Tag Archives: disabilities

Tory algorithm smears people with disabilities as benefit fraudsters

Habitual cruelty: this is just the latest instance of the Tories persecuting people with long-term illnesses and disabilities.

My word – the Tories have been victimising people on the advice of an algorithm again. Haven’t we been here before?

YES, WE HAVE – former Education Secretary Gavin Williamson was pilloried two summers ago for using a computer-generated artificial intelligence program to steal high grades from state school pupils.

Now it seems people with disabilities are being targeted as benefit fraudsters by the DWP, based on an algorithm – and nothing else.

Is it the same algorithm, perhaps? The DWP isn’t telling – but may soon be forced into another potentially self-damaging revelation under threat of court action.

It doesn’t bode well for the AI that Sajid Javid is buying in for the NHS. But then, it’s a system from a company in which Javid himself owns shares (or share options – what’s the difference?).

What’s the betting that the Tory cheapskates have been using the same algorithm for all three?

The Greater Manchester Coalition of Disabled People (GMCDP), together with campaign group Foxglove, is taking action against the DWP after concerns were raised by the charity Privacy International, which first found references in a DWP report to its use of “cutting-edge artificial intelligence to crack down on organised criminal gangs committing large-scale benefit fraud”.

“Organised criminal gangs”?

Disabled people… living in “fear of the brown envelope” showing their case was being investigated.

Campaigners say that once flagged, those being examined can face an invasive and humiliating investigation lasting up to a year.

A “huge percentage” of the group has been affected by the system.

“We’re tired of the fear of the brown envelope and tired of being repeatedly forced by DWP officials just to justify who we are,” said Rick Burgess of the GMCDP. “It’s time for the DWP to come clean about how this algorithm works and explain why so many disabled people are flagged for investigation. Disabled people need support – not being ground down by a brutal system that assumes we are fraudulent until proven innocent.”

The Guardian‘s article highlighted a 2019 UN report into the “digital welfare state” that said algorithms were “highly likely” to repeat biases reflected in existing data and make them even worse.

It added: “Inbuilt forms of discrimination can fatally undermine the right to social protection for key groups and individuals.”

The government has until Friday to respond to the legal letter but, again according to the article, “has so far rebuffed attempts to explain how the algorithm behind the system was compiled”.

They’re trying to come up with an excuse that will stand up to examination – and I don’t think they’re going to meet that Friday deadline!

Source: DWP urged to reveal algorithm that ‘targets’ disabled for benefit fraud | Disability | The Guardian

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Devastated parents of disabled kids were abandoned by Tories during Covid

Did you think you were hard-hit by the pandemic? Unless you’re a parent of a disabled child, think again!

Families with disabled children suffered astonishing levels of deprivation during the Covid-19 crisis (so far) as the Conservative government abandoned them to whatever fate befell them.

Read this information from a survey by Contact, the charity for families with disabled children – and weep. It found that, among almost 3,000 families:

  • Nearly two-thirds (61%) say that caring responsibilities mean they or their partner has given up paid work, on average losing £21,270 from their family income.
  • In the last 12 months, almost a third of parent carers have gone without heating (30%) and food for themselves (37%). Half have gone without toys, presents and computer equipment for their children.
  • 55% of respondents were shielding during lockdown. As a consequence of shielding, 30% report they got into debt or borrowed money, 15% got behind with mortgage payments, 10% used a foodbank for the first time and 7% lost their job.
  • Nearly a quarter (23%) of respondents claim Universal Credit and 40% of those said they are worse off since claiming, despite assurances from government that no one would be worse off.
  • 92% of parent carers say going without affects their own health and a third (34%) saying it affects the health of their child.
  • Almost one in five say they have increased care commitments due to the pandemic that will impact their ability to earn money in the future.

So it seems the Tories have used the pandemic to hammer the people who needed help the most – while pretending they were ensuring that everybody would be helped.

Some might describe such behaviour as lower than verminous.

Sadly, it is on the very same verminous government that these families must rely for help now.

Contact is running a campaign for action, with steps including:

• An increase in Carer’s Allowance and child disability payments under Universal Credit.
• Energy companies to introduce a special tariff for households with sick and disabled children due to the rising bills facing families this winter.
• The government to invest in specialist independent advice services, to help families with disabled children claim what they are entitled to.

The first act you can take in the campaign is simple: write to your MP. Contact has set up a template email to make speaking out quick and easy.

You can find it here: Families with disabled children left financially devastated by pandemic, new study reveals | Contact

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This is how governments attack minorities: they cut funding to councils

End SEND cuts: the Tory war on kids with special needs has been going on for years – this image is from 2019.

