Tag Archives: disability

After coroner’s warning over death of disabled man, benefits process to get HARDER

[Image: Black Triangle Campaign].

What are the courts going to do about this?

The excellent Disability News Service is reporting that a coroner has ordered Work and Pensions Secretary Mel Stride to take action that will prevent flaws in the Universal Credit system leading to further deaths after a disabled man became overwhelmed by the application process and committed suicide.

Instead, it seems Stride is determined to increase the death toll exponentially.

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Here’s the DNS story:

It states:

An inquest into the death of Kevin Gale earlier this month heard from his psychiatrist, who expressed significant concerns about the way mental health service-users were supported with their universal credit claims within DWP.

The inquest also heard from the trust’s nursing director, who told the coroner that they considered the issues identified by the psychiatrist to be “national” and said they were “debilitating for service users”.

Kevin Gale, who is believed to have worked previously as a window cleaner, took his own life on 4 March 2022.

Coroner Kirsty Gomersal sent a Prevention of Future Deaths report to Stride.

She pointed to the “number of and length” of the universal credit forms that had to be completed which “can be overwhelming for someone with a mental health illness”, and which are “perpetuated if the applicant cannot get help to complete the paperwork”, while also highlighting the “long telephone queues to speak to a DWP advisor”.

She added: “Having to travel long distances for appointments can be detrimental for those with a mental health illness.”

And what’s happening to the benefit system?

Here’s The Independent:

Jeremy Hunt has warned those who “coast” on benefits will lose handouts if they refuse to take a job as part of a new crackdown.

Claimants deemed fit to work, but who fail to take steps to find employment, will be cut off from accessing benefits such as free prescriptions and dental treatment, help from energy suppliers and cheaper mobile phone packages.

Mel Stride, the work and pensions secretary, said that schemes to help people back into the workforce would also be expanded as part of a new £2.5bn five-year long back-to-work plan.

Under the plan, claimants will be forced to accept a job or undertake work experience to improve their prospects. Those who fail to do so will be hit with an “immediate sanction”.

At the moment, claimants can face open-ended sanctions where they have their benefits stopped. Those under this sanction for more than six months will now have their claims closed, the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) said, which would also end their access to other benefits such as free prescriptions and legal aid.

Mr Stride said: “…We are expanding the voluntary support for people with health conditions and disabilities, including our flagship Universal Support programme.

“But our message is clear: if you are fit, if you refuse to work, if you are taking taxpayers for a ride – we will take your benefits away.”

Overall, the government says expanded help-to-work schemes will help more than 1 million people over the next five years.

Part of this package includes plans to add another 100,000 people to the Individual Placement and Support scheme, which aims to get those with severe mental illness quickly into paid employment.

Mandatory work trials will be rolled out, meaning that claimants will be forced to accept a job or do work experience to improve their prospects, and those who fail to do so will be hit with “immediate sanction”.

Reform of the “fit note” system will also be explored under the plans. In a trial in certain, fit notes, an alternative to sick notes which set out what work someone can do, will be handed out by the benefits system, not doctors.

So, after receiving an order from the courts to make it easier for people with severe mental health problems to claim disability benefits, Stride and Hunt have chosen to make it many orders of magnitude harder.

And we can all see them:

The last of the ‘X’ posts above makes an extremely good point.

If these changes are being made in order to allow the government to make tax cuts in advance of a general election, then the Tories will once again be pushing the most vulnerable people in society to their deaths, to make already-comfortable people a little better-off.

Are you disabled or suffering from a long-term sickness? Do you want to die to boost the bank account of someone who is already wealthy?

Are you a Tory voter? Do you have sick or disabled relatives and/or friends?

Which of them do you want to see die, so you get a tax cut that will induce you to vote Tory again?


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Disability minister silent over UN rights evidence no-show | Disability News Service

Tom Pursglove: we can see where his loyalties lie, judging by this infographic from 2016.

Life beyond Israel/Gaza: here in the UK, the ongoing – and long-running – scandal of government mistreatment of sick and disabled people took a new turn, as described here:

The minister for disabled people has refused three times to explain why his government failed to give evidence to the United Nations on its disability rights record, weeks after his party’s disability group expressed concern at the decision.

The Conservative Disability Group (CDG) chair, Barry Ginley, wrote to Tom Pursglove, the minister for disabled people, to raise concerns over reports that the government had refused to attend a meeting of the UN committee on the rights of persons with disabilities in Geneva.

The meeting was being held to examine the government’s progress since being found guilty of grave and systematic violations of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

Asked by DNS about the decision not to attend the Geneva meeting, Pursglove dismissed Ginley’s concerns.

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He claimed the government had a “very ambitious programme of work that responds in a very thorough way to many of the challenges that people have highlighted”.

