The number of children in poverty is rocketing. Who is protecting them?

It’s telling that those zealots who want to defend the ‘unborn child’ are complicit in policies that impoverish women and children

Child on council estate
 ‘Avoiding this hypocritical ‘concern for children’ does not require a complex position: a civilised society would give women the choice not to continue with a pregnancy and in turn support a child’s wellbeing if they are born.’ 

One of the most remarkable things that came out of the Irish referendum was the personal testimony of women who had been forced to journey to England for medical care. But some – poor or migrant or disabled women – recounted how even this option wasn’t available to them; unable to travel, they had no choice but to take the gamble of a pill bought from the internet. It’s a striking insight into the black-and-white thinking imposed on pregnancy: women who could not even afford a flight on Ryanair for a safe abortion were somehow expected to be able to afford to feed, house and clothe a child.

Beyond Ireland, this denial of the material reality of raising a child is an ongoing issue – in abortion debates and beyond. Indeed, the same voices so ardently protecting the “unborn child” are often strangely quiet when it comes to support for children once they are outside the womb. This convenient cognitive dissonance has long been a feature of rightwing attitudes: arguing to restrict a woman’s reproductive rights while supporting measures that push children into poverty. (Some British rightwing – often male – journalists couldn’t resist stepping in over the Irish debate too.)

Avoiding this hypocritical “concern for children” does not require a particularly complex position: a civilised society would give women the choice not to continue with a pregnancy and in turn support a child’s wellbeing if they are born. And yet it is a concept with which many still seem to struggle, including our own government. The Conservatives have long positioned themselves as the party of family – from cruel so-called protection of the “traditional family” such as the anti-LGBT Section 28, 30 years old this month, to David Cameron’s pledge to use the family to solve social problems, and 2017’s backbench Manifesto to Strengthen the Family, pitched as Theresa May’s key social narrative.

At the same time, their small-state ideology can make it devastatingly difficult for a low-income parent to look after a child. Look at the controversial “two-child” limit to child tax credits under universal credit (UC). From its inception, it was predicted the policy would lead to hundreds of thousands of additional children living in poverty, but it’s now emerging that some women are even feeling forced to have abortions because they can’t afford to go ahead with the pregnancy. “It wasn’t planned but it was very much wanted. I was crying as they wheeled me in,” one woman told the Mirror this month about her abortion; without the safety net of tax credits, she had no way to afford another baby. Women in Northern Ireland in similar positions have an even more restricted choice: the rape-exemption clause that gives some women on UC a financial reprieve endangers women who haven’t reported their attack to the police (in Northern Ireland, failure to report a crime is an offence) and, as the renewed calls for reproductive rightsin light of the Irish vote has highlighted, Northern Irish women have no legal access to abortion in their own country if they feel they can’t raise a child.

Recent years have in fact seen a determined removal of support from low-income mothers – everything from forcing single parents (90% of whom are women) to look for work once their child turns three or have their benefits sanctioned, to the benefit cap, a policy so regressive it was actually ruled to be unlawful when forced on single parents with toddlers.

Just this week, it came out that a third of low-income families are missing out on state-funded free food vouchers – a scheme designed to help pregnant women and those with young children afford fruit, vegetables and milk.

Much like Sure Start and child tax credits, these vouchers were brought in by a Labour government to reduce inequalities between wealthy and poor children, based on the understanding that if it takes a village to raise a child, it often requires a government to ensure they don’t live in poverty. It’s no coincidence that, as the welfare state has been pulled back, the number of children in poverty is rocketing to record levels.

In the post-crash austerity era, this sense of social solidarity towards children has noticeably lessened. Under each policy to remove state support from parents there’s a lurking narrative that working-class women are “breeding too much” or that low-income children are drains on the “hardworking taxpayer”. (“Why should I pay for someone else to have more kids?” is the rejoinder on most articles advocating child benefits). In the real world, pregnancy is rarely predictable – contraception fails, relationships end, and jobs are lost – and besides, even the most ardent individualist would admit low-income children have done nothing to “deserve” their own poverty.

We are at the point in which it is not rare to hear of infants living in B&Bssleeping on cardboard, or even scrambling for food in school bins. If the ongoing debate over abortion rights teaches us anything, it’s that there are no shortage of voices content to defend the “unborn”. It’s a shame few are willing to give the same care to those children who are already here. HEAR HEAR!!!

