Tag Archives: claimants

DWP is fighting the release of secret reports on benefit claimants – again

If you’re wondering what happens to the money the government saves by cutting off the benefits that people need and deserve, it seems the DWP uses it to fend off legal demands for it to publish reports on the harmful consequences of doing so.

According to Disability News Service, the department has been ordered to publish two such reports and is likely to spend multiple thousands of pounds trying to keep them out of the public domain.

Why would it do that, if there was nothing questionable in their contents?

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Here’s DNS:

The first report was a written assessment of how the government’s decision to abolish the work capability assessment (WCA) would impact millions of disabled people and other groups protected under the Equality Act.

Under the plans, disabled people who cannot work will only be able to qualify for a new health element of universal credit if they also receive personal independence payment (PIP), disability living allowance, or, in Scotland, adult disability payment.

But this would also mean that it would be left to DWP’s over-worked work coaches – who will usually have no health-related qualifications – to decide if a disabled person should carry out work-related activity.

DNS had told the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) that although the WCA has been “closely linked to the deaths of hundreds of disabled people”, the plans to scrap it could lead to further deaths of claimants.

The second report describes the impact of DWP errors on “vulnerable” benefit claimants, which it has admitted could have a “negative” impact on its reputation.

The report contains “worst case scenario” information that DWP has calculated about the impact of its errors on claimants, which it appears keen to keep hidden from the public, and probably includes estimates of how many claimants have been harmed by its errors.

DWP has argued that this information was only intended to be considered by its serious case panel and that “some of the information, if presented in its current format, could have a negative reputational impact on DWP”.

Between 2013 and 2015, I spent two years campaigning for information on the number of people who died after being denied Employment and Support Allowance to be released.

The Information Commissioner’s Office eventually ruled that the data must be published – but the DWP said it only had information on deaths within two weeks of a decision.

This still showed 2,400 people had died over a period between 2011 and 2014 – after the DWP had decided that they were perfectly healthy and did not deserve the benefit they were claiming.

Why did they die, then?

It seems the currently-disputed reports are on similar lines – discussing the harm that may happen to patients if the government goes through with current plans, based on the experience of what has happened in the past.

That is why it is so important for them to be published; they may contain information on harm the DWP knows it has caused.

If DWP bosses know their policies and decisions have caused undue harm, why are they pushing ahead with them – or worsening them?

Source: DWP set to waste thousands fighting release of two secret reports – Disability News Service


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Stefanovic slaughters Sunak’s benefit-bashing falsehoods

Rishi Sunak: I like this shot because he looks nervous. If I was in his position, asking Tory backbenchers to raise taxes, I’d be nervous too.

I make no apology for returning to this issue. Why shouldn’t I? Rishi Sunak did!

Top take from this clip is the fact that so many people claiming Universal Credit actually have jobs – indicating that the UK’s government has engineered the shameful situation in which working people have to claim state aid in order to survive. This is an employer subsidy, funded with public money. Businesses should be able to pay every employee a living wage.

As for the rest – see for yourself:

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Boris Johnson’s advice to benefit claimants is insulting. I say: act on it!

Money, money, money: Boris Johnson has made loads of it by scrounging from other people and his advice to low-paid workers is clearly that they should do the same. Start with your Tory MP, if you have one.

UK prime minister Boris Johnson has told working people on poverty pay, who have to claim benefits to make ends meet – and are facing a £1,000-per-year cut in those benefits – he’ll do nothing to help them.

He won’t legislate to ensure they are better-paid and he won’t cancel the Universal Benefit cut.

According to the Mirror,

Mr Johnson insisted “most” Brits want to see people’s “wages rise through their efforts” instead of claiming benefits.

Mr Johnson told broadcasters: “My preference, my strong strong preference, and I believe this is the instinct of most people in this country, is for people to see their wages rise through their efforts – rather than from taxation of other people put into their pay packets, rather than welfare.”

Read it for yourself, here:

And here are a couple of other takes on the same story:

As you may have noticed from the above tweets, his words have been met by a certain amount of… resistance.

