Posts Tagged ‘Spamlet’

Vox Political: DWP Charging Premium Rates for Helpline

February 20, 2016

More of the sheer malice the Tories have towards the poor and needy. Mike has this report from the Independent on the way the DWP is continuing to charge premium rates of 45p per minute for mobiles, 12p per minute for landlines, on its helplines. With the long delays claimants can suffer when trying to telephone the Department for help, this means that, according to the head of the foodbank charity, the Trussell Trust, David McAuley, many claimants will be forced with a stark choice between eating and sorting out their claim. See http://voxpoliticalonline.com/2016/02/19/how-much-dwps-helpline-will-break-the-bank-for-benefit-claimants/.

One of Mike’s comments, Spamlet, has pointed out that this violates equalities legislation as many claimants are disabled. He also has personal experience of being hit with an enormous phone bill for an afternoon’s call to the DWP. He writes

Under the Equality Act, the DWP is required to make ‘reasonable adjustments’ not to discriminate against disabled people. A large proportion of those forced to use this service will be disabled people. It is not reasonable to force them to use food money waiting for hours in the hope that they might eventually get through! I once had a £17 phone bill for one afternoon calling help lines, just trying to find the right person to complain to about lack of service.

This is more of the ‘less elibility’ Maggie hailed as one of her ‘Victorian virtues’: you make welfare and poor relief so tough that it deters all but the most desperate to take it. Mind you, the Tories aren’t the only people, who’ve done this trick with expensive phone lines. In the 1990s, the permatanned talk show, Robert Kilroy-Silk got into Private Eye for the exorbitant rates calls to his programmes charged when they decided to make an edition on homelessness. The Eye reasonably thundered against this, asking rhetorically home many homeless people could afford the charge. Now the Tories are trying the same stunt. It could even be cooked up by the same people, given the way BBC news personnel seem to shunt back and forth between the Conservative party and our supposedly impartial broadcaster.

Silk vanished from the public eye after becoming involved with anti-European Union, anti-immigrant politics. He first joined UKIP, then left and formed Veritas with Joan Collins. His career finally imploded after he went on a long rant against the Arabs in his newspaper column. One of the least offensive things he said there was that they hadn’t done anything constructive since the 12th century. This was about the same time the public was treated to the spectacle of him campaigning for UKIP. He was shown on live television asking a Frenchman working in this country why he didn’t go home tomorrow, and have ordure poured over him by Muslims. This was one violent attack in Britain by members of that faith that people of all faiths and none supported as a moral act.

Silk, fortunately, is gone, but less happily the Tories remain.