Search

News from a World gone mad

yet there is still so much beauty

Category

torries

I’m a DWP call handler and have no time to care about your disability claim

A woman in a telephone headset at a call centre.

I don’t know what happens when I send a claim off, so I can’t answer questions about what happens next. Photograph: David Sillitoe for the Guardian

This morning I spoke to a cancer patient, a woman with kidney failure, and a young man who had just lost the mother of his children. Each of them thought I was trying to help them. I wasn’t really though, because helping them would take longer than 23 minutes.

Twenty three minutes is how long it should take me to help you make a benefit claim, according to my bosses. I work in a Department for Work and Pensions contact centre and take calls from people who are at their lowest point.

These are people who need my help to navigate the complex claims system so that they can get a meagre payout. They’re often vulnerable and desperate by the time they reach me. My job is to fill in a new claim form for employment and support allowance based on the information people give me and then send that form off to the benefit centre where the claim is processed.

The headset beeps and I launch into my scripted greeting. The caller wants to tell me about her recent cancer diagnosis, what type it is, what the treatment will be, the reasons her employer has given for not offering sick pay. But I don’t have time to listen to her story. “I’m afraid we need to stick to yes or no answers” I say, and I feel horrible because this poor woman wants to tell someone about this huge awful thing that’s happening to her, she wants a friendly listener to make her feel reassured that she will at least get financial help.

But for me, the only thing that’s really important is how long each call takes. We are measured on our average handling time (known as AHT) and if this slips beyond 23 minutes per call we face performance management, which is code for “you’ll get in trouble”. This involves anything from stern words and increased micro-management from your line manager right up to written warnings and dismissal.

full story at:The Guardian

 

 

 

 

 

 

protest songs

Protest songs

Many homeless in England have no right to real help from state – study

© Dylan Martinez

Many homeless people in England are not entitled to vital help under UK law even if they are sleeping on the streets, a damning report shows.

A coalition of social justice campaigners and lawyers fighting homelessness in Britain is calling for councils across England to intervene sooner to prevent people from ending up on the street.

They made the demand in a review of homelessness legislation, published on Monday. The report, which was written by representatives from Crisis, Shelter, councils across England, and the Chartered Institute of Housing and the National Housing Federation, demands prompt legal reforms.

The study argues local authorities could and should intervene in crisis situations, and rehouse citizens deemed to be in jeopardy of losing their home.

Figures released by the Department for Communities and Local Government in February 2016 revealed that the number of England’s rough sleepers soared by 30 percent with a 12-month period. In a climate of rising inequality and accusations of social cleansing, ministers are considering a policy change. Critics say it should have been implemented long ago.

As it currently stands, adults without children who are judged to be healthy, single and not particularly vulnerable are not categorized as high-priority cases by local authorities. As a result, the most councils can do is give them advice if they are threatened with homelessness.

In many instances, campaigners warn these individuals are just handed leaflets and abandoned by the authorities.

The review of homelessness legislation, published Monday, argues English law should be amended to take on dimensions of the Welsh system.

The study says local authorities should have a more robust duty to stop people from becoming homeless. It also suggests councils should have to act within 56 days of someone facing homelessness, and should be compelled to find accommodation for those who have local connections.

While these proposals differ slightly to policies currently seen in Wales, campaigners say they could be helpful in tackling England’s homelessness crisis.

Since December 2012, councils in Scotland have been legally obliged to secure settled accommodation for all eligible applicants that find themselves unintentionally homeless.
Britain’s Local Government Association (LGA) said it is vital that the government honor its commitment to replace high-value homes sold on to fund Westminster’s extended Right to Buy scheme.

A spokesman for the Department for Communities and Local Government said that ministers had promised £139 million to homelessness programs and a further £100 million for housing in the budget.

“This report makes interesting reading and we will continue work with homelessness organizations and across government to explore options,” the spokesman told the BBC, adding that legislation “to prevent more people from facing a homelessness”would be factored in.

 Source RT

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Meet the Tory council that’s started fining people £50 for being poor

Worthing Council has just pushed through controversial new rules that allow it to impose £50 fines on people who sleep rough or beg for money. The move effectively criminalises homelessness in Worthing – and then allows the council to profit from it.

