The worst aspect of this is that there probably isn’t a connection.
Gail Ward caused serious embarrassment to the Department for Work and Pensions in 2018 when in response to a Freedom of Information request, the government department had to admit 111,000 people had died while claiming Employment and Support Allowance.
Then Ms Ward, 63, was told by the same organisation that she didn’t qualify for Personal Independence Payments.
For clarity, she has Prinzmetal’s angina, a rare form of angina where attacks can occur even when resting. The rare heart condition means she can collapse at any moment.
It can cause arteries in the heart to spasm during times of stress or cold weather, which severely limits a person’s independence and can also be life-threatening.
She also has arthritis and hip dysplasia.
Ms Ward had been claiming Disability Living Allowance but, after she was ordered to attend a mandatory reassessment for PIP, she was told that her benefits would stop because she failed to meet the qualifying criteria.
How many times have we heard that before?
Look at her condition again. Of course she met the qualifying criteria. The DWP just wanted to cause her a bit of additional stress, and see if it aggravates her condition enough to kill her.
And if that happened, the people responsible would probably have had the nerve to say, at least she won’t be added to the death figures she uncovered, because she was claiming PIP, not ESA.
The cancellation of her benefit payments meant Ms Ward was unable to pay her bills and ended up in debt.
She was also stripped of her mobility car – which is common behaviour for the DWP.
It took her 15 months to get an appeal to the tribunal stage.
Now here’s the payoff: despite being unable to attend on the day, having been taken ill that morning, the tribunal still found in Ms Ward’s favour and awarded her the full amount of PIP.
Now she has criticised the assessment process and demanded answers about the way decisions are made.
Of course, we all know why the DWP’s assessors do what they do.
But with her record, Gail Ward might just be able to force them to confess it.
All you have to do is look at the list of beneficiaries from this proposed law change. None of them are short of a few pennies.
And how many are looking forward to cashing in on Brexit?
Brexit-backing MPs as well as counterparts from the remain campaign have backed a controversial measure to extend a tax break to referendum campaign donors, after several billionaire donors received large demands from HMRC.
The shadow chief secretary to the Treasury, Peter Dowd, criticised the proposed amendment to the finance bill from prominent leave campaigners Charlie Elphicke, Jacob Rees-Mogg and Iain Duncan Smith, but which has also been backed by Labour MPs and remain supporters Alison McGovern and Caroline Flint.
It would extend a tax exemption for political parties to referendum campaigns – backdating it to cover the EU referendum.
Last month it was revealed that several prominent leave campaigners who donated large sums to the Brexit campaigns during the 2016 referendum received substantial tax demands from HMRC.
HMRC said it had applied the law equally across all donors, but senior UK cabinet ministers Boris Johnson and Michael Gove expressed concerns about the demands.
I don’t know Paula Peters personally, but everyone in the UK who has a disability should be aware of her activism, fighting government changes to benefit conditionality, fighting injustice against people who are forced to endure pain and prejudice through no fault of their own, and trying to make the UK a country in which life for the disabled is bearable, despite Conservative government policy.
If conditions for people with disabilities is any more bearable today than the Tories intended when they came back into office in 2010, it is because of Ms Peters and people like her.
If you don’t believe me, just type her name into This Site’s search box and read about a few of the initiatives in which she has taken part.
What follows is an example of the way she is treated, because she has a disability. It is deeply unpleasant; it is a stain upon our lives as citizens of the UK today.
Why do we sit quietly and tolerate this abuse?
It has taken a week for me to write this as was too upset to put this into words. I want to share this with you all now.
This is an experience I had on the R3 bus last wednesday morning 16th August 2017 at 10.40 am.
I had chaos with me. I call my tri rollerator walker Chaos. I give names to my mobility equipment, it helps me deal with the fact I need the equipment as part of my every day life.
I need to use chaos as unsteady on my feet due to POTS and lots of other health issues. Its not much fun falling over with no warning.
Chaos has a seat so I can sit down when i need to rest. I can fold it up when required to do so.