There’s a good reason for it, as the following examples make clear: Johnson himself is the biggest scrounger in the entire country. He’s just a big, fat hypocrite – and so are his cabinet colleagues who support his policy.

This one from Super Tanskiii is particularly spicy:

Why does Johnson succeed in scrounging all this cash from donors and friends? Well, he might deny it (as suggested by this parody account) but the huge bungs of public money he’s been handing out to his donors in dodgy government contracts might have something to do with it. Do you think?

It’s all very well complaining about it, and it’s all good fun satirising it, but – knowing This Site as you do – you’re probably wondering what’s to be done about it.

My advice: take Johnson at his word and follow his example.

So you write to Tory politicians and businesses – start with those in your own Parliamentary constituency, obviously – and ask them for donations.

Promise them all a huge bung when you’re hugely successful in your chosen career.

I’ll certainly be writing to my own MP, Fay Jones (Conservative, Brecon and Radnorshire). It’ll say something like:

“Dear Ms Jones,

“I am writing in accordance with Boris Johnson’s advice to people on low pay – that we should ‘rise through our efforts’. It seems clear to me that he wishes us to follow his example, which is to subsidise his own salary with large donations from other people.

“My house has not been decorated for more than 20 years and is in desperate need of new, gold, wallpaper. The cost should come to around £240,000 and I am sure that – as a responsible constituency MP, you will be delighted to donate towards this good cause. Shall I put you down for £50k?

“From media reports, I understand that I will not be expected to provide large contracts to you or any other funders in return for your donations now, but rest assured that when I am rich and successful, your contribution – whatever it may be – will not be forgotten!”

“I await your cheque eagerly. Or would you like to pay by BACS?”

Do this thing. It may improve your life and if enough of you do it, it will certainly bring home the facts of their actions to Tory MPs.

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Deaths and other harms to benefit claimants prompt renewed lawsuits – and calls to investigate DWP

Death by DWP: Philippa Day.

The chickens are coming home to roost at the Department for Work and Pensions.

The families of three benefit claimants – who are said to have died because the DWP deliberately mishandled their claims – are continuing to take the department through the court system in their search for justice.

Publicity around the cases has led to a BBC investigation in which it was found that they are just three out of 150 cases in which the DWP has conducted internal investigations into its own behaviour.

Now the department is facing demands for an independent investigation into its conduct. Long overdue demands, in This Writer’s experienced opinion.

Here‘s the BBC:

Cases where people claiming benefits died or came to serious harm have led to more than 150 government reviews since 2012, a BBC investigation found.

Internal reviews are held by the DWP when it is alleged its actions had a negative impact, or when it is named at an inquest.

Calling for an inquiry, Labour MP Debbie Abrahams said: “It needs to be taken out of the hands of the DWP.”

Ms Abrahams, who previously read out in the Commons the names of 29 people who have died, said: “There needs to be an independent inquiry investigating why these deaths are happening and the scale of the deaths needs to be properly understood.”

The DWP said it had established a new Serious Case Panel in 2019 to consider themes identified from serious cases, which included independent members.

Yeah, right. I opened Gibbons’ Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire the other day. That doesn’t mean I read any of it.

Now let’s hear from Leigh Day solicitors, who represent the three families who are pushing their cases through the courts:

The families spoke to the BBC to share their stories and the legal stages of their cases.

Philippa Day who lived with a long standing mental health illness, and was diabetic, died aged 27 in October 2019, two months after she was found collapsed at home in Nottingham.

On 27 January 2021, HM Assistant Coroner for Nottinghamshire, Gordon Clow concluded that the problems Philippa had with her application for disability benefits were “the predominant… and the only acute factor” which led her to take action on 8 August 2019 that ultimately proved fatal.

Following the inquest, a letter of claim has been sent to DWP and Capita which alleges breach of human rights and negligence by the DWP and Capita arising out of the events which led to Philippa’s death and seeks compensation for the wrongs Philippa and her family suffered. DWP and Capita have three months to respond before claims may be pursued in the High Court.

