Tuesday, April 29, 2014

'Shocking' rise in food banks use

Almost a million adults and children received emergency supplies from food banks in the past year, a "shocking" rise of 163% on the previous 12 months amid rising living costs, low pay and welfare problems, a new report has revealed.

The Trussell Trust said rising numbers were turning to food banks because their incomes are "squeezed", despite signs of an economic recovery.

A record total of more than 913,000 people received three days' emergency food in the last year, with over half blaming benefit delays or changes.

The trust now has more than 400 food banks across the UK, although it is opening two a week compared with three in 2012/13.

The Trussell Trust's chairman, Chris Mould, said: "That 900,000 people have received three days' food from a food bank - close to triple the numbers helped last year - is shocking in 21st-century Britain.

"But, perhaps most worrying of all, this figure is just the tip of the iceberg of UK food poverty. It doesn't include those helped by other emergency food providers, those living in towns where there is no food bank, people who are too ashamed to seek help or the large number of people who are only just coping by eating less and buying cheap food.

"In the last year we've seen things get worse, rather than better, for many people on low incomes. It's been extremely tough for a lot of people, with parents not eating properly in order to feed their children and more people than ever experiencing seemingly unfair and harsh benefits sanctions.

"Unless there is determined policy action to ensure that the benefits of national economic recovery reach people on low incomes, we won't see life get better for the poorest any time soon.

"A more thoughtful approach to the administration of the benefits regime and sanctions in particular, increasing the minimum wage, introducing the living wage and looking at other measures such as social tariffs for essentials like energy would help to address the problem of UK hunger."

The trust said its food banks were now offering welfare advice and providing essentials such as washing powder, nappies and hygiene products to families at "breaking point".


Charity in warning on young jobless

Youth unemployment will not reach pre-recession levels until at least 2018, a decade after the financial crisis kicked in, according to a new report.

The Prince's Trust warned that 10 years of young talent will "fall between the cracks" unless urgent action is taken to tackle the problem.

Before the recession, around one in seven young people in the UK were struggling to find a job, almost twice the current youth unemployment rate in Germany, said the report.

Martina Milburn, chief executive of the Prince's Trust, said: "The financial crisis is finally over and for every young person who gets into work this is a step in the right direction. However, thousands of unemployed young people are still struggling and the youth unemployment levels were unacceptably high even before the recent recession.

"By the time youth unemployment falls back to pre-recession levels, an entire decade of young talent may have fallen between the cracks.

"Government and employers must re-double their efforts to support unemployed youngsters now, or risk cutting an entire generation adrift from the jobs market."


Who will ‘Help to Work’ really help?


The government’s latest draconian measure – to drive people who have been living off the state for more than three years into all the nonexistent jobs that ministers insist are waiting for them – was launched today. (Monday)

Help to Work forces jobseekers to sign on every day, commit to six months of voluntary work, or sign up to a training scheme (the last two effectively removing them from the government’s unemployment figures without getting them a job) – or face having their Jobseeker’s Allowance docked for increasing lengths of time.

It’s clearly a scam to fiddle the joblessness statistics but, dear reader, you’re intelligent enough to have worked it out before you even started reading this.

Of course, voluntary work must be offered without coercion – otherwise it’s slavery – and for this reason leading charities have already announced that they will boycott the mandatory work placement part of the scheme.


Commons Select Committee Inquiry on NHS England, April 29th

The commons select Committee are holding an inquiry into the workings of NHS England, giving evidence at this inquiry is Simon Stevens, Chief Executive of NHS England, (former vice president of United Health Care U.S.)

Committee Hearing will take place Tuesday April 29th, Committee Room 8 at 2.30 pm
Palace of Westminster

This is open to the public to attend.

Nearest tube Wesminster, Jubliee Line has step free access, accessible lift to street entrance.
Buses stop at parliament square are, 23,11, 24, 256, 3

Please allow plenty of time to clear security.

or you can watch on Parliament TV here www.parliament.uk 

May 1st: Occupy Wonga!

On May 1st 2014, get ready for some direct action, Occupy London are proud to present OCCUPY WONGA!

In 2011 the Occupy movement had a clear message “The bankers are the problem”. Now in 2014, we are on the edge of complete debt slavery.

Pay day loan companies are the new economic fascists, their “clients” include, victims of the Bedroom tax, Fuel Poverty, Benefit cuts, Atos and all people suffering from the Governments Austerity program. Companies like QuickQuid, the Money Shop and Wonga are not helping us, they are holding us in debt bondage further extending the widening gap between rich and poor.

We see the most vulnerable people in society being charged Immoral Interest rates, the very people the government should be protecting. If you feel that something should be done about Payday loans, join us in London on Mayday 2014.

Occupy London hereby call for a complete end to Pay day loans and an immediate stop to all pay day loan advertising. On Mayday we will be paying Wonga some interest, but not with 5853% APR.


May Day Itinerary:-
12:00 (High Noon) Assemble at Clerkenwell Green
13:00 March sets off
14:30 Rally in Trafalgar square in honour of Tony Benn and Bob Crow.
As soon as the rally has finished, we march.
When we arrive at the target we will occupy a space and hold a general assembly on site.

Supporting this action on the day will be:-
*Disabled People against Cuts (DPAC)
*Fuel Poverty Action
*The Resistance Movement Of The UK

Speakers on the day: 
some still tbc
Barb Jacobson to speak about the Basic Income.
David Graeber on wage slavery and pay day loans.
Fuel Poverty Action and DPAC talking about the effects of payday loans on their groups.
Also speakers from Occupy Finance and hopefully some eviction resistance groups about being one pay day away from eviction.

Lets make next Mayday an uprising against Austerity.
- Tony Benn

Sign up on Facebook , and to see maps: https://www.facebook.com/events/246946885491263/?fref=ts


Charities refuse to host forced unpaid labour for unemployed

A new scheme that will force unemployed people into unpaid work is in trouble on its first day, with dozens of charities and faith groups refusing to take part in it.

The “Help to Work” scheme, announced by George Osborne at the last Conservative Party conference, will require long-term unemployed people to work full-time for six months for a voluntary or community group. Their benefits will be cut if they fail to take part.

The scheme, also known as “Community Work Placements”, begins today (28 April). But over thirty voluntary sector groups – including Oxfam, Anti-Slavery International, the Ekklesia thinktank and a range of local agencies – have condemned the scheme and said they will not participate.

They say that unemployed people need paid jobs and that voluntary groups need real, willing volunteers.
They have urged all faith groups, charities and other voluntary organisations to reject workfare schemes and sign their call to “Keep Volunteering Voluntary”.

