May was not opposed to ‘go home’ vans, official accounts suggest

When you see how Theresa May has treated the UK groups [the poor, sick’ disabled, jobless, etc] she obviously hates, then is it surprising that she wasn’t opposed to the ‘go home’ vans?

Statements contradict Nick Timothy’s claim that May tried to block rollout during crackdown against illegal immigration

The vans, which were driven around six London boroughs with areas of high migration, became notorious as part of May’s ‘hostile environment’ strategy
 The vans, which were driven around six London boroughs with areas of high migration, became notorious as part of May’s ‘hostile environment’ strategy. 

Official accounts appear to contradict claims by Theresa May’s former special adviser that she attempted to block controversial “go home” vans telling illegal immigrants to leave the country.

Nick Timothy, who was May’s adviser at the Home Office and her chief of staff at No 10 until July, said she had intended to block the rollout of advertising vans that said those in the UK illegally should “go home or face arrest”.

The vehicles, which were driven around six London boroughs with areas of high migration, became notorious as part of May’s “hostile environment” strategyaiming to crack down on illegal immigration.

Timothy claimed May had unfairly received a lot of flak for the vans. “In fact, she blocked the proposal but it was revived and approved in a communications plan while she was on holiday,” he wrote in a column for the Telegraph. “She killed off the scheme later that year but by then the damage had been done.”

 Theresa May’s thuggish stance on migrants caused the Windrush scandal

However, in a reply to the Labour MP Tulip Siddiq in 2016, the immigration minister, Robert Goodwill, said the pilot scheme, which ran between July and August 2013, had been approved by the prime minister when she was at the Home Office.

“The pilot to use the AdVans referred to was authorised by former immigration minister Mark Harper,” he said. “The former home secretary Theresa May was informed of the intention to pilot this campaign.”

May also suggested she had approved the plans when she was at a home affairs select committee in October 2013 and hinted the pilot could be extended – though it was eventually pulled.

Asked if the vans were her idea, May said: “It was part of a package that was looked at and agreed that this package would be put forward. If you are saying to me, chairman, did I say to them, ‘I think it would be a jolly good idea to have vans going round the country,’ no, it was not my initial idea. The package was brought forward and looked at, and there are variety of elements to it.”

On Thursday, No 10 did not back Timothy’s claims that May had wanted to block the vans. “You’ve seen the prime minister’s words on various occasions, at the home affairs select committee and other places, we’ve got nothing more to add to that, it remains the position,” a spokesman said.

Liberal Democrat sources also cast doubt on the version of events surrounding the approval of the “go home” vans, suggesting that advertising budgets were very constrained by austerity measures and campaigns were signed off months in advance with ministerial approval.

One source said the Lib Dems had been given the opportunity to block the signoff, but claimed the email was sent by officials on a Friday afternoon during a staff leaving party and the message was missed.

Jeremy Browne, the Lib Dem home office minister during the period when the vans were approved, suggested after he was sacked in 2013 that his failure to block the pilot had been part of the reason behind the reshuffle, but insisted in an interview with the Times that he was not told.

“I wasn’t copied into the paper that was circulated in the Home Office. Now whether that was due to a deliberate political decision or was an administrative oversight, who knows?” he said. “It seems unduly critical to be blamed for not stopping something I didn’t know about.”

Speaking on Thursday, Nick Clegg, the former deputy prime minister, said May had “immature and overexcitable special advisers” but added that was not an excuse. “As secretary of state she bears responsibility of what goes on in her department,” he said.

The vans were scrapped after the pilot scheme, which ran during MPs’ Easter recess between 22 July and 22 August 2013. A final Home Office report revealed only 11 people had left the country as a direct result of the ads.

The evaluation report revealed that 1,561 text messages were sent to the hotline which offered to help illegal migrants return to their home countries, but 1,034 were hoaxes, which took 17 hours of staff time to deal with.

May said at the time the vans had been “too much of a blunt instrument”.



Thank god for the “compassionate” Tories – finally a party that cares

Esther McVey is the latest Tory to have discovered her long concealed St Francis of Assisi. Photograph: Getty
Esther McVey is the latest Tory to have discovered her long concealed St Francis of Assisi.

 I CAN’T have been the only person who has been touched by the Tories’ desire to prescribe personal recovery plans when life’s little challenges set you back more than somewhat. It displays rare humanity in a world which is too often impervious to the suffering of others. With the Tories, such empathy and compassion have been a few hundred years in the making but as it says in the Good Book: “joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repents, more than over ninety and nine just persons, which need no repentance.”

