Tail in the telling: Speaker John Bercow said Labour’s Owen Smith was trying to “tweak the government’s tail” over its “shoddy” response to a report on benefit sanctions.
The Conservative Government released its response to a major review of its policy on benefit sanctions today – so quietly it almost qualifies as silence.
Fortunately for those affected, there is a vocal Opposition Party sitting in the House of Commons once more, and even Speaker John Bercow agreed that the way the matter had been handled offered a “prime-time opportunity to tweak the Government’s tail”.
The government was responding to the Work and Pensions Select Committee’s report, Benefit sanctions beyond the Oakley Review, which set out more than two dozen recommendations for changes to benefit sanctions and the policies behind them. None have been implemented.
This Writer has joined with campaigner Maggie Zolobajluk and Gill Thompson – whose brother died after his benefits were sanctioned – to petition the government to implement just two of these recommendations – to offer hardship payments from the first day of a benefit sanction, and to launch a broad, independent review of the sanctions regime. You can sign the petition here.
In a written response, DWP minister of state Lord Freud managed to avoid addressing any of the recommendations made in the report.
Instead, he took the opportunity to announce that the government intends to test a system of warning before any sanction is imposed.
“At present people are notified of a sanction and it is imposed immediately afterwards. In some cases, claimants go on to challenge the decision and the sanction may be overturned. We will trial arrangements whereby claimants are given a warning of our intention to sanction and a 14 day period to provide evidence of good reason before the decision to sanction is made. During this time, claimants will have another opportunity to provide further evidence to explain their non-compliance. We will then review this information before deciding whether a sanction remains appropriate,” he stated.
He added that the government would consider – mark that word; only consider – extending the definition of “at risk” groups used for hardship purposes to include those with mental health conditions and those who are homeless. This would mean that they could seek access to hardship from day one of a sanction being applied – but only if the government goes beyond consideration and actually implements the change.
Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary Owen Smith raised the issue in the House of Commons today (October 22). He said to the Speaker, John Bercow [boldings mine]: “May I ask for your guidance on how we might secure an opportunity for the House to question the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions about the desperately inadequate response to the Work and Pensions Select Committee report on the extraordinarily important issue of benefit sanctions?
“The response has been snuck out this morning in a written statement; it is four months late; and it does not appear to address any of the principal recommendations.
“In particular, it does not address the recommendation on an independent review into the matter of those people who have died while subject to benefit sanctions. That is an extraordinarily shoddy way for the Government to behave.
“May I also ask for guidance on whether the Select Committee might, under the new Back-Bench business procedures, seek time to debate the issue and question the Secretary of State on why he has snuck out this response and why it is so poor?”
Mr Bercow’s response was that he believed Mr Smith knew exactly how to go about obtaining a debate: “I have a hunch that he simply wanted a prime-time opportunity to tweak the Government’s tail.”
Mission accomplished, then!
One does wonder how much inconvenience the government would suffer by having its tail tweaked. Considering the release, yesterday, of a DWP advert featuring a bizarre horned creature representing the government, talk of it having a tail would suggest that the Conservative Party is trying to depict itself as the devil incarnate – a pointless exercise, as we already know this to be true.
Labour will force a Commons vote on Lord Freud’s future after David Cameron refused to dismiss him as welfare minister for his suggestion that some disabled workers are not worth the minimum wage, according to The Guardian.
The Conservative peer has been allowed to remain in his job after apologising for the comment, but Labour will table a motion of no confidence to be voted on later this month.
Separately, the Independent on Sundayreported that a second government minister had made contentious comments over the role of disabled people in the workplace. Andrew Selous, a justice minister, was said to have told a fringe meeting at the Tory party conference that “disabled people work harder because they’re grateful to have a job”.
The scurrilous and offensive remarks of Lord Freud over people with disabilities should have seen him sacked. Last night on BBC Question Time he was defended to the hilt in a disgraceful example of people not getting what he said, writes Joe Halewood in his SPeye Joe blog.
The simplest way to GET what he said is to subititute “black” for “disabled” and THEN you get it so below I have simple cut and pasted my blog from Wednesday with that change
Lord Freud, said by many to be the architect of the bedroom tax and some wider welfare reform policies has been recorded saying black people are NOT WORTH THE MINIMUM WAGE of £6.50 per hour and should be paid £2 PER HOUR FOR THE WORK THEY DO.
