Former trawlerman battling lung disease hits out at benefit bosses after being declared fit for work

From Eastern Daily Press: A Suffolk man has hit out at benefit bosses after being declared fit to work, despite battling COPD and severe back pain for nearly four decades.

David Macalpine, 62, moved to Lowestoft, Suffolk, from Coventry aged 17 to begin a fishing career as a trawlerman, but has not worked for more than 35 years after suffering a deformed disc in his back.

Yet the Department for Work and Pensions have declared him able to return to work.

Mr Macalpine said: “I am suffering with COPD and it is a long-term illness. The council recognise COPD as a disability but the DWP look at it differently which is just stupid.

“I have also been diagnosed with a muscular disorder because I have a deformed disc in my back since I was fishing and I have been told not to lift anything. I do push myself and just get on with it but I get severe back pain and shortness of breath and I am not fit to go back to work.

“I have got a sicknote from my doctor which lasts until the end of November. They are going against the doctors professional advice.”

[Read full article on Eastern Daily Press website…]

Women over 34 are being refused IVF treatment

From BBC News: Women over 34 are being automatically refused IVF treatment on the NHS in 12 areas of England.

IVF should be offered to women until age 42, guidelines say, but new figures show around 80% of areas are failing to do this.

Campaign group Fertility Fairness said it “penalises women who take longer to find a partner”.

Couples in Wales and Scotland are offered IVF until they are 42, as long as certain criteria are met.

One 38-year-old woman, Charlotte, told the BBC’s Victoria Derbyshire programme she was considering moving house to a different area, having been told she was too old to qualify for the procedure in Southampton.

“I was trained to get Universal Credit claimants off the phone”

From Sky News: Former Universal Credit case manager Bayard Tarpley writes about his experience working in its Grimsby call centre for two years…

Have you ever wondered if the service person on the end of the phone is being deliberately being obstructive?

Well the answer is yes. And I should know – I worked as a Universal Credit case manager where agents were trained to get people off the phone without answering their query.

The answers were from a “deflection script”.

And they were not what you want to hear if you’re a single mother desperate to pay your rent or face being kicked out your home.

[Read full article on Sky News website…]

“National disgrace”: At least 449 homeless people died last year

From HuffPost UK: At least 449 people died while being homeless across the UK in the last year, a shocking investigation has revealed.

The Bureau of Investigative Journalism, in partnership with Channel 4 News, has found a former soldier, a physicist and a travelling musician were among those who lost their lives.

Among the tragic findings, one man’s body showed signs of prolonged starvation. In one week alone, 14 people died.

There is no official figure for the number of people who die on the streets, though a series of reports suggest homelessness is rising.

Polly Neate, chief executive of housing charity Shelter, said: “Rising levels of homelessness are a national disgrace, but it is utterly unforgivable that so many homeless people are dying unnoticed and unaccounted for.

“To prevent more people from having to experience the trauma of homelessness, the government must ensure housing benefit is enough to cover the cost of rents, and urgently ramp up its efforts to build many more social homes.”

[Read full article on HuffPost UK website…]

Teacher crisis hits London as nearly half quit within five years

From The Guardian: London schools are in the throes of a growing crisis in teacher retention, with figures revealing that more than four out of 10 quit the profession within five years of qualifying.

Schools across England say they are struggling to recruit and retain staff, but the problem is most acute in inner London where just 57% of teachers who qualified in 2012 were still working in the classroom by 2017.

According to new analysis of government figures by Labour MP Matthew Pennycook, of the 35,000 newly qualified teachers (NQTs) who started teaching in the capital since the Conservatives took power in 2010, more than 11,000 have already left.

Retention rates have deteriorated year on year since 2011. More than a quarter of teachers recruited to London schools in 2015 had already left the classroom by November 2017 and over a third of new London teachers now leave within four years.

[Read full article on Guardian website…]

Justice ‘only for the wealthy’: Law Society condemns legal aid cuts

From The Guardian: It is increasingly difficult for defendants and claimants to find solicitors prepared to represent them due to government legal aid cuts, the Law Society has warned.

In a fiercely worded attack on funding restrictions, Christina Blacklaws, the society’s president, said British justice now existed “only for the wealthy, or the small number on very low incomes lucky enough to find a solicitor willing and able to fight a mountain of red tape to secure legal aid.”

Public access to justice and the right to a fair trial has never been so restricted, according to the organisation that represents solicitors across England and Wales.