Three of the largest supporters of other workfare schemes have said they will not accept placements for the six-month scheme – the Conservation Volunteers, the Salvation Army and YMCA England. They are now being urged to go further by pulling out of all workfare programmes and backing Keep Volunteering Voluntary.

Critics of the scheme point out that it will force people to work for more twice the maximum community service sentence for drink-driving.

“On the Work Programme, you are made to feel like a criminal for being unemployed,” said Dave Draper from Derby, who will soon have been unemployed for two years and could be forced on to the new scheme.


Chaos At The DWP As Bungled Help To Work Scheme Attempts To Launch

Originally posted on the void:

Unlike Help To Work, the new Keep Volunteering Voluntary campaign has already been a huge success.
Unlike Help To Work, the new Keep Volunteering Voluntary campaign has already been a huge success.

Despite wildly optimistic claims from the DWP, today’s launch of mass workfare seems to be in chaos behind the scenes.  With barely any information yet available on the scheme it appears that the flagship Help To Work programme has no-one actually running it, no guidance for companies involved and no real plan to deal with the huge influx of claimants to Jobcentres from daily signing.

According to the BBC a mere 70 so-called charities have signed up to provide placements on the scheme which will involve forcing unemployed people to carry out 780 hours of unpaid work.  For ‘Help To Work to be successful, these charities will need to accept hundreds, or possibly thousands of placements each.  Predictably the DWP are not saying who the charities are.  So far the only voluntary sector organisation…

View original 551 more words

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Tory councillor calls disabled children a ‘burden’

Originally posted on Pride's Purge:

(not satire – it’s the Tories!)

Tory councillor Les Ford –  deputy leader of Cheshire West and Chester Council – said at a public meeting that he thinks disabled children are a “burden”.

And when asked to apologise for his offensive remarks, Cllr Ford dug himself into an even deeper hole by explaining that he meant disabled children were not a burden on their families but were a burden on councils “….. because we have to pay for these people.”

Here’s the full story from the Chester Chronicle:

Deputy council leader in ‘special needs’ storm

Could this be part of a local election strategy by the Tory Party to win back votes from UKIP by trying to be even more foot-in-the-mouth offensive than they already are?

View original

One-armed Dad in JobCentre Protest

One-armed father chains himself up in JobCentre protest

A one-armed Ilkeston dad chained himself up in the town’s JobCentre in protest after his benefits were slashed, leaving him with just a few pounds a week on which to survive.

Jonathan Collinge, 28, was told he was fit to work after being assessed by a company working on behalf of the Government.

In turn he lost his Employment Support Allowance, leaving him with just £21 a week for himself and his five-year-old son, Blake.

Mr Collinge claimed he had been unfairly treated and launched an appeal for compensation.

But he received a letter from the HM Courts and Tribunals Service stating his appeal had been declined due to there being no “maladministration or financial loss”.

He reacted by heading for the JobCentre on South Street.

After asking to speak with the manager, the former fork lift driver chained his body to a pillar at the entrance and refused to leave until action was taken to help his case.

Mr Collinge eventually unchained himself once the manager agreed to assist him in filling out an emergency claim form.

“This was a last resort, I have no money whatsoever and it’s ridiculous that I am now being told that I’ve suffered no financial loss due to their decisions,” he said.

“This is the only way I could be heard, and it’s worked because I’m getting somewhere.”

He added: “Job Centre staff would usually send me to Citizens’ Advice to get help with the form, but I’m now hoping the manager’s assistance will speed things up.

“I’m not asking for compensation or backpay, just that my situation is reconsidered.

“If this protest doesn’t work then my next course of action will be to chain myself up outside the Houses of Parliament in London.”

JobCentre staff were unable to comment on Mr Collinge’s individual case.

When he was originally assessed by Atos Healthcare and his benefits cut, Mr Collinge was left with just £21 a week, as highlighted by the ‘Tiser.

A paper appeal was submitted on Mr Collinge’s behalf in February and was denied. However, the tribunals service has now arranged a new appeal to be sent to a judge, which would enable him to present his own case.

It is unclear how long this could take.

Ilkeston Advertiser

Saturday, April 26, 2014

FOIA: DWP have no idea if Workfare costs jobs or not

The DWP know that "work for your dole" schemes  such as the  "Community Work Placements" starting next Monday could tempt rogue employers to replace paid staff and get free labour. They tackle this by having "strict" guidelines that paid jobs must not be displaced.

But do they do any research, auditing or enforcement of the rules? No, they don't and that's official. I know because I asked them via some Freedom of Information requests and they have now admitted they don't know saying "the Department does not hold the information you have requested"

So if you lose your job because your employer has recruited someone via the Jobcentre who must work 30 hours a week for 26 weeks or lose their benefits, you'll know why. Your former employer doesn't even have to pay them their £71.70 a week, the taxpayer does that. From the taxpayer's point of view, it's worse than that - in most cases, a "provider" gets thousands for arranging it all.


Friday, April 25, 2014

‘He lived on field mushrooms and borrowed eggs’: how the coalition is dismantling the welfare state

The coalition is moving toward a welfare system that is surreal in its cruelty, writes Annie Powell

Nick Clegg1ncrj

Earlier this year, Nick Clegg accused Vincent Nichols, the Catholic archbishop of Westminster, of exaggerating when he said that the safety net for the poorest in society had been “torn apart”.

“I think to say that the safety net has been removed altogether is an exaggeration, is not right,” said Clegg.
But he is right, Nick. In the last few years the coalition has slashed so violently at the net which is meant to protect against illness and unemployment that it is no longer fit for purpose. If you fall, there’s a real risk that you’ll go crashing through to near destitution, as the rise in food banks demonstrates all too well.

For the unemployed, the arbitrary and unfair use of so-called sanctions is a large part of the story. In the year to 30 September 2013, 874,850 sanctions were issued to job seekers, the most since JSA was introduced in 1996. In October 2012, the minimum sanction was increased fourfold, from one to four weeks’ benefit. For many, that is four weeks with no income for something as minor as being late for a signing on appointment.

Indeed, in many cases the person sanctioned has broken no DWP rule, not even a minor one. There are myriad examples of how unfair these sanctions can be, a selection of which are set out below.

Importantly, the statistics support the anecdotal evidence. As Dr David Webster, senior research fellow at Glasgow University, sets out here, the most recent data to September 2013 shows that tribunals are upholding almost 90 per cent of appeals by sanctioned job seekers against the DWP, compared to less than 20 per cent under the last government. “Before the coalition the number of successful Tribunal appeals in any 12-month period was well under 2,000,” writes Webster. “It has now risen to over 14,000.”


