Tag Archives: claim

Cambridge Analytica did not misuse data in EU referendum; it just lied about what it could do, says watchdog

This can’t be the first time an organisation harmed its own reputation with wild claims.

But Cambridge Analytica seems to have engineered its own destruction with its claim to be able to influence people using data it had accrued about them.

These referred to Americans but it seems they raised questions about the organisation’s role in the UK’s referendum on membership of the European Union in 2016.

As a result, the (UK’s) Information Commissioner launched an investigation into the company in 2017 – and it collapsed in 2018.

Were the two events related? If so, it could be argued that Cambridge Analytica’s own boasts destroyed it.

Cambridge Analytica had repeatedly claimed in its marketing material to have “5,000+ data points per individual on 230 million adult Americans”, suggesting it had incredible power to micro-target individuals with suggestive political messaging using a giant psychographic database.

However, the investigation concluded that “based on what we found it appears that this may have been an exaggeration” and much of the company’s activities followed “well recognised processes using commonly available technology”.

So did it attract the unwanted attention of the information regulator needlessly?

Well, it seems the firm wasn’t involved in the EU referendum campaign at all:

[Elizabeth Denham, the Information Commissioner] said she found no evidence that Cambridge Analytica were actively involved in the EU referendum campaign, beyond an early proposal to work with UKIP which was not put into action.

It turns out the Information Commissioner found no evidence of collusion with Russia to influence the referendum either:

[Denham] said her team also found no evidence Cambridge Analytica aided Russian intervention in the UK political process.

Particularly interesting to This Writer, though, was the revelation that

the company’s data protection practices were lax “with little thought for effective security measures”.

Couple this with the following –

Cambridge Analytica founder Alexander Nix was disqualified from acting as a company director for seven years for “offering potentially unethical services to prospective clients” including bribery or honey trap stings, voter disengagement campaigns, obtaining information to discredit political opponents, and spreading information anonymously in political campaigns.

– and we see that the firm (or at least its founder) was quite happy to break the Data Protection Act left, right and centre by obtaining information and then distributing it to the public in breach of the law.

This links with my recent court case against the Labour Party, in which I gave evidence that employees had put together false information about me and passed it to newspapers who then published it to thousands of people.

Labour’s representative tried to claim that, even though the party (as represented by its general secretary) was the data manager responsible for the way the information was used, it was not responsible for the acts of any employees because (as I understand it) there is no evidence that it ordered them to commit those acts.

But then, they wouldn’t have had access to this – false, in my case – information if Labour had not ordered them to compile it.

Put the two cases together and it seems the Data Protection Act is a dead letter – unless a person whose information has been misused can prove exactly who misused it and why they did it. That’s going to be impossible in most cases, isn’t it?

I was therefore hoping to read that the Information Commissioner was bringing recommendations to the government that would strengthen the law.

And I was keen to see what they would be.

I was disappointed. It seems all the information that we are obliged to provide to organisations, just to get on in modern life, is vulnerable to abuse every way you can imagine. Not a happy thought!

Source: Cambridge Analytica did not misuse data in EU referendum, says watchdog | UK news | The Guardian

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Why do we think it’s okay for people with disabilities to be terrorised by Tory benefit assessors?

As seen on Twitter.

“When I looked at the report I had to double check it had my name on it. I have never seen so many lies in my life!”

That‘s just one comment on the assessment process for Personal Independence Payment, the so-called “benefit” the Conservative government claims it provides to people with disabilities.

In fact, it has always been more about denying that claimants have any disabilities at all and removing their cash so that they die slowly in despair – but the Tories can deny responsibility.

A response to the above comment reads: “Fantasy masquerading as fact again in a PIP assessment. How many more such cases are there going to be before the DWP does something about it?”

Many – because a change of government is required before we can expect a change of heard and we can’t expect that any time soon.

Even people who should reasonably expect to be safe from sanction are terrorised by the process.

So. The dreaded PIP renewal has arrived. Why when he’s 20 and nothing has changed, do I get the awful knot in tummy? Knowing we will have to fight hard again,” wrote one carer.

Another wrote: “Got a brown envelope regarding … PIP today. Theres no issue, they’re extending it. Its fine. But the effect that brown envelope has on me is terrifying. Seeing it makes me physically sick, sweaty and my heart race I’m genuinely scared [of] my government.”

