The Labour Party …

Nothing changes with the Labour Party, local or national. In fact it could hardly get worse :

Press release from Jonathan Arnott MEP

http://www.jonathanarnott.co.uk/2019/02/the-labour-party-has-just-disavowed-its-own-manifesto-their-mps-were-therefore-effectively-elected-under-false-pretences/

Plans by Labour for a second referendum on the UK’s membership of the EU have been slated by local MEP Jonathan Arnott.

“We’ve already voted four times on Brexit  – European elections 2014, General Election 2015, EU referendum 2016, General Election 2017 – and to have yet another vote would be a betrayal. “

And he pointed out, “To have another referendum would require further European elections – three years after we voted to Leave – and a six month-plus extension of Article 50.

“We’ve already waited long enough.

“In my view if the British people were offered a choice between a soft Brexit and no-Brexit, a generation would lose faith in democracy, such a referendum would be farcical.”

Mr Arnott, Independent MEP for the North East,  continued, “Jeremy Corbyn’s position on IRA terrorism, Palestinian terrorism, antisemitism, Venezuela, etc. have made him the most appalling leader of the opposition ever.

“His one redeeming feature has been to say that he would deliver Brexit. He’s now betrayed even that.

“This is a cynical move by Corbyn. He has split his own Party, lost the confidence of his backbenchers, failed to deal with anti-semitism and risked the destruction of his own party.

“This plan is clearly designed to shore up his own support within the Party and has nothing to do with what’s right for the country.

“The Labour Party has just disavowed its own Manifesto. Their MPs were therefore, effectively, elected under false pretences,” he said.

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DWP officers fail to turn up at four out of five benefit appeal hearings

Govt Newspeak

EXCLUSIVE: Just 1,790 out of 9,010 ESA and PIP tribunal hearings in September had a DWP “presenting officer”

Labour MP Justin Madders said: “The system needs a radical overhaul”

Government officials failed to turn up at four out of five welfare appeal hearings in a single month, according to shock figures seen by the Mirror. A “presenting officer” represented the Department of Work and Pensions at just 1,790 out of 9,010 “first-tier tribunal” hearings against decisions over on employment support allowance and personal independence payments in September – some 19.8%.

That was a drop from a third in January 2018, according to stats revealed to MPs. Figures from other months show a continuing plunge in the number of appeals where the Government is represented in person throughout last year.

Shadow Health Minister Justin Madders said: “It is a disgrace that in the majority of cases the DWP cannot even be bothered to…

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What the DWP doesn’t want you to know …

Former jobcentre adviser Angela Neville has written a play to expose the harsh reality of the benefits sanctions regime.

Angela Neville, 48, is describing events she witnessed as a special adviser in a jobcentre that prompted her to write a play about her experiences.

“We were given lists of customers to call immediately and get them on to the Work Programme,” she recalls. “I said, ‘I’m sorry this can’t happen, this man is in hospital.’ I was told [by my boss]: ‘No, you’ve got to phone him and you’ve got to put this to him and he may be sanctioned.’ I said I’m not doing it.”

Neville worked as an adviser in Braintree jobcentre, Essex, for four years and has written a play with two collaborators, her friends Angela Howard and Jackie Howard, both of whom have helped advocate for unemployed people who were threatened with benefit sanctions by jobcentre staff.

The title of the play, Can This be England? is an allusion to the disbelief that she and the others feel at how people on benefits are being treated, she says. And she unashamedly describes the play, in which she also acts, as a “dramatic consciousness-raising exercise”.

Can This be England? deals with the quagmire that awaits people caught in the welfare system. Scenes are set in jobcentres and in characters’ homes addressing some of what Neville calls the “everyday absurdity” of what occurs, such as when people with disabilities and fluctuating health conditions are wrongly declared “fit for work” inflicting additional suffering in the process. It also examines the dilemmas faced by staff in jobcentres, many of whom Neville believes feel stripped of any power to do good and are crumbling under the strain as managers enforce new rules.

“You’re not doing the job, you’re firefighting,” she says. “From my own experience, staff are subjected to constant and aggressive pressure to meet and exceed targets. Colleagues would leave team meetings crying. Things were changing all the time. The pressure was incredible. Advisers were actively encouraged to impose sanctions (along the lines of “sanction of the month”) to contribute to the points system that ranks jobcentre offices. It was often for stupid reasons,” she adds.

“And it was happening all the time. A customer maybe would be a little bit late or would phone in and the message wasn’t passed on. It was very distressing to have customers literally without food, without heat, without resources and these are unwell [and] disabled customers. If it hadn’t been for the fact that most of my colleagues were dedicated and compassionate people I wouldn’t have lasted more than a few months.”

