Tag Archives: disability

Three-fifths of Britons are worried about the cost of living. ‘Welcome to our world,’ say benefit claimants

Boris the bung: Johnson has been splurging cash on the very rich for the last three years. Now, when the rest of us are suffering in a cost-of-living crisis he created, he has little for us other than excuses.

Remember when only benefit claimants had to choose between “eating and heating” – buying food for their families or energy for their homes?

Those were happy days for the small-minded Little Britons who merrily voted Tory government after Tory government into power to continue ruining the economy and siphoning cash away from people who need it.

Now, more than 60 per cent of the UK’s population are in the same position as those benefit claimants – and suddenly it isn’t quite as amusing to fling the old “scrounger” accusations around any more, is it?

Many of the same people who supported government benefit cuts that drove claimants to suicide or simply starved them to death are now begging the same government to support them through the current cost-of-living crisis.

And some – not necessarily the same ones – are having suicidal thoughts themselves.

This Writer has a certain amount of sympathy for those who didn’t vote Tory and never supported the victimisation of the vulnerable.

Those who did are finding it isn’t so comfortable when the shoe’s on the other foot, I suppose. I wonder whether they will learn from the experience, to be a little less judgmental about other people, now they have suffered just a little of what the sick and disabled (for example) have endured for more than a decade?

Well, the experience won’t do them any good if they give in to their more grim thoughts, so it is right that everybody who is suffering mental ill-health as a result of the government’s failure in its most basic function – providing affordable food and energy to the population – should get treatment for it.

Sadly (again) we have a government that is not up to the task.

The Tories are using the crisis to provide another subsidy for the rich, with people who own multiple houses set to receive £400 for each of them, no matter whether they are occupied all the time or not.

Landlords will be under no obligation to pass the cash on to tenants who actually pay the bills.

And mental health services have long been neglected by successive Conservative governments.

Now they are scrabbling to catch up, providing £2.3 billion extra per year to treat two million more people – that’s just £1,150 each for around 1/20 of those who need help, according to the Sky News poll.

And they have called for evidence from the public about what should be in a 10-year plan for mental health, that will not make any difference to people who are in need now.

Thomas Jefferson (or was it Benjamin Franklin?) once famously said, “We get the government we deserve.”

I just hope people who are going through hardship now realise that their choice of Tory rule has inflicted the same – and worse – on others for many years.

Source: ‘I can’t take the cost of living anymore’: We asked Britons how the crisis is affecting them

Cornwall’s biggest event discriminates against hidden disabilities – claim

What were the organisers of the Royal Cornwall Show thinking? “If it’s good enough for the government…”?

That must be the thought going through the heads of people with disabilities – and campaigners for them like This Writer – after hearing that the biggest show in Cornwall would only give a free carer ticket on the day to people in wheelchairs:

Marie Louisa Ralph, whose two sons are autistic and whose elder son Malachy also has Tourette’s Syndrome, accused the Royal Cornwall Show (RCS) of being in breach of equality laws and ignoring the needs of disabled people whose disability may not be as obvious as being in a wheelchair.

Marie said: “Wheelchairs are no proof of disability but RCS are effectively putting their own interpretation on what disability is. They haven’t got a clue. I’m a big believer in independence for disabled people, many of whom can work and are just as entitled as anyone else to access public event. They might just need a carer with them even if they’re not in a wheelchair.”

The show’s organisers seem to have claimed that Ms Ralph was mistaken and there was a concession for carers – if they pre-booked online. The deadline for that had passed and so the only concession available was if a disabled person arrived in a manual wheelchair.

They provided no rationale for this restriction.

Organisers also insisted that their scheme works well – and that it is a voluntary provision that they are not duty-bound to offer.

So disability discrimination is still considered to be perfectly acceptable at major public events, then?

Source: Royal Cornwall Show accused of hidden disability discrimination – Cornwall Live

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Government Wastes £440 Million Trying to Overturn Disability Benefit Claims | Beastrabban\’s Weblog

[Image: Black Triangle Campaign].

