Tag Archives: cheat

Benefit system for injured war veterans is worse than the DWP

It’s no surprise: the UK has a prime minister who showed his contempt for the armed forces by laying a wreath face down one year. The Ministry of Defence spitting on injured veterans is par for the course.

After a weekend in which Conservative politicians across the UK stood in all their hypocrisy and mouthed empty words of thanks to soldiers they despise… this:

Former members of the forces say they have been left ‘suicidal, homeless and let down’ by a system of payouts that is tough to navigate and appeal, leaving many feeling betrayed by the government they once served.

Thousands of veterans are struggling to get government payouts for injuries caused in service, with some facing poverty and suicide over the issue.

These veterans overwhelmingly report the same things – not getting the level of payment they need and then facing lengthy and complex battles to get an increase.

Does that seem familiar to you?

Payments to injured veterans come in war pensions and the Armed Forces Compensation Scheme (AFCS) – both administered by the Ministry of Defence which, it seems, couldn’t care less.

Anyone physically or mentally harmed during service before April 6, 2005, should receive war pension payments. Those injured after that date must apply to the AFCS.

But in practice, getting what they are owed seems impossible.

According to The Mirror,

Many former soldiers … report that vital medical evidence proving their claims is removed by the time their appeals are heard.

If veterans are unhappy with their war pension or AFCS payment, they can appeal. But for many the appeal process is complicated and long.

Veterans will often give up on the system or – tragically – die before they get any payment increase.

The Mirror‘s article features accounts by, and about, a large number of veterans who have been struggling to receive benefits they deserve after suffering injuries in the name of their country.

It seems to be unspoken Conservative government policy – consider the policy of the Department for Work and Pensions to deprive sick and disabled civilians of the payments they need if they’re to live lives that are close to normal.

This Writer has to ask what the legions of flag-waving patriots who observe Remembrance Day in good faith think of this betrayal.

Source: Thousands of injured war veterans denied full disability benefits in ‘cruel’ move – Mirror Online

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Were the Tories complicit in the great Covid-19 maternity pay dodge – or just incompetent as usual?

Cheated? If this (left) was a working mother who was pregnant in March, then it’s possible the government has colluded with her employer to cheat her out of her maternity pay.

Thousands of pregnant women may have been cheated out of maternity pay because the Tory government didn’t act fast enough to prevent employers from doing it.

The government changed rules in April, to ensure pregnant women and expectant fathers did not lose out on maternity/paternity pay if they had been furloughed on 80 per cent of their normal wage and had seen their pay fall below £120 a week (the cut-off point for wages below which the benefit isn’t payable).

But the same government imposed lockdown in March, meaning dodgy employers had a window of opportunity to put expectant mothers on a lower rate of pay that would eliminate their entitlement to 39 weeks of maternity pay worth thousands of pounds.

Pregnant women were classed as clinically vulnerable. They should have been sent home on full pay, but research by the Labour Party shows many were put on Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) instead.

That is set at £95.85 per week, meaning any mother-to-be who has spent eight weeks shielding on that rate of pay would automatically miss out on maternity pay.

Sneaky, isn’t it?

Labour is calling for the regulations to be changed to ensure that people who were wrongly put on SSP in this way do not miss out on their maternity payments.

And the Tory government is refusing.

The Department for Work and Pensions is saying that anybody who has been affected in this way is welcome to take their case to an employment tribunal.

This will just gum up the tribunal system for no very good reason, and I can’t conceive of any good reason a government department would want to do that.

So we come to the question in the headline: were the Tories incompetent in failing to close this loophole in employment practice? Or were they complicit in helping employers cheat thousands of parents out of thousands of pounds?

Incompetence would be bad enough.

But from where I’m sitting, the Tories are guilty of something much worse.

Source: Pregnant women wrongly sent home on sick pay during pandemic, Labour says | Coronavirus outbreak | The Guardian

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Tories have rigged the rules to reach 100,000 coronavirus test target, source claims

Don’t believe it: apparently the BBC has not been told the Tories have rigged the rules because that was the only way they could pretend to meet their target. It will include tests the government has sent – or even only promised to send.

Once again, it seems the Conservative government has cheated in order to claim a victory in its handling of the coronavirus.

The BBC might say the Tories will have reached their target of 100,000 tests per day by the end of April, but it seems they had to change their own rules to do it.

