Monthly Archives: August 2015

IDS special adviser gets peerage – as DWP admits thousands died after ‘fit for work’ assessments

Iain Duncan Smith’s top special adviser has been awarded a peerage — on the same day that the DWP finally admitted that thousands of people have died shortly after being declared ‘fit for work’.

Philippa Stroud has been at IDS’ side for years and shares the blame for many of the Tories’ social policies. The department had fought for months to prevent release of the damning stats — at one point telling parliament that they didn’t exist.

Source: IDS special adviser gets peerage … on day DWP admits thousands died after ‘fit to work’ assessments | Political Scrapbook

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Statement On DWP Mortality Data | New Approach

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Rather than admit to his failures, Iain Duncan Smith continues to operate with the approval of the public who have been duped in to believing his chaotic reforms are successfully changing lives for the better. He does so by manipulating perceptions of claimants utilising highly misleading propaganda. If Duncan Smith was brave enough to offer himself up to proper scrutiny, we believe his unacceptable incompetence would be laid bare for all to see.

For the avoidance of doubt, New Approach will work with any politician who genuinely believes in the abolition of the toxic Work Capability Assessment and who shows a real intention to listening to the ideas we, and others, have on a proper replacement.

Iain Duncan Smith has at long last made it known that he recognises the assessment process is flawed. However, there is nothing to indicate he is genuine about finding a better way forward. To date all he has come up with is to announce regressive measures to reduce the money available to claimants who are most distanced from the labour market, redefine the definitions of vulnerability and disability to suit his harmful rhetoric and carry on manipulating statistics to obtain what he perceives to be good newspaper headlines.

Duncan Smith’s latest stab in the dark is to lay the blame at employers for not taking enough disabled people on or who fail to ensure they do all all they can to retain staff who suffer temporary illness. Duncan Smith fails to recognise how his government’s harmful rhetoric has caused untold damage to gaining the confidence of prospective employers. Furthermore he has done nothing to introduce legislation which protects employees, often affected by mental health problems experienced as a direct result of problems they experience within the workplace, from facing dismissal for the crime of being unwell.

We firmly believe Duncan Smith is unfit for purpose and is not the right person to reform the welfare state, in that regard we encourage people to join Debbie Abrahams MP, and many others, in calling for his immediate resignation.

Petition: To debate a vote of no confidence in DWP secretary Ian Duncan Smith

Source: Statement On DWP Mortality Data | New Approach

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Thousands have died after being found fit for work, DWP figures show | Society | The Guardian

More than 80 people a month are dying shortly after being declared “fit for work” according to new data, prompting campaigners to call for an overhaul of the government’s controversial welfare regime.

Statistics released by the Department for Work and Pensions on Thursday show that 2,380 people died between December 2011 and February 2014 shortly after a work capability assessment (WCA) found they were able to work.

The administration of the WCA by officials has been widely criticised as crude and inaccurate by campaigners. There have been hundreds of thousands of appeals of fit-for-work decisions over the last few years, about four in 10 of which have succeeded.

Source: Thousands have died after being found fit for work, DWP figures show | Society | The Guardian

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Video: Victim’s sister: The DWP know they are killing people – Telegraph

This supports what This Blog has been suggesting for the past few days – that to understand the cause of incapacity benefit-related deaths we need to check for major changes that would have affected the deceased during their last days and weeks.

Cathie Wood whose brother Mark died four months after being found ‘fit to work’, said: “The DWP know they are killing people.”

“There are some prices to be paid for these austerity cuts and it’s important we know what those prices are and they are individual people who have died.”

Ms Wood believes that it was her brother’s benefits being stopped which caused his eating disorder and food phobia to suddenly worsen in the months before his death.

“Why would he go from being underweight and not in great shape to dying … during that period? It’s because he gradually realised [in] April, May [and] June [that] he was in trouble and had no money.”

Source: Video: Victim’s sister: The DWP know they are killing people – Telegraph

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More Than 4,000 Died Within Six Weeks Of Being Deemed ‘Fit For Work’, Reveal Government

TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady called for an urgent enquiry into the figures, and said: “We urgently need an enquiry into the government’s back-to-work regime. These disturbing findings cannot be swept under the carpet.

“The fact that more than 80 people are dying each month shortly after being declared ‘fit for work’ should concern us all. These deaths relate to just one benefit – Employment Support Allowance (ESA).

“We need a welfare system that supports people to find decent jobs not one that causes stress and ill health.”

Source: More Than 4,000 Died Within Six Weeks Of Being Deemed ‘Fit For Work’, Reveal Government

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More than 2,300 died after fit for work assessment – DWP figures – BBC News

Prepare to be stunned by the magnificent way with words displayed by This Writer in the BBC’s article:

Mike Sivier, a campaigner who made one of the FOI requests, said: “I am glad that the figures have come out. “The whole point of making an FOI request was to raise questions. It is important to keep asking questions.”

