"Ashamed to be part of CJS, ashamed to be part of CRC, ashamed to be member of a trade union that is failing its members, ashamed that we are allowing the Tories to destroy democracy and destroy the most vulnerable."I thought it might be an appropiate moment to give some examples of the developing social and political context that increasingly-beleagured probation staff are being expected to work within under TR:-
Open letter from quadriplegic to Osborne: how is taking £120 a month from me going to get me back to work?
This open letter to George Osborne was posted on Facebook. Please feel free to share:
I don’t usually do this sort of thing, but I am so downright disgusted I feel the need to say something. Please feel free to share this post, in the vain hope that somebody who can make a difference might get to see it.
Dear Mr Osborne,
I am intrigued by your methods and incentives to get disabled people back to work.
I have been a quadriplegic for the last 13 years of my life. Let me give you a brief description of what this entails. I have to employ a team of four carers as there is practically nothing I can do for myself. A few of these things I can’t do include going to the toilet as I need someone to stimulate my bowels digitally, holding and having any kind of sexual relationship with my wife, playing with or indulging in any physical activity with my two sons, getting out of bed or going to bed without the aid of carers, dressing myself, picking up anything as my hands do not work, feeding myself, drinking by myself, scratching any itches on my face which is the only part of my body that I have any sensation.
I am writing this using a speech recognition program as I cannot use a computer keyboard properly. If you have any sense at all you will realise that I am wheelchair-bound and to be quite honest the list of what I can’t do is so endless that there’s not much point in me continuing to expand any further. Suffice to say that all I am really capable of is seeing (through glasses that have to be put on and removed for me) hearing (using hearing aids that have to be inserted and removed for me) swallowing food (which has to be fed to me by someone else) and that’s about it. Can you explain to me and the myriad others that find themselves in my position, sometimes worse, how decreasing my disability benefit by £120 a month is an incentive for me to get back to work. Perhaps you could outline for me what sort of work people in my condition would be capable of?
Someone speaking on behalf of the severely disabled.
This from the Independent:-
This from the Independent:-
One in ten local councils are using powers created to prevent anti-social behaviour to criminalise homelessness, new figures show. Freedom of information requests to local authorities by the VICE.com website found that 36 local authorities were targeting rough sleepers with Public Space Protection Orders. PSPOs are local regulations which can be used by councillors to ban anything with a “detrimental effect on the quality of life of those in the locality”.
In 36 of 78 cases the orders are being used to make activities common amongst homeless people illegal, an analysis by the website shows. There are 375 local authorities in England and Wales. Anyone found in breach of a PSPO has to pay a £100 penalty fine and can face a criminal record and £1,000 if they fail to pay – as a person lacking a home or reliable income might. The power to introduce PSPOs was created by the Coalition Goverment with the Anti-Social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014.
Hackney Borough Council in north London scrapped plans for a similar PSPO after a backlash against the plans. “It is absurd to impose a fine of £1,000 on somebody who is already homeless and struggling,” petitioner Zahira Patel wrote last summer during the row.
“People should not be punished for the 'crime' of not having a roof over their head - there is nothing inherently 'anti social' or criminal about rough sleeping.”
Housing and homelessness charities including Crisis warned that any move to ban rough sleeping would be “counterproductive”. The Local Government Association, which represents councils, has previously defended PSPOs. “PSPOs can be used to address anti-social activities in public spaces which are having a detrimental effect on the quality of life of local people,” a spokesperson for the organisation said last year.
“Anti-social behaviour offences, such as aggressive begging, public drinking or the sale of legal highs, are far from “bizarre”. For victims and communities affected, they are serious issues and councils are keen to protect them from offenders who can make the lives of those they target a misery. Crime and anti-social behaviour by its very nature varies from place to place and that is why different councils are responding in a variety of ways.”
Also from the Independent:-
Also from the Independent:-
The number of benefit sanctions imposed on people with mental health problems has increased by over 600 per cent over the last four years, Department for Work and Pensions statistics show. A joint analysis of the figures by the Independent and the mental health charity Mind found that 19,259 people with such conditions had their benefits stopped under sanction in 2014-15 compared to just 2,507 in 2011-12 – a 668 per cent rise.
The finding comes weeks after ministers rejected a call to investigate whether such sanctions – which involve stopping a person’s disability benefit income for weeks at a time to enforce compliance – are damaging to mental health. The ramping up of the policy goes against the advice of mental health charities, who have previously warned that its aggressive approach worsens mental health problems and makes it harder for people to return to work.
Tom Pollard, policy and campaigns manager at Mind, said the dramatic rise was “alarming” and that the Government was refusing to listen to criticism of the sanctions’ impact.
“Stopping somebody’s benefits, or threatening to stop them, is completely the wrong approach to help people with mental health problems find work – it’s actually counterproductive. Pressurising someone to engage in often inappropriate activities under the threat of losing their benefit causes a huge deal of additional anxiety, often making people more unwell and less able to work,” he told theIndependent.
“In continually refusing to listen to calls for a review of the use of sanctions, the Government is not only undermining its ambition to help a million more disabled people into work, but is also failing its duty of care for the health and wellbeing of hundreds of thousands of people with mental health problems.”
