Tag Archives: denied

War on the vulnerable: two-fifths of disability benefit applications are turned down

Wheelchair-bound: but was this person granted Personal Independence Payment, or was it denied because they could not walk up the stairs to the assessment centre? (If they had managed that trip, no doubt they would have been refused it on the grounds that they are mobile. It’s a no-win situation for some.)

Apologies to those of you who think posts like this are recycled – they’re not; this is the current position.

CoventryLive is reporting that 40 per cent of applications for Personal Independence Payment – the current benefit paid ostensibly to help people with disabilities cope with the extra costs they must bear, simply to live a reasonable life – are turned down. This is in a part of the benefit system where fraud stands at just two per cent. A little incongruous, don’t you think?

It says rejection rates are similar across that news outlet’s area of coverage.

Most were rejected because the person was found not to meet the requirements needed to receive the benefit after a face-to-face assessment of their needs.

A few were rejected after the person failed to attend the assessment, and more were disallowed because the questionnaire was not returned to the DWP in time.

Let’s address some of these excuses.

Firstly, failure to attend: the DWP seems to rejoice in demanding that people with disabilities must travel dozens of miles to an assessment centre – and some of them simply can’t. Instant benefit denial. Sometimes, wheelchair users have been directed to assessment centres on the first floor of buildings with no lift. Instant benefit denial. Sometimes wheelchair users have crawled up the stairs (DWP employees having refused to help them), only to find out that, on arrival, they were considered too late to take part in their interview – or too able to deserve PIP because they had managed the journey upstairs. Instant benefit denial.

You see how this goes?

Mrs Mike was unable to travel to her PIP assessment so we requested a home visit. It was refused. So we insisted – hard, and eventually the DWP caved in. It takes a while, but my advice is: stick to your guns.

Next, failure to return the form in time: the form is long, convoluted and designed to trap claimants into invalidating their own claim. Disabled people are often put under extreme pressure by these forms; merely receiving them creates extreme stress. Furthermore, their disabilities can fog their minds (that’s certainly the case with Mrs Mike). There are calls for medical evidence from doctors (who are now discouraged by the government from responding) and for other documentary evidence; all this material is ignored (or used to be). And while questions are asked about a claimant’s mental health, none of the answers count towards the final assessment; if you are mentally disabled, you have practically no chance of receiving PIP.

Finally, failure to succeed at interview: this is entirely dependent on the assessor, I think. Some – like those who assessed Mrs Mike – were entirely equitable. There were no attempts to trip her up (metaphorically – she was in such pain she could not move from her chair on the day), and her responses were treated with respect. I understand this is a rarity. Other claimants have suffered extraordinary abuse from assessors, with no way of proving it, unless they have brought a witness. I have always witnessed Mrs Mike’s assessments and recommend that all claimants have a witness. Also – and this seems common – assessors seem happy to falsify the evidence provided verbally by claimants. Perhaps this is the reason so many appeals – 75 per cent of them – are approved.

That’s right – three-quarters of appeals against false PIP decisions are granted. But a much smaller percentage of claimants actually go through the appeal process. This is because it is extremely time-consuming and wearing on people who have very little energy for it – as the Tory government knows.

Again, my advice is to go through with it, and get help to do it. It clearly works and the funds made available after a successful appeal will make it worthwhile.

Of course, the DWP won’t be satisfied. This Site has published horror stories of repeat assessments demanded within weeks of a successful appeal, simply to cause the maximum amount of inconvenience to people who are extremely vulnerable.

But that is the name of this game – a war on the vulnerable.

Source: Over forty percent of Coventry disability benefit applications refused by DWP – CoventryLive

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Should this Home Secretary be held responsible for asylum-seeker’s cancer death?

Sajid Javid: He denied a cancer sufferer healthcare, and she died.

It seems the Tory-run home office isn’t happy with the misery it has caused with the Windrush scandal and its “hostile environment” policy – it has branched out into causing death by withholding healthcare.

Kelemua Mulat died after the Home Office said she should be refused life-saving cancer treatment.

The excuse was that there was confusion over whether she should be charged for the treatment.

That is an administrative matter.

The immediate concern should have been ensuring that she did receive treatment – not who pays for it.

Perhaps we should be unsurprised that the Tory government responsible for the deaths of tens of thousands – if not hundreds of thousands, or millions – of people by withholding benefit payments was more concerned about money than life.

