I want our advice services put out of business because government departments are getting things right

Andy Winter's BHT Blog

A colleague of mine has drawn my attention to this: it is being proposed that claimants appealing decisions by the Department of Work and Pensions might be charged to bring these appeals.

Almost two years ago, benefit advice and representation was removed from bring eligible for legal aid.  It has been suggested that this was to try to reduce the numbers appealing decisions.

Then the mandatory reconsideration level was brought in as an additional level to try to reduce the numbers of appeals, but still the number of people appealing benefit decisions has not dropped enough and, tellingly, 58% of appeals are upheld.

Now it is being suggested that there will be a charge to bring an appeal – a charge that claimants would have to pay. How will they pay for this when they are appealing decisions that have meant they have no money?

It will keep the number…

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‘Recovery’? In what sense?

This is a recovery for the few who least need it. This is a recovery through profiteering by exploitation, achieved and sustained (for now) by requiring the majority to feel insecure on every level and in every sphere of life, so much so that they will fall obedient and grateful.

Recover: Late Middle English (denoting a means of restoration): from Anglo-Norman French recoverie, from recovrer ‘get back’ (OED)

Get back.. what? To what? – A return to a normal state of health, mind, or strength? Really? What, back to the way the country and the world was being – is still being run? On reckless ignorance? This is not a normal, healthy state. It’s just a nasty habit. When so much is now being undermined by political socio-economic malaise and elitism, is the integrity of our structures, systems and collective psyche seriously expected to…

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The work of BHT’s Advice Centre: preventing homelessness, reducing inequality, community cohesion

Andy Winter's BHT Blog

This morning I reviewed the impact made by BHT’s Advice Centre in Brighton. Here are some basic statistics. I would ask you to reflect on the difference we make to the City and the consequences should this service close:

  • 35% clients belong to a BME group
  • 42% clients have either a disability, addiction or suffers from mental or physical ill health
  • 55% of housing clients are in “priority need” and so the possible responsibility of the City Council.

Positive Outcomes (expressed as a percent) of Cases Closed during 2011/12

  • Housing Advice 88% (This includes homeless prevention, conditions improved, accommodation found, better able to manage affairs)
  • Housing court duty 85% (This includes homelessness prevented through stopping a possession order or execution of bailiff’s warrant)
  • Accommodation Advice and Assistance 60% (This includes Homelessness prevention, PRS Accommodation found or sustained. These statistics are based on tracking 317 clients over 12 months).
  • Welfare Benefits 95%…

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Life of Sentences

Tragic to read of yet another prison suicide, so un-necassary if only the courts would seek more information before committing vulnerable people to remand in custody.
I have a great deal of front line experience in dealing with suicides in prisons having for years served as a voluntary mentor for vulnerable prisoners both on an informal basis and formally, after training, as a Listener. I have also attended a conference on the subject whilst I was in custody so I do know what I am talking about.
Seemingly strong people can be broken down emotionally by the experience of custody, it doesn’t just affect the obviously vulnerable.
When a guy, or girl, is faced, as many remand prisoners are, with a situation which is alien and fearful to them they are already vulnerable but then add the uncertainty of what is facing them and they in most cases become an…

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The Ombudsman’s Double Standards

Adam Mac

Over the past year I have read apology after apology from the Prisons and Probation Ombudsman, both in personal letters and in letters sent by them to Inside Time, for the delays that have been seen in them investigating prisoners’ complaints. They do nothing but make excuses about how short-staffed they have been and how many complaints they have had to deal with whilst promising that it will get better. Yet this doesn’t seem to be the case at all.

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Common Sense Alert! 15

Adam Mac

A while back one of the lads in here (who has only been locked up fairly recently) wrote to his bank to ask them to please send his statements to him here rather than at his home address. Now obviously no-one would want their bank to simply accede to such requests without carrying out the relevant checks, but the response they sent was simply bizarre.

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Life of Sentences


It would appear I am not alone in my opinion of this latest load of ITV rubbish and I note that instead of addressing comments about the project its main protagonist simply blocks anyone who comments, how very adult and brattish!!
The programme has no reality about it whatsoever and since I commented about it I have been contacted by a number of guys who, like myself, actually served a sentence of Borstal Training. Without exception their comments are ones of incredulity.
Does no one at ITV check for factual accuracy before a programme is aired? Surely there must be some rule which prevents this type of fiction being broadcast as factual?

For some time now I have commented about the danger of basing projects on book learning without input from genuinely experienced and now, having seen the Debacle which is Bring back borstal I have been proved right.

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