This is a classic rant from my brother The Beast – and so full of facts that not only do you need to read it, but you should send it to all your friends as well:

The Tories and Blairites – ’cause it was Blair who introduced the vile Work Capability Tests – are convinced and would like you to believe that a large portion of claims for disability benefit are fraudulent.

Thanks to right-wing rags like the Heil, the British public believes that 25% of all disability claims are fake. In fact… the overwhelming number of claims for disability benefits are genuine. Only a vanishingly small number, less than 1 per cent, are attempts to defraud the benefits system.

But obviously, this detracts from the Tory desire to punish the poor for not working or being able to work, while they could be gainfully exploited by all the rich industrialists they want to give massive tax cuts to.

And so we have suffered 40-odd years of Thatcherite cuts to the benefits system while Tory and Blairite mouthpieces have told us that such cuts are ‘self-help’, encouraging self-reliance, going to revive proper Christian charity and private initiative without the safety net of the state.

The principle of less eligibility – how the whole process of claiming state support was to be as unpleasant as possible in order to deter people from doing so – was one of [Thatcher’s] ‘Victorian Values’ that she wished to reintroduce into the welfare system.

So did Blair, who created the Work Capability Tests because of pseudoscientific, discredited research on behalf of US insurance fraudster Unum. This assumed that most disability claims were fake, and that getting people back into work would do them good.

The assumption that a certain percentage of all disability claims were fake has led, according to whistleblowers, to the imposition of quotas… which demand that a set percentage of disability claims should be turned down.

This has led to severely ill, even terminally so patients, being judged fit for work. It has led to moronic … clerks asking amputees when their absent limbs are expected to grow back. And it has led to hundreds, if not thousands of genuinely sick and disabled people dying from poverty and hunger because they were denied an income.

This included people with serious mental health problems and conditions like diabetes, who were found starved to death.

It’s been denounced by disability activists as a genocide. Harsh words, but this is mass murder by governments who know exactly what the consequences of these sanctions are. They just don’t want you to know.

Source: Government Wastes £440 Million Trying to Overturn Disability Benefit Claims | Beastrabban\’s Weblog

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People in Scotland with lifelong disabilities will no longer face benefit tests

Nicola Sturgeon: doing more for people with disabilities than Boris Johnson.

The UK’s Conservative government – particularly its prime minister – are first to disparage the Scottish National Party but fall behind that organisation in the implementation of policy.

The Tories have been promising to ditch benefit reassessments of people with lifelong conditions but look at this – the SNP got there first:

Disabled people in Scotland with serious lifelong conditions will no longer have to attend reassessments to continue receiving their benefits.

The Scottish government will begin taking over adult disability benefits from the UK government next week.

Currently, people with lifelong conditions such as being blind have to be reassessed to keep their benefits.

The Scottish government said it would have a more “compassionate” approach.

The pilot for the new payment will begin in Dundee, the Western Isles and Perth and Kinross from 21 March.

People already receiving Personal Independence Payment (PIP) and Disability Living Allowance (DLA) from the UK Government’s Department for Work and Pensions do not need to apply for the new payment from Social Security Scotland.

They will be automatically transferred on to the new system from the summer, the Scottish government’s social security minister Ben Macpherson said.

He said the new Adult Disability Payment would make a number of changes to assessment.

Mr Macpherson said: “If they have a disability or a long-term health condition that is unlikely to change, we are looking to provide indefinite awards, which means that people will not need to reapply for their benefit or be reviewed.”

Source: Lifelong Disabilities Will Not Face Benefit Tests | Same Difference

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Secret DWP benefits survey cherry-picks respondents – so it can lay blame on claimants?

Too much Coffey: the Work and Pensions Secretary (right) seems to have commissioned a survey of benefit claimants in order to say their failure to budget properly has put them into hardship – not her insistence on providing starvation-level payments and using the slightest excuse to cut them off. Meanwhile, she parties.

The Department for Work and Pensions has launched a secret survey – sent only to specially cherry-picked claimants.

The reason seems to be to blame benefit recipients for any hardship they suffer, claiming that poor budgeting skills are the root of the problem rather than the political decision to fix payments at starvation levels – and then to use the flimsiest excuses to stop them.