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The tragedy of Theresa May – repeating David Cameron’s mistake

She said “Brexit means Brexit” and “no deal is better than a bad deal” – but now those words are coming back to haunt her.

Theresa May delivers a speech at the Waterfront Hall in Belfast, Northern Ireland
The phony war is over.

After two years of near-stasis, the last fortnight must be considered the most important period of the Brexit process since the referendum itself and last year’s shock general election result.

It feels, at last, like the contours of the Brexit process, its endgame, have been revealed for what they really are. And for the first time, after last week’s parliamentary contortions, both sides now believe that no deal is a real possibility. In the past, Theresa May often said that no deal was better than a bad deal, but she didn’t mean it. It was a negotiating ploy.

But not for the first time, idle words and brinkmanship with Brussels have come back to haunt a Tory prime minister. Theresa May has spent two years as prime minister as David Cameron spent six – trying, often in vain, to keep the Tory party together over Europe. Her strategy is much the same as Cameron’s: to appease the carnivorous Brexiteer right by throwing them fresh, Eurosceptic red meat at regular intervals.

So Cameron vetoed the EU budget in 2011, he tried to veto Jean-Claude Juncker as commission president, he pulled the Conservatives out of the pro-EU European People’s Party Group in the European Parliament and so on and so forth.

Again and again he chose not to confront them, for fear his position was too weak, until the very end, when the referendum came and by then it was too late.

In delaying the battle, he made the war worse.

Every time he went on TV to disparage Europe, every time he vetoed something, or lambasted this EU initiative or that, he bought himself a few positive headlines, a few glowing Brexiteer smiles, but their appetite was undiminished, they would come back for more, smile gone, hungrier than ever.

Moreover, this wasn’t an internal conversation – the public was listening too.

To the very end he kept his options open, ducking and diving – even suggesting in the weeks leading up to the announcement of the referendum, that if his negotiations with Europe were unsuccessful he might lead the Leave campaign.

This was absurd – but it was only the last example of his storing up credibility problems.

'No deal' Brexit would see UK 'state of emergency'

‘No deal’ Brexit would see UK ‘state of emergency’

The dire prediction comes as the newly appointed Brexit secretary did not dismiss reports of official contingency planning

During the referendum, when Cameron claimed that disaster would come if we voted to leave, the voters were rightly puzzled: if so, they said, why are you even asking us in the first place?

Why risk a referendum? And why did you say you might lead the Leave side only a few months ago?

And while we’re at it, if Europe is so great, why have you been eviscerating it for the last 10 years while you’ve been Tory leader?

Cameron’s political dexterity and agility, for so long an asset, had become a profound liability. And history has repeated itself. Theresa May, so determined for so long to keep her party together, has waited for too long to reveal her hand.

In the meantime, others have filled the vacuum with their own hopes and dreams – her Brexiteers believing she was now one of them and when her proposals for a deal came, they would not disappoint.

How aghast they were. As Arthur Miller said: “Betrayal is the only truth which sticks.” Justified or not, betrayal is the word on the Brexiteers’ lips – in parliament and country alike. Perhaps this was inevitable but Mrs May made it worse.

In saying “no deal is better than a bad deal” she helped convince the public that no deal wouldn’t be so bad. She said it again and again and again and so she ought not to be surprised to learn that the voters believed her.

In saying “Brexit means Brexit” she helped set impossibly high standards for what Brexit might mean. She could never meet them.

No surprise then, that only 11% of the public back Chequers and 38% think we must come out with no deal at all. Like Cameron, she finds her own words and actions haunting her.In both cases, the political breathing space they bought in the short-term suffocates them in the end.

Over the summer, she must do her best to sell her proposals which in fact fall a long way from the soft Brexit many Remainers would like. But as Cameron found, selling his “renegotiation”, the stories prime ministers tell about themselves and their motives, built over years, are hard to escape. Nick Clegg said that his former coalition ally Mr Cameron was “all tactics, no strategy” when it came to Europe.

Theresa May runs the risk of historians saying much the same about her.

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More than half of homeless families in England are in work!

More than half of homeless families in England are in work, figures show that tens of thousands of working households are in temporary accommodation because they are unable to pay ‘hideously unaffordable’ rents, warns Shelter.

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More than half of homeless families across England are in work but soaring rent and a lack of social housing is pushing more households into temporary accommodation, a charity has warned.

