Category Archives: Assessment

DWP confirms ESA £5,000 underpayment update next month

The Department for Work and Pensions office in London.

This is fairly straightforward – although when the DWP announced it was doing this, I was among many who thought it was a cover for yet another purge of benefit claimants.

I wonder… When the report is published on July 8, will it include a section on the number of people the Department found to have been overpaid or wrongly paid, and from whom it is now clawing money back?

That might be interesting.

The DWP confirmed it will release a final update on progress of checking 600,000 Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) cases for underpayments next month.

In a brief statement on the GOV.UK website, the DWP announced the statistics will be available from 9.30am on Thursday, July 8 as part of the completion of the exercise – reports the Daily Record.

In the last update, DWP reported that 600,000 ESA claims started the reassessment journey, with 112,000 claimants receiving arrears payments.

The UK Government has already paid out a total of £589million in backdated payments, with claimants receiving an average of £5,000 in January 2020.

Source: DWP confirms ESA £5,000 underpayment update next month – Liverpool Echo

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Every new MP receives briefing on how Tory social security reforms have harmed us – so they can’t say they don’t know

Long-term readers of This Site will remember Mo Stewart, the researcher into the harm being caused to claimants of sickness and disability benefits by successive Conservative governments’ determination to convert the social security system to a for-profit insurance scheme.

Mo spent 10 years researching and writing a book on this subject: Cash Not Care – The Planned Demolition of the UK Welfare State.

After the 2019 general election, she became concerned that the huge new influx of Conservative MPs – along with those from other political parties – were ignorant of the harm that government policies had caused.

So she wrote a briefing paper specifically addressing the issue and sent it to all of them.

Labour’s John McDonnell has apparently offered to arrange a debate on the subject, if possible.

Whether or not that happens, Mo has provided me with a copy of the document so we all have a record of what these MPs should know – and so they won’t be able to plead ignorance.

And here it is:

Social Policy Abused:
The Creation Of Preventable Harm

Executive Summary

The Preventable Harm Project (the Project) ran for ten years and closed in November 2019, with the evidence identified within the Project findings widely promoted during 2019/20. The Project identified the bipartisan political ambition to eventually remove the UK welfare state, to be replaced by private income replacement health insurance. In order to remove the welfare state, it was first necessary to remove the psychological security provided by the welfare state. This was achieved by the adoption of a flawed disability assessment model, and the manipulation of the general public aided by the tabloid press, that successfully demonised claimants of disability benefit(s). Large numbers of suicides linked to the adoption of the Work Capability Assessment are overlooked by the Department for Work and Pensions, and successive Rule 43 ‘prevention of future deaths’ Coroners’ reports, highlighting the link between the Work Capability Assessment and suicides, have also been disregarded. The Work Capability Assessment was fatally flawed by design and should be abolished, and the departmental intimidation of disability benefit claimants should be outlawed.

Introduction: The Creation of Preventable Harm

1. Introduced in 2008 to restrict access to the new Employment and Support Allowance long-term out-of-work disability benefit, the Work Capability Assessment (WCA) is a ‘non-medical functional assessment’ that disregards all clinical opinion. Since 2010, the WCA has been linked to the deaths of thousands of chronically ill and disabled benefit claimants who applied for state financial support when unable to work, yet were deemed to be ‘fit for work’ by the fatally flawed WCA.

2. Twelve years since the adoption of the WCA there is an identified and growing mental health crisis within the UK linked to claimants of disability benefit(s), and a disturbing increase in suicides directly linked to the WCA, as identified by published academic research but dismissed by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP).

“The worst thing, I find, is realising that I am forced into looking for a life that I want but have no chance of having. I seriously feel I may kill myself because being sick, having next to no money, no life, no future, no cure, constant pain and constant disapproval defeats me.”

An extract from the ‘Fulfilling Potential? ESA and the fate of the Work-Related Activity Group’ project, conducted by Catherine Hale and published by MIND and the Centre for Welfare Reform.

