Why are victims being sidelined by MPs’ inquiry?

Sidelined: People like this lady have campaigned across the UK against the unfair assessment system for sickness and disability benefits. Now that they are finally getting an inquiry into this corrupt system, are their views going to be ignored? [Image: Guardian]

Sidelined: People like this lady have campaigned across the UK against the unfair assessment system for sickness and disability benefits. Now that they are finally getting an inquiry into this corrupt system, are their views going to be ignored? [Image: Guardian]

Here’s a disturbing email from the Commons Work and Pensions committee:

“Thank you for your submission to Work and Pensions Committee’s inquiry into Employment and Support Allowance and Work Capability Assessments.

“The Committee has received a large number of written submissions from individuals who have claimed ESA and undergone WCA, setting out their personal experiences of the process.

“Your submission, along with other similar personal testimony submissions, will be circulated to the Members of the Committee as background information to the inquiry rather than published as formal evidence.

“I know that the Committee will find submissions such as yours very helpful in their inquiry and I would therefore like to thank you for taking the time to contribute to the inquiry.”

Background information?

I smell betrayal.

I did not write a detailed description of Mrs Mike’s suffering at the hands of the Department for Work and Pensions, just so that it could be hidden away and ignored as “background information”!

Look at the committee’s original call for evidence. It was “particularly interested” to hear views on, among other things:

  • Delivery of the WCA by Atos, including steps taken to improve the claimant experience
  • The effectiveness of the WCA in indicating whether claimants are fit for work, especially for those claimants who have mental, progressive or fluctuating illnesses, including comparison with possible alternative models
  • The ESA entitlement decision-making process
  • The reconsideration and appeals process
  • The impact of time-limiting contributory ESA and
  • Outcomes for people determined fit for work or assigned to the Work-Related Activity Group (WRAG) or the Support Group.

The experience endured by Mrs Mike, who has both progressive and fluctuating physical conditions and mental health issues, included a humiliating work capability assessment medical examination and being pushed into the WRAG after a wrong decision by Atos/DWP. The Department failed to inform her of its decision on her appeal, and failed to act on that decision before cutting her benefit (it didn’t tell her that was going to happen either). If I had not been around to stand up for her, she might have been thrown onto the streets by now.

Is the Work and Pensions Committee no longer “particularly interested” in stories like that?

If so, what kind of inquiry are we likely to get?

A whitewash?

Dame Anne Begg chairs this committee. I’m going to contact her and see what she has to say for herself and her people.

If you have received the same communication, no doubt you’ll want some answers as well. Please let me know if you have.

It is entirely possible that there is a good reason for what I’ve been given. Until I know what it is, though, I have to suspect the worst.

If I wait for this inquiry to take place and then find we’ve all been betrayed, it will be too late.

Follow me on Twitter: @MidWalesMike

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  1. Jenny Hambidge March 25, 2014 at 10:48 am - Reply

    Thank you for all the work you are doing – I wonder also what is going to happen to the results of the debate on Impact Assessment of Benefit cuts etc on sick and Disabled people which so many of us worked hard to get on the Agenda. I suspect it has been kicked into the long grass.

  2. stilloaks March 25, 2014 at 10:51 am - Reply

    Reblogged this on Still Oaks.

  3. jaynel62 March 25, 2014 at 10:54 am - Reply

    I totally concur Mike. I too received the same email, and share your concerns. I have to admit following the way our petition of 100,069 signatures was ‘managed’ I’ve lost faith in the interests of the Select?!

  4. trudy March 25, 2014 at 10:56 am - Reply

    I had the same letter

  5. jaypot2012 March 25, 2014 at 11:39 am - Reply

    Absolutely appalling! Now, what are we going to do about it?

  6. jaypot2012 March 25, 2014 at 11:41 am - Reply

    Reblogged this on Jay's Journal and commented:
    We have to find a way of getting through to this committee and make them use the true stories.

  7. Barry Davies March 25, 2014 at 12:13 pm - Reply

    Well they don’t want to hear the truth it doesn’t fit in with their scroungers and skivers and only hardworking people matter vision of the world. What I would like to see is a work capacity assessment that actually outlines exactly what work you could do and what is the furthest you could travel to and from work and in what circumstances, not one that you get points for matters that don’t stop you from working whilst the ones that do aren’t even assessed.

    • anon. March 27, 2014 at 12:54 pm - Reply

      I would like to see disability benefit entitlements based on whether or not an individual has a diagnosed condition. When there are far too few jobs to go round, why try to force peopel to struggle with work when they are in pain or sick? A decent society should support its sick and vulnerable. Moreover we PAID IN for these benefits while we were able and should not be expected to have to ‘earn’ them again.

      If a recipient of disability income (paid to them because of a diagnosed condition) was able to manage some paid work at their own discretion, or if they received other income from sources such as investments – they could surely be assessed through the tax system, with the disability benefit treated as a taxable income (which it seems to be anyway), and where there could be extra allowances to protect vulnerable groups.

      This would be transparant and would be percieved as fair, and should work with things such as universal child benefits or winter fuel allowances too.

      • Barry Davies March 27, 2014 at 1:04 pm - Reply

        Agree anon but unfortunately what seems like a fair system seems to be something the government finds offensive they have to blame someone for the economic crash and clearly we caused it.