These good people have reason to be.

New figures from the Department for Work and Pensions have shown that, between April 2018 and the end of January this year, 1,700 people died within three months of their PIP claim being rejected by the government.

As I mentioned above, the Tories can deny responsibility for these deaths – as minister for disabled people Justin Tomlinson did when providing the figures in response to a question from Labour MP Jessica Morden.

He said: “There is no evidence in this data to suggest someone’s reason for claiming Personal Independence Payments was the cause of their death and it would be misleading to suggest otherwise.”

But it is reasonable to question whether these people would have died if they had not been deprived of the benefits they seem clearly to have needed, in order to live.

And these figures follow on from work carried out by This Writer – me – a few years ago in which I had to force the government of the day to admit 2,400 people had died between dates in 2011 and 2014, within just two weeks of having their claims for sickness benefits rejected.

It is a quiet cull.

The Tories have learned from the mistakes of the Nazis; they don’t send a van around to people’s houses to gas people with disabilities to death. They have realised they don’t have to.

The Tories know that it is much easier for them simply to deprive people with disabilities who claim benefits – the Nazis used to call them “useless eaters” and I’m sure some Tories do the same – of the means to survive.

This Site is filled with countless stories of the victims of this policy.

I could pick holes in Tomlinson’s words; of course it is not anybody’s reason for claiming a benefit that leads to their death after being denied it. The cause is the deprivation of the means to continue living.

But no individual case can prove this because the Tories would say it was anecdotal.

What is needed is a class action legal case in which it may be demonstrated that disabled people died who may not have done so, had they not been deprived of money.

There are plenty of examples now. All that is needed is someone to take it up as a cause. They could probably face a deluge of information if only they advertised for it.

I would do it myself but I seem to be spending too much time in courtrooms as it is. And I don’t think that’s a coincidence.

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Hancock lied yet again: if anything, suicides have INCREASED during the Covid-19 pandemic

Smug little liar: when Matt Hancock opens his mouth to make a claim, it will probably be wrong.

There was a time when lying to Parliament meant immediate expulsion but don’t expect to see deceitful health secretary Matt Hancock thrown out on his ear.

When the whole government is corrupt, he is merely one liar among many.

His latest attempt to mislead us is in the number of people committing suicide.

He told the Commons that figures for England showed a decrease but this is not true.

Here’s Full Fact:

“Some cautiously positive news announced today ​by the Office for National Statistics shows that the number of suicides during the peak of the pandemic was down from 10.3 per 100,000 to 6.9 per 100,000”. – Matt Hancock MP, 1 September 2020

While the figures quoted by Mr Hancock are the latest reported by the ONS, it has clearly said that this data “cannot be used to show the number of suicides with a date of death in 2020, including those that occurred during the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic”.

The provisional data, released on 1 September, shows the rate and number of suicide deaths registered up to June 2020. This data reported 10.3 suicides per 100,000 people between January and March (equivalent to 1,262 registered deaths), and 6.9 suicide deaths per 100,000 people between April and June, equivalent to 845 registered deaths.

It is important to note that these figures show when these deaths were registered, not when they happened.

The 845 suicides registered in the second quarter of 2020 is the lowest number of any quarter since the figures began in 2001, and the ONS said it is “unlikely that the reduction in registered deaths reflects a genuine reduction in the number of suicides”.

Mr Hancock was wrong to say that suicide deaths fell during the peak of the pandemic, as it is too early for the evidence to show what happened.

Hancock’s lie was all the more blatant when we remember that the ONS – the same organisation whose figures he quoted so wrongly – has reported that suicides in England and Wales last year were at their highest in nearly two decades:

Men accounted for around three-quarters of suicide deaths registered in 2019 – 4,303 compared with 1,388 women.
The male suicide rate of 16.9 deaths per 100,000 people was the highest since 2000, but is in line with 2018’s figures.

For women, the rate was 5.3 deaths per 100,000 – the highest since 2004, but again consistent with the previous year.