The view of this blog is that last night’s Question Time was an hour-long parade of senility and stupidity. You can work out for yourself who among the guests, chairman and audience displayed the symptoms of either condition.
The councillor at the centre of the row over David Freud’s comments about disabled people and the minimum wage owns a property in Tunbridge Wells, which he rents to people with learning disabilities via a charity. He receives housing benefit payments from the local authority.
At the Conservative party conference, Councillor David Scott told Lord Freud:
“The other area I’m really concerned about is obviously the disabled. I have a number of mentally damaged individuals, who to be quite frank aren’t worth the minimum wage, but want to work. And we have been trying to support them in work, but you can’t find people who are willing to pay the minimum wage.
> You can’t find people who are willing to pay the minimum wage to fully fit workers either – all those employers taking part in Workfare for example – the real something-for-nothing society : cheapskate employers.
“We had a young man who was keen to do gardening; now the only way we managed to get him to work was actually setting up a company for him, because as a director in a company we didn’t have to pay the minimum wage, we could actually give him the earnings from that.”
> In the wake of dubious self-employment schemes, will this be the next scam to reduce the unemployment figures ?
Become the director of your own company ! Earn £2 an hour !
Councillor Scott, along with his partner, is the director of or has an interest in several limited companies. They also own several properties in Tunbridge Wells.
One of these properties is a house in Cadogan Gardens, known as Scott Properties, of which Councillor Scott is both the joint owner and landlord.
According to Zoopla, the average value of a property in Cadogan Gardens is over half a million pounds.
Rooms in the house are ‘Rented to disabled persons directly or through Pepenbury, a registered charity.’
“. . . provides high quality care and support for adults with a learning disability and complex needs, some of the most vulnerable people in society. We give them choice and control over how they live their lives and believe that every individual has the right to live an independent and rewarding life, whilst feeling safe and supported.”
Councillor Scott told Benefits and Work that the young man he told David Freud about has never lived at Cadogan Gardens, has never worked at any property owned by Councillor Scott and has also not worked at any property connected with Pepenbury.
“If you have got some gardening work to be done you won’t pay someone for four hours when you could pay someone else for half an hour to do it. If you have a lawn in the garden and you employ a person who is doing it with support from somebody else there, you know you can employ them and it could cost you £10 to do it.
“If this person is going to take four hours to do that, would you be willing to pay £40? If you do not give them £40 you are not paying them minimum wage.”
When asked who the ‘we’ referred to in his discussion with Lord Freud was, Councillor Scott told us that it was:
“People working with my daughter when she was alive.”
Benefits and Work also contacted Pepenbury for a statement about whether the young man was one of their service users, but we have not yet received a response.
Let’s answer the headline question straight away – because Tories think he’s right.
David Cameron might have said the words spoken by David Freud were not government policy but they certainly seem to be the policy of Jackie Doyle-Price, Conservative MP for Thurrock, who tweeted:
As a social Darwinist (along with all Tories these days, it seems), it is to be hoped that she appreciated the justice of what happened to her next, as the Twitterverse tore her comment to shreds and then started picking the bones of the carcass. Here’s a representative example:
Some got more to the point:
Responding to a criticism that entitlement to the minimum wage should be tied to the ability to do a job to a normal standard or speed, the response was:
Meanwhile, here on Vox Political, our poll on whether Freud should get the boot, despite having apologised, has been hugely popular. At the time of writing, there have been 1,890 responses. Of these, 1,834 called for his resignation (97.04 per cent), 51 said he should stay (2.7 per cent) and five didn’t know (0 per cent) [all percentages have been rounded up or down, which is why this poll appears to have a 100.1 per cent response].
The result seems decisive. The British people have spoken.
“I would like to offer a full and unreserved apology. I was foolish to accept the premise of the question. To be clear, all disabled people should be paid at least the minimum wage, without exception, and I accept that it is offensive to suggest anything else.
“I care passionately about disabled people. I am proud to have played a full part in a government that is fully committed to helping disabled people overcome the many barriers they face in finding employment. That is why through Universal Credit – which I referred to in my response – we have increased overall spending on disabled households by £250m, offered the most generous work allowance ever, and increased the disability addition to £360 per month.
“I am profoundly sorry for any offence I have caused to any disabled people.”
Those of you who are disabled will no doubt be extremely interested – if not entertained – by the second paragraph of the above, in which Lord Freud fantasizes about his role in the Conservative-led Coalition’s policies of impoverishing them and forcing them towards death in the gutter or suicide before they get that far.