How erudite! Now you can see why I prefer writing.

Labour leadership candidate and shadow health secretary Andy Burnham said they were “shocking figures” and called for an “urgent national debate” about the statistics.

Source: More than 2,300 died after fit for work assessment – DWP figures – BBC News

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DWP reveals benefit claimant deaths (From Herald Scotland)

The DWP’s death statistics are getting mainstream media publicity and it would be welcome if these reports get as much publicity as possible. Here’s one:

Nearly 10,000 people claiming benefits died in the space of a little over two years, after being declared fit for work, according to new figures.
The statistics on the death rates of people claiming benefits were published by the Department for Work and Pensions after a lengthy battle during which the Government resisted publishing the information.
In response to freedom of information requests from campaigner and blogger Mike Sivier, work and pensions minister Iain Duncan Smith finally ordered the release of the details.

Source: DWP reveals benefit claimant deaths (From Herald Scotland)

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Known number of deaths while claiming incapacity benefits nears 100,000

[Picture: Skwawkbox blog]

[Picture: Skwawkbox blog]

The Department for Work and Pensions has admitted defeat in its attempt to hide the number of people who have died while claiming incapacity benefits since November 2011 – and has announced that the number who died between January that year and February 2014 is a shocking 91,740.

This represents an increase to an average of 99 deaths per day or 692 per week, between the start of December 2011 and the end of February 2014 – compared with 32 deaths per day/222 per week between January and November 2011.

The DWP has strenuously asserted that “any causal effect between benefits and mortality cannot be assumed from these statistics”.

It is correct to make this point.

The DWP has also claimed that “these isolated figures provide limited scope for analysis and nothing can be gained from this publication that would allow the reader to form any judgement as to the effects or impacts of the Work Capability Assessment”.

However, the increase in the frequency of these deaths is enough to raise questions about the way the incapacity benefit system is being run – questions that demand full, frank and immediate answers.

For example, the work-related activity group is composed entirely of people who are expected to recover from their illnesses and be well enough to return to work within a year. In that group, there should be no deaths at all – barring accidents. Why have nearly 10,000 people lost their lives after being assigned there?

Deaths in the support group and the assessment phase are more problematic because they involve people who do have serious illnesses, many of whom may be expected to die while claiming. But are these deaths being hastened artificially by the DWP’s treatment of them?

A statistical release published today (August 27) in response to my Freedom of Information request dating back to May 28, 2014, states that the total number of deaths involving claimants of Incapacity Benefit, Employment and Support Allowance and Severe Disablement Allowance – between the start of December 2011 and the end of February 2014 is 81,140, including 50,580 (ESA claimants) and 30,560 (IB/SDA claimants). All figures are rounded up to the nearest 10.

Add this to the 10,600 deaths that were already known between January and November 2011 and you have 91,740.

Information for ESA claimants shows:

  • 7,540 deaths while claims were being assessed, bringing the known total to 9,740.
  • 7,200 deaths in the work-related activity group, bringing the known total to 8,500.
  • 32,530 deaths in the support group, bringing the known total to 39,630.
  • And 3,320 deaths in which the claimant was not in receipt of any benefit payment and is therefore marked as “unknown”.

The total number of claimants who flowed off ESA, IB or SDA whose date of death was at the same time and of those the number with a WCA decision of “fit for work”, between December 2011 to February 2014 was 2,650 (2,380 ESA, 270 IB/SDA).

And the total number of individuals who flowed off ESA, IB or SDA whose date of death was at the same time with a completed appeal following a WCA decision of “fit for work”, Great Britain: December 2011 to February 2014 was 1,360 (1,340 ESA, 20 IB/SDA).

The new numbers suggest the average number of deaths per day between January 2011 and February 2014 was around 79.5 – 556 per week.

This compares with an average between January and November 2011 of around 32 per day – 222 per week.

This Writer has not yet examined the DWP’s accompanying statistical release – providing the fudged Age-Standardised Mortality Rates between 2003 and 2014. The information in this one states that mortality dropped from 1,111 deaths per 100,000 (across all three benefits) to 1,032.

But claims for Incapacity Benefit (ESA didn’t exist at the time) were at an all-time high in 2003 – of nearly three million throughout the year. The numbers claiming this kind of benefit have both fallen and risen since then.

So what are we to conclude?

Firstly, the figures released today demand more considered, in-depth study than can be managed by This Writer within an hour or so of their release.

Second, that the DWP should drop its appeal against publishing them (for obvious reasons).

Third, that the Age-Standardised Mortality Rates give a false picture of the number of deaths – as predicted on this blog.

Finally, that serious questions must now be asked about the way incapacity benefits are being administered by the Department for Work and Pensions under Iain Duncan Smith.

