Amazingly, he got the business case for this escapade in to the unknown signed off and it now appears to be full steam ahead as we veer towards certain disaster, with IDS at the helm it's nothing less than an absolute certainty.
But £7 billion savings? I ask you, how on earth can he even begin to quantify such a claim?
Lina Dencik receives funding from the Economic and Social Research Council for the project 'Digital Citizenship and Surveillance Society: UK State-Media-Citizen relations after the Snowden leaks.'
Arne Hintz receives funding from the Economic and Social Research Council for the project 'Digital Citizenship and Surveillance Society: UK State-Media-Citizen relations after the Snowden leaks'.
Laura Poitras’s much-anticipated Citizenfour is now on general release. A documentary about the whistleblower Edward Snowden, the film provides an admirable summary of the issues raised by the beginnings of what might be called the “Snowden era,” when the extraordinary revelations of mass surveillance were brought to light.
The film covers the period from Snowden’s initial approach to Poitras in February 2013 to an interview with him in his Moscow exile in May 2014. Poitras provides us with a fly-on-the-wall perspective throughout crucial and tense moments, giving insight into not only the motivations, but also the concerns and fears that surround the leaks and their publication.
We get to know a whistleblower who is articulate and considered in his dealings, and to understand the significant personal risks he took in coming forward. Sitting in a hotel room in Hong Kong with Poitras and journalists Glenn Greenwald and (later) Ewen MacAskill, he calmly explains the pervasive system of mass surveillance that he discovered through his work with the NSA, as well as his justifications for exposing it.
A new era
Snowden expresses a deep-felt disillusionment with what he views to be excessive powers of the intelligence agencies following 9/11, and a particular disappointment with president Obama, who he sees as extending rather than curtailing these powers. Snowden is therefore motivated not by hostility towards state power or intelligence agencies per se, but rather by the excessive powers of these agencies in relation to citizens.
Snowden notes a reversal in the relationship between the rulers and the ruled in terms of their ability to hold power to account. This invites one of the most important questions of the film: what, then, are the perceived necessary powers that secret services and intelligence agencies should hold in a contemporary democratic society? Elsewhere Snowden has framed this debate by particularly criticising the move from targeted to mass surveillance. Earlier limits to state power, such as the requirement of a warrant in order to collect data on specific individuals, have been given up to collect all data by everyone at any time.
Yet the film also demonstrates that even a system of “targeted” surveillance is open for abuse: it ends with a new whistleblower coming forward, revealing that 1.2m people are on the NSA watch-list. With the ability to “target” such vast numbers of people, definitions of “targets” can easily and simply become political tools for maintaining social control. And they’re made even more dangerous by pertaining to some pretence at accountability.
Risk and fear
Citizenfour also tells the story of the risks and challenges that whistleblowers and journalists face in today’s swiftly mutating news environment. The Snowden leaks are exemplary of these contemporary times. Greenwald, in the biggest scoop of his career, brought in the expertise of MacAskill and the editorial team at The Guardian in the lead-up to the publications of the leaks. At the same time, new forms of journalist organisations such as Wikileaks facilitated Snowden’s departure from Hong Kong and his exile in Moscow, and technological activists like Jacob Appelbaum contributed and provided context for several of the leaked publications.
Surrounding the Snowden leaks, therefore, we find a connected network of old, new, radical and traditional media actors: the documentary maker (Poitras), the whistleblower (Snowden), the “advocacy” journalist (Glenn Greenwald), the “traditional” editors (Ewen MacAskill and Alan Rusbridger), and the “hacktivists” (Wikileaks and Jacob Appelbaum) working in conjunction – a vivid example of what media scholar Yochai Benkler has called a “networked fourth estate”.
This is a film that highlights how this networked fourth estate circulates around and intersects with a state that, in the face of damaging revelations, will take extreme measures to try and suppress this information reaching the public.
In fact, this film holds particular significance for a UK audience. Snowden, in his first meeting with MacAskill, casually mentions that the levels of mass surveillance carried out in the UK through the GCHQ programme Tempora are far broader than those by the NSA. And it features the extraordinary footage of staff at the Guardian being forced to destroy computers and files on request of the UK government. Rarely has the question of press freedom today been more graphically illustrated.
