Friday, 3 October 2014

MoJ Answers 5

Another helping of non-answers from the MoJ.

30. POs in prison
When will the number of PO's in prison establishments be published?

Further planning is under way to finalise the implementation plan for the new model for probation staff in custody. Our aim is to publish the numbers required in each establishment once that work has been completed.

31. Probation Institute
Why are there currently only 35 members of the probation institute?

I support the creation of an independent probation institute and expect it to attract a high level of membership.  This is an important opportunity to create a centre of excellence for probation, and to support professional development. 

32. EVR
How much money has been allocated for VR?

There is a lot of anger that enhanced redundancy schemes are being targeted at certain areas of staff when enhanced redundancy schemes have never been mentioned before TR in Probation and we are also led to believe that there is the possibility that CRC people will lose their continuity of service when as it seemingly always happens when public sector work goes to private companies, costs are reduced by job cuts.  What can you say to ameliorate this?

As part of the National Agreement on Staff Transfer, agreed with the Trade Unions in January 2014, the Ministry of Justice has agreed to fund an enhanced Voluntary Redundancy Scheme for the period to 31 March 2015. The Scheme has been targeted at corporate services and senior grades as this is where we anticipate a potential oversupply in the number of staff.

The VR scheme is a very good deal for staff and whilst there may be those in untargeted roles who are looking to leave, there continues to be a business need for these roles and the scheme can only be used for where there is a potential oversupply of roles – specifically corporate services and senior grades.  

The National Agreement also includes a series of protections for continuity of service that go beyond what is legally required. Continuity of service for staff in CRCs will not be affected when ownership transfers.

33. Staff skills
I am 10 years post qualification & have substantial experience of working in a female prison with lifers & ISPP and women who sexually offend - I am allocated to a CRC.  In what way will my skills & knowledge be utilised as I no longer work with high risk women?

Employment as a Probation Officer does not limit you to working with a specific group of offenders. Both the NPS and the CRC have complex caseloads to manage that require the experience and professional skills that Probation Officers have developed over time.

34. ICT changes
Why was more planning not put in place regarding the failing IT systems?

It has taken me nearly 50 minutes to access this web chat - the IT systems we use are in my view not fit for purpose e.g.  to save work in EOasys you have to scroll BACK to the top of each of the screen to save data you have completed at the bottom, NDelius insists on my office location – every time I put in an entry.  A real opportunity to improve these systems, so we spend more of our time face to face with offenders, has been missed.

In the Activities Team (CRC) we work with High Risk (NPS) service users - the IT system currently prevents us from reading the records/previous history/risk assessments on people we have never met before. Nor can we record our own contacts/assessments. This is putting both ourselves and the public at risk of harm. How do you explain this?

I do of course appreciate that in any complex reform programme there are challenges as new systems and ways of working bed down. The changes we have made are designed to support the new operational processes and data sharing across the new system. Testing of key systems, including ICT, is well advanced and will continue at every stage, and where issues arise we will deal with them as quickly as possible.

35. Contract signature 
When is the formal date of the TR/CRC split when the private company will take over the CRC?

The contract winners for each Community Rehabilitation Company are expected to be announced by the end of 2014.  We are on track to award and mobilise contracts by 2015. 

36. High Risk allocation
Were the government aware that the high risk Tier 4 cases I held last week are now managed by PSO and Trainee Probation officers in the CRC?

Protecting the public remains our top priority. The NPS manages all cases where there is high risk of harm – not all Tier 4 cases fall into that category. If there is a concern that a case has not been allocated correctly to the CRC, the NPS should liaise with the CRC to address the issue.  I know that all Probation Officers have regular one-to-one supervision with a senior probation officer, where they can raise issues such as obtaining support and guidance regarding any particular case that raises concern.

All CRCs (or Trusts prior to 1 June) had the freedom to postpone transfer of any cases where they considered there may be a risk to the public until they were satisfied it is absolutely safe to do so. 

37. Benchmarking
You mention New Ways of Working (NWOW); this seems dead in the water due to lack of staff.

Benchmarking, which is fundamental to New Ways of Working, remains at the heart of our plans to develop public sector prisons and we are addressing current staffing issues by recruiting 1,700 permanent staff and creating a flexible ‘reserve’ of former staff who have agreed to return on short term contracts to provide additional support where it is needed.