Source: There’s no evidence the number of people taking their own life fell during the Covid-19 pandemic – Full Fact

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PMQs: here’s how Badmouther Boris got from his exams failure to accusing Keir Starmer of IRA sympathy

Johnson v Starmer: in the PMQs battle-of-words, Starmer came out the clear winner against a prime minister that didn’t seem to know what question he was being asked to answer – let alone how to do it.

Prime ministerial failure Boris Johnson showed us all he had no answers about the ‘A’ level results scandal when he wandered off in the middle of PMQs and started accusing Keir Starmer of sympathising with the IRA – by proxy.

The Labour leader had asked a reasonable question – when did Johnson know that there was a problem with the algorithm used by Ofqual and the Department for Education to produce results, as exams hadn’t taken place?

Johnson’s response was not only an insult to everybody whose results were tainted by the system that upgraded private school pupils and marked down those at state schools – it was a direct attack on Starmer, with no reason.

He was clearly off-balance; he did not know what to say about the exams fiasco – so he groped for an attack on the Labour leader that he (or more likely his team) had clearly prepared in advance.

See for yourself:

This is Johnson’s tactic, it seems: if he’s asked a tricky question, he’ll throw a dead cat on the table.

The barb about supporting the IRA had nothing to do with anything at all – particularly not Keir Starmer who, as he said, prosecuted many terrorists in his former role as a lawyer and as Director of Public Prosecutions.

It was simply a means of distracting attention away from the fact that his government failed ‘A’ level students across the country and he did not have an excuse.

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Tories and ‘centrist’ hypocrites call for closure of fund to help Jeremy Corbyn fight legal battle

‘New’ Labour and old news: Ian Austin and John Mann

Fantasists who have spent years pretending Jeremy Corbyn was an anti-Semite are wailing in protest after a fund was set up to help him fight a legal battle.

The broadcaster John Ware, who was responsible for last year’s risible Panorama ‘documentary’, Is Labour Antisemitic, is suing Corbyn over comments made by the former Labour leader and the official party line on the film at the time.

In response – and after current Labour leader Keir Starmer went against legal advice provided to the party in order to reward former Labour apparatchiks who appeared in the film, Corbyn supporter Carole Morgan has set up a GoFundMe crowdfunding web page that has raised around a quarter of a million pounds at the time of writing.

Starmer has spent around £600,000 of Labour members’ subscription money on court costs and the payout to a group of so-called “whistleblowers” who said they were libelled by the party over their part in the Panorama show. We are told legal advice to the party was that their case would not stand up in court.

Ms Morgan’s hugely-popular crowdfunder has attracted attacks from the usual suspects.

Former Labour Party cuckoo Ian Austin has attacked the initiative, saying that Corbyn should give some of the money back because some of the contributors left anti-Semitic comments.

But this is childish nonsense; it would be poetic justice to use an anti-Semite’s money to protect an anti-racist.

And did Austin complain when £250,000 was raised to help right-wing Labour MPs (as he was at the time) to remove Corbyn from his position as Labour leader?

No he did not.

The hypocrisy is strong in this one…

… as it is in the “news” paper that ran the story:

In a related event, Lord John Mann – who used to be a Labour MP but joined the Tories in exchange for a peerage and unlimited opportunities to have a pop at Corbyn – has been attacking the former Labour leader over anti-Semitic tweets by a ‘grime’ performer called Wiley:

Anti-Corbyn camp followers took up the cry, attacking Corbyn’s supporters for being silent about it. Most of us had never heard of the person in question:

I tweeted about this myself:

It seems I sparked a round of agreement, as others chimed in to admit that they hadn’t heard of this Wiley fellow either:

And here’s the icing on the cake:

So it seems even Corbyn’s reply wasn’t real and Mann was getting het up over nothing.

Will he apologise?

Source: Jeremy Corbyn is under pressure to return £210,000 Go Fund Me cash to help him fight legal battle | Daily Mail Online

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Now Labour members must quit if they want to defend against anti-Semitism smears

Out: Karen Sudan.

The grounds on which the Labour Party wants to accuse people of anti-Semitism are getting more and more shaky.

In this case, one of the accusations against Cllr Karen Sudan is that she has blocked Labour Against Anti-Semitism on Twitter.

This is not an anti-Semitic act. Indeed, as LAAS is represented by extremely dodgy characters, Cllr Sudan should be praised for putting distance between herself and that group. It is the Labour Party that should be ashamed for supporting it.