That doesn’t change the fact that the Home Office has blood on its hands, and the Home Secretary responsible for this death should face justice for causing it.

That would be Sajid Javid.

Watch him run from justice like the coward he is.

An Ethiopian woman who was denied potentially life-saving cancer treatment for six weeks amid confusion about whether she should be charged by the NHS has died aged 39.

Kelemua Mulat, who had advanced breast cancer, was refused chemotherapy last year after Home Office and NHS officials decided that she was not eligible for free care.

Mulat, a mother of one, was eventually treated by the internationally renowned Christie hospital in Manchester after its doctors expressed concern and said her need was “immediately necessary”, which is permitted treatment under the rules.

Source: Asylum seeker denied cancer treatment by Home Office dies | Politics | The Guardian

Benefits assessor told woman with stage 4 cancer: ‘You’re not sick enough’

Paige Garratt: She managed to recover from Hodgkin’s Lympoma despite the attentions of the Department for Work and Pensions.

Paige Garratt may very well be the one that got away, as far as the Department for Work and Pensions is concerned.

Diagnosed with stage 4 Hodgkin’s lymphoma – advanced cancer that had spread to her lymph nodes and lungs – the 22-year-old from Flintshire found herself fighting for her life.

Her fight was made much more difficult by the DWP – which, as regular readers of This Site will know, exists to make life as difficult as possible for the sick and vulnerable.

Advised that she would be entitled to Personal Independence Payment (PIP) – the benefit that we are told is intended to help people with a long-term health condition or disability with the extra cost of living- Ms Garratt was hoping the money would pay for travel costs as she was having to visit the hospital three times a week.

But the assessor sent by the DWP decided that she was not sick enough to receive the benefit.

At the time of her interview, Ms Garratt was couchbound after a chemotherapy round, bald and so lethargic that she had to rest her head on the sofa arm or in her hands, but the assessor said she was physically able to take care of herself – and this person seemed to believe that her mental health was fine, even though she never asked any questions about it.

The conclusion regarding mental health is unsurprising because the PIP assessment never pays any attention to a claimant’s mental well-being. The revelation that no questions were asked about Ms Garratt’s mentality is surprising; I have attended several PIP interviews and it was discussed at length in those. But the decision letters made no reference to those discussions and PIP claimants certainly do not get any points if they are mentally ill.

More worrying still is the lack of attention paid to Ms Garratt’s physical condition. It seems the PIP assessment, a series of tick-box questions with yes/no answers – one example asks whether a claimant can prepare food alone – does not work for people with cancer.

And most worrying of all is the claim that Ms Garratt was not lethargic, when she could not even lift her head. That’s a flat lie – the kind of lie the DWP keeps claiming its assessors don’t make any more.

Put it all together and it seems clear that the intent was to deny Ms Garratt the benefits she was owed, thereby adding to the mental stress and physical incapacity caused by her illness.

Other claimants have been known to die after receiving this kind of treatment – although the DWP insists we are not to suggest that any fatalities are caused by its chequebook euthanasia-style behaviour.

Fortunately for Ms Garratt, the DWP’s best efforts proved to be in vain. Helped by a social worker, she successfully appealed against the decision and was awarded PIP in May this year – two months after she finished her chemotherapy.

A scan has shown she is now cancer-free, so I wonder how long she will be allowed to continue drawing the benefit.

And the DWP? It came out with the usual load of old flannel. “We have never spent more on benefits for disabled people and people with long-term health conditions, totalling over £50bn a year – up £7bn since 2010.” This is a lie.

Still, the announcement that the DWP will pilot video recording of assessments may well lead to improved confidence in the process.

For now, Ms Garratt should consider herself lucky to be alive – in spite of the Department for Work and Pensions.

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Windrush: Yet again the Tories have lied as British people are being refused citizenship after all

The Empire Windrush arrives in the UK, loaded with immigrants from the Caribbean, in 1948. Little did these people know they would be hounded out of the country by a Tory govenrment that destroyed all the legal proof of their citizenship.

Sajid Javid has proved himself as much a liar and a racist as Theresa May and Amber Rudd before him – and that the Conservative government’s “hostile environment” policy is as vicious as ever.

