Tag Archives: benefits

MPs bypass #DWP to publish controversial report on claimants’ experience of #benefits

Boris Johnson isn’t the only Tory minister facing serious consequences for their actions this week. It’s looking bad for Work and Pensions Secretary Therese Coffey too.

Coffey has repeatedly refused to publish a DWP-commissioned report on disabled people’s experiences of the benefit system – so the Commons Work and Pensions Committee has given orders for its authors to provide a copy to Parliament, which will then be published.

The report, The Uses of Health and Disability Benefits was received by the Government in September 2020. The National Centre for Social Research (NatCen) had interviewed disabled people about their experiences of receiving PIP, ESA and Universal Credit.

The committee last month gave the Secretary of State one final chance to publish the report, which she herself admitted fell within the Government’s own protocol for publication.

But Coffey said she would not be reconsidering her decision.

Why not? It seems likely that researchers at NatCen, who wrote the report, found that people on disability and other health-related benefits were overwhelmingly negative about their experience of the system under Tories including Coffey and her forerunners, going right back to Iain Duncan Smith.

NatCen has been ordered to provide a copy of its report by January 27.

“After repeated obstruction from the Secretary of State to keep from public view a piece of work that falls within the Government’s own protocol for publication, we have reached the end of the road,” said Work and Pensions Committee chairman Stephen Timms.

“We would have much rather the DWP had done the right thing and published the report itself, so it is with regret that we must now take the highly unusual step of using our parliamentary powers to obtain a copy from NatCen and publish it ourselves.

“We have been forced to do this to ensure that the reality of disabled people’s experiences of the benefits system can see the light of day.”

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The DWP doesn’t want you to see this disability deaths documentary. Please tune in

Make a note in your diary: Channel 4, Friday, December 17 (tomorrow), 7.30pm, Dispatches: The Truth About Disability Benefits.

The Department for Work and Pensions doesn’t want anybody to see it, apparently.

It’s a documentary investigating the unexpected deaths of disabled benefits claimants, including those who have taken their own lives.

It’s been scheduled at short notice – but the DWP will be taking very careful note of viewing figures for this programme, hoping that it attracts a smaller audience than usual, as this can then be shown as proof that there really isn’t any great public interest in the lives and deaths of benefits claimants.

As the website Benefits and Work states,

If that’s the case, they can carry on denying there’s a problem and keep on covering up the suffering inflicted on disabled claimants by a heartless system.

But the more people who watch the documentary, the harder it will be for the department to brush aside its findings.

And the more likely that others will begin investigating the secrecy surrounding almost everything the DWP does.

Long-term readers of This Site will know that I spent more than two years fighting for the DWP to release up-to-date death statistics on people claiming the sickness benefit Employment and Support Allowance (and its forerunners).

The Information Commissioner’s Office eventually forced the government department to release its figures in August 2015 – but it could only provide those for people who had died within two weeks of having their benefits cancelled as civil servants do not follow up on what happens to people beyond that time.

This means that a lot of information about the fate of claimants whose benefits have been cancelled is hidden from the general public – but the little I was able to secure was damning, as it showed that thousands of people had died for unexplained reasons within the three years covered by my Freedom of Information request.

I would have pursued the matter further but we all know what happened next: I reported on false claims of anti-Semitism against members of the Labour Party and was then accused of anti-Semitism myself. I’ve spent the last five years fighting those falsehoods in one form or another.

So I’m glad that John Pring of the Disability News Service has been pushing matters forward.

It seems he was the one who contacted TV production companies around three years ago (2018?) calling for a documentary to be made, and the Dispatches film will apparently tell the stories of the DWP’s disabled victims.

Benefits and Work quotes Mr Pring as saying:

“Those stories are shocking. What is almost as shocking is that we are still waiting for an in-depth, independent inquiry into DWP’s repeated failures over the last decade – and even earlier than that – to learn from its mistakes and make its assessment system safe. 

“Countless disabled people have died because of that failure. We need an inquiry now.”

The documentary is filmed and presented by disabled film-maker Richard Butchins, who has had personal experience of the DWP’s ways.