I often take chaos into the wheelchair space when no wheelchair user is using the space a) to keep the walk way free so other passengers can get to the back of the bus and b) more room for me to get in and out of the bus easily and somewhere for me to sit down. I would move for a wheelchair user if required to do so. I never get offered a seat in priority seating or one easy for me to access. I have often experienced abuse on the bus when asked, which has left me distressed. There have been times I have been threatened with physical violence, called a scrounger, fraudster and worse. I have to say not one person on the bus came to my aid on those occasions.
Anyway, last week experience on the R3. I waited for the bus to arrive at my local stop. Doors opened, driver saw my walker and immediately looked behind her at the wheelchair space where a pram was already parked to see if i could get in. There was plenty of room for me, but could see the driver was not happy about me boarding the bus and tutted loudly when I did so. As I went past her to access the space I got fucking disabled people should not be allowed on any bus.
I ignored it, not the first time I have had that to be honest, and before bus drivers on my wall have a go at me, not every bus driver is like this, and I have met many who are lovely people go the extra mile and i see first hand the abuse they get from passengers every day and feel for many of them.
So I get in the wheelchair space. I sit on my tri rollerator and another pram user comes on behind me and immediately goes into wheelchair space. I said to driver there is a pram already here and myself. There was not room to swing a cat. I get told aggressively by driver the space is for wheelchairs and I can move fold up my tri rollerator and sit on a seat. Well there were no seats for me to sit in where i had access to fold up chaos and keep the tri rollerator out of the way and I could not access the back of the bus.
Driver then thought I was being awkward and decided to switch off her engine. I took my headphones out of my ears and said to her what is the problem? Got told to move. I said I have no where to move to and as wheelchair user is not on the bus i am in the right space for my mobility equipment.
I then get threatened to be removed from the bus! By the driver! I told her she was discriminating against me and not taking my access requirements into account and putting my safety at risk. I then get screamed at which triggers my anxiety and has me on the verge of tears.
I get out my notebook to make a note of the date and the time and get the bus driver’s number located at door. MB 321 a metrobus bus. So time 10.40 am 16th August 2017 Wednesday 2017 in case anyone here thinks I am making this story up which I am not. I have a friend of mine who can back up this story who saw me in deep distress within two minutes getting of the busl later on as I was shaking like a jelly and in tears.
Because I got out my notebook to make a note of the time and date, I then get abuse from the passengers and accused of being rude to the driver. I can assure you now I was not, but the driver screamed at me and I got sworn at by three passengers.
I am sick and tired of having a daily battle to access public transport. Sick and tired of being looked at like I am a fraudster and I don’t need need a mobility aid. Well, people want to try living with what I have see the pain I am in on a daily basis with RA, Fibro POTS and the balance problems I experience on an hourly basis, and the severe and enduring mental health issues I have on top of all of that.
I often feel anxious leaving the house, mainly because I do not feel safe when leaving the house because a I can fall and hurt myself, but mainly because of people’s appalling attitudes towards disabled people like myself.
I did not ask for my disability. No one does. All I want to do is live my life, access services and public transport and go about my way. Life is made all that much harder because of incidents like this.
Needless to say I have not used the local bus again. I do not feel safe to do and it has ramped my anxiety up.
To the bus company, while you have many good drivers, you also have ones who need to seriously have updated disability equality and awareness training and one driver’s bad attitude gives the company a bad name.
Anyone can become disabled. Anyone. It can happen to the bus driver. In the world we are living in now and the high rate of stress, she could have a break down. No one is immune from that.
I am scared to complain due to retribution. I took a risk to write this because I am frightened of a back lash. But, if I do not write and share my experiences and show just how bad things are getting how can i encourage anyone else to.
I feel deeply sad, disappointed by people’s attitudes, but most of all scared. It is getting to the stage due to the reheotric, in large part due to the government propaganda in our media that has caused such huge divisions in society that has seen an implosion of hate crime towards disabled people and society thinking we deserve to be treated in this way.
I have rights, I am a human being and I will not stay silent on incidents such as this any longer.