38. Ministerial visits
Do you have any intention of visiting any of the offices to see the damage that you have caused?


Is there a reason Mr Grayling has not visited his local Probation Office in Surrey?

Mr Grayling needs to make unplanned visits to the small Probation offices to see the real impact of TR. Not pre-planned brief visits to head offices. He needs to see his mess on the real shop floor!

My Ministerial colleagues and I, along with senior officials from the MoJ, have been keen to talk to staff all over the country about Transforming Rehabilitation and visited Trusts regularly. These visits have made it very clear to us that we have a highly skilled and experienced probation workforce, carrying out demanding roles for the justice system every day.  

39. Costs/savings
How much savings will TR bring to the public purse?


Could you please explain how much the TR process has cost so far, taking into account redundancy payments, support to bidders, creating dual organisations etc and illustrate how this is value for money for the taxpayer?

Is the TR process actually saving money as it appears to be costing a lot to implement this or is this more of a projected cost-saving exercise over a number of years?

Our proposals will be affordable within the context of the MoJ commitment to deliver annual savings of over £2 billion by the end of 2014/15. We plan to make considerable efficiency savings through the use of competition, the introduction of private and voluntary sector providers, and by consolidating back-office functions within the public sector. These efficiency savings enable us extend provision to this most prolific group. These are very important reforms, and I am clear that the programme will deliver value for money for the taxpayer.

40. Through the Gate
What are the current plans for developing 'through the gate' work as it all appears to have gone quiet, nothing more has been heard recently. Is it going the same way as custody plus?

Through the Gate remains an integral part of Transforming Rehabilitation, which CRCs will take responsibility for post contract signature. Bidders have visited resettlement prisons and consulted with Governors and other stakeholders to develop their Through the Gate offer and we look forward to seeing their proposed solutions.

Postscript - I've been asked to share the donation page for the usual AGM charity swim for the benefit of the Edridge Fund. It can be found here. 

41 comments:

  1. Please Read 36. High Risk Allocation
    " I know that all Probation Officers have regular one-to-one supervision with a senior probation officer, where they can raise issues such as obtaining support and guidance regarding any particular case that raises concern."
    There you have it colleagues, if you do not raise an issue in supervision you will not have a leg to stand on! So we all must ensure we have supervision, raise concerns and GET A COPY OF YOUR SUPERVISION NOTES AND KEEP THEM SAFE. If you are not having supervision email your manager and request it - keep the emails.
    Clearly the tone of the answers suggest the buck for EVERYTHING stops with the officer - sadly we must acquire the skill of protecting ourselves asap because this TR crap will fail, and guess what, we'll be to blame....
    a PO

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  2. 35 people joined the PI? HAW HAW. Those free membership drives were a great success!

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    1. Yes they are giving them away free in the DLNR CRC ha.

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    2. and giving membership away in DTV CRC too....

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    3. And northumbria.

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    4. And for some in London now too

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    5. And have been for a while in BeNCH (Bedfordshire, Northamptonshire, Cambridgeshire, Hertfordshire)

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    6. It has been claimed that a vote of no confidence in the GS would be 'a public relations gift to our enemies'. Isn't the PI a gift - a free gift at that! And if it isn't a gift, what is it, as it seems to have been a public relations gaffe by Napo who should perhaps issue some members' guidance about signing up. If the leadership support the PI, than they should be encouraging their member-led union to support it.

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    7. Maybe NAPO want nothing more to do with it....good idea

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    8. And Lancashire

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  3. Two more examples of Grayling and contracts fecking up!!!

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-29462702

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-29467442

    When will they EVER learn.

    BTW Jim, can we stop publishing these types of blogs as each time I read the (non) answers I want to throw my phone across the room in sheer anger!!

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    1. Ha! I agree. I can't bring myself to read them and just go straight to the comments section to see what people in the know have to say!

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    2. I'm conscious of the irritation factor, but hope you will bear with me as I bring it to the attention of a wider audience, people who do not have access to Epic and make sure it appears in the public domain for historians and others in the future who will be apportioning blame when it goes pear-shaped.