On Friday, September 21 – at the end of a week in which the news agenda was overloaded with Theresa May’s failure to convince EU representatives of her Brexit plan – Mr Javid quietly put out a press release stating that members of the so-called “Windrush generation” who had committed criminal offences would not be granted UK citizenship, in spite of previous assurances that all Windrush citizens would.

Of course, it is entirely possible that, due to the “hostile environment” policy, some of these people may have committed criminal offences, simply to survive:

Worse still, he added that those who were not granted citizenship would be allowed to stay in the UK only if they could provide proof of residency.

But didn’t the Tories destroy such proof when they took office in 2010? Yes they did.

And just to make matters as bad as possible, Mr Javid said refusals would also be issued to those who had applied for documentation from abroad but been found to be ineligible, as they were not able to provide sufficient evidence that they were settled in the UK before 1 January 1973.

Windrush citizens are supposed to be afforded the same rights as every other British citizen – because they are British citizens, courtesy of the British Nationality Act 1948; they were awarded citizenship after they arrived – so the announcement has led to renewed accusations that they are effectively second-class.

These people had a legal right to come to the UK, so they neither needed nor were given any documents upon entry to the UK, nor following changes in immigration laws in the early 1970s.

It is a betrayal of people who rebuilt the UK after World War II.

Mr Javid said refusal decisions were only taken after “substantial assurance” had taken place and said individuals could request a free review of the decision if they disagree.

But legal experts told The Independent the absence of independent legal advice and a proper appeal route to those refused made it “impossible to know whether these decisions were fair or not”.

Mr Javid’s decision to rescind the citizenship of a whole generation of people who are legally British, on the grounds that they do not have documentation to prove that citizenship because the Tories destroyed it, is as racist now as it was when Theresa May put it into practice and Amber Rudd continued it.

It is all the more shocking from him, though, as he is himself a member of the black and minority ethnic (BAME) community.

The decision has been met with widespread condemnation, despite the attempt to hide it on a heavy news day:

https://twitter.com/ShehabKhan/status/1043207848627515393

After all the assurances – including those from arch-racist Theresa May that her government would provide restitution to the Windrush people it had wronged, there is only one way to take this:

That’s right. The Windrush citizens – most of whom are probably the salt of the Earth – are being hounded out of the country by the scum of the Earth.

How many more chances are we going to give the Tories to make this scandal worse while lying through their teeth about it?

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Tory racism: They denied NHS treatment to Windrush citizens – but don’t even know how many

While fabricated claims of racism and anti-Semitism are thrown at the Labour Party in the news every day, it is easy to forget that the Conservative Party – the party that runs the UK’s government – is demonstrably guilty of racism.

The latest revelation is that the victims of Conservative racism who were involved in the Windrush scandal were denied access to services, including some who were refused treatment by the National Health Service.

This is treatment these people will have funded with their taxes.

And Tory Home Secretary Sajid Javid doesn’t even know how many of them have been treated in this despicable way.

And instead of forcing the government to account for itself (the above example excepted), our news media demands that we look the other way – to a Labour Party that has far less for which to answer, no matter what Chuka Umunna and Trevor Phillips have been saying (for details, see here).

How long until the Tory government provides answers on this latest development in the ongoing Windrush scandal?

I don’t know. They are probably ignoring it and hoping it will go away.

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MP tells Theresa May how disabled man was denied PIP and died. Her lack of compassion is stunning

Outrage: Stoke-on-Trent MP Gareth Snell tells MPs how the Tories’ flagship PIP benefit was denied to a disabled man until after his death.

Mrs May’s response was to defend the system that failed Geoffrey Elwell so utterly.

After passing mealy-mouthed condolences on to the family of the deceased, she said the Tories had introduced PIP “to focus payments on those who were most vulnerable”.

Clearly, they’re not doing a good job of it.

The situation is a classic among those of us who know the kind of tricks the DWP carries out: Mr Elwell’s benefit was cancelled, and the result of his appeal delayed until after he died.

The result: A benefit saving going into the future. And was the backdated benefit handed over to his family, if he wasn’t alive to use it?

Was this what the DWP intended for Hazel MacRae, before her local newspaper raised such a public outcry that her own benefit (ESA) was restored?

This is nothing short of evil – a so-called “benefit” that in fact pushes disabled people into the grave. We should be taking the names of all those involved and preparing to try them for mass murder after a sane, Labour government is restored to office.