3. In both 2006 and 2007 the government’s own expert medical panel warned the administration not to adopt the WCA, advising that it was ‘not fit for purpose’ due to the predictable negative impact on public mental health. The expert panel’s clinical opinion was disregarded by the DWP. The removal of clinical opinion from disability assessment using the WCA guaranteed that many of those in greatest need were destined to die, as the state removed the financial and the psychological security of a guaranteed income when unfit to work.

4. There have been two official Rule 43 ‘prevention of future deaths’ Coroners’ reports linking the WCA to suicides, with other Coroners expressing concern at inquests due to the identified enforced suffering of the deceased by the DWP. Coroners’ official Rule 43 reports and identified concerns are disregarded by the DWP, whose social policy reforms since 2010 created preventable harm to those in greatest need linked to intimidation. The constant threat of sanctions, which removes all disability benefit income, leaves the chronically ill and disabled community in need of state financial support living in fear of the DWP.

5. Regardless of the Jobcentre being advised that a claimant is unable to attend an interview due to ill health, disabled claimants are routinely met with an ‘institutional reluctance’ to meet their needs, as identified in Coroner’s reports. Jobcentre staff’s decisions to sanction a claimant can cause death by starvation, in C21st UK, when all income is removed for a period of weeks or months. No-one is held to account when some of those in greatest need are starved to death by the state.

6. The WCA is used to limit access to all state disability funding including the Employment and Support Allowance (ESA), Personal Independence Payment (PIP), Universal Credit and the War Pensions for older working-age disabled veterans, which is a military medical pension not an out-of-work benefit.

7. The WCA is regularly and inappropriately referred to as a ‘medical assessment’ by the DWP, MPs, academics, policy advisers and journalists. The WCA is not a medical assessment and is totally unrelated to clinical opinion. The adoption of the WCA is identified as being attributed to psychocoercion by successive administrations, to remove what once was the psychological security of the welfare state for anyone who is unfit to work.

8. Identified in 2008 by the American Association of Justice as being the second worst insurance company in America, the corporate insurance giant Unum (Provident) Insurance have been advisers to the UK government since 1992, and were appointed as the official UK government consultants for ‘welfare claims management’ from 1994. Concerned by the increase in various conditions that could not be confirmed by blood tests or x-rays, such as chronic fatigue syndrome, Unum Insurance adopted a biopsychosocial (BPS) model of disability assessment, which disregards all clinical opinion.

9. Unum advised the UK government as to how to adopt a similar BPS assessment model in the UK, and funded an assessment centre at Cardiff University for this purpose. The DWP adopted the discredited Waddell-Aylward BPS model of assessment for the WCA, which disregards diagnosis, prognosis, past medical history and prescribed medicines. The human consequences of using the WCA is that many of those in greatest need would die, with many driven to suicide with a common perception that anyone claiming to be unfit to work, and in need of state financial support, will be persecuted by the DWP. The Waddell-Aylward BPS model of assessment failed all academic scrutiny.

Policy recommendations

• Since 2009 every clinical authority in the UK have demanded that the WCA should be abolished. This includes the British Medical Association, the Royal College of General Practitioners, the Royal College of Psychiatrists, the Royal College of Nurses and the British Psychological Society. Introduced by the private health insurance industry, disregarding clinical opinion was always dangerous. The WCA is fatally flawed and should be abolished without further delay, to be replaced with a disability assessment that considers clinical opinion, with many assessments being paper-based, so that the chronically ill and disabled community are no longer intimidated by the DWP.

