Tag Archives: David Hencke

Was Universal Credit INTENDED to cause massive errors in payments? DWP accounts suggest so!

People die because of DWP mistakes: here’s Errol Graham, who starved to death because the department wrongly decided not to give him the benefit money he deserved. The organisation later – secretly – changed its rules in a bid to avoid humiliation in court.

Online journalist David Hencke is to be praised for digging these facts out of the black hole of Whitehall obscurity:

The Department for Work and Pensions has recorded its worst year of benefit payment failures, with Universal Credit the worst offender.

Mr Hencke reports that the department has been censured for material inaccuracy in its accounts for the 32nd year in a row – going back to the days of the old Department for Social Security.

Annual accounts released on June 30 show that “Excluding State Pension, the estimated rate of overpayments has increased again to 4.8 per cent (£4.5 billion) of estimated benefit expenditure, from a restated rate of 4.4 per cent (£3.8 billion).

“The estimated rate of underpayments, excluding State Pension, has decreased to 2.0% (£1.9 billion), from its estimated rate of 2.2% (£1.9 billion) in 2018-19. The rate of overpayments in 2019-20 is the highest estimate to date.”

Universal Credit is the worst offender – possibly because the scope for inaccurate reporting of income, and inaccurate provision of payments, is so large. It depends on claimants’ income, which varies from month to month.

The report says: “For Universal Credit, the estimated rate of overpayments increased from 8.7% to 9.4%. This is the highest recorded overpayment rate for any benefit other than Tax Credits (administered by HMRC), which peaked at 9.7% in 2003-04.”

“Underpayments rates have fallen for Universal Credit, Employment and Support Allowance and Pension Credit, and the estimated rate for Housing Benefit has increased. Personal Independence Payment has the highest rate of underpayments at 3.8% of expenditure in 2019-20. This rate has not changed from 2018-19.”

Take note of that: people with disabilities are habitually underpaid and the DWP has done nothing to stop this. No wonder so many of them die.

Mr Hencke’s report lists other omissions that are nothing less than disgraceful:

The Department has never checked whether payments are accurate for claimants on Disability Living Allowance for 16 years – last done in 2004-05.

More extraordinary the Department has never checked whether money paid out to 12 million pensioners is accurate or not since 2005 – that is 15 years ago.

Instead the department maintains there is no serious fraud or underpayments in pensions – calculating it as just £300 million out of an annual payment of £98.6 billion.

Given this year we had a case this year of a 94 year old pensioner being owed a staggering £117,000 because of 34 years of underpayments, I find this complacency mind blowing.

I also think the National Audit Office, as their auditors, is remiss in not asking for an update.

Next year’s estimate of benefit fraud and error is likely to even more out of kilter thanks to Covid 19 as the ministry have got rid of staff monitoring fraud to be able to pay out the 2.6 million claims for universal credit.

And although the department is said to be investigating 143,000 suspicious claims under Covid 19, it can’t follow them up because it can’t visit them at home.

So the prediction is that the situation will become even worse – and much worse – next year.

And you know that the people who will suffer the most will continue to be those in the most need.

The DWP’s permanent secretary is Peter Schofield, who most recently came into the news for quietly changing conditions for receiving benefits after one man starved to death.

Perhaps we need to remind him of his accountancy failures next time he tries to cover up his department’s – call them what they are – crimes in such a way.

Source: Revealed: 32 years of benefit payment failure by the Department of Work and Pensions | Westminster Confidential

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Suspicious deaths of the elderly in hospital: An appeal for people to get in touch

David Hencke is an excellent – award-winning – investigative reporter. If you have been affected by the issue he discusses below, please contact him.

He writes:

For the past four years I have been a member of the Gosport War Memorial Hospital Independent Panel that concluded that at least 456 elderly people had their lives shortened as ” a direct result of the pattern of prescribing and administering opioids that had become the norm at the hospital.”

Since publication of the report the events at Gosport are now the subject of an independent police inquiry so I cannot take up any cases involving Gosport.

However since the report’s publication a number of people have contacted me on my website with allegations of a similar nature in other parts of the country,

As a result I have started investigations into these and would welcome other people – relatives of former patients, NHS staff or lawyers representing them- to contact me in confidence as I am actively looking at this issue.

The aim will be to publicise and investigate these fresh allegations to find out what happened to their relatives and seek explanations from the various hospitals who were responsible for their treatment.

Contact Mr Hencke by visiting this web page.

