If It Ain’t Broke Don’t Fix It–What The Country Voted For

In Camoron’s first incarnation as the Nation’s Prime Minister he set about reforming the Legal System system, amongst others.  In doing so he aimed to save about £450 Million from Legal Aid bills.  This led to the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012 (LASPO coming into force.

This Act, which personally I had never heard of before, seems to only apply to Civil cases, but some of those Civil cases might affect us at some point in our lives.  It has removed countless cases from the scope of the Legal Aid scheme.

LASPO reverses the position whereby legal aid is accessible for all civil cases other than those excluded by the Access to Justice Act 1999. Whole categories of law have been taken out of scope for legal aid; others only qualify if they meet certain criteria. The categories now out of scope include:

  1. Family cases where there is no proof of domestic violence, forced marriage or child abduction. There has been a 60% fall in family cases granted funding and two thirds of cases in the family court now feature somebody representing themselves.
  2. Immigration cases that do not involve asylum or detention
  3. Housing and debt matters unless they constitute an immediate risk to the home
  4. Welfare benefit cases; except appeals to the upper tribunal or high court
  5. Almost all clinical negligence cases
  6. Employment cases that do not involve human trafficking or a contravention of the Equality Act 2010

The 4 out of 6 that I have highlighted are the ones that are most likely to affect us at some time. Don’t think that Criminal Law has escaped either, as from last April the government has cut the Criminal Legal Aid budget by £215 Million as well.

To clarify, this is what I wrote about the (then) forthcoming changes on another site;

“Changes to legal aid

Welfare benefit appeals

You’ll no longer be able to get legal aid to help you make an appeal against a decision on welfare benefits unless you’re making an appeal to the Upper Tribunal or higher courts.  So, once again our caring sharing government has excelled, not only do they slash benefits, ATOS assessments abound, everyone being forced off the rock and roll, but we’ve taken away the only way an unemployed/ill person can use to challenge that decision.  Without a sudden increase in charitable funding, how are these folk going to pay their legal fees to challenge what they undoubtedly see as an unfair assessment etc etc?  Surely this is akin to the school bully nicking your dinner money and then tying you up so you can’t tell anyone?  Or is it just me that thinks that?

Debt

You’ll no longer be able to get legal aid to help you with your debts unless a creditor is making you bankrupt or taking court action to evict you from your home

Housing

You’ll no longer be able to get legal aid to help you with housing problems unless:

  • there’s serious disrepair in your home
  • you’re homeless
  • you’re being evicted from your home
  • the council is taking action against you because of anti-social behaviour.

Employment

You won’t be able to get legal aid to help you with an employment dispute or go to an employment tribunal unless it’s a discrimination case.

Private family law

You won’t be able to get legal aid to help you with private family law problems unless you’re a victim or are at risk of domestic violence or there has been or is a risk of child abuse These include:

  • divorce
  • dissolution of civil partnership
  • financial disputes
  • property disputes
  • disputes over children.

Asylum support

If you’re an asylum seeker, you won’t be able to get legal aid to help you with asylum support unless you have applied for both housing and financial support.

Non-asylum immigration

You won’t be able to get legal aid to help you with an immigration application unless you:

  • have been detained
  • make an application under the domestic violence rules
  • make an application because you’re a victim of human trafficking.

Education

You won’t get legal aid to help with education problems unless the child or young adult has Special Educational Needs.

Consumer and general contract law

You won’t get legal aid for any action you want to take for consumer problems or problems you have with general contracts.

Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority cases

You won’t get legal aid to help with the costs of trying to get compensation because you’ve suffered a criminal injury.

Clinical negligence cases

You won’t get legal aid for most clinical negligence problems.

What will you still be able to get legal aid for

You’ll still be able to get legal aid for the following problems:

  • care proceedings
  • family mediation
  • asylum applications
  • mental health proceedings
  • community care cases
  • discrimination. “

I seem to recall reading somewhere previously that we can no longer get Legal Aid to challenge Government Decisions but as I write I can’t quite lay my hands on that gem, or I might just be getting old.  I did however find this which might mean that I’m NOT going senile.