Your Tory government has targeted youngsters with special needs for persecution.

Oh, it hasn’t announced an attack on kids whose life opportunities are limited by accidents of birth. Oh no. It doesn’t have to.

Instead, it has simply cut funding – creating a shortfall of more than £500 million in the Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) system.

There’s no need for the cuts. Experience over the last few years has shown us that the government could easily create the money needed and dedicate it to this purpose, if ministers were included to do so.

They are not.

Don’t be surprised. This is just the latest stage of the ongoing Tory war on people with disabilities. Eugenics disguised as economics.

Source: Councils in England facing funding gaps plan to cut special needs support | Special educational needs | The Guardian

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Treasury turned away disabled people’s pleas because UC ‘uplift is for WORKING people’

As empty as his head: Rishi Sunak’s Budget contained nothing for people with disabilities – possibly because the Treasury had turned away a final attempt to make him see evidence of the way he is persecuting them, only days before.

Tory Chancellor Rishi Sunak refused to accept pleas from people with disabilities to extend his Universal Credit uplift to legacy benefits.

His reason was made clear by Martin Lewis on The Andrew Marr Show on Sunday (March 7), when he said the Chancellor had told him, “this is targeted at working people, helping working people through the pandemic”.

The implication is clear: people with disabilities who don’t work simply don’t deserve any help to overcome the extra costs piled onto them by the Tory government’s response to Covid-19.

Members of campaign group DPAC (Disabled People Against Cuts) had tried to apprise Sunak of the costs they face on March 1 – two days before his Budget speech – when they sent nearly 200 envelopes containing testimonies and concerns about the government’s failure to extend the uplift.

Also brought to the Treasury’s door was a wheelchair with items attached that represented essential items that people with disabilities were having to go without.

These included a blanket (heating); an incontinence pad (bathing, laundry and medicines); a face mask (PPE); an empty packet of cuppa soup (nutritious food) and an empty purse (enough money to live on).

All these things – the wheelchair with its attached items and the testimonies – were turned away. Neither Sunak nor anybody else at the Treasury could be bothered to pay attention to the plight of these people.

Similar deliveries were also rejected by 10 Downing Street and the Department for Work and Pensions, although the DWP did accept a letter addressed to Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, Thérèse Coffey, with a copy of a document published today by DPAC collating testimonies from benefit claimants and key findings from recent reports evidencing the need to retain and extend the uplift.

According to DPAC,

Given the disproportionate mortality rates for disabled people from COVID, many have been shielding for close to a full year now. This has driven their costs up considerably.

The Department for Work and Pensions has said there is no need to apply the uplift to legacy claimants because benefits will be increased by 37p per week in April 2021 and because they have the option of moving over to Universal Credit.

Neither of these options help address the situation.

The 37p increase is designed to reflect higher costs of living due to inflation, not the pandemic. It represents a mere 0.5% increase while state pensions will rise by 2.5%. It isn’t enough even to buy a single protective mask.

As the DWP knows, many disabled people are financially worse off on Universal Credit due to the removal of the Disability Premia which have been the subject of judicial review. They would lose out by a move to UC.

There is also the question of how disabled people without access to the internet or support to navigate the benefit system are supposed to move over to UC with the operations of welfare advice and community support organisations so heavily restricted by the pandemic.

Next time someone like Sunak or Boris Johnson turns up on your TV, telling you they are “protecting the most vulnerable”, remember that you know the truth:

This Johnson government is ignoring the most vulnerable people. Johnson doesn’t want to protect them and neither does Sunak. They want the most vulnerable people to die.

Source: Treasury blanks disabled people – letters to Chancellor telling of financial hardship turned away – DPAC

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People with learning disabilities in England are bumped up the Covid vaccine waiting list

This is because of the recent fuss over ‘do not revive’ orders that are still being applied to people with learning disabilities – for no reason other than to make sure they die if they catch Covid-19.

The idea, it seems, is to make people think the government is ensuring that all such people will be protected from Covid-19 as soon as possible.

But I don’t see any information that people with learning disabilities will no longer have DNR orders applied to them.

And of course while we’re now told the vaccine is 80 per cent effective after the first dose, that still means 50 per cent of people are likely to catch it.

And it is much harder to survive if there’s a doctor’s order hanging over you, saying you shouldn’t be put on a ventilator.

Source: All people on learning disabilities register in England to be invited for Covid vaccine | World news | The Guardian

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Sign the petition to stop ‘do not revive’ orders on people with learning disabilities who catch Covid-19

No ventilator for you: even after the NHS announced that ‘do not revive’ notices should not be forced on people with any disabilities at all, let alone learning disabilities, it is still happening. Is this a quiet cull?