Source: Suspicious deaths of the elderly in hospital: An appeal for people to contact me | David Hencke

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Women being denied their pensions can use the local elections to seek justice

Here’s an excellent point by David Hencke:

The 3.9 million 50s pensioners have a great opportunity to get their views across at the local elections to be held on Thursday May 3.  Elections will be held in all 32 London boroughs, 34 metropolitan boroughs, 68 district/borough councils and 17 unitary authorities.  There are also elections for mayors in the London boroughs of Hackney, Lewisham, Newham, Tower Hamlets and just outside London in Watford.

Local elections are of course about local matters. However the performance of political parties at local elections is always judged by the media as a snapshot of national voting intentions. Also the attitude of local councillors towards the plight of women denied their pensions for up to six years could well be symptomatic of their attitude towards other injustice issues.

[If your councillors are up for election] go on to the council’s site and chase up your ward councillors.

Challenge them to  put pressure on their MP to get government policy changed so you will get your money. If they refuse, vote for the nearest challenger who will.

Source: 50s pensioners: Time for you to put the boot into your local councillor at May’s elections | David Hencke


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Here’s why the Edward Heath paedophilia investigation was important

The late Edward Heath [Image: BBC].

David Hencke has been reporting on paedophilia investigations for many years now, and This Writer trusts his judgement.

In his article, excerpted below, he discusses the report by Wiltshire Police on allegations against the late prime minister Edward Heath – coming down in support of the investigation and its findings. Read the article for more details.

I would be interested to know what Mr Hencke thinks of Wiltshire Chief Constable Mike Veale’s call for an inquiry into a possible Westminster paedophile ring – and whether serious questions should be asked about the allegation that the’Establishment’ tried to stop Operation Conifer.

ADDITIONAL: Mr Hencke has responded to this article as follows:

The long awaited Operation Conifer report by Wiltshire Police into allegations against the former late Prime Minister Edward Heath sums up the dilemmas investigating historic child sex abuse when the alleged perpetrator is now dead.

Wiltshire Police have been attacked for spending public money investigating these claims and as a result damaging the reputation of a very prominent public figure when he can’t answer back.

In my view they were completely right to do so because of the number of people who came forward making these allegations. To refuse to do so would amount to complicity in a further cover up of these allegations and to assume that all the people who made them were liars without examining any of the facts.

What this report doesn’t do is lift the lid on the alleged Westminster paedophile scandal and change the direction of the inquiry. Rather it adds to the whole problem of not proven allegations and how to balance how much and what should be investigated. It rather leaves some matters in limbo. I notice with great interest that Wiltshire Police did appoint an independent scrutiny panel to oversee their investigation – which should stop people accusing the police of time wasting – and they fully support they way Wiltshire went about it.

But I entirely reject the idea that we need another judicial review after such a meticulous investigation. That would be a waste of public money.

Source: Sir Edward Heath: Paedophile or No Paedophile? | David Hencke


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Vox Political vindicated on unemployment figures

austeritydolequeue

How pleasant to see Vox Political‘s concerns about the massaging of UK unemployment figures being taken up by the kind of people the mass media actually respect.

A report on the BBC News website states that Conservative Party claims that unemployment has dropped by around 60 per cent in some areas is based on “wrong data” – in other words, the Tories are lying.

This blog has been saying that for a very long time!

The story says Tories have been using Jobseekers Allowance figures – the so-called Claimant Count – to justify their claims, but the independent Office for National Statistics showed only a 20 per cent drop in those seats. The ONS said online: “the number of unemployed people in the UK is substantially higher than the claimant count”.

Jonathan Portes, director of the National Institute of Economic and Social Research (and well-known to readers of this blog), said: “Many people who are unemployed don’t claim JSA… JSA figures at the local level are accurate, but it is not correct to confuse JSA rates and unemployment.”

In the BBC story, a Tory spokesman said the concern over the data was “nonsense”. He said: “This unemployment measure is provided by the independent House of Commons Library – and for constituencies they are the most up to date and most reliable numbers to use.”

Yes, the House of Commons Library does provide figures – with a caveat that they do not include the number of unemployed people claiming Universal Credit, and there is no date set for when those figures will be included in the Claimant Count (as reported by David Hencke in November last year). The current way of calculating these figures is misleading from the start.