Death by DWP: Jodey Whiting.

Jodey Whiting, aged 42, took her own life on 21 February 2017. She suffered severe mental health problems and had her benefits terminated a fortnight earlier for not attending a Work Capability Assessment, leaving her with no source of income.

The Attorney General granted their consent last year for an application to the High Court for a fresh inquest into her death, which the High Court will hear on 22 June 2021. Jodey’s mother seeks a fresh inquest to ensure the role played by the DWP in her daughter’s death are publicly and fully investigated.

Death by DWP: Errol Graham.

Errol Graham, was found dead aged 57 in June 2018, eight months after his benefits were stopped because of his failure to attend a fit for work assessment. When his body was found, Mr Graham weighed four-and-a-half stone.

An inquest in 2019 found that DWP and NHS staff had missed opportunities to save Graham, and the coroner concluded that “the safety net that should surround vulnerable people like Errol in our society had holes within it”.

Mr Graham’s family have submitted an application to the Court of Appeal after their judicial review challenging the lawfulness of the DWP’s safeguarding policies was unsuccessful. The family argue that the decision in 2017 to terminate his benefits was unlawful and that the DWP’s safeguarding policies and systems need to be overhauled to provide greater protection to vulnerable benefit claimants who, like Errol, suffer from mental health conditions.

The allegations against the DWP are extremely serious.

They indicate that it has been DWP policy to endanger the lives of benefit claimants.

For that reason, it seems clear to This Writer – and I expect to anybody with the slightest common sense – that the DWP should not be judging its own work with regard to these cases.

I say that for the same reason I say Boris Johnson’s Conservatives should not be conducting inquiries into whether contracts were corruptly handed to Tory cronies – or into whether Johnson himself breached the ministerial code by getting donors to pay for his Downing Street flat’s redecoration.

They are liars; they will always whitewash themselves.

We have seen evidence of such behaviour many times over the last 10 years – reported on This Site, among others.

The work of Debbie Abrahams has been exemplary in trying to get an investigation into this scandal by an organisation we can trust.

It’s true that such efforts have achieved very little, so far.

But attitudes are changing.

As more evidence has come to light, public tolerance of the DWP’s entitled attitude has eroded.

Maybe we are finally about to get some factual answers to questions we have been asking for more than a decade.

Source: Investigation reveals 150 DWP reviews into deaths or harm to benefits claimants | Leigh Day

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Did Tories ignore reports demanding action to prevent deaths of disabled benefit claimants?

[Image: www.disabledgo.com]

When the government is dragging its heels over publishing years-old coroners’ reports that called for measures to protect disabled people from death, what does that suggest to you?

To This Writer, it suggests that the Tories ignored the reports and allowed deaths to continue for up to five more years after the first report was written.

It is for the Conservative government to publish the reports – unredacted – if it wants to prove me (or any other critics) wrong. If they remain covered up, I think we’ll have to draw our own conclusions.

Here’s Disability News Service:

The government is facing calls to publish two coroners’ reports that link the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) with the deaths of benefit claimants.

New information shows that the missing reports were written by coroners in 2015 and 2016, but neither of them have ever been published.

Both “prevention of future deaths” (PFD) reports warned DWP that more disabled people could die if the department failed to act.

But both DWP and the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) are refusing to release the reports.

Source: Net closing on government departments that refuse to publish deaths reports – Disability News Service

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DWP hires opinion poll firm to survey benefit claimants who challenge decisions. Why?

Our friends at Benefits and Work pose an interesting question: why has the DWP hired an opinion poll company – Ipsos Mori – to quiz PIP mandatory reconsideration claimants?

The rogue government department has been caught out recently, after a Freedom of Information request revealed that assessors from private contractors Atos and Capita have falsified around 7,300 benefit claims in order to deprive vulnerable people of money that is due to them.

Appeals against PIP decisions currently enjoy a success rate of more than 70 per cent, which tends to support the facts revealed by the FoI response.

