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The choice on energy bills

Monday, June 3 2013

Today’s Energy Bill will save families up to £158 on their utility bills, by helping people to switch to the cheapest tariff.


Under the new Bill, the most vulnerable households will see the greatest benefit. These savings are on top of the £64 average saving that householders have already seen so far, thanks to Conservative action.


This contrasts dramatically with Ed Miliband’s plans, which would mean an immediate average rise in your bills of £61.


Minister of State for Energy and Climate Change, Greg Barker MP, said:


“Today’s Energy Bill will put cash back in your pocket. Hardworking families will be able to save up to £158, by switching to the cheapest energy tariff, which our plans will give everyone the chance to do.â€


“Already, as a result of our policies, people are paying 5 per cent less on their gas and electricity bills than they would otherwise be.â€

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William Hague Calls for EU Red Card

Friday, May 31 2013

Speaking in Germany today, William Hague has outlined plans for a new 'red card’ system for national parliaments, to block unwelcome laws from Brussels.


At the Koenigswinter Conference this morning, the Foreign Secretary talked about European reform and building a more competitive, flexible and democratically accountable European Union.


In his speech, Hague referred to a “crisis†of democratic legitimacy suffered by the EU, stating that “Too often, [the British people] feel that Europe is something that happens to them, not something they have enough of a say overâ€.


He advised that EU countries “help our parliaments exercise their right together to raise a yellow card to legislation that should be adopted at a national rather than a European level...and should think about going further still and consider a red card to give national parliaments the right to block legislation that need not be done at the European level.â€


This proposal comes in light of wider discussions about Britain and the EU, including the draft bill to legislate for an In-Out referendum announced by the Prime Minister earlier this month.

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Gove gives green light to 102 more free schools

Wednesday, May 22 2013

Education Secretary Michael Gove today approved 102 new free school applications to open in 2014 and beyond, delivering around 50,000 new school places.


There are already 81 open free schools, with a further 109 aiming to open in September and beyond. In total, all currently approved free schools would deliver 130,000 new school places when full.


Free schools are state-funded schools independent of local authority control. They are run by teachers - not local or central government bureaucrats. They have the freedom to decide the length of the school day and term, the curriculum, and how they reward their teachers and spend their money.


Many of the free schools approved today will be based in areas of deprivation, or where there is a shortage of school places, like the schools open or approved before them:


72% of all free school approvals and 91% of primary approvals will go towards meeting basic need. Ninety per cent of mainstream schools (excluding 14 to 19 schools) are in areas of basic need or deprivation

More than half (64%) of the mainstream schools are expected to be located in the 50% most deprived communities in the country. 44% of the mainstream schools announced today are expected to be located in the 30% most deprived communities in the country

In total, 70 of the applications approved today are from teachers, existing schools, and educational organisations. Twenty-four of the approved free schools – 8 special free schools and 16 alternative provision free schools – will serve the most vulnerable children and young people.


Today’s announcement underlines the continuing demand for free schools. More local communities want a different or better school to meet the needs of their children and to help drive up standards in their local area.


Education Secretary Michael Gove said:


“There are many innovators in local communities set on raising standards of education for their children. I am delighted to approve so many of their high-quality plans to open a free school.

“Free schools are extremely popular with parents and are delivering strong discipline and teaching excellence across the country.â€

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Universal Credit launched

Monday, April 29 2013

Today marks the important next step in the radical reshaping of the welfare system so the system works for hardworking people, as the Universal Credit pathfinder is launched in parts of Manchester.


People who live in Ashton-under-Lyne will be able to make claims to the new benefit from today.


At the same time, Jobcentres in Oldham, Wigan, and Warrington will trial other elements of Universal Credit, including the new Claimant Commitment and signing people onto Universal Jobmatch.


Universal Credit aims to ensure people will always be better off in work. As people’s take home pay increases from work, their Universal Credit will reduce gradually so they won’t lose all their benefits at once. There are no fixed hours thresholds, such as the 16 hours a week rule, so even working just a few hours a week will make a difference.