“In a judgment handed down on 3rd March 2015, the High Court ruled that regulations brought in by Chris Grayling, the Lord Chancellor, in April 2014 to cut legal aid funding for judicial review are unlawful.

The case hinged on the MoJ’s decision to restrict legal aid for Judicial Review challenges of decisions made by public bodies

Now we’ve had our General Election and the country voted.  They voted Tory and brought in a (small) majority government with Camoron at the helm.

One of his avowed policies is to scrap the Human Rights Act.  By doing so he will be removing the following collection of Rights from the Statute Book

  • The right to life
  • The right not to be tortured
  • The right not to be a slave
  • The right to a fair trial
  • The right NOT to be punished if you haven’t broken the law
  • The right to private family life
  • The right to freedom of thought, conscience, and religion
  • The right to freedom of expression
  • The right to marry and start a family
  • The right to peaceful enjoyment of possessions
  • The right to education
  • The right to free elections
  • The right NOT to be given to death penalty

Some are clearly more important than others, and I’m certainly not saying that these rights and this Act won’t be replaced by something else, but what guarantees do we have?  Do we trust a Tory government not to weaken our basic Human Rights? Will there be a replacement Act?  Why replace the one we have?

People of Britain this is what you got when you voted.  Personally I’d rather not replace something unless it’s broke. In terms of Public Protection we seem to be considerably worse off than we were.

Advertisements

Ponder This Cruella

Thursday saw a bizarre event.

The people voted and it seems that the people voted for five more years of Cuts and Austerity, and that is absolutely the country’s right, if that’s what they want.

However, within 36 hours of the result being confirmed we had civil disorder outside Downing Street.

I am neither condoning nor discouraging civil disorder, but I AM anticipating it.

Are we heading for a new Summer of Discontent?  Because if we are, think on this, you and Milky have already disposed of over 17,000 warranted Police Officers since 2010, PCSO and Special Constabulary numbers are also down I believe, as are Police Staff.  If this isn’t bad enough you’ve kept your job and are about to embark on 5 more years of cuts leading to the loss of a similar number more.

What are you going to do when the wheel comes off?  When the Met has to ask for Mutual Aid like it did in 2011 something has gone terribly pear-shaped.  We’ve got even less than that now, more destined to go, where will the Mutual Aid come from.  17,000 officers, as has been pointed out elsewhere, is the equivalent of FOUR entire Police Forces along the South Coast, and you intend to DOUBLE that? Think about it I implore you.

Take a look at what happened only yesterday.

Can you hear the people sing?

Can You?

who you gonna call

I Can’t Quite Work It Out

The people have voted, and it seems like they’ve got Camoron for another full term.

I don’t agree with them, but I can see why the Jocks have voted SNP, at least that makes some kind of sense.

The rest of the UK have voted for some strange things

They have voted for a much reduced Police Service with a much hampered ability to respond to our various problems.

They have voted for a much reduced Armed Forces, they are at their lowest strength for decades and getting smaller.

They have voted for an NHS in danger of being dismantled and privatised.  Starved of funding, forced to fail, cue private companies riding in to pick up the pieces and rescue them.

They have voted for a shackled Justice system.

They have voted for a slimline Coastguard Service.

They have voted for Probation, Education and Prison Services to be neutered or privatised.

What do all of the above have in common?  None of them sell anything.  Traditionally they have all been sectors that soak up money without the ability to make a profit. How could they?  Until very recently consecutive governments have accepted that fact and whilst there have been minor cuts and Efficiency Drives along the way, it was always accepted that they were sectors that had to have money pumped into them to make them work with no option of getting a profit out at the end. It has always been that way, and I don’t see how it could be any different to that.  Oh, hang on,……..Privatisation might help.

They have voted for Bankers Bonuses.