Research findings
• In order to remove the past psychological security provided by the welfare state it was necessary to discredit vast numbers of disability benefit claimants, aided by the tabloid press, which helped to manipulate the British public.
• Social policies were adopted with a fiscal priority whilst disregarding health and wellbeing, which policymakers failed to take into account when recommending policies which were harmful.
• Since 2010 the social policy reforms, and the additional austerity measures, were destined to have a catastrophic and often fatal consequence for many of those in greatest need. Thousands of chronically ill and disabled benefit claimants have died when ‘killed by the state,’ with a 2014 NHS Digital Adult Psychiatry Morbidity Survey report that identified that almost 50 percent of ESA disability benefit claimants had attempted suicide at some point.
• Prosecuted disability hate crimes, including murder, increased by 213 percent between 2010-2016, during the coalition government’s term in office.
• The relationship between physical health and mental health is well documented. The numbers of benefit claimants who have perished due to social policies since 2010 will never be known.
• Published in September 2016 ‘Cash Not Care: the planned demolition of the UK welfare state’ provides the results of the first six years of independent disability studies research for the Preventable Harm Project. The book is now recommended reading for various social policy, health and legal courses at universities in the UK, Australia, Canada and New Zealand.

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Disabled benefit claimant sends in the bailiffs after suing Atos for negligence

More people need to do this.

A benefit claimant whose partner recorded her Personal Independence Payment assessment interview successfully sued Atos for negligence and failure of its duty of care after her payments were stopped.

She then sent in the bailiffs to enforce the country court’s ruling after the outsourcing giant refused to pay up.

The claimant, known as Rebecca, had to spend two years fighting to get her PIP reinstated after it was wrongly stopped on the basis of false information provided by the assessor.

Rebecca has epilepsy and a resulting heart condition, anxiety, depression and memory problems but her entitlement to the enhanced daily living component of PIP, along with her claim to the benefit itself, was removed by the Department for Work and Pensions on the basis of the assessment.

Eventually she was able to put her case before an appeal panel who listened to the recording of the assessment, compared it with the assessor’s account of the interview, and promptly restored her entitlement to PIP – and to the enhanced rate of the daily living component – until 2023.

Rebecca was so angry at the way she had been treated by Atos and the DWP that she decided to take the assessment firm to court, suing for “mental distress, anxiety and hardship”.

Atos did not bother to defend the claim, which resulted in an award of £2,500 for Rebecca, in compensation and damages.

Perhaps the firm simply thought it could shrug away her attempts to claim the money?

Not so. When Atos failed to pay, she sent the bailiffs in to its London offices, creating a further cost of £2,000.

This is a huge victory – not just financially but morally – for benefit claimants whose claims have been cancelled under false pretences, based on inaccurate assessment reports.

It happened because the assessment was recorded – something that the DWP has resisted for years. Now we know why: it stops that government department from wrongly knocking people off its books. This is a strong indication that every benefit claimant should record their interview.

Atos may wish to consider that the award against it was enlarged because of the length of time it took Rebecca to win her case.

I don’t have the full details but I’m willing to bet this was due to the “mandatory reassessment” malarkey imposed by the DWP, which means claimants have to wait – with no cash to live on – while officers of the department consider whether the decision to cut their benefit was right.

Usually they decide it was, and it is only then that claimants can appeal to a tribunal. Most appeals are won by the claimant.

This Writer would therefore urge anybody who has recorded their assessment, lost benefits, and had to appeal to get them back, to follow Rebecca’s example: don’t just take the money – take legal action!

Once Atos and the DWP have lost a few more cases, they might actually give up and agree that their system is unfair and has to change.

Source: Claimant Successfully Sues Atos And Sends In The Bailiffs When They Don’t Pay Up | Same Difference

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Sick & disabled people to be subjected to same harm as Universal Credit claimants from April

The Department for Work and Pensions is to run trials on a new “integrated” assessment service, putting sick and disabled benefit claimants under the same conditions as Universal Credit claimants.

What a disaster for people with long-term illnesses and disabilities.

Universal Credit is known to be harmful to its claimants. The five-week wait before anything is paid puts most people into debt and forces them to take out advance loans, meaning that the amount they receive – when they do get it – is much less than their government-assessed need, and continues to be so for many months.

This creates serious mental and emotional stress and otherwise fit and healthy UC claimants have done horrifying damage to their own health as a result.

