Groovmistress posted this comment on Tom Pride’s piece about the Jobcentre sanctioning a young woman simply because she was pregnant.
The whole set-up in the Jobcentres is geared to putting the “client” in their place, making them feel inferior and, in my experience, the “officers” take pleasure in acting the role of strict headteacher (“stand there”, “don’t cross the line”, “don’t answer back” etc) doling out punishment at any opportunity. Many of these “officers” are not highly trained professionals (I have known a few personally) and quite obviously relish their power. They are not there to help us, their mission seems to be to do whatever they can to sanction, disallow a claim or just make our lives very difficult.
I was once sanctioned and money stopped, because I “missed an appointment”. I had an appointment at the jobcentre for 1pm on a Monday. On the Saturday before I received…
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Women, people with disabilities and ethnic minorities may be put off taking part in Britain’s political system because of abuse or threats of physical attacks, a North East MP has warned.
Sharon Hodgson, Labour MP for Washington & Sunderland West and the Shadow Equalities Minister, said attempts to make councils and Parliament more representative were being undermined by fears that candidates would face discrimination.
And she said that every party had to act to stamp out intimidation and prejudice in politics.
She was speaking as the Commons debated the findings of an inquiry which found candidates standing for election need protection from racist, Islamaphobic and anti-semitic attempts to smear them.
The findings were published by the All-Party Parliamentary Inquiry into Electoral Conduct.
Jeremy Beecham, who led Newcastle City Council for 17 years and is now a Labour peer, revealed that he had faced anti-semitic campaigning from political opponents when he first stood as a councillor in the city in 1967.
The inquiry also highlighted the case of Parmjit Dhanda, a former Labour MP, whose children found a severed pig’s head outside his house after his election defeat in 2010.
Gay rights group Stonewall highlighted a number of incidents of homophobic behaviour by candidates from many parties including an example from 2007 in which a Labour party council candidate with parliamentary ambitions, Miranda Grell, labelled her opponent a paedophile.
Ms Grell was convicted in 2007 by magistrates in Waltham Forest of two counts of making false statements about another candidate.
Mrs Hodgson told MPS: “None of us goes into politics without the fear of attack, and none of us is immune from attack on some level; but we should always expect any attacks on us to be based on choices or decisions that we have made, the things we have said, the way we have voted, or what we have done.”
But she warned: “I am sure that for many candidates the threat of their skin colour, background or faith – not to mention their children’s or relatives’- being turned into smears or innuendo or leading to harassment or abuse such as we have heard about today is a real consideration. I worry that the fear I have described will mean that many excellent candidates never seek their local party’s nomination or get the chance to be elected.”
The number of MPs in the House of Commons from ethnic minority backgrounds has increased. After the 2010 General Election there were 27 minority ethnic MPs, 12 more than in the previous Parliament.
It means 4.2% of MPs are from an an ethnic minority compared to 17.9% of the UK population as a whole.
The 2010 census of local councillors in England, carried out by the Local Government Association, showed that 4% came from an ethnic minority background, compared to 20% of the English population as a whole.
Equalities Minister Helen Grant said: “The inquiry on electoral conduct was thorough and detailed and made recommendations to a number of bodies, including the Electoral Commission, the police and political parties. Building its findings into current work and guidance and working with the right organisations is the best way to ensure that political life becomes a battle of ideas, not of race hate and discrimination.”
Source – Newcastle Journal,
This article was written by Rowena Mason, political correspondent, for theguardian.com on Thursday 8th May 2014
Zero-hours contracts will actually be “enabling” for workers under the coalition’s new benefits system, the Tory employment minister, Esther McVey, has claimed.
The minister said the new universal credit scheme – which rolls all benefits into a single monthly payment – would be beneficial for workers on the controversial zero-hours contracts, even though the use of such contracts has been fiercely criticised for not guaranteeing people minimum hours or pay.
It comes after the Guardian revealed that jobseekers could lose their benefits for three months or more if they refused to take zero-hours contracts for the first time under the new system. Previously, jobseekers have not faced penalties for refusing to apply for or accept the contracts, which have been blamed for creating insecurity in the labour force.
Speaking at an event on women and politics, McVey defended the coalition’s policies, saying: “Universal Credit is going to turn not only employment on its head but benefits on its head because every hour you work, you will get money for. You won’t be penalised. You will be supported, you will constantly be on benefits but you will get more money.
> Eh ? “you will constantly be on benefits but you will get more money” ?
“That is the single biggest thing. There was zero hours. We know there were zero-hours, they came in under Labour, they’ve been there since 2000. But by changing the benefits system, it’s no longer zero, it’s enabling hours. So that every hour you work you will get some money and we will protect you and give you benefits.”
> Eh ?? “ it’s no longer zero, it’s enabling hours” ? What is she talking about ?
At the same event, which was organised by Asda, McVey also acknowledged the need for politicians to talk in a clearer way, saying those who talk in “fancy language” might be trying to hide something or may not actually understand their own policy.
> Ha ha ha ! You said it. McVile – “it’s no longer zero, it’s enabling hours“…
“We do have to listen. And I think what Storm [a mother in the audience] said may be at the heart of it too. She said: do us a favour: use language that we understand. Sometimes fancy language in a fancy way could be because you’re trying to disguise something or could it be that you don’t quite understand it yourself?
“I think understanding that basic language really is key and explaining to people … Never has the world been so complex. A woman’s life is complex, whether we are a mum, there may be a single mum and then looking after a teenager, then coming back into the workplace, and then looking after your elderly parents. How do we get all those complexities into law, which have usually been so rigid, so linear and that is difficult.”
Last week, the Office for National Statistics revealed the number of contracts that do not guarantee minimum hours of work or pay but require workers to be on standby had reached 1.4 million.
More than one in 10 employers are using such contracts, which are most likely to be offered to women, young people and people over 65. The figure rises to almost half of all employers in the tourism, catering and food sector.
The change in policy under universal credit was revealed in a letter from McVey to Labour MP Sheila Gilmore, who had raised the issue of sanctions with her.
The senior Tory confirmed that, under the new system, JobCentre “coaches” would be able to “mandate to zero-hours contracts”, although they would have discretion about considering whether a role was suitable.
The Department for Work and Pensions said jobseekers would not be required to take a zero-hours contract that tied them exclusively to a single employer. The government is already consulting on whether to ban this type of contract altogether.
Source – Welfare News Service 08 May 2014