He then mentioned his draft Disability Action Plan – criticised for its lack of action and dismissed as a “PR exercise” – the National Disability Strategy, which was previously on hold for two years after its legality was challenged through the courts, and a planned review of the much-criticised Disability Confident employment scheme.

But when asked by DNS why the government did not attend the meeting in August, he said: “I’m not going to say any more to that which I’ve already said. I’ve set out the position.”

Asked again, he said the government “continues to act in good faith”.

And asked a third time why the government did not attend in August, he declined to say anything further.

Read on: Minister silent over UN rights evidence no-show, despite criticism from disabled Tories – Disability News Service


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With these takes on HS2, immigration and more, should we rename the UK PM Rishi SKEWnak?

Let’s look at more of Rishi Sunak’s speech to the Conservative conference.

This is a follow-up to This Site’s previous article, Lies, DAMNED lies and truth bombs: little Rishi’s BIG conference speech.

There’s no intro from me this time so let’s dive straight in to his views on HS2, smoking, benefit reform and immigration:


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Tories lied again: The Work Capability Assessment is back

The new Tory way to tell whether a sick or disabled person can work: it’s quite an old cartoon by now – but it still works because it is more or less accurate.

That was nice while it lasted, wasn’t it?

Remember when Jeremy Hunt announced a plan to scrap Work Capability Assessments for sickness benefits in his first spring budget earlier this year?

Well, it seems the Tories have changed their collective mind because Work and Pensions Secretary Mel Stride has launched a consultation on proposed changes to the work capability assessment – the test aimed at establishing how a disability or illness limits a claimant’s ability to work.

According to the BBC, the proposals include:

  • Updating the categories associated with mobility and social interaction
  • Reflecting flexible and home working – and minimising the risk of these issues causing problems for workers
  • Providing “tailored support” for those found capable of work preparation activity in light of the proposed changes

The consultation is expected to run for eight weeks, and the Government hopes the reforms will come into force by 2025 – which will be after the next general election.

The BBC fails to include a link to the government consultation

Reading between the lines, it seems Stride wants to change the guidelines so that people who are too ill to work will be deemed to be perfectly capable of doing so – possibly by working from home.

The BBC report features a dissenting view from James Taylor, executive director of strategy at disability equality charity Scope, said if people are forced to look for work when they are unwell this could make them even “more ill”.

“If they don’t meet strict conditions, they’ll have their benefits stopped. In the grips of a cost-of-living crisis this could be catastrophic,” he added.

Yeah – we’ve witnessed such catastrophic situations before under Tory governments since 2010. Thousands of people died when they should not have had to.

Labour’s Debbie Abrahams, who has worked to help sick and disabled people in danger due to government policies, highlighted the problems with the Tory approach in Parliament:

The BBC article fails to include a link to the government consultation. You can find it at https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/work-capability-assessment-activities-and-descriptors


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UK disability groups explain plight of disabled people to the UN. Tory minister absent

As seen on Twitter: but is the UK government already planning ways to discredit a new United Nations investigation into the (mis)treatment of disabled people here?

That’s right – the UK’s minister for disabled people, Tom Pursglove, couldn’t be bothered to attend the United Nations in Geneva to provide the Tory government’s side of the story:

This Writer will dare to predict what will happen:

Firstly, the government – that will have had plenty of time to put together a report before this meeting took place – will complain that it was not allowed an opportunity to present its case.

Secondly, any findings by the UN will be vilified by government representatives, in line with what has happened to other UN reports criticising the UK’s Tory government in the past.

Nothing will be done to improve the lives of disabled people in the UK.


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The main points: it’s Vox Political’s morning headlines

DWP accused of ‘denying people their rights’ after rejecting 90% of disability benefit appeals

Food inflation: actual shop prices hit new high

Exposed: payments to LABOUR Health spokesman from private health firms

Under Keir Starmer and Wes Streeting, Labour Party policy has changed from returning the National Health Service to full public control into allowing it to be converted into even more of a front for private firms to profit from your illness.

Is the reason for this the fact that Streeting is being paid a small fortune every year by private health representatives? See for yourself:

Energy firms consulted on plan for extra profit

Energy prices are coming down at last, so what is the regulator Ofgem doing? It’s consulting the companies on a plan to increase their profit so they can be “financially resilient”.

They just made a killing (sadly, in some cases this may be said to be literal) on prices over the last year but this cash went straight to shareholders, it seems. Wouldn’t it have been better to fix dividends at a lower level and put more of that money into “financial resilience” rather than fleecing the public again?


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DWP still linked with countless deaths, despite 10 years of reviews

Here’s yet another attempt to make the government see sense:

All those investigations and yet the bodies continue to pile up.

And the government somehow continues to deny any blame.

Why do you tolerate this? Is it just because you aren’t among the dead?