The Coalitions’ Abolition of Legal Aid and Legal Restrictions against Workers Suing Management in Pre-Revolutionary Russia

Originally posted on Beastrabban\'s Weblog:

A few weeks ago the Conservatives and their Tory Democrat accomplices abolished legal aid. This has the effect of making legal action by the poor prohibitively expensive, so that they are effectively denied justice due to the sheer cost involved. This has naturally caused indignation and protests, not least from the legal profession itself. In Bristol the lawyers went on a one-day strike against its abolition.

  this attempt by the government to prevent the poor suing the rich also has a parallel in the legal restrictions and double standards the Tsarist government in pre-Revolutionary Russia used to oppress the workers in its attempt to protect and promote the country’s capitalist development. Lionel Kochan in his Russia in Revolution (London: Paladin 1970) describes this legal double standard. Workers, who left their job before their contract was due to expire, were liable to criminal prosecution. However, if they wished to sue their…

View original 93 more words

Thursday, April 24, 2014


Originally posted on Diary of an SAH Stroke Survivor:



There will be a three day hearing in the Royal Courts of Justice in London on 22, 23 & 24 July 2014 in an attempt to establish what the DWP is going to do to remedy the substantial disadvantage that people with mental health problems suffer when being put through the Work Capability Assessment. This will follow a directions hearing that will take place in May.

Everyone knows that the only real remedy to our plight will be when these mock assessments are abandoned but, until then, we will continue the fight to try to improve them.

The case centres around the importance of further medical evidence for a person with mental health problems and on who is responsible for obtaining this evidence. Both the MHRN and the judges believe that such evidence is vital and that the DWP should be responsible and proactive in obtaining…

View original 194 more words

Jobcentre Adviser: Sanctions “generating impression that unemployment is falling.”

As we get closer to our Employment debate –  ‘A Job’s Worth’ on Thursday 24th April @ Hoxton Hall, we bring you some insight from a Jobcentre adviser on their experiences of welfare reforms since the coalition came to power. This is one of two separate interviews with anonymous Jobcentre advisers (the next one will be posted next week). In this one, we talk about the effects of sanctions on claimants, and what vital services have been removed from Jobcentres.

Image: Welfare News Service
Image: Welfare News Service

How long have you worked in the Job Centre?

“I don’t wish to be specific about the actual length of time I’ve worked for the DWP (Department for Work & Pensions) in JCP (Job Centre Plus) but it is less than 10 years.”

What are your thoughts and experiences of welfare reforms and rules since the coalition came to power? How have they changed? What are they…

Action Against Serco: Thursday 8th May London

We Own it logo
How do you feel about billions of pounds of public money (your money) being handed to Serco? Serco gets paid to run public services even though it is under criminal investigation by the Serious Fraud Office for defrauding the taxpayer. The company has hired Winston Churchill’s grandson (Rupert Soames) as new chief executive to try to repair its shattered reputation.

If you’re sick of Serco (and other outsourcing companies), we’d love to see you at our first action ever, outside Serco’s AGM on Thursday 8th May. Let’s tell Serco they can’t paper over the cracks. Outsourcing is failing the public. The government needs to give Serco and other dodgy dealers the boot. We’re calling for all parties to give you a better deal by signing up to our Public Service Users Bill (we blogged about how this could happen yesterday on Left Foot Forward).

Join us at Serco’s AGM:

10.30am – 11.30am, Thursday 8th May
Outside the offices of Clifford Chance LLP,

10 Upper Bank Street, London E14 5JJ

Sign up to the event on facebook or reply to this email to let us know you’re coming.

If you can’t make it (we know it’s difficult on a weekday), please help spread the word! Share this picture on facebook or twitter (#SickofSerco), or share this blog with family and friends.


We are also delighted to support Fuel Poverty Action’s protest at the British Gas AGM on Monday 12th May - ‘Bin British Gas: Put Power in Public Hands’. We want to see affordable, democratic, sustainable energy – people before profit. Sign up to join the event on facebook and tweet #BinBritishGas.

It would be great to see you at one of these actions! If you can’t make it but you’d like to help out, perhaps you could spread the word or consider signing up to be one in a thousand?

Many thanks for your support

From Weownit.org.uk

Why Labour Can’t Be Trusted On The Work Capability Assessment

Reblogged from The Void:

What Labour Said Then, What Labour Say Now And Why They Can’t Be Trusted On The Work Capability Assessment


What they said then …

Labour will: “increase support for claimants to return to work, replacing the old one-size-fits-all model, which writes people off as completely incapable of work, with a tailored, active system that addresses each individual’s capacity”

A new deal for welfare: Empowering people to work (PDF) – The Green Paper which proposed the Work Capability Assessment in 2006

What they say now (2014)

“We want the assessment to be part of the process of ensuring disabled people who can work get the support they need to do so, not to threaten or punish them. The test should be a gateway to identifying and assembling that support.”

How Labour would reform the Work Capability Assessment – Labour Shadow Secretary for Work and Pensions Rachel Reeves and Shadow Minister for Disabled People Kate Green

Then (2006)

“We will work with health professionals, personal advisers and disability groups (including the Disability Rights Commission and the Disability Employment Advisory Committee) to ensure that the transformed assessment process is fair and equitable in application and operation.”


“We would continue to produce an independent review of the WCA, and ask the Office for Disability Issues to support an independent scrutiny group of disabled people to work together with the independent reviewer to assess whether the test is being conducted in a fair and transparent way.”


“It will never be reasonable to expect some people to plan for a return to work or to impose the responsibilities and conditionality associated with this on them.  These people – who have the most severe health conditions and disabilities – will receive the new benefit without any conditionality, and at a higher rate”


“We also recognise not everyone can work and we’re committed to ensuring the support’s in place for those who can’t.”

The Work Capability Assessment was designed by Labour to strip sickness and disability benefits from one million claimants. There has been no announcement that this policy aim has changed. More people are placed in the Support Group now (meaning they are not expected to look for work) than they were under Labour. Whilst the Tories and Atos are currently at war, Atos have sponsored events at the Labour Party Conference in the past.

