Disabled People Give Lead In Fight Against UK Austerity : The Bullet.

John Clarke.

I recently had the enormous honour of representing the Ontario Coalition Against Poverty (OCAP) at a week of action and international conference, organized from September 4-10 by Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC) in the UK. This was another step in building a close working relationship between our two organizations. It was also fascinating and inspiring to see disabled people, not merely participating in the struggle against austerity but actually giving a powerful and decisive lead to the entire movement.

DPAC rally: No More Deaths From Benefit Cuts

Since 2010, governments in the UK have moved into a cutting edge role in the implementation of the agenda of austerity. Central to this has been a drive to degrade and undermine income support systems so as to generate a climate of desperation and to force people into low paid, precarious work. A notorious system of ‘benefit sanctions’ has ensured that those forced to seek assistance live in a state of ongoing uncertainty, under constant threat of suspension or outright cut off.

However, a striking feature of the austerity attack in the UK has been an extraordinary and brazen readiness to attack disabled people living in poverty. When the whole edifice of English Poor Law provision was put in place, there was an assumption that those seeking assistance could be divided into the more and the less morally worthy, the ‘deserving’ and the ‘undeserving’ poor. ‘Able bodied’ and employable people were considered highly suspect and subject to outright abandonment, whereas those who could not be so readily assumed to be the architects of their own misfortune, particularly disabled people, might expect somewhat fewer conditions and scrutiny to be attached to the pittance they were provided. The austerity agenda of the 21st Century, however, has no patience with such sentimentality. It’s considered essential that disability, even of the severest kind, should exempt no one from the scramble for the lowest paid and most exploitative jobs.

Challenge and Resist Massive Injustice

First implemented, shamefully, by a Labour Government, the infamous Work Capability Assessment (WCA) was toughened by the Tory led Coalition in 2010 and its implementation handed over to private companies. First, at the hands of the hated Atos and, then, the U.S. based Maximus, sick and disabled people have been subjected to a regime of degrading scrutiny and lethal abandonment that has been shocking beyond description. DPAC has played a truly inspiring role in acting to challenge and resist this profound and massive injustice.

This extreme concern to ensure that almost no one be considered unable to participate in the scramble to find employment, has huge implications in terms of the international implementation of austerity. Certainly, Ontario has been impacted by this approach to ‘public policy.’ Here, the institution that has gone the furthest in this regard is the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB) as it oversees the persecution and impoverishment of injured workers. The WSIB displays willful disregard for medical evidence and an obsessive readiness to deem workers capable of performing work they have no realistic hope of obtaining or being able to perform.

Those disabled people who must rely on the Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP), are facing a regime that is focused on blocking and restricting eligibility to the greatest degree possible. The same determined drive to insist that virtually everyone is ready for work in some theoretical form is a central consideration. While a major redesign of ODSP appears to delayed due to yet another round of social assistance review and consultation by the Ontario Government, the previous ‘Brighter Prospects’ report that the Liberals commissioned makes clear that the concept of somewhat secure disability benefits is incompatible with the prevailing political agenda.

The DPAC week of action was of importance, not only because we in Ontario face the same kind of attacks, but because the model of resistance that has been created by an organization of disabled people in the UK holds lessons for all of us. The recent upsurge of support around the leadership of Jeremy Corbyn in the Labour Party notwithstanding, it would be impossible to deny that a sweeping movement of resistance to austerity in that country is yet to emerge. As real wages have declined on a scale comparable to that of Greece, strike activity is at historic lows. Social movement struggles continue but the needed critical mass of social resistance is yet to be set in motion. The Tory architects of social regression probably thought that disabled people would be among the least combative of their victims but this proved to be a serious miscalculation. The week of action that I had the privilege to play a role in drove this home to me very powerfully.

Throughout the week of September 4, a range of actions unfolded in a whole number of towns and cities. I was able to participate in several of the actions. Without doubt the most inspiring and important was held on September 7. DPAC members and supporters marched to the Houses of Parliament and blocked Westminster Bridge, bringing traffic to a halt. It took the police a couple of hours to clear scores of disabled people, many of them in wheelchairs, from the bridge. A few arrests occurred but the calm determination of people who were fighting back against lethal benefit cuts was unbeatable. It was easy to see why DPAC’s readiness to defy those responsible for these attacks has been so profoundly inspiring to the entire movement against austerity in the UK.