Personally, This Writer wants to know who is still signing these orders after the NHS announced that they were forbidden and everybody should be involved in deciding the level of their own care.

It is clear that this is still not happening, and it is still people with disabilities who are being targeted for death by abandonment.

This petition is an attempt to raise the public profile of an issue that the media seem determined to ignore – so let’s do what we can to get as many people to notice it and sign it as possible.

It states:

People with learning disabilities have been given do not resuscitate orders during the second wave of the pandemic, in spite of widespread condemnation of the practice last year and an urgent investigation by the care watchdog.

Mencap said it had received reports in January from people with learning disabilities that they had been told they would not be resuscitated if they were taken ill with Covid-19.

The Care Quality Commission said in December that inappropriate Do Not Attempt Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (DNACPR) notices had caused potentially avoidable deaths last year.

DNACPRs are usually made for people who are too frail to benefit from CPR, but Mencap said some seem to have been issued for people simply because they had a learning disability. The CQC is due to publish a report on the practice within weeks.

This is absolutely disgusting and cannot be allowed to continue. We must stand against this and not allow the UK to become a fascist state

We are all one and everybody has value. This is a serious human rights issue and cannot be allowed to continue in this day and age. We must join together and show we will not stand by and allow this horrific practice to continue. We must stand firm and resist this and insist this practice ends now!

Once again, the petition is here. Please sign it and pass it on to your friends and social media contacts.

This may not affect you – now. But who knows who will be targeted next?

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How many times must we tell the ‘health service’ NOT to sign death warrants for people with disabilities?

Ventilator: after all the fuss last year over people with disabilities being issued blanket “Do Not Revive” orders, Mencap has revealed that it is STILL happening.

Who is responsible for this abomination against healthcare?

It has been revealed that, despite being told not to force “Do Not Revive” orders in people with disabilities who contract Covid-19, people with learning disabilities are still having the orders forced on them – whether they agree with them or not.

Pressure over this from the British Medical Association, Care Quality Commission and others, warning that blanket approaches to care are wrong, forced NHS England to tell hospitals, GPs and managers not to issue such letters… in April 2020 – nearly a year ago!

The following month, Death Health Secretary Matt Hancock was threatened with court action unless he legislated to safeguard vulnerable people. At the very least, it is an offence against their human rights.

But now we find that people with learning disabilities are still having “Do Not Revive” orders thrust upon them:

People with learning disabilities have been given do not resuscitate orders during the second wave of the pandemic, in spite of widespread condemnation of the practice last year and an urgent investigation by the care watchdog.

Mencap said it had received reports in January from people with learning disabilities that they had been told they would not be resuscitated if they were taken ill with Covid-19.

The Care Quality Commission said in December that inappropriate “Do Not Revive” notices had caused potentially avoidable deaths last year.

Mencap said they seemed to have been issued for people simply because they had a learning disability.

Do I have to put two and two together for you?

The fact that the government refused to put people with learning disabilities on the priority list for vaccinations makes this behaviour even worse.

So we find from NHS figures that in the five weeks since the third lockdown began, Covid-19 accounted for 65 per cent of deaths of people with learning disabilities. Although the statistics are drawn from different measures, it’s useful to compare this with the rate for the general population: just 39 per cent.

Younger people with learning disabilities aged 18 to 34 are 30 times more likely to die of Covid than others the same age, according to Public Health England.

Considering the inbuilt, systemic bias against them, it seems clear that we should not be surprised – just horrified at this apparent targeting of people with disabilities by the health service (which is supposed to protect people) and the Tory government.

For the sake of balance, I should report that the Department for Health and Social Care has said that it has taken action to prevent “Do Not Revive” notices and has asked the Care Quality Commission to review all such notices issued during the pandemic.

I look forward to its report.

I wonder if anybody will be found to have issued these notices wrongly.

I wonder if anybody will be found to have died as a result.

And if so, I wonder if we’ll learn the reasons these notices were issued. How damning will they be?

Source: Fury at ‘do not resuscitate’ notices given to Covid patients with learning disabilities | Coronavirus | The Guardian

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The Tories have used Covid to abandon children with disabilities and their parents

Money, money, money: Boris Johnson’s government says it is spending billions to help children with special educational needs and disabilities weather the Covid crisis – but they aren’t seeing it. So where is it going?

It may be hard to accept, but Boris Johnson and his cronies have been weaponising Covid-19, using the crisis as an excuse to take support away from vulnerable children.

Parents of children with special educational needs and disabilities have been particularly hard-hit, as Metro‘s report shows:

An Ofsted report into the impact of the first lockdown published this week found that some children lost basic skills and learning as a result of school closures and restrictions on movement.

