BBC’s TV licence bullies are exposed: How ruthless bosses order staff to catch 28 people a week for bonuses of £15,000 a year : Daily Mail.

  • The ruthless tactics used by BBC licence fee collectors have been exposed
  • Families hounded by BBC licence fee collectors have called them ‘intimidating’
  • Accused officials of snooping through windows and forcing their way into homes
  • Vulnerable people threatened into paying £145.50 fee when it was not necessary

Ruthless and underhand tactics used by BBC licence fee agents can be exposed today.

Under an aggressive incentive scheme, hundreds of enforcement officers have orders to each catch 28 evaders a week.

Bosses promise bonuses of up to £15,000 a year, saying staff must gather evidence to take as many people to court as possible.

Homeowners who fail to pay can be fined and given criminal records.

Among the vulnerable targeted in the past seven days are a war veteran with dementia and a desperate young mother in a women’s refuge.

The revelations come from an investigation by a Daily Mail undercover reporter interviewed for an enforcement job by Capita.

The outsourcing firm is paid £58million a year to collect licence fees for the BBC, bringing in £3.74billion a year.

The reporter was told by bosses: ‘We will drive you as hard as we can to get as much as we can out of you because we’re greedy.’ He was encouraged to spy on homes and take money on the doorstep.

‘Cash, debit, credit card, we’ll take anything,’ one TV Licensing manager said. ‘I tell people I’ll take shirt buttons.’

Last night, the BBC ordered an urgent investigation into the Mail’s findings, insisting there would be ‘swift and appropriate action’.

The reporter was told by bosses: ‘We will drive you as hard as we can to get as much as we can out of you because we’re greedy'

The reporter was told by bosses: ‘We will drive you as hard as we can to get as much as we can out of you because we’re greedy’

Culture Secretary Karen Bradley will question the BBC’s director general Tony Hall about the Mail’s findings in the coming days. Capita’s bosses also face being hauled before MPs.

The Government is now under renewed pressure to decriminalise the so-called ‘TV tax’ and crack down on the aggressive way in which payments are pursued.

The Mail’s undercover investigation found that:

  •  Officials are encouraged to snoop on neighbourhoods to try to work out when residents are in;
  • They gather evidence by informal chats, followed by an official caution;
  • If allowed inside they check TVs to gather evidence;
  • Residents who agree to pay up can still be prosecuted.

Opinion: Tories neglect the young and disabled at their peril : Welfare Weekly.

The young people of today will not forget what the Tories did to them and their families.

There’s an air of complacency about the Conservative Party at the moment. They seem to have developed a sense of invincibility, particularly after their victory in the Copeland by-election, and feel as if they can do whatever they like without any real consequences.

But complacency has a way of coming back to bite you where it hurts, as Labour found out to their detriment in Scotland.

While there may not be a credible opposition threat at this time – some might disagree – there will come a time when Labour and others finally sort themselves out.

And if not we may yet see the emergence of a new party of the working class, perhaps run by the same people who have been so cruelly brutalised by this government and its predecessor. Some may think this chain of events is unlikely to happen, but few would say it’s impossible.

I know some of you may believe the SNP are “the only real opposition to the Tories”, as they keep saying to us all, but the SNP only has MPs in Scotland and cannot, by themselves, win a UK-wide General Election.

They could of course become part of a coalition, but union parties like Labour and the Liberal Democrats are unlikely to go for it.  Indeed, in years to come Scotland may no longer be part of the union at all.

There are, however, rumors of growing discontent among Theresa May’s own MPs, with at least some of them feeling increasingly uncomfortable about the party’s image and how the Tories keep hitting the young, the poor, and the disabled, with cut after cut. May herself promised to build a Britain “that works for everyone” – a pledge that has so far failed to materialise.

And let us not forget the group of working age adults the PM admits are “just about managing”, many of whom will be affected by cuts to tax credits and Universal Credit. Even those who are not in receipt of state benefits, but still on modest incomes, are struggling to make ends meet.

They (the Tories) may be able to weather the storm of mounting criticism for now, and it’s true they look to be on course for victory at the next general election, but negative image tends to follow you around and will stain the party’s reputation for years to come.

Read More : Welfare Weekly.

Employers tricking workers out of sick pay, says Citizens Advice : Welfare Weekly.

The charity helped with 1800 problems related to sick pay and sick leave in February 2016.

Unscrupulous employers are using underhanded tactics to avoid paying their employees Statutory Sick Pay (SSP), the Citizens Advice charity has revealed.

Citizens Advice is urging people who need to take time off work because of illness or injury to check if they’re eligible for sick pay, as analysis found the charity helped with 1800 problems related to sick pay and sick leave in February 2016 – up 11% on the average for the rest of the year.