Data obtained by Shelter shows that more than 33,000 families in temporary accommodation are holding down a job despite having nowhere stable to live – a figure that has increased by 73 per cent since 2013, when it was 19,000 families.

One single mother, Mary Smith, who works full-time in a shoe shop, told The Independent she and her three sons had been stuck in a “vicious cycle” of unstable temporary accommodation for two years after being evicted from their private rented property. They have been unable to afford to rent somewhere else.

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They are among thousands of working households in low-paid, part-time or contract jobs that are no longer able to afford rents and are therefore being forced into poor and overcrowded temporary accommodation, according to Shelter.

The charity said losing a tenancy was now the single biggest cause of homelessness in the country, accounting for more than a quarter (27 per cent) of all households accepted as homeless in the last year.

It comes after analysis revealed at least 310,500 households in England have been waiting to be moved into social homes for more than half a decade, with more than 100,000 stuck on waiting lists for more than 10 years and some waiting for as many as 18 years.

Separate research by Heriot-Watt University in May showed the country had a backlog of 3.91 million homes, meaning 340,000 new homes need to be built each year until 2031 – a figure significantly higher than the government’s current target of 300,000 homes annually.

Ms Smith and her three sons, now aged 18, 19 and 21, had lived in a private rented property in Watford for 13 years when the landlord evicted them two years ago, forcing them to move into a hostel.

“We were stuck in an absolute hobble of a rat-infested hostel. Food would get stolen. I nearly lost my job when we first became homeless because transport links to work were so bad,” said Ms Smith.

The family spent three months in the hostel before being moved into temporary accommodation, and they have since been moved to two other temporary properties, which Ms Smith said was destabilising for both her and her sons.

Despite working full-time and recently getting a pay rise, her salary is not enough to rent a property. “I feel like we’re in a vicious cycle. We’ve been in properties that are freezing and have mould crawling up the walls. And we’re still uncertain of our future. The boys have gone through a lot. It’s meant they haven’t reached their potential. There’s just no safety net for us,” she said.

“I love my job and have worked there for four and a half years. I’ve just accepted a 40 hour a week temporary to cover the manager, which meant I got a pay rise, but I don’t see any benefit from the salary.

“Higher pay doesn’t seem to make you better off because it just means you get less support. I’ve struggled to put food on the table. As a proud person, I don’t like asking for help, but it’s from the kindness of friends we got through. It’s heartbreaking.”

Polly Neate, chief executive of Shelter, said it was “disgraceful” that even when families were working every hour they could, they were still being forced to live through the “grim reality of homelessness”.

“In many cases, these are parents who work all day or night before returning to a cramped hostel or B&B where their whole family is forced to share a room. A room with no space for normal family life like cooking, playing or doing homework,” she added.

“We cannot allow struggling families to slip through the cracks created by our housing crisis – the government must urgently come up with a new plan for social housing that delivers the genuinely affordable homes we desperately need.

“Our commission on the future of social housing will be calling for bold solutions, because more of the same is simply not good enough”

A Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government spokesperson said: “Everyone deserves a safe and decent place to live and we are providing more than £1.2bn so all those left homeless get the support they need.

“Councils have a duty to provide suitable temporary accommodation to those who need it, and families with children get priority. So families can get a permanent home, we are investing £9bn in affordable properties, including £2bn for social rent housing.”

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Blaming Firefighters for Grenfell is Grotesque!

Firefighters were undisputed heroes of Grenfell inferno – trying to shift the blame onto them is grotesque. Heroes like North Kensington crew manager Christopher Secrett prepared to die when his oxygen almost ran out as he tried to save a 12-year old girl on the 20th floor

Firefighters were the undisputed heroes of the Grenfell Tower inferno so subtle sniping and smearing to shift blame for the catastrophe is grotesque.

Heroes like North Kensington crew manager Christopher Secrett, who prepared to die when his oxygen almost ran out as he tried to save a 12-year old girl on the 20th floor.

He positioned himself in a corner of the smoke-clogged stairs so his body wouldn’t be in the way if he perished.

TUC head Frances O’Grady blasts critics as “unfit to lace the boots” of workers who risked their lives to save others in the London tower block.

She isn’t alone in scenting attempts to exploit evidence at the public inquiry to nudge culpability for 72 deaths on to the bravest of the brave.

The inferno claimed 72 lives 
Firefighters line the street during a silent march on the one year anniversary of the Grenfell Tower fire (Image: Getty)

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has pledged his total support for crews as Tory MPs whisper criticism and the Tory press gleefully finds fault.