So for April 30, the number of tests counted will include those that have been sent off but not carried out, and those that the government has only agreed to mail out. These may cover as many as half the tests counted.

Here is the evidence from the Health Service Journal:

Previously, a test would be counted once the sample had been processed in laboratories. But this definition has been changed in the last few days, a senior source told HSJ.

The Department of Health and Social Care is now including tests that have been posted or delivered to people’s homes in its figures. This means tests which are sent to people are counted before the recipient has provided and returned their sample to a laboratory.

HSJ understands that up to 50,000 of the tests that will be reported as having taken place on 30 April will actually represent the mailing or the agreeing to mail a home testing kit.

The source told HSJ that work to achieve the 100,000 tests per day had been “manic” and that the health and social care secretary Matt Hancock was “obsessed” with reaching the target. “They are trying every trick in the book,” the source said.

“They had to get the permanent secretary at DHSC (Chris Wormald) to agree to a change in the counting process.

“We’re now counting a home test as tests which have been sent to people’s homes.”

So it seems the Tories have failed yet again. They haven’t reached the target of 100,000 tests carried out per day.

Let’s see if they lie about it in the daily briefing…

And will their supine right-wing mass media let them off?

Source: Revealed: How government changed the rules to hit 100,000 tests target | News | Health Service Journal

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Guest post: Why are politicians determined to honour a corrupted referendum?

This is a question that has bothered me considerably so I am delighted to host Tony O’Malley’s article asking why our political parties are determined to ignore the “lies, misrepresentations, cheating, illegality and probably criminality” of the 2016 EU referendum.

He says he understands left-wing members of the Labour Party have advocated that it is time to “move on”.

The problem is that we can’t. The whole of the UK is in stalemate over the issue.

Perhaps the reason for that is the insistence that we accept a corrupted result and “move on”, despite knowing that doing so will harm us.

Here’s Mr O’Malley [all boldings are mine]:

I have always considered myself a passionate believer in socialism, the internationalism of the Labour movement and Jeremy Corbyn.

I am also a litigation solicitor, who is now ‘retired’ due to various disabilities and health issues. In a prior career, I was a Registered General & Mental Nurse. I had been a member of the governing body of a major independent trades union & professional organisation (RCN), and I had the privilege of being the first ever elected U.K. President of the European Nursing Students Organisation. I have always fought tirelessly for justice for nurses, and especially for student nurses, as I consider them the future of a most noble profession and central to the delivery of high quality care and compassion in our renowned health service.

I voted Remain in the 2016 referendum. For me, it was an easy choice, though I did recognise that much institutional and policy reform was likely to be required if the EU, and the multiplicity of it’s constituent parts was to function better for the people of our continent, and thrive going forward. For quite some time now, I have been raising issues and queries with Jeremy Corbyn, Labour, Jennie Formby, Keir Starmer, and others. These many digital communications have sought early answers to the question of what was our party’s position with regard to the disturbing findings of the UK Electoral Commission about the running, result and supervision of the 2016 EU referendum. Sadly, I have not yet received any responses whatsoever, to any of my many attempts to engage in good faith with Labour politicians and officials who need to explain to me how political expediency now appears to have become so legitimate.

Whilst certain aspects of the actions by Leave campaign groups still remain under investigation by the National Crime Agency, there is already ample evidence in the public domain which reveals that the referendum result cannot be seen as the ‘will of the people’, because of the lies, misrepresentations, cheating, illegality and probably criminality which infested the whole sorry exercise. The courts have stated that, had the referendum not been legally constructed as being that of an ‘advisory’ referendum only, then they could have overturned the result because of the many serious concerns that have already been expressed and which would have been anathema to our long-standing principles of democracy and fair play.

David Cameron’s Conservative government really messed up when they committed, in a leaflet, to honouring the referendum result, when no such power for them to do so existed within the legal structure of the plebiscite.

In all other aspects of our society, we firmly and consistently adhere to the ancient principle that ‘cheats should not prosper’. The penalties for cheating in sport, business, academic testing and in many other areas of human endeavour, generally involve the complete loss of any advantage that the cheater obtained through their disreputable actions. In sport, for example, the winner’s medal would be forfeited if their performance could be shown to have been enhanced by illicit substances or done by any other breach of the rules. If I cheat in a college or school exam, then it should reasonably be expected that I do not receive the benefit that such cheating had given rise to! Nobody would realistically object to a race, match or other competition being re-run, or the prize being awarded to a non-cheater, if cheating was considered to have polluted the integrity of the initial event. This universal reaction is so uncontentious that it barely merits further debate.