SSP is payable for up to 28 weeks of sick leave and is currently paid at £88.45 per week, although some people may be paid extra in what is known as contractual sick pay.

Employees are eligible for SSP regardless of whether they work part-time or full-time, if you normally earn more than £112 a week and have been sick for more than four days in a row.

People on a fixed term contract, or those who work through an agency or are on a zero-hours contract, are also eligible.

However, Citizens Advice has uncovered evidence showing some employers are trying to exploit confusion around the rules “so they can get away with not paying up”.

Some of the crude tactics being used to avoid paying staff SSP include cancelling people’s shifts after they call in sick, reducing people’s wages and downplaying their working hours, wrongly claiming employees need to present a sick note (now known as ‘fit notes’) after only a few days off work, refusing to fill in a HMRC sick pay form, and even dismissing (sacking) employees rather than paying them.

Citizens Advice cites the example a factory worker who worked 5 days a week, but his casual contract wrongly stated he only worked 7 hours. His employer attempted to avoid paying him sick pay, claiming he did not work enough hours or earn enough.

Another case involved a Carer on a zero-hours contract who turned to Citizens Advice for help after she needed time off for a work-related injury. Citizens Advice says her employer cancelled her shifts for the next 3 weeks and argued she wasn’t due to be working, when in reality she had already been offered the work.

Read More : Welfare Weekly.

Corbyn blasts SNP’s council funding cuts : Morning Star.

Fresh independence vote ‘would distract from real problems’

JEREMY CORBYN detailed his opposition yesterday to the council cuts unleashed on the Scottish people by the SNP, insisting that the second independence referendum for which it is campaigning would do nothing to address Scotland’s real problems.

Addressing the Scottish Labour conference, he said that both Tories and SNP talked of taking back powers from Brussels and Westminster, but neither party wants to take on transnational companies and big business.

And the party leader warned people to “never again accept any moralising lectures from the Greens” after they recently helped the SNP pass a budget slashing local government funding by £170 million.

Mr Corbyn said that the Tories have been seeking to make post-Brexit Britain “a deregulated, bargain-basement, tax-haven economy” and accused them of trying to suck up to US President Donald Trump.

Their aim is to negotiate trade deals to have our public services sold to US corporations, he explained.

He continued: “Let us never forget that cutting taxes for big business was also exactly what the SNP wanted to do in the referendum.

“They promised Scotland they would cut corporation tax to help Scotland become competitive, dynamic and business-friendly.

“But, conference, how would giving corporate giants tax cuts … sort the underfunding of our precious NHS or fix the social-care crisis?

“How is that type of economy going to tackle poverty and the scandal of health inequality that so stubbornly persists here in Scotland? It won’t work for the Tories. And it won’t work for the SNP.”

He added: “The [SNP] are not standing up to Theresa May, they’re doing her job.”

Read More : Morning Star.

Little good in DWP’s mass jobcentre cull : Morning Star.

THERE has been much talk within the media and among activist groups concerning the closure of jobcentres across Britain.

The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) claims it is because more claimants are submitting claims online and that they want to provide more value for money.

It is also relocating jobcentres within local government premises to supposedly provide a more streamlined service.

I believe that its largest motivation for doing this is the estimated £180 million it is estimating to save.

The government wants to be seen as providing “value for money” and this might do just that.

Yet by doing so, it is wilfully ignoring the needs of the claimants who travel to the jobcentres slated for closure.

Contrary to popular belief, when claiming any kind of benefit, you are by no means financially well off; every penny needs to be accounted for.

Most rely on being able to attend their local jobcentre for their appointments without having to fork out for expensive bus fares or having to walk miles to a jobcentre that the DWP will now regard as local.

Take the jobcentre in a town like Stalybridge in Greater Manchester for example. It has been proposed that the jobcentre there be merged with my local jobcentre in Ashton-under-Lyne. The DWP will argue that the new merged jobcentre will be easy to reach because it is on a bus route.

However, it fails to take into account that the area in which Stalybridge jobcentre is located has some rural areas, not within walkable distance and, for those on a tight budget, too expensive to pay the high bus fares. Buses often get stopped in times of bad weather and are often delayed.

The DWP often doesn’t take into account or give any understanding as to why a claimant might be late due to transport failure. This inevitably results in sanctions against the claimant.

Many people will be affected by the closure of the proposed jobcentres. It is not just healthy people that have to attend jobcentre appointments. Disabled people claiming employment and support allowance are placed in the work-related category also have to attend appointments.

People in this category might find using public transport very difficult or impossible. They will then be in a position of either having to find a way to attend or face a sanction.

