Vox Permanent – our venture into print

Vox Political

You may have noticed there has been no new article from Vox Political today – only reblogs from other people’s pages.

This is because I have been quietly celebrating the anniversary of my birth. I am 21 (and if you believe that, I really must be a politician)!

There is news to tell, though – and here it is:

The first Vox Political collection – Strong Words and Hard Times – is now available and may be ordered from this address.

The intention is to make an eBook available in the very near future, as I am aware that this may be more desirable for those of you who live in the digital age (and those of you who are living on a tight budget).

If, like me, you like to hold a book in your hot little hands, smell the fresh ink on the pages, and carry it…

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Flawed Coalition figures claim crime is down. What about fraud (George Osborne)?

Vox Political

It must be a brutal blow for the Coalition government, after announcing that crime has dropped by a respectable amount, to then have to admit that a large chunk of fraud has been omitted from the figures.

“Crimes recorded by police in England and Wales have fallen by 7 per cent in the year ending March 2013, according to the Office for National Statistics,” stated the BBC, proudly acting once again as the Coalition’s mouthpiece.

At around the same time Jeremy Browne, the Minister of State for Crime Prevention, was telling us about mistakes at Action Fraud, which now receives all reports of fraud on behalf of all police forces in England and Wales: “Between November 2012 and July 2013, 2,490 reports (of which 1,738 were reports of crime) were not processed correctly due to a fault in the IT system,” he reported.

Oh dear – another cock-up.

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Why cant you fucking leave us alone Mr Cameron

OK firstly I’d like to say Thank You to the readers and followers of my blog you all mean so much to me as this blog is a means of escape from the dreadful times many many of us are living under and I fill the pressure of how you all feel on a daily basis which gets harder as each day passess but I carry on fighting in the hope one day our lives will get better and we can all raise a glass to Camerons passing and look forward in the hope the next government will treat us all as equals. I have had the pleassure to meet many citizens both in my time on social networks and in direct action so Thank You all you give me the will not to give up and throw in the towel.

Now I am going to lay bare here the effects this Government is having on me and my family members who live with me, I do not want sympathy as I have no doubts at all that what I say is duplicated across the nation and indeed I am just one small pawn of a much bigger picture.

Everything I say here is my words and is fact in truth as unlike Camerons Government I do not lie and have principals, compassion and empathy to my fellow citizens. I am the sory of guy who if I had a pound in my pocket and saw someone with greater need than myself I would gladly give it away that is how I was brought up.

I live in a 4 bedroomed property in Havant that was once the biggest council housing estate in Europe but now many have been brought privately including mine I brought this house back in 1986 just after getting married because at the time my wife and her mum were living here alone with 2 spare bedrooms and thus the council were trying to move them on but her mum who had just lost her husband did not want to move so I said OK we will jointly but it using your 60% discount and you can carry on living here rent free as I will pay the mortgage.

So this is what we did and I paid £13,560 for it not knowing what the future would hold and had I have known what I do now with the limited housing stock I probably would not have brought it, I was told that the money raised from house sales would be reinvested in new housing to meet the needs in the future clearly that has not happened.

During my time as a homeowner I have never claimed mortgage interest support despite having periods of unemployment and now disabled why? because unlike many of our wonderful MP’s I have morals and thus doing that goes against my ethos to buy this house was our decision not the taxpayers and thus the thought of me paying for it ourselves appeals a lot and can hold my head high that we alone brought and paid for it.

http://mikesivier.wordpress.com/2013/07/18/flawed-coalition-figures-claim-crime-is-down-what-about-fraud-george-osborne/

This house I brought was in much need of refurbisment as it lacked a decent kitchen, bathroom had no central heating or double glazing so I mortgaged for £50,000 to get all this much needed repairs done and decorated throughout.

I am lucky in that we are not in negative equity like many are but we are now at a situation that we could not sustain any mortgage increases so if the interest rate goes up we are buggered due to the cuts we are having to take indeed this government has left us no room to move.