Relatives of deceased claimants will be speaking out on television for the first time, to explain how the system contributed to the deaths of their loved ones.

And there is testimony from a DWP whistleblower who describes a dismissive and mocking attitude toward claimants among staff at the department.

Allow me to reiterate: the Tory government wants this show to get low viewing figures so it can put out propaganda saying the British public don’t care if a few (hundred)(thousand) cripples croak it after being denied the payments they need to live.

So we need as many people to be told about it as possible.

If you can tell your family and friends, please do. Let’s make sure this is something the Tories can’t lie about.

Source: The Truth About Disability Benefits The DWP Don’t Want You To See

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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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Trickster Coffey: she says disabled people should switch to Universal Credit – where they’ll be worse-off

Therese Coffey: you wouldn’t think she was trying to get her jollies by encouraging people to quit legacy benefits for Universal Credit with a false claim that they’ll be better-off, would you?

Did Therese Coffey get her doctorate in lying to people?

Having refused calls to extend the £20-per-week Universal Credit uplift to so-called “legacy benefits” that sick and disabled people receive – Employment and Support Allowance (ESA), Personal Independence Payment (PIP) and others – she has suggested that they should claim UC instead.

People on Severe Disablement Premium (SDP) were unable to make that move until Wednesday (January 27) – when the Tories removed that barrier.

But charities have warned that this is a trap.

People with long-term illnesses and disabilities are more likely to lose money if they switch to UC and, once they have made the move, there is no going back.

It’s just another example of Tory discrimination against people with disabilities, that has reached new heights in the Covid-19 crisis, which they have used as an excuse for persecution.

People who’ve been on SDPs can get £120, £285 or £405 per month in transition payments – depending on their circumstances. But DWP officials have confirmed these payments “will be subject to erosion and cessation” over time.

And the Disability Rights UK group has claimed that, “after transitional help is eroded after time”, Universal Credit will be “significantly less generous” than legacy benefits for disabled people.

So the two-tier discrimination against people with disabilities in fact continues, no matter whether they are on “legacy benefits” or Universal Credit.

This Writer’s advice is clear: stay where you are. Don’t give Trickster Coffey the giggle she wants to get from hurting you.

Source: Fears as DWP chief urges disabled people to switch to Universal Credit from Wednesday – Mirror Online

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Outcry as Starmer promotes anti-Semite supporter Rachel Reeves into Shadow Cabinet

What a charmer: Rachel Reeves hates people who don’t have a job – and loves a historic anti-Semite.

Keir Starmer seems to be sending mixed messages at the moment.

After practically prostituting himself to the witch-hunters of the Board of Deputies of British Jews, Community Security Trust, Jewish Labour Movement and so on – who are keen to see him expel previous leader Jeremy Corbyn from the Labour Party, he has made Rachel Reeves Shadow Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster.

Ms Reeves is currently infamous for praising Nancy Astor who, besides being the first female MP, was a notorious anti-Semite.

Previously, Ms Reeves was unpopular because she said Labour should be “tougher than the Tories” on people claiming social security benefits. How was she going to manage that – by lining them up against a wall and shooting them?

If this is the quality of Starmer’s ShadCab choices, he can take his new New Labour and shove it where the sun doesn’t shine.

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‘I’m starving’ says man in protest against the benefit system on Job Centre roof

Sometimes people have to stand on rooftops to make a point, it seems.

This Writer can’t approve of the damage to property implied by this particular gentleman’s behaviour, of course.

But I certainly sympathise with the motivation behind it.

He is reported to have said, “I’m starving” at one point.

Standing on the roof and shouting about it suggests this was the only way he expected to get his point across.

I wonder if he had already tried talking to the staff inside Upton Job Centre Plus before he resorted to standing on top of it and shouting.

It’s hard to get through when nobody wants to listen.

And now that they can pin criminal damage on this man, I wonder whether anybody will bother listening to him again.

Perhaps that’s how the Tories get away with victimising these people. What do you think?