They have voted for Outsourcing

I truly hope that the the great British Public do not find the need for the NHS, do not ever need a Police Officer, I hope their kids are properly educated, I hope they never need a Coastguard etc etc, because the shape of this country has changed irrevocably, and it’s what the country has voted for.

I didn’t, my conscience is clear, but very many did. I have heard it described as selfish voting. Who knows?

I leave you with one last thought, Be very careful what you wish for because you might get it.

Have Your Say, Tell Me What You Think–The Results Are In

A while ago I posed the question – Would you be willing to pay a small amount more each month to help safeguard our Public Services? I posted a short online survey for you to tell me your views, and the results are in.

Shown below are the actual responses received, minus names and email address etc, apart from that untouched.

I’m not certain that the volume of respondents constitutes a statistically significant sample (I’m sure it doesn’t), but most folk who replied would be willing to pay SOMETHING extra on their taxes, NI contributions etc to help keep our Public Services afloat.

Just a shame that the government never thought of asking the question really, they might have got a bigger response.

Would you be willing to pay a small amount more each month to help safeguard our Public Services? Police NHS Armed Forces Education Coastguard What is the Max amount PER MONTH you would be willing to pay on top of your current taxes?
yes yes yes yes yes yes 10
Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes 100
Yes Yes Yes Yes No Yes 10
Yes Yes Yes Yes No No £1
Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes 5
Yes Yes Yes Yes No Yes £50
Yes Yes No No Depends which sector No 10
Yes. Already paying extra via CT to POLICE Yes Yes No Yes Yes 10
Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes 100
yes yes yes yes yes yes 10
No No No No No No 0
Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes 25
no no no no no no 9
yes yes yes yes yes yes £10
yes yes yes yes yes yes 5
Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes 50
yes yes yes yes yes yes 6
no yes yes yes no no £40
yes yes yes yes yes yes 20
Yes Yes No Yes No Yes 10
yes yes no yes no yes 2
yes yes YES yes yes yes 2
yes yes yes yes no yes 10
no no no no no no 0
Yes Yes def Yes def Yes defs No Yes £5
Yes Yes No Yes No No 5
no no yes no no no 10

Take No Notice It’s Just Me Sounding Off

It’s one of those days today, you know, one of those days when you just want to shout out loud and get ‘stuff’ off your chest. Well today is one of those days, so if you can’t be arsed to stay and read it that’s fine be me, hopefully I’ll see you another day soon.

Today’s issue is nothing new, it’s ‘The Cuts’.  I have written extensively on another site about Government Wastage and tried to put together in one place many of the instances where this government, and the previous one, has wasted BILLIONS of pounds. Enough money has been wasted to bolster many of our Public Services for quite some time.  I won’t waste your time going over them again you can read them elsewhere if you really want to.

I earned my Spurs in a Police FORCE that did not want for funding.  I have no problem whatsoever with ‘Efficiency Drives’, in current times it is more important than ever to be as ‘efficient’ as we can be. However, the simple formula is this; it costs £xxxxxxxxx per annum to Police London, Liverpool, Manchester, Yorkshire, DeadBadgerShire etc. that is a fact. If you reduce their funding, in its simplest terms, that means that SOMETHING WONT GET DONE.

I’ll talk about Policing because that’s the world I know, but the comments apply equally to the NHS, Armed Forces, Education etc etc.

Policing is not a retail industry, they don’t sell anything to make money, there are no shares to sell to generate extra income.  It always used to be, before the wonderful days of ‘Devolved Budgeting’, that the Home Office (or Police Authority) allocated an amount of money each year to Police the area. In London, if that pot of money ran out the Commissioner could ask for more from the Home Office (don’t laugh, it’s true).

Is This A Pattern I See Before Me?

Sorry Mr Shakespeare, but it was quite appropriate and almost right.

According to an article in the Police Federation’s POLICE magazine, morale has hit rock bottom and thousands of cops are thinking of quitting.

