Report on the UK Government’s failing human rights record submitted to UN

Politics and Insights

humanrights-01.jpgcoalition of 175 civil society organisations has raised grave concern about the impact of the government’s welfare “reforms” and living standards in the UK, hate crimes, mental health, deteriorating prison conditions, stop and search powers and the Conservative’s plans to repeal the Human Rights Act, among other issues. The organisations include Age UK, Just Fair, Inclusion (London and Scotland), the TUC, Unicef UK, Rights Watch, The Law Centres Network, Mind, the Mental Health Foundation and Stonewall. 

The coalition contributed to a report which calls on the United Nations (UN) to recognise the evidence from the wide range of civil society groups and to ensure the UK Government, and the devolved administrations, are accountable for taking appropriate action and measures to redress many raised human rights concerns. The report authors caution that a high proportion of the 132 recommendations from the last United Nations hearings in 2012 have not been implemented.

The British…

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DWP issued guidance that made suicides more likely, then ‘lied’ to cover its tracks

The government has secretly made major changes to guidance given to “fitness for work” benefits assessors that has put the lives of thousands of disabled claimants at risk… and then “lied” about what it had done.

The changes appear to show ministers made a calculation last year that it was worth risking the loss of some lives in order to cut benefits spending and force more disabled people into their discredited back-to-work programmes.

The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) could now face legal action over its decision to bring in the changes without seeking approval from parliament.

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Tragic two-month-old baby who lived in car with homeless parents dies

Friends of the family say the tot’s parents now “have nothing to live for” after they lost their baby son Donald so soon after his difficult birth

A two-month-old baby who lived in a car with his homeless parents has tragically died.

The baby boy, known only as Donald, was born prematurely two months ago and the cause of his death is unknown. Donald ended up sleeping in the car after his parents were evicted from a house they were renting and couldn’t afford the deposit for a new place.

Claire Matthews, who runs the Hope for Food soup kitchen in Bournemouth, worked closely with the family.

The baby boy, known only as Donald, was born prematurely two months ago and the cause of his death is unknown.  Donald ended up sleeping in the car after his parents were evicted from a house they were renting and couldn’t afford the deposit for a new place.

Claire Matthews, who runs the Hope for Food soup kitchen in Bournemouth, worked closely with the family. She said the family are “grief-stricken”. “They are in a very dark place at the moment, they have nothing to live for now,” she said.

Claire said Donald’s mum, known only as Jane, had moved to Dorset from Kent while still pregnant to escape the threat of domestic violence from an ex-partner.

Hope for Food has now offered to help pay for tragic Donald’s funeral.

It is believed his devastated parents are currently living in a bed and breakfast and have said in the past they have been let down by local councils unable to find them permanent housing.

Poole Borough Council confirmed they had been in contact with the couple and had offered advice and support. But officials said they were unable to help at at the time of their inquiry because they were based outside of the borough.

Claire said: “Because the mother was from Kent the local authorities wouldn’t help her, despite the father being from Bournemouth. “They were never after hand-outs – they just wanted support. After Donald’s birth they moved back to Kent because that’s what they were told they needed to do in order to get the help they needed. The authorities there put them up in a B&B but then they phoned to say Donald had died. We don’t know why at the moment, but there will be an inquest to find out.

“It is disgusting that something like this could happen in this day and age. If they had just had some help from the local authorities when they first asked then Donald would still be here.”

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Concentrix and the Tax Credit scandal

This is from my facebook feed this morning.
“I have a concern regarding sorting out getting swept up in a Concentrix fishing expedition that has currently stopped my Tax Credits, before I get moved to Universal Credit.

Basically I am being asked to provide a mountain of paperwork to prove I am single (I have been for over 10 years!). I finally managed to get them to tell me who it was they believed was my partner – turns out I have to prove I’m not with my ex-husband, divorced 7 years ago, he’s remarried and has two kids. Apparently my decree absolut isn’t good enough proof!

I don’t even know where he lives or how to contact him but find myself in the position of possibly needing to buy a copy of my ex-husband’s current marriage certificate to stop this farce. Based on how many people I know who were sent out questionaires & who are also being made to jump through ridiculous hoops to be believed, I’m convinced this is a pure fishing expedition designed to make us all give up & go away.

How laughable – like anyone who didn’t really need this money would put themselves through this system in the first place. Utter ***tards.”

New DWP guidelines mean assessors are forcing suicidal people back to work

Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) guidelines are encouraging assessors to consider the “benefit” that employment can have for claimants at risk of suicide who would otherwise be marked unfit for work.