The survey asks about debts claimants may have, what effect the debts have had on them and what support they need. It is the last question that has raised concerns, as Benefits and Work, which hoisted the red flag on this apparent scam, pointed out:

The full question and list of options is as follows:

What types of help or support, if any, would be most useful in helping you manage your finances?

  • Help with working out what money I have left to spend each/day/week/month.
  • Advice on how to spread my spending so I don’t run out of money
  • Advice on how to reduce my spending
  • Advice on how to reduce my debt
  • Advice on how to increase my income
  • Help with setting up a direct debit/standing order
  • Help with opening a bank account
  • Other (specify)

In this context, advice to increase my income is most likely to relate to those in employment.  In general claimants cannot increase their income unless there is a benefit they could be claiming that they are not aware of.

What is entirely missing from these options are the ones that would actually make a difference to claimants, such as:

  • Pay benefits at a rate that is enough to live on
  • Remove the 5 week waiting time for UC
  • End the long delays for PIP assessments and WCAs

Because there are no such options, this survey will produce results that say that, of claimants who are in debt:

X% say they need advice on working out what money they have left to spend

X% say they need advice on how to reduce their spending

X% say they need advice on how to reduce their debt

Whilst some people may indeed say in the ‘Other’ box that the help they need is a higher rate of benefits, this will not be listed as a percentage in outcomes as everyone’s answers will be worded differently.

In other words, all the support needs will be around claimants not understanding how to manage their money, rather than it being impossible to manage on the money they receive.

See how it works?

Benefits and Work has made Freedom of Information requests to ask how the claimants taking part in this survey are selected, how many are taking part and whether the results of the report are going to be published.

The logical conclusion to be drawn is that the DWP has been stung by having to reveal the findings of its secret report on how people on sickness and disability benefits are struggling with unmet needs.

Work and Pensions Secretary Therese Coffey had repeatedly refused to publish the DWP-commissioned report on disabled people’s experiences of the benefit system – so the Commons Work and Pensions Committee ordered its authors to provide a copy to Parliament. It has now been published.

The report, received by the government in September 2020, stated that many people are using disability benefits such as PIP, which is intended to meet the additional costs of disability, for very basic needs such as food, rent and paying debts:

“The participant had kidney failure, arthritis in his back, legs and arms, depression and bulimia which caused chronic stomach pains. He lived alone in a flat rented from a Housing Association, using Housing Benefit. He was in the ESA Support Group and received PIP. He made monthly repayments for utility bill arrears and had a £5,000 bank loan which he could not afford to repay. His debt repayments meant he could not afford essential day-to-day living needs and used a foodbank. He found it difficult to wash independently due to his arthritis and needed a walk-in shower but could not afford one and seemed unaware that he may be eligible for support through the local authority. He also needed support with cooking and cleaning and received help from a cousin. His cousin would like to claim Carer’s Allowance but neither of them knew how to make an application. He had no other support networks close by.”

It said claimants with invisible disabilities such as mental health conditions often struggle even more than those with physical conditions to meet their basic needs:

“Participants with mental health conditions tended to report a wide variety of basic needs, health and care needs and social needs that were unmet. In comparison, those with profound learning disabilities and severe physical disabilities were typically in the group that identified having fewer unmet needs. While the latter group experienced a high level of need across a range of areas, these were usually being met through a combination of local authority support and informal support networks, usually parents who provided a high level of care.”

And the wellbeing of disabled claimants often depends primarily on being in a household in which another member has a well-paid job:

“The participant has recently moved in with her mother and sister, she had previously lived alone in a council-rented flat but had begun to feel isolated and found paying the rent and bills difficult so decided to move in with her mother. She has a range of health conditions and disabilities including Asperger syndrome, anxiety, ADHD, joint stiffness and IBS. She works 28 hours a week and receives PIP. Before moving to live with her mother she was concerned about how her income would cover essential day-to-day living costs. She also struggled with maintaining her personal hygiene and found it difficult to leave the house as she did not like going out alone. Moving in with her mother has helped her to meet all of her health-related needs.”

