Remembrance: Former servicemen and women took part in the formal Remembrance Day parades across the UK earlier this month – but many of them, and many more of their colleagues, are being threatened with the loss of the benefits the country owes to them, thanks to the heartlessness of an ungrateful government [Image: Associated Press].
The following article by disability researcher Mo Stewart was intended for publication in tandem with a story on the same subject in a national newspaper, to coincide with Remembrance Day – but the newspaper concerned got cold feet at the last minute. Don’t all leap up and shout “What else can we expect from the right-wing media?” at once.
Mo has agreed to let Vox Political publish it here. Over to her:
The hypocrisy is breath-taking…
At the annual Conservative Party Conference in October, the Prime Minister offered a very warm and welcome salute to the British Armed Forces.(1) This included the veterans from both WW1 and WW2, an acknowledgement of outstanding efforts 70 years ago when they had fought on the Normandy beaches on D-Day, and a tribute to modern British forces who fought in the Gulf.
Prior to the PM’s conference speech, contact had been made with approximately 80,000 disabled older veterans, advising the annual increase in their monthly Disability Living Allowance (DLA) but warning that this vital benefit was about to be withdrawn. Yet there is no information about this unexpected threat to British War Pensioners on the Department for Work and Pensions’ (DWP) website, or on the MOD or Veterans-UK websites. The DWP’s threat to the financial survival of these older disabled veterans included a suggestion that working age War Pensioners may wish to apply for the new Personal Independence Payment (PIP) that has replaced DLA. This suggestion was accompanied with a stark warning that the award of PIP is not guaranteed, regardless of previous payments of DLA awarded to British military forces who were disabled for life in the service of the nation with a permanent disability that can’t possibly improve.
PIP has a 10-12 month waiting list for new applicants (2) and the government’s own figures predict that 600,000 people with permanent disabilities will lose their entitlement to financial support when they lose DLA and attempt to make a claim for PIP.(3) Many experts have already identified the risk to disabled people as the new PIP benefit is rolled out and DLA claimants are reassessed. Richard Hawkes, the Chief Executive for the charity SCOPE remains concerned:
For months now we have been saying the Government’s assessment
for the new Personal Independence Payment is deeply flawed.
It looks set to repeat the mistakes of the Work Capability Assessment. (4)
The removal of DLA guarantees that thousands of War Pensioners, permanently disabled whilst in military service, risk the possible loss of their homes and access to their home carers. This significant risk to older disabled veterans is also in breach of the principles of the much-hallowed Armed Forces Covenant.(5) Working age War Pensioners will now live in fear of the loss of this essential benefit, originally guaranteed for life, as their personal sacrifices when serving this nation are totally disregarded by the DWP, despite the PM’s constant public claim of admiration for British forces and disabled veterans.(6)(7)(8)
The unconditional support for British disabled veterans was exclusively reported by The Sun in May 2012 when Political Editor Tom Newton Dunn ran with the headline: Wounded heroes beat MOD in benefits battle. His strong piece expressed concern that disabled veterans had been expected to subject themselves to the same [bogus] assessments as civilians: (6)
Wounded war heroes are to keep their disability benefits for life after
the PM stepped in to halt a bid to cut them…
Incredibly, MOD bureaucrats were insisting that wounded heroes get
the same grilling as suspected cheats and scroungers – because they
feared their cash-strapped department would be left to pick up the bill
for administering the pay-outs. (6)
When visiting Camp Bastion in July 2012 the PM made a very public promise, as reported by the BBC News and the national press (7)(8). David Cameron claimed that ‘disabled veterans’ would not be adversely affected by the welfare reforms and could retain access to DLA for life, without the need for any reassessment, in recognition of their ‘service to the nation.’ Yet, the PM forgot to mention that this decision only applied to modern disabled veterans (9) and the DWP have now covertly threatened the financial survival of a minimum of 80,000 disabled older British veterans by the planned removal of DLA from this nation’s working-age War Pensioners.(10)
This disturbing threat to the welfare of older disabled veterans is despite the fact that this researcher received a personal telecom from the Cabinet Office last year, as witnessed by care staff, confirming that ‘…the Cabinet has just agreed that all War Pensioners can retain access to DLA and will not be reassessed as an acknowledgement of their service to the nation’. During the same conversation, the caller asked what this decision would mean for the research.