A Labour MP has told how his constituent died after a cruel benefit assessment denied him the money he was entitled to.

Gareth Snell, MP for Stoke-on-Trent, spoke in the House of Commons about Geoffrey Elwell whose benefits had been denied after he was moved over to the government’s new Personal Independence Payment (PIP) system.

Mr Elwell was entitled to claim both the higher higher rate mobility payment and the standard rate for care due to his health needs under disability living allowance

But when he was moved over to PIP in October 2016 an assessor awarded Mr Elwell zero points meaning he was not eligible for any money despite his previous qualification.

In January 2017 he appealed that decision. Six months later on 21st June he passed away still without his appeal being heard.

Two days after he died the appeal awarded him posthumously higher rate for both elements and backdated it to January.

Source: Disabled man denied PIP benefits had decision overturned on appeal two days after he died


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Remember this: Tories CHEERED when they won the vote to deny fire crews and nurses a pay rise

[Image: Kanjin Tor.]

Yes, the Conservatives cheered when they learned that they – with their new little helpers, the DUP – had achieved their goal.

What goal? Why, to treat the police who handled the terrorist attacks in London and Manchester, the firefighters who ran into the burning Grenfell Tower to save lives, and the NHS doctors and nurses who cared for the victims of all of these disasters with contempt.

Here’s the moment, captured on camera – see it for yourself:

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn had earlier signalled his intention to demand an end to the public sector pay cap, which limits pay rises to just one per cent every year:

You can read more about his reasons for doing so in this Guardian article:

The unfairness of the pay cap was underlined by the decision to give the Queen a massive £40 million pay rise:

Labour MPs walked into Parliament for the vote on Wednesday wearing these badges:

And then this happened:

Commentators were quick to accuse the Tories and their newly-bribed friends, the DUP, pointing out that Theresa May found £1.5 billion to ensure she could remain as prime minister easily enough. Clearly the reason similar amounts aren’t available for nurses, firefighters, the police and all the others who actually work hard for the benefit of the UK is that Mrs May doesn’t think she needs them.

Worse still was the hypocrisy of some of the Conservative MPs.

https://twitter.com/Barkercartoons/status/880158509299638272

Here’s Heidi Allen, tweeting about the DUP deal:

Ms Allen was also filmed speaking about this in Parliament:

Great – so she voted with Labour to scrap the cap, right?

Wrong:

I wonder if she joined in the cheers.

Ms Allen tried to justify her hypocrisy after the vote:

The report in the Huffington Post quotes her as follows:

Tory MP Heidi Allen – who would like to see the cap lifted – said she was unable to back Labour’s amendment as it was “too partisan”.

She also queried introducing a blanket pay rise for all public sector workers.

“Public services includes the very highest paid chief executives, managers, Whitehall chiefs too.

“I cannot support a blanket pay rise to all of those.

“We need to focus on those public sector workers such as nurses, healthcare assistants and all those on the front line.”

So she was falling back on the basic Tory strategy – ‘divide and rule’. She’ll happily agree to a pay rise for the lower-paid if it will upset those on higher grades. Why not agree a rise for all of them that is commensurate with the work they do?

Of course, we all saw straight through her mealy-mouthed excuse, right?

Here’s another hypocrite – Loathsome Lucy Allan, who is somehow still MP for Telford, despite being a despicable louse:

https://twitter.com/xugla/status/880331712001167360

Worse still are Johnny Mercer – who called the bid to scrap the cap a “political game” – and Gary Streeter, who actually had the arrogance to claim that those of us who spoke up for our valued doctors, nurses, fire and rescue services and police “don’t deserve” a say.

Well put, Paul.

The result of Wednesday’s vote clearly shows the contempt felt by Theresa May, every single Conservative MP, and every single DUP MP, for the bravery of people like policeman Wayne Marques.

He’s the officer who fought terrorists on London Bridge, armed only with a baton, and suffered horrific injuries as a result. Here he is, talking to Channel 4’s Jon Snow about those events:

This betrayal is not going to leave our consciousness any time soon. With another election likely within the next few months, it is worth marking the words of The Angry Nurse:

https://twitter.com/The_Angry_Nurse/status/880143939264798720

Personally, I would go further.