Now, in a letter to dissenting claimants, the DWP has written that it has asked Ipsos MORI “to help them understand the experience of people who have disagreed with a decision that has been made regarding their benefit claim and to help the Department improve the services they offer”.

Benefits and Work has adopted an attitude of suspicion, with the website requesting information on the questions being asked, from anybody who agrees to answer them.

But why has the DWP hired Ipsos Mori to do this work?

Well, it has been said that opinion pollsters are never really hired to reflect the opinions of the public – but to shape them.

How do they do that?

In the choice of the questions they ask.

For example: asked if a benefit assessor was polite during the interview, even a disgruntled claimant might have to say that they were.

But how can the same claimant point out that their assessment had been doctored to provide false information, if they are not asked a question about it?

They can’t.

And if Ipsos Mori asks only the questions the DWP requires, then the government department will be able to claim that there is nothing wrong with its assessment system, with nobody able to claim that it is not depending on honest answers.

So Benefits and Work is right to advise caution, and to be keen to see the questions being asked.

This Writer would take a simpler view. I would tell anybody who is contacted to respond to the survey: don’t.

Source: Why has DWP hired Ipsos MORI to quiz PIP mandatory reconsideration claimants?

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Charity report highlights how Tories have pushed benefit claimants into poverty

Food bank queue: The Conservative Party will only increase the number of people forced to seek help from charities like the Trussell Trust. The only answer is a change of government.

Food bank charity the Trussell Trust has published research showing how the Conservative government has pushed people into extreme poverty, when it should have been helping them avoid it.

It states that the Tory benefit system, ill health, and a lack of support from local authorities are the three main causes of hunger and destitution in the UK.

Tory cuts to benefit payments, being turned down for disability benefits, being sanctioned, and delays in payments like the five week wait for Universal Credit are cited as key problems with benefits – all are due to Conservative cruelty.

Not only that, but almost three-quarters of people at food banks have a health issue, or live with someone who does. This is the Tory obsession with persecuting people who have long-term illnesses and/or disabilities. I have often compared it with the Nazi eugenics programme to rid society of “useless eaters”.

The report, State of Hunger 2019, says foodbank users are left with an average of £50 a week to buy food and pay vital household bills after housing costs.

It reveals that almost one in five households have no money coming in at all in the month before being referred to a food bank.

The research shows that 94% of people at food banks are destitute, almost three-quarters of people at food banks live in households affected by ill-health or disability, 22% of food bank users are single parents – compared to 5% in the UK population – and more than three-quarters are in rent arrears.

Most people referred to Trussell Trust food banks are in receipt of some form of social security payment, with many being in-work and dependent on benefits, tax credits or Universal Credit to top-up low wages. So much for the Tory claim that work is the best way out of poverty!

Not only that, but the report states: “More than half of people at food banks live in households affected by a mental health problem, with anxiety and depression the most common.

“A quarter of people live in households where someone has a long-term physical condition; one in six has a physical disability; and one in 10 has a learning disability, or live with someone who does.”

The report adds: “Ill health often increases living costs and may be a barrier to doing paid work.” Isn’t that precisely the point?

The charity has called on the UK Government to end the minimum five-week-wait for Universal Credit, ensure that benefit payments cover the “true cost of living”, and provide increased and ring-fenced funding for councils to allow them to provide local crisis support.

I would go further: we need a change of government. The Conservatives will never willingly stop persecuting the poor, the sick and the disabled; they love it too much. The only solution is to rid the UK of their tyranny.

You can read more about the report in this Welfare Weekly article.

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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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DWP persecutes claimants rather than scammers over ‘industrial scale’ benefit fraud

Despair: It seems the DWP’s plan to tackle Universal Credit fraud is to prosecute the victims, rather than the criminals.

Only one scammer has been prosecuted by the Department for Work and Pensions in connection with a fraud that has cost the nation an estimated £150 million per month.

The 145 dedicated staff hired by the DWP to investigate seem more interested in prosecuting genuine benefit claimants – with one already convicted and 28 facing prosecution.