The Labour front bench have been silent about the introduction of Personal Independence Payments – designed to strip disability benefits from a fifth of disabled people. They have not spoken a word about the heartless closure of the Independent Living Fund. They voted for Iain Duncan Smith’s backdated legislation to steal hundreds of thousands of pounds from claimants by denying them compensation for illegally sanctioned benefit claims. They support unpaid work – even when the schemes are almost certainly illegal under minimum wage laws. Labour’s Job Guarantee is just workfare plus a sandwich which in practice could be more exploitative than current workfare programmes.

They have not changed. They will not change. When not pretending to give a shit about disabled people Rachel Reeves has boasted – boasted – that she would be tougher on welfare than Iain Duncan Smith. Most of the Labour front bench are chinless posh twats just like the braying toffs they pretend to oppose. They are on the side of bosses and billionaires, not us.  Do not fucking trust them.

Case proven? Government stays away from benefit deaths tribunal

Seen to be done: The tribunal took place at the Law Courts in Cardiff (pictured), in public - which allowed friends of Vox Political to hear the case.
Seen to be done: The tribunal took place at the Law Courts in Cardiff (pictured), in public – which allowed friends of Vox Political to hear the case.

The Information Commissioner’s Office and the Department for Work and Pensions have highlighted the weakness of their own case for hiding the number of people who have died while claiming sickness and disability benefits – by failing to turn up at a tribunal on the subject.

They had the opportunity to explain why mortality statistics for people claiming Employment and Support Allowance since November 2011 have been suppressed, at a tribunal in the Law Courts, Cardiff, yesterday (April 23).

But, rather than be grilled on the reasons for their decision by a judge, a specialist in this area of law, and a ‘lay’ person (representing the opinions of right-thinking members of the public), they chose to stay away.

The tribunal had been requested by Vox Political‘s Mike Sivier, after he made a Freedom of Information request for access to the information – and it was refused on the grounds that it was “vexatious”.


Cameron’s office calls police on Bishop trying to deliver letter on poverty (not satire!)

Originally posted on Pride's Purge:

(not satire – it’s David Cameron)

Amazingly, David Cameron’s constituency office in Witney called the police when the Bishop of Oxford tried to hand in a letter about food poverty signed by church figures.

Anglican priest the Reverend Keith Hebden - who accompanied the Bishop on his visit to Cameron’s office – had this to say about the encounter:

Summoning the police like that illustrates the sense of panic in this government about rising food poverty levels because they are in such denial about this problem.”

Here’s the full story from Al Jazeera:

This happened last week. So why has this not been reported in the UK media, I wonder?

Monday, April 21, 2014

DPAC Response to “How Labour would reform the Work Capability Assessment”

We read with interest the piece in the Independent by Rachel Reeves and Kate Green regarding Labour’s response to the Work Capability Assessment [1]

Labour should realise that disabled people are deeply distrustful of any Labour reform of a Work Capability Assessment system, which Labour introduced in the Welfare Act of 2007 with the stated aim of removing 1 million claimants from the benefit system [3].

Our position has been and will be that the Work Capability Assessment is deeply flawed in its basic concept, not just in terms of the details of its delivery, and inclusion in the workplace for disabled people cannot simply be achieved by a ‘back to work’ test.


In the Reclaiming Our Futures, Disabled People’s Manifesto [4], we state that a priority demand from government is that:

A comprehensive and strategic plan of action is developed with disabled people and our organisations to tackle the discrimination and exclusion disabled people face in work and employment including: increasing quality and range of personalised support available to disabled people, strengthening disabled employees rights and tackling employer discrimination and poor practice

Other key demands include that:

Economic productivity must not be the only measure of people’s worth and value, volunteering offers as much value to society as paid employment. While we recognise that volunteering can offer additional skills, it should not be the default option for disabled people because of our exclusion from paid work

There must be policy and media recognition that there will always be disabled people who are unable or too ill to work. These individuals must be supported by a publically funded system. They should not be penalised or demonised as they are currently.


Atos, deaths and welfare cuts

Was it public outrage or the impossible task that made Atos want to stop? Adam Forrest investigates

Some paperwork is almost unbearable. Sitting in the living room of his Essex home, Peter Wootton sifts through his wife Linda’s files with a sigh, pointing out where an Atos assessor judged her fit to work in January 2013.

Linda could lift a mobile phone. Linda could rise. Linda could walk across the testing room. So Linda was fit to work. “The test only took 20 minutes,” Peter remembers. “She was crying for longer than that beforehand. I’ll keep these documents forever, no matter how painful they are.”


Linda, a double heart and lung transplant patient, died on April 25 last year. Only nine days before, the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) finally rejected her claim of employment support allowance (ESA) of £108.05 a week, sending her a curt letter while she lay desperately ill in hospital.

She had scored zero points on her Atos test. In her final months Linda was on 10 prescription drugs a day, suffering high blood pressure, renal failure and regular blackouts.

“The benefits were actually stopped on February 14,” Peter explains. “Happy Valentine’s. She was in hospital with a chest infection, typing her appeal on her iPad, crying her eyes out. We were lucky because I earned a salary that meant we were OK and we didn’t lose the house.

"But she felt distraught about it. She’d say to me, ‘I’ll have to go back to work then.’ It was only in the days before her death she said, ‘Well, maybe I wasn’t fit for work.’ Only when she had been told she was going to die...


Sanctions Pushing Unemployed Further Away From Work

Minimum length benefit sanctions are ‘setting people up to fail’ and pushes unemployed people further away from the world of work, figures released by the Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB) suggest.

Figures released by the CAB on Tuesday, show that unemployed people who have had their Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA) sanctioned under the current system are left ‘distracted from job-hunting as they have to focus on putting food on the table and keeping a roof over their head’.

Benefit sanctions are also pushing people into debt, which in-turn is having a detrimental impact on their health and making it even more difficult for them to spend time looking for a job, the CAB say.

The charity claims to have spent over £7 million in supporting their clients in appealing JSA sanctions decisions at tribunals and have witnessed a sixty per cent increase in problems caused by the tough new benefit sanctions regime, which was introduced by the coalition government in October 2012.

According to the CAB, of the 100,000 food bank vouchers handed out by the charity last year, sixteen per cent were due to people having their benefits sanctioned.