We all know that Conservatives want a two-tier system in the UK, with the rich getting the best healthcare, security, law enforcement and so on that money can buy, and the rest of us having to make do with whatever we can afford.

Perhaps Tory MPs should get a taste of that system – whenever they need help from the police, the ambulance service, the fire and rescue service, or any other public sector worker.

Perhaps, when Tory MPs need help, their needs should be prioritised according to their actions – and they should be put at the end of the lengthening queue that they were determined to create.

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‘Can sit in the gutter’ – the petty reasons people are being denied sickness benefits

[Image: Black Triangle Campaign]

[Image: Black Triangle Campaign]

As Damian Green consults on plans to make it harder for people to claim sickness benefits, it seems he will have few options – judging from the reasons his privately-employed, hired work capability assessors are already using to kick away support for the vulnerable.

Last week, This Blog urged people who have claimed sickness benefits to tell us the nonsense reasons their claims were denied. Some of them are farcical.

All of the comments that follow are true, and were made by real people. I have anonymised them for obvious reasons.

Let’s start with a person who was denied a home assessment. The reason? “He can get to hospital for cancer treatment.” Have a little think about that. Where else but hospital was this person ever going to get cancer treatment? And shouldn’t cancer automatically qualify him for benefit? Apparently not.

Try this: “Can heat up a tin of beans and make toast” The person concerned had explained that if they actually ate beans on toast they would be hospitalised.

“Can sit in the gutter to rest between short bouts of walking.” According to some assessors it is perfectly permissible to force the sick and disabled into the gutter. That’s where the removal of benefits will put them, in any case.

Another claimant was denied benefit because they were able to propel themselves in a wheelchair. The problem? This person does not have a wheelchair.

“Can watch TV for an hour – 0 points.”

“Able to have a bath unaided – 0 points.”

“Tying shoelaces – 0 points.”

(Bear in mind, folks, that these are comments in work capability assessments, and ask yourself: How is watching TV a usable work skill? How does having a bath or tying shoelaces make a person a more attractive employment opportunity?)

“Was able to answer questions without help from another person.”

Of someone with fibromyalgia: “Moved well for someone with arthritis.” Fibromyalgia is not arthritis.

“Despite us explaining that travelling was often difficult as [this person’s partner’s] seizures cause blackouts, amnesia and confusion they completely ignored this and said he had no problem reading signs and getting to places (untrue). They were also … seemingly oblivious to the fact that “non-epileptic” seizures is a medical term, they therefore dismissed them as not serious.”

“I had the ‘Brought a bag, opened a door’ nonsense. Plus it said I was ‘Neat, presentable and well kempt’ when at that point, I actually hadn’t been able to wash or shave my beard for about two months. And my beard is full on Albert Steptoe, not a trendy lumberjack type!”

“When asked if I went to the shops I said yes, once or twice a month as I have to buy food. That got turned into ‘goes shopping every day and uses public transport every day’. When I replied by letter saying I don’t do these things every day the response I got was ‘maybe not, but you can’. So the need to buy food makes a person ineligible for benefit. Doesn’t that mean benefit should only be paid to dead people?

This one is beyond belief: “Shortly after my father died of a massive brain haemorrhage and whilst my brother was in hospital on a life support machine after a brain haemorrhage): ‘enjoys an active social life visiting … brother in hospital on a regular basis.’ Between those two events I had been diagnosed with a rare and incurable and untreatable disease I knew little about and hadn’t even been assessed by NHS at that point. ‘Has no mental health problems’ – I was clinging on by my finger tips. Incidentally, this assessment was carried out by a consultant psychiatrist with no knowledge of my condition and who promoted Atos by praising the 9-5 hours which allowed him to work on his real passion – making furniture.”

“Refused ESA because I could put a crumpet in the toaster for my daughter.”

“Having a backpack.”

“No problem putting on a coat (that I wasn’t wearing … as it was summer).”

“Can walk around Tesco. This is after I told her I cannot walk around the whole supermarket and that I had recently left my shopping half way through.”

“I got upset.”

“I scratched the back of my head. [They] said I carried two bags of shopping into assessment which was a total lie.”

“My assessor told the DWP that I had never worked and didn’t want to work after discussing with him 20 years in catering and the fact I’d worked since I was 15 and had to give up work due to illness.”