Fire Brigades Union leader Matt Wrack, himself a firefighter, blasts a “back-to-front” inquiry.By starting the Grenfell probe with the 999 call, chairman Sir Martin Moore-Bick relegated in the public consciousness fatal mistakes by Tory-led Kensington and Chelsea council, including cheaper flammable cladding.

“The building was wrapped in petrol,” Wrack told me. “Where is the focus on deregulation and a criminal complacency with public safety? There are some trying to blame firefighters and it’s worrying there appears to be an effort to rewrite events.”

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has pledged his total support for crews 

Wrack has urged every firefighter to be completely honest but fears the local authority and contractors will use legal excuses to dodge difficult questions. He criticised “absurd” questions to watch manager Michael Dowden, who broke down in tears. He didn’t fit the flammable cladding or undermine the block’s fire safety, said Wrack.

Examining the “stay put” policy instead of ordering immediate evacuation is legitimate but O’Grady and Wrack are right: Zeroes are self-interested cowards blaming real heroes.

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Define Irony: Tories pushing for disabled rights on the world stage while ignoring them at home

Hypocrites doesn’t even begin to cut it!


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Although the post of development secretary is one of the easiest in the Cabinet, involving posing as a saviour of distressed people while budgets surge, it is a job wanted by few ministers with an eye on the top job. Most Tories loathe the foolish concept of fixing a target for spending as poverty declines worldwide and know much of the money is wasted. But Penny Mordaunt, who took over the post last November from a predecessor that once sought the department’s abolition, does at least actually believe in the cause.

This week Mordaunt makes her first real mark on the job by hosting what is grandly called the Global Disability Summit in London. The idea, which no doubt emerged from her previous post as disabilities minister, aims to share and showcase ways to assist people who are among the most excluded in societies around the world.

‘Only last year the United Nations condemned Britain’s failure to uphold disabled people’s rights’

If billions are being blown on aid, few voters would quibble with diverting a few crumbs to people with disabilities instead of the usual bunch of self-serving charities, dodgy despots and fat-cat consultants. And unlike many leading Brexiteers, she is at least a competent minister.

Lots of talk, little action

The aid world, of course, loves a good conference. Some leading lights seem to do little more than fly around the world bragging about alleged good works. This is a sector that places emphasis on talking to itself over hard evidence. True to form, Mordaunt has been pointing out that “in the developing world if you live in poverty, you are more likely to have a disability, and if you have a disability, you are more likely to live in poverty”. She says disabled people in poor places are unable to fulfil their potential due to stigma and lack of support, and is seeking to break this “vicious cycle” along with barriers that exclude them.

This is all correct and unarguable. Yet look at the evidence closer to home and it smacks of sickening hypocrisy to see Britain, and this government in particular, position itself as global champions of people with disabilities (and indeed to see Microsoft, a firm notorious for tax evasion that reduces state spending, hailed as a partner in the event).
The reality is that from birth to death, life remains a struggle for most Britons with disabilities – and since taking office in coalition government, the Tories have mostly made matters worse.

‘Culture of indifference’

Only last year the United Nations condemned Britain’s failure to uphold disabled people’s rights across a range of areas including education, health, housing, jobs, transport and social security. The Government’s risible response was to say Britain was “a recognised world leader in disability rights and equality”. Yet its true attitude was seen last week when a cross-party group of MPs criticised the Department for Work and Pensions for a “culture of indifference” after taking six years to correct a mistake that left 70,000 chronically ill and disabled claimants thousands of pounds out of pocket. This was the latest in a string of errors – yet the bungling bureaucrats keep on getting bonuses.

Perhaps the Government should hold a similar conference on links between poverty and disability in Britain? After all, its own equalities watchdog warned those with disabilities are left behind with “very poor” life chances in a report echoing the UN. “Progress has either stalled, or in some cases gone backwards”, said David Isaac, chairman of the Equality and Human Rights Commission. Studies have found two-thirds of disabled people living alone are in penury and almost half the people in poverty are either disabled or in a household with someone disabled. And they are more than twice as likely to be in food poverty.