Esther McVey is the latest Tory to have discovered her long concealed St Francis of Assisi when she appeared before MSPs at Holyrood’s Social Security Committee on Monday to explain the UK Government’s decision to limit to two children the amount of tax credits a woman can claim.

Asked if she was “comfortable with the idea that a woman has to prove non-consensual conception in order to access entitlement for a third child, McVey replied that she certainly was and that the policy came with a hitherto undiscovered layer of compassion. “This could give them an opportunity to talk about, maybe, something that has happened that they never had before. So it is potentially double support there.” Not since the leaders of the Spanish Inquisition reached out to people by offering them “a wee heat by the fire” has a national government displayed such tenderness and compassion.

Having shown that it is now The Party that Cares I now look forward with some relish to further outpourings of sensitivity. With this in mind I’d like to draw up a blueprint for reactionary types who perhaps have been misunderstood when seeking to convey the essential goodness at the heart of the Tories.

Irresponsible left-wing types have sought to use food banks for party political gain by depicting them as an evil blight on the character of the Good Ship HMS Britain. According to these worthless lefties, food banks are the last chance saloon where only people in desperate need are to be found.

Nothing could be further from the truth. Anywhere you care to look there are heart-warming tales of lives being turned around by the discipline of having to plan your eating habits a wee bitty more. Hard-pressed local health practitioners have reported huge reductions in obesity levels among the poor in neighbourhoods blessed by the existence of a local food bank. By forcing them to spend a few months visiting food banks they begin to think twice about all those three-for-two hamburger and frozen chips deals at Iceland when their benefits are restored.

There will always be a negative vibe around the issue of forced deportation. In many instances though, this is the result of perfidious leftist propaganda. As usual the reds wilfully neglect to mention the advantages. Very often an African or eastern European family with young children who are dragged away in the middle of the night are grateful for their taste of the delights of staying in the UK. They know that all good things must come to an end and it makes them determined to do what it takes to come to Britain legitimately. So long as they can avoid summary execution and physical and mental torture as well as save up to £100,000 for the boat over and a decent deposit on a house and gain a degree in mechanical engineering they are welcome back any time. Those who have done so have contributed greatly to Team UK.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, this issue can stir the emotions of people who insist on taking it at face value. Admittedly, it can be tough for people who are forced to sleep rough because they took a left turn on life’s great journey when they should have gone right or who went the wrong way round life’s unforgiving roundabout. Yet, here too those insidious liberals deliberately fail to see the upside. Official figures collated by our good friends at Cambridge Analytica have shown that a wee spell sleeping underneath the stars can do wonders for a person’s sense of his place in the world.

Freed from the concerns of having to pay a mortgage or rent or go without food to pay for the heating they discover inner reserves of fortitude in the face of adversity. Bins, once heaving with rotting food products are considerably lighter in those places with a high incidence of homelessness. In the UK we waste obscene amounts of perfectly decent food … but not in places where there are happy packs of homeless people roaming around eager to hoover up all the scraps.

There is a myth propagated by the hand-wringing brigade that low life expectancy is a jolly bad thing. There you are, in the prime of your life and looking forward to a decent innings when, all of a sudden, you wake up dead many years before your time. Undoubtedly the shock of the untimely demise of a loved one can knock you sideways for a bit. We get that.

This is another phenomenon which always gets a bad press but all is not as it seems. Let’s face it, if everyone had an equal chance of getting on in life and we were all able to afford a decent standard of living Britain would simply become complacent. Studies by Cambridge Analytica have shown that where a large gap exists in the quality of life people will always work harder to attain those wee advantages which sort out the wheat from the chaff.

It’s like greyhounds chasing a rabbit at a dog-race. Of course they’ll never actually catch the rabbit but they don’t know that. And when did you ever see an unfit or unhealthy greyhound dug?


Forcing rape survivors to discuss their ordeal to get benefits allows them opportunity to talk

Any one that knows me in person or online, knows I never swear, but the first thing that came into my head when I read this headline was:


Work and pensions secretary facing calls to apologise after suggesting controversial new welfare policy will give survivors ‘double support’

Forcing rape survivors to recount their ordeal in order to access benefits will give them an “opportunity to talk”, the work and pensions secretary has said.

Esther McVey claimed women who have a child as a result of rape would be helped by being made to speak to a charity worker or health professional because it means they could receive “double support”.