Food banks and the replacement of ‘social security’ with ‘charity’

Originally posted on alittleecon:

Two things over the weekend reminded me of a chapter from Robert Tressell’s “Ragged Trousered Philanthropists” called “Facing the ‘Problem’. Both are related to the increasing proliferation of food banks. Firstly, t here was a varying reaction to the news that the Trussell Trust had given an emergency food parcel to almost a million people over the last year. The DWP reacted quite angrily, accusing the Trussell Trust of being “publicity-seeking” and that the increase was purely a result of them “aggressively marketing their services”, but David Cameron actually seems quite pleased with the expansion of food banks, saying he wanted them to expand. Secondly, The Mail on Sunday decided to do a hatchet job on food banks in an article entitled “No ID, no checks… and vouchers for sob stories: The truth behind those shock food bank claims” . The article gives the strong impression that most food bank uses…

View original 580 more words

Disabled athletes forced to quit sport by benefit cuts

DISABLED athletes are being forced out of sport because of the UK Government's welfare reforms, their national body has warned.
With only three months to go to the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games, Scottish Disability Sport (SDS) said athletes who had been through work capability assessments were finding they could no longer afford to compete or train because of benefit cuts.

The organisation told MSPs its staff and associates from across the country had reported the impact of assessments on the sportsmen and women. Even board members of the governing organisation for disabled sport north of the Border have been affected.

Elite athletes preparing for Glasgow 2014, which runs from July 23 to August 3 and includes five disabled sports, are not thought to be affected. However, sources claim welfare reforms are hitting potential stars at grassroots level. The changes, designed to tighten criteria for sickness and disability benefits, have seen hundreds of thousands of people judged to be fit for work and ineligible for Government support.

But the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) said it was a "world-leader in support for disabled people", pointing to its role in the Paralympics.

The SDS claim is part of evidence to the Scottish Parliament's Public Petitions Committee and a submission calling for the scrapping of the UK Government's work capability assessor Atos as a Glasgow 2014 key sponsor.

Herald Scotland

Chemtrails: The Proof [Video]

Food banks see donations surge after being criticised by Mail on Sunday

Number of Trussell Trust donors jumps after article accuses charity of failing to run proper checks on food parcel claimants

Bromley borough food bank
Volunteer David Waters, 68, packs food into bags at the Bromley borough foodbank in Orpington, part of The Trussell Trust. Photograph: Andrew Matthews/PA

Britain's biggest food bank provider has seen a surge in donations after a Mail on Sunday article criticised the charity for failing to run proper checks on people claiming food parcels.

Before the article, there had been about 250 public donations since the Trussell Trust launched its JustGiving page in late January. That jumped to more than 3,300, worth more than £36,000. Several donors cited the article as the reason for contributing.

"The Mail on Sunday story appalled me. This is the least I can do to apologise for their crime," said Anonymous after donating £10.

Another, Spitting Feathers, said: "I am incensed by the disgraceful article. Call this journalism? I don't. I'm not a Christian and admire the work being done by human beings for their fellow human beings. Thank you."


Hypocrisy of Farage


European elections: Conservatives face poll humiliation as one in three Tory voters defect to Ukip

‘The Conservatives face being forced into third place in next month’s European Parliament elections, as up to half of Tory voters prepare to desert the party, an exclusive poll for The Telegraph has found.

Labour is currently in first place, with 30 per cent of the vote, while Ukip are second on 27 per cent. The Conservatives are a distant third on 22 per cent, according to the ICM survey of 2,000 adults.

The poll reveals how many of those who voted Conservative at the last general election will turn against the party next month – the first UK-wide poll since 2010.’

Read more: European elections: Conservatives face poll humiliation as one in three Tory voters defect to Ukip

Food bank bashing: when poverty dares speak its name

The Tories are trying to discredit food banks because the alternative would be to accept that their policies are creating poverty, writes Annie Powell

Food banks imagej

Today, Easter Sunday, that paragon of Christian virtue the Mail on Sunday has run a story about food banks. Not about how nearly a million people have been driven to such extreme poverty in Cameron’s Britain that they cannot afford to feed themselves, no, but about how one of its reporters lied to a food bank to obtain a free food parcel.

The point of the story? To make out that it’s easy to get free food from food banks and that those who do so are simply on the scrounge rather than in genuine need.

It’s pretty clear what’s prompted this bile. Not only does the soaring rise in food banks undermine the right’s rhetoric about benefit claimants, it also reveals the nature of in-work poverty.

Why would the sick or unemployed be referred to a food bank if they weren’t in desperate need of food? Aren’t they supposed to be living a life of luxury at the taxpayers’ expense? And if food bank users have a job, why can’t they afford to feed themselves?

It gets worse for the Tories. Food banks have captured the imagination of the national press in a way that other experiences of poverty have not. Food bank use is easily counted and easily communicated; poverty statistics are abstract but food parcels are strikingly evocative of aid efforts in developing countries. This is dangerously close to depicting the poor as deserving.

That’s why, with the help of Mail, the Tories are trying to discredit and smear those who run and those who rely on food banks. The unpalatable alternative would be to accept that their policies have created indefensible levels of poverty.

These smears tell you nothing about food banks, but a lot about the Tories. Possibly the most ridiculous attack on the Christian charity the Trussell Trust, the largest food bank provider in the UK, is that it’s a business and all its efforts therefore self-interested. “I understand that a feature of your business model must require you to continuously achieve publicity,” wrote Iain Duncan Smith to the Trussell Trust last year.


Sunday, April 20, 2014

Hundreds of poor and hungry children turning to charity for food over Easter holidays

Figures from leading food bank charity the Turssell Trust show the number of food parcels given to children last year was 330,205 – out of a total of 913,138
Struggle: Last year MakeLunch served 5,000 meals and reached more than 900 children
Poor and hungry British children have been relying on charity for food over the Easter holidays, reports the Sunday People.

Hundreds of youngsters who get free school meals have turned up at 27 ­kitchens for hot meals.
The units are run nationwide by the MakeLunch network.

Founder Rachel Warwick said: “For ­families on tight ­budgets , ­holidays bring additional ­financial ­pressure.
"There are still many children who need our help who we don’t reach. Ideally we’d have a kitchen within walking distance of every family that needs it.”

Cerebral palsy sufferer Jane Dawson’s three children have used their local kitchen. Two of her youngsters also have ­cerebral palsy.

Jane, 41, of Barnet, North London, said: “It’s a great help.

"They have a healthy meal and we get some respite.”
Last year MakeLunch served 5,000 meals and reached more than 900 children.

Figures released by leading food bank charity the Trussell Trust show the number of food parcels given to children last year was 330,205 – out of a total of 913,138.

In September the Sunday People won our Fair and Square campaign, along with the Children’s Society, after Deputy PM Nick Clegg promised free school lunches for infants.

Recently a parliamentary all-party group on school food warned the Government seemed unwilling to back research or take ­action into child hunger.


90 MPs hire staff for no wages despite Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg’s crackdown on unpaid internships

‘David Cameron and 89 other MPs used work experience volunteers last year – without paying any of them wages.