The reason Coffey and the DWP kept the report secret seems clear when one notes that last October – more than a year after receiving it – the Work and Pensions Secretary was lying to the public about the system it damns.

As Benefits and Work (again) details:

Coffey was telling the Conservative party conference that:

“PIP has certainly grown in a way that was not anticipated when it was introduced.

“To give you an example, three out of four young people who claim PIP have their primary reason being mental ill health.

“That in itself is 189,000 young people who currently receive benefit focused on that. There may be other benefits they receive as well.

“. . . people can think the benefit system is fair.

“And I think by being able to target that even more so to people who really need that support, may improve that prospect of public perception.”

Having been forced to release a report that shows – even in its watered-down form – that the benefit system is forcing hardship and related physical and psychological torture on claimants, including those who already have significant mental health problems (leading to a threat to life itself?), it seems Coffey has commissioned this new survey in order to manufacture a false justification for herself.

I think I’ll write her a letter. Let’s see how she justifies this web of deceit.

Source: DWP secret survey set to blame claimants for going cold and hungry

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Another #DWP bid to deprive severely #disabled people of #benefits crushed by the courts

Therese Coffey: her Universal Credit rules discriminate against severely disabled people who she should be protecting. Rather than admit that it is wrong, she insists on wasting public money defending the indefensible in the courts.

Two severely disabled men have won a legal challenge after the Department of Work and Pensions’ (DWP) failed to provide enough in transitional payments to protect them and others as they moved to Universal Credit.

A High Court judge found that the DWP discriminated against the pair, known as TP and AR, by refusing to compensate them the full difference between the payments they received on legacy benefits and UC payments in an area where it had already been rolled out – around £180 per month.

The DWP gave evidence that a ruling like this will affect up to 50,000 people, it will cost up to £150 million and take six years to put right the underpayments.

The ruling is the fourth in favour of TP and AR, who began their legal campaign after they suffered a severe drop in income in 2016 and 2017 as a result of house moves to areas where UC was in operation. Previously they had each received Severe Disability Premium (SDP) and Enhanced Disability Premium (EDP).

Despite rulings in the High Court and Court of Appeal, the DWP refused to pay severely disabled people affected by the policy the full monthly loss they had suffered of around £180.

Instead it paid just £120 a month, compensating for the loss of SDP and not EDP.

The SDP Gateway was introduced in 2019 to prevent other severely disabled benefits claimants from being moved onto UC outside of a managed migration process until January 2021. Outside of that period, disabled people in receipt of both SDP and EDP who experience a so-called ‘trigger event’ (certain changes in circumstances), such as a move into a UC area, experienced a sudden severe loss of income. They are known as ‘SDP natural migrants’.

The judgment in this case represents the fourth time that the Court has given detailed consideration to claims under Article 14 of the European Convention of Human Rights alleging unlawful discrimination against severely disabled adults who ‘naturally’ migrated to Universal Credit.

Once again, the Court concluded that Therese Coffey, the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions was unable to show an objective and reasonable justification for the different treatment of people in TP and AR’s position.

The Court found that the Secretary of State’s arguments and evidence were largely the same as in the earlier cases and, in spite of the outcome and detailed findings in the previous cases, her evidence on key points was very limited, too generic or otherwise inadequate.

The Secretary of State claimed that something significant had changed, but the Court repeatedly emphasised that the essential differences in treatment remained the same and that neither legislative changes nor temporary Covid-related support changed the analysis.

The court held that the Universal Credit regulations unlawfully discriminate against TP and AR by failing to cover the loss of EDP when providing transitional payments.

UC therefore treated them less favourably, without reasonable justification, than legacy benefit claimants entitled to SDP who did not experience a ‘trigger event’ compelling them to claim UC, and legacy benefit claimants entitled to UC who experienced a ‘trigger event’ on or after January 16, 2019, and before January 27, 2021 (the period in which the Gateway was in place).