Universal Credit will also introduce Real Time Information (RTI) to help employers manage their payroll and help their staff get the right benefit payments. When people are in work and their hours change their employer will report it on RTI and their Universal Credit payment will be adjusted accordingly.


Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, Iain Duncan Smith said of these changes, “This Government is on the side of people who want to work hard and get on. Universal Credit is nothing less than the start of a fundamental cultural shift of the welfare system. This will revolutionise the way people experience the welfare state. It will make it easier for people to claim what they are entitled to but, more importantly, it will make it easier for people to move off benefits and into work.â€


Minister for Welfare Reform, Lord Freud said, “We are finally implementing a benefit system that is fairer, where claimants will be better off in work than on benefits.â€


The Universal Credit pathfinder has begun in Ashton-under-Lyme to trail the new system with a limited number of people for six months before a gradual national roll out begins in October. The new system will be fully implemented by 2017.

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Labour councils let tax evaders off the hook

Thursday, April 25 2013

New analysis based on figures released to Parliament today shows how law-abiding taxpayers lose out when they live in Labour councils.


There is £2.4 billion of uncollected council tax across the country. And Labour-run Liverpool is the worst offender with £114 million of uncollected council tax. That is a massive £528 per household.


Nine out of the ten councils with the worst records in England are Labour-controlled, while nine out of the ten best councils are Conservative. Conservative-run South Cambridgeshire, for example, has arrears of just £11 per household.


If Labour councils collected this money properly it could be used to protect frontline services or cut council tax on hardworking people. But instead Labour councils are ignoring tax evasion - hitting hardworking, law-abiding taxpayers who have to pay more as a consequence.


This wasteful approach to council tax collection helps explains why Labour councils charge higher council tax - with the average council tax bill on a Band D home in a Conservative council £69 a year less than under a Labour council. Proving that Conservative councils fight to keep your hard-earned money in your pocket, while Labour councils treat your money like it is their money.


Eric Pickles, Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, commented:


'Incompetent and rotten Labour boroughs are turning a blind eye to tax evasion. These new figures show how Labour councils are driving up council tax for law-abiding taxpayers by their neglect. There is real scope for sensible savings to help pay off the Labour Government's deficit and keep council tax down: every household in the country could get a cheque back for £100 if this tax evasion was tackled.'

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Crime down by 10%

Wednesday, April 24 2013

Encouraging crime figures were released by the Office for National Statistics today.


The figures show that crime has fallen in every police force area in England and Wales and is now down by over 10% since the General Election.


Figures across individual crime categories are also positive. Violence against the person fell by 6% in the latest figures, which are for the year to December 2012, robbery is down by 13% and criminal damage is down by 15%.


The fact that crime has fallen despite the necessary cuts being made to policing budgets is particularly encouraging. It shows that the Conservatives in Government’s decision to reduce bureaucracy for the police and to sweep away multiple targets in favour of one – reducing crime – are working.

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A new cap to stop limitless benefits

Monday, April 15 2013

The Benefits Cap is now being rolled out to restore fairness to the welfare system.


The Benefit Cap has a very simple principle at its heart: no family that's out of work should receive more in total benefits than the average family earns by going out work.


It is not fair that households on out-of-work benefits should receive a greater income from the state than the average working household receives in wages. So we are introducing a cap linked to average weekly earnings, which will limit the amount of benefits a household can receive to £26,000 a year. This cap will ensure that it always pays to work and makes the welfare system fairer for the hardworking taxpayer who funds these benefits.


The cap is being rolled out in the London boroughs of Enfield, Haringey, Croydon and Bromley from today. It will be rolled out nationally, this summer.


Those who need particular support have been exempt from the cap - households receiving the Personal Independence Allowance (formerly the Disability Living Allowance), war widows and anyone on Working Tax Credits. This reconfirms our commitment to making work pay and supporting those who want to work hard and get on in life.

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David Cameron's tribute to Margaret Thatcher

Monday, April 8 2013

Today we lost a great leader, a great Briton, and a great Conservative.


A lot of things will be written about Lady Thatcher in the days and weeks to come, but for me one thing stands out above all other: her passionate belief in Britain.