  8. beastrabban March 25, 2014 at 12:33 pm - Reply

    Reblogged this on Beastrabban’s Weblog and commented:
    Mike here gives his suspicions that the inquiry will probably be a whitewash, given that his description of Mrs Mike’s condition will be circulated to the Committee as background information, but not printed as evidence. I am very much afraid that this is what will indeed happen. I’m also not particularly surprised. I think there’s a very cynical line in that most cynical and witty of TV satires, ‘Yes, Minister’ / ‘Yes, Prime Minister’, where Sir Humphrey makes very clear that public inquiries are to make it look like the government is actually doing something, while trying its best to sweep everything under the carpet. This seems to be exactly what’s going to occur here. And it must be prevented.

  9. amnesiaclinic March 25, 2014 at 12:49 pm - Reply

    Well done. Keep banging at them. This is a disgrace.

  10. Spoonydoc (@Spoonydoc) March 25, 2014 at 12:52 pm - Reply

    I received the same email.
    Is there a limit to the amount of evidence they can publish?
    If so what is it? And who decides what is evidence and what is background?

  11. Nick March 25, 2014 at 12:54 pm - Reply

    mike all this is from the committee is hogwash. the style of writing etc is just a political way of wording things what it means is thank you and goodbye and your view will count for nothing

    I’m sure your well aware mike of what it means but if it were not my daughter doing politics in uni none of us would be any the wiser

    thankfully she will be leaving the country when qualified so that she can find somewhere else in the world to shine and make good cause she wont be finding it in the UK

  12. stewilko March 25, 2014 at 12:56 pm - Reply

    Reblogged this on stewilko's Blog and commented:
    Het again this government finds away to conceal their madness. They believe their madness of requesting for user evidance within a report will be hidden. It beggers belief the utter contempt this governmt gives to disabled and poorest.

  13. Mark Parry March 25, 2014 at 1:51 pm - Reply

    MPs/governments and politicians have never ever cared for their own people. They only way they show appreciation is by stabbing us all in the back. And that is 100% fact.

  14. Editor March 25, 2014 at 2:51 pm - Reply

    Reblogged this on kickingthecat.

  15. Samuel Miller (@Hephaestus7) March 25, 2014 at 2:57 pm - Reply

    I’m also frustrated with the Work & Pensions Committee. I’ve written them twice in the past several months regarding the refusal of the DWP to release sickness benefit claimant mortality statistics.

    As you probably know, Scottish Parliament’s Welfare Reform Committee published the testimony of disabled people and I firmly believe that the Work & Pensions Committee should do the same for the sake of transparency.

    I was left with a bitter taste in my mouth when the Leveson Inquiry refused to grant Disabled People’s Organizations (DPO)an oral hearing. We certainly deserve better treatment.

  16. jeffrey davies March 25, 2014 at 4:19 pm - Reply

    I wondered why they left me out I wondered why they didn’t shout but nowing labour nowing the tories then their ties are just the same not red but blue grey or green never the red to be seen yet they asked I sent my cd no im lost why I did they seem to be lost between a tie a red or blue yet another waste of of time jeff3

  17. paul dutton March 25, 2014 at 7:35 pm - Reply

    Shocking but not surprising

  18. socialaction2014 March 25, 2014 at 9:00 pm - Reply

    Reblogged this on Social Action.

  19. Christopher John Ball March 25, 2014 at 10:24 pm - Reply

    Reblogged this on Christopher John Ball and commented:
    We are being increasingly ignored by those who govern yet they fail to see the real danger is not that they abandon us but that we abandon them. The time to do that draws ever closer.

  20. karon March 25, 2014 at 10:29 pm - Reply

    This is whats been going on for a long while i have a nephew and a sister that are being totally ignored, im at a loss with all the evidence they have given , and their money has been stopped with no explanation, they have been treated so unfair im looking to take things futher they are being disciminated against there disability, i dont know whats happening,they dont want to know, your money is going to be stopped no matter what , ive also not had much help, ive had to find out all the help myself they are very good at not anwsering straight forward questions,and also not getting back to you ,,,i can go on and on i have all my letters were they have not got back to me all recorded delivery so i can prove my case but no one wants to listen,its very dranning on me too but i wont give up , i cant as they have no one to help them,

    • Mike Sivier March 25, 2014 at 10:36 pm - Reply

      I think you’re misunderstanding what’s going on here, Karon.
      This is to do with evidence for the House of Commons’ Work and Pensions Committee, which has launched an inquiry into ESA and the work capability assessment. It seems material sent in for that inquiry is being sidelined as background documentation.
      From what you’re saying, it looks like you could have provided good material, but I’m guessing that you didn’t even know this was happening.
      Or am I reading your comment wrongly?

    • amnesiaclinic March 26, 2014 at 9:29 am - Reply

      I am so sorry to hear this, Karon. The very, very unfair and vindictive aspect is that those who are already under the stress of coping with illness, jobloss etc then have all this extra stress thrust on them. If you don’t have an friend or advocate who is able and willing to take on the system then you are going to give up which is exactly what they want. It sounds as if your relatives are very lucky to have you fighting for them. You need to take care of yourself though. Thank you for all you are doing.
      Much lovexxxx

  21. […] Here’s a disturbing email from the Commons Work and Pensions committee: “Thank you for your submission to Work and Pensions …Continue reading →  […]

  22. karon March 26, 2014 at 4:26 pm - Reply

    mike yes ive lost the plot sorry about that,i get that now silly me .amnesiaclinic thankyou for your kind words all the best karon xxx

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