But then, Labour does have its blinkers on when choosing its allies. It kowtows to the Jewish Labour Movement, Labour Friends of Israel and other right-wing, pro-Likud Israel, anti-Palestinian organisations (despite its claim that all peoples should have the right to self-determination) and rejects Jewish Voice for Labour, Jewdas and the Jewish Socialists Group.

The second accusation refers to a tweet from August 2018 in which she accuses the mainstream media of being ‘too busy making up and/or exaggerating stories about anti-Semitism in the Labour Party’ to raise an outcry over other forms of racism.

This was just after local elections in which there was a huge increase in media reports claiming anti-Semitism in the Labour Party. This is now common knowledge as research has been carried out and shown it to be true.

Meanwhile the Windrush Scandal had taken place, and August 2018 was the month Boris Johnson published his shockingly racist remarks about burqa-wearing women looking like “letterboxes” and “bank robbers”. Those are just two high-profile examples. I feel sure Cllr Sudan was accurate in her criticism.

The final charge against her relates to a tweet from January, opposing the so-called “Ten Commandments” by the Board of Deputies of British Jews.

She was right to do so and then-leadership candidates including Keir Starmer were wrong to sign up to those pledges – several of which involve commitments to break the law, if This Writer’s memory is correct.

Now consider this:

Because of recent changes, the only way Cllr Sudan could defend herself publicly against these claims was to quit the party.

She explains:

“If I was a member of the Labour Party, I would have to keep quiet about that – and if I spoke about it to anybody I would be suspended.

“They would know I was under investigation but they wouldn’t know why and I wouldn’t be able to discuss it and I wouldn’t be able to defend myself.

“The only way I could do that and stop the gossip and the maligning stuff that would be around it was to resign from the party and put it out there so that people can see how stupid and ridiculous it is.

Of course, quitting the party means the accusations won’t be prosecuted through its disputes/disciplinary system – but it also means she has been forced to quit the party, possibly for political reasons.

The Labour leader of Crawley Borough Council – one of the authorities on which Cllr Sudan sits – denied any suggestion that the accusation against his former colleague came from anybody in the council’s Labour group.

He said it seemed likely that “someone’s been nationally trawling through Labour accounts trying to find any historical Tweets which may well constitute anti-Semitism”.

But his belief that it was somebody at Labour’s London HQ is less believable. It has been suggested that LAAS has been doing exactly what he described – that’s in the leaked Labour report on anti-Semitism investigations.

Perhaps this indicates the veracity of that claim?

And it would certainly tie in with the fact that one of the disputed tweets is a reference to LAAS.

Source: Crawley councillor quits Labour to defend anti-Semitism accusations | Crawley Observer

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Coronavirus: Tories endanger disabled people with homicidal choice between a rock and a hard place

What charmers these Tories are! They’re telling UK-based people with disabilities they have a choice between starving while waiting for their benefit claim to be honoured, and dying of Covid-19 because the Tory government is sending them back to work too soon:

Disabled people and their carers are being put at risk of catching coronavirus by returning to the workplace after being missed off the government’s vulnerable list, the Guardian has learned.

As Britain edges back to work, employers are understood to be denying some disabled people and carers paid leave to remain at home if they cannot provide a letter from the government showing proof of vulnerability, despite being at high risk from coronavirus or caring for someone who is.

The government’s register for extremely vulnerable people, which has previously been criticised for excluding a number of high-risk disabilities, is primarily designed to help signpost the need for food support. But it has emerged some employers are using the list as a condition for allowing employees to take paid leave.

Disabled people and carers who were not on the list told the Guardian they had been required to go into work by their employer or face dismissal when they could not show proof of vulnerability, with one worker forced to self-isolate between shifts in order to protect their disabled child.

This is just plain homicidal, from a government that has been caught victimising people with disabilities – to death – many times in the past.

It’s no excuse to say that nobody asked employers to use this flawed register; it was the government’s responsibility to get it right.

But – as with so much of the Tory response to Covid-19 – the effort made was lacklustre, slipshod, and discriminatory.

Intentionally?