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    3. Please do continue Jim, I think it is so important to record this for future use and so those who are complicit with this crap know that we know it is all LIES!

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    4. Government plans to deduct legal fees from the damages paid to people dying from asbestos exposure are unlawful, the High Court has ruled.

      The Asbestos Victims' Support Groups Forum UK brought the action against Justice Secretary Chris Grayling.

      The group challenged his decision to allow 25% of damages awarded to mesothelioma sufferers to be used to pay legal insurance premiums and costs.

      The Ministry of Justice said it was "disappointed" with the judgment.

      Mesothelioma is an aggressive cancer caused by exposure to asbestos.

      It can take decades to develop, yet people live for an average of just nine months after diagnosis.

      Around 2,000 people are diagnosed each year, and the numbers are set to increase over the next 30 years.

      Many people seek compensation by taking legal action against their former employers or the employer's insurance company.

      Who pays?
      In 2013, there was a shift in the legal system.

      The Legal Aid Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act (LASPO) moved the responsibility of legal costs from the losing party to the person making the claim.

      However, people with mesothelioma were exempt from the new rules until there was a full review of the implications on this group of claimants.

      The government said the review took place at the end of last year, and that the same rules should apply to mesothelioma sufferers.

      The Asbestos Victims' Support Groups Forum UK said: "It could only be described as a back of a fag packet review."

      It took legal action against the government.

      In his judgement, the honourable Mr Justice William Davis said: "The issue is whether the Lord Chancellor conducted a proper review of the likely effect of the LASPO reforms on mesothelioma claims... I conclude that he did not."

      He ruled attempts to deduct costs from damages were unlawful.

      'Very happy'
      Doug Jewell, from the Asbestos Victims' Support Groups Forum UK, told the BBC News website: "We are very happy indeed. This lifts the burden of fear from thousands of mesothelioma sufferers.

      "People ask about legal action because they want to look after their families after they've died, but they're scared by the legal fees.

      "Now they're told they're safe, it won't cost you anything, and they can take action and provide for their families."

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    5. The government's decision to award billions of pounds of renewable energy contracts without a proper tendering process has left consumers out of pocket, MPs have said.

      The Public Accounts Committee said the Department of Energy and Climate Change failed to protect consumers' interests.

      The five offshore wind and three biomass project contracts were awarded without competition to avoid delays.

      MPs said Decc's own case showed no benefits to awarding contracts early.

      They added that it was not clear if the early contracts were needed in order to meet 2020 renewable energy targets. The government has set a target of producing 15% of the UK's energy from renewable sources by this date.

      Failure
      The contracts involved a guaranteed "strike price" that the renewable energy producers would receive for the energy that they produced. This strike price was linked to inflation, with consumers picking up the bill if inflation rose when the projects were completed.

      The MPs criticised the government for failing to challenge developers' claims that the projects would not go ahead without consumers taking on part of the risk.

      "By awarding contracts worth up to £16.6bn to eight renewable electricity generation projects without price competition, Decc failed to adequately secure best value for customers," said committee chairwoman Margaret Hodge.

      "Yet again, the consumer has been left to pick up the bill for poorly conceived and managed contracts."

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  4. I have spent the last few moments picking myself up off the floor, as I fell over in stunned shock that I actually agreed with no.33!

    "Both the NPS and the CRC have complex caseloads to manage that require the experience and professional skills that Probation Officers have developed over time." - I wholeheartedly support this contention, though let's wait and see whether the CRCs do.

    I do recognise the questioner's immense frustration though, as I have also gained a lot of experience in working with women who sexually offend, and find myself in a CRC and unable to use that particular set of skills. What a waste of talent and experience!

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  5. Messers Grayling and Wright really haven't a clue.

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/politics/conservative/11137442/Conservatives-set-out-plans-to-allow-judges-to-ignore-European-human-rights-rulings.html

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    1. Conservative plans to pull Britain out of the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) after the election contains "howlers" and is "factually inaccurate", according to the party's own former Attorney General.
      Dominic Grieve said a paper revealed yesterday outlining how the party would leave the ECHR if protections cannot be guaranteed contained basic legal mistakes.
      The Tory MP also warned that the proposals failed to explained how the move would apply to Scotland and Northern Ireland and insisted 99 per cent of rulings on British human rights rulings would be "identical" should the UK leave.

