The Scavenger column from the April 1997 issue of the Socialist Standard
Peter Lilley’s plan to target “workshy” disabled people claiming benefit has flopped, with only half the 200,000 predicted to drop off the register failing the new stricter medical tests .. . The (National Audit Office] report reveals that millions of pounds have been spent retraining staff and upgrading computers to handle the new incapacity benefit, which replaced invalidity and sickness benefit in April, 1995. Some 800 new doctors had to be recruited to administer the stricter medical tests. But only 102,000 out of the projected 200,000 lost their benefit. Guardian, 13 February.
God is watching
The Bishop of Willesden could turn up at your factory, garage or office as part of his mission to bring God to the workplace which stalled on Monday when he visited Neasden Underground Depot. Bishop Graham Dow has declared 1997 as Faith in Work year to show that jobs should be about "more than just slaving away to scratch enough cash together to pay the mortgage and the taxman”. lie added: "Where it is safe to do so, 1 want to encourage the lighting of candles for two minutes when staff get to work as a sign that God is present " Brent Recorder, 29 January.
Money at stake
A damning report on Britain’s biggest child abuse scandal will not be presented to a public enquiry. MPs and social workers reacted angrily to the revelation, insisting that the document detailing 20 years of abuse at children’s homes in Clwyd, North Wales, must be made public. Authors of the report, which Municipal Mutual Insurance will not publish amid fears of a flood of claims from the 180 children involved or the families of victims who committed suicide, claim their work was hampered by the company. Now a tribunal, chaired by Sir Ronald Waterhouse, which began last week, has decided not to include the report by Derbyshire’s former director of social services, John Jillings. Mail an Sunday, 26 January.
A private practice
A small but growing minority of private doctors are making massive profits out of over-prescribing drugs to hard drug dealers who then resell them on the streets, according to a Home Office research report. Some doctors are making more than £100,000 a year out of this trade . . . "Large sums of money are to be made easily by issuing repeat prescriptions on a weekly basis to dependent drug users. The weekly consultation fee is usually £25, payable before the prescription is handed over." Pharmacists can charge what they like for private prescriptions and the researchers found the average cost was £75 . . . The researchers were told by two sources of doctors with lists of more than 200 dependent users and said a client list of just 75 would yield an income of £100,000 a year. Guardian,
Monument (Oil & Gas) was one of the first Western oil companies to identify (Turkmenistan’s] oil potential alter it ceded from the former Soviet Union. Last week, with US oil giant Mobil, it won exclusive rights to negotiate a production-sharing contract with the Turkmenistan government in a 20,000 sq km area bordering on the Caspian sea and Iran Thanks to its head start over rivals. Monument and its partner are likely to clinch formal rights to develop most of the area’s oil fields. Monument shares surged 12½p to 81½p last week as City investors began to grasp the full import of the Turkmenistan deal. Financial Mail on Sunday, 26 January.