The minister prompted incredulity after making the claims during questioning by the Scottish Parliament’s Social Security Committee. Labour called on her to apologise for the comments.

Ms McVey was responding to a question about the government’s so-called “rape clause”, which means that, under the new universal credit system, parents will only receive additional benefits for their first two children.

Universal Credit poses ‘significant risk’, says spending watchdog

A woman who has a third child as a result of rape will be handed an exception, but, under controversial plans widely condemned by women’s charities, will have to prove they were assaulted.

The Department for Work and Pensions has said women will not be questioned by government officials but instead will be referred to experts working for charities or within the health system. Charities including Scottish Women’s Aid and Rape Crisis Scotland have refused to ask as “referrers”, however.

 Appearing in front of members of the Scottish Parliament, Ms McVey was asked whether this had resulted in fewer rape survivors being granted additional benefits.

She said: “I do hope that some of those organisations don’t decide not to work with use because actually what we’re doing is providing extra help and support to those people.

“We will continue working to make sure that the people who need that extra benefit will get it and maybe it will be through other organisations and an extra route.”

Ms McVey was asked whether she was “comfortable” that women will be forced to prove “non-consensual conception in order to access an entitlement”. She replied: “What we’re doing is providing extra help where people have got more children that they couldn’t have planned, and we’re providing that extra support.

“This could give them an opportunity to talk about something that’s happened that maybe they’ve never had before, so it is potentially double support there: them getting the money they need and maybe [also] an outlet which they might possibly need.”

Ms McVey said the policy was evidence of the “extra support the government has put in place for people who didn’t or weren’t able to make decisions over how many children they’ve had”, adding: “They have indeed got extra children, so more support will be put there and we’ve said we’ll make allowances in those instances.”

She confirmed rape survivors will not be quizzed by Department for Work and Pensions or Treasury staff but instead referred to “third party groups or health professionals or other suitable people who could help people”. Labour called on Ms McVey to apologise for the comments.

Margaret Greenwood MP, the shadow work and pensions secretary, said: “Esther McVey has completely failed to address the very serious issue of woman being forced to reveal a profoundly traumatic experience to access a benefit.

“To suggest this might offer a woman ‘an outlet’ to discuss what has happened shows a lack of sensitivity and awareness of a woman’s feelings about such a violent and appalling crime. “Forcing a burden of proof upon survivors of rape is morally wrong. Esther McVey should retract her comments and issue an apology.

“Labour will scrap the ‘rape clause’ and transform the social security system so it is there for all those who need it.”

A Department for Work and Pensions spokesperson said: “We’re ensuring women in these awful circumstances are supported in every way so they can receive the help that they need.

“We have always been clear that this policy will be delivered in the most effective, compassionate way, with the right exceptions and safeguards in place.”


Tory benefit cuts ‘spark shocking rise in homeless young people’

A new report found the government’s welfare reforms worsened homelessness among 16-24 year olds

Tory welfare reforms have sparked a shocking rise in homeless young people

The Government’s controversial shake-up has worsened homelessness among 16 to 24-year-olds by affecting their ability to access and sustain housing, a charity says.

Homeless Link, a charity that works with rough sleepers, found 92% of respondents identified delayed Universal Credit payments as having an impact on youth homelessness.

Homeless Link’s chief executive Rick Henderson said: “The picture of youth homelessness is extremely concerning, and there is clear evidence that systemic issues such as welfare reform and the housing crisis are worsening the situation.”

According to the charity, 55% of homelessness agencies recorded an increase in demand for their services over the past year, and 45% believed there had been an increase in young men sleeping rough. A quarter were aged 16 or 17.

The report found that while family breakdown remains the main cause of homelessness among the young, making up 49% of cases among those in the sample, changes to benefit entitlement was a “significant” contributory factor.


The survey also found that the Local Housing Allowance (LHA) cap was having a negative effect. Mr Henderson added: “While youth homelessness charities and councils are working hard to successfully support many young people away from homelessness, more needs to be done.

“It is vital that we focus on preventing homelessness among vulnerable young people, and that those who do become homeless are able to get the support they need.”


Family of 14 living in four-bed house after single mum-of-six’s housing benefit was reduced to just 50p


Patricia Newman and her six children have moved into her mother’s home – with the children now sleeping on the living room floor

A single mum-of-six has been forced to move into her mum’s house after being evicted when her housing benefit was slashed to just 50p, The already packed four-bedroom house, is now home to 14 family members, with Patricia Newman’s camping out on the living room floor.

