Tag Archives: IDS

People with disabilities: do YOU want IAIN DUNCAN SMITH influencing how government treats you?

Iain Duncan Smith: apparently he isn’t demonstrating what he’d like to do to the throats of disabled people, although that isn’t clear from his record.

Iain Duncan Smith – his very name still triggers hate and fear in people with long-term illnesses and disabilities, in roughly equal measure.

It is now nearly five years since This Writer demonstrated that his Department for Work and Pensions had been responsible for more than 100,000 excess deaths of people claiming sickness and disability benefits.

The deaths had happened after he became Secretary of State and changed the way benefit entitlements were assessed, making it much more difficult for people who deserved them to make a claim.

And he perverted the appeal system into a labyrinthine, Kafka-esque nightmare designed to drive people to despair or starvation before ever seeing a penny.

Now, the right-wing think tank that this vile creature founded – and still chairs – is trying to interfere in the lives of vulnerable people once again.

The shockingly-misnamed Centre for Social Justice has launched what it calls a “Disability Commission” which it hopes will influence the Johnson government’s strategy for dealing with disabled people.

According to Disability News Service:

The commission appears set to focus on the role of business, employment and the free market, with CSJ calling on the government to use the disability strategy to “prove that only a market economy delivers sustainable social justice in a way that enables everyone to realise their potential”.

So it seems the plan is to throw people with disabilities into a free-market nightmare in which any skills they have will be ruthlessly exploited to make cash for the already extremely wealthy, while paying them as little as possible.

(Remember when Lord Freud suggested paying them as little as £2 per hour because they were “not worth the minimum wage”? That is what Tories think of the talents of people with disabilities.)

There appear to be a few names on this “commission” who have spoken out against Tory “reforms” in the past, but these seem to be token placements, intended to lend credibility to the project.

This can only be bad news for people on Personal Independence Payment, Universal Credit and/or Employment and Support Allowance.

Source: Thinktank responsible for universal credit launches ‘Disability Commission’ – Disability News Service

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Coronavirus: Iain Duncan Smith thinks the economy is more important than lives

Iain Duncan Smith’s views on sick people: strange, then, that he wants so many more of us to catch Covid-19 by relaxing the two-metre social distancing rule.

Why did Theresa May give this dimwit a knighthood?

Was it to mess up whoever succeeded her as Tory leader?

If so, it should be working because it is hardly beneficial to Boris Johnson, having the chairman of his leadership campaign demanding that we abandon the social distancing regime that’s keeping us free of Covid-19.

The Tory MP said “we’re the only country certainly in Europe that I know of” that uses the two-metre directive — pointing out that the World Health Organisation recommends people remain only one metre apart.

Suggesting a relaxation of the rule would help many business, Sir Iain told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “We need to get [the economy] moving as quick as possible and I’ve certainly been arguing that for some weeks now.

Earlier this month, the government’s chief scientific adviser Sir Patrick Vallance defended the two metre rule, telling MPs the risk of transmitting the virus at one metre is about 10 to 30 times higher than the risk at two metres.

The former Tory leader said he was also concerned about too much government borrowing in the months ahead. “We can’t run an economy like this — we have to have the economy free,” he said.

“We’re going to have to pick this cost up … it’s the British people that will have to be paying that, and that burden will fall heaviest on those on low incomes.”

What a fool.

Just another Tory who doesn’t understand that the economy won’t ever restart if everybody who actually makes or does anything is too sick – or dead.

Source: Coronavirus: Iain Duncan Smith says government should reconsider two-metre rule to get economy moving | The Independent

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Will you sign NHS doctor’s petition to stop Iain Duncan Smith receiving knighthood?

He laughed: Remember, IDS laughed at the terror he was causing a rape victim by using the Bedroom Tax to make it too expensive for her to keep a ‘panic room’. The man thrives on terrorising others.

I’ll be signing – will you?

It probably won’t do any good – the Tories tend to find a way to ignore any petitions demanding any activity they don’t want to carry out, no matter how many people sign it.

But it will be a great sign of resistance against Boris Johnson and his fake “people’s government”!

A petition has been launched calling for MP Iain Duncan Smith to be stripped off his knighthood.

More than 30,000 people have already signed the petition against the former Secretary of State for Work and Pensions after it was announced that he has been given a knighthood in the New Year Honours list.

The decision to knight the former Conservative minister has sparked fury amongst his opponents, years after he was criticised for laughing during a Bedroom Tax debate and shedding ‘crocodile tears’ online.

The Chingford and Woodford Green MP is known as the ‘architect’ of Universal Credit , the system of benefits which rolls a number of state payments into one, supposedly simplifying the process.

Around 1.9 million people have been left £1,000 worse off a year and many have been forced onto the streets due to lengthy delays before their first payments and punitive sanctions.

The petition, set up by Dr Mona Kamal Ahmed, a NHS psychiatrist … claims Mr Smith was responsible for “some of the cruellest most extreme welfare reforms this country has ever seen”.

It says that under his leadership, the “UK became the first ever country to face a United Nations enquiry into human rights abuses against disabled people” and that the “suffering and impoverishment” seen in the UK today are a “direct result of the welfare reforms he has implemented”.

In her explanation, Dr Ahmed writes that she has frequently witnessed people diagnosed with chronic mental illness in A&E who have been driven to panic attacks as a result of the anxiety caused by these tests and over the prospect of losing the welfare payments they rely on.

The petition is on the Change.org site, here.

Click and sign. It’s easy!