Doesn’t that seem the wrong way around?

The scam works because people who need to claim benefits have been made increasingly desperate by the economic conditions created by the Conservative government.

Here’s how I described it, back in July:

“The scammer approaches the victim – a person in need of quick cash – and offers to get them a government grant or a payday loan for a small fee. They demand the victim’s identity details.

“The scammer then simply goes online and makes a Universal Credit claim in the victim’s name, demanding an advance loan in the process.

“The DWP’s online system automatically approves the claim because it doesn’t know any better and transfers the money into the victim’s bank account – from which the scammer then takes a huge amount of the money that has been handed over.

“The victim is left with a small fraction of the loan, but owing the entire amount back to the DWP. Not only that, but any other benefits they may have been claiming will have been cancelled.

“So the victim is left much worse-off – and the government department doesn’t care. It will pursue them for the full amount.”

This is what we are seeing now – the DWP is apparently pursuing the victims, rather than the perpetrators.

“It seems the scam works because of Universal Credit’s ‘digital by design’ nature; the computerised system automatically approves the application, no matter how bizarre the claims in it.

“So thousands of pounds have been given in response to claims on behalf of (allegedly) a 19-year-old with six blind children, people with children called Lisa, Bart and Homer – or indeed Ha, Ha and Ha – and people claiming “Harry Kane” is their landlord.

“Apparently 100,000 or more such advances are being paid every month. At up to £1,500 a go, that’s a lot of money.”

It seems the DWP’s 145 investigators are currently looking into 85,000 cases, with the caseload increasing all the time.

Has anything been done to stop the computerised Universal Credit claim system from automatically allowing these scams? If not, why not? Do the Tories see it as another way to persecute the vulnerable?

It seems to This Writer that there is only one way to stop the scammers from exploiting the vulnerable – and to stop the Tories from persecuting them.

Elect a Labour government that will end Universal Credit and implement a fair system in which people won’t be pushed into the arms of criminals.

It’s that simple.

Source: DWP: Just one scammer prosecuted so far for snaring people in Universal Credit fraud – Mirror Online

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

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UK benefit policy is to ‘save money by ensuring people die waiting for claims to be processed’

131010benefitdenier

The Conservative Government has been challenged to let experts analyse the effects of its policies on benefit claimants, following the publication of – extremely limited – mortality figures in August.

Disability studies specialist and disability activist Samuel Miller has written to Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith, and employment minister Priti Patel, asking whether they would co-operate if epidemiologists – experts in studying the patterns, causes, and effects of health and disease conditions in defined populations such as benefit claimants – requested permission to conduct a thorough investigation of government policy.

In 2013, Duncan Smith turned down Mr Miller’s request to have his department hire an epidemiologist to conduct an independent study of the impact of the welfare reforms on the mortality of claimants on Incapacity Benefit and Employment and Support Allowance.

“The professionals most qualified to analyse the recent DWP statistical releases on benefit deaths are Professor David Stuckler and Dr Sanjay Basu, the co-authors of The Body Economic: Why Austerity Kills. Why haven’t you asked them to analyze the mortality releases?” wrote Mr Miller.

“In my opinion, thousands of sick and disabled benefit claimants died needlessly because of the benefits backlog, long waits for mandatory reconsideration decisions, and the failure of the DWP to implement a sensible Work and Pensions Committee recommendation: In 2014, that Committee called on the Government to pay sick and disabled people benefits while they appealed against incorrect ‘fit for work’ decisions.

Why didn’t you implement that recommendation, and if you would do so, how much more would it have cost your department in additional benefit expenditures?

“It’s a hard truth, but it must be stated: The purpose of a benefits backlog is to ensure that people die waiting for their claims to be processed, thus saving the Government money. The Government failed to set a reasonable timescale for the mandatory reconsideration process, leaving it open-ended. The human cost was enormous and thousands died.

“Why is your department so unwilling to implement sensible and humane mortality avoidance measures?”

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