People with illnesses and disabilities are already suffering damage to their own health. The current system already piles mental and emotional stress on them –

Only yesterday I wrote about “brown envelope anxiety”, that pushes sick and disabled people (especially) to avoid opening communications from the government, in the expectation that the message inside will inflict harm upon them.

– and putting them under Universal Credit conditions can only make matters worse.

I notice that the new trial is set to start in April, when the effects of Covid-19 are expected to be dying down.

Is it the Tory aim to immediately replace one fatal attack on sickness and disability with another?

Source: Justin Tomlinson confirms that the new DWP intergrated assessment service to be trialed in April. – The poor side of life

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The Tories promised to reform benefits long ago so why do 10 terminally ill people die every day, waiting for their first payment?

Christine McCluskey: when she died, after your Tory government cut her benefits, she weighed just three stone.

The life expectancy of people with terminal illnesses has plummeted because they are being denied end-of-life state benefits.

The system is supposed to support people who are expected to live less than six months – but doesn’t.

The Tories demand that doctors provide a note predicting when their patient is likely to die.

But many physicians have been reluctant to make such predictions, or feared their patients’ health could deteriorate more rapidly if they learned they were not expected to survive very long.

The Tory government of the day promised to change the system in 2019, saying it would bring in modifications that would make it easier for people with terminal illnesses to claim their due.

And nothing has happened.

DWP minister Justin Tomlinson has apologised for the delay – which is a fat lot of good for people who could starve to death before their health condition kills them.

He blamed the delay on the Covid-19 crisis – and warned that it is likely to run on for many more months yet.

Let’s just remember what this means:

The image at the top of this article depicts Christine McCluskey, who died in a humiliating way, weighing just three stone, after Tomlinson’s department wrongly ended her benefit claim.

The 61-year-old grandmother had suffered long-term health problems most of her adult life including Crohn’s disease – which left her with a colostomy bag – osteoporosis, arthritis, a stroke and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

This housebound lady had a feeding tube and a painful fistula that leaked through her abdominal wall, she was severely malnourished and was being investigated for a worrying cough at the time the Department for Work and Pensions assessed her for Personal Independence Payment.

The decision: her payments of £117.85 per week were removed and her mobility car was taken away from her.

Weeks later she was diagnosed with terminal cancer but her payments were not restored. She died four months after her benefits were stopped, weighing just three stone.

She was unable to receive fast-track access to PIP that is available for people with terminal illnesses who have less than six months to live, because she was unable to show when she was likely to die.

Recent estimates obtained by Labour MP Jessica Morden have revealed that 7,260 people died as they were waiting for a verdict on their claim for Personal Independence Payment (PIP), or 10 people per day.

Yes, these people were going to die soon anyway.

But the manner of their death tells us whether the United Kingdom under the Conservatives is a civilised country or primitive and barbaric.

And the UK under the Conservatives clearly falls into the latter category: primitive and barbaric.

Source: DWP shamed as 10 terminally ill people die every day waiting on a benefits decision | Welfare Journal

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Philippa Day was right to distrust DWP. Coroner’s report suggests she was DELIBERATELY driven to take her own life

Inquest: Philippa Day took an insulin overdose after benefit assessment provider Capita cut her benefits and demanded that she attend an assessment centre – which was impossible due to her disability.

Philippa Day believed her benefit claim would be mishandled before she made it – and she was right. A coroner found 28 “mistakes” were made before she took the insulin overdose that ended her life.

But were they mistakes or was Gordon Clow, the coroner who reported on the case, simply unable to attribute “malign” intent?

Ms Day, who suffered from mental ill-health, certainly believed that the Department for Work and Pensions had no intention of treating her fairly, as evidenced by Mr Clow’s report.

He said she

was predisposed by her mental health problems to wrongly imagine malign motives on the part of those administering her claim

– but was she wrong?

The coroner stated [boldings mine]:

The administration of Philippa Day’s benefits claim was characterised by multiple errors, some of which occurred repeatedly throughout the period of her claim.

