ESA/WCA inquiry chair: ‘Victims are NOT being sidelined’

Dame Anne Begg. [Image: BBC]

Dame Anne Begg. [Image: BBC]

Dame Anne Begg has responded to concerns that people who submitted evidence to the Commons Work and Pensions Committee’s inquiry into Employment and Support Allowance and Work Capability Assessments were being sidelined – with a denial.

The committee’s chairperson said the call for evidence generated 190 submissions, and every single submission will be circulated to all committee members.

In addition, the committee clerk in charge of the inquiry, who will be writing the brief for committee members, has carefully read all the submissions as they have come in, she stated in an email yesterday. (March 30)

“However, in line with our practice in the past when we have received a large number of submissions describing personal experiences (such as our inquiries into the roll out of ESA and the Pensions Bill) we have taken the decision that not all of the personal submissions will be treated as ‘formal written evidence’ which is published along with our report,” she continued.

“This is because a number were very personal in nature, or didn’t address the terms of reference, while some asked for anonymity which isn’t possible in formal evidence, or included inappropriate language.

“It was made clear in our call for evidence that the committee would make the decision whether a submission would be treated as formal evidence or not. However, it is still treated as evidence – just not ‘formal written’ evidence.

“Once the formal evidence is published, you will be able to see that there are quite a number from individuals so it is simply untrue to say that all individual submissions are being ignored, suppressed or sidelined.”

Are you happy with that?

Personally, I can’t say that I am entirely convinced, as my own evidence (for example) fits the required criteria and should not be omitted from the formal evidence for the reasons Dame Anne mentioned in her email. Yet this is what has happened.

I responded, saying it is hard to give the benefit of the doubt to any Parliamentary investigation into this issue because of the mistreatment that people have suffered over the past few years.

While I would like to think that the Work and Pensions Committee, and those who work for it, will treat us all with fairness, it is only prudent to suggest that we all keep a watchful eye on proceedings, including all documentation that comes from this inquiry. If there is the slightest hint of foul play, then it will be our responsibility to raise the alarm.

Hopefully Dame Anne, the committee and its clerks have realised that their conduct is being scrutinised.

Let us hope they respond positively.

Follow me on Twitter: @MidWalesMike

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  1. sdbast March 31, 2014 at 10:39 am - Reply

    Reblogged this on sdbast.

  2. amnesiaclinic March 31, 2014 at 10:58 am - Reply

    Well done. Good they know every move is being watched. So what will be taken as formal evidence? Nothing from those who have been affected by this? Just their side?

    Keep up the good work!

    • Mike Sivier March 31, 2014 at 11:08 am - Reply

      Well, Dame Anne said we would see that many individual submissions are being included in the published evidence, so we’ll have to see how it pans out.

  3. jaynel62 March 31, 2014 at 11:26 am - Reply

    I totally agree Mike – just found what happened re our petition!! Keep up the pressure x

  4. […] Dame Anne Begg has responded to concerns that people who submitted evidence to the Commons Work and Pensions Committee’s inquiry into Employment and Support Allowance and Work Capability Assessment…  […]

  5. beastrabban March 31, 2014 at 12:00 pm - Reply

    Reblogged this on Beastrabban’s Weblog and commented:
    Mike here expresses his misgivings at Dame Anne Begg’s claim that some of the personal testimonies the public have submitted to the Work and Pensions Committee will not be side-lined. Dame Begg claims that, although some of the personal testimony will be circulated as background information, it will still be treated as evidence. It just won’t be included with formal evidence. Mike concludes that her assurance that it will be still be treated as evidence is not entirely convincing, and makes the point that we will have to keep the inquiry under very careful scrutiny. I have to say that I share the widespread cynicism towards inquiries, as all too often they are simply cosmetic in function, intended to show that the government is doing something, when in fact it has absolutely no intention of doing anything. I hope in this case that I’m wrong, and the Committee will treat all the evidence with the impartiality and scrupulous concern it deserves.

  6. Samuel Miller (@Hephaestus7) March 31, 2014 at 12:57 pm - Reply

    Scottish Parliament’s Welfare Reform Committee has published one anonymous submission ( in addition to several named or identified submissions.

    Why is the Work and Pensions Committee so reluctant to publish ESA/WCA testimony from sick and disabled people? Is it because the DWP has “negative views” about claimants and the Committee wants to protect individuals from possible government reprisals?

    • Mike Sivier March 31, 2014 at 3:40 pm - Reply

      Could be!
      That would tie in well with an email I’ve just received (I won’t name the sender or go too deeply into the context). They said the DWP may use any decision as part of an internal memo for training/information purposes, and it only takes one bad apple getting hold of a claimant’s name to make things – potentially – very awkward for them.

  7. Barry Davies March 31, 2014 at 1:20 pm - Reply

    Good work Mike, I’m pretty sure that there would have been far more than 190 submissions, as the link was spread across Facebook and other sites.

  8. Joanna March 31, 2014 at 1:30 pm - Reply

    Will anything ever be done anyway? I’ve watched a couple of the select committee meetings and unless there are punitive actions for their increasingly incoherent answers, then where is the drive for them to actually do their jobs in a fairer way. Instead their cop-out is “we don’t have the data or answers at this time” Which in reality means “we haven’t had time to invent data and answers at this time” All A huge cop-out and a waste of time, at the same time they are getting paid huge amounts of money to indirectly torture sick and disabled Human Beings!

    If I have this all wrong, please forgive me, but it is how I see it!

