Bit of a Twit!
Bit of a Twit!
As if one didn’t have enough to contend with relating to having a degenerative condition of the spine, insulin controlled diabetes and pain levels that take your breath away, one has to also factor in what I like to refer to as the CCC element. This element has been more harmful to people such as me, more mentally damaging, more crushing than a steamroller, more self-respect and esteem destroying, keeping me awake far more than my condition ever has. I should say at this point I have worked hard all my life, and continue to try and do so, having worked in environments that most people would never consider in a million years; prisons, detention centres, adolescent ‘lifers’ high security unit, secure mental health unit, etc. I have even owned my own health and social care based businesses, whilst I coped with the onset of this blasted condition. Some would say “this condition of mine” but I do not want to claim ownership of this hideous affliction so I tend to avoid saying “of mine”. I guess this speaks volumes about how I feel about it. I feel the same way about CCC; just want to completely disclaim any and all ownership of CCC, of them representing “the people”. I speak of course of the Callous Catastrophic Coalition, our very own highly motivated group of elitist Eton politicians who are obviously being bankrolled by the corporations that are taking over our ‘care’ and ‘support’ based services.
What a windfall big corporations must have celebrated when their millionaire mates got to form a coalition with the lying Lid Dems, that went back on their promises just to sit on the laps of the Tories. Now the Lib Dems should change their name as they have supported right wing politics and ethos, they have undermined democracy by overseeing the biggest cuts in legal aid we have ever seen. Strangely enough these cuts make it harder for the poorest to make legal challenges; the very people most affected by the policies of these tyrannical Tories and their Not Liberal or Democratic sycophants, barking for scraps from the Ministerial tables of No.10. Both of these immoral parties systematically privatised element after element, in plain view of the electorate, but caring not a damn what anyone thinks. Just a few on the very long list make me wince with utter horror:
- Back to Work Programme: renowned (or should that be infamous) for its terrible performance was one of the first assets Coalition passed to their private sector partners, which included the A4E boss making millions in profit. However, surveys showed that far from improving matters people actually had a better chance of getting a job if they didn’t go to places like A4E. Yet the money kept being paid out by the millions for very poor performing providers, who went for the quick turn around people that were relatively easy to get into a job so the provider could draw their payments down from DWP. Unfortunately the hard to place youth and disabled were “parked” according to the DWP’s own report, which means people register on a Work Programme so the provider draws down a lot of money just for registering them, then assesses their needs, earning more payments, but then park them as they will need too much support to get a job. Yet they, the brokers of public assets to the private sector just keep paying; keep making them richer and richer.
- The London 2012 Olympics: G4S were publically shamed as the Army had to be called in to make sure our wonderful games were safe, hundreds of millions of pounds G4S were paid and they stuffed it up. They then were hauled in front of the Public Accounts Committee to answer for their debacle, only for G4S’s boss to smugly say he was not returning any money. So you would think that this would be the last company the state would use again, or award more multi million pound contracts too – WRONG! Since this shameful and embarrassing crisis they caused at the games, where millions extra were spent to send in the army and bail out G4S, they were then awarded yet more contracts by the Coalition. I wonder if they donate to the Tory Party?!?! But let’s move on.
- Private Prisons & Now Probation: As if the experiences of the appalling lack of results from the privatised Work Programme didn’t prove beyond any shadow of doubt that payment by results was a failure, the Coalition are pushing forward with plans to privatise the probation service and their functions. Again it is supposed to be payment by results but to me it would seem, if the work programme is any example, that these companies make millions of pounds off the tax payer whether they succeed or not. Just look at the owner of A4E, she personally made millions of pounds and her programme was seen as consistently not meeting any of its targets, and still the DWP award A4E contracts! The difference is that with the work programme it is bad enough people get “parked”, but the consequences of failing in the probation service is that members of the public can be harmed. The likelihood is that part of the billion pound contracts that will be put into the private sector to take up the probation service functions will undoubtedly go to G4S, extending their range from prisons, electronic tagging, custodial and court escorts, etc., adding another income stream to their coffers thanks to CCC. The fact that some of their services are under serious investigation for abnormalities in their billing of the Government won’t matter a bit to them getting yet more contracts. It is clear that A4E and G4S are now synonymous with failing targets, not delivering on their contracts, and also with being paid millions despite very public misgivings. But these two are not alone, many of the main contractors who have a record for failing on their targets, overspending but being paid, claiming millions that they are not entitled too, hiking up profits off the backs of the poorest and most vulnerable, must have jumped for joy when CCC came to power and an era of corporate greed was born. It is a matter of public record that these corporations and companies have increased their profits under the CCC.