Why is it then, when it comes to the widespread cheating and illegality that has been revealed in respect of the 2016 EU referendum, that politicians, the MSM and large sections of our civil society, can choose to close their eyes, and discard their moral compasses on the basis of shallow and temporary political expediency?

I have sadly witnessed a number of voices on the left of our political spectrum recently stating that it is time to ‘move on’ in respect of this unresolved issue. This response has shocked me to my core. If the Labour movement doesn’t stand for justice, then I’m afraid it doesn’t stand for very much!

How would the Hillsborough families, the Grenfell families, the Windrush families, the Orgreave families, the Palestinians and more, have reacted to the statement that it was ‘time to move on’, when their grievances and quest for justice remained unresolved after the long passage of time?

The truth is that it can never be acceptable to sacrifice our core beliefs, as we apparently appear to be doing in this shameful situation. Once you let that genie out of the bottle, it can can never be returned there. A precedent becomes set, that in certain circumstances we can give a nod and a wink to the flouting of the rule of law.

That abrogation of our core beliefs and principles will no doubt visit us again, and again, in forms not yet identified, but with potential unfathomable consequences for the Labour movement and our society.


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Found: The book that helps the government smear the sick as ‘malingerers’

 

Denied benefit: This is the late Karen Sherlock. Her illnesses included chronic kidney disease, a heart condition, vitamin B12 deficiency, anaemia, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, underactive thyroid, asthma, diabetic autonomic neuropathy, gastropaeresis, and diabetic retinopathy. She died on June 8, 2012, of a suspected heart attack, after the Department for Work and Pensions stopped her Employment and Support Allowance. John LoCascio would describe her as a malingerer. Considering the list of her illnesses, how would you describe him?

Denied benefit: This is the late Karen Sherlock. Her illnesses included chronic kidney disease, a heart condition, vitamin B12 deficiency, anaemia, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, underactive thyroid, asthma, diabetic autonomic neuropathy, gastropaeresis, and diabetic retinopathy. She died on June 8, 2012, of a suspected heart attack, after the Department for Work and Pensions stopped her Employment and Support Allowance.
John LoCascio would describe her as a malingerer. Considering the list of her illnesses, how would you describe him?

Some of our least favourite people contributed to a book entitled Malingering and Illness Deception in 2003, that seems to provide much of the ammunition used by the current government to demonise claimants of disability and incapacity benefits.

One of the relevant chapters is ‘Malingering, insurance medicine and medicalization of fraud’ by John LoCascio of the criminal American insurance giant Unum, that has been heavily involved in British social security work since the 1990s.

The other is ‘Origins, practice and limitations of Disability Assessment Medicine’ by Mansel Aylward, the Unum puppet who was formerly chief medical officer at the Department for Work and Pensions.

These are the two charmers who put forward a perversion of Professor George Engels’ biopsychosocial theory that calls an individual’s illness into question, rather than treating it, to the then-Department of Social Security back in the 1990s.

The assertion that it was a tool to reduce claimant numbers can be proved by the fact that Mr Aylward was asked to change the test used to determine whether a claimant deserved benefit, in order to reduce the flow of claimants with mental health problems. When politicians ask for specific results, you know impartiality has gone out the window!

Look at the title of the book: It labels incapacity and disability claimants as “malingerers”, defined in the book’s first chapter as those who engage in “the intentional production of false or exaggerated symptoms motivated by external incentives” – in this case, the desire to receive state benefits.

This fits with what we know of the Unum-influenced benefit system already – that claimants are to be treated as if they are trying to cheat the system, unless they can prove to a state-provided official (not necessarily medically-trained) – who has been briefed to find ways to prevent them receiving the benefit – that they are unwell. Their own doctor’s reports are ignored.

Let’s look at LoCascio’s chapter. He starts by suggesting that “disability-related programmes in both the public and private sectors are faced with increasing numbers of disability claims despite improved health care and job design (the disability paradox).”

Already we are in the realm of fantasy as he fails to mention the logical reasons for these increases, which include poor implementation of health and safety measures in the workplace under ‘light touch’ regulation, and the discovery of new medical conditions whose causes are unknown and which require protracted study before they are understood – all made possible by the “improved health care” to which Mr LoCascio refers.