Source: Disabled people in UK threatened with sack unless they go back to work | Society | The Guardian

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Family of man who starved to death after losing benefits launches lawsuit against DWP

Errol Graham.

Remember Errol Graham?

He’s the man who starved to death after the Department for Work and Pensions cut off his ESA (Employment and Support Allowance).

He had failed to attend a work capability assessment so the DWP cut him off without a penny. Assessors did not consider whether his mental health could have been the reason for his lack of response or whether termination of his benefits would put him at risk.

When his body was discovered – by bailiffs trying to take possession of his home after his Housing Benefit was cut off (as a direct result of him losing ESA) it weighed just 4.5 stone.

Now law firm Leigh Day has issued a legal claim against the DWP, on behalf of Mr Graham’s family.

I reproduce Leigh Day’s press release in full below:

The family of Errol Graham, who died after his benefits were stopped, have issued their legal claim against the government, challenging the DWP’s policy for terminating benefits.

The claim has now been issued in the High Court by law firm Leigh Day who represent Alison Turner, the partner of Mr Graham’s son. They now await a decision from the court on permission for the judicial review to proceed.
 
Errol died on 20 June 2018, aged 57. He was found in his flat having starved to death, weighing only four and a half stone. His Employment Support Allowance was stopped by the DWP on 10 October 2017 after he failed to attend a fitness to work assessment and as a result his Housing Benefit was also stopped. The DWP tried to contact Errol by phone and then visited his address but he did not respond. As a result the DWP, in accordance with their policy, terminated his benefits without considering whether his mental health could have been the reason for his lack of response and whether termination of his benefits would put him at risk. Despite his long history of severe mental health issues, no information was ever obtained about his physical or mental health and no effort was made to speak to his GP or family members.
 
In her witness statement given as part of the legal case Alison describes going to Errol’s flat after he died and the indications of his severe mental health problems, including finding teeth that he had pulled out with pliers. There was no food in his flat and he had no credit on his gas or electric meters. A letter was found in his flat that had been addressed but never sent to the DWP that describes his struggles with his mental health and the very low way he was feeling. It pleads with the DWP to “please judge me fairly”.
 
In her legal case Alison argues that the DWP’s policy on terminating benefits is unlawful for a number of reasons including that it may breach articles 2 and/or 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights which relate to causing serious suffering or death. It is also alleged to be unlawful as it fails to have regard to a claimant’s disability, thereby breaching the Equality Act, and it is inherently unfair as it allows benefits to be terminated with no prior notice to the claimant.  
 
In addition, Alison argues that the DWP is in breach of its duty under the Human Rights Act and common law to independently and effectively investigate Errol’s death. At Errol’s inquest in June 2019 the DWP stated that it was undertaking a ‘safeguarding review’ which would report in Autumn 2019 and result in updated guidance but none of that has happened.  In February 2020 the National Audit Office revealed that there have been a large number of benefit-related suicides. As a result the DWP states that it has conducted internal reviews into those cases and a Serious Case Panel has been established to learn lessons from those systemic concerns, including Errol’s case. However, it is not clear from the information that has been provided by the DWP about the internal reviews and Serious Case Panel how they will feed into improvements to make sure future deaths of vulnerable benefits claimants are prevented. As part of the legal case it is argued that Errol’s family had a legitimate expectation that the safeguarding review would take place, which it did not,  that his family should have been involved in the Serious Case Panel and that it should be open to public scrutiny.
 
Alison said: “The harrowing things I saw when I visited Errol’s flat following his death will always be with me. It was clear he was in extreme mental distress and anguish. It is impossible to see how a policy could be lawful which allows benefits to be withdrawn for people in these circumstances, with no consideration or investigation of their mental health, and the risks that termination would pose.” 

Tessa Gregory, solicitor at law firm Leigh Day, added: “Our client is being forced to pursue legal action because the DWP has so far refused to make any real changes to the safeguarding policies which allowed her loved one, Errol, to fall through the safety net with such devastating consequences. Like so many other families affected by benefit related deaths the conduct of the DWP following Errol’s death has had a profound impact on our client and her family.  She has been appalled by the lack of engagement and transparency and hopes this case will make the Government realise that it can no longer ignore bereaved families and it must urgently address their concerns to ensure that the vulnerable are protected.”