Patricia, 33, whose six children are aged between 13 and one, said the controversial benefit cap made it impossible for her to pay her rent bills, and feed her family. But the children’s grandmother Dorothy says they really need their own home.

The family were left with just 50p housing benefit

Dorothy, of Mersey Road in Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, also shares her home with her two adult sons and their collective four children, over whom she has guardianship.

The grandmother-of-ten said: “Patricia and the children really need rehousing – the children need their own home with their mother. “I have guardianship of four kids and it is hard work having that many children here. “I am out looking after my mother who is seriously ill with heart problems among other illnesses. All day I do the jobs that she needs doing.

“Then I come home and I need to do it all again. You can’t come home and relax.” Patricia says she was evicted from her social housing in Firgrove Walk – four miles from her mother’s home – after she had her youngest child, and her housing benefits were reassessed.

Mum Patricia Newman with her six children who has been evicted by the council and now living with her mum

She says the government benefits calculator took into account the combined benefits that she was already receiving, and then considered the amount of money coming into the household in other forms of benefits. This was considered enough for Patricia to be able to pay her rent, she claims.

But Patricia, mum to Kian, 13, Charlie, six, Cody, five, Poppy, three, Lexi, two, and Kenny, one, said that, with just 50p a week in housing benefits, covering all her costs was impossible.

“They reassessed my benefits and told me that I was only going to be awarded 50p per week for housing benefit,” she said. “The rest would have to come out of my tax credits and income support. At the end of the day, I don’t have the money to pay all of that rent.

“Now we are living with my mother, and it is very stressful and very overcrowded.” Patricia’s mother volunteered to pay the rent for her, and for the rent to come out of her bank account each week – but they claim that the housing association refused this idea.

Patricia added: “Cheltenham Borough Homes seemed to deem the eviction as me making myself voluntarily homeless – but that was not the case. “I went to a meeting at Cheltenham Borough Council and I was waiting for them to tell me what they could do to help us.

“I waited weeks and in the end my social worker told me that the council was not going to do anything.” She says her children are finding it difficult to sleep in their grandmother’s living room, and she is feeling increasingly down as time goes on.

“My eldest son’s father died when he was one, and the other children’s fathers just don’t bother with their kids,” she said. “I have tried to get help from the MP and councillors, but no one seems to help us.”

Chief executive Paul Stephenson at Cheltenham Borough Homes: “We continue to work closely with the family and their support workers to resolve this ongoing situation.” [YEAH IT LOOKS LIKE THEY GIVE A LOT OF HELP]


Just how badly does G4S have to perform before the government stops handing it large amounts of taxpayers’ money

 Security Giant G4S Faces Record Fines Of Almost £3m For Breaching Of Ministry Of Justice Contracts
Under-fire company fined almost £7m since 2010.
Global security giant G4S faced a record £2.8m of fines for breaching its contract with the Ministry of Justice last year, HuffPost UK can reveal.

The huge sum collected in 2016/17 was higher than the previous three years combined, with two prisons – HMP Parc, in Bridgend, and HMP Rye Hill, in Warwickshire – forced to pay the highest amounts.

G4S’s justice contracts include five private prisons, a secure training centre and two immigration removal centres. The latest figures mean G4S has been fined almost £7m since 2010, but the firm has refused to say how many separate fines that represents or what they were for.

Ministers can levy fines for contract breaches, including failure to conduct searches, smuggling contraband, security breaches, serious cases of “concerted indiscipline”, hostage taking, and roof climbing. Other cases could be failure to lock doors, poor hygiene or a dip in staffing levels.
The fines have ministers collected from G4S since 2010. 

Staff have frequently lost control of inmates at HMP Parc, while an inspection report criticised HMP Rye Hill for poor healthcare and failures to tackle prisoner-on-prisoner grooming. But it is not known what the fines were for.

G4S was also handed a new £25m contract for the electronic tagging of offenders despite an ongoing Serious Fraud Office investigation into overcharging by G4S and Serco.

Last year, HMP Parc faced fines of £558,763 while HMP Rye Hill was subject to  £90,662.

The MoJ – which prefers to call the fines ‘financial remedies’ – said the Government would not accept breaches of contract, adding: “As these figures show, we will not hesitate to impose tough financial remedies where standards fall short.”

But Labour said the soaring fines exposed flaws in the private sector involvement in justice services.