Conservative-led Worthing Council has voted to ban rough sleeping (“overnight camping”) and begging, and to issue people who break the ban with a £50 fixed penalty notice, or a court fine of up to £1,000 and a criminal conviction if they don’t pay.

Worthing is the latest in a series of councils to criminalise homeless people using new ‘Public Space Protection Orders’ (PSPOs), which were introduced by the coalition government in 2014 and allow councils to criminalise otherwise legal activities in specific local areas. VICE describes PSPOs as “ASBOs for your neighbourhood” and documents some of the more outlandish ways councils have been enjoying their new powers:

It is now a criminal offence to shout or swear in an area of Bassetlaw. Congregating in groups of two or more is banned in one estate in Guildford. It is illegal to “cause annoyance” in part of Lancaster. Possession of golf equipment is outlawed in an area of North East Derbyshire. Other activities which have been banned, or will be in the near future, include ball games, busking, feeding birds and playing music loudly.

But it is the increasing use of PSPOs to criminalise homeless people – which at least 36 councils are trying to do – that is the most disturbing.

Worthing Council waved through the new rules in the face of overwhelming local opposition. 14,000 people have signed a petition calling on the council to “say no to PSPO” and protests were held outside its town hall. Dan Thompson, the spokesman for the Worthing People’s Assembly, which has been instrumental in the campaign against the PSPOs, told The Canary:

The impacts will be huge. PSPO 2 mentions begging in terms of having a receptacle for begging, which will victimise homeless people trying to get by day to day… PSPO 3 discusses overnight camping and finding shelter overnight which will affect homeless people trying to find somewhere to stay… PSPO 1 looks at street drinking, but there is no discussion of treating people with addictions. Many people living on the street suffer from addiction as a product of being homeless. As one councillor pointed out, the PSPOs are all about punishment and don’t mention support or help.

The council denies it is targeting any “groups of individuals”:

The council were clear that the PSPOs were proposed as part of a wider programme to tackle anti-social behaviour, which balances prevention and early help with enforcement. Enforcement is only carried out where necessary and is focused on behaviour and not groups of individuals.

But Liberty, which has opposed PSPOs since their introduction, argues that Worthing’s measures will inevitably hit homeless people particularly hard:

As well as banning begging, the council has made it a criminal offence to spend the night in a vehicle or temporary structure intended to provide shelter or accommodation – which will obviously disproportionately impact the homeless.

Conservative government policies – from the failure to provide affordable housing to welfare cuts and sanctions – have seen homeless figures skyrocket by 55% between 2010 and 2014. In the past year alone, the number of people sleeping rough in England has risen by nearly a third. Meanwhile, cuts to councils have led them to drastically cut support for homeless people.

Rosie Brighouse, Legal Officer for Liberty, told The Canary:

It’s deeply disappointing that Worthing has used these dangerous powers to criminalise some of its most vulnerable people. Begging and rough sleeping are not antisocial behaviour – they’re the result of poverty.

PSPOs are blunt instruments which don’t help those in need – they simply fast-track them into the criminal justice system. We hope the council will follow the example of other authorities around the country and scrap this misguided and counterproductive Order.

People are being pushed onto the streets – and then being criminalised for it.

As my colleagues Emily Apple and Kerry-anne Mendoza have previously reported, PSPOs are part of a wider trend towards criminalising homelessness under the Conservatives, with devastating impacts for homeless people and those helping them:

  • The introduction of ‘anti-squatting’ laws led to homeless man Daniel Gauntlett freezing to death on the porch of an empty bungalow in Kent in February 2013.
  • A furious judge railed against the increasing number of homeless people being criminalised in Brighton after Ashley Hacket was arrested for begging just 10 pence.
  • Sussex Police have been using plainclothes officers to target people begging and gaol one homeless person every week.
  • In 2014, a disabled man was threatened with arrest for trying to give soup and sandwiches to homeless people in Brighton, and police tried to dismantle a soup kitchen in London.

Criminalising poverty will only entrench it, or move the problem to somebody else’s backyard. Instead of a £1,000 fine and a criminal record, people in extreme poverty need support. As The Worthing People’s Assembly told The Canary:

full article at  The Canary and much more about the country we live in.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: