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Everything posted by daveh

  1. http://www.thisissurreytoday.co.uk/Reigate-couple-jailed-benefit-fraud/story-19250599-detail/story.html#axzz2WlKhNyKt Reigate couple jailed for benefit fraud A Reigate couple have been jailed for a total of 18 months after they were convicted of falsely claiming more than £75,000 in benefits. John Ronald Cattrall, 43, and Julia Jones, 41, both of Lonesome Lane, were sentenced at Guildford Crown Court after a jury found them guilty of a total of nine charges. Cattrall was sentenced to 12 months and Jones to 6 months. Under the fraud, which dates back to August 2000 and lasted for almost 11 years, they claimed £49,031 in housing benefit and £12,246 in council tax benefit that they were not entitled to, plus £14,093 in income support from the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP). The fraud was uncovered by the council’s corporate anti-fraud investigators, working in partnership with the DWP and Surrey Police. They revealed the couple had been living together as husband and wife since August 2000, contrary to their declarations on their benefit claims. The couple were arrested at their home by Surrey Police on July 14 2011 and evidence was recovered. They were then interviewed by council investigators whilst in custody at Reigate Police Station. After pleading not guilty at an earlier hearing, the case progressed to a trial, which ran from April 22 to May 6. Following sentencing, Councillor Julian Ellacott, executive member for housing and welfare at the council, said: “We work hard to prevent, detect and investigate all types of fraud against the council. Housing and council tax benefit is there for people who really need it and we will not tolerate those who abuse the system. “The court has seen all of the relevant evidence and found Mr Cattrall and Miss Jones guilty, and handed down a custodial sentence which highlights the serious nature of these crimes. I hope this serves as a warning to others that cheating the system does not pay.†Separate to the court action, the council is pursuing repayment of the full overpaid benefits of £103,000 from the pair for their whole claim period, 1997 to 2011. The council will also be seeking payment of its legal costs from them at a subsequent hearing.
  2. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2335048/Benefits-cheat-mother-said-fat-make-cup-tea-claimed-100-000-despite-shedding-19-stone.html Benefits cheat mother who said she was too fat to make herself a cup of tea claimed £100,000 despite being fit to work after shedding 19 stone Judge branded Tracey Shellard a 'lying scrounger' for continuing to claim benefits despite massive weight loss 49-year-old claimed she depended on a mobility scooter Four-month sting operation caught Shellard on camera carrying heavy TV Shellard, of Manchester, was given 12-month suspended sentence PUBLISHED: 10:44, 3 June 2013 | UPDATED: 17:19, 4 June 2013 Weighing 28 stone, Tracey Shellard claimed she was so unwell she could hardly walk and struggled even to make a cup of tea. Over the years Shellard, 49, claimed almost £100,000 in benefits by detailing severe health problems linked to her obesity. But her sob story, a court heard, turned out to be a big fat lie. While receiving the benefits, Shellard went on a strict calorie-controlled diet and began to lose vast amounts of weight, slimming down to 10 stone. Tracey Shellard, 49, said she needed benefits because she could not even make a cup of tea due to her 28 stone weight Yet she hid the news from the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP). Far from being incapable of looking after herself, she ditched her mobility scooter, began taking her dog on long walks and was fit enough to carry heavy shopping bags. A covert surveillance operation was launched by the DWP, and she was spotted carrying a 32-inch television from the shops. Eventually Shellard was arrested and hauled before the courts, where she admitted four charges of failing to notify of a change in circumstances. She was branded a ‘lying scrounger’ by the judge at Manchester Crown Court, but was spared jail, despite a previous conviction for benefit fraud in the 1990s. Jonathan Rogers, prosecuting, told the court that Shellard had been overpaid a total of £98,000, although she would have been entitled to £8,000 of the cash in tax credits if she had been honest. She claimed disability living allowance from 2000, with payments increased to a higher rate after she detailed health problems linked to her obesity. However, in 2008, Shellard began getting more exercise and lost eight stone. By 2011, she had lost a further ten stone. After she was arrested in September 2011, she got a job at a nursing home, working up to 48 hours a week. Shellard also lied about living alone to rake in income support, housing benefit, and council tax benefit. In fact, she was living with her husband of 23 years, who was in work and supporting her financially. Denise Fitzpatrick, defending, said Shellard had ‘learned her lesson’. Handing her a 12-month suspended sentence, with a six-month curfew and 80 hours of unpaid work, Recorder Craig Sephton QC said she had been ‘taking money this country desperately needs to serve your own ends’. The judge said he took into account that she had got a job and had completed training courses which meant she had made herself ‘a useful member of society instead of a sponger’. Back in 2003, she had said in a DWP interview that she struggled to stand up again after sitting down, used a walking stick indoors, needed help to stop her ‘sliding off pillows’ in bed, couldn’t make a cup of tea without dropping it, and was dependent on a mobility scooter when she left the house. She told officers: 'If I had help I would go everywhere - I just want to be normal, but I know that will never be.'
  3. http://www.daventryexpress.co.uk/news/local/suspended-sentence-for-daventry-benefits-cheat-1-5207446 Published on 20/06/2013 13:26 A woman from Daventry has received a suspended prison sentence after admitting to fraudulently claiming over £12,000 in benefits. Lillian Payne, of Hawke Road, illegally claimed £12,500 in Income Support, Council Tax Benefit and Housing Benefit between February 2009 and October 2011. At Northampton Magistrates Court on Tuesday, June 11, the 61-year-old was sentenced to four months in prison, suspended for 12 months, having previously admitted the offences. The case was brought following an investigation by Daventry District Council and the Department for Works and Pensions. Leader of DDC cllr Chris Millar said: “This is another case that highlights our determination to ensure that benefit cheats won’t be allowed to get away with it in our district.â€
  4. http://benefitfraud.blogspot.co.uk/ 19 Jun 2013 Prison for housing benefit fraud A fraudster who falsely claimed £50,000 in housing and council tax benefits and income support has been given an eight-month prison sentence. Raymond Daniels was sentenced at Isleworth Crown Court last week, after pleading guilty to two counts of dishonesty against the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea and the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP). The 56-year-old had been in receipt of housing benefit on the basis that he was not working. However, the crook aroused the suspicions of council officers when he applied for a parking permit for a lorry. Following a joint investigation by the council and the DWP, undeclared bank accounts were discovered which contained in excess of £40,000. Even though the accounts were in his name, Daniels refused to admit that the money was his, and midway through a taped interview he demanded that the recorder be turned off and left the interview room throwing his rent book at the investigators. In sentencing Judge Johnson stated the fraud was a continued serious act of dishonesty. Daniels’ lawyer explained that his client was remorseful and felt shameful about his actions. The housing benefit overpayment amounted to £23,696.94, council tax to £4,414.21 and income support to £23,193.70, covering the period August 2007 to September 2011. Councillor Warwick Lightfoot, cabinet member for finance, said: It is outrageous Mr Daniels felt that he could steal tens of thousands of pounds from the taxpayer. This prison sentence sends out a clear message to those who are trying to defraud the taxpayer and make it harder for those in genuine need. I congratulate our council officers for their vigilance and can tell residents that we will work with colleagues in local and central government to prevent abuses of the system.
  5. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-northern-ireland-22802102 Derry couple jailed for £144k benefit fraud. A Londonderry man and the mother of their six children have been jailed for a £144,000 benefits fraud over a 20-year period starting in 1990. Michael Cecil Harkin, 50, and Donna McCool, 46, both of Circular Road in the city, were jailed for eight and four months respectively. They admitted a combined total of 11 income support, jobseeker's allowance and housing benefits frauds. McCool's total fraud amounted to £76,800 and Harkin's totalled £67,300. A prosecution barrister told the court that both defendants made false declarations about their marital status in order to unlawfully claim the benefits. Sentencing the couple at Londonderry Magistrates Court, Judge Grant said no-one should be unaware of the damage their offending had caused to society. "At this stage in history it is quite clear every penny of government money is needed," he said. "The money taxpayers pay is used to pay for benefits to those who are rightly entitled to them. It is used to pay for hospitals, for schools and for a full range of reasons. "When you steal this money you are not just stealing from an unidentified body, you are stealing it from your neighbours and from other members of society." After the sentences were handed down, Harkin shouted obscenities at Judge Grant, who then told him he was in contempt of court. Harkin was taken into custody and a short time later a court clerk announced that his eight-month jail sentence had been postponed and that he would be resentenced in Belfast on Friday.
  6. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-sussex-22652179 Talent show mum Amanda Webber jailed for benefit fraud. Amanda Webber had a grand piano and a dance studio in one of her homes, the court was told. Amanda Webber, 43, claimed five of her children had disabilities and medical conditions affecting their mobility. But Brighton Crown Court heard the children were active and took part in drama and dance. Some even auditioned for ITV's Britain's Got Talent show. Webber was told she was guilty of one of the biggest single benefit fraud overpayments ever recorded. Judge Anthony Niblett said Webber and her family at one point had an income of more than £10,000 a month. At the sentencing hearing, he said: "This is an income which the vast majority of your hard-working, honest fellow citizens can only dream of. "These benefits included private education and every material advantage for them, including a grand piano and a dance studio in your last home, so as to encourage the undoubted talents of some of your children." Webber received £353,000 in benefits over a 12-year period from 1998. “You have chosen to have eight children and to live your life as you have but you are not entitled to do so†said Judge Anthony Niblett. She made benefits claims on the basis five of her eight children had various disabilities and conditions which affected their mobility and care needs, the court was told. At the time of her arrest, Webber was living in a seven-bedroom house in Sussex. The prosecution said the children led active lives, taking part in PE classes and activities including music, drama and dance, without any difficulties. As well as auditioning for ITV's Britain's Got Talent show, some of her children performed in professional productions on TV and on stage. They included Les Miserables, The Wizard of Oz and Billy Elliot, Webber's trial heard. During the trial, prosecutor, Andrew Evans said the children's stage roles were "inconsistent" with the care and mobility issues Webber had described. On her benefits claim forms, she said some of her children had problems with their speech and language, physical and learning disabilities and behavioural issues. The court was told the schools had no records of any such learning difficulties or mobility issues. Some of the children travelled to performing arts school in London by train and underground during the rush hour, the jury heard. DVDs found at Webber's home showed her children taking part in ballroom dancing. One child, who was said to have a fear of water, was filmed swimming. On Thursday, Webber was found guilty of 23 out of 24 charges she faced, including fraud, obtaining a money transfer by deception and obtaining property by deception. She was cleared of one count of making a false representation. The false payments related to disability living allowance, carer's allowance, tax credits and housing and council tax benefit. Prosecutor Andrew Evans said the Crown would be looking to start confiscation proceedings against Webber to recover some of the money. Judge Niblett said: "You have chosen to have eight children and to live your life as you have, but you are not entitled to do so at the expense of your fellow citizens who work hard and struggle on modest incomes."
  7. ^^ Do you think that the coalition invented unemployment, then? Actually, you should rejoice loudly that about 1.25m private sector jobs have been created in the past 3 years. In Labour's time, they created 100s of 1000's of unnecessary public sector non-jobs in order to get them off the unemployment stats and keep their union paymasters sweet.
  8. In response to the idiotic ramblings of go.oot.by.dog, He seems to have his head up his backside about the mess created by his beloved Labour party over their 13 years of total mismanagement. He seems to be on a crusade about the necessary public expenditure cuts that have been introduced due to the fact that Labour were spending money as if it was going out of fashion. My children and grandchildren will still be picking up the tab for Labour's financial follies. I am not "spamming" your thread but am merely posting some copied and pasted articles explaining the reason behind the government's policy. I am entirely within my rights to do so and you aren't going to persuade me to do otherwise. We are all getting older (including go.oot.by.dog) and, thanks to the efforts of this government, we will be cared for better in hospital now, when needed, than we would have been under Labour. As for Maggie, what a tremendous PM she was. !
  9. You should understand that the welfare budget grew to totally unmanageable levels under Labour and that cuts needed to be made. If you can't accept this fact then you have the option to vote for Labour again in 2015 who, undoubtedly will spend again with not a care as to how much it racks up in debt. Don't bother throwing stats at me as I could throw the alternatives back at you and say that your figures are wrong and that you are ignorant also.
  10. You should understand that the welfare budget grew to totally unmanageable levels under Labour and that cuts needed to be made. If you can't accept this fact then you have the option to vote for Labour again in 2015 who, undoubtedly will spend again with not a care as to how much it racks up in debt. Don't bother throwing stats at me as I could throw the alternatives back at you and say that your figures are wrong and that you are ignorant also.
  11. Simplifying the welfare system and making sure work pays Issue Many people on benefits believe that the financial risks of moving into work are too great. For some, the gains from work, particularly if they work part-time, are small, and any gain can easily be cancelled out by costs such as transport. The government believes that the current system is too complex and there are insufficient incentives to encourage people on benefits to start paid work or increase their hours. We are aiming to make the benefit system fairer and more affordable to help reduce poverty, worklessness and welfare dependency and to reduce levels of fraud and error. Actions We are reforming the welfare system to help more people to move into and progress in work, while supporting the most vulnerable. Introducing Universal Credit We are introducing Universal Credit in 2013 for people who are looking for work or on a low income. Universal Credit brings together a range of working-age benefits into a single payment. It will: •encourage people on benefits to start paid work or increase their hours by making sure work pays •smooth the transitions into and out of work •simplify the system, making it easier for people to understand, and easier and cheaper to administer •reduce the number of people who are in work but still living in poverty •reduce fraud and error Introducing Personal Independence Payment Disability Living Allowance (DLA) is a tax-free benefit for children and adults who need help with personal care or their mobility needs. It was introduced in 1992 and had not been fundamentally reviewed or reformed since. There is confusion about the purpose of the benefit, it is complex to claim and there is no systematic way of checking that awards remain correct. We have introduced a new benefit called Personal Independence Payment (PIP) from 8 April 2013 that will eventually replace DLA for people aged 16 to 64. PIP helps towards some of the extra costs because of a long term ill-health condition or disability. It’s based on how a person’s condition affects them, not the condition they have. It’s designed to be a more sustainable benefit and make sure support continues to reach those who face the greatest challenges to taking part in everyday life. Introducing a cap on the amount of benefits working age people can receive From 2013 we will introduce a cap on the total amount of benefits that working age people can receive so that households on working age benefits can no longer receive more in benefits than the average wage for working families. Reassessing incapacity benefits recipients for Employment and Support Allowance Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) replaced a range of incapacity benefits in 2008 for customers making a new claim because of illness or incapacity. From October 2010, those people who are still receiving the older style incapacity benefits are being reassessed and moved to ESA or other benefits more appropriate to their circumstances. This exercise will continue until 2014. Improving the Work Capability Assessment Anyone claiming ESA will have a Work Capability Assessment to assess their capability for work. To ensure that the Work Capability Assessment is as fair and accurate as possible, we are continuing to review and improve it. Making sure housing support is fair and affordable We are creating a fairer approach to the way we pay housing costs to help bring stability to the housing market and improve incentives for people to find work or increase their hours. From April 2013 we have introduced new rules for the size of accommodation that Housing Benefit, and then Universal Credit, will cover for working age tenants renting in the social sector. This makes the rules consistent with those that apply to tenants renting in the private rented sector. Background In the coalition agreement we announced our intention to simplify the benefit system to encourage people to move into work and make sure that those able to work must show a willingness to work as a condition of receiving benefits. In ‘Universal Credit: welfare that works’, published on 11 November 2010, we set out plans to introduce Universal Credit in 2013 to simplify the benefits system, make work pay and reduce worklessness and poverty. Reducing the number of days lost to sickness absence On 17 February 2011 the government set up a review of the sickness absence system to help reduce the 140 million days lost to sickness absence every year. The review was jointly chaired by David Frost, former Director General of the British Chambers of Commerce, and Dame Carol Black, then National Director for Health and Work. The review considered how the current sickness absence system could be changed to help people stay in work, reduce costs and contribute to economic growth and whether these costs are appropriately shared between the state, individuals and employers. We published David Frost’s and Dame Carol Black’s independent review on 21 November 2011. The review presents an important analysis of the: •sickness absence system in the UK •impact of sickness absence on employers, the state and individuals •factors which cause and prolong sickness absence and which, in too many cases, mean that employees move out of work entirely and on to benefits •roles that healthcare professionals, employers and government services play The government published its response to the review’s recommendations on 17 January 2013. The response outlines a strategy to support the health and wellbeing of the working age population and examines: •setting up a health and work assessment and advisory service •improving sickness absence management •supporting healthcare professionals •reforming the benefits system Who we’ve consulted We consulted on proposals to simplify the benefits system to improve work incentives in ’21st century welfare’ between 30 July and 1 October 2010. We consulted on proposals to replace Disability Living Allowance (DLA) with a new benefit – Personal Independence Payment between 6 December 2010 and 18 February 2011. We sought views on initial proposals for the draft assessment criteria for Personal Independence Payment between 9 May and 31 August 2011. Following feedback on the initial proposals, we revised the draft assessment criteria for Personal Independence Payment and consulted on the second draft of the assessment criteria for Personal Independence Payment between 16 January and 30 April 2012. We consulted on proposals on some of the rules for claiming Personal Independence Payment, Disability Living Allowance, Carer’s Allowance and Attendance Allowance between 26 March and 30 June 2012. From 15 June 2012 to 27 July 2012 the Social Security Advisory Committee (SSAC) consulted on the following draft Universal Credit and related regulations: •Universal Credit Regulations 2012 •Universal Credit, Personal Independence Payment and Working-age Benefits (Claims and Payments) Regulations 2012 •Housing Benefit (Benefit Cap) Regulations 2012 On 10 December 2012 we published the SSAC’s report on the consultation together with the government’s response. Impact We have published a number of impact assessments and equality impact assessments covering the measures to simplify the welfare system included in the Welfare Reform Act 2012. The department continues to carry out analysis of the likely impacts of its policies on groups such as disabled people. Bills and legislation The changes to the welfare system are contained in the Welfare Reform Act 2012 . The main elements of the act are: •the introduction of Universal Credit to provide a single payment that will improve incentives to work •a stronger approach to reducing fraud and error with tougher penalties for the most serious offences •a new ‘claimant commitment’ showing clearly what is expected of claimants while giving protection to those with the greatest needs •reforms to Disability Living Allowance, through the introduction of Personal Independence Payment to meet the needs of disabled people today •creating a fairer approach to Housing Benefit to bring stability to the market and improve incentives to work •preventing abuse of the Social Fund system by giving greater power to local authorities •reforming ESA to make the benefit fairer and to ensure that help goes to those with the greatest need •changes to support a new system of child support which puts the interest of the child first We have published and will continue to publish regulations relating to the Welfare Reform Act 2012. We have also published policy briefing notes giving more information about the main elements of the act for: •Personal Independence Payment •Universal Credit transitional protection We have published more information about changes to Employment and Support Allowance in 2012 under the Welfare Reform Act and some commonly asked question and answers.
  12. ^^ If you start quoting Ed Balls, one of the chief culprits for the mess that the UK economy is in, then you have effectively lost the argument. The idiot is now suggesting that state retirement pensions should also be means-tested. He hasn't a clue.
  13. George Osborne’s Welfare Cuts: A Necessary Step October 9, 2012 by Alex Clackson There are plenty of opportunities out there to get some form of qualifications and work your way up towards an average salary which is able to support a small family. Not only is having a job beneficial to the economy, but it also creates a positive atmosphere in a particular community and in the nation as a whole. During his Party Conference speech on the 8th of October George Osborne has proclaimed that the Government will press ahead with plans to cut £10 billion from the welfare budget by 2016-17 on top of the £18 billion cuts already under way. Osborne has secured the agreement of Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith, something he said would be necessary in order to avoid additional cuts in other Whitehall departments. The announcement, made in Osborne’s speech to the Conservative Party conference in Birmingham, will set the Tories on collision with their Liberal Democrat coalition partners. Nick Clegg told his party’s conference last month that he would not allow “wild suggestions†of a £10 billion cut in welfare, while Chief Secretary to the Treasury Danny Alexander said, “We simply will not allow the books to be balanced in a way that hits the poorest hardest.†The rhetoric by George Osborne will undoubtedly create new tensions between the political right and left, between the supporters of cuts and the supporters of spending to kick start the economy. It is perhaps too easy to claim that George Osborne is taking a typical Conservative means to end the deficit – cut the funding to the poorest while the rich are left unscathed. I am going to lay down all my cards on the table and truthfully say that I am personally not a fan of the Conservatives. In fact I am a member of the Green Party therefore in theory I should despise any policies put forward by the Tories. However, George Osborne and his team are onto something with their idea on cutting the welfare budget and in this article I will explain why. When I immigrated to Britain in 2001 from Russia, I was surprised to learn that thousands of people in this country are able to be unemployed yet still live fairly comfortably. In Russia, if a citizen does not have a job, chances are he may end up on the streets. Even as a young child back then I was proud that a country like Britain looks after their citizens who were unlucky enough to be jobless. But as I grew older I realised an uncomfortable truth, that many of these jobless citizens chose to be unemployed and made the jobseekers benefits their life choice. As I studied the whole purpose of the welfare system, I learned that benefits were meant to be a safety net for the society rather than something people jump on in order to escape employment and watch Jeremy Kyle instead. It angered me that some people choose to live their whole life on welfare benefits and I began supporting the Conservative Party for a number of years. Yet even now, as a centre-left individual, I believe that there should be cuts to the welfare budget. Having watched a programme recently on a council estate in Blackburn and having heard some young people on the programme claim that they are on benefits “because it’s just easier than getting up early every morning†I thought it was time for the government to take some measures. George Osborne put forward an idea that families who have children for the sake of receiving child benefits will also feel the full wrath of the welfare cuts. Once again, I have to agree that this is a necessary action to take. In my short lifetime, I have lived in some poor areas and I was saddened to see poor families having children for the sake of having more cash rather than because they genuinely wanted to create a family. Not only am I a believer that it is wrong to bring children into this world if you are not able to financially support them, but I am also a believer that bringing up children without fully understanding the responsibilities it will entail to bring these children up properly will create a nasty vicious circle. This circle goes round as follows: a financially poor mother has a child, the father of the child is long gone, the mother is unable (or does not want to) bring her child up properly, the child grows up with no respect towards society and his country and thus also takes the life of a benefit scrounger and/or a criminal. Ultimately it is important to change the culture of Britain. Irrespective of my leftward-leaning ideology, I am happy to announce my belief that some citizens of this country must stop relying on Jobseeker’s Allowance and child benefit to get through life. There are plenty of opportunities out there to get some form of qualifications and work your way up towards an average salary which is able to support a small family. Not only is having a job beneficial to the economy, but it also creates a positive atmosphere in a particular community and in the nation as a whole. Having said all of that, I undoubtedly understand that the current economic situation in Britain is dire and the rate of unemployment is high. Of course citizens who genuinely cannot find a job must receive benefits in order to support themselves while they search for employment. Nevertheless, there are far too many people who see benefits as “free money†rather than a safety net, and against all odds, I am therefore supporting the policies by George Osborne to cut the welfare budget.
  14. You think that youth unemployment started when the coalition took over in 2010, then? Really? As regards people having to work longer - do you really think that the retirement age should have stayed the same despite people living much longer now? Who do you think would pay for their pensions?
  15. 1.3 million more private sector jobs across the UK in the last 3 years Wednesday, June 12 2013 The latest employment numbers show over 1.3 million jobs have been created in the private sector in the last three years. Figures from the Office of National Statistics show that there are 432,000 more people in work than the same time last year, and 24,000 more than the previous three months. Unemployment has also fallen, and the fall in youth unemployment has been particularly marked, with 43,000 fewer young people unemployed between February and April than in the previous three months. Grant Shapps, Chairman of the Conservative Party, commented: "These numbers are a credit to British businesses, with 1.3 million new private sector jobs created in the last three years. There are now more people in work than ever before. Businesses are rising to the challenge and creating jobs for people across the country.'' "The Conservatives have cut taxes to reward work and we're fixing welfare so it always pays to work.'' "Of course there is always more to do and we are not complacent. Our priority now is to carry on getting more people into work, and to help everyone who wants to work hard and get on in life.''
  16. No different than spouting sensationalised cherry-picked articles from anti Tory sources. Agreed.
  17. ^ ^ The articles come from the excellent Conservative website. Like it or not, accept it or not, the welfare budget drastically needs to be reduced and there will always be folks affected by such changes. Labour spent money on welfare and the total just spiralled out of control to such an extent that choosing not to work and/or living entirely on benefits became a lifestyle choice that was not challenged by the Labour government. Those missing out will always have the opportunity to appeal if they feel the need to. As for reaching retirement age, I have reached it already. As for working more years as you get older, so be it. We have had a pension timebomb for many years with the average life expectancy gradually rising and this is the first government to have the guts to do something about it. We all miss out due to various government policies over the decades. My wife is having to work an additional 3 years to get her state retirement pension and we are now having to eat into our moderate savings to live, due to ridiculously-low interest rates whilst the younger generation can have cheaper than ever mortgages. That is the way of the world. However, I fear for the future of my children and grandchildren were Labour to come to power again.
  18. An excellent article that I found by the brilliant Ian Duncan Smith, written a while back: JOBS AND WELFARE 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.
  19. 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.
  20. Ok - I have posted some balancing articles to get along with. More to follow.
  21. 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.
  22. 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.
  23. 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.
  24. 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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