      However Chris Grayling, the Justice Secretary, challenged the claims, saying the current Attorney General had ruled the plans "fine, viable and legal".
      He dismissed the suggestion an error had been made on life-sentence prisoners and revealed the party had been working on plans to scrap Britain's ECHR membership for between 12 and 18 months.

      The row follows David Cameron's announcement during the Tories final pre-election conference this week that Britain could pull out of the ECHR - a long-standing source of frustration for Eurosceptics - if the Conservatives wins a majority next May.
      The move has triggered fury from Labour, the Liberal Democrats and some human rights groups, with accusations that such a move would leave the UK would be left on a par with dictatorships.
      On Thursday, Mr Grayling released a paper outlining how a future Tory Government would give Strasbourg an ultimatum – that either it was accepted British MPs could veto any rulings made by the ECHR or the UK would leave.
      However speaking on the BBC Radio Four's Today Programme, Mr Grieve – a long-standing critic of the move whose sacking as Attorney General in July was reportedly linked to his opposition – said the plans contained basic errors.
      "In many cases there's a misunderstanding of what the Court does. Even the paper which has just been produced by my colleague Chris Grayling includes in it a number of howlers which are simply factually inaccurate," said Mr Grieve.

      "One howler is the bottom of the third page where it says that the Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg has prevented the imposition of whole-life tariffs on whole-life tariff sentence prisoners in this country. It hasn't. Its judgment never said that.
      "And, on top of that, we then took a case to the Court of Appeal, which I actually chose to take when I was Attorney General, which found that are rules are completely compliant with what the Court wants. Yet there it is in the paper which he has put out on behalf of the Conservative Party."
      He added that the paper appears to be "factually inaccurate in what it says" and said it was "unfortunate" the complex subject was not being treated with a "measured approach".
      The claim is significant because it addresses one of the most commonly voiced frustrations about the Court – that it denies Britain the right to imprison murderers for life.
      Speaking later on the same programme, Mr Grayling rejected the claim errors had been made and explained the legal case at the centre of the row.
      Mr Grayling said the case being discussed ruled that it was "contrary to human rights laws" to give prisoners a whole-life tariff and recommended allowing a review after 25 years.
      "What that would actually mean is that no court can send a prisoner to jail without a review point of 25 years," Mr Grayling said.
      "Now today we have tariffs of 30 years, 40 years, sometimes whole life for the most brutal killers," he added, warning that because of the decision every prisoner serving life would be "entitled" to request a review after just 25 years.

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    2. Speaking more widely the Justice Secretary, seen by many to be to the Right of his predecessor, Mr Clarke, revealed that the Tories had been working on plans to leave the ECHR for between 12 and 18 months.
      He said a panel of QC-level lawyers, academics and other senior figures in the legal world had been consulted over the plans and the current Attorney General, Jeremy Wright, believes the proposals are "fine, viable and legal".
      Simon Hughes, the Liberal Democrats' justice minister, repeated his party's opposition to pulling out of the ECHR – a move which would be a first since the Court was created after the Second World War.
      Mr Hughes said the human rights of Britons cannot be protected without the ECHR and leaving would send the "absolutely worst signal" to the world.
      Martin Howe QC, who advised on the strategy paper released by the Conservatives and sat on the Government's Bill of Rights Commission, said: "With respect to Dominic, I disagree with him on this. The decision by the European Court of Human Rights was that whole life tariffs without the prospect of release are not allowed.
      "The Court of Appeal subsequently said that the power of the Secretary of State to release prisoners in exceptional circumstances provided enough of a hope of release. It is far from clear that the Strasbourg Court will agree that this very limited power of release is sufficient to satisfy its own criteria and there is a danger of our courts and Parliament being effectively overruled on this issue by Strasbourg. The only way to deal with this properly is to tackle head on the Strasbourg Court’s flawed and defective interpretation of the Convention."

