Tag Archives: fear

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.

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Confusion reigns over who exactly can go back to work and who we can see

Tube commuters after Johnson’s speech on May 10: this is on the Jubilee Line.

Boris Johnson’s speech on Sunday (May 10) becomes more opaque by the hour.

He said all workers who cannot work from home should travel to work if their workplace is open, telling construction workers and manufacturing employees in particular to go back (we know now that the construction industry is part of a Tory plan to boost house buying that flies in the face of common sense).

And it resulted in scenes like this:

Some of these people are going to catch Covid-19. A few may die of it.

That’s what Johnson’s message to the nation contained: death.

And it seems he didn’t even cover all the professions that are expected to go back.

Also endangered are domestic cleaners, who are now expected to go back to their employers’ homes – no matter what those other people have been doing, where they’ve been, what diseases they may have picked up. But they can’t visit their friends/relatives.

Owen Jones has this one right:

His advice to the people who employ domestic cleaners is right on the button.

Edwina Currie got into a proper state while trying to discuss it with Piers Morgan on Good Morning Britain:

Anyway, why is it so important to bring in cleaning staff from outside your home, possibly to spread the infection? Why can’t people just clean their own homes?

That’s what I’ve been doing!

Another comedy addition to those going back to work is film and television production companies. Here‘s Screen Daily:

Film and television production in the UK are permitted to restart providing all involved abide by social distancing guidelines, the Department of Digital, Culture, Media and Sport has confirmed to Screen.

The change comes as part of the government’s latest guidelines for the coronavirus pandemic, which include the instruction “All workers who cannot work from home should travel to work if their workplace is open.”

Workplaces that do reopen – including screen productions – should “ensure employees can maintain a two-metre distance from others, and wash their hands regularly”, according to the Covid-19 guidelines on the government’s website.

Here is the appropriate response:

It won’t work, of course.

Also reopening (in England) is the fast food chain McDonalds – creating widespread fear among employees who will be asked to risk their lives in contact with hundreds – possibly thousands – of other people every day.

As one such employee put it in this article:

I’m terrified of returning to work… The amount of customers will be astronomical… and I still don’t know how we will be protected.

I can’t help but think the official advice means that if you’re middle class or above, everyone thinks it’s fine for you to work from home, but if you’re working class like us, it’s no problem and you can go back to work.

Yes indeed – and this means low-paid workers are most at risk:

“The Government’s strategy will put low-paid workers with the poorest employment rights most at risk,” [said Shadow Secretary of State for Women and Equalities, Marsha de Cordova].

Shadow Business Secretary Ed Miliband [said] “It is the highest-paid workers who will generally carry on being able to work from home and lower-paid workers who are being asked to go back to work.

“We also know from … ONS figures that among men, construction workers have so far been more than twice as likely to die from Covid-19 as the average member of the population.”

The Tory government says it is prioritising safety for everyone returning to work.

But… well, look:

It isn’t happening; it won’t happen. It is the same as all the Tory promises throughout the crisis, about PPE, about ventilators, about testing, about contact tracing. If it isn’t exclusively for the rich, it isn’t true.

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Coronavirus: the Tories have LIED about the daily death toll – INCREASING fears. Why?

Take a look at this headline:

Is it working? UK records 43 coronavirus deaths in past 24 hours compared to 87 yesterday

You can see it in situ by following the link at the bottom of the article. It was a Daily Mail headline on March 25.

It’s a lie, of course – but this time the Mail doesn’t seem to be to blame.

No, this time it’s the Tory government who seem to be at fault.

It wasn’t realistic for the government to claim that the number of deaths had halved, so early in the pandemic’s residence in the UK.

So the BBC’s Newsnight questioned it – and was told by the government that that it cannot add deaths to the total as they happen, because it has to obtain the permission of each family before it can do so.

This is not true.

There is no law – covering data protection or otherwise – requiring family members to give their permission before a death can be added to the total attributed to the coronavirus.

It’s just a number, you see; no personal details are being passed on.

The government had also changed the time at which the number of new deaths was reported, meaning there had been a shorter period between reports.

And according to Skwawkbox, it seems deaths at home, in care homes and in hospital A&E units have also been omitted.

Why indeed – in response to both questions.

Figures for the following day (March 26) showed an increase of 115 – more than on both the previous two days – showing that the number of fatalities is still increasing.

So the only logical reason for the Tories to lie is contradicted – the number of deaths per day clearly is not falling.

So if we have learnt anything, it is that we cannot trust the figures the Conservative government is providing; the true figure may be much higher than they have said.

So, far from allaying fears about the deadliness of the virus, Boris Johnson and his cronies have only increased them.

