The wages of sin: promotion?

The minister for disabled people, Maria Miller, may be in line for promotion in David Cameron’s cabinet reshuffle, according to the BBC.

This individual, under the guidance of DWP boss Iain Duncan Smith, has presided over the closure of dozens of Remploy factories, forcing thousands of disabled workers onto the dole.

Her colleague at the DWP, Chris Grayling, is also in line for promotion after being responsible for the Work Capability Assessment regime run by the infamous Atos organisation, which has caused the deaths of 32 people per week, on average, since the beginning of last year.

(The figures show that, between January and August last year, 1,100 claimants died after they were put in the “work-related activity group”. A further 1,600 people died before their assessment had been completed, and 5,300 seriously disabled people died after being put into the support group – the group for people who are found to be genuine in their need for continued support. The number who died after being judged “fit for work” was not recorded because the DWP does not keep records of those who have been written off its books.)

The latest person to lose her life was cancer patient Cecilia Burns, who was judged ‘fit for work’ by Atos in February this year. Her benefits were restored just a few weeks ago but the ordeal was clearly too much for a person in a weakened state due to fighting a potentially terminal illness, and she passed away last week.

Atos is still claiming that it does not make decisions on people’s benefit entitlement – it merely carries out the assessments and refers the results to the DWP. We know from TV documentaries Dispatches and Panorama that the findings of the assessments are rubber-stamped by the civil servants in the vast majority of cases.

The firm also claims that its service is “highly professional and compassionate” and that it adheres strictly to the rules. What it doesn’t say is that the government changed the rules – and the benefit – in order to make it easier to cut claimants off. Even after that, 40 per cent of those who appeal win their case at tribunal. If they have legal representation, that figure rises to 90 per cent.

I understand that our Paralympians have been safeguarded from assessment so far – but will all face Work Capability Assessments of their own next year. Like our armed forces, it seems the Coalition government is happy to use them for good publicity in the public eye; once that gaze has moved elsewhere, they’ll be shunted onto the scrap pile.

The reshuffle – and possible promotion for Ms Miller and Mr Grayling – follows a week of protests by the Atos Victims Group, focusing on the Paralympic Games. This culminated in demonstrations outside Atos’ London headquarters and the offices of the DWP on Friday, in which it has been claimed the police physically attacked those present, breaking one protester’s shoulder and damaging a wheelchair user’s chair.

This is what the Coalition government wants to do with the disabled, it seems – push them out of the way, cut off their benefits, forget about them, let them die.

This is extremely pertinent at the moment. Why? Because it is 73 years since the government of a certain European country put its own policy for disabled people into action. Adolf Hitler signed an order to begin the systematic euthanasia of Germany’s mentally ill and disabled people on September 1, 1939.

According to the Nazi policy of racial hygiene, people with physical and mental disabilities were “useless” in German society, and they were a threat to Aryan purity. They were deemed unworthy to live. The euthanasia programme (‘Operation T4’) cost the lives of around 270,000 people.

The best figures we have suggest that the new British assault on the disabled has killed nearly 5,000 so far (rising to almost 10,000 if you include those in the support group). But the Chancellor wants to cut a further £10 billion from the welfare budget (rather than get his rich pals to pay their taxes) so who knows how high this figure may rise before we get a chance to restore sanity in 2015?

I’m already having nightmares about it.

10 thoughts on “The wages of sin: promotion?

  1. Mr Castle

    Tor. party rewarding both loyalty and failure. Grayling does nothing but waste money on silly ideas while we still have so many people unemployed. and Maria Miller is Minister against the disabled i bet she has never spent enough time with disabled people to understand the problems they face.

    1. Mike Sivier

      I meant to write a comment about rewarding failure into the article – you’re exactly correct.
      Of course, neither Ms Miller nor Mr ‘Goebbels’ Grayling have failed their masters because the plan is to victimise the disabled and the unemployed, and to use the media to stir up hatred against them.
      But they are supposed to be representing the people of the UK, and people who happen to be disabled or unemployed also happen to be citizens of this country. This government has clearly failed them because it is pursuing a policy of active persecution against them. Able-bodied people watching the situation should also feel let down. When these Tories have finished with the disabled and the unemployed, who will be their next victims?
      Having read the news articles about ‘Britannia Unchained’, I’m betting on the workforce.

      1. Mr Castle

        failed ? the government hasn’t failed! It has been a success – they used some clever marketing to get people to vote for them. If anything the only failure has been to not put enough distance between the DWP and ATOS. If you go back to the debates on TV before the last election you will see that really the only honest leader was Gordon brown as what you could see was what you would get.

  2. Mike Sivier

    In yet another PR faux pas (for which this government is becoming justly famous), on the day George Osborne was booed by 60,000 Paralympic Games spectators for showing up to present medals, it’s been revealed that the government wants to fine sick and disabled benefit claimants £71 per week, if they refuse to take part in work-related activities. That’s 70 per cent of their Employment and Support Allowance – more than double the current fine.
    Adding insult to injury, the DWP may decide that pushing these vulnerable people into unpaid and unlimited work experience placements will count as work-related activity.
    Let’s just remember that the only way to get into the work-related activity group of ESA is by taking the Atos Work Capabiilty Assessment – the same assessment that produced reports stating that people, who subsequently died from their conditions, were “fit for work”.
    The Guardian’s article states: “Those in the work-related activity group have recently included people diagnosed with terminal cancer with more than six months to live, victims of strokes, those with mental health issues and people paralysed from the chest down.”
    Get the picture?
    It’s nothing short of murderous.
    Here’s the link. Read the story for yourself. Feel free to pass on the web address of this article to anybody who tells you the disabled have had it easy for too long, or that they deserve it, or that the reality of our economic situation means it’s necessary. It isn’t, for reasons I’ve enumerated in previous articles on this blog. The link:
    I was going to write another article about this but I’ve got a headache tonight (is it any surprise?). I suffer with migraine, so this is the best you’re getting and for that, I apologise.

  3. Smiling Carcass

    I watched one of the programmes and was struck by the fact that they are employing doctors to basically tick the boxes and they are not allowed to use their medical experience, training or expertise to make decisions. This begs the question: Why employ doctors? The answer must simply be public relations. Wouldn’t look good for a lay person to be trained to do the ticking; I don’t think I’ve seen this point highlighted anywhere.

    1. Mike Sivier

      The assessor at my girlfriend’s WCA was a doctor. He did perform a cursory examination – to see how well she could move her limbs, basically (and it was very basic indeed). Other than that, it was all Q and A.
      So you’re right. Why employ doctors if not for public relations?
      Does anyone have an answer?

    1. Mike Sivier

      I agree; it’s a good point to make. I was opening the matter up to other readers, hoping to elicit a response from someone who may have a different perspective.

    2. omalone1

      I do not doubt that, and yet, that is, I imagine, what fuels their desire to chastise people. The funny thing is though, that as that logic outlines, whilst they are there to ensure that people are not getting away with sitting at home and “doing nothing”, these box-fillers are the closest thing we have to doing “nothing” and yet, they get paid for it

  4. omalone1

    Reblogged this on other side of town and commented:
    I was looking up something very differnet and yet, I stumbled on this one, and find myself with a certain element of freedom – a degree of peace. I am not the only one being buggered by these bootcamps and ravaged by these regimes. There are other statistical casualties of this silent war.

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