Source: Man on roof for hours in job centre standoff with police – Liverpool Echo

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Thinking of voting Liberal Democrat? Think again – for all our sakes

You may be getting tired of this image, but it adequately describes the Liberal Democrat offer to the electorate.

The Liberal Democrats are apparently enjoying a surge in support in marginal London constituencies – why? In office, they were a disaster for the UK.

Do people really have such short memories that they have forgotten the legacy of the Coalition government? Liberal Democrats helped ruin the UK – especially for young voters such as those who are being targeted by the party now.

As Rhiannon Lucy Coslett points out in The Guardian, the very first thing the Liberal Democrats did in government was renege on their election promises.

Where they had promised to abolish tuition fees, they tripled those fees instead. Current Lib Dem leader Jo Swinson gleefully supported this policy.

The Liberal Democrats also supported the Tory imposition of austerity on people whose income fell below a certain level. Young people most of all.

For further details of Ms Swinson’s “record of shame”, see:

Result: “Now, there are homeless people everywhere, food bank use has skyrocketed, the housing crisis has worsened, the right is now the far right, zero-hours contracts are common, and just over half the country [actually just over half those who voted] has voted to take away its citizens’ ability to live and work in 27 European countries.

“Racism has become normalised. An MP has been murdered, many others threatened and harassed. Disabled people, migrants and black British citizens face a hostile environment.”

These are consequences of Liberal Democrats in government, made possible by people voting for the Liberal Democrats.

Now, the Lib Dems are promising to revoke Article 50 and put a stop to Brexit. They know they will never take enough Parliamentary seats to make this possible.

But they also know that it will take votes away from Labour – online tactical voting tools are advising people to vote Lib Dem in marginals where Labour has the only candidate that could beat the Conservative, according to the 2017 results.

This means that, in many constituencies, a vote for the Liberal Democrats is a vote for a Conservative government.

And we can see that the Lib Dems would support the Tories more than Labour. Jo Swinson loathes Jeremy Corbyn, even though – as Ms Coslett notes – Labour is offering what the Liberal Democrats said they wanted: a second referendum. She adds:

“Her party is not focused on reversing generational injustice; on the contrary, it has enabled it. The Lib Dems – with Swinson as a coalition government minister – were happy to work with the Conservatives to slash benefits, cut social care and play havoc with the health service. Their political conscience only seemed to return when Brexit threatened their world view and their interests. Ideologically, they largely overlap with the vanishing “moderate” wing of the Tories – whose MPs are now defecting to the Lib Dem party.”

The message is clear: If you vote Liberal Democrat, you will get Tory. For young people, that is tantamount to self-harm.

Also: what’s this about new evidence which confirms that the Liberal Democrats sold voter data to the Remain campaign in 2016 for almost £100,000 being withheld from public scrutiny by the Information Commissioner’s Office?

And what’s this about the Liberal Democrats spamming voters with junk mail?

As I write this, the infamous Liberal Democrat policy – of putting bar charts on election literature claiming that their candidate is the only one who can beat the incumbents – is being ridiculed on the BBC’s Politics Live.

It seems they have been printing bar charts showing them as the biggest party in particular constituencies – by omitting the parties that had a higher vote share than them. The example quoted is notable for failing to show the Labour and Brexit Party vote.

So: take the evidence as a whole, rather than just Lib Dem literature, and the accurate picture of the Liberal Democrats is of a party that will promise anything to get into power and then break all those promises without compunction; a party that will lie to the electorate in order to secure votes; a party that will enable the Conservatives to get back into power, even though the majority of its supporters hate the Tories; and a party that will sell all our young people down the river once again – if it gets the opportunity.

You’d have to be crazy to vote Liberal Democrat.

Spread the word.

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Tory attitude to people in hard times is clear: Candidate says they should be ‘put down’

Francesca O’Brien: “Put down”.

It doesn’t take a genius to work out that if a new Conservative election candidate thinks people on benefits should be ‘put down’, they all do.

Why else would they have selected Francesca O’Brien to be Tory candidate for the Gower in Wales?

According to The Guardian: “In [Facebook] posts that have since been deleted, she wrote in January 2014: ‘Benefit Street..anyone else watching this?? Wow, these people are unreal!!!’