It is easy to see how ‘Lord Fraud’ got his nickname.
Labour were quick to get this infographic out to the public.
One of Labour’s biggest mistakes when in government – the employment of David Fraud – sorry, Freud – could soon be rectified after he made a disastrous comment at the Conservative Party conference.
At Prime Minister’s Questions today (October 15), he was revealed to have said on September 30: “There is a group… where actually… they’re not worth the full wage and actually I’m going to go and think about that particular issue, whether there is something we can do nationally, and without distorting the whole thing, which actually if someone wants to work for £2 an hour, and it’s working can we actually” [make it possible for them to do so].
Labour leader Ed Miliband, challenging David Cameron to act on the remarks, said they represented the Tories’ “worst instincts”.
Cameron’s response – that these “were not the views of anyone in government” – was appallingly weak. Clearly they were: Lord Freud is, after all, a member of the government.
Commentators across the UK, watching the exchange on TV or the Internet, were quick to comment on the fact that Iain Duncan Smith, Secretary of State for Work and Pensions and Freud’s boss, was seen scuttling out of the House of Commons before PMQs ended.
Freud entered frontline politics when in 2006 he was appointed by Tony Blair to review social security, and devised the now-hated system which features expanded private-sector involvement and forces people on incapacity benefits to try to find a way back into “economic activity”.
In 2008 he was rehired to advise James Purnell, and helped produce a white paper requiring most people receiving benefits to participate in some form of mandatory work activity, as it is now known.
Then in February 2009, he joined the Conservative Party. That should have been a strong indicator to Labour that they had been harbouring a viper in their midst, and should have been all the reason needed to rip out his social security changes and put in something more humane. Alas, Labour missed the chance.
He was given a life peerage as Baron Freud in June that year and became a welfare minister in 2010, when the Coalition sidled into office.
Freud was quickly in trouble with the public for misrepresenting the level of fraud in welfare claims – perhaps this is where his own nickname, ‘Lord Fraud’ originates. He said fraud was very high, when in fact the amount was – and remains – negligible. This did not stop the Conservative-led DWP from instituting punitive measures against benefit claimants, ostensibly to minimise a problem that involved less than one per cent of claimants.
His list of misdemeanours is long, and some of the others are detailed in the articles mentioned below.
Are we to witness a long-overdue sacking, perhaps?
Entrenched: Like the soldiers of WWI, our political leaders’ thinking hasn’t moved forward in decades – that’s why they think it’s all right to impose policies that lead to thousands of deaths.
Jayne Linney’s latest blog post starts off by discussing her relationship with her ‘Pop’, victim of a rogue grenade in World War I who spent much of his later life in surgery having shrapnel removed; clearly the centenary of the war has stirred memories.
As such, this piece might have been lightweight fluff to read and pass without comment. However…
Jayne writes: “We had endless discussions about right and wrong. I like to think he really heard me when I argued for Equality, but maybe he indulged me as his only grandchild, either way he listened, and even when we disagreed he never shot me down; he taught me to debate and for this, and everything else he was to me, I adored him.”
She continues: “Despite the pain he lived with for the next 70 years, he always demanded Truth; whether this be because he lived with the fact he suffered as a result of the lies sold by the ruling classes I can’t say, but knowing him I can’t help but think this is so.”
Now we come to the point: “In this week as I especially remember Pop, I read that Lord Freud has been proven to have Lied AGAIN, joining Mark Hoban, Esther McVey and Mike Penning to become the Fourth DWP Minster to have Made the SAME LIE – Impact Assessment are Impossible.”
[This refers to the Conservative Party’s oft-repeated and utterly discredited claim that it is impossible to carry out an assessment of the cumulative impact caused by the Coalition’s many changes (we don’t dignify them with the label ‘reforms’) to the British system of social security. In fact, some organisations have already carried out unofficial assessments of their own, and one organisation that the government often uses for statistical work – I forget which one – has made it clear that it would like to carry out exactly such an assessment.]
“This default position of Lying when proven incorrect is unacceptable. The reality is the lies politicians spew out today are resulting in pain as did those told 100 years ago; and albeit in much lesser numbers, people are still dying as a result of the policies they lie about.”