Mr Justice Holgate found:

  • The Covid-19 uplift received by UC claimants during the pandemic does not undo or make up for the disadvantage caused by the failure to cover the loss of EDP.
  • The inclusion of relief for EDP would not overpay those of the 71,000 claimants who receive SDP but not EDP. Overpayment could be avoided if legislation provided for six fixed rates of payment rather than three. “The suggestion that transitional payments in respect of EDP could not be deliverable has simply not been made out,” he said.
  • The risk that a ruling in favour of TP and AR would trigger ‘piggyback’ (similar, other) claims was not realistic.
  • The Secretary of State had not shown a reasonable relationship of proportionality between her aim of curtailing public expenditure, and the decision not to provide any element of transitional relief against the loss of EDP.

According to the DWP, in evidence it gave to the court when defending the judicial review claim, the ruling will affect up to 50,000 people and will involve sums of up to £150 million over a six-year period to put right.

The ruling is the fourth in favour of TP and AR, who began their legal campaign after they suffered a severe drop in income when they were moved on to UC in 2016 and 2017 as a result of house moves to areas where UC was in operation. Previously they had each received Severe Disability Premium (SDP) and Enhanced Disability Premium (EDP).

Despite rulings in the High Court and Court of Appeal, the DWP still refused to pay severely disabled people affected by the policy the full monthly loss of circa £180 they suffered and instead paid them just £120 a month, compensating for the loss of SDP and not EDP.

The SDP Gateway was introduced in 2019 to prevent other severely disabled benefits claimants from being moved onto UC outside of a managed migration process until January 2021. Outside of that period, disabled people in receipt of both SDP and EDP who experience a so-called ‘trigger event’ (certain changes in circumstances), such as a move into a UC area, experienced a sudden severe loss of income. They are known as ‘SDP natural migrants’.

The judgment in this case represents the fourth time that the Court has given detailed consideration to claims under Article 14 of the European Convention of Human Rights alleging unlawful discrimination against severely disabled adults who ‘naturally’ migrated to Universal Credit.

Once again, the Court concluded that the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions was unable to show an objective and reasonable justification for the differential treatment of those in TP and AR’s position. The Court found that to a large extent the Secretary of State’s arguments and evidence were the same as in the earlier cases.[1] In spite of the outcome and detailed findings in the previous cases, the Defendant’s evidence on key points was very limited, too generic or otherwise inadequate.[2] Notwithstanding the Secretary of State’s continued claims that something significant had changed, the Court repeatedly emphasised that the essential differences in treatment remained the same and that neither legislative changes nor temporary Covid-related support changed the analysis.[3]

The court held that Regulation 63 and Schedule 2 of the Universal Credit (Transitional Provisions) Regulations 2014 unlawfully discriminate against TP and AR by failing to cover the loss of EDP when providing transitional payments. It thereby treated them less favourably, without reasonable justification, than (1) legacy benefit claimants entitled to SDP who did not experience a ‘trigger event’ compelling them to claim UC, and (2) legacy benefit claimants entitled to UC who experienced a ‘trigger event’ on or after 16 January 2019 and before 27 January 2021 (during the period in which the Gateway was in place).

Mr Justice Holgate found:

  • The Covid-19 uplift received by UC claimants during the pandemic does not undo or make up for the disadvantage caused by the failure to cover the loss of EDP.
  • The inclusion of relief for EDP would not overpay those of the 71,000 claimants who receive SDP but not EDP. Overpayment could be avoided if legislation provided for six fixed rates of payment rather than three. “The suggestion that transitional payments in respect of EDP could not be deliverable has simply not been made out,” he said.
  • The risk that a ruling in favour of TP and AR would trigger ‘piggyback’ (similar, other) claims was not realistic.
  • The Secretary of State had not shown a reasonable relationship of proportionality between her aim of curtailing public expenditure, and the decision not to provide any element of transitional relief against the loss of EDP.

“I am not satisfied … that the broad aims of promoting phased transition, curtailing public expenditure or administrative efficiency required the denial of transitional relief against the loss of EDP for SDP natural migrants,” he said.

“A fair balance has not been struck between the severity of the effects of the measure under challenge … and the contribution that that measure makes to the achievement of the [Secretary of State’s] aims.”

He said there was stronger evidence to conclude this “where there is no connection between the triggering event, the move to a home in a different local authority area, and any rational assessment of the disability needs of a severely disabled claimant.”