Turning to SEND children, it found the pandemic has presented ‘serious and far-reaching’ challenges for families, with some feeling ‘isolated’ from existing services.

One parent who spoke to Metro branded the situation a ‘national disgrace’ and said her three-year-old son had received no physio or occupational therapy for nine months.

Another told of a ‘pressure cooker’ environment and the ‘terror’ parents face with no end in sight, as they struggle without services they had previously relied upon in their day-to-day lives.

The response from the Tories’ Department for Education spokesperson gives great emphasis to the amounts of money that have been allocated to help parents and children in this situation.

It mentions “£37million this year to help thousands of low-income families raising disabled or seriously ill children with the challenge they face staying at home”, a “£1billion Covid catch-up fund”, and “increasing high needs funding for local authorities by £780 million this year and a further £730 million next year”.

But who actually receives the cash and what does it actually pay for?

This year we have seen the Tories waste no less than £12 billion on a Covid-19 test, track and trace system that not only doesn’t work but is actually a contamination risk.

So quoting amounts of money allocated to particular projects means nothing.

It is clear from the stories here that these parents and children are not receiving the support they need.

And I, for one, would like to know what the Tories are really doing with that cash.

Source: Exhausted parents of disabled children feel ‘abandoned’ in lockdown | Metro News

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Starmer’s Tory-supporting crackdown on his own party makes him a danger to people with disabilities

[Image: @Rachael_Swindon on Twitter.]

Apologists for Keir Starmer who reckon he’s easing the way for Tory legislation to make them “own their mistakes” will have a hard time justifying this.

Starmer and his team are working behind the scenes to stop Labour MPs from criticising the Conservatives.

After significant rebellions against one-line Labour whips on the Overseas Operations Bill and the Covert Human Intelligent Sources Bill (the so-called ‘Spycops’ bill that allows government agents to commit crimes including murder, torture and rape), the whips office has broken party protocol to issue written reprimands to the rebels.

The letters stipulate a reprimand period of six months, to be extended to twelve if the recipient continues to break the whip.

They have been shared with Labour’s parliamentary committee – a group of backbench MPs elected by the parliamentary Labour party (PLP), and currently dominated by the right – which will determine whether to inform the MP’s constituency Labour party (CLP), as well as the party’s national executive committee (NEC).

This information could then be considered when an MP seeks reselection ahead of a general election.

“That’s the fear factor,” one MP told Novara Media. “This could impact your reselection [and] it might be over a one-line whip. It’s intimidation plain and simple.”

A number of those who received letters are seeking legal advice from union representatives, the MP added.

But that’s not all.

It seems someone in Starmer’s office has taken it upon themselves to water down criticism of the Tory government’s failure to protect people with disabilities by reducing the disability employment gap and mitigating the effect of the Covid-19 crisis on them, and in its new COVID-19 guidance for people placed in the “clinically extremely vulnerable” group.

Someone in the office of the shadow minister for people with disabilities, Vicky Foxcroft, sent a draft of her comments to John Pring of Disability News Service which differed significantly from the official version of her comments released by the Labour Party.

The changes include the removal of a reference to the “vital” role played by trade unions in protecting disabled people from discrimination, along with any reference to disability discrimination.

Read the DNS article and see for yourself. It states,

Responding to the new pandemic guidance… her official statement said that disabled people were just “anxious” rather than “extremely worried”. Her call for disabled people who might need to shield again needing to be “properly compensated and not left without enough money to survive” had vanished.

This represents a serious policy change from Labour – back to the indifference to anti-disability discrimination that marred the New Labour years and Ed Miliband’s leadership.

People with disabilities can no longer rely on Labour MPs to stand up for them because it seems the party leadership now supports the Tories’ campaign to punish them, just for existing.

Starmer seems determined to let Boris Johnson’s corrupt Tories do whatever they want – harm whoever they want – while threatening to sabotage the careers of anybody in his own ranks who dares to protest.

The big question is: What is to be done about this?

The union Unite has already cut its funding to the Labour Party by 10 per cent, and the decision to remove a supportive reference to trade unions from an official comment could be interpreted as an attack – or even a retaliation. Should that union – and others – cut support for Labour even more?

And what about constituency Labour parties? The threat to MPs – which includes sanctions that could lead to their deselection (to be replaced by right-wingers parachuted in by head office, no doubt – that was Tony Blair’s practice) – is also an indirect attack on the power of members to choose their representatives.

Will they act? Should they?

What do you think?

Source: Keir Starmer Has Launched an Unprecedented Crackdown on Rebel MPs | Novara Media

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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.

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.

https://www.crowdjustice.com/case/mike-sivier-libel-fight/


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