On the Saturday, the week culminated in a one day conference, devoted to the theme of “Disabled Peoples’ Resistance: Building Beyond Borders.” Presentations were made by people from Ireland, Greece, Bulgaria, Germany and I was able to report on the struggles underway in Ontario. “Emancipation Movement of People with Disabilities: Zero Tolerance” presented a video on an occupation they had carried out at a centre for disabled children in Lechaina, Greece. They were challenging the rampant neglect and abuse of children in these centres face, some of them strapped to their beds for every hour of the day and night. They are demanding the Syriza led Government deal with this appalling mistreatment at such places and several international solidarity actions will be taken to assist their struggle, including here in Toronto.

Coming out of the week of action and conference has been a renewed commitment to developing much more dynamic forms of international solidarity. We discussed ways to act together in support of our different struggles and to deepen our understanding of the attacks we face and the lessons that can be drawn from the forms of resistance we take up. Seeing the abuses faced by the disabled in austerity wracked Greece, this disgraceful removal of social provision in the UK or the failure to provide shelter from the elements for the homeless in Toronto, it’s clear that the agenda thrown against us is becoming ever more reckless and harmful. The lead that DPAC has given in this regard is a lesson to movements against austerity everywhere and opens up huge possibilities for the struggles that lie ahead. •

Link : The Bullet.

John Clarke is an organizer with the Ontario Coalition Against Poverty (OCAP).

CAUGHT ON CAMERA: Sickening moment Jimmy Savile groped teenager in front of her MUM

THE sickening moment paedophile Jimmy Savile groped a teenager in front of her MOTHER will be shown on television for the first time.

Pervert Savile is filmed rubbing himself on the girl and grabbing her bottom in front of cameras.

The girl was at the Flying Pizza restaurant in Leeds back in 2000 and was next to her mother, who Savile knew.

The disturbing footage is to be shown for the first time during BBC film maker Louis Theroux’s documentary ‘Louis Theroux:Savile’ on BBC2 on Sunday.

It comes 16 years after Theroux tried to expose the disgraced TV presenter in a 2002 documentary entitled ‘When Louis Met Jimmy.’

Pervert Savile is filmed rubbing himself on the girl and grabbing her bottom in front of cameras filming him for a documentary

Theroux filmed the shocking video around a year after a BBC documentary about pervert Savile was aired.

Bafta-winning filmmaker Theroux has since admitted his “guilt” about not doing more to expose Savile.

The father-of-three describes describes scenes in When Louis Met Jimmy as “uncomfortable viewing” before admitting he had developed “something like a friendship” with Savile, who abused hundreds of women and children over six decades.

During a chilling exchange shown in Theroux’s 2000 documentary, he quizzes Savile over rumours of his interest in children.

To which the paedophile replies: “We live in a very funny world.

“And it’s easier for me, as a single man, to say ‘I don’t like children’, because that puts a lot of salacious tabloid people off the hunt.”

Theroux then asks: “Is that basically so the tabloids don’t pursue this whole is he or isn’t he a paedophile line?”

Savile replies: “Oh, aye.

“How do they know whether I am not? How does anybody know whether I am? Nobody knows whether I am or not. I know I’m not. That’s my policy and it’s worked a dream.”

In the documentary to air on Sunday night, victims accuse Theroux of being “gullible”.

Read More : Daily Express.

BT threatens customers with HIGHER bills as Tories increase business rates : Express.

MILLIONS of people are likely to see their telephone and Internet bills increase after the government more than doubled BT’s business rates overnight.

The British communications company has warned its customers it is “highly likely” they will have to transfer some of the costs on after the Valuation Office Agency more than doubled its annual rates from £149 million a year to £343 million.

British Telecom’s rate actually jumped to £714 million, during the first revaluation for six years, but for technical reasons it only needs to pay about half that amount.

After the new rates were announced, a spokesman for BT said: “It is highly likely that an increase of this size would lead to higher prices for consumers and businesses.

“We are extremely disappointed by the new rateable values, which are clearly excessive.”

The firm also warned the increase could have “a negative impact on future investment in the network”.

BT has been hit with one of the biggest increases but thousands of businesses across Britain will also suffer when the new rates are introduced in April.

Philip Hammond grinning GETTY

Philip Hammond has come under fire after business rates were increased

Virgin Media, another communications giant, saw its rates quadruple.

Chief executive Tom Mockridge said: “The Chancellor, Philip Hammond, is choosing to side-step responsibility for a huge increase in infrastructure taxes at the very moment after the Brexit vote the UK needs to maximise investment into its digital fibre network.”