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    3. It's pointed out here that the document's use of the word "judgement" throughout means that it's very unlikely that it was drafted by lawyers, since the spelling in legal settings is "judgment", apparently.

      http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2014/10/03/human-rights-law-uk-torie_n_5925924.html?utm_hp_ref=uk

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    4. The Tories plans to scrap the Human Rights Act and renegotiate the terms of our human rights agreement with Strasbourg are out. And there are a few quibbles, worries, and in some cases, glaring errors or omissions.

      The plans are so vague in part, and so unrealistic in other that it led Conservative MP and former Attorney General Dominic Grieve to say that proposals produced by Justice Secretary Chris Grayling contained a series of factual "howlers" and were not properly thought through.

      Under the blueprint, a future Conservative government would effectively issue an ultimatum to Strasbourg that it must accept being merely an "advisory body" - or Britain would withdraw from the system altogether. The party would scrap the Human Rights Act introduced by Labour in 1998 to enshrine the European Convention on Human Rights in domestic law.

      Instead there would be a Bill of Rights, which would include the principles from the convention - originally drawn up by British lawyers after the Second World War. But it would also make clear that the Supreme Court UK judges were not obliged to take European Court of Human Rights' rulings into account when coming to decisions.

      Lawyers have been overtly critical of the new proposals.

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  6. This is a very poor government and unfortunately Grayling as outlined elsewhere is the worst cabinet minister in generations.

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  7. I did not know it was free!

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    1. It wasn't. They just got more and more desperate.

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  8. FROM TWITTER: -

    " ‏@Protected Tweets

    Innovo mtg 2day - they say preferred bidder announced end of Oct & contracts to start from 1st Feb not 1st April!!! #Probation "


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    1. Interserve are confirming they will know on 20th October. 19th October has been mentioned for a long time.

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    2. from Oct due diligence reigns - this is really happening now and its just over 2 weeks away. Jim had you heard about February because that's news to us - we all thought April?

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  9. FROM TWITTER: -

    Harry Fletcher ‏@hfletcher10

    #Probationselloff Contracts signed December.Only JR or Perm Sec using her intervention power can stop it.Both unlikely.Chaos rules for years

    https://twitter.com/hfletcher10/status/518065115514814464

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  10. 'Ex-Prison Officer @prison_screw reports Tornado & Riot Teams at HMP Swaleside. The Professionalism of Prison Officers has finally been beaten down by #Grayling incompetence' 03/10/2014 20:47

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    1. One officer stabbed but the MoJ say that the POA are blowing this all out of proportion and no link to staffing. Either they are idiots or they think we are.

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  11. The dangerous streak of piss that masquerades as Rees-Mogg Junior has given the game away on Newsnight (my paraphrase) - "Why should we consider outsourcing something as fundamental as our human rights to some foreign organisation?"

    Because for over 60 years its served to maintain peace within a very troubled Europe?

    Because its stopped lunatic extremist MPs in Westminster maintaining abusive laws, e.g. homosexuality is illegal, police suss law, institutional racism, etc etc?

    Because it stops lunatics like RM Junior, Grayling, Selous, Putin and others from holding the reins of power and making shitloads of money from others' distress, abuse and powerlessness?

    And why is it okay to outsource something as significant as Probation provision to 'foreign' organisations, i.e. Global jackals & hyenas feasting on Tory roadkill.

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  12. I don't have any answers, but I find it very dIstressing that one person holding one particular role in public office In London can dictate the fates of so many, so many thousands of miles away - Thatcher & the Falklands/Malvinas; Bush/Blair/Bush/blair/Right Wing Israel & the Middle East In general; Cameron & Global Islamists. Naiive? Yes. I don't want to offend or cause further distress to anyone but its 4 - 0 to the extremists, and they seem very keen for the game to run & run & run. They've never been beaten in warfare, ever. In modern times they routed the massed forces of the Soviet Union, saw off sophisticated US forces (and cleaned them out of $Billions), and outwitted combined 'Western' forces.

    And this is why I fear Grayling leading the bid to exit the ECHR. Pathologise And criminalise what you don't understand; Whole Life tariffs; reinstate capital punishment; destroy the 'enemy'; Exterminate! Exterminate!