The Prime Minister was one of 44 Tories who registered intern and student helpers. The others were 35 Labour and 11 Lib Dem MPs.

The revelations are at odds with Deputy PM Nick Clegg’s crackdown on unpaid internships.’

Read more: 90 MPs hire staff for no wages despite Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg’s crackdown on unpaid internships

Friday, April 18, 2014

Information tribunal on deaths of IB/ESA claimants – next week

Originally posted on Vox Political:

I have just sent out a ‘diary marker’ to press organisations, notifying them of the Information Tribunal that will be held in Cardiff next week.

Inevitably, there will be organisations I have missed – and I also want as much of the social media as possible to be aware of this and to be spreading the word. For that reason, I’m publishing the text of the press release below.

If you have a Facebook page, blog site, Twitter account or whatever, please feel free to use what follows and make sure people know that this is going on.

Diary marker

Tribunal – Law Courts, Cathays Park, Cardiff, April 23, 2014 at 10am

Incapacity benefits – deaths of claimants

A tribunal will decide whether the Department for Work and Pensions should be ordered to release its statistics on the number of people who have died while claiming Incapacity Benefit or Employment…

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UK violating basic right to food, say charities

More than 20 civic and religious charities have signed a statement accusing the UK of violating the basic right to food.

More than 20 charities, including the Trussell Trust, the Child Poverty Action Group and Church Action on Poverty have signed a statement accusing the UK of violating the basic right to food.

The action follows a letter to the government from 600 Christian clergy and bishops seeking urgent action on the scandal of foodbanks and food poverty, a smiler statement today from Jewish leaders, and the nationwide End Hunger Fast - backed by the beliefs and values think-tank Ekklesia and many others - in solidarity with 900,000 people going hungry or short of food.

"It is our opinion that the UK has violated the human right to food and breached international law.

"This state of affairs is both avoidable and unnecessary. We call on the Government to take immediate action to ensure that the no one in the UK is denied their most basic right to sufficient and adequate food,” the common statement says.

A public vigil was held opposite Parliament at 6pm yesterday (16 April 2014) by members of the End Hunger Fast campaign.

Rabbi Laura Janner-Klausner, Senior Rabbi at Movement for Reform Judaism were among those present.
The Barrow-Cadbury trust has backed the report 'Going Hungry? The Human Right to Food in the UK', from the new Just Fair Consortium, which was launched recently.

This sets out the situation facing those on the breadline in austerity Britain, and the case for change.
The UK government and the Department of Work and Pensions are continuing to deny that there is a problem, despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary.


Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Britain's hunger crisis: One MILLION food parcels handed out despite UK having sixth richest economy

Shock report reveals 330,000 food parcels handed out went to hungry children in this country yet we have more millionaires than ever

Disgrace: Children are starving (file photo)
Campaigners last night demanded David Cameron scrap his savage welfare reforms after the number of emergency food parcels handed out soared to more than a million.

Furious anti-poverty groups and church leaders said it was beyond belief that people in 21st century Britain are going hungry and relying on charity.

The number of food parcels given out last year by the Trussell Trust alone nearly tripled from 346,992 to 913,138. And 330,205 of those went to children.

Another 182,000 are being donated each year by just 45 independent food banks, according to a recent survey.

Campaigners say the shocking ­statistics shatter the PM’s twisted boast that his welfare reforms are a “moral mission” giving hope to the poor.

Benefits cuts and delays, the rising cost of living and pay freezes are forcing more and more people into food banks, experts have long warned. One, on Merseyside, is handing out rations at the alarming rate of one every nine minutes.
 Lesley Payne at the Coastland Family Church foodbank
Volunteer Lesley Payne stacking tins at the Coastland Family Church foodbank in Barry

Legal experts even claim Mr Cameron is breaching human rights laws by allowing people to go hungry.
And Trussell Trust chief Chris Mould said the growing queues at food banks is proof the economic recovery Chancellor George Osborne brags of is still not affecting those on the breadline.

He added: “It’s close to triple the numbers helped last year, shocking in 21st century Britain. But perhaps most worrying of all is this figure is just the tip of the iceberg of UK food poverty.

“It doesn’t include those helped by other emergency food providers, those in towns where there is no food bank, people too ashamed to seek help or the large number who are only just coping by eating less and buying cheap food.

“In the last year we’ve seen things get worse, rather than better, for many people on low incomes. It’s been extremely tough for a lot of people, with parents not eating properly in order to feed their children and more people than ever experiencing unfair and harsh benefits sanctions.

“Unless there is determined policy action to ensure the benefits of national economic recovery reach people on low incomes we won’t see life get better for the poorest anytime soon.”

More than four out of five food banks insist the rising queues are down to harsh, ideologically-driven welfare cuts.

Mr Mould added: “A more thoughtful approach to the benefits regime and sanctions in particular, increasing the minimum wage, introducing the living wage and looking at other measures such as social tariffs for energy would help to address the problem of UK hunger.”

The true total of emergency handouts could be much higher because the ­Trussell Trust runs less than half of the 1,000-plus food banks in the UK.


Friday, April 11, 2014

PIP: Punishing the poor and ill

PIP should be a national scandal: Iain Duncan Smith’s new system already has a huge backlog and people are dying waiting

She calls it: “Heartbreaking, truly astonishing, I’ve never seen anything like this.” Emma Cross is a senior Macmillan Cancer Support benefits adviser, and she says delays in Iain Duncan Smith’s new personal independence payments (PIP) leave the sick utterly destitute. “Does anyone know how many people are struggling?”

Macmillan’s mountain of PIP cases includes a mother being treated with chemotherapy for bowel cancer, whose operation left her with a colostomy bag. She gave up work and, with no other family to help, her husband gave up his job to care for her and their two-year-old child, taking her to frequent hospital appointments. They claimed PIP last September – and they have heard nothing since. No-one answers queries, lost in the gigantic backlog.

Until registered for PIP, which pays from £21-£134 a week, they can’t claim other crucial benefits: carers allowance, severe disability premium, escape from the bedroom tax, a bus pass, taxi cards to get to hospital, or a heating grant (she feels intensely cold). With credit cards maxed out, they have no idea what they’re due as PIP has tougher criteria: if this woman can just about walk more than 20 metres, she may get nothing now for mobility. Macmillan says people in this backlog are missing chemo appointments for lack of a bus fare.

“I wish this couple were an exception,” says Emma Cross. “But this is happening to so many.”