Yes indeed. Look how far our Conservative and Liberal politicians have progressed since 1914. They’ve hardly moved forward at all – just like the trench warfare that spilled the blood of a generation 100 years ago.
Now they’re merrily spilling the blood of a new generation – and once again justifying it with lies.
Following the bogus Work Capability Assessment (WCA) conducted by Atos Healthcare, as contracted by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), the United Kingdom (UK) Government admitted that it was wrong to cut the disability benefits of Mark Wood, the vulnerable disabled man who starved to death following the removal of his benefits, in the 21st century UK, when weighing only 5st 8lbs.
Despite the fact that the WCA was introduced by the Labour Government in 2008, it was originally designed by previous Conservative Governments, in consultation with the notorious American corporate giant now known as Unum Insurance, identified in 2008 by the American Association for Justice as the second most discredited insurance company in America.
Without a welfare state, sick and disabled people in America are required to use private healthcare insurance. The tyranny now imposed on the sick and disabled people in the UK, using the WCA, was designed in consultation with Unum Insurance to oblige the general public to purchase private income protection insurance policies once it was made very clear that chronically sick and disabled people could no longer rely on the British State for adequate financial support.
Americans often suffer when attempting to claim from the income protection insurance policies of Unum Insurance, who use an identical bogus disability ‘assessment’ model as that used by Atos Healthcare.
Due to the similarities of the negative and damaging experiences of claimants, American sick and disabled people are periodically informed about the struggle in the UK by the high calibre and relentless work of Linda Nee, who tries to encourage claimants to publicly protest as witnessed in the UK, which it seems disabled Americans still don’t dare to do – such is the intimidation of Unum Insurance & the American authorities (see here, here and here).
The new report by The Mental Health Welfare Commission for Scotland, regarding a woman’s suicide after being ‘stripped of disability benefits’, was reported by John Pring at the Disability News Service (DNS) and by many others. The Coalition Government knew this carnage would happen.
Three years ago a list of distinguished academics, together with politicians and disability support groups, identified the future in a letter as published in The Guardian newspaper: ‘Welfare reform bill will punish disabled people and the poor.’ Now, three years after this letter was published, questions are being asked as to why the appointed and totally unsuitable Lord Freud, in his capacity as the Minister for Welfare Reform – who was not elected by anyone in the usual democratic way – deemed it necessary for the DWP to stop collating the numbers of deaths recorded after the long-term sickness and disability benefit, Incapacity Benefit, now changed to the Employment Support Allowance (ESA), is removed from claimants. (My emphasis.MS)
Questions are also being asked as to why this unelected former City banker was ever afforded so much authority and power in the UK Government given his reputation, where one commentator described Freud as: ‘…one of the key players in several of the most embarrassing and badly managed deals in investment banking history.’ (See here and here)(My emphasis. MS)
The recent welfare Backbench Business debate in the House of Commons (HOC) was granted due to the 104,000 signatures on the WOW petition, as gathered by disabled people and their carers, who are demanding a cumulative impact assessment of all the welfare reforms. The debate was held on February 27, 2014 where, lamentably, most Coalition Government Members of Parliament (MPs) failed to attend this very important and historic debate. Of course, Coalition MPs still played the ‘blame game’, reminding the opposition that the previous Labour Government had introduced the Work Capability Assessment (WCA).
However, the Coalition routinely overlook the fact that they knowingly changed the WCA into the government-funded nightmare that it is today, whilst MPs such as George Hollingbury (Column 430) actually claimed that the Coalition “took it forward”… (Welfare Reform Act 2012) whilst disregarding the fact that a WCA face-to-face assessment with Atos Healthcare is taking over six months to arrange. (Column 433) (My emphasis.MS)
Hollingbury waxes lyrically about all the ‘expert’ opinion (Column 431) that totally failed to expose the dangerous and limited reality of the WCA, not least due to the restricted possible answers in the tick box WCA computer questionnaire, as conducted by Atos Healthcare, that fail to offer the choice of ‘none of the above’ as an additional possible answer when the WCA questions do not refer to a particular claimant’s situation.