[Read full article on Guardian website…]

New study finds 4.5 million UK children living in poverty

From The Guardian: More than 14 million people, including 4.5 million children, are living below the breadline, with more than half trapped in poverty for years, according to a new measure aimed at providing the most sophisticated analysis yet of material disadvantage in the UK.

The measure seeks to forge a fresh political consensus between left and right over how to define and track poverty, with the aim of encouraging better-targeted poverty interventions, and making it easier to hold politicians to account.

It finds poverty is especially prevalent in families with at least one disabled person, single-parent families, and households where no one works or that are dependent for income on irregular or zero-hours jobs.

[Read full article on Guardian website…]

Tory cuts leave alcohol addiction services at breaking point warns Labour, as figures show record low in treatment

From The Independent: Cuts to council budgets for addiction services have led to lowest number of people receiving treatment for alcohol dependency in a decade despite people in need continuing to grow, data from the Labour Party shows.

[Read article on Independent website…]

Failings at Birmingham prison reflect broader crisis, Tory Government is warned

From The Guardian: The Ministry of Justice has been warned that failings at a privately run Birmingham prison reflect a broader prison crisis, as overcrowding and dwindling resources lead to increases in violence, drug use and self-harm in jails across England and Wales.

HMP Birmingham was dramatically taken from the control of outsourcing giant G4S and returned to public governance on Monday after a damning inspection that uncovered rife drug abuse, violence and filthy conditions at the jail.

Earlier this year, the high number of deaths at the prison, including suicides and drug overdoses, came under scrutiny.

A 14-hour riot involving at least 500 prisoners in December 2016 has been cited as a pivotal point in the jail’s deterioration, although a separate investigation published on Monday revealed problems at the jail had been escalating for months prior to the disturbance.

Chronic staff shortages contributed in part to a breakdown in authority and increasing instability ultimately led to prisoners policing themselves, the investigation found.

Richard Burgon, the shadow justice secetary, called for a temporary ban on further privatisation of the justice sector. “Once again we see the dangerous consequences of the ever-greater privatisation of our justice system,” he said.

[Read full article on Guardian website…]

Increase in abuse directed at women wearing the niqab or hijab after Boris Johnson comments

From The Independent: The Tell Mama project, which monitors anti-Muslim violence, has reported an increase in incidents of abuse aimed at women wearing the niqab or hijab over the past week [since Boris Johnson‘s derogatory comments].

[Read article on Independent website…]

‘Worst ever’ July A&E performance shows collapse in NHS standards under Theresa May

From Morning Star: Latest figures on A&E waiting times reveal the “astonishing” collapse in NHS standards under Theresa May, Labour said today.

Monthly statistics for July 2018 published by #NHS England show that just 89.3 per cent of people attending A&E were seen within four hours, well below the 95 per cent target.

That dismal performance means NHS England has consistently failed to meet the 95 per cent four-hour target — lowered from 98 per cent by the coalition government — since July 2015.

The number of people attending A&E in July 2018 also hit a record 2.176 million people in July 2018, the highest figure since records began in 2010.

[Read full article on Morning Star website…]

Budget crisis takes Northamptonshire council into uncharted territory

From The Guardian: The most high-profile symbol of the cuts in Northamptonshire to date has arguably the county’s 36 libraries, 21 of which the council wants to close or sell. There is popular outrage at this, not least in Northamptonshire’s more well-heeled rural areas, making its Tory MPs nervous. The proposal is being challenged in the courts.

Less well known is that 19 of the 21 libraries under threat host early-years children’s services such as mother-and-baby groups and health visitor sessions. These services were moved into libraries two years ago when an earlier round of cuts closed several SureStart centres. Where these services will go now is unclear.

Northamptonshire’s cuts will be felt in even its leafiest and most prosperous areas. Dig into the council’s cuts plans and you find an axe taken to highways budgets – less pothole filling, winter gritting and traffic light maintenance. The council expects legal challenges to these, too.

Read more

Private water company bosses have pocketed £175 million in last 5 years

From Morning Star: Bosses of England’s nine private water companies have pocketed £175 million in pay and benefits in the last five years, general union GMB disclosed today.

GMB, which has thousands of members working in the water industry, revealed the pay packages as part of its “Take Back the Tap” campaign, calling for the water industry to be returned to public ownership.

Since water privatisation in 1989, customers’ bills have increased by 40 per cent in real terms.

The union says the industry’s top 54 executives pocketed an enormous £40.3 million in 2017 alone. Executive directors and senior management received an average of £746,296 each in salaries, pension contributions, bonuses and benefits.

[Read full article on Morning Star website…]

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