A demonstrable shift took place once the coalition settled in, says Neville. Along with “relentless” targets, huge caseloads, and less time to spend with individual claimants, she lists the increasing complexity of the system including the many and very complicated forms that needed to be filled in and problems with the fitness to work test administered by Atos. “It used to feel like we were doing something for clients, now it was [doing something] to them,” she says.

Things were made all the more difficult, she adds, when staff were given far fewer opportunities to assist claimants with things like accessing grants previously available for interview preparation, such as getting a haircut. “These small things can mean a lot. Over time, though, this fund was chipped away until requests were routinely turned down,” she says. “Initially I felt that I had the resources to genuinely support customers. Sadly, this changed once the coalition came in – to the extent that the work almost became the persecution of some of the most vulnerable people in society.”

A central motivation behind the play was how “morally compromising” the job had become, says Neville. In one scene an adviser tells her mum that it’s like “getting brownie points” for cruelty. When Neville herself became redundant in 2013, she was warned about being sanctioned for supposedly being five minutes late to a jobcentre interview.

There was also a strong feeling among the playwrights that the tendencies in wider society and the media to stigmatise and vilify benefits claimants needed to be refuted. The play opens with a scene where nosey neighbours spot someone on sickness benefit in the street and assume they must be skiving instead of working. “This play is about getting people to bloody think about stuff. Use their brains. Sometimes I think, crikey, we are turning into a really mean, spying on our neighbour, type of society,” says Neville.

She is one of many former jobcentre workers speaking out with revelations about a “culture” of targets and accelerating pressure on staff to shift people off benefits, (repeatedly denied by the Department for Work and Pensions) often by the overuse of arbitrary and harsh sanctions that mean people’s benefits can be stopped for weeks and sometimes months. Like others, Neville says the new regime rolled out by the government as part of its “back-to-work” drives and budget cuts has caused enormous stress for claimants but also for the staff expected to implement them. Some advisers’ stories have been officially documented, such as that of John Longden, a former jobcentre official who gave written evidence to the ongoing parliamentary committee investigation into sanctions of “hit squads” setting claimants up to fail.

Neville acknowledges that she has worked in just one jobcentre but argues that as the evidence from other frontline workers comes out it is clear that poor practices are commonplace.

She insists she isn’t normally a political person. “I don’t have a particular axe to grind … but it does always seem to happen under the Conservatives,” she adds.

Can this be England? has only had a couple of performances in Quaker meeting houses, but more are planned in the coming months. As for what lies ahead, Neville is adapting the stage play for radio and says the script is freely available to other performers who want to put the play on. One reason for doing so is to gain a wider audience but it is primarily because she and her co-writers worry about serious problems down the road with social security reform. “I’m really scared that these next [welfare spending] cuts are going to come along and that people are going to get used to it and say: ‘that’s just the way it is’. It’s the acceptance of it I can’t bear to think about”.

“The Society Interview : The Guardian

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Doing the job of the police

Check out @lexiababy’s Tweet: https://twitter.com/lexiababy/status/1091214902495232000?s=09

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Register of Members’ Interests – recent changes

Changes to the Register of Members’ Interests
Kevin Barron

List all MPs and Register editions

This page shows how Kevin Barron‘s entry in the Register of Members’ Interests has changed over time, starting at the most recent and working back to the earliest we have managed to parse. Please be aware that changes in typography/styling at the source might mean something is marked as changed (ie. removed and added) when it hasn’t; sorry about that, but we do our best with the source material.

Removed Added

19 November 2018 – View full entry

10. Family members engaged in lobbying the public sector on behalf of a third party or client

  • My wife, Lady Andrée Deane Barron, is a freelance public affairs consultant. (Registered 01 November 2018)

10 September 2018 – View full entry

1. Employment and earnings

  • Payments from ComRes, Four Millbank, London SW1P 3JA, for opinion surveys. All fees donated to charity:
  • 18 June 2018, payment of £80 for a survey in May 2018. Hours: 40 mins. (Registered 10 September 2018)
  • 2 July 2018, payment of £75 for another survey in May 2018. Hours: 30 mins. (Registered 10 September 2018)
  • 10 August 2018, payment of £75 for a survey in June 2018. Hours: 30 mins. (Registered 10 September 2018)
  • 10 September 2018, payment of £75 for a survey in July 2018. Hours: 30 mins. (Registered 10 September 2018)

https://www.theyworkforyou.com/regmem/?p=10027

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Kevin Barron – on democracy

Parliament Week is a UK-wide festival which aims to engage people, especially young people, from different backgrounds and communities, with the UK Parliament and empower them to get involved.