Reforms to pay and working conditions have left thousands of officers saying they are planning to leave the service and not recommend policing as a career, revealed in a survey on morale by the Police Federation.

 The poll, which surveyed 32,606 serving officers, found that nearly 5,000 said they were planning to leave the service in the next two years, andhttp://www.policemag.co.uk/editions/nov14_news_morale_plummets.aspx 94 per cent believed morale was either low or very low in the police service.” 

I’m sure that this is not news to any of us, it isn’t even new news, dating from November last year, but it occurred to me that our ‘friends’ in the media don’t seem to like reporting on too many similar stories all at once. People might be able to work out what the wicked government is up to if they did.

You’ll find stories about Nurses, Junior Doctors and Senior Doctors leaving the NHS in droves, but not necessarily on the same day or in the same paper.

Teachers are another profession targeted by Camoron’s Army, and getting ready to quit.

I see no evidence that Fire Fighters are leaving in droves in protest against the reforms but there is plenty of evidence that Fire Fighters are being shoved out of their profession as a result of the government’s swingeing, and reckless, cuts across the whole country.

Finally for today, the Marine and Coastguard Agency. I truly don’t know what to make of what’s happening with them.  About 50% of Coastguard Stations around the country have either been closed, or marked for closure. Yet the remaining stations are reporting that they are under-manned, at levels lower than previously agreed.

Like the majority of the others, the continuance of an efficient Coastguard Service is essential for public safety, but instead the figures below just go to show one more example of how the government are cynically uncaring of public safety in their headlong rush to be voted “the best economy in Europe”.







So it seems that there is a pattern, once the government have got a Public Service in their sights they either make conditions so unbearable that everyone wants to leave, Instil such a lack of confidence that the end result is the same, or they simply get rid of them. Whichever way you look at the Public Services, particularly the Emergency Variety, are cut to the bone and beyond, and make no mistake, whatever happens in May, this cannot be rectified overnight, it will take years, assuming that the damage has not already gone too far.

Camoron, Osborne, May, Winsor, Mordaunt and all the rest, I HOPE YOU CAN SLEEP AT NIGHT

Don’t have nightmares, you’ve got rid of the people who can keep you safe.

Benches Of Green, Empty They Are

The current furore over Rifkind and Straw got me thinking.  Rifkind’s extraordinarily arrogant comment about being self-employed and not getting a salary  really got my goat.

I won’t go over the same arguments all over again, of course he’s not self-employed. It did, however get me thinking about how much time our politicians should be spending in the House of Commons.  Naively I assumed that as elected politicians, elected to represent US in the House, they should be spending some time each, or most, days on the Benches. How wrong was I?

Members of Parliament are not obliged by parliamentary rules to attend the House at any time.  So, like many other things, if it’s not covered by the rules they can, and do, ignore it.  Can you imagine ANY organisation being effective and efficient if the staff just turned up when they felt like it?

If you want to know how often your MP has attended the House, the official advice is this;

You can scan Hansard to collect figures on the voting records of particular MPs 

Or

Furthermore, you can also access Hansard by Member and view contributions made by MPs during the current session, sorted by date or subject heading

Or

For Select Committees, the members that attended are listed at the top of the of each evidence session. Furthermore, each edition of the Sessional Returns provides details of membership and the number of meetings attended. 

For public bill committees, the full membership of the committee is listed and the Members who attended each particular sitting are asterisked.


The best I can work out is that MOST MPs attend the House of Commons about 66% of the time, or put another way, for about one third of the time they’re either committed elsewhere or can’t be arsed. 


WE pay them £67k per year, minimum, more if they’re a Minister or belong to a Committee and still Rifkind thinks that’s not enough.  They seem to have completely forgotten that they are paid out of the Public Purse, no matter how much they’re getting paid. They’ve had their 11% pay rise, their increased pension pot and their more than generous Expenses Scheme, is it too much to ask that they actually rock up and do a full day’s work?