Source: Coronavirus UK: Daily death toll halves, rising by 43 to 465 | Daily Mail Online

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PIP assessor terrorises household. What kind of people is Capita hiring?

This should concern anybody who has a long-term illness or disability, who has a family member with one, or may develop one in the future.

Disability News Service has reported that an assessor working for Capita, the sub-contractor hired by the Depatment for Work and Pensions to assess claims for Personal Independence Payment, basically terrorised a household.

The man, believed to be in his 50s, was carrying out the assessment at the home of Cheryl Matthews, in Cardiff.

Ms Matthews works as a customer service agent and has several long-term health conditions, including one that could cause a fatal aneurysm if she becomes anxious.

She already receives the PIP standard rates for daily living and mobility, but had requested a new assessment after her health worsened in recent months.

But the assessor seems to have been determined to ignore her information about recent events, describing them as “irrelevant”.

His attitude angered Ms Matthews’ 22-year-old son, who asked for the assessment to be ended.

On his way out, it seems the assessor shoved her son so hard that he fell against a door – then challenged him to a fight before leaving the front door open and kicking the safety gate – that protects their three dogs – off its hinges, damaging the wall of the house.

He made off, saying that he would be back to fight Ms Matthews’s son.

She has struggled to sleep since the incident, according to the report. Considering her health condition, it seems that – rather than helping Ms Matthews meet the challenges of life with a disability – the assessment put her life in danger.

We are told Capita has suspended the assessor and offered Ms Matthews £600 in compensation. South Wales Police has launched an investigation into allegations of criminal damage.

To This Writer, that seems right and proper – but what about other people facing assessment?

I should say that Mrs Mike had her PIP assessment at home, and the Capita assessor in that instance behaved in an exemplary manner. She was polite and considerate, and paid attention to everything Mrs Mike had to say.

But the incident in Cardiff suggests that others may not be so lucky.

It certainly seems appropriate to raise questions about the standards under which private companies, working for the government, hire people to carry out this work.

While the policy of privatising this task may be attractive – it allows the Conservative government to distance itself from incidents like this – it does suggest that the government is also putting people at risk.

Is this incident not an argument for these assessments to be brought back in-house – under the auspices of the public service, with higher, public-service standards?

Source: PIP assessor told claimant to ignore her ‘irrelevant’ suicide attempt… then challenged her son to a fight – Disability News Service

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Wondering how Boris Johnson managed to kill UK democracy? It starts with fear…

Boris’s bromance: This old graffito tells us what all the hatred was about – it was about selling the UK to US profiteers for cash.

Here’s a great little video.

It demonstrates how the Tories have manipulated a situation they helped create, with their bankers who caused the economic crash, to create a climate of fear in which their compliant media told us other groups of people were our enemies, and nudged us into supporting behaviour that we once thought was unthinkable.

This is how the UK put itself on the road to a place where Boris Johnson could steal our democracy, in order to sell us all to Donald Trump.

Ironic, isn’t it? That manufactured fear of foreigners may end up putting us under a foreigner’s power.

(I wonder how many readers will discount the video because it was made by Momentum?)

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People are brilliant. When a woman who spent years helping vulnerable people needed help – they did this

Charlotte Hughes, author of the Poor Side of Life blog, has spent years offering help, advice and food parcels to people at the mercy of the Department for Work and Pensions in Ashton under Lyne. But today she was in danger of eviction because of a clerical error – and needed help herself.

The reaction has been astonishing and should reaffirm your belief in human nature.

I’ll let her explain the situation:

What could she do? She set up a JustGiving site to try to raise some cash to offset the deficit and stop the eviction:

I was going to beg you to visit that site and contribute.

“If you visit Charlotte’s blog – again, it’s The Poor Side of Life – you’ll be able to read about the huge amount of good work she has done,” I wrote.

“She deserves much better than to be abused by her local council in the way she has described.

“So please visit the JustGiving page and help her, if you can.”

Then I visited the JustGiving page and realised that contributors had already tripled her £1,000 target.

How brilliant is that?

If you can afford to contribute a little, please do – it will give Ms Hughes some breathing room.

And for those who already have: I salute you!

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Challenged to defend their record of persecution against the disabled, Tories have nothing to say

Debbie Abrahams in the House of Commons.

Debbie Abrahams in the House of Commons.

How pleasant to hear this said in a Parliamentary debate, with not a single word of denial from the Conservative Government:

“Last week there was an amazing sequence of events. On Monday, the Secretary of State told me that he could not publish … data because they were not kept, and told me to stop scaremongering; on Wednesday, the Prime Minister said that they would be published; and this was swiftly followed by the Government saying that they were appealing against the Information Commissioner’s ruling, stating that publishing these data would lead to ‘probable misinterpretations’ and ‘was too emotive…and wasn’t in the public interest’. What an absolute shambles!”