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Call for urgent inquiry into ‘covert surveillance’ in benefit assessments | Disability News Service

I know: one article has the DWP doing something right; the next has it mistreating claimants. That’s Tory government for you.

This is not the same as the plan to record benefit assessments.

I just wanted to put that right at the top.

Here’s what it is about:

MPs are calling for an urgent government investigation into the use of “covert surveillance” of disabled people by the private sector companies paid to assess eligibility for disability benefits.

It comes in a report by the Commons work and pensions committee, following its lengthy inquiry into the assessment system.

The committee received anonymous accounts from disabled people claiming they had been “tricked or tested” by their assessors.

These included claimants who were made to park further away than necessary from the assessment centre to check how far they could walk, and lifts being placed out of order to force claimants to climb the stairs.

DWP told the committee that it has no policy that allows assessment providers Atos, Capita and Maximus to engage in “covert surveillance”.

But DWP guidance does allow assessors to make “informal observations” to check if there are any “discrepancies between the reported need and the actual needs of the claimant”.

In other words, it seems the private firms contracted to assess benefit entitlement are deliberately trying to create traps for benefit claimants, and watching them to see if they fall in.

Is it fair? No.

It’s like the old “ducking-stool” method of determining if someone is a witch: if the claimant manages to attend the assessment, they’re not disabled enough, but if they don’t, they clearly don’t want to continue with their claim.

Vile trickery.

Ask yourself: would you be happy for government employees to covertly monitor your movements on the pretext that you might be lying to them about some aspect of your life?

These are the people who make a fuss about the “nanny state” – but isn’t that what this is all about – taking a supervisory position over you and punishing you for assumed transgressions?

Why do they do it? To meet targets of benefit rejection, set by the government?

That has to be unethical; immoral.

No government employee involved in benefit assessment should be acting in such a manner.

So let’s have that inquiry – as soon as possible (I bet we don’t get it).

Source: Call for urgent inquiry into ‘covert surveillance’ in benefit assessments – Disability News Service


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Will disability health assessment recording plan cut errors in DWP decisions?

The Department for Work and Pensions has announced plans to record all disability benefit assessments:

Plans to move to a new telephony platform during 2024 and make enhancements to the Video Assessment application … will bring the ability to record all disability health benefit consultations.

The update comes just a week after the publication of a report from the Work and Pensions Committee into the health assessments system used by people who cannot work or face extra costs due to disability or ill-health to access vital benefits.

The report contained a proposal from the chair, Sir Stephen Timms MP for all assessments to be recorded by default, with an option for claimants to opt-out.

The cross-party committee of MPs said that footage could then be used to review cases more accurately without having to go to appeal, and help assessors learn from past mistakes. It added that some of the suggestions could drive down the high rate of decisions reversed on appeal, which still stands at 69 per cent for Personal Independence Payment (PIP).

This is the part that encourages This Writer.

This Site has long publicised the belief that assessors from the private companies hired by the DWP to make recommendations on benefit claims have disqualified claimants for false reasons.

The answer – recording the assessments – has (also) long been known, but has been resisted by the DWP on the basis that it insisted on specific – expensive – equipment being used.

It seems that stipulation has now been rendered pointless due to advances in technology, and the government has at last bowed to the inevitable. The change is expected to come into effect next year.

The proof of the pudding is in the eating, of course.

I certainly hope that benefit assessments after the new recording guidelines come into force show a marked increase in approvals – and that the number of appeals drops as a result. They are a waste of tribunal time.

fear that the DWP and the assessment firms will merely find another excuse to disqualify people who genuinely deserve help.

We’ll have to keep a very close eye on this one.

Source: DWP announces plans to record all disability health assessments on new system from next year – Daily Record


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DWP disability benefits – including PIP – are alleged target of £800,000 fraud | Daily Record

This is good news – it demonstrates to the DWP, politicians and the rest of us how real benefit fraudsters operate:

Two men have been arrested on suspicion of fraudulently claiming disability benefits, as part of a major anti-fraud government crackdown. The men are alleged to have created 15 identities between 2019 and 2023 to defraud £800,000 from the public purse.

An investigation by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) in collaboration with the Office of the Public Guardian (OPG) and the Metropolitan Police found eight applications for power of attorney were faked and used to apply for benefits on behalf of disabled applicants. The men from London allegedly also pretended to represent severely disabled applicants unable to manage their own affairs by supplying false medical reports to support claims for up to thousands of pounds of public money.

Benefit payments used to support disabled people including Personal Independence Payment (PIP), Disability Living Allowance (DLA) and Employment and Support Allowance (ESA), are alleged to have been among those hijacked by the fraudsters.

Further co-ordinated action will see the DWP work with partners to ensure that any vulnerable claimants who had their benefits hijacked are supported and have their entitlements correctly altered.

Source: DWP payments supporting people on disability benefits including PIP alleged target of £800,000 fraud – Daily Record


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