This is not to mention that neither Poitras nor Greenwald could be present at the premiere of the film in London following advice by their lawyers that the British Terrorism Act puts them at risk of arrest for their reporting. Both attended the premiere of the film in New York a week earlier.
Although the Snowden leaks continue to play out with a focus on the US, all this stresses some very troubling questions about the UK – not only about the activities of our state agencies, but also the freedoms in place for our press to report on them.
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Updated tragic list of welfare-related deaths of UK’s sick and/or disabled people.
This is the tip on the iceberg:
They shall be remembered forevermore.
Avenge the dead. Resuscitate the living. We must fight on for freedom from Westminster’s murderous policies and support the struggle of all Britain’s sick and/or disabled people simultaneously. Saor Alba.
Terry McGarvey, 48. Dangerously ill from polycytheamia, Terry asked for an ambulance to be called during his Work Capability Assessment. He knew that he wasn’t well enough to attend his WCA but feared that his benefits would be stopped if he did not. He died the following day.
Elaine Lowe, 53. Suffering from COPD and fearful of losing her benefits. In desperation, Elaine chose to commit suicide.
Mark Wood, 44. Found fit for work by Atos, against his Doctors advice and assertions that he had complex mental health problems. Starved to death after benefits stopped, weighing only 5st 8lb when he died.
Paul Reekie, 48, the Leith based Poet and Author. Suffered from severe depression. Committed suicide after DWP stopped his benefits due to an Atos ‘fit for work’ decision.
Leanne Chambers, 30. Suffered depression for many years which took a turn for the worst when she was called in for a WCA. Leanne committed suicide soon after.
Karen Sherlock, 44. Multiple health issues. Found fit for work by Atos and denied benefits. Fought a long battle to get placed into the support group of ESA. Karen died the following month of a heart attack.
Carl Payne, 42. Fears of losing his lifeline benefits due to welfare reform led this Father of two to take his own life.
Tim Salter, 53. Blind and suffering from Agoraphobia. Tim hanged himself after Atos found him fit for work and stopped his benefits.
Edward Jacques, 47 years old and suffering from HIV and Hepatitis C. Edward had a history of severe depression and self-harm. He took a fatal overdose after Atos found him fit for work and stopped his benefits.
Linda Wootton, 49 years old. A double heart and lung transplant patient. Died just nine days after the government found her fit for work, their refusal letter arriving as she lay desperately ill in her hospital bed.
Steven Cawthra, 55. His benefits stopped by the DWP and with rising debts, he saw suicide as the only way out of a desperate situation
Elenore Tatton, 39 years old. Died just weeks after the government found her fit for work.
John Walker, 57, saddled with debt because of the bedroom tax, John took his own life.
Brian McArdle, 57 years old. Suffered a fatal heart attack the day after his disability benefits were stopped.
Stephen Hill, 53. Died of a heart attack one month after being found fit for work, even though he was waiting for major heart surgery.
Jacqueline Harris, 53. A former Nurse who could hardly walk was found fit for work by Atos and her benefits withdrawn. in desperation, she took her own life.
David Barr, 28. Suffering from severe mental difficulties. Threw himself from a bridge after being found fit for work by Atos and failing his appeal.
David Groves, 56. Died of a heart attack the night before taking his work capability assessment. His widow claimed that it was the stress that killed him.
Nicholas Peter Barker, 51. Shot himself after being told his benefits were being stopped. He was unable to work after a brain haemorrhage left him paralysed down one side.
Richard Sanderson, 44. Unable to find a job and with his housing benefit cut forcing him to move, but with nowhere to go. Richard committed suicide.
Martin Rust, 36 years old. A schizophrenic man who killed himself two months after the government found him fit to work.
Craig Monk, 43. A vulnerable gentleman and a partial amputee who slipped so far into poverty that he hanged himself.
Colin Traynor, 29, and suffering from epilepsy was stripped of his benefits. He appealed. Five weeks after his death his family found he had won his appeal.
Elaine Christian, 57 years old. Worried about her work capability assessment, she was subsequently found at Holderness drain, drowned and with ten self inflicted wrist wounds.
Christelle and Kayjah Pardoe, 32 years and 5 month old. Pregnant, her benefits stopped, Christelle, clutching her baby son jumped from a third floor balcony.
Mark Scott, 46. His DLA and housing benefit stopped and sinking into deep depression, Mark died six weeks later.