PIP replaces the disability living allowance, which Duncan Smith cut by 20% and abolished for new claimants; old claimants are being moved over. It used to pay out quickly, but PIP is an administrative calamity. The public accounts committee (PAC) queried why Atos won the contract to run it with its record of failure: Sue Marsh’s latest Spartacus report says 43% of appeals against DWP decisions based on Atos tests for employment support allowance are upheld. Margaret Hodge, the PAC chair, unearthed Atos’s tender for the PIP contract and found it had been “grossly misleading”, pretending to have hundreds of test centres inside hospitals, when in reality it had very few.

The last figures from the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) show that 220,000 made PIP claims, but less than a fifth were processed. Ask any MP about PIP cases piling up in their surgeries and all parties tell tales of woe.


‘Social cleansing’ of London is well under way – BBC documentary

Originally posted on Vox Political:

Cartoon by Martin Shovel.
Cartoon by Martin Shovel.

Leading Conservatives must be delighted with the success of their benefit cap in getting single mothers and people with large families out of London – as depicted in the BBC Panorama special, Don’t Cap My Benefits, yesterday evening. (Thursday)

The change means that nobody in the UK is allowed to receive more than £26,000 in benefits per year. The government has claimed this is the same as the average family income, but readers of Vox Political will know that this is a flimsy lie and average family income is in fact more than £5,000 per year higher, at £31K+. The reason benefits weren’t pegged at that level is that far fewer people would be affected by it. Make no mistake – this measure was enacted to shift people from the capital.

The film shows the effects of the change on a number of families in Brent…

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State welfare is failing our citizens and food banks aren’t the answer

Originally posted on London food bank:

Mark Bothwell. Still in pain and waiting for the outcome of his employment and support allowance application.
Mark Bothwell. Still in pain and waiting for the outcome of his employment and support allowance application.

A study presented earlier this week to the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Hunger and Food Poverty says the rise in food banks and charity food is a clear sign of the inadequate nature of social security provision and the way it is delivered. As reported in the Guardian, the report by Sheffield University researcher Hannah Lambie-Mumford warns of the danger of charity food becoming a fundamental part of, or even replacement for, formerly state-funded welfare.

As shown by Eoin Clarke here, by January this year the number of food banks in the UK had grown to more than 1,080. Give that number a bit more consideration. There are more food banks now in the UK than there are branches of Sainsbury’s. The experience of Mark Bothwell (pictured above), here at…

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Virgin Give The Game Away: Unpaid Worker Schemes Bring Corporate And Commercial Opportunities

Originally posted on the void:

Virgin Media are the latest company to sacrifice their public image to benefit from unpaid workers on Government schemes.  According to the company, employing young people on Traineeships and paying them nothing can bring “corporate and commercial opportunities”.
The shocking admission comes in a leaflet advertising the Traineeship programme (pdf), which can involve up to six months work without pay.  They have been designed to ‘prepare’ young people for an ‘apprenticeship’ at below the minimum wage and participants are often not even offered one of these at the end of the scheme.  Instead they are given an ‘exit interview’ to pat them on the heads for all their unpaid work.

As pointed out by @boycottworkfare, unpaid work on Traineeships is not yet mandatory, although no doubt many Jobcentre advisors will try and pretend they are.  They may soon be right.  George Osborne announced in his Autumn Statement that…

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Thursday, April 10, 2014

Hundreds of injured ex-soldiers declared fit for work by Atos Healthcare

*Royal British Legion announce rise in soldiers having claims rejected
*Soldiers forced to undergo demeaning physical tests by firm

A record number of wounded war veterans have been denied disability benefits in the past year after undergoing tests carried out by the Government’s controversial assessment company.

Hundreds of injured ex-soldiers are being declared fit for work by Atos Healthcare in spite of physical and mental injuries they suffered in the conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Last night, the Royal British Legion (RBL) announced a 72 per cent annual rise in former soldiers having their applications to receive Employment Support Allowance (ESA) turned down. Several hundred wounded personnel were denied the benefit on the basis of physical examinations conducted by Atos, according to the RBL.

The company is contracted by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) to assess benefits claimants’ capability to work.

In one case, Lance Corporal Mark Dryden, 35 – a former member of the Royal Regiment of Fusiliers who, after an explosion in Iraq, lost his right arm and the full use of his left – was asked by Atos assessors if he was left or right-handed. He is now taking his case against the DWP to a benefits tribunal.

That case, and others, have led to accusations that Atos Healthcare is under intense pressure to produce assessments that enable the Government to reject benefits claims.

Servicemen suffering from the mental scars of combat also complain that they have been turned down for disability benefits.


Private Eye on Unum’s Role in Shaping Government Welfare Policy

Reblogged from Beastrabban's Weblog:

This is from the Eye for the 11th – 24th November 2011:
McGarry Unum pic
Jack McGarry, Chief Executive at Unum.

Welfare Reform

Mutual Benefits

Tricky questions are again being asked about the profits American insurance giant Unum stands to make from its massive media push on income protection cover, promoted as the answer to the latest tough welfare reforms.

Pulling stunts like persuading six bloggers to live for a week on the current average benefit of £95 and then write about it, Jack Mcgarry, chief executive at Unum UK (pictured), earlier this year warned: “The government’s welfare reform bill will seek to tighten the gateway to benefits for those people unable to work due to sickness or injury. Each year up to 1m people in the UK become disabled and the reforms mean that working people will be able to rely less on state benefits to maintain the standard of living they were used to prior to their illness”.

Well, Unum should know. Behind the scenes it has been helping Tory and Labour governments slash the benefits of disabled and sick people for years – going right back to Peter Lilley’s social security “Incapacity for Work” reforms of 1994. Lilley hired John Le Cascio, then vice-president of Unum, to advise on “claims management”. Le Cascio also sat on the “medical evaluation group”, which – according to Professor Jonathan Rutherford in the academic journal Soundings – was set upt to design and enforce more stringent medical tests.

At the same time, the UK wing of Unum was launching what it boasted was “a concerted effort to harness the potential” from predicted cuts in benefits, urging people to protect themselves with a “long-term disability policy from Unum”.

The Eye first questioned Unum about the possibility of a serious conflict of interest back in 1995. Dr Le Cascio said he didn’t “feel that way” and wouldn’t have taken the government job if he thought there was a conflict. That, of course, was ten years before Unum was found guilty in the US of “systematically violating” insurance regulations and fraudulently denying or “low-balling” claims using phony medical reports, misrepresentation and biased investigations (see Ad Nauseam, last Eye).

