Frontline Friday round-up 18th January 2013

Michael Harris /   June 29, 2015 at 8:32 PM 1,441 views

Here’s our round-up of frontline blogs we’ve particularly liked from the week of 14th January 2013. Let us know which posts we’ve missed and which other bloggers we should be following for next week’s round-up. This week, in various ways many frontline bloggers addressed the theme of speaking up. Sue Marsh at Diary of a Benefit Scrounger explained the consequences of changes to the Work Capability Assessment (WCA), the flawed ‘fitness to work’ test which assesses whether sick and disabled people can get Employment and Support Allowance (ESA), a benefit designed to help and support very unwell or profoundly disabled people into work. “Although these changes have been advertised as small ‘amendments’, they will in fact have a huge impact on the way people’s illnesses and disabilities are assessed. Many vulnerable people’s needs will suddenly be able to be overlooked or ignored, meaning they could end up losing the support they desperately need to manage their conditions.” Sue urged people to spread the message about the changes that the Government have tried to sneak them under the radar. Adventures with Dementia, written by the spouse of a person with dementia, urged readers to sign an e-petition that if enacted would have the effect of recognising the condition as a disease (rather than something that just happens to – mostly – old people). “There is a currently a complex system via which certain cases can be considered for some NHS funding but people find that this is mainly an obstacle course that deters all but the most determined (and carers have one or two other things to concentrate on).” Jim Brown at the On Probation blog also urged readers to ‘Vote Early – Vote Often!’ by making their views known about the Government’s proposed reforms to the probation service (something he had commented about in earlier posts), especially using social media and the internet. “Now really is the time for probation to call in all our favours in the widest sense and garner as much support as possible for keeping probation as a public service.” Prisoner Ben on Ben’s Prison Blog highlighted the controversial case of John Bowden, a highly vocal and politicised lifer, who according to many supporters has been made to pay by the prison system for his public criticisms. “There are very, very few prisoners who have the stones to persistently criticise the prison system in public. The group has never comprised more than a handful, and each pays a price. They do society a service, in challenging the dominant discourse and attempting to drag the secluded world of prison into the light of public scrutiny.” Abe Laurens on The Not So Big Society warned about the impact of cuts on child care and foster care. “The government is trying to create a myth that decent levels of service can be maintained with inadequate resources. Sure, we can all do better, and every professional I know is determined to put everything they can into their work in 2013 on behalf of users in defiance of the cuts. However, the government has to understand this simple thing – there is a limit as to what is humanly possible.” At the other end of the scale, ex senior civil servant Mark Adams spoke up against politicians blaming civil servants for frustrating the government’s intentions. “Of course the real problem is that some politicians expect civil servants simply to carry out instructions. More effective politicians realise that an important role of the civil service is to question and challenge. In my experience, good Ministers adapt their decisions when proper and appropriate questions are asked. Weak politicians, unable to deal with legitimate questions, fume and rant about the obstructive civil service.” Last week we learned of the death of Aaron Swartz (pictured). Aaron helped create RSS, the tool that allows users to subscribe to online information, and also co-founded Reddit. He later became an hero to many for advocating for internet freedom and openness (see his 2008 Guerrilla Open Access Manifesto), but was indicted on federal charges of gaining illegal access to JSTOR, the closed subscription-only service for distributing scientific and literary journals. Aaron’s death reminds us that being an activist can come with a price. We’re always interested in hearing from frontline bloggers, so if you’re interested in having your post featured on Guerilla Policy then do get in touch: [email protected]

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