“The DWP … told the tribunal that I hadn’t filled in the application or sent in any medical records. I had sent 20 years worth, registered mail, signed for and had an email confirming they’d received them. The tribunal asked what I had to say to that. I responded ‘How did I get to a tribunal for something I didn’t apply for and how did they receive an assessment from a medical I didn’t attend?’ Then handed them copies/proof of everything I’d said. I was awarded my benefits.”

“At a tribunal they found me fit for work because I could operate my washing machine. I’ve had it for years. All it takes is three buttons – on, cottons, start.”

Here’s a classic that is still being used: “Does not suffer anxiety as they do not rock back and forth in a chair.”

“Claimant stated chronic back pain but on observation was observed to be fit and well. (I have a VISIBLE scoliosis).”

“Claimant stated … suffers from Agrophobia but attended assessment (because they REFUSED a home visit & threatened to cut off my PIP for non attendance).”

“Claimant claims she needs support if forced to go outside but was observed alone for her assessment (my support Worker attended with me).”

“At my tribunal I was denied ESA because, and these are quotes from the DOCTOR, ‘You seem to be able to put your hair in a pony tail, your nails are painted, you have eye make-up on, surely if you suffer from severe morning fatigue you’ll be fine to work afternoons’. I suffer from chronic fatigue, fibromyalgia, and illness induced anxiety. And this was 2015! It’s quite unbelievable how rude, unprofessional and belittling these people are. I cried for days afterwards.”

“Was told I ‘showed understanding of my condition’ as evidence that I was lying.”

“My most recent assessment was six weeks ago and the report is filled with so many lies it’s unreal as well as comments such as ‘Carried a sheet of paper in her hand’, ‘Drank water from a disposable plastic cup’. All my money has been stopped because of what this assessor has put in the report, just before Christmas too. Cheers DWP.”

What do you think? Are any of the people who provided these comments fit for work, based on the assessments they mention here?

More to follow tomorrow – if you have been refused sickness/disability benefit for a stupid reason, please tell us about it using the form below.

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BBC whitewashes ‘government propaganda’ NHS story

131029bbcbias

 

Back at the end of September the BBC News website ran a story on 91-year-old Harry Smith’s speech to the Labour Party Conference, in which he detailed the miserable state of healthcare before the arrival of the NHS and stated his fears for the future of the service under the Conservative Party.

This was all fine. What a shame Auntie’s unnamed reporter had to spoil it by adding in two extra paragraphs that parroted – almost word-for-word – comments made by Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt that seemed to contradict what Mr Smith had said. Tom Pride, over at Pride’s Purge, put the statements into an image, allowing people to compare Mr Hunt’s statements with the BBC’s. That image is reproduced again here:

bbc-hunt-quotes1

The BBC report was clearly paraphrasing Mr Hunt’s words. No attempt was made to indicate that this was the government’s side of the issue; the offending paragraphs were stationed at the end – as statements of facts that contradict Mr Smith’s words.

That’s blatant government propaganda, in the view of this blog – especially as both statements are false.

That’s right – analyse the facts and Mr Hunt’s/the BBC’s assertions fall apart.

Did the government increase NHS spending in the UK? The BBC attitude was that it has, because the amount of money spent on the NHS – in England alone – has increased.

But Mr Smith wasn’t talking about England alone. Look at the BBC article (which has been revised since Vox Political complained) and you’ll see he refers to “the Britain of my youth”. The final paragraph (as it is now) does not separate England from the rest of the UK.

You may think that’s nit-picking. Try this instead: A “money-terms” increase in NHS spending is not what the Coalition government promised. The Coalition Agreement of 2010 promised a “real-terms” increase and that is what Jeremy Hunt said had happened in the comment from 2012. But spending on the NHS has fallen in real terms.

The BBC’s complaints director, Richard Hutt, in a letter of October 31, admitted as much: “My research suggests that spending on the NHS has increased marginally in terms of the amount of money spent… but as you are aware, if GDP deflators are applied a slight decrease is shown.”

But, following on from a previous BBC response in which we were told, “your blog talks about real-terms spending. Our original article did not, and had we wished to refer to real-terms spending, we would have said so,” he continued: “Nothing in the article indicated that the intention was to refer to “real-terms” spending and so I have difficulty in agreeing that this is how it would have been understood.”