Hollingbury quotes Dr Litchfield’s WCA review whilst overlooking the fact that Professor Harrington, who conducted the first three annual reviews into the WCA, when no longer responsible, appeared in a BBC Panorama documentary and confirmed that ‘…people will suffer.’ No government representative can answer the subsequent obvious simple question – why should chronically sick and disabled people ‘suffer’ in the UK, apart from at the whim of a tyrannical government? (My emphasis.MS)
During the historic WOW petition debate, Alan Reid (Column 434 & 435) claims to be proud of his record in government as a Liberal Democrat (Lib Dem), still claiming that Lib Dems in government have been responsible for ‘improving’ the WCA process, whilst totally disregarding the fact that it is irrelevant how much more ‘flexibility’ is given to the DWP ‘Decision Makers’ and overlooking the fact that the ‘Decision Makers’, by their own admission, are totally unqualified for the vast responsibility they have. (My emphasis.MS)
They are basic grade administrators, not medical administrators, and they are incapable of comprehending diagnosis, prognosis or the implications of long term drug use when using a combination of prescribed drugs. (See here and here) More and more DWP bureaucracy with more and more administration means more and more delays, increasing DWP errors and utter chaos with a system clearly in meltdown as more and more victims of this UK government suffer and die. (See here and here) (My emphasis.MS)
Guto Bebb (Column 442) demonstrated that he is very poorly briefed, and doesn’t appear to want to be better informed, claiming that the damning report by the National Audit Office was ‘disappointing’ but insisted that the policy aims were OK. Bebb still seems to think that any sick or disabled person not in paid employment is ‘unproductive’. This disabled researcher begs to differ and, if the MP reads the very detailed published reports (here and here) as accessed by academics at universities throughout the UK, he’d know how incorrect he is.
Dame Angela Watkinson (Column 445) also appears to be remarkably poorly informed, as were various other speakers in this poorly attended yet important debate, who continued to repeat government rhetoric whilst disregarding the detailed evidence that has exposed the realities behind the ‘reforms’ as paving the way for private insurance to replace the once-hallowed UK Welfare State.
Since being introduced by the Conservative Government in 1992, all UK Governments have used the second worst insurance company in America as “government advisers” on welfare reforms, and the dangerous and totally discredited WCA is the result. (See here and here)
Jim Sheridan’s comments (Columns 448,449) were especially welcome during the debate when making reference to the new Personal Independence Payment (PIP) that has replaced DLA: “Reference has already been made to the obsession with people receiving welfare benefits, but for those with money – the tax avoiders and evaders – life goes on as normal. If only a fraction of the resources used and the time spent on chasing down those on welfare benefits was diverted to tackle tax avoidance and evasion, some people might understand the rationale behind it.”… “When people finally hear about their assessments, there is not much hope. Only 15.4 per cent of new claims have received a decision, and only 12,654 of the 220,300 people who have made a new claim since April 2013 have been awarded some rate of PIP. A constituent of mine got in touch because her father had been diagnosed with lung cancer. Because there is a possibility that his treatment will work, giving him a life expectancy of up to five years, he has not been classed as terminally ill. He is not well enough to attend a medical assessment and so will have to wait longer for a home visit. It appears that letters from his GP, cancer doctor and cancer hospital are not enough to prove the seriousness of his illness.”… “Inclusion Scotland has highlighted the case of the father of an applicant who was told that they would have to wait at least 10 months for any kind of decision, and perhaps even for a first assessment. A constituent of mine who is undergoing cancer treatment has been told that the eight-week time frame given by DWP is an unrealistic amount of time in which to process an application and offer an assessment slot. When my staff called the MP’s hotline, they were told that they simply cannot process the number of applicants as there is not enough staff. They also say that most people who have applied for PIP will not be entitled to it, even before individual cases have been looked at. If that is the mindset of the staff processing the applications, it is hard to see how balanced decisions will be made.” (My emphasis. MS)
Dr Eilidh Whiteford’s comments during the debate were also very welcome (Columns 450 & 451) and highlighted the vital work of the disability support groups such as the Black Triangle Campaign: “The Government are looking at this through the wrong end of the telescope. Raising the bar on eligibility will not make anyone any less sick or any less disabled; it will just make it more difficult for them to function in society and place more pressure on those on whom they rely for their care and support”…. “One of the most profoundly disheartening experiences for me as an MP since being elected in 2010 has been the relentless way in which disabled and sick people have been vilified and stigmatised in the public discourse about welfare reform. Those who had very little responsibility for the financial collapse and subsequent economic problems have nevertheless had to carry the can. The attempt to discredit disabled people in order to justify harsh and punitive cuts in their already fairly paltry incomes is quite shameful. It appals me that the most disadvantaged have been asked to pick up the tab disproportionately for the profligacy of others. As we look to the future, we see further cuts of £12 billion, at least, promised in the years ahead. For disabled people in Scotland, the choice between two very different futures is opening up before them: one with decisions on welfare made in Scotland or one where further cuts slash their incomes even more. That choice must seem very stark indeed.” (My emphasis. MS)