I am glad Ms Peters had the presence of mind to note the details of the bus, the date and time – and I have no problem with re-publishing them here. Let the driver be identified; let us see how the bus company handles prejudice by its employees.
Let us all remember: Bus companies are legally obliged to give priority to wheelchair users over mothers with baby buggies after a court ruling in January; that ruling is pointless if they continue discriminating against other people with disabilities.
And if any of us witness the same, I hope we have the courage to stand up and support the disabled person. These ugly incidents happen because good people do nothing, and that makes them complicit.
Don’t be complicit.
Set a better example.
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Employment minister Priti Patel has already blotted her ministerial copy-book, bringing the Conservative Government into disrepute with her insulting and arrogant response to an Urgent Question about the benefit deaths on the last day of Parliament.
How does Priti Patel ever manage to get elected? She is lazy, stupid, arrogant and ignorant.
Now she has described wheelchair-using and walking-stick dependent pro-NHS campaigners, who visited her constituency office to plead for help protecting the health service, as a “thuggish gang”.
The only thug pictured on this page is her.
Priti Patel has caused outrage by branding these harmless campaigners – some elderly or disabled – a “thuggish gang”.Members of the group were shocked and distressed by the Employment Minister’s attack.
The campaigners, including a wheelchair user and at least two needing walking sticks, visited Ms Patel’s constituency HQ to urge her to protect the health service.
After they braved the rain outside her office in Witham, Essex, she fired off a furious letter to Unite union boss Len McCluskey, who she said was behind the campaign.
Ms Patel wrote: “The lady who works in the Witham Conservative Association office felt harassed, frightened and intimated when a thuggish gang of People’s NHS campaigners came to our office.”
Those of you with an interest in such matters will know that another campaigner against DWP injustice has passed on.
How many of you are thinking to yourselves, “She doesn’t LOOK ill”?
Charlotte Ryan – Lotte to her friends – was just 37 years of age when she died last week (February 23). She had an incurable version of cancer, brain stem glioma.
At the time of her death, the Department for Work and Pensions was trying to force her to take part in the Work Programme, despite the fact that she was in the Support Group for Employment and Support Allowance.
In a letter dated December 9, 2014, the local DWP Work Programme Provider – Prospects – notified her that she was expected to participate. The letter stated: “As part of your participation in the Work Programme, you have agreed to take part in work experience on a voluntary basis to help you gain work skills and experience.”
Writing just three days later, she stated: “I have terminal cancer, my prognosis is 0-3 years and I was diagnosed in March 2014 with my brain stem glioma. In April 2014 I was placed in the support group* for 3 years and I have gone from being able-bodied to hopelessly disabled. I have many neurological deficits including diploplia, dyspraxia, dysarthria and dysphagia. To save you googling, this means that I have double vision and am going blind, I’m very clumsy and most days I drop everything I pick up, my speech is failing and one day I won’t be able to communicate verbally at all and I have such difficulty swallowing that I now have a feeding tube.
“I cannot leave the house alone and I’m at risk of choking and need 24 hour care. They speak of me going into residential care, but they hope to keep me in my own home for as long as possible. The trouble is degenerative, nothing will get better, only worse, the cancer can’t be cured.
“HOW SICK DOES A PERSON HAVE TO BE BEFORE THE HARASSMENT STOPS?”
Further information, including a copy of the letter, is available on the kittysjones blog.
This writer did not know Charlotte Ryan and this blog cannot, therefore, eulogise her.
But this blog can point out that her passage from this world would have been much easier without constant harassment by an inhumane government to take part in activities that were far beyond her abilities – or lose the benefits that were her lifeline.
Too many people believe that it is acceptable for the DWP – and the Coalition government – to treat the terminally ill in this way.
Perhaps they should read Lotte’s story.
If they won’t understand until they have to experience this treatment themselves, then it will be too late.
* The support group is supposed to be for people who the Department of Work and Pensions consider to have such severe health problems that there is no likelihood of their being able to undertake work or work-related activities.
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