Such a conference could study the bedroom tax, since two-thirds of families hit by this dismal policy include a disabled adult, yet even a Supreme Court ruling of discrimination failed to force decent reform. Another session could be on the corrosive impact of overloading austerity on local government, shattering social care and support services. There could be discussions of why families including a person with disabilities are being hit hardest by fiscal reforms and why more than one million carers live in poverty. Maybe another on how Brexit is hurting those hiring care workers. For balance, a minister could point to a rise in employment levels – although people with disabilities are still far less likely to be in work and far more likely to be low paid, even with good qualifications.

‘Bigotry and paternalistic attitudes towards people with disabilities remain pervasive’

Learning disabilities

There could also be proceedings on people with learning disabilities, since they suffer the worst impact of rising hate crime – all too often to deadly effect. Most say they endure routine harassment, which wounds their confidence and stalls attempts to integrate – and sometimes in places supposed to offer sanctuary. They are rarely employed and regularly dumped in the worst parts of town amid diminishing state facilities. We saw how little they are valued with release of a report earlier this year exposing how dozens die needless deaths each year due to prejudice and indifference in “caring” professions. Ministers were shamefully silent in response.

This reflects wider attitudes. Surveys by Scope and others underline a sad reality: that bigotry and paternalistic attitudes towards people with disabilities remain pervasive. The results can be fatal at worst. Often they lead to loneliness and social ostracisation.

For millions of our fellow citizens the most basic aspects of everyday life from education to entertainment, from housing to healthcare, from transport to work, are a struggle. Instead of pontificating to the planet as self-proclaimed global leader on disability, ministers should rectify their mistakes and work harder to bring all Britons with disabilities in from the cold.

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The Universal credit IT system is ‘broken’

Tell us something we don’t know!


Universal credit IT system ‘broken’, whistleblowers say, service centre staff say glitches are having harmful effect on huge number of claimants.

uc-benefits-sign-post

Universal credit is so riddled with design flaws and process faults that it is practically guaranteed to generate mistakes and delays that would push vulnerable benefit claimants into hardship, according to whistleblowers.

One said: “The IT system on which universal credit is built is so fundamentally broken and poorly designed that it guarantees severe problems with claims.”

He said the system was overcomplex and prone to errors that affected payments and often proved slow to correct. “In practical terms, it is not working the way it was intended and it is having an actively harmful effect on a huge number of claimants.”

Mistakes and delays can add on average an extra three weeks to the formal 35-day wait for an initial benefit payment, pushing claimants into debt, rent arrears, and reliance on food banks. Campaigners warn that the problems could get worse next year when more than 3 million claimants start to be “migrated” to the new system.

Growing concern over universal credit, which is six years behind schedule but will eventually handle £63bn of benefits going to 8 million people, is matched by disquiet over what critics say has been a defensive and insular approach to managing welfare reform by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP).

The department came under withering fire last week from a cross-party group of MPs who accused it of a “culture of indifference” after it had repeatedly ignored warnings of basic process errors that led to 70,000 disabled benefit claimants being underpaid an estimated £500m over six years.

The work and pensions secretary, Esther McVey, sought to limit the damage in a speech on Thursday in which she admitted there were problems with universal credit, and promised to listen to campaigners, claimants and frontline staff to find ways to change and improve the system.

One whistleblower said many of the design problems with universal credit stemmed from the failure to understand claimants’ needs, especially where they lacked digital skills and internet access. “We are punishing claimants for not understanding a system that is not built with them in mind,” he said.

Esther McVey, the work and pensions secretary
McVey has admitted there are problems with universal credit [you think!]

The DWP said it would not comment on the whistleblowers’ specific claims but insisted the system was being constantly improved. “Universal credit is a flexible and responsive benefit and we continue to listen to feedback and make any necessary improvements during the rollout with our test-and-learn approach.

“We are committed to ensuring people get the help they need and the majority of staff say universal credit gives them greater flexibility to give people the right support. The latest figures show 83% of claimants are satisfied with the system and complaint rates are low.”

Bayard Tarpley, 27, who left the Grimsby service centre last week after two years as a telephony agent, told the Guardian that he had been dealing with distressed claimants every day. “My hope is that by speaking out I can help explain why these processes have such a significant, harmful impact on claimants.”