“In response to a friend’s comment, she wrote: ‘My blood is boiling, these people need putting down.’

“In further comments under her post, O’Brien apparently endorsed a friend’s suggestion for ‘twat a tramp Tuesday’ to ‘take your batts [sic] to the streets’.”

This is the “caring Conservatism” that David Cameron promoted back in 2010 – the kind that has put hundreds of thousands of people in early graves.

As shadow education secretary Angela Rayner said, ““his is absolutely disgusting and reveals the cruelty at the heart of the Tories’ benefits cuts. Universal credit was deliberately designed to punish people who are out of work.

“Many of us have relied on social security support at some point in our lives and it is nothing to be ashamed of. This person is not fit to be an MP and Boris Johnson should remove her as a candidate.”

No she isn’t – but if she were to go, then the Tories would have to apply the same criteria to their other candidates, and would probably end up with nobody to fight their campaign!

The Guardian article suggested that the comments “are likely to anger the thousands of people in Gower who rely on benefits. They will also strike a blow to the Conservatives’ hopes of winning the seat, with the constituency being a key marginal”.

Ms O’Brien has now apologised for the comments – because they have been brought to public attention? Why did she not apologise before? If she disagrees with them, why did she publish them?

She said, according to the BBC: “These comments were made off the cuff, a number of years ago.

“However, I accept that my use of language was unacceptable and I would like to apologise for any upset I have caused.”

Not exactly oozing with sincerity, was she?

So there you have it, folks.

If you want to sink your local Tory’s chances of re-election, dig up their comments on social media or find another way to reveal their true character. It’s what they say in unguarded moments that reveals what they really are.

Source: Tory candidate wrote people on Benefits Street should be ‘put down’ | Politics | The Guardian

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Lords say pensioners should lose extra benefits because they aren’t in poverty. Really?

According to a House of Lords committee, extra benefits for pensioners are no longer necessary because hardly any pensioners are in poverty any more.

But is that really true?

Poverty is a relative measure. In the UK, the poverty line is set at 60 per cent of average earnings – and average earnings have been plummeting because of Tory policies that funnel money to people who are already very rich.

So, for example, the proposal to remove the triple lock for State Pensions and instead uprate the State Pension in line with average earnings is in fact an attempt to plunge pensioners back into poverty.

And the claim that cash being spent on pensioner benefits would be better-used on helping young people is a false argument. There is plenty of money available to do both; all the government has to do is tax the super-rich a little more.

Pensioner benefits for over-75’s should be cut or axed to help restore fairness in the system between older and younger people, the House of Lords Committee on Intergenerational Fairness and Provision has said.

The Committee argues that social security payments and passported benefits are no longer required because the issue of pensioner poverty has been all but resolved.

Source: Cut pensioner benefits to improve fairness, says Lords committee


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Tories deny benefits to rape victim – and distract themselves with Christmas inanities

While vulnerable people suffer because of their policies, the Tories are discussing whether mince pies are better than pigs in blankets.

See this?

Perhaps it’s what passes for humour in the Conservative Party, when their government is being caught treating rape victims in an inhuman way.

I refer to the case of a woman who was kidnapped and raped while backpacking in Australia. She was held for two months and her captor was only caught after an incident at a Queensland petrol station when she left without paying. Staff alerted the authorities and he was found in a secret compartment in the boot.

The victim had to stay in Australia for the trial, meaning it was more than a year before she returned to the UK.

When she got back, the Tory government forced her to take a habitual residence test – and failed her, for reasons which have not been divulged.

As a result, the Department for Work and Pensions refused to pay her any benefits and she was left with nothing.

Her case has only come up for reconsideration after Labour MP Vicky Foxcroft raised the matter in Parliament.

Tory minister for women Victoria Atkins said she was very concerned to hear of the case – but the DWP acts according to rules laid down by the Tory government.

And while the investigation continues, according to the Conservative Party’s official Twitter feed, the “all-important” question this Christmas is whether mince pies are better than pigs in blankets.

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