Author Archives: Geoff Crocker

Disabled people claiming vital benefits are being treated disgracefully

We hear regular assurances from our political leaders, that priority will be given to meet people’s mental health needs. The opposite is currently the case. Many people with mental health needs receive Disability Living Allowance. DLA is ending and being replaced by Personal Independence Payment (PIP). DLA recipients, and/or their carers, were sent a letter from the Department for Work & Pensions dated 11 December 2016, informing them that DLA is ending, that they will not automatically be transferred to PIP, but must submit a claim by telephone by 8 January 2017. If the DLA recipient makes no contact, then DLA payments will simply end. The letter ends by suggesting that help can be obtained from unnamed organisations whose details can be found ‘online, at your local library, or in the telephone directory’! The letter was repeated in a follow up dated 25 December 2016! Some Christmas present from our renowned DWP.

I have care responsibility for my adult son, Paul, who has support needs resulting from a condition known as Williams Syndrome. Paul receives DLA, and care support from an organisation called ‘Options’ which I fund. I was away from home over Christmas until 30 December and so had to move quickly to telephone the call number to apply for PIP for him by the 8 January deadline. I called on 3 January, waited for 17 minutes, was then told that the system was down and I would receive a call back the next day. No call back came on 4 January, so I called again myself on 5 January. This time I had to wait 30 minutes to be answered. A DWP (although probably contracted out) officer then took me through an application process which required extensive data of Paul’s NI number, GP address and telephone, social worker and care organisation addresses and telephone numbers, nationality or immigration status, details of time spent abroad, and bank account details. There were bizarre questions about EU and Swiss connections which I didn’t even understand. During the process the officer frequently read out to me various warnings and threats of action which DWP would take in the event of false information being submitted, ranging from benefit withdrawal to prosecution.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged and | 12 Comments

The divisive inconsistencies of Theresa May

Theresa May’s triumphalism over the Brexit election result is divisive and shocking. 48% of the electorate voted Remain, apparently including, inconsistently, Theresa May. Her statement that anyone continuing to campaign to Remain is ‘subverting democracy’ is equally shocking. Do Remainers no longer have the right to freedom of speech and democratic campaigning? The Brexiteers campaigned long and hard against a previous democratic vote to join the EU, so Remainers are equally free to do the same now. And they should. I’m ready to join and support any such campaign.

Her claim to be uniting the country whilst setting ‘the working class’ against the ‘international elite’ is yet again shocking. Caricaturing a whole group of people who, in the main, are hard-working intelligent professionals working internationally in this way, and pitting them against the ‘working class’, is outrageous. These groups of people should and can respect and value each other in a civilised society.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged | 11 Comments

Congratulations Brexit, but Scotland holds the key

It would be churlish not to congratulate the Brexit campaign, especially its leaders Boris Johnson, Michael Gove, and Nigel Farage on their stunning success, which amongst other things has led to

  • The ousting of Boris and Michael’s friend Dave from the office of Prime Minister. Chimes of Perfidious Albion. ‘Et tu, Brute?’ With friend like this Cameron needs no enemies. The rest of us should watch Johnson and Gove, and beware.
  • The wiping of many £billions value from UK shares
  • The wiping of $trillions value from global shares
  • The fall of about 10% in the value of the £
  • The lowering of the UK’s credit rating to negative
  • The very possible introduction of tariffs against UK imports into the EU, specifically on cars made at UK Japanese implants, leading to loss of jobs and future investment – ouch!
  • The very likely secession of Scotland from the UK
  • The less likely but possible secession of Northern Ireland if Sinn Fein saw its chance and managed to call a referendum for re-unification of Ireland which were then to succeed based on the Catholic majority in the population and the general desire to stay in the EU
Posted in Op-eds | Tagged and | 17 Comments

The mess we are in

The EU referendum delivers an unmanageable mess. The UK will lose its membership of the EU, and more immediately has lost its elected Prime Minister. Like many Lib Dems, I have never voted Conservative, but I do recognise the dignity and decency of David Cameron. The referendum outcome creates space instead for Michael Gove, Boris Johnson, and the reactionary Nigel Farage.

Democracy itself is in an impossible contradiction. The UK norm is representative democracy expressed in Parliamentary sovereignty. The policy of the majority of Members of Parliament is to remain in the EU. But the referendum decides to leave. Paradoxically, those wanting to leave the EU favour Parliamentary sovereignty, but reject this principle on the question of EU membership. This is an irresoluble conflict.