Richard Burgon

Richard Burgon, Labour’s Shadow Justice Secretary said: “This record level of fines for G4S is yet another example of widespread private sector failure in our justice system.

“G4S appears to be able to count on a steady stream of Ministry of Justice contracts despite repeated under-performance and even though it is still under a Serious Fraud Office investigation for an offender tagging scandal.

“It really is unclear just how bad G4S’ delivery of key services would have to get before the government stops handing it large amounts of taxpayers’ money to run whole swathes of our justice system.

“As the government cuts bite ever deeper in our justice system, the push for greater private sector involvement is real cause for alarm. Justice cannot be done on the cheap and the growing reliance on the private sector risks undermining public safety as profit is put first.”

It comes amid widespread concerns about violence and self-harm in all jails, including those managed by the public sector.

Self-harm in prisons in England and Wales reached a record high last year, with more than 41,000 incidents in a year amid a surge in violence.

G4S’ managing director for custodial and detention services, Jerry Petherick, said: “Financial remedies are applied against a range of measures depending on the contract specific to each prison. “It is our duty to self-report any circumstances where we under deliver against a contract, and it is right and fair that there is a financial remedy applied in these cases.

“The fact that there have been instances where we fall short of our rigorous standards and contractual obligations shows that we are open and dedicated to continuous improvement.”

A Ministry of Justice spokesman said it would take further action should G4S continue to breach contracts. He said: “Private prisons achieve the vast majority of their performance targets, and are an important part of our reform plans.

“However, as these figures show, we will not hesitate to impose tough financial remedies where standards fall short.

“We continue to closely monitor the performance of all private prisons, and will take further action if and when required.”

G4S’ Chequered Record

It is not the first time G4S has been at the centre of a scandal. 

Criminal proceedings were brought against eight staff who worked at the Medway Secure Training Centre after a Panorama investigation in 2016.  

The BBC’s undercover filming appeared to show staff using unnecessary force and foul language against boys aged from 14 to 17 years old.

In May 2016, G4S handed control of the youth jail back to the MoJ.

In 2014, G4S, and Serco, were found to be charging for tags on offenders who had been returned to prison and in some cases, where the offender had died.

In late 2013, the Serious Fraud Office opened a criminal investigation and the G4S paid back nearly £109m.

G4S also hit the headlines for its chaotic handling of security at the 2012 Olympic Games. Around 3,500 military personnel had to be drafted in at the last moment after G4S was forced to admit it had failed to recruit enough people. 

The debacle, which bosses described as a “humiliating shambles”, cost the company more than £70m.


‘Honest mistake’ MY A$$

‘Honest mistake’: Jeremy Hunt sorry for failure to declare buying luxury flats

Health secretary says he did not gain financially from errors about his business interest on the Companies House and MPs’ register

The UK health secretary, Jeremy Hunt, has apologised after it was discovered he made errors over the purchase of luxury flats on England’s south coast. Hunt said his failure to declare a business interest with both Companies House and the parliamentary register of MPs’ interests was down to “honest administrative mistakes” and that he did not gain financially as a result.

The Daily Telegraph said Hunt failed to notify Companies House of his 50% interest in Mare Pond Properties Limited – something that took him six months to rectify.

Labour demands parliamentary investigation into Jeremy Hunt’s purchase of luxury flats

He also did not inform the parliamentary register of members’ interests of his share in the business within the 28-day time limit, according to the publication. It is claimed Hunt set up the company with his wife, Lucia Guo, to buy seven properties in the Ocean Village development in Southampton on 7 February.

A spokeswoman for Hunt said: “These were honest administrative mistakes which have already been rectified. Jeremy’s accountant made an error in the Companies House filing which was a genuine oversight. With respect to ministerial and parliamentary declarations, the Cabinet Office are clear that there has been no breach of the ministerial code.

“Jeremy declared the interest to them after the company was set up. They advised that as it was a shell company with no assets or value, it should only be registered when it became operational.

Jeremy Hunt admits breaking Government’s own rules over company he used to buy seven flats

“As such, Jeremy presumed the same rules applied to parliamentary declarations. Although there was no personal gain involved, Jeremy accepts these mistakes are his responsibility and has apologised to the parliamentary authorities.”

A Downing Street spokesman said: “Jeremy has rightly apologised for an administrative oversight, and as the Cabinet Office have made clear there has been no breach of the ministerial code.

“We consider the matter closed.”

The revelation came as Hunt was in Tokyo, where he is set to attend the Patient Safety global ministerial conference.