As a result of errors made, Philippa Day’s income from benefits more than halved for a period of several months, causing her severe financial hardship.

To try to cope with the cash shortfall, Ms Day took out high interest loans, creating a financial problem that she did not have the means to solve – and attacking her mental health.

DWP officers – and private PIP assessors – must have known that this was likely but it seems that either they did not care or they wanted it to happen. It seems to This Writer that there is a question not put by the coroner, possibly because it does not fall within his scope. It does fall within mine:

Why would a government officer deliberately push a benefit claimant into severe financial pressure, mental ill-health, and self-harm*?

That is what we see here. There was nothing accidental about it. The officials involved knew what they were doing because they had all the relevant information. The coroner stated as much in his report:

[The] risk was implicit in the information held in connection with the benefits claim and explicit in advice given to those processing her claim by Philippa Day’s community psychiatric nurse shortly prior to Philippa’s overdose.

This information was ignored.

The coroner described the result in his report:

A decision was made in June 2019 to require Philippa Day to attend an assessment at an assessment centre.

No assessment was in fact required in order to determine her claim and there was clear and abundant medical evidence that an assessment outside of the home would exacerbate her mental health against a background of two recent overdoses. The requirement for her to attend this appointment created a risk of a mental health crisis resulting in
an overdose.

Although the error in decision making was drawn to the attention of those administering the claim on more than one occasion, it was not rectified as it should have been.

The DWP made a deliberate decision to ignore the risk of a suicide attempt. And the coroner clearly argued that it was this decision that led to Ms Day’s overdose:

The failure to administer the claim in such a way as to avoid exacerbating Philippa Day’s pre-existing mental health problems was the predominant factor, save for her severe mental illness, affecting a decision taken by Philippa Day to take an overdose of her prescribed insulin on the 7th or 8th August 2019.

The distress caused by the administration of Philippa Day’s welfare benefits claim led to Philippa Day suffering acute distress and exacerbated many of her other chronic stressors.

Were it not for these problems, it is unlikely that Philippa Day would have taken an overdose of her prescribed insulin on 7th or 8th August 2019.

The coroner stated – accurately – that “it is not possible to determine on the available evidence whether or not it was her intention to thereby end her life”.

But attempts to revive her failed and she passed away on October 16, 2019.

Mr Clow’s report went on to raise “matters of concern” that give him reason to believe that further deaths will happen due to deliberate, intentional behaviour by DWP officers.

He stated:

Call handlers [at] the DWP had not received, in their preparatory course prior to commencing work taking calls from claimants, specific training as to how best to interact with persons suffering from mental ill health in such a way as to avoid inadvertently exacerbating the difficulties experienced in progressing claims for benefits by such persons.

If true, this is a deliberate choice by the DWP’s bosses – to withhold training that could prevent deaths.

Records of calls handled were very brief and, at times, inaccurate. The records did not facilitate accurate decision making or enable queries to be dealt with efficiently and without inadvertently exacerbating the difficulties experienced by Philippa Day in progressing her benefits claims .

The word that sticks out like a sore thumb here is “inadvertently”. It seems Mr Clows included it because he had no evidence that the decisions “exacerbating the difficulties experienced by Philippa Day” were deliberate. But there must have been deliberate decisions to make inaccurate reports of calls handled – leading to the consequent failures that pushed Ms Day to her overdose?

(As a reporter, I have to make choices about what information I include in stories and what I leave out. Those choices are dictated by my judgement regarding what is relevant to the article. In this article, for example, I have omitted details of Ms Day’s mental health problems; it is known that she had a mental illness so there is no need to go into the details on this occasion. As benefit assessment officers, it seems to me, those responsible for handling her claim at the DWP had a similar responsibility – to include all relevant information – but they did not. That is a deliberate choice.)

The change of assessment process did not allow for a decision, which was incorrect, to be rectified without evidence of a subsequent change of circumstances.