Earlier this month, the government released figures that show the amount of successful applications to Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) has been falling from the start of the year.

According to a DWP spokesperson, this is nothing out of the ordinary:

We expected the proportion of claimants placed in the Support Group to fall as the backlog of new claims reduced, due to fewer claims leaving the benefit before reaching their Work Capability Assessment.ut this drop must be considered in light of the changes in guidance that came into effect at the start of 2016.

Risks and benefits

Previously, guidance for the Work Capability Assessment (WCA) advised that someone who is a suicide risk should be placed in the Support Group. This is the higher level of benefit, for those who are severely disabled and cannot work.

Now, the guidance says something different entirely:

If you conclude that finding a claimant fit for work would trigger risk of suicide or self-harm then you need to consider whether there are factors that would mitigate the risk if the claimant were found fit for work.

According to the WCA Handbook, these factors include whether the risk to physical or mental health is “substantial”, whether the benefits of employment outweigh the potential risks, and whether “reasonable workplace adjustments or prescribed medication” could reduce the risk.

Specifically, it says:

Remember that there is good evidence that people in work have better health outcomes and are at lower risk of suicide.

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Thousands of chemists in England’s poorest areas face closure under Government plans

THOUSANDS of High Street chemists in the poorest areas of England face closure under Government plans. Poorest to suffer as thousands of chemists face closure under Government plans
As many as 3,000 community pharmacies are at risk after the Department of Health announced it was slashing their funding by £170million. The Government says the cuts are justified because there are “more pharmacies than necessary” in some areas, leading to a “clustering” of High Street chemists.

But new analysis by the National Pharmacy Association has revealed that 40 per cent of those under threat are found in the UK’s top fifth most deprived neighbourhoods. In comparison, less than five per cent of those at risk are in the country’s most affluent postcodes.

Last night campaigners warned that the proposed cuts would make health inequalities even worse, hurting vulnerable patients and the elderly most.

NPA chairman Ian Strachan said: “Currently the more vulnerable a neighbourhood is, the better the access to primary care through pharmacies.

“Many pharmacies most at risk by the Government’s plans are in highly deprived areas, so the cuts would hit hardest those communities least able to bear it.”He added: “Pharmacies have a long track record of supporting vulnerable patients and deprived populations. Sometimes we are the only health care facility in a neighbourhood. In such instances people rely on their pharmacy for first line social care as well as their health and pharmaceutical needs.Part of the role pharmacies fulfil is to help elderly and infirm people live independently in their own homes.

“Tragically, it’s services like home deliveries and other support for independent living that could be the first to go.

“In some places, the High Street would become unviable if the neighbourhood pharmacy disappeared. All that would be left is the bookie and the chippie.”

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You Need to Be Rich to Grow Old With Dignity in Britain today

You need to be rich these days to grow old with dignity in Britain. Six years of local authority budget cuts by the conservative government has placed the burden for caring for our elderly and infirm on their relatives and the over-stretched voluntary sector. Since the Tories came to power, local authorities have responded to these central cuts by allocating 9% less on social care, as demand has grown.
As the government abandons our most in need, a silent alarm is screaming in households across the country.  Hundreds of thousands of Britons who struggle to eat, wash and go to the toilet are left to make do. A daily trial, a daily injustice. Access to care now depends increasingly on what people can afford rather than on what they need because the poor are more reliant on the state.
A report published today by the King’s Fund puts the social care funding gap by 2019/20 at £2.8 billion as public spending on it falls below to 1 per cent of GDP. It predicts that that many of thousands of mostly small and medium sized businesses that make up most of the care sector will fail due to the reduction in government grants to the local authorities which pay them. “The possibility of large-scale provider failures is no longer of question of ‘if ’ but ‘when’ and such a failure would jeopardise continuity of the care on which older people depend,” says the King’s Fund.
The social care funding crisis has had the knock-on effect of precipitating another crisis within the NHS because elderly people with nowhere to go are filling A&E departments and hospital wards across the country. The government is depriving the health and social care systems of the money they need to function, leaving it up the blood, sweat and tears of staff to keep our once great NHS together. There is nothing accidental about this crisis. The government is deliberately precipitating shocks in the system so it can bring about its own solutions, which invariably involve more privatization, deregulation and cuts. If the government wants to derogate from its duty to provide care for a growing number of older people in Britain, it must come clean and say so.The alarm cannot ring silent forever.

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