Savi Hensman's blog

Legal aid bill threatens access to justice

The Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Bill passing through the UK Parliament has been widely criticised. It aims to cut the cost of legal aid by making it far less widely available. But critics have pointed out that this will result in injustice to all but the rich, and have drastic longer-term costs.

'Big Society' Bill: Freedom... or rationing?

Newspapers have reported that the UK government is to publish a ‘Big Society’ bill, supposedly giving citizens more choice and control. In practice, this may involve offloading further responsibilities on to individuals, families and communities, forcing them to put in extra time and money or go without much-needed services.

Miliband: tapping into hostility towards disabled people?

Disabled people in Britain are facing increasing hostility, a survey revealed in May 2011. The poll was carried out by ComRes for the charity Scope. 56 per cent of the disabled people surveyed said they had experienced hostility, aggression or violence from a stranger because of their condition or impairment, and 58 per cent thought others did not believe that they were disabled. 37 per cent said people’s attitudes towards them have got worse over the past year, while just 15 per cent felt that attitudes had improved.

Vulnerable claimants and asylum seekers at serious risk

Changes in the UK welfare benefit system are having devastating effects on the mental health of thousands of people, charities and a senior psychiatrist have warned. In a letter to the Guardian (http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/2011/may/31/consequences-benefit-chang...), they pointed out that flawed tests for work capability were causing great distress and hardship, and some people had even taken their own lives.

Rigg murder exposes struggling children’s services

Twelve-year-old Tia Rigg was raped and murdered by her uncle, John Maden, in April 2010. He was later sentenced to life imprisonment. In May 2011, a serious case review identified major failings on the part of Salford social services and other agencies.

Diary of Sri Lanka war years

As a Dutch teenager under Nazi occupation, Ben Bavinck learnt to resist fascism. He later taught in Sri Lanka, then returned in 1988, amidst violent turmoil. By that time, the island had become notorious throughout the world because of the scale of killings, by both government and rebel forces. While doing relief and rehabilitation work for the National Christian Council, he kept diaries, describing and seeking to make sense of what he witnessed.

Tricking vulnerable people out of benefits

Disturbing evidence is emerging that UK job centres are increasingly looking for excuses to stop welfare benefits to people who are out of work. People with mental health problems, learning or communication difficulties, those who are young or uneducated are among those at most risk.

Royals, protestors and equal worth

It is interesting to note how much UK media attention, following protests against student fee rises yesterday (9 December 2010), has focused on the admittedly alarming experience of Prince Charles and his wife Camilla when the car they were travelling in was damaged - compared to the life-threatening ordeal of Alfie Meadows.

Forced labour for the unemployed?

UK government minister Iain Duncan Smith has announced that unemployed people may be forced to do compulsory work in the community, for instance picking up litter or gardening.

Pushing up housing costs

Among the Chancellor’s targets in the Comprehensive Spending Review are social housing and those who need it. The capital budget has been slashed, and new tenants may face being charged up to 80 per cent of market rents.