Tories sneak out continued benefit freeze behind announcement of royal engagement

Oh, joyous day! (That’s unless you receive Universal Credit, Jobseekers’ Allowance, Employment and Support Allowance, Income Support, Housing Benefit, or have the amount of your payments limited under the Benefit Cap, of course.) As the Royal Family announced the engagement of Prince Harry to Meghan Markle, the Department for Work and Pensions decided it would be a good day to release some bad news – so ministers quietly published their proposed benefit rates for 2018-19. 10am: Royal engagement announced. 10.21am: Government confirms working-age benefits will be frozen for another year.…

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The London Paralympic legacy, two years later: Vox Political’s predictions were true

Two years ago, Vox Political warned that the legacy of the London Paralympics would be the loss of disability benefits for the British athletes who took part. “They have proven they’re fit enough to work and therefore don’t need [the money],” is how this blog’s article of the time described the situation. “Right?” Right. Gratitude goes to Tom Pride for drawing attention to the plight of basketball player Jon Pollock, who has been refused any benefits at all since he became unemployed after the Games. His situation is exactly as…

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‘WoW’ debate on sickness and disability benefits live blog

That concludes today’s live blog. Thanks to everybody who visited and pressed ‘F5’ to keep up with events. 2.38pm The motion for the government to commission a cumulative impact assessment has been passed – resoundingly – after the debate. Admittedly very few people attended but the result was what the 104,000 people who signed the ‘WoW’ petition wanted. However, there now arises the question of what the government will do. As was noted in the debate, the Conservative-Liberal Democrat Coalition has been defeated three times in succession over social security…

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How about a live blog on the benefit debate?

I’m thinking of doing a ‘live blog’ on the WoW Petition/incapacity-disability benefits debate in the House of Commons tomorrow (Thursday). Previously I had intended to go along myself, but donations to the site have been almost non-existent this month, meaning I don’t have the financial wherewithal. It occurs to me that this might be a better use of my time. The idea would be that I would post developments into the article as they happen, along with appropriate tweets from other people who are watching the debate, and comments from readers who…

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The fakery and failure behind the DWP’s new ‘health’ scheme

It seems that the Department for Work and Pensions is sticking to the ‘Adolf Hitler’ model of public relations: If you tell a big lie and repeat it often enough, people will believe it. The press release announcing the new ‘Health and Work Service’ is riddled with long-debunked old lies – and one new statement that deserves our scrutiny. This is the press release used by the BBC in its article on Saturday, telling us that the new, privately-run service is needed to combat the high cost of long-term absence…

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Have 230,000 sick and disabled people been wrongly knocked off-benefit and forgotten?

After all the government’s efforts to kick people off long-term sickness benefits, the number of claimants has risen – but statistics seem unable to account for nearly a quarter of a million people. Even though Atos and now other private assessors are working hard to meet increased reassessment targets for Incapacity Benefit and Employment and Support Allowance, the government is paying out more money on these benefits – to around two million claimants. This is a surprise for an administration that has been merrily throwing people off-benefit since it came…

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Let’s start the New Year with some hopeful news

The Information Commissioner and the Department of Work and Pensions will have to defend, before a tribunal, their decision to refuse my Freedom of Information request on claimant mortality. Readers will recall that this blog, along with others, has been trying to use official channels to secure publication of the number of people who died while going through the claim process for Incapacity Benefit or Employment and Support Allowance during 2012. This process has been drawn out beyond reason; the first request for the information was made before that year…

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Mr ‘Political’ goes to Westminster, looking for justice

Congratulations are due to Labour MPs John McDonnell and Grahame Morris, who have persuaded Parliament’s Backbench Business Committee to agree that a debate on the ‘WoW’ petition will take place in the House of Commons, early in the New Year. Responsibility now falls back on the British people to make sure our elected representatives do not squander the opportunity, as the Commons Work and Pensions Committee squandered its chance to hold Iain Duncan Smith to account for his own, and his department’s, statisticial inaccuracies. The petition, on the government’s website,…

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WoW Petition for rethink of disability ‘reforms’ hits its target

What a great result for the WoW Petition – it has reached its target of 100,000 signatures with time to spare! The petition calls for a cumulative impact assessment of welfare reform and a new deal for sick and disabled people based on their needs, abilities and ambitions – rather than the political aims of the current Westminster administration or any motive to cut welfare budgets. WoW (it stands for resistance to the ‘War on Welfare’) demands an immediate end to the humiliating work capability assessment and a free vote on repeal of…

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Information Commissioner rules on the cover-up of DWP-related deaths

Long-term readers will know that the author of this blog has spent the last few months trying to get officials at the Department for Work and Pensions to release mortality statistics for people undergoing the assessment procedure for Employment and Support Allowance. It is in the public interest for the nation to know how many seriously ill or disabled people are dying while they wait to undergo the controversial Atos-run medical assessment, while they await the result, and while they appeal against a result that puts them in the wrong…

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