Evidence from the self-funded independent research, demonstrating American corporate influence with the UK government’s welfare reforms (11), has been used in every welfare reform debate in the House of Lords and the House of Commons since 2011. The research exposed the fact that the Work Capability Assessment (WCA), as conducted by Atos Healthcare and used by the DWP to remove vulnerable people from long-term sickness benefit was a totally bogus assessment using a manipulated bio-psychosocial model.(11)(12) The research further exposed the enforced welfare reforms as being totally unrelated to the banking crash that had created the need for austerity measures, yet the national press refused to publish the research findings. In reality, the eventual demolition of the welfare state is the long-ago planned Thatcher legacy, inherited by her devoted disciple David Cameron. The PM waited for a plausible excuse to introduce welfare reforms as this nation moves ever closer to the removal of the welfare state with welfare and health care, eventually, to be funded by private insurance (12) as the national press help to undermine the welfare state with increasing numbers of adverts by private health insurance companies…
The same research evidence was accepted by the United Nations (UN) and it is widely believed that the UN are to investigate the UK government for the abuses of the human rights of sick and disabled people.(13) The many victims, survivors and bereaved relatives of claimants of long-term sickness benefit, who didn’t survive this government-funded medical tyranny masquerading as welfare reforms, are waiting to learn when the Coalition government will eventually be investigated for crimes against humanity.(14) Meanwhile, Lord Freud, the Minister for Welfare Reform, continues to refuse to publish the annual death totals of sick and disabled people, removed from long-term sickness benefit and forced to apply for jobs their health will not permit them to tolerate as the DWP finally admit to reinvestigating 60 suspicious deaths following the WCA.… (15)
At the time of the phone call from the Cabinet Office, the caller was advised that DLA for War Pensioners was totally unrelated to the research, which would continue. However, with this recent reality that removes DLA and threatens the welfare of 80,000 working age War Pensioners, it seems that the call was an attempt to incentivise this veteran to end the research. It was an attempt to prevent more detailed research that had already exposed the authority of a notorious American healthcare insurance corporate giant, whose representatives happily boast of their influence with successive UK governments regarding the UK welfare reforms.(16)
The recent justification for the shocking and unexpected threat to this nation’s working age War Pensioners, as provided by the poorly-briefed Defence Personnel Secretariat, is that disabled War Pensioners have access to the more generous constant care allowance, which is a supplement added to the basic war pension that replaces DLA for care. This statement is not only misleading but totally incorrect. It is disregarding the fact that War Pensioners need to demonstrate an 80 per cent disability or higher to access the constant care allowance; whilst disabled veterans with less than an 80 per cent permanent disability were awarded DLA for life because they would be disabled for the rest of their life – something that the PM, Iain Duncan Smith and DWP Ministers still fail to grasp.
This latest DWP decision is a betrayal of working age disabled War Pensioners by the Coalition government as David Cameron continues to make supportive speeches and to lay a wreath at the Cenotaph, knowing his government has jeopardised the future survival of 80,000 disabled veterans who willingly risked their lives for the nation in years gone by.
Many War Pensioners have the additional unemployability supplement added to the basic pension, which identifies a profound disability and confirms that they were not expected to work again, so why are they being threatened with destitution, or worse, at the same time as the Prime Minister pays tribute to the British Armed Forces in this the 100th anniversary year of WW1 and the 70th anniversary of the Normandy landings?
It is unprecedented for any UK government to threaten the welfare of one generation of disabled veterans over another, yet members of the Coalition appear to do it with ease. They are no doubt confident that there is no authority in place to prevent this unacceptable reality. It remains unclear as to how many politicians are aware of this decision that will negatively impact on their constituents who were disabled when serving this nation when in uniform in years gone by. Once again the DWP has taken a decision based on costs alone, without any apparent consideration of the inevitable dire human consequences. Of greatest concern, the loss of DLA for care at the highest level will remove access to funded carers in the home as supplied by the local authorities. The award of DLA for care at the highest level is the tag used by local authorities to justify the costs of providing home carers to disabled people in the community. Without it, the care will be removed and there is no guarantee that those now in receipt of DLA for care at the highest level will be awarded the equivalent level of PIP or, indeed, any award of PIP at all. (17)
The Defence Personnel Secretariat don’t like being challenged and claim even more justification as approximately 50 per cent of the 166,000 surviving War Pensioners are now over the age of 70 years old, will retain access to DLA and, happily, this callous decision will not affect them. Modern British forces already have the Prime Minister’s guarantee of permanent access to DLA so someone, somewhere, should be asking why approximately 80,000 working age disabled War Pensioners are now being targeted by the DWP when all other disabled veterans are permitted to retain access to DLA with all the financial security attached to it.
Are they really being punished because my integrity is not for sale?
vhttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jgs4UjwWtow – video
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