In an article from the same month, This Writer made some other pertinent points:

“If employment has increased – and there’s no reason to say it hasn’t – we can also conclude that the reason employers are more willing to take people on is that they can pay peanuts for them and rely on the government to top them up with in-work benefits. It seems likely that the work was always there but employers weren’t going to take anybody on if it meant increasing the wages bill and reducing the amount of profit available to them. Now that zero-hours contracts are available, along with part-time schemes that deny people pensions and holiday pay, it’s a different matter.

“The number of people who were self-employed increased by a staggering 186,000, to reach 3.25 million, while people working as self-employed part-time increased by 93,000 to reach 1.27 million. That’s 4.52 million – almost one-sixth of the total number of people in work. If you think that’s great, you haven’t been paying attention. Remember this article, warning that the increase was due to older people staying in work? And what about the catastrophic collapse in self-employed earnings we discovered at the same time?

“How many of these are people who have been persuaded to claim tax credits as self-employed people, rather than jump through the increasingly-difficult hoops set out for them if they claimed Jobseekers’ Allowance – and do they know they’ll have to pay all the money back when their deception is discovered?

“The number of people in part-time employment has also increased, by 28,000 to reach 6.82 million. Are we to take it that this means under-employment has increased again?

“Public sector employment has fallen again. If you want to know why the government keeps messing you around, there’s your answer. There aren’t enough people to do the job. This month’s statistics show 11,000 fewer public sector employees than in March, and 282,000 fewer than this time last year.

“Unemployment is said to have dropped – but remember, this is not counting people who have been sanctioned. A recent study by Professor David Stuckler of Oxford University suggests as many as half a million people could have been sanctioned off-benefit in order to massage the figures, meaning that the total listed – 931,700 – is probably wrong. Remember also that Universal Credit claimants aren’t counted, nor are those on government work schemes – another 123,000 people.

“This means the actual unemployment rate is likely to be double the number provided by the official statistics.

“And what about people on ESA/DLA/PIP?”

In January this year, This Writer added: “New research by Oxford University and the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine has shown that only around one-fifth (20 per cent) of people who have been sanctioned off of Jobseekers’ Allowance have actually found work, leaving 1.6 million in limbo; they’re off the benefits system but researchers can only surmise that they are relying on food banks.”

And in February, Vox Political had this point to make: “We also know that many thousands have died – through suicide or complications of their physical conditions (if claiming incapacity benefits) after receiving decisions that were not only wrong, but may have been fraudulent.”

Whichever way you slice it, the Tories aren’t being straight with you.

You can trust Vox Political to give you the facts, though.

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Leon Brittan: Why Lawson is wrong and there is a real case to answer – David Hencke

Leon Brittan [Image: Guardian].

Leon Brittan [Image: Guardian].

It seems Sunday Times columnist Dominic Lawson has attacked the credibility of those who have connected the late Leon Brittan with the current Met police investigation into  historical child sex abuse dating back to the 1980s. Fortunately the excellent David Hencke is on hand to take apart Lawson’s arguments and call that reporter’s own tactics into question.

“By taking the argument that those who say that he could be a paedophile – such as Tom Watson and Simon Danczuk  are part of a  frenzied Labour left-wing plot to get back at Tories close to Margaret Thatcher,he is way off the mark,” writes Mr Hencke.

“For a start, he questioned whether ‘Nick’s account  about  Leon Brittan and others sexually abusing him was accurate. Yet ‘Nick’ has already been described by the  Met Police as ‘a credible witness’. They do not do such a thing lightly. and they certainly don’t do it just because Tom Watson or Exaro News say so. They make up their own mind.

“Second, if he started to examine the known facts about  the allegations against Leon Brittan he might have pause for thought. ‘Nick’ is not the only person to make these allegations. Separate allegations have been made by more than a handful of other survivors and a number are still being followed up by the police because they involve other people.

“As a journo if you want to establish the probability of a fact – one of the most compelling arguments is when two or more people who did not know each other give a similar story. So unless Dominic Lawson is going to argue that there is a wicked conspiracy among survivors across England to name and frame Leon Brittan for some unknown reason this does not stand up.”

For much more information on this, read the article on David Hencke’s own blog.

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Distorted and Massaged: the dole claimant figures – David Hencke

austeritydolequeue

George Osborne’s great claims that the UK is on the road to jobs recovery has already been attacked for producing a mass of new low paid jobs, zero rated contracts and a boom in part-time working, writes David Hencke in his blog.

A closer analysis recently provided by the House of Commons library breaking down unemployment by constituency reveals a rather different disturbing and divided picture. And it officially shows the current claimant count is being massaged by Iain Duncan Smith, the works and pensions secretary, to underestimate the number of dole claimants on benefit.

