty.

“It’s wrong to talk of removing a safety net when we’re spending 94bn a year on working age benefits and the welfare system supports millions of people who are on low incomes or unemployed so they can meet their basic needs.”

> The Department for Work and Pensions spokesperson’s nose  suddenly grew to an unfeasible length – an occupational hazard for those tasked with defending the DWP.

Source – Telegraph  14 Feb 2014