  9. jeffrey davies March 31, 2014 at 1:58 pm - Reply

    yet another committee meeting will they use it nah to many dying the longer it goes on the less there are of us sometimes I wonder but now that to die at their hands will not weigh heavy on them but alas it greed taking over jeff3

  10. jess March 31, 2014 at 3:13 pm - Reply

    To be honest, Mike, I suspect that had you not queried the status of these submissions, they would have been sidelined.

    So thanks

    Even if they are not included…you have let them know that the submissions will not be ‘swept under the carpet’

  11. samedifference1 March 31, 2014 at 3:55 pm - Reply

    Reblogged this on Same Difference.

  12. Nick March 31, 2014 at 4:29 pm - Reply

    you also have to remember their are people like myself who did not supply any evidence as for fear of reprisal as i have had in the past on a vast scale

  13. jaypot2012 March 31, 2014 at 6:30 pm - Reply

    Reblogged this on Jay's Journal.

  14. chunkyfunkymunky March 31, 2014 at 9:38 pm - Reply

    Reblogged this on chunkyfunkymunky.

  15. spirit March 31, 2014 at 9:52 pm - Reply

    One of the processes that underlies the psychological distress engendered by encounters with this fraudulent test, seemingly unaccountable ‘healthcare professionals’ and the deployment of spurious medical models for ideological purposes by political entities… is that you have to fill in forms with what can be the most intimate and vulnerable parts of your life, produce genuine medical evidence, undergo knowingly humiliating and discriminatory assessments, only to be deliberately misrepresented (with potential for devastating consequences). Institutional lie factories. They nullify you as a person, deny you agency and dignity, threaten your existence. Try to explain to people this (not uncommon) experience and one is often met with incredulity, anger, denial. Why the hell would anybody want to offer their testimony, recount their experiences as victims when they face the possibility of being sidelined again, their cries for help ignored, utterly invalidated as human beings. How long did those abused by Jimmy Savile have to wait before anybody would actually listen to them? How long have the families affected by Hillsborough had to wait before even being able to get even close to the truth? And yet it now seems clear that those brave enough to offer testimony may find their accounts rejected for spurious reasons such as the euphemistically subjective ‘inappropriate language’ or being judged to have strayed from a very specific remit.

    This cannot be allowed to be ignored for so long that the many, many cases of institutional abuse (for that is what it is, at the very least) that have been not just allowed but deliberately, knowingly brought about by this cruel machine, its drivers and manufacturers.

    Too many have died unheard. Let this end. Let us not fail them also in death. Those who are responsible for this crime must be brought to justice, forced to account for their actions and face the consequences. Unlike those they have destroyed at least they might get the chance of a fair trial and for truth to prevail. Say it now and keep saying it until it actually happens:


    • Nick March 31, 2014 at 10:36 pm - Reply

      —Dame Anne Begg knows only to well about how many have died going through the welfare reform process but is forbidden to use her figures to hand in the house of commons

      a bit odd if you ask me from the chairperson to be silenced but that’s the state of play today in politics

      you only have to look at the Hillsboro disaster saga

      • Mike Sivier March 31, 2014 at 10:43 pm - Reply

        I don’t think that’s right, Nick.
        It seems unlikely that a government department would hand over potentially damaging figures to a leading member of the leading Opposition party.
        As for Hillsborough, I fail to follow you.

        • Nick April 1, 2014 at 11:34 am - Reply

          all mp’s mike are banned to speak about the hundreds of premature deaths in the house of commons following those that have died through welfare reform

          i have dealt with Annes office the past 4 years so she has always been in the loop on the deaths as have the UN as has mike meacher and Dennis skinner

          Hillsborough,is the same just a government cover up on a vast scale going back 25 years and still no one will get to the truth

          • Mike Sivier April 1, 2014 at 11:31 pm

            I don’t buy it.
            There is a difference between government and Parliament.
            As a responsible member of Parliament, if Anne Begg or anyone else had the slightest suspicion that foul play was taking place, they would be duty-bound to report it.

          • Nick April 2, 2014 at 12:12 am

            that’s my take on this mike. only Dennis Skinner has mentioned the deaths in the commons but in a very casual way indicating only a few but as we all know it has been more then a few and continuing

            Anne has never mentioned any deaths at all in the commons as far as I’m aware ?

          • Mike Sivier April 2, 2014 at 12:14 am

            Well, you’re entitled to your opinion but I think you should back it up with evidence before putting it out here as fact.

          • Nick April 2, 2014 at 3:45 pm

            it’s very unlikely I’m wrong mike hence all the nonsense from the mp’s over welfare reform and the deaths that have taken place

            if the mp’s could speak freely about those deaths then we would not be in this position we are in now where deaths through negligence are taking place and all mp’s afraid to speak out

          • Mike Sivier April 2, 2014 at 8:43 pm

            You have no evidence that they have any evidence. There is no case.

  16. Quinonostante April 1, 2014 at 8:44 am - Reply

    Reblogged this on Mentally Wealthy.

  17. Steve O'Gorman April 2, 2014 at 4:50 pm - Reply

    Hi Mike

    I submitted evidence (which is recorded in my own blog, and in my email outbox) after having terrific problems getting them to acknowledge receipt of my medical certificate. I had an automated reply a few days ago, thanking me for my submission. I can’t believe fewer than 200 people took the time to contact them, though.

  18. micant1812 April 7, 2014 at 12:53 am - Reply

    Reblogged this on My Blog.

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