Amusingly, LoCascio also claims that the commercial insurance industry “is neither medically nor legally driven. It is driven by societal imperatives”. What a whopper! Commercial insurance is driven by the desire for money. That is why his company has a criminal conviction to its name – it changed its medical procedures to make it almost impossible for anyone to claim successfully that their Unum health insurance policy had matured.

Much of the remainder of his chapter attempts to convince the reader that the lack of data available – to support claims that a medical patient is “malingering” – should not be used as evidence that they really are ill. He asks the reader to believe that three questions should be asked: Did the patient understand the medical issues? Are the patient’s reported and actual behaviours consistent through time and across observers? And are the functional capacities in question (the patient’s abilities) well-defined?

What a cheat.

It seems perfectly likely that any patient will understand the medical issues informing their condition. However, in a Work Capability Assessment it is common for the assessor to have a completely different opinion of what those issues are. This discrepancy allows the assessor to find fault with the benefit claim.

The second question supports evidence of those who have read assessment reports claiming that patients did not display the behaviours expected of a person with their condition – one famous example was that the patient was not “rocking back and forth”. The simple reason for this was that their condition did not display in that manner but the assessor – who was not an expert in this field of medicine – did not know that because the only advice available was a biased screed from the Unum-influenced DWP.

The final question – are the functional capacities in question well-defined? – can be defeated with a simple, two-word counter-question: By whom?

Also of interest is the concept of ‘Functional Capacity’ (FC). LoCascio argues that a person should not be expected to be incapable of any type of work, just because they are incapable of one. His example is that a person limited to typing for 20 minutes due to forearm pain may be able to play piano for an hour. This is entirely possible but contradicts one of the quotations Mr LoCascio uses four pages previously: “The question of disease—that and nothing more—is the one for the physician to determine” (Drewy 1896). It is not the assessor’s job to dream up functions a claimant might be able to carry out and then discount a claim for benefits on the basis of that possibility. That is not evidence; it is fantasy.

All of the above questions are also rendered pointless by the simple fact that a claimant’s condition may be variable. LoCascio acknowledges this! However, he then goes right off the rails: “I favour a series of three questions: ‘Please describe a bad day. Please describe a good day. Please tell me how many good days and bad days you have in an average week.’ Armed with this knowledge about any particular symptom and the corresponding reduction in an FC, the medical resource can proceed to analyse the consistency of the history against the medical or observational data.”

That is an inaccurate assumption. When you are ill with (for example) fibromyalgia, there can be a huge range of difference between days. Sometimes Mrs Mike has seemed able to function almost normally (she can never walk far without suffering a huge amount of pain in the following days, as an example of why she only seems more able); other times she has been confined to the sofa for days on end in terrible pain for which medical science currently has no alleviation. At other times her condition may be anywhere between those extremes. Asking for a description of a good or bad day, or how many of these take place in an average week, is not only pointless – it hinders understanding of the condition.

“In conclusion,” LoCascio writes, “the most important product of the medical consultant is clear, credible, and defensible
documentation.” It seems strange, then, that the most clear, credible and defensible documents – those written by the patient’s doctor – are the first to be ignored in any Work Capability Assessment.

What we have here is a propaganda screed, riddled with inconsistencies and running against reason, that has been used to support the government’s position on sickness and disability benefits. As an argument in favour of current policy, it is worse than useless. In fact, it should be a tool for campaigners to use against that policy.

It tells us why a claimant who lives in agony every day should be outraged when assessors use LoCascio’s nonsense to explain away their pain.

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Three little pigs who are sticking their snouts in the trough to keep out the wolves

Caught out again: Grant Shapps is yet again having to justify his own shady behaviour.

Caught out again: Grant Shapps is yet again having to justify his own shady behaviour.

Here’s a story to get you irritated and annoyed on a hot summer’s day: Your Prime Minister, his Chancellor and the chairman of their political party have all found novel property-based cheats.

According to the Daily Mirror, David Cameron and George Osborne have done a secret deal with the taxman to cut thousands of pounds off the tax they pay while they are living in their famous grace-and-favour homes on Downing Street.

Under the change, which HM Revenue and Customs has buried deep in the small print of its accounts, Cameron is saving a minimum of £1,228 a year, while Osborne’s bill has more than halved, saving him £1,560 a year.