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  13. http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2014/oct/03/tories-lib-dems-row-union-fees-deductions

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    1. Danny Alexander and Francis Maude are engaged in a fraught coalition row over Conservative plans to stop Whitehall departments deducting millions of pounds in trade union subscriptions from civil servants’ pay packets.

      Leaked documents show that both the Treasury’s chief secretary and the cabinet secretary have taken the unusual step of sending top civil servants and cabinet ministers conflicting advice over whether they should stop the check off system that funds Britain’s public sector unions.

      The Liberal Democrat’s Alexander wrote a letter saying there is no fiscal case for stopping the payments system and said that to do so would leave the government open to legal challenges.

      A previous letter, however, sent by Maude demanded that each permanent secretary draw up plans to review any arrangements to pay unions direct from wages.

      The letters have emerged after Maude told the Conservative party conference that ministers should follow the Home Office and the Department for International Development (DfID) by stopping the system as soon as possible.

      Liberal Democrats say they are determined to curb what they see as Maude’s plans to neuter public sector trade unions – comments that will be seen as an attempt to differentiate the party from their coalition partners. A senior Lib Dem said Maude was acting after clashing with the unions over changes to the civil service.

      Unions are concerned the Tories’ plans would increase the cost of collecting subscriptions and could lead to many lapsed memberships. It would force them to ask members to switch to direct debit, which is a lengthy and distracting process.

      The row began last December when Maude’s private secretary wrote to the private secretaries of each secretary of state saying they should review check offs, describing it as an undesirable service that can result in unnecessary costs.

      Three months earlier, Eric Pickles, the communities secretary, had attempted to end the check off system in his department but faced a legal challenge from the PCS union, which argued the scheme cost only £300 a year to administer. Pickles lost the case, which cost the taxpayer £90,000.

      Each department was asked by Maude to nominate a lead civil servant to be responsible for reviewing the arrangement and suggested the Liberal Democrat minister in each department should be informed before the secretary of state wished to remove the service.

      “The minister for the Cabinet Office considers that it not desirable for civil service employers to provide an unnecessary service on behalf of the trade unions and their members which can impose additional costs as well as constraints on the way employers administer payrolls. Departments are requested to review any such arrangements they have taken place,” the letter reads.

      After furious exchanges between Tory and Lib Dem ministers, Alexander took the unusual step of writing to all permanent secretaries and cabinet ministers in July. He wrote: “Departments should be aware that there is no fiscal case for doing this as the unions have offered to pay any costs associated with check off which in any case are minimal.

      “In addition, the experience of DCLG [the Department for Communities and Local Government] suggests that any attempt may ultimately fail as a result of legal action being brought by the unions, at considerable cost to the public purse.”

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  14. http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2014/oct/03/george-osborne-charities-business-chancellor
    So how come the Tories are trying to use charities to undermine professional probation expertise? Also contains references to Trade Unions.

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    1. George Osborne has triggered a backlash from charities after he urged companies to defend the economy against their “anti-business views” and those of pressure groups and trade unions.

      The chancellor called on business leaders to raise their heads “above the parapet” and fight back against charities and others who he said were making arguments against the free market and standing in the way of economic prosperity.

      Osborne told the annual convention of the Institute of Directors in London: “You have to get out there and put the business argument, because there are plenty of pressure groups, plenty of trade unions and plenty of charities and the like, that will put the counter view.

      “It is, I know, a difficult decision sometimes to put your head above the parapet, but that is the only way we are going to win this argument for an enterprising, business, low-tax economy that delivers prosperity for the people and generations to come.

      “There is a big argument in our country … about our future, about whether we are a country that is for business, for enterprise, for the free market.”

      Osborne did not name any of the charities that had antagonised him, but his remarks are the latest in a string of comments by senior Conservatives suggesting they believe charities have got too political and leftwing.

      Some MPs reacted furiously to a campaign poster by Oxfam released in June that described “a perfect storm” unleashed by zero-hours contracts, high prices, benefit cuts and unemployment. Brooks Newmark, the former civil society minister, last month urged charities to “stick to their knitting”.