My wife bless her she deserves a medel not only does she care for me due to SAH Stroke she cares for her now elderly mum plus works part-time at the local co-op she works her cotton socks off and is shattered at the end of the day. Our mum needs a lot of care and I take care of her driving needs when she needs to see the GP, visit hospital or needs prescriptions collected and keep check on her in the evenings but most of her care is needed during the day when my wife is home.

My wife thinks of nothing else but the care of us and the DWP simply do not understand how could they unless they have lived it.

My wife had the shock of her life a while ago when she had a bill from the DWP to repay over 16k of carers allowance this is going back over 10years as they said she went over her hours that she was permitted to work, as payslips were not available this was worked out on NI credits, how excuse me but why did you leave it so long 10 bloody years and furthermore my wife has always had a lot on her mind and checking if she was going over her hours was the last thing on her mind rightly she thought what she was doing was more important.

If we put our mum in residencial care it would have cost the state at least 30k a year and they are making her pay this back all for going over a maximum of a couple of quid a week DWP really you are the scum of this earth.

The Earnings limit has long known to be a farce and goes against Camerons ideal and policies as much as my wife would love to do extra hours she cant due to your crazy policies, My wife got a bonus this year as she does every year in recognition of her hard work but do you know they even stopped her carers allowance because of this, that is akin to giving her a punch in the gob for her efforts blimey no wonder the nation is in the mess it is.

We will never give our mum over to residencial care because we take pride in looking after her and see it as our duty and where she will be best looked after.

We have two sons both still live her, one has just left music collage and is embarking on his career in music he has his own band her https://twitter.com/cagedspectrum

https://www.facebook.com/cagedspectrum?fref=ts

My other son lives in one room with his girlfriend and there 10 month old son, yes I am proud to be a granddad and get to see him loads although it will be nice when they can get there own place as this house is now getting a bit overcrowded but for the moment I am loving it as we are close and live as a family unit of 4 generations. My older son he did 3 years in college doing computer studies and then was doing a fake Apprenticeship which was nothing of the sort and learnt nothing useful so is now a self employed computer technician.

As for me I worked for 15 years post SAH Stroke until September 2007 but was then made redundant due to the global financial crash my employer could not get anymore loans to upgrade his truck stock so was forced to close I tried real hard to get another job but no one wanted a 47 yr old Stroke Survivor one emplyer even told me this to my face do I blame him no of course not I would think the same if I was in his shoes after all he had the pick of the best able bodied people.

We are stuggling to maintain our heads above water due to the ever increasing price rises, funny old austerity as it does not affect retail or the services they carry on thinking we have a bottomless pit of money, when I left work in 2007 I was hounded by my creditors for the few debts I had and then the DCA’s who are the scum of this earth and made my life living hell with the endless phone calls and letters it was a time when I came close to ending it but I was helped by a very good debt help forum and I got my life back on track with there help and support, that forum I owe a lot too it can be found here:

http://forums.all-about-debt.co.uk/index.php

When I had my SAH Stroke and the period I was working I never claimed a penny in disability benefits this was because I thought there was someone more in need than me after all I was working and wrongly thought when the need came the government would look after me how wrong was I because now I do have a need I find myself fighting tooth and nail for every bit of entitlement but hell my Stroke did not take away my fighting spirit so bring it on Mr Cameron if you think you are big enough because I am not one for giving up and your draconian policies has made me more aware.

‘Named and shamed’ by C Leslie MP. Oh, the disgrace..

The SKWAWKBOX

It’s not up on Hansard just yet, as it wasn’t quite 3 hours ago yet, but I’m told that I was ‘named and shamed’ by Tory MP Charlotte Leslie today in Parliament, for my ‘venom’ in challenging the claims, actions and attitudes of Julie Bailey and her ‘Cure the NHS’ group (Cure):

I am equally perturbed and disturbed that a lot of that venom is coming from two Labour Party Members locally – Diana Smith who has worked for David Kidney and Steve Walker and I would very much like to know that the party opposite will condemn those actions.