The very experienced Labour MP, John McDonnell, who requested this Backbench Business debate, actually confirmed the involvement of Unum Insurance with the entirely bogus WCA (Column 426): “The work capability assessment was flawed from the start. It stemmed from the work of the American insurance company Unum, and the so-called biopsychosocial model of disability assessment. That was exposed as an invention by the insurance companies simply to avoid paying out for claims.” … “The staff employed in order to achieve that often had minimal medical or professional qualifications, and their expertise or experience was often totally unrelated to the condition or disability of the people they assessed.”… “Assessments largely disregarded people’s previous diagnosis, prognosis or even life expectancy. The recent Panorama programme Disabled or Faking It? exposed the scandal of seriously ill patients—people diagnosed with life-threatening conditions such as heart failure or endstage emphysema—being found fit for work. The so-called descriptors, or criteria, on which assessments are based bear no relation to the potential employment available, take little account of fluctuating conditions and are particularly unresponsive to appreciating someone’s mental health issues.” John also identified the utter absurdity of this Government, introducing yet another bogus assessment as the Personal Independence Payment (PIP) that will ‘replace’ DLA although it is likely to remove this additional support from the vast majority of the 3.5 million people in receipt of DLA.
Shockingly, the provision of a Motability long leased vehicle, as funded by the mobility component of the DLA, will now be removed from the majority of chronically disabled people who do work; thus actually preventing them from going to their place of work since they are physically unable to use public transport, which will dramatically and knowingly increase the numbers of disabled people not in paid employment. (Column 428) (My emphasis.MS)
No matter how many unnecessary tragedies are reported, or how many people die in utter despair and destitution, Conservative MPs like George Hollingbury will dismiss them all as ‘questionable’ results….and Alan Reid, for the Lib Dems, still actually claims to have had some positive function in a Government that helped sick and disabled people, whilst disregarding the horrors, the deaths, the suicides and the overwhelming evidence; including distinguished academic papers from UK universities, together with detailed reports by both the British Medical Association and the Royal College of Nurses. Reid accepts no responsibility for the nightmare he helped to create, blaming anyone except the Government he belongs to. He needs to read the detailed, referenced research to help him learn what the disability movement already know. As he talks nonsense, people die.
Reid complains about Atos whilst ignoring the fact that the DWP is complicit. Totally unqualified DWP ‘Decision Makers’, under any UK Government, are dangerous as they aren’t qualified; they can’t comprehend diagnosis or prognosis and hence they are a liability and constantly make incorrect decisions. Their decisions to remove benefits from genuine claimants are killing the innocent victims of this UK State tyranny. Their countless wrong decisions mean that people die, encouraged by this enthusiastic and very dangerous UK Government, who sit back and watch as the majority of people blame Atos Healthcare who are simply following the DWP contract by using the bogus Lima computer assessment to conduct the WCA, as required by the DWP. (My emphasis.MS)
Atos Healthcare doesn’t remove anyone’s benefits – a constant incorrect claim by many – as they don’t have the authority. All Atos staff can do is to decide if someone is ‘fit for work’ based on the results of a bogus imported computer assessment. Any other company in the same position would result in the same conclusions as that is how the computer software in designed, which is why the Lima software should be banished and this particular WCA cancelled. (My emphasis.MS)
By definition, DWP ‘Decision Makers’ actually make the decisions about welfare benefits. These totally unqualified administrators are required to consider all additional evidence provided by the claimant; including detailed letters from Consultants and GPs who know their patients very well. It is the incompetence of the unqualified DWP Decision Makers, who fail to comprehend the details of medical information and choose to accept any decision following the WCA, as conducted by Atos Healthcare, that makes these DWP staff so very dangerous to the most vulnerable people in the UK. Mandatory reconsiderations won’t help if the Decision Makers remain unqualified for the job. What better way is there to remove as many people as possible from welfare benefits than to employ totally unqualified staff to make these vital decisions? (My emphasis.MS)