There is also a disturbing picture that has gone unnoticed because of the debacle by works and pensions secretary, Iain Duncan Smith, in launching universal credit. At  the moment it covers about 0.3 per cent of the population.

The Commons library reveals that currently statistics are not being collected from people on universal credit to find out whether they are in work or unemployed when they claim the benefit.

Mr Osborne better be very careful if he starts talking up the big drop among the unemployed in the North before the next general election based on these massaged statistics.

For the bigger picture, read the full article on David Hencke’s site.

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Banned by the British courts: A VIP’s book on how he was sexually abused – David Hencke

court

In an era when child sexual abuse is literally coming out of the closet, an extraordinary decision has been taken by a British court to ban a book from an eminent figure on how he survived abuse as a child, writes David Hencke.

A judge has upheld an injunction bought by the man’s son to avoid publication on the grounds it would cause psychological damage to his son if the public knew about his father’s early life at school.

I am indebted to the excellent Inforrm blog for this story. You can read the full report by Dan Tench, a lawyer from Olswang, here.

The injunction was granted by Lady Justice Arden using a bizarre piece of English law [related to a backfiring practical joke].

You can read about Wilkinson v Downton [1897] QB 57 in Mr Hencke’s article. His concluding remarks are illuminating, though:

To my mind to ban a book using case law based on practical jokers to stop someone writing about child sexual abuse is a sick joke in itself. I hope this outrageous ban is lifted as soon as possible.

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Two women who could help change Britain – David Hencke

Margaret Hodge; A practical route map for Labour

Margaret Hodge; A practical route map for Labour

The most exciting part of political conferences is not the main conference hall but the fringe. It is here that people are much more likely to speak their mind and real issues are debated – not set piece presentations, writes David Hencke.

Angela Eagle, shadow leader of the Commons, chair of the conference and the national policy forum made a refreshingly off message analysis of present British society and where it is going.

Speaking at a Unite union fringe organised by Class (Centre for Labour and Social Studies)- analysing the rapidly widening gap between the mega elite and the ordinary worker – she actually described the present situation in society as ” immoral”.-pointing out that  top directors now earn 130 times more than their workforce.

Angela Eagle providing Labour with a  moral compass. Pic credit: The Guardian

Angela Eagle providing Labour with a moral compass. Pic credit: The Guardian

The second feisty contribution came from Margaret Hodge, chair of the Commons public accounts committee. She was speaking on a different platform with the Policy Network Here the issue was how Labour could make a difference by accepting the present economic situation and using public money more effectively.

Superficially  you might think the two women were on  different planets but actually they complimented each other.

Margaret Hodge, with enormous experience of investigating Whitehall scandals, tax avoidance and the dodgy behaviour of private companies providing public services, had a practical route map on how Labour could handle this.

Her solution including forcing the companies to become transparent with the way they spend or misspent our money, using public procurement to secure the living wage for all workers, clamping down far more effectively on tax avoidance including collecting the taxes, and looking at radical five-year plans to innovate public services, rather than the Treasury knee jerk reaction top impose cuts with three months notice.

Both women  have enormous talents. Angela provides a moral compass, Margaret a practical route map  out of an increasingly unfair society.

For the full article, please visit David Hencke’s blog.

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The nasty coalition move to make English human rights subservient to business profits – David Hencke

Here’s another reason never – ever – to vote Conservative or Liberal Democrat, courtesy of the ever-informative David Hencke:

Are you black or gay and feel your firm discriminates against you? Are you disabled and find a company stops your right of access? Are you woman and you don’t get equal pay with a man?

Naturally you might expect the government’s independent champion  the Equality and Human Rights Commission, to be on your side and prosecute firms who repeatedly failed you.

But a pernicious piece of legislation now going the House of Lords plans to put all this at risk by putting a nasty spanner in the works to hobble the very body that is supposed to stand up for your rights.

The Deregulation Bill– promoted as liberating business from silly bureaucratic rules – includes what sounds like a rather arcane provision saying that all regulators for the first time must consider the impact on economic growth before they launch criminal or civil proceedings ( see clauses 83/84) against a company.

In other words if the ECHR doesn’t do this- big companies with loads of cash can take them to judicial review and get cases where they break the law on discrimination annulled. It would also make the ECHR – not the most radical of bodies – even more careful before it takes up your case.

To read the rest – and you need to read the rest – visit the article on David Hencke’s blog site.

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