As she once said: "for the Conservative Party politics has always been about something more than gaining power. It has been about serving the nation. We are above all a patriotic party" – and she was a true patriot Prime Minister.


It was for Britain that she took on the unions, privatised industry, unleashed enterprise, rescued our economy, spread home ownership and fought the Falklands war. And it was for liberty that she helped win the Cold War and freed countless people from oppression.


Her achievements were colossal. Her impact was immense. And we can be proud that Margaret Thatcher was a Conservative Prime Minister.


Today, the best tribute we can pay is to keep her values and vision alive in Government: to keep backing Britain's hardworkers; to keep believing in Britain – and to keep making it as great as can be.

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Now thread is filling with non-associated posts. Why spam the thread? Very childish.


Where are the links to the pages?




2. Spam, flooding or any commercial advertising are considered inappropriate. Such content may be removed without notice and the perpetrators account terminated.

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Now thread is filling with non-associated posts. Why spam the thread? Very childish.


Where are the links to the pages?




2. Spam, flooding or any commercial advertising are considered inappropriate. Such content may be removed without notice and the perpetrators account terminated.


Which is precisely what the OP has been doing - many of the OP's posts are not about ATOS.

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The OP has been doing what they think is right, the recent spamming is out of spite. Not a concern for the struggle the OP wants folk to know about.

Instead of this childish and immature action, the spammer should have started their own thread instead of spamming on one that has been widely accepted.

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I am as entitled to post articles, supporting my political affiliations as the original poster. I have posted nowhere near as he has, so far, anyway. Many of his postings do not relate to ATOS, you will notice.

The advice to me was that, if I didn't like the original poster's postings then I shouldn't look at them. The same advice should go as regards my postings also.

If shetlandpeat wants to regard my posts as being childish and immature then so be it.

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An excellent article that I found by the brilliant Ian Duncan Smith, written a while back:



Our welfare reforms are changing lives. The Conservatives have introduced the biggest welfare to work programme the UK has ever seen to get people back to work. But we also believe it must always pay to work – which is why we have capped benefits so that no one can get more on benefits than the average person earns in work. We want to help people escape poverty, not trap them in it.


Past governments have talked about reform, while watching the benefits bill sky rocket as generations languish on the dole and dependency. This government is delivering the reform our country needs.


The bigger picture


Iain Duncan Smith• Nearly 1.2 million new jobs in the private sector have been created since the election. There are now more than 700,000 more people in work than when the Conservatives came to power.


• We are introducing the 'Benefits Cap' so that those out of work cannot get more in benefits than the average person earns in work.


• We are rolling the main work-related benefits and tax credits into one, simple payment - the 'Universal Credit' - which will ensure that going into work always pays more than remaining on benefits.


• We have set up the biggest welfare to work programme the UK has ever seen – replacing the existing patchwork of job initiatives with a single programme that helps people back into work and gives them the support they need.


Reforming Welfare

We are reforming welfare so that it always pays to work.


Action to date


We have passed our welfare reforms into law. Under the last Government, people found themselves trapped on benefits because the incentives to work were poor and the system was too complicated to navigate. Our reforms will make sure that it always pays to work, while supporting the most vulnerable. Our reforms include:


A benefit cap of £26,000 a year

The Universal Credit, which will roll 6 benefits and tax credits into one simple payment

The toughest sanctions regime for benefit claimants ever seen, including sanctions of up to 3 years for JSA claimants who repeatedly fail to meet their most important requirements

Tackling benefit fraud

Reforming Disability Living Allowance to the Personal Independence Payment, including a more objective assessment process so that disabled people get the support that they need.


Planned actions


• The legislation for our welfare reforms has now been passed into law; these changes will now be implemented in stages.


Universal Credit

We are rolling a complex system of benefits and tax credits into one simple payment – the Universal Credit.


Action to date


• The legislation for the Universal Credit has been passed into law. Universal Credit is the most radical redesign of the benefits system this country has ever seen. It will replace the current costly, outdated process with an online system that will be simpler to use and will make work pay. It is on track and on budget.


• Universal Credit will combine Jobseeker’s Allowance, Housing Benefit, Child Tax Credit, Working Tax Credit, Income Support and Employment Support Allowance into one payment to make it easier for people to see they will be consistently and transparently better off for each hour they work and every pound they earn.