The judgment also found in favour of claimants AB and F, a disabled mother and child, saying that the discrimination they suffered “is manifestly without reasonable foundation”.

The DWP’s failure to provide transitional protection against the loss of the lower disabled child element of Child Tax Credit was found to constitute unlawful discrimination.

It treated AB and F less favourably than legacy benefit claimants entitled to SDP and the lower disabled child element of Child Tax Credit who have not experienced a trigger event compelling them to claim UC.

It also treated them less favourably than legacy benefit claimants who were entitled to SDP and the lower disabled child element of Child Tax Credit who experienced a trigger event whilst the SDP gateway was in place.

“I am relieved that the judge agrees that the DWP treated us differently than other severely disabled benefits claimants and that it was wrong to do so,” said TP.

“The past six years have been immensely stressful as I have struggled to get by on a lower income. I just hope that the DWP will put all of this right as soon as possible so that those of us who have been badly affected by this unfair policy can get on with our lives.”

AR added: “It should never have been the case that disabled people entitled to the severe and enhanced disability premiums were suddenly deprived of the equivalent sum when they found themselves transferred onto Universal Credit.

“The policy has caused me and others serious hardship and I am glad that the court has seen the sense in our argument. Hopefully we will be ‘fourth time lucky’ and finally have reached the end of the road fighting this unfair policy.”

Their solicitor, Tessa Gregory, said she could not understand why the DWP was still dragging the affair out in the courts.

“Following the three previous findings of unlawful discrimination, the DWP should have ensured our clients were not losing out on severe and enhanced disability payments.

“Instead, after each judgment the DWP has made further attempts to short-change this group of highly vulnerable claimants who faced a cliff edge loss of income when none of their disability needs has changed.

“Our clients hope that this judgment marks the end of the road and that the DWP will stop wasting money on legal fees and get on with protecting the vulnerable.”

Source: Severely disabled benefits claimants TP and AR win legal challenge over loss of income caused by move on to Universal Credit | Leigh Day

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MPs bypass #DWP to publish controversial report on claimants’ experience of #benefits

Boris Johnson isn’t the only Tory minister facing serious consequences for their actions this week. It’s looking bad for Work and Pensions Secretary Therese Coffey too.

Coffey has repeatedly refused to publish a DWP-commissioned report on disabled people’s experiences of the benefit system – so the Commons Work and Pensions Committee has given orders for its authors to provide a copy to Parliament, which will then be published.

The report, The Uses of Health and Disability Benefits was received by the Government in September 2020. The National Centre for Social Research (NatCen) had interviewed disabled people about their experiences of receiving PIP, ESA and Universal Credit.

The committee last month gave the Secretary of State one final chance to publish the report, which she herself admitted fell within the Government’s own protocol for publication.

But Coffey said she would not be reconsidering her decision.

Why not? It seems likely that researchers at NatCen, who wrote the report, found that people on disability and other health-related benefits were overwhelmingly negative about their experience of the system under Tories including Coffey and her forerunners, going right back to Iain Duncan Smith.

NatCen has been ordered to provide a copy of its report by January 27.

“After repeated obstruction from the Secretary of State to keep from public view a piece of work that falls within the Government’s own protocol for publication, we have reached the end of the road,” said Work and Pensions Committee chairman Stephen Timms.

“We would have much rather the DWP had done the right thing and published the report itself, so it is with regret that we must now take the highly unusual step of using our parliamentary powers to obtain a copy from NatCen and publish it ourselves.

“We have been forced to do this to ensure that the reality of disabled people’s experiences of the benefits system can see the light of day.”

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Secret #disability #benefits report WILL be published whether #ThereseCoffey likes it or not

Therese Coffey: it seems she’s been too busy having a good time (in line with many of her Cabinet colleagues, we’ve learned) to publish a report on the quality of her work as it relates to people with disabilities who claim benefits.

Tough luck, Therese!

The Tory Work and Pensions Secretary has been sitting on a report on how claimants are affected by the way she runs disability benefits – presumably because it is damning, even though (allegedly) watered-down.