(Edit: you can now get the full Hansard record here, and I’ll take this opportunity to thank everyone for the kind wishes and support!)

Ms Leslie needs to check her facts, since I’m not a Stafford local and only visited the town some time after I’d published my article…

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UK unemployment is anything up to 12 MILLION, not two and a half!

Vox Political

austeritydolequeue

Please note: As ever, this is a layman’s view of the figures. If anyone can help add colour and detail to what follows – and correct it if necessary – please do.

Let’s hope we all live long enough to look back and laugh at the euphoric reporting of the Coalition government’s slanted employment figures.

“UK unemployment fell by 57,000 to 2.51 million in the three months to May,” the BBC reported, quoting today’s release from the Office for National Statistics.

What a shame that the figure is meaningless as it bears no relation to the number of people who are out of work and not paid the minimum wage (or above), which would be a better yardstick. That figure is anything up to 11.71 million, using estimated figures from the ONS report.

This includes not only the number officially counted as unemployed, but those counted as…

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Strivers vs Shirkers? Ten Things They Don’t Tell You About the Welfare Budget

Via  Mehdi Hasan @ huffingtonpost.co.uk

welfare budgetWith the Conservative Party unveiling a new ad campaign in marginal seats, which basically divides voters into hard-working ‘strivers’ and stay-at-home ‘shirkers’, and with Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg launching an attack on universal benefits, it seems the perfect time to debunk 10 key myths about the UK’s welfare budget and, specifically, ‘out of work benefits’.

(Yesterday, you may have seen me tackling some of these falsehoods on BBC1’s Sunday Politics – if not, you can watch my debate with Tory MP Chris Skidmore on the iPlayer; scroll forward to 29mins40secs in…)

Here are the 10 things about welfare that they – Tories, Lib Dems, some New Labour figures, the centre-right press and the CBI – don’t tell you:

1) Myth: ‘THE 1% RISE IN BENEFITS IS FAIR BECAUSE IT HITS SHIRKERS, NOT STRIVERS’

Fact: According to the Resolution Foundation, “far from hitting only the out of work, 60% of the value of the £3.7 billion cut would fall on in-work households”. Why? Because the 1% rise – which equates to a real-terms cut – affects universal benefits like child benefit and tax credits like child tax credit.

Also, the benefit loss for a low to middle-income household is about twice the size of the personal allowance gain (the same allowance gain, incidentally, that the Tories have tried to use to deflect attention from the 1% squeeze).

2) Myth: ‘SPENDING ON OUT OF WORK BENEFITS IS OUT OF CONTROL’

Fact: First, according to the DWP’s own figures, the majority of all welfare spending is on pensioners – 53% – with out of work benefits accounting for less than a quarter of the welfare budget.

Second, on average, between 2000 and 2010, welfare spending grew annually, in real terms, by 1.75% – compared to 5.5% in the 1950s and 1960s, and 3% in the 1980s (under Margaret Thatcher).

Third, benefit spending in 2011-12 accounted for 10.4% of GDP, lower than under Margaret Thatcher in the mid-80s (11%) and under John Major in the mid-1990s (12%). (There are also a million fewer people on out of work benefits now than there were in the mid-1990s, off the back of the previous recession.)

Fourth, it may surprise you to discover that benefit spending as a share of GDP fell during the first 11 years of the last Labour government; it only began to rise in 2008, after the financial crash, as hundreds of thousands of Britons found themselves out of work through no fault of their own.

(They key point here is to distinguish between benefit spending figures presented in scary, cash terms and those presented – much more accurately – as a proportion of a nation’s GDP.)

3) Myth: ‘OUT OF WORK BENEFITS HAVE RISEN MORE THAN AVERAGE EARNINGS’

Fact: While the chancellor George Osborne was correct to point out, in his Autumn Statement, that “average earnings have risen by around 10% since 2007” but “out of work benefits have gone up by around 20%” he chose a narrow, self-serving time period, i.e. the past five years. Over the past 30 years, wages have outstripped benefits.