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Forget heartless, IDS is INCOMPETENT | SPeye Joe (Welfarewrites)

150826ids-can-do-SPeyeJoe

Joe Halewood takes apart the Gentleman Ranker’s latest attempt at social Darwinism with a few to-the-point paragraphs.

Particularly noticeable in his article – once you’ve got past the introductory accusation that Iain Duncan Smith has increased the Housing Benefit bill by £1 billion per year, in real terms – is the analysis of his use of language (“work people could do”) and the people to whom it will be applied (similar in physique to Steven Hawking).

They could do any number of things, in Iain Duncan Smith’s mind. In reality, his latest loony plan will probably end up killing them – like most, if not all, of the others he has put forward  in recent years.

The man whose policies have single handedly managed to increase the housing benefit bill by a billion pounds per year in real terms – or about £2.74 million per day if you prefer – with the bedroom tax, benefit cap, LHA cap and SAR cap; policies which all sought to reduce it, is now concerning his pea-brain with what work those migrated from Incapacity Benefit onto ESA could do!

Yes the God-fearing Christian himself Iain Duncan Smith now wants to blame the lazy disabled bar stewards for his back of a fag packet inept policy cock-ups.

Source: Forget heartless, IDS is INCOMPETENT | SPeye Joe (Welfarewrites)

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Unrepentant IDS will persecute the sick no matter what the death statistics say

ids-auschwitz-meme

The publication of the DWP’s damped-down death statistics (we’ll be given ratios because the actual number of deaths is too inflammatory, we’re told) will be a victory for those of us who have campaigned for the facts, no matter what they actually say.

If you didn’t know already, the DWP only announced that it would publish these figures on Thursday (August 27) after This Writer supplied his submission to the Information Tribunal on the DWP’s appeal against providing the actual numbers – a submission which included a request to have the appeal struck out on the grounds that it is an abuse of process.

Suddenly the date of publication went from being “before the end of autumn” (according to Priti Patel) to August 27. Clearly the DWP was terrified that it would lose control of events and the public would get accurate information, and acted accordingly.

In short: IDS and his department fell apart like a paper bag in a thunderstorm.

It is impossible to say what the statistics will reveal, when they are finally published (at 9.30am on Thursday, it seems). Perhaps they will provide exhaustive information on the deaths that have taken place, broken down into the groups requested by This Writer and others (it is said to be in response to FoI requests), and also providing information on the causes of the deaths, with appendices containing the raw data used to produce the report.

Alternatively, we could get a dumbed-down piece of fluff that provides as little as possible that can be used to find out the extent of the carnage, but can be waved at us by Iain Duncan Smith as evidence that he has given us what we wanted… and as evidence that any figures demanded by the Information Tribunal are of little consequence.

That is the aim – damage limitation. To make it seem that nothing out of the ordinary is happening. Plausible deniability.

The DWP already believes it has plausible deniability for every dodgy death on its books; no DWP representative can be said to be directly responsible for any of the deaths – they were a consequence of claimants’ illnesses, right? Even the suicides can be claimed as indicative of claimants’ poor mental health – except we know that anyone confessing suicidal thoughts at a work capability assessment is immediately asked why they haven’t already killed themselves.

Not conclusive? Maybe not. But then, that isn’t the only evidence available. It’s all part of a bigger picture.

In December last year, This Blog published a series of articles (here’s one) explaining how the DWP’s behaviour may be equated with the Nazi ‘chequebook euthanasia’ programme that eventually became known as Aktion T4 – a programme that caused the deaths of 70,000 German people with (among other problems) mental illnesses, before its methods were used against entire races the Nazis considered undesirable, in the extermination camps.

“It could be argued that the Coalition Government doesn’t have any blood on its hands. Nobody goes around the United Kingdom subjecting the sick and disabled to so-called ‘mercy’ killings, after all,” I wrote.

“They just subject people – who are already in an unstable frame of mind – to a highly pressurised ‘fitness’ test and then demand to know why, considering their condition, they haven’t killed themselves yet. Then they let those people do all the work themselves.”

On Thursday, it’s just possible that we might find out how successful they’ve been. If there have been more than 70,273 deaths in the last few years, the Conservative Party will have beaten the Nazis.

And Iain Duncan Smith intends to continue. Only this week, he announced a new plan to purge the Employment and Support Allowance benefit bill of mentally ill claimants. He told us “Work is good for your health”.

In fact, if you have a mental illness, work can drive you to an early death via a combination of (among others) stress, anxiety, depression and paranoia.

Duncan Smith’s claim that “Work is good for your health” may therefore be seen as a lie – almost as great a lie as the slogan from which it was adapted.

You’ll be familiar with it: “Work makes you free” – it hangs in its more familiar form of “Arbeit macht frei” over the gates of the Auschwitz extermination camp that Duncan Smith visited in 2009.

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