Cecilia Burns, 51. Found fit for work while undergoing treatment for breast cancer. She died just a few weeks after she won her appeal against the Atos decision.
Chris Cann, 57 years old. Found dead in his home just months after being told he had to undergo a medical assessment to prove he could not work.
Peter Hodgson, 49. Called to JCP to see if he was suitable for volunteer work. Peter had suffered a stroke, a brain haemorrhage and had a fused leg. His appointment letter arrived a few days after he took his own life.
Paul Willcoxsin, 33 years old. Suffered with mental health problems and worried about government cuts. Paul committed suicide by hanging himself.
Stephanie Bottrill, 53. After paying £80 a month for bedroom tax, Stephanie could not afford heating in the winter, and lived on tinned custard. In desperation, she chose to walk in front of a lorry.
Larry Newman suffered from a degenerative lung condition, his weight dropping from 10 to 7 stone. Atos awarded him zero points, he died just three months after submitting his appeal.
Paul Turner, 52 years old. After suffering a heart attack, he was ordered to find a job in February. In April Paul died from ischaemic heart disease.
Christopher Charles Harkness, 39. After finding out that the funding for his care home was being withdrawn, this man who suffered with mental health issues, took his own life.
Sandra Louise Moon, 57. Suffering from a degenerative back condition, depression and increasingly worried about losing her incapacity benefit. Sandra committed suicide by taking an overdose.
Lee Robinson, 39 years old. Took his own life after his housing benefit and council tax were taken away from him.
David Coupe, 57. A Cancer sufferer found fit for work by Atos in 2012. David lost his sight, then his hearing, then his mobility, and then his life.
Michael McNicholas, 34. Severely depressed and a recovering alcoholic. Michael committed suicide after being called in for a Work Capability Assessment by Atos.
Victor Cuff, 59 and suffering from severe depression. Victor hanged himself after the DWP stopped his benefits.
Charles Barden, 74. Charles committed suicide by hanging due to fears that the Bedroom Tax would leave him destitute and unable to cope.
Ian Caress, 43. Suffered multiple health issues and deteriorating eyesight. Ian was found fit for work by Atos, he died ten months later having lost so much weight that his family said that he resembled a concentration camp victim.
Iain Hodge, 30. Suffered from the life threatening illness, Hughes Syndrome. Found fit for work by Atos and benefits stopped, Iain took his own life.
Wayne Grew, 37. Severely depressed due to government cuts and the fear of losing his job, Wayne committed suicide by hanging.
Kevin Bennett, 40. Kevin a sufferer of schizophrenia and mental illness became so depressed after his JSA was stopped that he became a virtual recluse. Kevin was found dead in his flat several months later.
David Elwyn Hughs Harries, 48. A disabled man who could no longer cope after his parents died, could find no help from the government via benefits. David took an overdose as a way out of his solitude.
Denis Jones, 58. A disabled man crushed by the pressures of government cuts, in particular the Bedroom Tax, and unable to survive by himself. Denis was found dead in his flat.
Shaun Pilkington, 58. Unable to cope any more, Shaun shot himself dead after receiving a letter from the DWP informing him that his ESA was being stopped.
Paul ?, 51. Died in a freezing cold flat after his ESA was stopped. Paul appealed the decision and won on the day that he lost his battle to live.
Chris MaGuire, 61. Deeply depressed and incapable of work, Chris was summonsed by Atos for a Work Capability Assessment and deemed fit for work. On appeal, a judge overturned the Atos decision and ordered them to leave him alone for at least a year, which they did not do. In desperation, Chris took his own life, unable to cope anymore.
Peter Duut, a Dutch national with terminal cancer living in the UK for many years found that he was not entitled to benefits unless he was active in the labour market. Peter died leaving his wife destitute, and unable to pay for his funeral.
George Scollen, age unknown. Took his own life after the government closed the Remploy factory he had worked in for 40 years.
Julian Little, 47. Wheelchair bound and suffering from kidney failure, Julian faced the harsh restrictions of the Bedroom Tax and the loss of his essential dialysis room. He died shortly after being ordered to downgrade.
Miss DE, Early 50’s. Suffering from mental illness, this lady committed suicide less than a month after an Atos assessor gave her zero points and declared her fit for work.
Robert Barlow, 47. Suffering from a brain tumour, a heart defect and awaiting a transplant, Robert was deemed fit for work by Atos and his benefits were withdrawn. He died penniless less than two years later.