He gave several examples of where poor system design and practice caused delays and payment errors, including:

  • Staff are not notified when claimants leave messages on their online journal; for example, if they wish to challenge payment errors. As a result, messages sent to officials can go unanswered for days or weeks unless claimants pursue the inquiry by phone.
  • Claimants are discouraged by staff from phoning in to resolve problems or to book a home visit and instead are actively persuaded to go online, using a technique called “deflection”, even when callers insist they are unable to access or use the internet.
  • Callers have often been given wrong or contradictory advice about their entitlements by DWP officials. These include telling severely disabled claimants who are moving on to universal credit from existing benefits that they must undergo a new “fit for work” test to receive full payment.
  • Although the system is equipped to receive scanned documents, claimants instead are told to present paper evidence used to verify their claim, such as medical reports, either at the local job centre or through the post, further slowing down the payment process.
  • Small delays or fluctuations in the timing of employers’ reporting of working claimants’ monthly wages via the real time information system can lead to them being left hundreds of pounds out of pocket through no fault of their own.
Joanne Huggins, former case manager in Grimsby
Former Grimsby case manager Joanne Huggins: ‘The system is set up in such a way that people don’t get support.’

Food banks were regarded as a formal backstop for when the system failed, he said. Officials are told to advise claimants who are in hardship and who do not qualify for cash advances to contact charities or their council for help. Many councils have closed local welfare provision as a result of cuts.

A second whistleblower, Joanne Huggins, who was until recently a case manager at the Grimsby centre, said that high staff caseloads and a high volume of calls to the service made it difficult to keep track of and prioritise claimants’ problems. “The system is set up in such a way that people don’t get support,” she said.

At least £1.3bn has been spent since 2010 developing universal credit. Although it is heralded as a streamlined digital replacement for the existing benefit system, a recent National Audit Office report concluded it was still in many aspects unwieldy, inefficient and reliant on basic manual processes.

The DWP says it operates a “test-and-learn” approach to constantly improve the system, although the whistleblower said in his experience staff suggestions were ignored and “top down” adjustments tended to follow media or political controversies, such as the scrapping of call charges on universal credit helplines.

Mark Serwotka, the general secretary of the Public and Commercial Services union that represents DWP staff, said: “The findings from the whistleblowers are in line with the ongoing feedback we get from our reps and members who struggle to deliver a service to universal credit claimants in the face of mounting cuts and increasing workloads.”

Citizens Advice said its research showed that a “significant minority” of claimants faced additional waits for payment because of the complicated application process. The 10-stage process took some claimants over a week to complete, even with expert help.

“Top of the government’s list should be simplifying the process and making sure adequate support is in place so that a claim can be completed as quickly as possible,” said the chief executive, Gillian Guy

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Disabled comedian left trapped on board train after it leaves

Tanyalee Davis taken 50 miles out of way, days after she was ‘harassed’ over using a disabled space on another train

Tanyalee Davis with hosts Eamonn Holmes and Ruth Langford on ITV’s This Morning show after the first incident.

A comedian who felt “harassed and humiliated” for using a disabled space on a train for her mobility scooter, prompting an apology from the operating company, has had yet another bad experience on the railways.

Tanyalee Davis was en route to York for a show and, although she had already spoken to staff to ensure she would be helped off the London North Eastern Railway (LNER) train, no one came to assist – meaning she had to stay on board until Darlington, 50 miles away.

Canadian-born Davis, 47, who has a form of dwarfism, was ordered to vacate the disabled space on a GWR train earlier this week.

“The train guard came and talked to me and said: ‘I’ve already rung, York knows that you are arriving,’” she said in a video posted to her YouTube channel.

He told her not to panic and that if no one was there to help her, he would come to assist her.

“So we get to York, I’m waiting and nobody’s coming and some people get off and I just assume that the guard will be coming and all of a sudden the train doors close and now I’m off to Darlington.

“The guard on this train is lovely, I don’t know his name but he’s lovely. This is not a beef against the guard, he did everything he could possibly do.

“But this is the problem. The platform staff, he’s rang them, and they were like: ‘What, oh my God, we thought she got off the train.’

“Anyway, oh, another day, another try, you know, and I’ve gotta be on stage in an hour and now I’m going to be an hour out of my way. It’s been a rough day.”

She thanked everyone for the outpouring of public support throughout the week and apologised for not being able to reply to all of the thousands of messages.

The guard was “mortified” and apologised personally and, when she finally arrived at York station, staff were “over the top apologetic” and gave her two bottles of wine.

Luckily, Davis made it to her gig.

A spokesman for LNER told the BBC: “We are very sorry for the unacceptable experience Ms Davis had whilst travelling with us.

“We are fully investigating the incident to understand what went wrong and to ensure that lessons are learnt for the future.”

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