- Social Care & NHS Dismantling: We all know that the Work Programme and DWP are not alone. CCC has systematically made cuts to the whole of the ‘welfare’ and ‘health’ estate. These cuts have made significant gaps in service that the private sector have only been too happy to fill, and the same old justifications are spoken:
b) “Payment by results saves money” – no, sorry again that’s not true as I have shown above. The big corporations are far more sophisticated when it comes to the phrasing within contracts of services, and often build in clauses that mean they get paid regardless
c) “PFI’s means new schools, hospitals and prisons that are affordable” – nope, once again it is shown time and time again that this is the most expensive way of spending public money. Since CCC came to power the values of the actual buildings that have been paid for under PFI agreements is about £500 million. By the time they are paid off they will have cost the taxpayer 50 times this amount, a staggering £25 billion, and what’s worse is many of these builds go vastly over budget and the CCC pay for the additional costs
- Ability to Work & Benefit Assessments: We all now know that ATOS, Capita and a couple of other private companies carry out assessments for Job Centre Plus. We also know from the media and undercover media filming that ATOS for sure had an agenda to reduce the number of claimants, not just the new claimants but a review of the current claimants. They have literally left people starving, single handedly increased the number of people in poverty, a number which has substantially risen since the Coalition came to power. The abject misery ATOS and Government have caused is staggering, and I have watched it unfold month after month, compounded by the Government’s utter contempt for the working class, the poor, the vulnerable, the disabled, the young, the old, anyone who does not traditionally support the Government:
a) Bedroom Tax
b) Cost of living rises, estimated that food has increased by 43%
c) Huge price hike in energy prices due to pure profit greed
d) 900,000 appeals against DWP decisions, of which 550,000 were successful
e) The move to charge people to appeal against DWP decisions
f) The reduction of legal aid
g) The removal of DLA to reduce the number of claimants, replacing it with PIP but with a target to lower the number of claimants 500,000
h) More working people needing benefits than those out of work
i) More children in poverty in the last three years, and its increasing
j) More suicides amongst the disabled and those on benefits
k) Removal of housing benefits for under 24’s meaning more people becoming homeless
l) More people on minimum wage and zero hours based contracts than ever before, leading to increased poverty as prices rise but salaries stagnate
m) More under 24’s out of full time employment than when CCC came to power
n) And my personal favourite finding out Job Centre Plus centres, once they remove or reduce someone’s benefits are then directing them to food banks so that charities pick up the pieces!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Just from the above it is clear the Coalition, the CCC, are stripping state assets out of public ownership and into the private sector, the very private sector that are the big corporate donors to the Tories, where many of the current Ministers will go on to have Directorships post their Parliamentary careers. It’s the same as if we had put in charge of Tiffany’s a bunch of jewellery thieves! Then, to make sure they don’t get caught out, the thieves then change the law so people without hundreds of thousands of pounds cannot challenge their behaviour, their decisions. What is far worse is that the Liberal sycophants help the thieves as if they were driving the blinking getaway car! I often think that since fox hunting was banned, the Tories have found themselves a new blood sport, that of hunting the disabled, the poor and the vulnerable and making their lives harder. To be honest I didn’t think that was possible but yes they just keep turning the screw, keep piling on the demonization and the media attacks on us “social parasites”. I actually struggle on a day to day basis coping with my disability and the very state that is supposed to support people like me is actually attacking us, day in, day out, cuts to the very services we depend on for living, cuts to benefits, cuts to our very ability to live independently. The latest example is the closure of the Independent Living Fund (ILF), which is a fund set up to support people who have the most complex of needs, the people with significant and complex disabilities and long term conditions that are not going to get better. These people need ILF to remain in their homes, acting as a financial top up to their benefits due to the huge costs of their care. The CCC statement on closing ILF for good was that other funds will pick them up, but they won’t. To get ILF you already receive 24 hour support, and ILF can be used to help pay for this as Local Authorities can’t afford to pay the whole bill. Or did CCC mean by this comment that charities will pick up the shortfall through grant applications, again leaving it to the charitable sector to feed the hungry, the homeless, and now the most severely disabled.
So you can imagine having a significant disability that is getting progressively worse is something that has become intolerable under this dreadful CCC, and I have to be honest I was starting to lose hope. It felt like people, like me, were in the bleakest of financial winters, the economic gloom shutting out any rays of hope, draining one’s ability to keep fighting. The message from CCC was clear that people, such as me, are no longer financially viable, are no longer to be tolerated or supported, to be cast aside. But this awful, dreadful period of feeling despair was to change by a complete accident. I was looking into social media to support some of the ideas I have had, but instead I found a community of people raging against the Government, from a disability, health, mental health, welfare and NHS perspective. One such group called War on Welfare got a petition together that raised over a thousand signatures and caused a House of Commons debate on the effects of the cuts on the people of our nation. They even got agreement that a study be proposed to look at the real effects the cuts are having on people, communities, society as a whole. I was amazed that so many people are feeling like me, after the same thing as I am, not putting up with CCC anymore and are coming together to fight these right wing psychopaths. There are groups for the key areas of interest for me and Smiling Cat Ventures:
- Improving the quality of end of life care
- Improving the choices available to people with terminal conditions
- Saving the Welfare State
- Saving our NHS, which has become even more important now Clause 119 of the new Care Bill gives power to CCC to close hospitals – bet they are replaced by their mates in the private healthcare sector!
- Improving mental health
These hundreds of people fight everyday using Twitter and other social media platforms, raising awareness of what is going on, realising that this form of collective anger can make changes as they grow in membership, as opposed to the individuals that can just be ignored. There is a ground swell of anger at CCC for what they are doing, a gathering tsunami of disgust at the impact they are having, a tidal wave that could well wipe CCC from power at the 2015 elections. These social media fighters are many, thousands gathering together, pulling together many elements of the 11 million disabled people in the UK. Some of these welfare Jedi social media warriors include:
As I said, these are just examples of so many that I think you should have a look at on twitter and get behind, as is of course my own @AbleNotDisabled that has also joined the fray. You see, when you look at these suggestions you will realise that collectively using 140 characters (including spaces) can make a difference. The power of a tweet when repeated by hundreds of people can start to make sure CCC is banished from our political system as far as is possible. You know it is bad when even Amnesty International is investigating the poor treatment of the most vulnerable in society at the hands of CCC. So get yourself onto Twitter, become a proud Twit with me, a Twitter making a difference by supporting each other to crash the gathering wave upon the heads of the CCC before our wonderful NHS and Welfare State is destroyed forever.
Yours most sincerely
Smiling Cat Ventures (www.smilingcatventures.org)
Innovative Minds @ Work (www.innovativemindsatwork.org)
Mind the Step (improving accessibility)
Able Politics (increasing disabled peoples engagement in politics)
Face Book: Disability in Business
Linked-In: Jonathan Wade (Innovative Minds at Work)