This was part of the speech by Debbie Abrahams, Labour MP for Oldham East and Saddleworth, in a debate on ‘welfare reform and people with disabilities’, called by her to set the scene for any measures against the disabled that George Osborne is considering for his July budget. As the Government prepares to cut £12 billion from the annual social security budget next week, there are real concerns that – in addition to potentially slashing tax credits for the working poor – they will cut further support for working-age people with disabilities.

She was referring, of course, to the government’s increasingly confused response to This Writer’s request for an honest answer to the question, ‘How many people have died while claiming Employment and Support Allowance between November 2011 and May 2014 (the date of my request)?” But wait! She continued:

“I could not disagree more. This is definitely in the public interest. As a former public health academic, I am more than aware of the strict criteria for establishing causality, but there are no grounds for not publishing numbers of actual deaths as well as the Government-proposed standardised mortality ratios, including those who died within six weeks of being found fit for work. Will the Minister now confirm when these data will be published?

Dear reader, it falls to This Writer to report that not one word came back from the Government benches – not even when the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, Justin Tomlinson (who?) got onto his hind legs to give the Government’s response to the debate.

You can sign the petition demanding that the Government end its appeal against the order to publish the statistics, and provide the figures to the public, on the Change.org website.

She also asked when the Government will publish redacted information on the circumstances of the deaths of claimants who died while sanctioned, and what changes the DWP instigated in the light of reviews of these deaths – and whether the significant surge in suicide rates for both men and women since 2010— particularly for working-age men—is being analysed by the DWP. No response.

The Government doesn’t have anything to say to the sick, disabled or vulnerable, and even less to say about them.

Ms Abrahams began her speech by pointing out, “It is poignant that this debate falls on the very day that the Independent Living Fund closes. A further £1.2 billion is being cut from support for people with disabilities. Such cuts were a hallmark of the Tory-led coalition, and many are concerned that not only will this increase but the cuts will get worse under this Government.

“I … want to draw attention to the punitive and dehumanising culture that has been part of the delivery of these welfare reforms, which set the tone for the leadership within the Department for Work and Pensions and the Government’s wider tone on social security.”

Here’s a quick precis of the facts: She said that, by 2018, £23.8 billion of support would have been taken from 3.7 million people with disabilities, according to Demos. The measures include:

  • Indexation of social security payments was changed from the higher retail prices index to the lower consumer prices index
  • There was also a 1% cap on the uprating of certain working-age benefits.
  • People on incapacity benefit were reassessed.
  • The time that disabled people in the work-related activity group are able to receive the employment and support allowance was limited.
  • Disabled people in receipt of disability living allowance are being reassessed to determine whether they are eligible for the personal independence payment.
  • Disability benefits are approximately 15% of average earnings. With the recent changes—the 1% uprating and the indexation to the consumer prices index—they will fall even further below those in Austria, Belgium, Croatia, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Germany, Hungary, Iceland, Luxembourg, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Serbia, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland.
  • People with disabilities are twice as likely to live in persistent poverty as non-disabled people: 80% of disability-related poverty is caused by extra costs. This has implications for disabled people’s families – a third of all families living in poverty include one disabled family member.
  • Since the Government’s new sanctions regime, the rate of sanctioning of people on IB and ESA has doubled.

She said part of the Government’s strategy has been the “invidious” spreading of a culture of blame and fear.

“In the 1980s we saw the unions being targeted; today the focus is on the poor and the vulnerable.

“The narrative associated with the so-called welfare reforms has been one of divide and rule, deliberately attempting to vilify people who receive social security as the new undeserving poor.

“The Government have spread a culture of pejorative language, such as “shirkers” and “scroungers”. They have intentionally attempted to demonise social security recipients, including disabled people.

“The innuendo that people with a disability or illness might be faking it or are feckless is, quite frankly, grotesque… Unfortunately, the regular misuse of statistics is another way that the Government are trying to harden the public’s attitude.

“The facts are that, in an ageing population, the largest proportion of social security recipients are pensioners and not, as is often implied, the workshy.”

The whole debate can be found here.

Additional: It has been pointed out to me that Mr Tomlinson stated: “We will be publishing them [sic] the mortality stats—I know the hon. Lady is keen to see them soon; we would all like to see them as soon as possible.” Since he did not define the form those statistics would take, nor did he provide a firm date on which they would be published, it seems clear that what he did say was as near to nothing as makes no odds.

Follow me on Twitter: @MidWalesMike

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It’s time to end government by fear

State of Fear?

State of Fear?