There is also the concern that many jobcentre employees will lose their jobs, or be encouraged to take redundancy or early retirement.

Some have welcomed this, after being on the harsh and often cruel receiving end of a jobcentre adviser’s unreasonable demands.

I have no doubt that they will retain the staff that hit their targets. After all, the DWP sees these members of staff as an asset. But why should we be concerned about the jobcentre employee job losses?

Read More : Morning Star.

PM’s policy chief is accused of descending ‘to the gutter’ after defending benefits cuts by suggesting anxiety sufferers are not ‘really disabled’ : Daily Mail.

  • George Freeman was defending curbs to personal independence payment (PIP)
  • Said government wanted to target money at people who were ‘really disabled’
  • Labour accuse him of descending ‘to gutter’ by questioning validity of anxiety

Theresa May’s policy chief has been accused of descending ‘to the gutter’ after suggesting anxiety sufferers are not ‘really disabled’.

George Freeman made the comments as he defended a controversial shake-up to personal independence payments (PIP).

The Tory MP said the government had to roll back the ‘bizarre’ decision of a tribunal, which said claimants with psychological problems who cannot travel without help must be treated like those who are blind.

Amid a welter of criticism, Mr Freeman – head of the No10 policy unit – later insisted he would not be ‘lectured’ about anxiety because he had suffered from it himself in the past.

George Freeman, head of Theresa May's policy unit, is facing a backlash over his remarks about anxiety sufferers

George Freeman, head of Theresa May’s policy unit, is facing a backlash over his remarks about anxiety sufferers

Responding to the upper tribunal rulings on Thursday – when attention was on two crucial by-elections – disabilities minister Penny Mordaunt said she was reforming the payments to ‘restore the original aim of the benefit’ and make sure the most needy were given support.

Ms Mordaunt said no claimants would see a reduction in the amount of PIP previously awarded.

But Labour said the Government’s equality assessment showed 160,000 would miss out on money that was ‘rightfully’ theirs.

Mr Freeman, the head of the Number 10 Downing Street policy board, said it was the right decision.

He told Pienaar’s Politics on BBC Radio 5 Live: ‘These tweaks are actually about rolling back some bizarre decisions by tribunals that now mean benefits are being given to people who are taking pills at home, who suffer from anxiety.

‘We want to make sure we get the money to the really disabled people who need it.’

Challenged on his assessment of anxiety, Mr Freeman said: ‘I totally understand anxiety and so does the Prime Minister. We’ve set out in the mental health strategy how seriously we take it.

‘My point was that these PIP reforms are partly about rolling back some frankly bizarre decisions in tribunals which have seen money that should go to the most disabled spent on people with really much less urgent conditions.’

Shadow chancellor John McDonnell tweeted: ‘This is an insult to disabled people. He should apologise immediately or Theresa May should make him.’

Spare military food supplies should go to army of homeless – Frank Field : AOL.

A senior MP is calling for unwanted army food supplies to be given to the “army of the homeless” as it emerged the Ministry of Defence throws away thousands of food packages every year.

Figures released to Parliament show more than 12,000 operational ration packs (ORPs) were binned between April and December – more than in the previous 12 months.

Work and Pensions Select Committee chairman Frank Field is now calling for these surplus packs to be used to help feed the UK’s growing homeless population before they go out of date.

“What we’re making a plea for from the Defence Secretary is to use any unwanted food supplies to feed his army to instead help feed the army of the homeless,” Mr Field told the Press Association.

“These supplies are designed for people, in a sense, to eat on the run, and people in doorways are in a similar position.

“They’re ideally constructed for when people haven’t got much.”

An answer to a written parliamentary question from Mr Field by defence minister Harriett Baldwin says the Ministry of Defence (MoD) threw away 12,275 ORPs between April and December.

In the whole of the 2015/16 financial year 10,798 ORPs were disposed of, while the year before the figure was 5,004.

Labour MP Mr Field said food banks had raised the issue repeatedly, given the difficulties of catering for people who cannot cook or even store food.

Mr Field added that he was “staggered” by the amount of food packages the MoD throws away, adding: “The number is going up and they’re only destroying it.

“I just hope someone will look into it. Let’s move it from one army to the army of the homeless.”

Ms Baldwin said out-of-date ORPs are withdrawn from use and disposed of in line with current food safety legislation.

An MoD spokesman added: “Our stocks of ORPs are managed to make sure they are consumed within the two-year shelf life required to meet our food quality standards.

“We only undertake disposal of ORP as a last resort and only at a point when the product can no longer be consumed.

“Due to the changing nature of exercises or deployments, there will of course be occasions when ORP has not been issued before it becomes out of date.”

Link : AOL.