Then what was the point of mentioning spending at all?

The promise was to increase “real-terms” spending, and “real-terms” spending has in fact decreased. Any reference to spending other than in “real-terms” is therefore irrelevant to the debate and can only confuse the issue in the minds of the public.

In the face of the facts, Mr Hutt – it seems – isn’t having this. Doesn’t that suggest that he has been told to whitewash the BBC – deny any wrong-doing, no matter what?

Let’s move on.

Does the Coalition support the founding value of the NHS that nobody, regardless of income, should be deprived of the best care? The easy answer to this is no, it doesn’t.

It was the work of a moment on a search engine to find a story demonstrating the opposite. It was this Daily Mail article, detailing the predicament of a gentleman who has been forced to pay £450 per month because his local Clinical Commissioning Group (brought into being by the Coalition government) would not provide him with a drug that is available free on the NHS elsewhere in England. Ironically, the cash-starved NHS in Wales is reported to have agreed to provide the drug.

In response, the BBC changed the wording of the last paragraph slightly, claiming that this changed the meaning. It didn’t.

The BBC’s Editorial Complaints Unit has done nothing but whitewash its story.

Never mind; there was still one more bullet in our gun. An email has just been sent to Mr Hutt, pointing out the words of Tom Pride that kicked off the whole affair:

“These are not facts. They are the opinions of a government minister being reported as facts by the BBC.

“That’s not news. It’s propaganda.

“Mind you, I don’t know why the reporter who wrote the article is so keen to remain anonymous.

“I mean, we all know that the reporting of unattributed propaganda from government ministers is a sackable offence for professional journalists in reputable news organisations.”

It’s best not to expect a reasonable response.

It’s clear we aren’t dealing with a reputable news organisation at all.

Why Labour SHOULD be ‘the party of welfare’

[Image: Redpepper]

[Image: Redpepper]

What follows is intelligent, adroit and not mine. It was written by Bernadette Meaden on the Ekklesia website and passed on to me by a mutual friend.

It constitutes what I think may be a complete answer and refutation of ‘accusations’ that the Labour Party is the so-called ‘party of welfare’. Tories love to bandy this about as though it is an insult. What they don’t tell you is that their alternative is abject poverty for all but an elite few.

I’m jumping ahead of myself. Here’s what Bernadette had to say:

“Conservative MPs frequently say that the Conservatives are the party of ‘hardworking people’, and the Labour Party is ‘the party of welfare’. It’s said as an accusation, an insult, and many Labour MPs take it as such, attempting to deny the charge as if it’s something to be ashamed of.

I would like to see Labour MPs acting as an Opposition, and to meet this ‘accusation’ head on, with conviction and pride. Here is what I’d like to hear a Labour MP say.

“Yes, we are the party of welfare, and we’re proud to be so. Let me tell you why.

“We’re the party of welfare because we don’t believe that, if you have a stroke tonight, you should have poverty added to your misfortune.

“We’re the party of welfare because, if you are diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease tomorrow, we don’t believe that you should worry about eviction as you wait six months for an assessment, only to be denied the support you so obviously need.

“We’re the party of welfare because we don’t believe that when 1,700 people apply for eight jobs at Costa, or when 1,500 people queue for hours to apply for 40 jobs at Aldi, there is a big problem with people being ‘workshy’. We don’t believe unemployed people are to blame for unemployment.

“We’re the party of welfare because we don’t believe ordinary workers need to be motivated by the threat of hunger, whilst bankers need huge bonuses to motivate them.

“We’re the party of welfare because we don’t believe that if a person loses their job, they need to have their distress exacerbated with the threat of benefit sanctions if they are late for a Jobcentre appointment.

“We’re the party of welfare because we don’t believe that ‘hardworking people’ and people in receipt of benefits are somehow two different species. We know that in an unfair economy, many hardworking people rely on benefits to keep a roof over their head and their children fed. And until such time as the economy is fair, and those people’s wages are sufficient, we will not begrudge them the support they need.

“So yes, we are the party of welfare, because we’re the party of humanity, compassion, and fairness, and we do not view people who are poor or in difficulty with thinly disguised suspicion and contempt.”

That is what I would like to hear a Labour MP say, the next time they are ‘accused’ of being the party of welfare.”

Hear, hear.

Follow me on Twitter: @MidWalesMike

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