That must have been a deliberate decision by whoever drafted the regulations controlling this process.

In addition, when a change of review process was appropriate, there was no means by which upcoming appointments could be cancelled without causing prejudice to Philippa Day.

Again, the regulations are drafted by people who know the consequences of the actions they require – and the consequences of the actions they forbid. The government has been providing state benefits for nearly a century and it is unrealistic to believe that cases similar to Philippa Day’s have not been handled before. In fact, the evidence of other deaths suggests that hundreds take place every year.

A misleading letter was sent which led Philippa Day to consider that her benefits would be stopped if she did not attend the upcoming appointment.

This is really vile. Knowing that an assessment outside her home would harm her mental health, DWP officers deliberately put her in fear of losing her benefits if she did not attend one. That is deliberate psychological torture.

Add it all up and we see deliberate decisions that mounted up into a force that pushed Philippa Day towards the overdose that ended her life.

But not one person involved in those decisions will face any penalty for having caused the death of another human being. Not one.

Information from previous reports shows that the identities of those responsible are known, but no action is being taken against them.

Meanwhile,

Analysis carried out by the Disability News Service suggests that there could have been as many as 750 benefit claimants of working age who took their lives in 2018.

I stated at the time that “the total number since the Tories introduced PIP – let alone the harsher benefit qualification laws brought in after they came into office in 2010 – is likely to be in the tens of thousands, if not, indeed, hundreds of thousands.”

It is worse than Aktion T4 – the cull of people with disabilities in Nazi Germany during the 1930s and 1940s.

So I repeat my comments at the end of a previous report:

How many benefit assessors from Capita (and fellow private contractor Atos) have contributed to those deaths?

How many officials from the Department for Work and Pensions?

How many Conservative ministers, who imposed the legislation, and backbenchers, who supported it?

And I ask:

When will they be brought to account for the deaths they have caused?

*Not suicide – the coroner’s report showed that Ms Day’s motives cannot be deduced from the evidence available; her overdose could have been a classic “cry for help”.

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A woman died because the government drove her to suicide. Where are the prosecutions?

Philippa Day: benefit assessment provider Capita cut her benefits and demanded that she attend an assessment centre – which was impossible due to her disability. She took her life in despair.

A coroner’s finding that no fewer than 28 mistakes by the government and its officers led to the death of Mapperley mother Philippa Day is to be welcomed.

A report by benefit assessor Capita also found that three of its employees were responsible for errors that contributed to the events leading to Ms Day’s suicide.

In other words, Capita employees and government officers pushed her to her death. Why are they not facing criminal charges?

Come to that, the system that allowed them to make such mistakes was enforced by Conservative government ministers. Why are they not facing charges?

And ultimately, the system was created by legislation put forward by a Tory Work and Pensions Secretary. Why is that person not facing charges?

If I were found to have caused the death of another person, I would face a charge of murder if it could be proved to have been intentional, or manslaughter if not.

Why are these government-connected individuals allowed to get away without even being challenged?

You might think this one case is bad enough. But consider this:

Analysis carried out by the Disability News Service suggests that there could have been as many as 750 benefit claimants of working age who took their lives in 2018.

And the total number since the Tories introduced PIP – let alone the harsher benefit qualification laws brought in after they came into office in 2010 – is likely to be in the tens of thousands, if not, indeed, hundreds of thousands.

How many benefit assessors from Capita (and fellow private contractor Atos) have contributed to those deaths?

How many officials from the Department for Work and Pensions?

How many Conservative ministers, who imposed the legislation, and backbenchers, who supported it?

The coroner has issued PFD (Prevention of Future Deaths) notices that demand action from the Department for Work and Pensions.

But no action is being taken even to identify the men and/or women responsible for pushing Ms Day to suicide.

It seems the Conservatives have perfected a method of mass-slaughtering innocent people.

