Bruce’s photo-blog

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This website is a continuation of Digital evidence that Bruce has a life (my CSS/HTML photoblog) and Just another bipedal sack of DNA and neuroses, because that’s what humans are (my original blog). Posts from Just another… have now been copied to this blog, so that I can eventually get out of LiveJournal altogether.

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Join the conversation on Scotland’s performance towards the UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, the First Minister confirmed that the Scottish Government would be one of the first anywhere in the world to commit to meeting the UN Global Goals for Sustainable Development, both at home and overseas. Since then, all 193 UN member states have signed up to the 17 goals that seek to end poverty, fight inequalities and tackle climate change. Continue reading

A few thoughts on Brexit

Everyone else is having their say, so why shouldn’t I?

Full disclosure, in case I’ve not made it clear: I think Brexit is a mind-bogglingly stupid thing to do. This doesn’t mean I see myself as superior to those who did vote for Brexit… hang about a bit, yes it does! I sympathise with anyone who believes that the EU has harmed them personally, but this does not give you the right to stuff it up for everyone else.I have slightly more sympathy with those who believe that the EU has harmed a majority of the UK – at least that is altruistic in aim, although it’s harmful in outcome.

I have no sympathy for anyone who believes that any group of foreigners – or even all foreigners – are bad or evil. Anyone who believes that is wrong and evil. And as for those who brought about Brexit thanks to attempts to solve problems in their own party party, may the fleas of a million camels eternally chew on your scrotum!

Rant over for the moment. Having said what I’m against, what am I for? That’s a difficult question to answer just now… Continue reading

Family fortunes?

You may remember my list of moans about the DWP and my sister’s claim for personal independence payments (PIP). You may remember that on 25 October of this year, 13 months after she was refused PIP, a tribunal set aside that decision.

On 4 December, HMRC restarted paying my sister working tax credits. (She qualifies for these because of her disabilities and because she works part-time. When PIP was refused, HMRC had to take the view that she was no longer disabled, even though her conditions are congenital and hence incurable.) HMRC’s letter to my sister was along the lines of ‘we now understand we need to start paying you tax credits, and make up for the time when we didn’t’. It almost felt like an apology. A few days later, the standard ‘this is what we will pay you’ letters arrived. Also on 4 December, HMRC sent my sister a certificate exempting her form NHS charges.

DWP didn’t get around to paying my sister PIP until 14 December, over 7 weeks after they were notified of the tribunal’s decision. There was not even a hint of an apology in their communication.

I’m still scared to think what would have become of my sister without support from me and other family and friends, and especially from Worcester Citizens’ Advice Bureau. And I’m bloody angry too, for the people who don’t have such support.

Edinburgh Council budget group challenge

I’m interested in local government finance mostly because of my interest in participatory budgeting (PB), especially £EITH CHOOSES. This leads to the question ‘where does PB money come from?‘ I’m also interested in how Scottish local government will ‘mainstream’ PB, leading me to consider ‘what budgets will be opened up to citizen input?‘, ‘how will this be done?‘, ‘how will citizen-control be squared with statutory requirements?‘.

On a personal level, I’m curious about how Edinburgh Council (CEC) decides how to spend its (our!) money, not least because it needs to make massive savings in 2019-20 onwards. I’m concerned about the effects this will have on me, on my adopted home city and above all, the many people who absolutely need government services and benefits. So I jumped at the chance to take part in a budget group challenge last Thursday.

Continue reading

Apply now for £EITH CHOOSES funding

(I’ve been interested in participatory budgeting since at least 2015, thanks to Ali Stoddart‘s talks at the digiCC events I organised, and subsequent conversations with the Democratic Society. Until recently, I’ve not had much direct involvement but am now on the £EITH CHOOSES steering group.)

After much hard work by the steering group and others, £EITH CHOOSES 2018-19 is open to applications. The closing date for applications is 21 January 2019. Continue reading

Online Identity Assurance stakeholder meeting: 31 October 2018

My ‘professional’ side has taken up the reins of Online Identity Assurance. That’s probably because I was wearing my 2018 Napier PRIDE t-shirt at the event.

Bruce's IT-ish world

Being involved, no matter how tangentially, with the Scottish Government’s work on online identity assurance (OIA) is important to me for at least five reasons.

  1. I want government to be efficient, and that means using digital techniques when possible and rational.
  2. While pursuing that aim, government must pay great heed to privacy and security. This is mostly because government has (in theory) great power to do good and do harm. (NB I do not believe that the current SG intends to do harm.)
  3. There will always be people who cannot use digital techniques. This may be because  they don’t know how just now. This may be because they will always lack the mental capacity to know how. This may be because they do not wish to learn how: either they see nothing in it for them, or the potential gains are not worth the time and money…

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The good, the bad and the ugly

The good

Thursday’s tribunal decided that my sister qualifies for personal independence payments (PIP) at the standard rates for both ‘daily living’ and ‘mobility’. (These are explained here.) This qualification is backdated to the date that her disability living allowance payments ceased, and has no time limit. The tribunal judge stated that this is because her condition is unlikely to change. Continue reading

Why is Bruce grinding his teeth? update

Clearly there is a lot I’m not going to say in this public forum.

  • On-going foot-pain after travelling on many buses and trains in the past few days.
  • Today’s appointment with CAB advisor was postponed because she was off sick. She says she is likely to ‘drag herself in’ tomorrow. So I’m hopefully meeting with her to prepare my sister’s PIP appeal tomorrow lunchtime, then going to hospital to visit my mother.
    • Just now I feel very unprepared for the appeal.
  • She is still in a hospital over an hour away from her home by bus or train.
    • Treatment for her conditions has started, now that tests taken on Friday or Saturday of last week have filtered through to the relevant specialists.
    • However, understandably there’s no indication yet of when she might be allowed home or moved to a hospital in her home town. That brings up some fears.
    • However, she is lucid and chatty, and very much herself
    • Also the staff at her current hospital are clearly very caring, and have time to put this into practice.

Nighty-night!