The Mirror points out that this means Osborne is paying just £23 a week and Cameron no more than £35 to live at Britain’s most exclusive address, while the average rent in the UK is £195.

The paper quotes Alex Hilton, director of pressure group Generation Rent, who mocked the top Tories with their election slogan from 2010: “We’re blatantly not all in it together if the residents of Downing Street can wangle themselves a nice bonus while ordinary families are seeing their rent go up by more than wages.”

Meanwhile Grant Shapps, the Tory co-chairman who hid his own shady business deals behind the false names ‘Michael Green’ and ‘Sebastian Fox’ for the first four years of his Parliamentary career, has been receiving campaign funds from a Conservative club that has not submitted a tax return since 2009.

Conservative Club (Hatfield) Ltd has been fined £3,000 by the Financial Conduct Authority for its failure to produce accounts or name its officers. Despite these issues, it seems the club has been entirely able to provide £140,000 to fund Shapps as a candidate in his Welwyn Hatfield constituency.

Shapps has claimed the club is not connected to his local Conservative Association, which is odd – because not only is it based in the same building, paying rent to the association, but its members are all counted as members of the Conservative Party as well.

Was Shapps among the Conservatives who justified last year’s Gagging Act by claiming it was vital that the public had transparency from their MPs?

And didn’t Cameron say his government would be the most transparent ever, in its affairs?

Liars. Pigs with their snouts in the trough, all of them.

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Miller resigns at last – now it is time to call in the police

Going (unpunished): Maria Miller has made a huge profit from her misuse of taxpayers' money while in public office. Now is the time for her to face a criminal investigation.

Going (unpunished): Maria Miller has made a huge profit from her misuse of taxpayers’ money while in public office. Now is the time for her to face a criminal investigation.

Maria Miller resigned as Culture Secretary today (Wednesday) – after nearly a week of hanging on by her fingernails in the hope that everyone would suddenly forget that she fraudulently claimed mortgage interest on a south London house that she wanted the authorities to believe was her second home (when in fact it was her parents’ first).

During that time she has managed to reignite public disgust at the many expenses scandals in which Parliamentarians have been revealed to have been involved since the Daily Telegraph first lifted the lid on them in 2009.

She has also managed to undermine public support for comedy Prime Minister David Cameron, whose continuing support for her has shown just how weak he must be. He needed Miller because she was a woman in a predominantly male Cabinet, state-educated in a mainly private-school Cabinet, and an avid supporter of Cameron himself in a government that is beginning to realise that he’s a dud. In supporting her, he showed just how precarious his hold on the leadership really is.

Of course, she also generated a huge amount of hatred towards herself. Remember, this is a person who used taxpayers’ money to pay for her parents’ house – a building which she subsequently sold for a profit of more than £1 million.

Miller is not the first Cabinet member to make a million with taxpayers’ cash either – stand up George Osborne, who formerly had us paying for a paddock, a house and other scraps of land in his Tatton constituency on which he falsely claimed expenses, saying they were vital for the performance of his duties as an MP. He later sold the lot for around £1 million, having spent not a single penny of his own on the property – it all came from the taxpayer.

Osborne was protected from prosecution by the Parliamentary Standards Authority – a body that appears not to be as independent as it claims.

Now is the time to report Miller to the police.

A Parliamentary inquiry is not the same as a criminal investigation and it is important for her case to be tested in a court of law. This woman was part of a government that has had no qualms about using the law to take taxpayers’ money away from people who needed state benefits in order to survive; now let us see how she fares when the law turns its attention to her.

Who’s up for it?

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Rogues turn government Twitter feed against Miller

Found on Facebook: Members of the public on all the main social media are queueing up to take a pop at former DWP minister and benefit fraudster Maria Miller. How long will David Cameron delay sacking her, and how weak will he seem by the time he gets round to it?

Found on Facebook: Members of the public on all the main social media are queueing up to take a pop at former DWP minister and benefit fraudster Maria Miller. How long will David Cameron delay sacking her, and how weak will he seem by the time he gets round to it?

In comparison to recent events in this saga, what follows is light relief.

A so-called “rogue” Twitter user commandeered a government feed to post satirical comments about the Maria Miller expenses scandal, yesterday evening. (Saturday)

The three tweets appeared on the Department for Culture, Media and Sport’s feed, where they were picked up and shared widely before government watchdogs had a chance to hush them up. The offending tweets have since been deleted from the DCMS feed.