Source: UK: Government report describes appalling official treatment of seriously disabled Philippa Day who took her own life – World Socialist Web Site

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BBC’s Munchetty calls out Williamson for forcing BAME English children to sit exams. Gammons are furious

Education Secretary Gavin Williamson was put on the back foot over his plan to force disadvantaged black and minority ethnic children in England to sit exams, despite the disruption of Covid-19 – and racists across the UK supported him.

Interviewed by the BBC’s Naga Munchetty, he gave an incoherent performance in which he tried to say that disadvantaged children always fare better in exams than when their results depend on teacher assessments.

Was he basing his claim on the fiasco that he himself caused last summer – when a Tory government-created computer algorithm automatically assigned higher grades to pupils at public schools and artificially lowered those of pupils considered to be disadvantaged, without any reference to the grades that had been predicted for them, if they had been able to take exams as normal?

I think he was.

Look at this:

” Children from the most disadvantaged backgrounds and children from Black and ethnic minorities communities are given the best advantage by sitting examinations and having that test.”

Because it means they won’t fall foul of Williamson’s brutally biased algorithm?

Munchetty interrupted, setting him up for a fall: “I understand from that point then that those disadvantaged children in Wales and Scotland are going to be more disadvantaged because they’re not having exams.”

This should put an obvious further question in viewers’ minds: What if, when it happens, they’re not? What if the Welsh and Scottish systems provide accurate assessments of these pupils’ abilities?

Won’t Williamson – and the government he represents – then appear to be attacking children who are trying to work their way out of the disadvantages that their social positions have forced on them, simply because he can?

Sadly, our thickie Education Secretary didn’t even realise he was walking into a trap, and carried on blithely: “Every study that has been carried out that’s looked at this has shown that predicted grades most disadvantage children from the poorest backgrounds.

“Predicted grades and teacher assessments disadvantage children from Black and ethnic minorities so we do believe exam assessment is the best form.”

His predicted grades, maybe. Teacher assessments were overridden by his predictions, as the huge scandal over school exams last summer made clear.

This Writer thinks we’re going to see a shocking contrast between exam scores for disadvantaged and BAME children in England and those in the rest of the UK next summer.

The kids in England – whether they sit exams or not – or likely to fall far behind those in the other countries, where their abilities will be assessed using a fair system that has nothing to do with Tory algorithms that falsely weight results in favour of kids who are already absurdly privileged.

And Williamson – along with his corrupt Tory pals – will be exposed again.

Of course the gammons in the BBC Breakfast News audience were incensed at Munchetty for daring to hint that their Tory minister might possibly discriminate against people of minority racial backgrounds and the poor (as they have throughout history):

If you check the critics’ bios, you’ll see that most of them are anonymous, with few followers – classic signs of trolls or paid bots.

And it seems they flooded Twitter after the interview in the hope that they could fool you into thinking Munchetty was in the wrong.

She wasn’t. I trust Vox Political readers can think for themselves, rather than be guided by people who are paid to lie to you.

Have YOU donated to my crowdfunding appeal, raising funds to fight false libel claims by TV celebrities who should know better? These court cases cost a lot of money so every penny will help ensure that wealth doesn’t beat justice.

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Thousands of disabled students could get Universal Credit after woman wins legal fight

Tactical cruelty: perhaps DWP bosses realised they were going to lose a court case so they changed the law in order to ensure that disabled students would continue to be unable to claim Universal Credit.

This is good news for many – but not for everybody:

Tens of thousands of disabled students could qualify for Universal Credit after 22-year-old mostly-blind Sidra Kauser won a legal victory over a loophole saying she could not claim Universal Credit.

To receive the benefit, she would have had to take a work capability assessment – but the DWP’s rules contained a bizarre ‘Catch-22’ that she could not take the test, because she is a student.

As a result, she could not be found to have limited capability for work, and therefore couldn’t receive the benefit.

The High Court has quashed the DWP’s decision, saying it breaches the Tory-run government department’s own regulations, dating back to 2013 – and ordered it to pay Ms Kauser’s legal fees.