The Valuation Office Agency bases the rates on rental values and rising London rents have been blamed for the huge increases.

A typical store in London’s Regent Street saw its rates increase by 50%, from £1.029 million to £1.54 million, while other London businesses will watch theirs go up by an average of 11%.

Read More : Daily Express.

The United States Imports Record Amounts of Gold from Switzerland! Meanwhile, Deutsche Bank Faces Total Collapse : The Daily Coin.

I have been pointing out for months now that something fishy is going on behind the scenes. It began last month, when I highlighted the fact that the United States had reversed a massive, long-lasting trend of exporting gold, and in fact was beginning to import record amounts of gold from Switzerland. Well, not only has this trend continued, but it has accelerated.

As has been in the breaking news this week, Germany is facing growing pressure to bail out Deutsche Bank as it becomes increasingly apparent that this bank is facing a massive crash and liquidity problems.

This is becoming a self-fulling prophecy as the CEO of the bank states, pitifully blaming hedge-funds and speculators for much of their woes. It could never have anything to do with the fact that they were, as many other banks are, horribly over-leveraged and lacking reserves.

Adding fuel to the fire, a bank run has begun and customers of the bank are rapidly withdrawing their funds. If you know anything about how disgustingly leveraged and thus vulnerable our modern-day banking institutions are, then you will know that this is the mark of death for any bank and can rapidly destroy the banking institution in question.

If Deutsche Bank goes under, mark my words. We WILL be dealing with a massive spread of contagion that could put the entire banking system around the world at risk.

Perhaps this news was known by many of the elites within the Western world. Could this be the reasoning behind the United States record breaking imports of gold from Switzerland – imports tha,t as we have learned, have grown in size since we first reported on it?

As noted on SRS Rocco, the United States has broken another record in the month of July 2016, in which 23.8 tonnes of gold was brought back into the country.

Compared to countries such as Russia and China, who have been steadily accumulating precious metals, this may not seem like much, but it must be looked at in the proper context. The United States for the past decade has been a monstrous exporter of the yellow metal! So why the change of heart?

I, and many others, believe that perhaps something big is coming. The crash may be closer than we think and the elites might know more than they are willing to share. Hopefully not, but we shall see. Prepare now, or risk losing everything. You’ve been warned – something fishy is afoot.

Link : The Daily Coin.

Tax credit claimants owed money after Concentrix errors ‘not getting full refunds’ : Independent.

An MP has written to HMRC to highlight the alleged problems.

Some people entitled to tax credit back-payments because of errors by HMRC and its private contractor Concentrix are only getting parts of the refunds they are entitled to, an MP has warned.

Labour MP Helen Goodman has written to the minister in charge of HMRC to highlight problems brought to her attention through her constituency office.

The Independent revealed earlier this month that Concentrix had sent nearly a million so-called “spam” letters to tax credit claimants in under two years, accusing them of providing incorrect information about their relationship status, working hours or childcare arrangements.

Claimants who could not provide complicated paperwork to provide their status within a short period of time had their tax credits stopped – often leaving them unable to make ends meet.

Errors highlighted in national news reports include people who Concentrix accused of being in a relationship with their parents – and therefore not being single – and similarly, people who Concentrix claimed were in a relationship with a dead person. Concentrix says it based the allegations it made on HMRC data.

In one case study passed to The Independent Ms Goodman highlighted the plight of one of her constituents, known as Ms Mortimer. Ms Mortimer, who has a disabled son and relies on tax credit payments, says she had jumped through Concentrix’s hoops but had her tax credits stopped anyway.

The MP said she had met other people with similar problems at her constituency surgery. Writing to the minister Jane Ellison, she said Ms Mortimer “is owed £1688.00 and only received £542.00 as a lump sum and the rest promised to be paid throughout the tax year”.

“This episode was extremely stressful and damaging to the whole family.  One of her children is disabled and must have a lactose and wheat free diet.  It was, therefore, wholly inappropriate that we had no alternative but to direct her to a local foodbank.  As you know, foodbanks are not set up to deal with complex medical needs.”

4-Helen-Goodman-Rex.jpg
Labour MP Helen Goodman has written to the HMRC minister (Rex)

Ms Goodman commented: “Constituents like Ms Mortimer have had their lives turned upside down by Concentrix and their pursuit of profit. At the very minimum, HMRC and Concentrix should repay the full amount they owe immediately.”