“Seriously though guys which one of us hasn’t embezzled and cheated the taxpayer? #FreeMariaMiller,” ran the first tweet.

This was swiftly followed by one that claimed Miller, who falsely claimed more than £40,000 in mortgage interest payment for a south London house, saying it was her second home while her parents used it as their first, was “like a modern day Robin Hood, she robs the poor to help the rich”.

Miller, who made more than £1 million in profit when she sold the house in February, was ordered to pay back just £5,800 and apologise to Parliament for failing to co-operate with an investigation. The final rogue tweet asked: “Is @Maria_MillerMP guilty? We will let the public decide.”

Unfortunately it seems that the Conservative Party has rallied around the (confirmed) criminal in its ranks and has no intention of allowing British justice anywhere near Miller. They’re all in it together, you see.

That is why Grant Shapps, who knows a thing or three about false claims himself (ask him about his other persona, ‘Michael Green’) wants to “draw a line” under the affair – and why our pitifully weak comedy Prime Minister David Cameron wants to “leave it there”.

It seems the DCMS is also happy to “leave it there”. A spokeswoman has confirmed it was investigating the hacking but, when asked if Twitter or the police had been contacted, admitted: “All I’ve done is change the password.”

A Parliamentary investigation cleared Miller of using public money to provide for her parents, in spite of all the evidence that this was precisely what she had been doing, including a recent revelation that the size of energy bills for the house indicated that somebody had been using it as their main, rather than second, home.

The affair has set off a public outcry, with calls for Miller to resign or be sacked, and for the former Department for Work and Pensions minister to face the same criminal justice system as anyone else accused of wrongly taking taxpayers’ money – like a benefit cheat.

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DWP’s shame: Facts reveal how ministers duped the press

Lest we forget: We know that, on average, 73 people died every week between January and November 2011 - after undergoing the DWP work capability assessment administered by Atos. Who knows how many are dying now?

Lest we forget: We know that, on average, 73 people died every week between January and November 2011 – after undergoing the DWP work capability assessment administered by Atos. Who knows how many are dying now?

Today the DWP finally released its press release claiming that huge numbers of people who wanted Employment and Support Allowance have been found fit for work instead.

Interestingly, the DWP story differs from that published by the BBC, even though the corporation must have used a version of the press release provided to it in advance.

In the BBC story, released on Saturday, “More than a million others withdrew their claims after interviews” – but the DWP press notice, released today, claims “More than a million others withdrew their claims before reaching a face-to-face assessment”.

In addition, the DWP release features a long section on its Disability Confident roadshow, and there is another statistic which claims that the proportion of disabled people in work has reached 45 per cent.

Disability Confident, designed “to encourage more employers to hire disabled people”, “to showcase the talents of disabled people and highlight their tremendous value to the British economy” is, on the face of it, a good idea.

But I wonder if it isn’t a smokescreen to hide how the DWP is pushing thousands of disabled people into saying they are self-employed and taking tax credits rather than ESA, in order to fudge the figures and make it seem as though good work is being done.

Vox Political reported on this before ,and it is worth adding that the BBC itself ran the original report that work advisers were pushing the jobless into self-employment.

Oh, what a tangled web we weave, when first we practise to deceive…

Of course, the best source of ESA-related statistics is on the iLegal site where the figures behind the press release have been picked apart by an expert who doesn’t have a vested interest in saving ministerial face.

They show that an average of 83 per cent of the 1,078,200 Incapacity claimants who were assessed qualified for ESA between October 2012 and May last year, while 88 per cent of the 1,332,300 ‘repeatedly assessed’ were re-qualifying.

While the DWP and the BBC have claimed 1.8 million people have magically disappeared from the Incapacity/ESA claimant count, the DWP’s own figures confirm that overall numbers have reduced by only 156,630 since May 2010.

The iLegal article makes it clear that “the claimant count is far from a static number; each month thousands of claimants come on and off all benefits”. But it seems clear that the BBC/DWP figure is a conflated total, simply adding up all new claims – rather than claimants – from 2008 onwards.

This is exactly why UK Statistics Authority chief Andrew Dilnot chastised the government after the Conservative Party released an almost-identical press release last year, using then-current (but still inaccurate) figures and not mentioning Disability Confident.

Let’s go back to the number of people found ‘fit for work’ after assessment. Has everybody forgotten the hammering that the government took during a debate on Atos’ handling of the Work Capability Assessment, exactly a year and a week ago today? If you have, don’t worry – you can read all about it here.

