Socialist Worker

Tories underestimate number killed by Universal Credit

Issue No. 2691

A vigil in Errol Graham in Nottingham last week

A vigil in Errol Graham in Nottingham last week (Pic: Richard Buckwell)


The government has investigated 69 suicides that could have been linked to problems with benefit claims over the last six years.

But the number of people who have killed themselves due to Tory attacks on ­benefits is likely to be far higher.

A National Audit Office report last week said the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) doesn’t have “a robust record” of cases investigated before 2014-15.

And it said it is “highly unlikely” that the 69 cases “represent the number of cases it could have investigated in the past six years”.

The report also found that the DWP is ­commissioning more “Internal Process Reviews” of suicides. Of the 69 suicide-related IPRs, 21 were completed between 1 April 2019 and 13 November 2019.

That compares with 13 in the whole of the 2018-19 financial year, and two in the 2017-18 financial year.

Campaigners against Tory attacks on benefits and their hated Universal Credit have demanded a public inquiry. Universal Credit should be scrapped immediately.


Some 100 people attended a vigil for Errol Graham in Nottingham last week.

Speakers at the vigil included the leader of Nottingham City Council, David Mellen, and Errol Graham’s ex-partner, Diana Burton.

He had suffered serious mental health problems, failed to make a Univeral Credit meeting and had his benefit stopped. He starved to death.

Errol Graham was 55 when his “emaciated” body was found in June 2018 by bailiffs who had arrived to evict him.

The grandfather weighed just four-and-a-half stone when he died, an inquest heard in June last year.


Ministers have been accused of blowing more than £112,000 on a “propaganda” website about school funding.

The new site is to compete with SchoolCuts, which is run by teaching unions.

The government’s website ignores the impact of inflation, increases in staff pay and other costs.


Grenfell companies may avoid prosecution

The Grenfell Inquiry chairman has asked the attorney general for guarantees that oral evidence given by corporate witnesses will not be used to pursue criminal charges against them.

Sir Martin Moore-Bick has written to Geoffrey Cox QC demanding a pledge that evidence given in person by firms involved in the refurbishment of the 24-storey block will be covered by immunity from prosecution.

It followed an hour application from building contractors who carried out work on the tower the year before 72 people died in the inferno.

They had threatened to stay silent by claiming the legal right of privilege against self-incrimination.

It has been used in other public inquiries, including the Bloody Sunday Inquiry and the Baha Mousa Inquiry among others.

This was used to protect British soldiers.


There are 376 NHS bosses earning at least £150,000.

They include hospital trust chief executives and NHS England bosses.

That’s £56 million plus not spent on nurses. In which case the health service could have 2,100 more of them.


Harry and Meghan join Blair and the bankers

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle have given us a taste of their non-royal future by speaking at an elite JP Morgan investment summit in Florida.

But it seems they weren’t the only public servants turning up at the highly-paid event.

Attending the same summit was Tony Blair and he narrowly avoided sharing a stage with the royal couple.

It’s understood the former Prime Minister, who was appointed as a £2 million a year advisor to the banking giant in 2008, took part in a morning event.

Later that evening Prince Harry spoke.

Speakers at the investment summit are paid up to £775,000.

In their first public appearance Meghan described her love for her husband before introducing him to a crowd filled with billionaires and ex-politicians.


New Statesman loves Tony Blair

The New Statesman magazine’s refusal to endorse Labour under Jeremy Corbyn in December’s general election provoked anger from people who presumably never read the magazine and thought it was left wing.

But to prove the point there was last week’s interview with former Labour leader Tony Blair.

He was questioned about, skills and apprenticeships for a special supplement sponsored by socialists such as Amazon, privatised energy company EDF and pharma giant AstraZeneca.

The interview was conducted by “Special Projects Editor” Alona Ferber. She joined the magazine in October last year.

Ferber had done three years as a managing editor at the Tony Blair Institute for Global Change. She spent another year working for the Tony Blair Faith Foundation.


Sadiq Khan against taxes on Google

London Labour mayor Sadiq Khan headed to Google’s swanky HQ in King’s Cross last month to launch yet another counter?extremism fund.

The £400,000 of public money he took with him was matched by the tech company.

The donation pales next to the tax avoided by the company on its British sales

Research group TaxWatch puts the figure at around £300 million a year—750 times Google’s gift.

Entirely coincidently just two weeks later the mayor did an interview with City AM newspaper where he lobbied against a digital services tax due to come in from April.

Khan argued “I think we’ve got to realise that we’re a global city, we work in a global economy.

“To unilaterally impose taxes in one country could have unintended consequences, making them move elsewhere.”


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