Identified claimant suffering includes dramatic increases in the onset of mental health problems. The General Practice (GP) service is close to collapse due to overwhelming numbers of patients needing support with DWP paperwork, that limits GP time spent with other patients who are ill and the British Medical Association (BMA) and the Royal College of Nurses (RCN) have both exposed the WCA as causing ‘preventable harm’ (as we have already seen). Yet this dangerous UK Government, with a Cabinet full of millionaires who fail to comprehend need, dismisses all other evidence regardless of source. They disregard the obvious fact that the ‘reforms’ are falling disproportionately onto chronically disabled people, and those who are very ill and in need of guaranteed long-term welfare benefits, as the Government sells the UK and transforms a once-great nation into UK plc. (My emphasis.MS)
In a now-infamous 2008 interview, Lord Freud claimed that he ‘couldn’t believe’ that anyone had been awarded a benefit ‘for life’, demonstrating the immense danger of permitting a former investment banker to have control of welfare spending when he fails to comprehend that many health conditions are permanent and do indeed last a lifetime. Meanwhile, the Public Accounts Committee’s report of February 2013 regarding the DWP’s contract management of medical services was unlimited in its criticisms of the DWP: ‘Poor decision-making causes claimants considerable distress, and the position appears to be getting worse, with Citizens Advice reporting an 83 per cent increase in the number of people asking for support on appeals in the last year alone. We found the Department to be unduly complacent about the number of decisions upheld by the tribunal and believe that the Department should ensure that its processes are delivering accurate decision-making and minimizing distress to claimants.‘ (My emphasis. MS)
There were many powerful speeches in the historic WOW petition debate and it isn’t possible to highlight them all. However, one name in particular should be highlighted for the courage to expose the fact that, if a link could be proven, “…there would be a case for corporate manslaughter.” (Column 460) (My emphasis.MS)
I salute Caroline Lucas MP of the Green Party for her courage and, in particular, for her condemnation of the official opposition for their total failure to offer detailed, significant support to this nation’s chronically sick and disabled people, with the new Shadow Secretary for Work and Pensions, Rachel Reeves MP, using her first interview to announce that she ‘…would be tougher on people on benefits’. (My emphasis.MS)
What a catastrophic announcement from the Shadow Secretary for Work and Pensions that, effectively, offers this nation’s most vulnerable people no hope if the Labour Party were to win the next General Election in 2015.
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This statistic – and the basis on which it is worked out – seems very suspicious to us here at Vox Political. That is why this site is appealing for anyone whose benefit cap has been removed because of it to contact us with their story.
Here’s what the DWP is saying: “Over 8,000 households who had their benefits capped have since found jobs, reduced their benefit claim, or had another change of circumstance – with 40 per cent of these finding work.”
Lord Fraud – sorry, Freud… although it seems likely that he is living up to his nickname in this case – said: “It is encouraging to see that people who have been subject to the cap are moving into work, so soon after national implementation was complete.
“Our reforms are creating an alternative to life on benefits and already we are seeing an increasing number of people changing their circumstances so they are no longer subject to the cap.”
Changing their circumstances, are they? An alternative to life on benefits – or just an alternative life on benefits?
Does anybody else recall another situation in which people were advised to change their circumstances to avoid the effect of a government benefit change?
That’s right – this site reported, almost exactly a year ago (February 4, 2013), a BBC 5 Live investigation that interviewed people who “admitted they had been told to claim tax credits as self-employed people, even when they had no feasible job ideas or could not possibly turn a profit. They said they thought it was fraud.”
Let’s look at today’s figures on the Benefit Cap. The report suggests that 3,250 households were no longer subject to the cap – the magic 40 per cent who found work – because they had “an open tax credit claim”.
It would be wrong to suggest that every single one of these households had been urged to pretend self-employment, in order to avoid the cap – and thereby make it seem that the government was getting people into work, just as with the jobseekers last year. Some of them may have started their own business and some may have started working for other people.
But did they really all manage this feat, when there are five jobseekers for every available job?
It isn’t logical, is it?
That’s why Vox Political wants to hear from you if you were told to say you were self-employed, even though you didn’t have a job, in order to evade the Benefit Cap. You won’t be identified in any future article; the aim is to establish what is really going on.
It seems likely that the DWP is committing more benefit fraud than the rest of the country combined.
Vox Political deplores benefit fraud –
especially if it is committed by the government! We try to be self-sufficient. But that means the site needs YOUR help to continue. You can make a one-off donation here:
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