(Part 2 of my story about the chaos that’s followed the awarding of a key public service contract to a private company and the impact that’s having on vulnerable people. You can read Part 1 here).
It’s about time Facebook designed a “jaw drop” button.
We Experts by Experience badly needed one when we watched the Care Quality Commission’s recent board meeting online.
We’d just been told that our jobs inspecting health and social care facilities were being transferred from a charity to Remploy, a private company majority-owned by a big US-based business. None of our previous […]
Continue reading Little Care, Little Quality and some Terrible Commissioning
I’m about to lose the zero-hours job I love.
Maybe “lose” isn’t the right word. But the contract under which I work has been taken from the charitable sector and awarded to a private company. The new bosses at the multi-million pound business taking over refuse to honour existing terms and conditions. They won’t even discuss them.
Instead, they’re offering exactly the same work with a 44 per cent cut in pay. (51 per cent for those living outside London).
So thanks, but no thanks. There’s austerity, and then there’s just plain insulting.
Let me explain. For the past two […]
Continue reading Calling time on my zero-hours job
Mr Patel closed his newsagents a few months ago. Shortly after that, the 75 year old hardware business further up the road shut its doors. Its neighbour, once a bathroom and kitchen design shop is now a giant pound store.
Yesterday Impulse Flowers, a local fixture for the past 28 years, lowered the shutters for the last time. The electric lighting show room across the road from the florist had already gone – due to “redevelopment” says the notice stuck on its window.
Next door, the manager of its sister store, selling light bulbs of every shape and size, […]
Continue reading There goes the neighbourhood
Never mind the squabbling over sterling and North Sea oil, Scotland. There’s a very simple reason to vote No in the Independence referendum next month.
We don’t want you to leave.
A few days in Edinburgh have reminded me of all that we have to lose if Scotland drifts away.
A more collectivist spirit for a start. It’s not just the free university education, free personal care for the elderly, or free prescription charges the Scottish enjoy. One could (and should) argue about the financial wisdom of offering such largesse especially during tough economic times.
But what those policies […]
Continue reading Scotland, Please Don’t Go
Who decided we were all excited?
Where did the memo come from stating as fact a collective holding of expectant breath? Not just in the UK but all over the world: All of us were apparently desperate for the happy news of the royal birth. All of us were thrilled to bits when the baby boy’s arrival was announced.
Except even the most basic analysis suggests we weren’t.
“The world waits” was a headline on the BBC’s online page for much of Monday after the Duchess of Cambridge went into labour. It was a strap-line for most of the […]
Continue reading Royal Baby brings world…..Meh
A former dock worker, 60-ish, ruddy-cheeked, and too big for the bar stool in this central Liverpool pub. Not somebody I’d expect to find channelling my thoughts. But yesterday, we were in tune on Margaret Thatcher.
This past week and a half, I have avoided almost every word written about her. I have turned the pages of the newspapers unread, ignored the radio and television programmes, written nothing, and commented only once. (I was caught off guard when CBC Montreal called in the middle of lunch, broke the news of the former Prime Minister’s death, and put me straight […]
Continue reading Me and Mrs T
Sometimes hell – or in this case, England – does freeze over and one finds oneself agreeing with Ann Widdecombe.
The former Conservative MP once spent a week with the Philpott family in Derbyshire, making a TV documentary about trying to get feckless father, Mick, off state benefits and into work.
The no-nonsense Ms Widdecombe quickly got the sum of the man. In interviews following his conviction for the manslaughter of six of his children, she’s described his “pent up aggression.”
She was shocked by his habit of addressing his wife and mistress as “bitch,” and his descriptions of “servicing” […]
Continue reading Focus on abuse of women not welfare
There are few things we British love more than to see one of our elite institutions with egg on its face.
So of course news that an Oxford college is at the centre of a “Harlem Shake Scandal” has made national headlines. (Full disclosure: it’s of more than passing interest to me as it concerns my old college).
But I made some inquiries, and the story’s not quite as it at first seems.
To recap: A group of students took over the library at St Hilda’s and recorded their version of the now […]
Continue reading Lessons from the Library