It is part of Parliament’s Vote 100 programme, celebrating equal voting rights and other milestones in the UK’s democratic history. A record high of 32 per cent women MPs were elected to the House of Commons in the last election. Other centenaries coming up this year include the Parliament (Qualification of Women) Act, which gave women aged over 21 the right to stand for election, and the 1918 general election when women over 30 and all men over 21 voted for the first time.

As the MP for Rother Valley, I welcome the involvement of people in the constituency during Parliament Week. I am determined to ensure that the voters and citizens of tomorrow understand how vital their participation is in our democracy. And I’m excited to see so many schools, girl guides, scouts and local groups taking part. I have also been visiting schools in my constituency this week to explain the work I do.

In 2017, Parliament Week reached more than 360,000 people. This year’s festival is the largest ever and will see more than 7,000 registered events. Schools, workplaces and community groups across the country have a chance to get involved in their democracy, and to also celebrate one of the most important centenaries in British democratic history. We can only work towards a more equal society if we all engage with democracy.

Read more at: https://www.worksopguardian.co.uk/news/rother-valley-mp-stresses-the-importance-of-getting-young-people-involved-in-politics-1-9444983

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Rotherham Council – The Abuse Continues …

Rotherham Abuse Continues

A survivor of the Rotherham child exploitation scandal has spoken out calling for a change to the law after the man who raped her as a teenager was offered parental access by the council.

Arshid Hussain, who was jailed for 35 years in 2016 after being convicted of 23 child sex offences, was told by Rotherham Council that he could seek visits from the child, The Times reported today.

The newspaper said that Hussain, the boy’s father, was listed as a “respondent” in a Family Court case involving the boy, and was therefore contacted by the local authority, who promised to keep him informed of all future proceedings.

During a hearing last year, the boy’s mother was told that the convicted sex offender would be allowed to attend court and make legal representations.

Sammy Woodhouse, a survivor of the Rotherham child sexual exploitation scandal (PA Archive/PA Images)

Victim Sammy Woodhouse has now waived her anonymity, posting an emotive video online calling for a change to the law and revealing that the child involved is her son.

In a video which has been viewed over 200,000 times, she said: “This story is about myself, about my son, about the man that raped me, and about the fact that Rotherham Council have offered him to apply for parental rights for my child.”

Miss Woodhouse said Hussain had been proved to be “a danger to myself and to other children”.

https://d-18946643173472306500.ampproject.net/1811132019350/frame.html

She added: “I’ve also been able to prove that he is a direct danger to my son. This is happening all over the country, and it needs to stop.

“Children are being removed [and] being given to rapists, to murderers.”

Appearing on Good Morning Britain on Wednesday morning, Miss Woodhouse said she was “mortified” when she found that her rapist could be allowed access to her child.

Miss Woodhouse said after Hussain was jailed for 35 years she thought she would “never have to deal with [him] ever again”, but was left “in shock” after the move by Rotherham Council.

She also said when she applied for a passport for her son, she was told by the Passport Office she had to seek her rapist’s permission first.

Miss Woodhouse was one of the key witnesses in South Yorkshire Police’s Operation Clover investigation which led to a number of Rotherham men being given lengthy jail sentences in 2016, including Arshid Hussain and his three brothers.

She subsequently waived her anonymity and now speaks widely about child sexual exploitation and has written a book about her experiences.

The campaigner revealed on Tuesday that she and Louise Haigh, MP for Sheffield Heeley, are calling on the Government to change the 1989 Children’s Act to “ensure rapists can’t gain access to children conceived through rape and abuse”.

https://d-18946643173472306500.ampproject.net/1811132019350/frame.html

A Rotherham Council spokesman said that it could not disclose information relating to proceedings hearing in the Family Court, adding: “Like all councils we must comply with legal requirements, including Practice Directions, and that would include giving notice of proceedings to parents with or without formal parental responsibility.

“Often and understandably, cases before the Family Court are emotive and arouse strong feelings amongst those affected.

“We do understand that the legal requirements can cause upset to those involved and so we welcome a debate around this issue, which applies across England and Wales.”

A Ministry of Justice statement said: “This is obviously a very distressing incident and the relevant departments and local authority will work urgently to understand and address the failings in this case.

“Local authorities can apply to courts to request permission not to notify parents without parental responsibility about care proceedings, and courts should consider the potential harm to the child and mother when making this decision.”

An NSPCC spokeswoman added: “We need to understand if this is a one-off failure or a system-wide problem that needs to be addressed, so no other survivor and their child have to go through the same trauma.”

 

 

 

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