But this fight is not over because the Tory government changed the law on August 5, ensuring that disabled students claiming Universal Credit after that date would not be invited to a work capability assessment and therefore would not be eligible for the benefit at all.

That will have to be challenged in a future court case.

But this is another victory for crusading lawyers Leigh Day, who explained the case:

Sidra Kauser, aged 22, from Halifax, is visually impaired and is currently studying for a masters degree at York University.

She received Personal Independence Payment (PIP) but that, combined with a student loan, was not enough to provide her with an acceptable standard of living. After payment of her rent, she had £120 a month to live on.

She applied for universal credit, but because she was a student, she was refused a Work Capability Assessment (WCA), which meant she was effectively disentitled from claiming universal credit.

Sidra applied for a judicial review of the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) policy (which stated that disabled students shouldn’t be invited to a WCA), arguing that the law required the DWP to conduct a WCA to determine whether she had limited capability for work, in which case she would be entitled to universal credit.

Now, after the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, Therese Coffey, told the court in July, 2020 that she would not be defending Sidra’s claim, a high court judge has ruled that the SSWP had acted unlawfully and has quashed the decision to refuse Sidra’s claim for universal credit.

Sidra will now be given a WCA, and if she is deemed to be unable to work, she will be entitled to make a claim for universal credit.

The court ruling also has an impact on those disabled students whose applications for universal credit had previously been unsuccessful because they had been refused a WCA.

However, on 5 August the DWP changed the law so that other disabled students who made a claim for universal credit after that date would not be invited  to a WCA and would not therefore be able to establish their limited capability for work.

Ms Kauser said: “I am glad I decided to take a stand and pursue my claim for judicial review of the DWP decision to refuse me a WCA. Hopefully other students will benefit from the court ruling.”

Leigh Day solicitor Lucy Cadd added: “Sidra made a brave stand against the decision to refuse her a WCA and it has proved successful. It has been estimated by the charity Disability Rights UK that the Secretary of State’s unlawful policy, which has been in operation since 2013, could have adversely affected 30,000 disabled students. Other disabled students who were refused a WCA prior to 5 August 2020 and therefore lost out on their claim for universal credit, should ask the Secretary of State to revise her decision.

“Although the DWP has callously changed the regulations to prevent more disabled students being entitled to a WCA, there may be scope for legal challenge to the new regulations.”

Source: Disabled student wins right to be considered for universal credit

DWP disabled sanctions extension shows great tragedy is due to timing, too

Habitual cruelty: if you thought the Tories stopped persecuting people with long-term illnesses and disabilities during the Covid-19 crisis, think again.

The Department for Work and Pensions has employed its usual subtlety and tact – and has extended benefit sanctions against people with disabilities in time for the new English lockdown.

People with long-term illnesses and/or disabilities who fail to take part in telephone work capability assessments are now to be sanctioned. The change was brought in on November 2, days before the new lockdown began.

The change has been attacked by mental health charity Mind as an “abandonment of their responsibility to keep people safe”.

Mind’s Ayaz Manji said:

We need to see a compassionate response to this pandemic.

That has to mean removing benefit sanctions and cancelling reassessments for disability benefits so that people with mental health problems don’t face the prospect of going without income this winter.

Sadly, we are not going to see any compassion from the Department for Work and Pensions while it is under Tory control.

The Department has said nobody will be sanctioned without being contacted first – which raises interesting questions if assessors can’t even phone up a claimant properly:

People will be contacted to ask them to explain why they did not, or could not attend or participate in the assessment and where good cause is provided and accepted, support will continue.

We don’t want to sanction anyone and our absolute priority is to ensure people continue to receive the support they are entitled to.

We will contact anyone who hasn’t engaged in a telephone appointment and their support will absolutely continue if they have a good reason for not attending or participating.

We’ve heard it all before. Expect a slew of articles about the DWP failing to follow this simple routine.

Source: DWP extends benefit sanctions against disabled people just as new lockdown begins – Mirror Online

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