As economist Jonathan Portes, head of the National Institute for Economic and Social Research (NIESR), pointed out: “In 1979, unemployment benefit (the predecessor to Jobseekers’ Allowance) was about 22% of average weekly earnings; today it’s about 15%, a relative decline of about a third. What’s going on? Simple: JSA has been indexed to inflation. In normal times, earnings rise faster than prices…”

But as Osborne knows, we are not living in ‘normal times’, partly thanks to his growth-killing austerity measures…

On a side note, Jobseekers’ Allowance is currently £71 a week, or £10 a day. Could Osborne, or any other Tory minister, live on £10 a day? Could you?

4) Myth: ‘WORK IS THE BEST ROUTE OUT OF POVERTY’

Fact: The majority of children and working-age adults in poverty in the UK live in working, not workless, households. That’s 6.1million people – 2million children and 4.1million adults – a million more people than are living in poverty in workless households. Low pay is the biggest cause of poverty in this country – a fifth of British workers are paid less than the ‘living wage’. The national minimum wage is now worth less in real terms than it did in 2004.

5) Myth: ‘THERE ARE LOTS OF OUT OF WORK HOUSEHOLDS WITH BIG FAMILIES’

Fact: Families with more than five children account for 1% of out of work benefit claims; families with more than three children account for less than 10% of claims.

6) Myth: ‘THE WELFARE STATE IS BEING UNDERMINED BY AN INTERGENERATIONAL CULTURE OF WORKLESSNESS’

Fact: Despite repeated Tory references to “three generations of worklessness” (Iain Duncan Smith) and “four generations of families where no one has ever had a job” (Chris Grayling), this whole “culture of worklessness” and inter-generational fecklessness is a complete exaggeration based on little or no empirical evidence.

Consider the conclusion of a recent, in-depth report by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRF): “Despite strenuous efforts, the researchers were unable to locate any such families. Even two generations of complete worklessness in the same family was a very rare phenomenon.”

In fact, a Bristol University study of Labour Force Survey figures found that only 0.3% of UK households have two generations – let alone three or even four (!) generations – that have never worked.

7) Myth: ‘THE BENEFITS BILL IS RISING BECAUSE OF CHEATS AND FRAUDSTERS’

Fact: The government’s own figures show that just 0.7%, or £1bn, of benefit expenditure is overpaid due to fraud – compared to, say, £70bn lost to HM Treasury through illegal tax evasion.

8) Myth: ‘HOUSING BENEFIT IS BEING WASTED ON LAZY, OUT OF WORK HOUSEHOLDS’

Fact: According to the homeless charity Shelter, only one out of every eight people who receive housing benefit is unemployed – the vast majority of HB claimants are pensioners, carers, people with disability and, of course, people on low incomes (see myth 4).

As even the Daily Mail conceded back in October, there has been an 86% rise in housing benefit claims by working families over the past three years.

9) MYTH: ‘PEOPLE GET PARKED ON BENEFITS FOR YEARS AND FORGOTTEN’

Fact: As public policy analyst Declan Gaffney has pointed out: “Benefit claims are much less likely to be ‘long-term’ as people seem to believe. The majority of people on Jobseeker’s Allowance claim the benefit for less than three months; less than 10% claim it for more than a year.”

10) Myth: ‘MEANS TESTING BENEFITS IS FAIRER AND CHEAPER THAN HAVING UNIVERSAL BENEFITS’

Fact: According to the National Audit Office (NAO), means testing “makes the administration of benefits more complex and is associated with higher costs as well as increased rates of fraud and error”. The NAO also notes that “there can be disincentives for recipients of means-tested benefits to return to work”.

(With thanks to the Resolution Foundation, the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, Declan Gaffney, Jonathan Portes, Chris Dillow and David Wearing.)

Follow Mehdi Hasan on Twitter: www.twitter.com/mehdirhasa