There is therefore a greater decision UK society has to make – whether government is to be by representative democracy or by popular referenda. We cannot have both. This is the first question of principle. The second is the criteria which should apply to either representative democracy or referenda. The last general election showed how unrepresentative first-past-the-post constituency voting is. The referendum highlights the huge problem of maintaining social cohesion when half the population wants exactly the opposite of what the other half wants. Reconciling this is nigh impossible.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged and | 22 Comments

What’s wrong with the Chancellor’s Autumn Statement?

There are three huge defects in the Chancellor’s autumn statement

1 Technical

The Chancellor fundamentally believes that the government budget can and should be balanced, or even run in surplus. This basic accounting assumption drives his whole thinking. But facts prove him, and the traditional thinking of the whole financial establishment, wrong on this. He has been unable to eliminate the deficit. He will not be able to eliminate it. In modern high technology, high productivity economies, deficit is inevitable, and manageable.

There’s a huge problem in thinking here. The Chancellor approaches economic policy like an accountant, rather than as an economist. Books should balance. He talks about what we can afford, purely in financial terms. But it’s not money which gives value to the real economy, but rather it’s real economic activity which gives money its value. Economic activity creates financial value, and not the other way round. What we can afford has to be measured in real resources of people, skills, natural resources, technology and capital assets. A thought experiment demonstrates this. If it were possible to plug a machine into the earth to produce the whole GDP without labour and therefore without wages, then the money vouchers the government would have to allocate would all be a total financial deficit each year. Money does not have to be backed either by gold, or by the sale of government bonds, but only by output GDP. Deficits are here to stay. Facts support this hypothesis.

Posted in News | Tagged , and | 21 Comments

Book Review: Money for Everyone

A Citizen’s Income Convincingly Argued

In ‘Money for Everyone’, Malcolm Torry delivers a blockbuster argument in favour of a Citizen’s Income to wholly or partially replace current benefits. His book is well-researched, well-informed, well-written, and is articulate and readable. His main argument is that, given widespread acceptance of a benefits scheme of some sort, then a Citizen’s Income is by far the best option. Specifically it avoids the disincentives of very high marginal deduction rates of current benefits which create the familiar unemployment and poverty traps. According to Torry, a Citizen’s Income would incentivise employment, training, new business formation, women’s …

Posted in Books | Tagged | 39 Comments

Opinion: Clinical Commissioning Groups – don’t hold your breath

nhs sign lrgWe are now 6 months into the much touted reorganisation of the health service, with the advent in April this year of Clinical Commissioning Groups to replace Primary Care Trusts, the only real difference being that GPs run the Clinical Commissioning Groups.

The reorganisation did ensure a reduction in cost by the simple expedient of setting Clinical Commissioning Group administrative budgets one third below historic  Primary Care Trust administrative cost, yielding a Clinical Commissioning Group admin cost of £25/head of population. There are 211 Clinical Commissioning Groups. The adjusted population figure is 53.8m, and so total Clinical Commissioning Group admin spend is £1.345bn. Clinical Commissioning Groups are administering a total health budget of £60bn, averaging £284m per Group. Clinical Commissioning Group admin costs are therefore 2.24% of total health service expenditure.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged , , and | 8 Comments
Advert



Recent Comments

  • User AvatarGeoffrey Payne 22nd Jan - 7:51am
    I think we should decide what we support as Liberals and lets others worry if they agree with us. This is precisely the march that...
  • User AvatarCatherine Jane Crosland 22nd Jan - 7:44am
    Congratulations and best of luck to Zulfiquar Ali in Stoke on Trent Central, and also to Rebecca Hanson in Copeland :) We are very lucky...
  • User AvatarMatthew Huntbach 22nd Jan - 7:25am
    Peter Watson If it is because these professions are already more accessible to those from less privileged backgrounds, then perhaps there are valuable lessons to...
  • User AvatarRebecca Hanson 22nd Jan - 6:31am
    Thanks Katharine. We're running at full throttle here - I've been on the go for 18-20 hours most days. I got some great training from...
  • User AvatarGlenn 22nd Jan - 4:38am
    P.s, My apologies I retract the Hyperthermia/medical example as it was based on an out of date book and more recent findings suggest that a...
  • User AvatarLorenzo Cherin 22nd Jan - 2:42am
    Catherine What a lovely thing to say , thank you . I really do feel that when I read views like yours on say nuclear...