“This whole affair has been disgraceful and the Minister should investigate how many people have been affected and are still owed money; how Concentrix was allowed to operate in this way and what will be done to prevent such scandals in the future.”

The Independent contracted Concentix for comment. The firm said it followed HMRC protocals and that HMRC was responsible for processing refunds.

“Concentrix was contractually obligated to contact individual tax credit claimants based on information provided by HMRC,” a spokesperson for the firm said.

Read More : The Independent.

BLOW FOR BRIT BRICKIES Sajid Javid claims any post-Brexit immigration clampdown must not make it ‘more difficult’ for foreign builders in the UK : Sun.

Communities Secretary says construction industry must not be hindered by ‘work visas’ in blow for British brickies.

ANY post-Brexit clamp down on immigration must not make it “more difficult” for foreign builders in the UK, Tory minister Sajid Javid declared last night.

The Secretary of State for Communities said that helping the construction industry — which is propped up 250,000 non-British workers — must not be hindered by “work visas”.

Speaking ahead of this weekend’s Tory conference, Mr Javid told the Financial Times that he could not predict “what the future might look like in terms of work visas and foreign workers”.

But added: “Whether it’s construction or any other sector, we don’t want to make it any more difficult for those industries than it is.”

He claimed: “Wherever we end up, the government is determined to get a good deal for Britain.”

But he also warned the sector must have “whatever it needs to reach my ambition” of building one million homes by 2020 — which he said was his “number one priority”.

Almost 250,000 foreign builders work in the UK’s construction industry, with more than 30,000 from Poland and nearly 25,000 from Romania.

The work permit controls are the brainchild Home Secretary Amber Rudd who said last month the system “certainly has value” as a way of bringing down EU migration.

But the government has yet to make a final decision on how immigration will be brought down.

Mr Javid will fire the starting gun a house building revolution at this weekend’s Tory conference in Birmingham.

In a marked shift from David Cameron’s government policy to help people get on the housing ladder, Mr Javid will claim: “The starting point for me is about the total supply of housing.”

He added: “It cannot just be helping people with a deposit or helping them with their mortgage, it has to be a much bigger increase in overall volume and it has to be sustainable, it cannot be a sudden burst for one year.”

Last night the local government chief vowed to crack down on his own Conservative controlled councils that are blocking house building — warning he would “be very tough”.

In his Birmingham conference speech on Monday Mr Javid will declare war on NIMBYs — “Not In Our Back Yard” campaigners — who block much needed new houses near their own.

He has also pledged to name and shame those areas that are holding Britain’s house building back.

He warned: “Soon we will be at a point where we will be able to judge councils across the board and see if they have met those rules and if they don’t they can expect us to be very tough on them.”

Link : The Sun.

Compensate soldiers falsely accused of war crimes, says ex-British army head : Guardian.

Richard Dannatt said it is dangerous for soldiers to ‘feel inhibited in doing what they think is right for fear of retrospective investigation’

Lord Dannatt
Lord Dannatt made the comments in an interview with the Daily Telegraph. Photograph: Barry Batchelor/PA

Soldiers falsely accused of war crimes and other wrongdoing in foreign conflicts should get financial compensation once cleared, a former head of the British army has said.

Richard Dannatt said that “wholesale, fallacious accusations” were damaging soldiers’ morale and the fighting ability of British forces worried they may face future prosecution.

In an interview with the Daily Telegraph he said the controversial Iraq Historic Allegations Team (Ihat), which is investigating allegations against UK forces during the conflict, should be wound down.

It came the day after Theresa May said she was planning to take further action to stop law firms making “vexatious claims” against British troops over allegations of abuse while serving in Iraq.

Lord Dannatt, who was chief of the defence staff between 2006 and 2009, told the Telegraph: “To have these wide-ranging inquiries into what are repeatedly turning out to be wholesale, fallacious accusations is undermining for morale and the army’s effectiveness.

“In the future, soldiers will feel inhibited in doing what they think is right for fear of retrospective investigation and that is incredibly dangerous.”

He also highlighted the case of Rachel Webster, a British Army officer reportedly paid compensation by the MoD after being physically restrained when being arrested by Ihat.

He said: “When people like Rachel Webster were clearly wronged it has to be made right. An apology is one thing but if appropriate there must be financial compensation.”

Webster received thousands of pounds in compensation after being roughly treated during a wrongful arrest by officers investigating historical abuses.

Read More : The Guardian.