As we inch towards the end of polling, here’s a very pertinent, poignant comment from Vox Political reader Tracie Wayling.

Tracie is a person of enormous compassion – she was the one who asked this blog to run a piece on ‘Homeless Dean’, back in January.

So her words are worthy of attention. Here they are:

“Everywhere I look, I see and feel endless amounts of people who are quite literally terrified today.

“This may be for many, many reasons, from bedroom tax and being close to being made homeless, to the mere thought of freedom of speech and rights, to justice no longer existing for many and heading down roads that lead to nowhere fast.

“I am one of those people, because I see and feel the hurt that others feel.

“I have always been one mass, raw, magnet of an empath. I see and feel what lies ahead. As a woman who has fought to help right the wrongs for many over my lifetime, I hate seeing people hurt. It is both a blessing and a curse ‘feeling’ people’s hurt. I hate seeing people in pain. I hate that so many suffer in silence, never even giving a clue to the outside world how they’re feeling until it’s too late.

“I don’t hate that I ‘feel’, I hate that there is such hurt and fear in so many to feel. Such suffering is so unnecessary and so completely, utterly avoidable and pointless in this day and age, in a world that has way more than plenty.

“I see people who could have the most awesome and satisfying of lives, with skills in humanity, in writing and so many talents that Mother Nature’s laws long for people to use, in helping others to make changes and live the lives they were born to live – but who are being suppressed from putting these skills to use because they are battling to keep their own heads above water.

“I see, everywhere, humans not being respected or appreciated for the amazing individuals they are.

“I see people who, with a realistic helping hand, could climb to great heights – but the lower ladder rungs have been removed and they have no way to reach the nearest one when there’s a large boot waiting to send them flying back down again.

“The world is a mess. This country is a mess. You know things have gone very, very wrong when so many people are petrified of their own Government.

“The Government that is supposed to represent them.”

The last government – of Tories and ‘Tory’ Democrats – never represented anything other than its own greed. The last five years have been about funnelling money to private corporations, who in turn donated some of it to their favoured party of government – the Tories more often than the Lib Dems.

Today has been our opportunity to change that – by the simple act of putting a cross in a box.

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Cameron’s honours list cowardice: Too many corrupt Conservatives?

Sir Malcolm Rifkind: Not the only Tory suspected of wrong-doing, then?

Sir Malcolm Rifkind: Not the only Tory suspected of wrong-doing, then?

David Cameron is planning to postpone the announcement of the next honours list until after the election, because he is worried that Conservatives he nominates might be embroiled in a scandal before polling day, according to The Independent.

According to that paper, “A Whitehall source said: ‘Cameron is petrified of someone on the list having done a Rifkind and finding that a week or two before the election a newspaper has done a number on some [Conservative] grandee.’

“It is thought that the recent cash-for-access sting involving Sir Malcolm Rifkind and Labour’s Jack Straw has influenced No 10’s thinking” regarding the release of the Dissolution Honours nominations.

Doesn’t this say everything you need to know about the Conservatives?

Cameron got into trouble last year because he handed out peerages to people, not because they had done great work for the United Kingdom, but because they had done a lot of work to support him personally.

Now he is afraid to give prior notice of the names on his latest list, for fear that any transgressions they have committed may become public before May 7 and hurt his election chances.

Clearly, corrupt and immoral behaviour among Tory MPs is expected by the Conservative leadership.

Are you really going to give it your approval at the general election?

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Day of action planned against UKIP hate-mongering

150303ukip-2015-02-leaflet-montage-1

A weekend of action against alleged UKIP hate-mongering is to take place later this month.

In the immediate aftermath of the appalling terrorist attacks in Paris, UKIP leader Nigel Farage took to the airwaves to blame immigration and multiculturalism and claimed that there was a “fifth column” operating in this country, according to Hope Not Hate.

“We’ve got people living in these countries, holding our passports, who hate us,” the organisation quoted him as saying.

He went on to claim that most French cities had “no-go” areas for non-Muslims.

“Sadly, he is at it again,” wrote Nick Lowles for Hope Not Hate. “Last week, in a speech to a hard-right conference in the US, he repeated his claims.

“Farage’s incendiary language is dangerous and will only whip up fear, suspicion and hatred. He is clearly moving to the right, so we need to redouble our efforts to stop him and his party.

“Hope not hate is calling a national weekend of action for 21/22 March.

“With just 65 days to go until the General Election, we need to step up our campaign. UKIP boast that it will win several seats and, more worryingly, could hold the balance of power in a hung parliament. UKIP also poses a real threat in 410 council wards.

“If you are appalled by Farage whipping up hatred and are worried about UKIP holding the balance of power, then please sign up to get involved.”

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