Mr Pollard suggested that the Government take a more positive and personally-tailored approach to employment support for people with mental health issues.
“At the moment, fewer than one in ten people with mental health problems are successfully being supported into work through the Work Programme, the Government’s flagship welfare-to-work scheme, but tailored programmes have much higher success rates,” he said. “Instead of constantly treating people with suspicion, we need a system that makes an effort to understand their skills, ambitions, and the real barriers they face in getting and staying in a job.”
Research by the charity reported in the Independent earlier this year found that 83 per cent of people on the Government’s Work Programme because of their mental health problems believed the scheme had made those problems worse. 76 per cent of the same group also said the scheme, which is enforced by sanctions, had made them actually less able to work than before they were allocated to it.
Earlier this month disabilities minister Priti Patel rejected a call from SNP MP Callum McCraig to launch an official departmental investigation into whether the sanctions were injurious to mental health. She said any analysis would be flawed, telling MPs: “There are many factors affecting an individual’s mental health. To assess the effect of sanctions in isolation of all other factors would be misleading.”
She also claimed that there was “no evidence” to suggest that claimants with mental health problems were being sanctioned more than anyone else.
From Researching Reform website:-
From Researching Reform website:-
A frontline social worker involved with The Troubled Families Programme has branded the project a scam, which has dishonestly based its success off the back of other agencies’ hard work and coerces families to engage, providing a constant revenue stream that benefits local government.
We are not surprised by this development. Back in 2012 we expressed our concern, along with others, about the criteria being used to ‘detect’ or label Troubled Families. We didn’t, and don’t, care much for the term itself either, but what was so astonishing was that the government was prepared to identify families in distress using what can only be described as irrational criteria. In its initial phase, social work professionals would need to ‘tick off’ at least five of the seven criteria present. In 2016, this checklist appears to have shrunk (the whistleblowing social worker in the piece above tells us that there are now six elements to the check list, and only two elements now need to be identified before you’re officially In Trouble).
The social worker makes several observations about the Programme:
- There appears to be no qualitative evidence that the Troubled Families programme is actually responsible for ‘turning around’ the families it comes into contact with.
- Many families are assessed based on information which is between one to four years old. Most have therefore resolved their issues with the help of other organisations or through their own accord.
- As a result, those involved in the Project’s management are just mapping this progress and not actually contributing to outcomes, at all.
- Much of the basis for the ‘independent evaluation’ of the Troubled Families programme is done on cases which have been labelled high risk. This means they will be dealt with by a ‘flagship’ Troubled Families team, which has a smaller case load and so able to meet with the family a number of times a week. This practice is therefore financially unsustainable if applied to the programme at large, but it is used as the basis for evaluation of the entire programme.
- The programme is also being used to fill the hole created by cuts in local government funding. Refusal to engage in the programme is therefore not accepted by Troubled Families process managers, so staff use ‘creative’ tactics to make up the numbers. This has led to the coercion and harassment of families, who are being subjected to a ‘hard sell’.
Finally this from the BBC website:-
Finally this from the BBC website:-
A leading sugar daddy app says it now has almost a quarter of a million UK students on its books. Seeking Arrangement claims it's seen a 40% growth in the last year in young women joining. The figures are based on email address sign-ups, so some accounts could be people with multiple accounts, while the term students includes part-time workers and trainees. What's not clear either is how many of the users are "active" and go on dates.
Official figures released last month suggested a rise in crimes linked to dating apps and are also leading to an increase in the rates of sexually transmitted infections, according to doctors. Last year a study found that more than a fifth of students had thought about being involved in the sex industry. One in 20 students who took part said they'd worked either in glamour modelling, web-cam modelling, stripping or prostitution.
Seeking Arrangement says it aims to hooks up wealthy men with younger women. It claims the most new sign-ups have come from the University of Portsmouth and the University of Kent. The app makers say they believe the high cost of university fees and accommodation in the UK is making students look at new ways of making cash while studying. There is evidence that suggests fewer students are working while in full-time education.
The Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) says its figures suggest 29% of 16 to 24-year-olds were working in 2015. That's a 7% fall from 10 years earlier. In November Newsbeat spoke with 20-year-old Clover Pittilla, from Bournemouth, who uses the site.
"It wasn't for chavy people, there is a certain standard they have to meet," she said. "They are somewhere in life materially where they want to be and they just want to have fun now." When the subject of sex came up she told us people are very open in the sugar daddy dating scene. "Sometimes, sometimes [there is an expectation of sex]. But they are usually quite forward with that. "They usually say it straight away. If that's what they want then that is what they want. "But if that is not what I want, that is not what I am going to do.
"But if they are attractive or whatever and you wouldn't mind, then why not." Despite these figures on the amount of students using sugar daddy apps, some of the comments, at the time, about Newsbeat's interview with Clover still suggested it was similar to prostitution.
Student Clover believes that's unfair. "If you go on the internet, you see what people really think of it. "Some think it is like prostitution but it really isn't. You don't have to do anything you don't want to do." The types of people signing up to sugar dating services do not seem to fall into a certain wealth or social class. Seeking Arrangement claims 56% of university Sugar Babies come from middle and upper-middle class families.