Mental Health charity Mind provided a witness statement in support of the case. 

Ayaz Manji, Senior Policy and Campaigns officer at Mind, said: “We regularly hear from people with mental health problems who need support from benefits that the system often works against them, making them more unwell and even suicidal. The devastating death of Errol Graham has once again shown why the system has to change now. We can’t afford to wait for more people to die or come to harm before taking action.
 
“The benefits system should be there to protect us when we need it, but right now too many people are in danger of falling through the net and coming to harm as a result. The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) must stop cutting off people’s support when they’re too unwell to leave the house, or respond to visits and letters. If the DWP can’t get hold of someone, the onus should be on them to proactively get in touch with local services and emergency contacts, to build a full picture and work to getting the individual the support they need.

“During this uncertain time, it’s crucial people can access benefits easily if they need them. It’s appalling that a lack of basic protections means that people still face the possibility of going without money because they are too unwell to engage with the process. The Government must put this right and take responsibility for making sure that those of us with mental health problems are kept safe, and treated with dignity and respect.”

Source: Family Of Errol Graham Issues Legal Claim Against The DWP

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Suspend benefit cap to protect disabled people in coronavirus crisis? It’ll never happen under Tories!

She’ll never support it: Therese Coffey’s record suggests she is not sympathetic to disabled benefit claimants.

It’s a good, solid, practical suggestion: with disabled people most at risk of financial loss during the coronavirus crisis, the government should suspend the penalties it has imposed on them in the last 10 years.

These include the benefit cap and the “two-child policy” for benefits relating to children.

Also suggested by the Disability Benefits Consortium (DBC) is conversion of the Universal Credit advance loan into a non-repayable grant.

In fact, the DBC requests the suspension of all debt repayment deductions from UC.

And the organisation calls on the government to suspend work-related conditionality and associated sanctions for those receiving benefits.

Other proposals include a call to give higher priority to resolving technical and capacity issues in the benefits system, as well as providing clear guidance for making both a digital and non-digital claim for UC. This is practical as the Department for Work and Pensions has been swamped with claims after the coronavirus lockdown began.

And there is absolutely no hope that the government will grant – or even seriously consider – any of these requests.

The Tories have turned the benefit system into a very efficient device with which to persecute people with disabilities.

They seem to see the coronavirus as a handy aid to this cause, with hospitals already being told to ration ventilators to those with a better chance of surviving – which is prejudicial against the disabled.

In fact it would be easy to see the crisis as providing the Tories with an opportunity simply to continue their hate campaign by other means.

When the final figures are summed up, it will be interesting to see what proportion of the dead happen to be disabled.

Source: Coronavirus: Suspend the benefit cap during crisis to protect disabled people, charities ask – Mirror Online

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Coronavirus: ‘Deluge’ of benefit claimants are about to learn what it’s like to deal with the DWP

This is going to be ugly.

According to The Independent, the Department for Work and Pensions is bracing itself for a ‘deluge’ of benefit claims as businesses lay off workers in the face of the coronavirus crisis.

Yes – people are losing their jobs, it seems, despite assurances from the government that it will pay up to 80 per cent of employees’ wages.

It seems senior DWP officials have been told they will be sent to cover “frontline roles” to shore up services and deal with people who have lost their jobs.

So it seems to me that people who might have been told to think benefit claimants were “spongers” and “scroungers” are about to find out how it feels to be treated as that kind of person, when they’re not.

Mrs Mike reckons the DWP might tone down its treatment of benefit claimants, in the light of the current crisis.

But I don’t think that’s possible.

You see, if anybody claiming as a result of coronavirus gets preferential treatment, then that will constitute discrimination against everybody who has claimed in normal times.

It also seems that most of the new claimants are going to be steered onto Universal Credit, which means the five-week wait for the first payment, the loan if they run out of money, the grinding poverty as they spend months being forced to pay it back.

So we live in interesting times.

Either the DWP goes easy – and faces loss after loss at tribunal over discrimination… or it carries on as normal – and Mr and Mrs General Public find out what’s really been going on in our Job Centres for the last 10 years.

Or have I missed something?

Source: DWP officials sent to ‘front line’ as government prepares for flood in benefit claims – Welfare Weekly

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