      Oxfam, which runs a large trading arm, rejected the idea that charities were in any way anti-business. Nick Bryer, its head of UK campaigns and policy, said the charity agreed with the chancellor about the importance of enterprise. “It is vital to tackling poverty around the world, which is why we help poor people set up their own businesses and access markets,” he said. “We don’t recognise the divide he draws between the concerns of businesses and charities.”

      Sir Stuart Etherington, the chief executive of the National Council for Voluntary Organisations, said people “should be celebrating not denigrating the relationship between business and charities”.

      He said: “The days when charities and businesses were enemies are long gone. Charities will always speak up for the people and causes they work for, but many are also working with businesses to find solutions to society’s problems together.”

      The chancellor has been the target of criticism by many charities over the effect of government cuts, most recently by the Child Poverty Action Group, Gingerbread and other groups when he announced a further two-year freeze on working age benefits if the Conservatives win power next year. Many feel the negativity of some Tories towards charities has its roots in the fact that some, such as those who provide food banks, have played a high-profile role in highlighting the effects of welfare cuts.

      Osborne’s broader suggestion that businesses know better than charities how to bring about prosperity was strongly questioned by John Sauven, the executive director of Greenpeace. “George Osborne appears to lack a sophisticated understanding of what brings about prosperity and happiness in societies,” he said. “Most league tables show countries that protect the environment and have progressive social policies have more fulfilled, satisfied populations. It’s not anti-capitalist to say clean water, clean air and sustainable growth are good for everyone.”

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  15. If Grayling and the MoJ were selling second hand cars you just wouldn't buy one. The clock would be turned back, the MOT would be dodgy, the tax disk would just cover a crack in the windscreen, the log book would be edited to remove the number of previous owners, and records of insurence claims for crashes or damage would be hidden away from you in some dark celler.
    If you wouldn't buy a used car from him, why would you trust him and buy anything else from him?


    http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/tories-suppressed-vital-reports-on-drug-abuse-says-home-office-minister-9773938.html

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    1. And for no real reason he'd "cut&shut" perfectly good vehicles, viz-the Probation Service; a perfectly good vehicle sliced in two, with each half then welded to ill-fitting new parts making two useless, unroadworthy, dangerous pieces of shit.

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    2. Just don't buy anything with an MOJ number plate!

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    3. Moves to help addicts kick their habit have been thwarted by senior Conservatives “playing politics” with the lives of vulnerable people ahead of the general election, the drugs minister has claimed.

      Norman Baker opened a new Coalition rift after he condemned the Tories for “suppressing” two Home Office reports which set out plans to tackle addiction and combat the popularity of “legal highs”.

      His attack came on the eve of the Lib Dem conference in Glasgow which will lay bare the differences between the Coalition partners on human rights, anti-terror legislation, health spending and welfare cuts. Simon Hughes, the justice minister, will also today condemn his Tory boss, Chris Grayling, for banning prisoners from receiving books.

      In an interview with the Independent, Mr Baker disclosed the drugs reports were still gathering dust, with no date for publication, despite being ready since July. He blamed the Conservatives for blocking them for “political reasons”.

      He said: “We have wasted three months when we could be taking action to save lives. It is irresponsible to play politics with these sort of issues.”

      One report analysed approaches around the world to tackling drug use, including Portugal, where possession has been decriminalised, and Switzerland, where heroin addicts are given controlled doses to wean them off the drug.

      Mr Baker said the report, written by Home Office officials, had examined the evidence from abroad and made recommendations on the lessons for Britain.

      “The idea we can bang up prison sentences and that will cure the drug problem is ludicrous. We need to learn from this and adopt best practice,” he said.

      “But perhaps our Conservative colleagues in government find some of the conclusions and observations inconvenient because they don’t fit with their prejudices.”

      A parallel report examined the worldwide popularity of so-called “legal highs”, chemicals designed to replicate the effects of illegal substances, which have been linked to dozens of recent deaths in Britain.

      It backed action against “head shops” which sell the substances and against the suppliers behind the booming trade, as well as better education of the dangers of legal highs.

      “I want to get on with tackling these substances. In the meantime, because the Tories are blocking these papers, the recommendations in them have not been acted upon,” he said.

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