The debate demonstrated time after time that the work capability assessment, as devised by the DWP’s Conservative ministerial team and run by its employees at Atos, was not fit for purpose; that the overwhelming majority of those who had been found ‘fit for work’ were nothing of the sort; and that “this is a government that is perfectly happy with a system that is throwing thousands of sick and disabled people to the wolves”.

The government refused to listen. Then-Employment minister Mark Hoban (standing in, conspicuously, for Esther McVey, who was minister for the disabled at the time) said the independent reviews conducted by Professor Malcolm Harrington had identified areas of improvement and appropriate steps were being taken.

This claim was false. Out of 25 recommendations made by Professor Harrington in his year one review alone, almost two thirds were not fully and successfully implemented.

The government also claimed, repeatedly, that Prof Harrington had supported the migration of Incapacity Benefit claimants to ESA. When fellow blogger Sue Marsh contacted him for confirmation, he responded: “I NEVER—repeat–NEVER agreed to the IB migration. I would have preferred that it be delayed but by the time I said that, the political die had been cast. I then said that i would review progress of that during my reviews. The decision was political. I could not influence it. IS THAT CRYSTAL CLEAR?”

I’d say so – to everybody but the Coalition government.

Now:

A good reporter at the BBC would have had all this information to hand. They would have known that the work capability assessment was extremely controversial and had been shown, many times, to be unfit for purpose. They would have known that the government had been slapped down by the UK Statistics Authority after releasing an almost-identical press release last year. They absolutely should have known that other reporters in the same organisation had revealed that the DWP had been pushing disabled people into claiming they were self-employed in an effort to cook the books.

With all that information to hand, it begs the question: Why did they then go ahead with the propagandised misrepresentation of the facts that appeared on the BBC News website on Saturday?

And, before reporters at Business Standard (“A million Britons found lying for illness benefits“?), the Belfast Telegraph, International Business Times UK, Metro, The Times, Channel 4 News, Press TV, Descrier, SME Times, AoI Money, The Mirror, Gloucester Citizen, Huffington Post, Evening Standard, and especially the Daily Mail, whose article was hysterical in both senses of the term, allow me to ask…

What’s your excuse?

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Coalition spins a li(n)e about disabled people and work; media ignore it

workprogramme1

Is it possible that the news media are finally learning to examine Coalition press releases critically, rejecting those that don’t stand up to scrutiny?

There’s a crumb of hope in the fact that the latest disinformation about disabled people has received a very poor pick-up in the press. This is probably because it is easily-disproved nonsense.

The release claims “More than 500 disabled people a week supported into work or training”, which is a grandiose claim when one remembers the trouble suffered by the DWP in doing just that, only a few months ago.

According to the text, the DWP reckons more than 78,000 “opportunities for disabled people” have been created since 2011, where they have either found a job or “taken a significant step towards the workplace”.

But the logic falls down when you get to the quotation from Sir Stelios Haji-Ioannou, founder of Easyjet. He said: “Already over 100,000 disabled entrepreneurs employ an equivalent number of people in their business start-ups.”

Firstly, in the light of other quoted statistics that say 21,000 (of the 78,000 initially mentioned) have been on work experience placement, while more than 10,000 more started in sector-based work academies, one must wonder where 53,000 of the people mentioned by Sir Stelios came from.

Secondly, did you notice that he let the cat out of the bag (so to speak)? “Business start-ups”, is it?

Didn’t we all discover, via a BBC 5 Live investigation back in February last year, that job seekers on the work programme were being encouraged to declare that they were self-employed – when they aren’t – in order to get more money in tax credits than they would on Jobseekers’ Allowance?

This is just the same scam, applied to people on disability benefits like the work-related activity group of Employment and Support Allowance. Once their year on ESA runs out, they have a choice of going on Jobseekers’ Allowance (which is problematic as they cannot say they are fit for work), going without benefits altogether, or taking the self-employed cheat.

Some of them might be working but it seems likely that the vast majority aren’t.

Meanwhile, the government gets to fiddle the unemployment statistics to make it seem that the Work Programme is succeeding and more people have jobs.

It is right that the news media should not promote this blatant false accounting. Instead (as Elizabeth Caldow states in the comment column below) they should be exposing it for the outright fabrication that it is.

There should be a law against it.

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