Planned actions


• A staged roll-out of Universal Credit will start in October 2013. There will be a pilot in Greater Manchester and Cheshire from April 2013, six months before it is rolled out nationally.


Capping Benefits

We are capping benefits so that you can't get more on benefits than the average person earns in work.


Action to date


• Despite opposition from Labour, we have made it law that no one claiming out of work benefits will be able to receive more in benefits than the average person earns in work – with a cap at £26,000.


• Under the last government we ended up in the crazy situation of benefit claimants being able to claim staggering amounts in benefit handouts.


Planned actions


• The Government will introduce the benefit cap from 2013. The cap will apply to the main out-of-work benefits and will ensure real fairness in the benefits system.


Getting people back to work

We have introduced the largest welfare to work scheme ever.


Action to date


There are now 700,000 more people in work than at the last election, but we cannot be complacent. Unemployment is still far too high. We have set up the biggest welfare to work scheme, which supports people into work and gives them the help they need.


The Work Programme replaces the old patchwork of ineffective and costly support for jobseekers with a single programme.

The Work Programme is designed to support a wide variety of jobseekers back into sustained employment, and help people overcome their own individual barriers to work.

Providers are paid by results – so they are rewarded for keeping people in work and rewarded for helping harder-to-help customers.

The Work Programme is already helping 693,000 people.


Planned actions


• Around 3.3 million people are expected to be supported by the Work Programme over the lifetime of the contract. More than 400 voluntary sector groups including Mencap, the Citizen’s Advice Bureau, The Prince's Trust and Action for Blind People are all involved in delivering the Work Programme.


• We know there are still challenges ahead. We are working hard to create the conditions businesses need to grow and create jobs, and we are providing people with the support they need to get back into work.


Getting young people into work

Getting young people into work with the £1 billion youth contract.


Action to date


• We have set up the Youth Contract, a £1 billion package to help tackle youth unemployment. Key measures include:


Wage incentives for businesses who take on 18-24 year olds.

An extra 250,000 work experience places over the next three years.

Incentives for small businesses to take on apprentices.

• There is also a new '16-24 Alliance' to tackle youth unemployment. A group of Britain’s biggest companies, spearheaded by Morrison's, are signing up to the Youth Contract to get 50,000 unskilled young people into work over the next three years.


• Other measures include a focus on making sure young people have the skills they need to get into work. We have set up sector-based work academies, University Technical Colleges, and have dramatically increased the number of apprenticeships available to give young people the skills they need to get on and get ahead in the workplace.


Reforming disability benefits

We are reforming disability benefits so people are no longer written-off for life.


Action to date


• We are reforming Incapacity Benefit and replacing it with the Employment Support Allowance. We're committed to the reassessment of people on incapacity benefit and helping those who are fit to move back into work. Under the old system too many lives were written off when people could find work if only they had the right support. This government is ensuring that that support is available.


• We are also reforming the Disability Living Allowance. Disabled people can face some of the toughest barriers to living an independent life. Conservatives in Government are committed to continue spending over £40 billion a year on support services for disabled people. But at the moment, we can’t be certain that support is always going to those who need it most, which is why we are moving forward with the next stage of our reforms to Disability Living Allowance.


Planned actions


• By 2014 we will have reassessed 1.5 million people who currently receive Incapacity Benefit, through the Work Capability Assessment. To ensure that the assessment is as fair and accurate as possible, there are on-going reviews and improvements. As part of this, Professor Malcolm Harrington, a highly respected Occupational Physician, has carried out two independent reviews of the assessment and is currently undertaking a third independent review to make more recommendations as appropriate.


• We are replacing the Disability Living Allowance for people aged 16-64 with the Personal Independence Payment. The PIP will be a non-means-tested, non-taxable cash benefit that people can spend as they choose. It will be a benefit that is paid to people whether they are in or out of work. As part of the reforms, we are introducing a more transparent and objective assessment and a system for regularly checking that the right support is getting to those who need it. The priority is to support those facing the greatest barriers to living an independent life.

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