Carl Joseph Foster-Brown, 58. As a direct consequence of the wholly unjustifiable actions of the Job centre and DWP, this man took his own life.
Martin Hadfield, 20 years old. Disillusioned with the lack of jobs available in this country but too proud to claim benefits. Utterly demoralised, Martin took his own life by hanging himself.
Annette Francis, 30. A mum-of-one suffering from severe mental illness, found dead after her disability benefits were ceased.
Ian Jordan, 60. His benefits slashed after Atos and the DWP declared Ian, a sufferer of Barratt’s Oesophagus, fit for work, caused him to run up massive debts in order to survive. Ian was found dead in his flat after taking an overdose.
Janet McCall, 53. Terminally ill with pulmonary fibrosis and declared ‘Fit for Work’ by Atos and the DWP, this lady died 5 months after her benefits were stopped.
Stuart Holley, 23. A man driven to suicide by the DWP’s incessant pressure and threat of sanctions for not being able to find a job.
Graham Shawcross, 63. A sufferer of the debilitating disease, Addison’s. Died of a heart attack due to the stress of an Atos ‘Fit for Work’ decision.
David Clapson, 59 years old. A diabetic ex-soldier deprived of the means to survive by the DWP and the governments harsh welfare reforms, David died all but penniless, starving and alone, his electricity run out.
Chris Smith, 59. Declared ‘Fit for Work’ by Atos as he lay dying of Cancer in his hospital bed.
Nathan Hartwell, 36, died of heart failure after an 18-month battle with the Department for Works and Pensions.
Michael Connolly, 60. A Father of One, increasingly worried about finances after his benefits were cut. Committed suicide by taking 13 times the fatal dose of prescription medicine on the 30th October – His Birthday.
Jan Mandeville, 52, A lady suffering from Fibromyalgia, driven to the point of mental and physical breakdown by this governments welfare reforms. Jan was found dead in her home after battling the DWP for ESA and DLA.
Trevor Drakard, 50 years old. A shy and reserved, severe epileptic who suffered regular and terrifying fits almost his entire life, hounded to suicide by the DWP who threatened to stop his life-line benefits.
Death of a severely disabled Dorset resident, unnamed, who took her own life while battling the bedroom tax.
May their deaths be avenged.
See also: UK ‘is first country to face UN inquiry into disability rights violations’ ~ Disability News Service
Hours: 35 (some evening and weekend work may be required).
Salary: PSC 27 £24,829 per annum
Contract: Fixed term of 3 years to September 2017
Annual Leave: 25 days per annum
Pension: A stakeholder scheme is offered after completion of the probationary period.
We are recruiting a Financial Capability Officer to develop and deliver NBAC's Financial Capability (FC) work. This is a new role and includes the development of a range of FC initiatives including: a one-to-one mentoring programme; working with the Training Development Worker to design and deliver community training courses on money management; overseeing the Computer Drop-In service promoting digital inclusion and increased access to financial services online. The role involves managing and supervising staff and volunteers, overseeing monitoring systems and reporting to funders.
For more information please download the full job description below
Hours: 16 (some evening and weekend work may be required)
Salary: PSC 21 £20,192 (pro rata)
Contract: Fixed term initially until Sept 2016
Annual Leave: 25 days per annum pro rata
Pension: A stakeholder scheme is offered after completion of the probationary period.
We are recruiting a Training Development Worker to develop NBAC's training capacity to deliver a range of training products. This is a new role and includes developing good working relationships with local community organisations and agencies; working with the Financial Capability Officer to design Fin Cap training courses for specific target groups; developing a community training programme; overseeing the administration and promotion of the training programme; helping to deliver NBAC's long term training strategy.
For more information please download the full job description below
Post by nickd (Mylegal) on Oct 20, 2014 20:31:04 GMT
We're closing in on DWP / LA fraud investigations
The facts, the figures & what you can do to challenge allegations
On the front line, I dare say many advice agencies & solicitor firms are seeing an increase in the number of people approaching them following a potential benefit fraud allegation by the DWP, Local Authority or HMRC.
This thread aims to take a look at why these enquiries are on the up, some of the facts and figures surrounding benefit fraud, and within the restrictions of an open forum aims to point you in the direction of help and what action you may need to take if you find yourself 'under investigation'. This post is not aimed at giving readers individual advice.