Fast-forward 16 years, and plus ca change. Unum’s tarnished reputation has done nothing to diminish its influence here and the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) is still denying there’s anything amiss about Unum’s more meddling. In a lengthy reply last month to Norman Lamb, Nick Clegg’s chief adviser, the DWP neatly skirted questions about whether Unum was advising on welfare reform and about its unlawful activities in the US.

Yet Unum executives sat on both the mental health and physical function “technical working groups” set up under the Labour government in 2006, which reviewed and finally came up with the new, stricter “work compatibility assessments”, introduced for new claimants in 2008. In fact Unum and Atos, the huge French outsourcing company that holds the government’s multimillion contract to conduct the widely criticised assessments on behalf of the DWP (see in the Back, last Eye), were the only for-profit companies represented on the groups. Unum chief executive McGarry has now been appointed to the expert panel reviewing the sickness absence from work system announced by the government in February.

Prof Rutherford wrote that Unum had also been “building its influence” in a variety of ways over a number of years. He said that in 2001 Le Cascio was a key player at a ground-breaking conference at Woodstock near Oxford, title “Malingering and Illness Deception”. Malcolm Wicks, Labour work minister at the time, and Mansel Aylward, then chief medical officer at the DWP, were among the 39 delegates.

In the same year, Unum launched a public private partnership to act as a pressure group to extend influence in policymaking. And in 2004 it opened the £1.5m UnumProvident Centre for Psychosocial and Disability Research at Cardiff University. (The Centre has since be renamed and Unum says it no longer provides any funding – no doubt because of claims that academic integrity could be called into question by its influence).

Unum has been lobbying, sitting on expert groups and hosting meetings at party conferences of all colours ever since. And lo and behold, in May this year, Unum’s then medical officer Prof Michael O’Donnell jumped ship to become chief medical officer at Atos. He barely had time to catch his breath before giving evidence to the Commons committee looking at the welfare reform bill.

But Unum is once again denying any conflict of interest “since our current work with the DWP and our marketing campaign are different”. It said its current consultation work is about helping people return to work and its advertising campaign was educational and does not support tightening benefit changes.

Meanwhile disability activists who have fallen foul and been forced to appeal cuts in DWP benefits based on flawed Atos assessments, and campaigning groups like Black Triangle, think the whole thing stinks and are urging MPs to investigate.

So Unum is, like Maximus, another private contractor hired to implement government welfare policies, a company with a history of corruption in the US. And like many of the other companies involved in the government’s welfare reforms, it helps formulate the very same policies from which it stands to make a profit. Meanwhile, the sick and disabled are thrown off benefits due to their advice. And, as you’d expect, they’ve even got a connection of the past masters of cruelty, fraud and corrupt influence, Atos.

If Cameron thinks he’s doing God’s work you have to wonder what he worships

Originally posted on Vox Political:

Face the facts: David Cameron has been sucking up to Hindus, Jews and now Christians because he wants religious people to vote for his Conservatives - in the same way Satan, the great deceiver, tries to lure the righteous into sin. If he worships any religious figure, it is Mammon, the personification of greed.

Face the facts: David Cameron has been sucking up to Hindus, Jews and now Christians because he wants religious people to vote for his Conservatives – in the same way Satan, the great deceiver, tries to lure the righteous into sin. If he worships any religious figure, it is Mammon, the personification of greed.

Perhaps he’s had a breakdown in the wake of the Maria Miller scandal.

Visiting Christian leaders were no doubt amazed to hear the leader of the most evil British government in decades telling them he has been doing “God’s work”.

David Cameron told them his Big Society concept – the vain attempt to get volunteers to do for free what public sector workers did before he sacked them all – was invented by Jesus of Nazareth, in Roman-era Israel.

If you think that’s a warped vision of Christianity, try this: He said, “Christians are now the most…

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Would Jesus have been a Cameroon?

Cameron and Jesusj

David Cameron told an audience at Downing Street last night that divine inspiration was at work when he came up with the concept of the Big Society.

“Jesus invented the Big Society – I just want to see more of it,” the prime minister said.

This is not the first time the PM has aligned his social policy with that of Jesus Christ. However whether or not Cameron is indeed a latter-day Christ can be tested by comparing the prime minister’s policies to the Biblical sayings of Jesus.

1) “Sell all that you have and give to the poor” – Matthew 19:21

Cameron has been directly challenged on his adherence to this teaching before. He responded that this particular commandment was a “little bit more difficult” than some of the other Biblical teachings he enjoyed. He wasn’t wrong.

Cameron is personally worth around £4 million, and his cabinet’s collective worth surpasses £70 million. Jesus said that it was easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter heaven: it is considerably easier still for a millionaire to pass through the door of 10 Downing Street.

2) “When you give a feast, do not invite your friends or your brothers or your relatives or rich neighbors… invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind and you will be blessed, since they do not have the means to repay you” – Luke 14:12

Those who donate £50,000 or more a year to the Conservatives are invited to join the ‘Leader’s Group’, and gain access to private dinners with Cameron and other leading party figures. Since 2001, members of this group have donated over £41 million in return for a string of private audiences with Cameron.

3) “Come, you that are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink…” – Matthew 25:31

The number of people using foodbanks trebled last year, with the result that over half a million people are now turning to these charities as they are unable to afford food themselves. Three quarters of people hit by the Bedroom Tax are being forced to cut down on their food bills.

4) “…I was sick and you took care of me…” – Matthew 25:36

A report last year revealed that some 20,000 nursing roles were left unfilled as part of austerity measures. In February, Channel Four Dispatches disclosed that over a billion pounds had been grabbed back from the NHS as part of a raft of ‘penalties’ when hospitals failed to meet targets Cameron falsely claimed he would abolish.

5) “…I was in prison and you visited me” – Matthew 25:36

Last year, Cameron said he felt “physically ill” at the idea of giving prisoners the right to vote. More recently, his government decided to severely curtail prisoners’ access to books, in a move decried by leading authors and humanitarians. Fortunately, the Bible is excluded from these restrictions, so prisoners can flick through the book Cameron has described as “not a bad handbook” for living.

6) “Love your neighbour as yourself” – Mark 12:31

Mark Wood was 44 years old at the time of his death. He was mentally ill, but found fit to work by ATOS. Stripped of his housing benefit, he slowly starved to death, unable to feed himself from the £40 weekly disability benefits which were all that remained to him. At the time of his death he weighed a little over five stone.

Cameron’s fatuous remarks are an insult to the memory of Mark Wood, an insult to the Christian faith and an insult to the poor of Britain.

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