The benefits concerned are those received by people with long-term illnesses and disabilities: Personal Independence Payment (PIP), Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) and Universal Credit (UC).

Well, she won’t be able to warm her backside on it for very much longer because the Commons Work and Pensions Committee, sick of waiting for her to pull her finger out, has given her an ultimatum.

It is: publish the report by January 11 or we will publish it in spite of you.

The report falls within the government’s protocol for publication so there really is no legitimate reason for any delay.

Committee chairman Stephen Timms (Labour) said:

The Secretary of State has consistently failed to give the Committee a good reason why this piece of research should not be made public. She even admits that it falls within the Government’s own protocol for publication.

The continued refusal to publish the results of the research, as promised to the participants who gave up their time, will do further damage to disabled people’s trust in the Department—which is already in short supply.

The Secretary of State now has a final opportunity to think again and publish the research. If not, the Committee is firmly agreed that we will be left with no choice but to publish the report ourselves.

Source: Coffey ordered to publish secret disability benefits report or MPs will do it for her

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The DWP doesn’t want you to see this disability deaths documentary. Please tune in

Make a note in your diary: Channel 4, Friday, December 17 (tomorrow), 7.30pm, Dispatches: The Truth About Disability Benefits.

The Department for Work and Pensions doesn’t want anybody to see it, apparently.

It’s a documentary investigating the unexpected deaths of disabled benefits claimants, including those who have taken their own lives.

It’s been scheduled at short notice – but the DWP will be taking very careful note of viewing figures for this programme, hoping that it attracts a smaller audience than usual, as this can then be shown as proof that there really isn’t any great public interest in the lives and deaths of benefits claimants.

As the website Benefits and Work states,

If that’s the case, they can carry on denying there’s a problem and keep on covering up the suffering inflicted on disabled claimants by a heartless system.

But the more people who watch the documentary, the harder it will be for the department to brush aside its findings.

And the more likely that others will begin investigating the secrecy surrounding almost everything the DWP does.

Long-term readers of This Site will know that I spent more than two years fighting for the DWP to release up-to-date death statistics on people claiming the sickness benefit Employment and Support Allowance (and its forerunners).

The Information Commissioner’s Office eventually forced the government department to release its figures in August 2015 – but it could only provide those for people who had died within two weeks of having their benefits cancelled as civil servants do not follow up on what happens to people beyond that time.

This means that a lot of information about the fate of claimants whose benefits have been cancelled is hidden from the general public – but the little I was able to secure was damning, as it showed that thousands of people had died for unexplained reasons within the three years covered by my Freedom of Information request.

I would have pursued the matter further but we all know what happened next: I reported on false claims of anti-Semitism against members of the Labour Party and was then accused of anti-Semitism myself. I’ve spent the last five years fighting those falsehoods in one form or another.

So I’m glad that John Pring of the Disability News Service has been pushing matters forward.

It seems he was the one who contacted TV production companies around three years ago (2018?) calling for a documentary to be made, and the Dispatches film will apparently tell the stories of the DWP’s disabled victims.

Benefits and Work quotes Mr Pring as saying:

“Those stories are shocking. What is almost as shocking is that we are still waiting for an in-depth, independent inquiry into DWP’s repeated failures over the last decade – and even earlier than that – to learn from its mistakes and make its assessment system safe. 

“Countless disabled people have died because of that failure. We need an inquiry now.”

The documentary is filmed and presented by disabled film-maker Richard Butchins, who has had personal experience of the DWP’s ways.

Relatives of deceased claimants will be speaking out on television for the first time, to explain how the system contributed to the deaths of their loved ones.

And there is testimony from a DWP whistleblower who describes a dismissive and mocking attitude toward claimants among staff at the department.

Allow me to reiterate: the Tory government wants this show to get low viewing figures so it can put out propaganda saying the British public don’t care if a few (hundred)(thousand) cripples croak it after being denied the payments they need to live.

So we need as many people to be told about it as possible.

If you can tell your family and friends, please do. Let’s make sure this is something the Tories can’t lie about.

Source: The Truth About Disability Benefits The DWP Don’t Want You To See

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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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