Firstly, let's take a look at benefit overpayments (either caused by fraud, claimant or official error) in the overall scheme of things....
Post by nickd (Mylegal) on Oct 19, 2014 17:08:23 GMT
Freud's two quid insult to disabled workers is unforgivable
He must go
Frankly, I don't how anyone can defend exceptionally wealthy Lord Freud on his outrageous statement that employers should be able to get away with paying disabled workers the princely sum of just £2 per hour.
Why should any employer pay as little as £2?
It's the biggest insult ever to disabled people
Why should lucrative private companies benefit from government subsidies?
And get a wage subsidy of £166.50 per week?
The current National Minimum Wage is £6.50 per hour for a person 21 or over. Knock off the two pounds per hour which Freud deems disabled people to be worth and you are left with £4.50 per hour which will need to be subsidised by a Government subsidy. Assuming a disabled person works 37 hours per week, it seems Freud is suggesting that a sum of (£.4.50 X 37) £166.50 per week is paid out in some kind of government wage top up. Employers and society simply cannot be allowed to get away with paying the absurd sum of just £2 an hour. The government 'top up' does nothing to make Freud's appalling remark acceptable.
Post by nickd (Mylegal) on Oct 19, 2014 16:23:47 GMT
The Social Housing sell off
Right to buys soar
As the Daily Mail once promoted it.....
"David Cameron has given his backing to contentious plans to encourage the sale of expensive council houses. Local authorities have been urged to rid themselves of homes in high-value postcodes by the Prime Minister’s favourite think-tank, the Policy Exchange.
Around £4.5billion a year could be raised if councils sold costly homes when tenants moved out. This could then be invested in extra housing stock in cheaper areas, the think-tank said.
It could also be used to build new homes, stimulating the economy and generating jobs.
Critics say the idea would create ghettos – but Downing Street gave the idea its firm backing"
Call me sceptical, but isn't this what the dreaded 'Bedroom Tax' is all about? Turfing people out of their homes so that more 'working people' are left to snap up low priced social pricing promoted by a decrease in the threshold at which tenants can exercise the right to buy?
Social Housing was once for those most in need, now it seems we are destined to return to the days of Thatcher and her aspirations to enable everyone to own their own home. A policy continued by Labour; the net result being a distinct lack of affordable homes for rent in the social sector. Government's policies continue to recklessly disregard the fact that there are many who for what ever reason will never be able to own their own home.
The problem here is whether Councils will in fact use the cash to generate extra and more affordable homes? How many of those brought up by tenants will end up being sold on to private landlords who later buy them up as tenants find the mortgages become unaffordable in a few years time?
Against these 'sell offs' are a much lower number of 'Right To Buy Starts on Site' which it is noted are 'probably caused by Right to Buy Replacement'. The number of new starts for 2012/13 is 844, increasing to 2,115 in 2013/13. The first quarter of 2014/15 looks more encouraging at 675 but this should perhaps be measured against the 2,845 RTB sales in the same quarter.
Iain Duncan Smith's Department for Work and Pensions has been severely criticised by the Whitehall spending watchdog for failing to curb the "escalating" losses due to fraud and error in the housing benefit system.
The National Audit Office (NAO) said the DWP should have acted sooner to deal with the problem as benefit overpayments ballooned from £980 million in 2010-11 to an estimated £1.4 billion in 2013-14. Around 60% of the losses are never recovered.
While a review of the problem carried out last year resulted in a series of new initiatives to staunch the losses, the NAO warned that the "impact and timing of these changes on levels of fraud error remains uncertain".
Margaret Hodge, chair of the influential Commons public accounts committee which oversees the work of the NAO, described the scale of losses as "staggering", accusing the DWP of a "hands-off approach" to the problem.
The NAO found that while the level of fraud had stabilised, overpayments due to errors by claimants were rising accounting for around two thirds - £900 million - of benefits wrongly paid out last year.
The main source of error was the failure of claimants to report changes in their level of earnings.
While the number of people claiming housing benefit has risen by 5% since 2010-11, the NAO said that the funding provided by DWP to local authorities to administer the system had been cut by 17% over the same period.
By last year, councils were employing 19% fewer fraud investigators compared to 2009, while the number of cases referred for fraud investigations was down by 25%.