Source: NHS doctor launches petition against Iain Duncan Smith receiving knighthood – Mirror Online

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Two-faced Tory thinks a bag of sugar is enough to earn forgiveness for sending millions into poverty

Outrageous: Iain Duncan Smith – the man considered more responsible for sending people to food banks than any other – contributes a small bag of sugar, the cost of which he’ll probably claim back on expenses, to his local foodbank in a photo opportunity intended to pretend that he cares about the poor people he sent there.

See the image above these words? You’re going to see it a few times in this article because it has absolutely infuriated members of the public.

It shows Iain Duncan Smith – who, as Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, enacted Conservative government policies that sent millions of people to food banks – handing over a small bag of sugar at his local food bank.

This is a man who thought £39 was a reasonable price for breakfast (as long as the public was paying for it via his expenses bill) – but said he could live on £53 a week in benefits.

The stunt has earned him nothing but vilification:

https://twitter.com/BootstrapCook/status/1070574864405270528

It was part of a series of photo opportunities arranged for Conservative MPs across the UK. Smart commentators think they were arranged to win public approval in advance of a possible snap general election campaign in the near future.

… Smarter commentators fabricated their own images to counter the public relations blitz, under the tagline “Tory trophy hunters”.

So here’s Claire Perry, who allegedly bullies people in Westminster and definitely accuses men of misogyny to win arguments:

Here’s their version of the PR photo featuring Dominic Raab, who couldn’t find Dover, let alone the business end of a rifle:

And here’s Ms Perry again, alongside Esther McVey:

If you’re wondering why it’s such a big deal that Conservative MPs have been posing in food banks to boost their image, here’s Jeremy Corbyn:

https://twitter.com/ToryFibs/status/1070299716481634304

The use of food banks in publicity stunts by Tory MPs is not acceptable on any level. By Iain Duncan Smith, it descends to obscenity.

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Full Fact’s ‘fit for work’ coverage is unfit for use as toilet paper

falsefacts

Here’s a slimy little article for you: Sam Ashworth-Hayes’ piece on the benefit deaths at Full Fact.

The fact-checking website set him to respond to reporting of the DWP’s statistical release on incapacity benefit-related deaths, and he’s done a proper little cover-up job.

“It was widely reported that thousands of people died within weeks of being found ‘fit for work’ and losing their benefits,” he scribbled.

“This is wrong.

“Within weeks of ending a claim, not within weeks of an assessment.”

Not true – unless Sam is saying the DWP has failed to answer my Freedom of Information request properly.

If Sam had bothered to check the FoI request to which the DWP was responding, he would have seen that it demanded the number of ESA claimants who had died since November 2011, broken down into categories including those who had been found fit for work and those who had had an appeal completed after a ‘fit for work’ decision.

The date the claim ended is irrelevant; the fact that they were found fit for work and then died is the important part.

If the DWP finds someone fit for work, then it ends the claim anyway, you see. Obviously.

But Sam continues: “If someone is found fit for work, they can appeal the decision, and continue to receive ESA during the appeal process. There is no way of telling how long after the start of the appeal process those claims ended.”

Not true.

The statistical release covers those who had had such an appeal completed and then died – 1,360 of them. The release does not state that they should be considered separately from those who had a fit for work decision, meaning that this is one of several areas in which the release is not clear. In order to err on the side of caution, This Writer has chosen not to add them to the 2,650 total of those found fit for work. Any who were still deemed to be fit for work after their appeal ended, I have deemed to be among the 2,650.

The release most emphatically does not mention those who had appealed against a fit for work decision, but the appeal was continuing when they died, as Sam implies. The DWP asked me to alter my request to exclude them, and I agreed to do so. Therefore Sam’s claim is false. Nobody included in these figures died mid-appeal. Some died after being found fit for work again. Some died after winning their appeal and while they were continuing to receive their benefit – but they do not skew the figures because they aren’t added onto the number we already had (we don’t know how many of them succeeded because the DWP has chosen to follow the letter of the FoI request and has not provided that information). The outcome of the appeal is, therefore, irrelevant.

The point is, the decision that they were fit for work was wrong, because they died.

Let’s move on. Under a section entitled Mortality rates matter, Sam burbles:

“If 2,380 people were found fit for work from late 2011 to early 2014, and all 2,380 subsequently died in the process of challenging that decision, that would indicate that something was almost certainly going wrong in the assessment process.”

2,380? He means 2,650! For a person supposedly checking the facts, this was an elemental mistake to make.

“But if 2 million people were found to be fit for work, there would be less concern that the assessment process was going wrong; one in 1,000 dying could just be the result of the ‘normal’ level of accident, misfortune and sudden illness.

“If we want to know if people found fit for work are more likely to die than the general population, then age-standardised mortality rates would let us make that comparison while adjusting for differences in age and gender.

“Unfortunately, the DWP has not published an age-standardised mortality rate for those found ‘fit for work’.”

Fortunately, This Writer has been directed to a site whose author has attempted just that. This person states that the problem is that we don’t know how many people were found fit for work in total – only that there were 742,000 such decisions during the period in question. This would suggest that the number of people dying within the two-week period used by the DWP is 0.35 per cent of the total. We know that there were 74,600 deaths among the general working-age population in 2013 – a population totalling around 39 million – meaning the chance of dying within any two-week period was 0.007 per cent. So, using these crude figures, the probability of an incapacity benefits claimant dying after being found fit for work is no less than 50 times higher than for the working-age population as a whole, and probably much higher.

So sure, if Sam thinks mortality rates matter, let him look at that.

His article isn’t fit to be toilet paper, though.

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Known number of deaths while claiming incapacity benefits nears 100,000

[Picture: Skwawkbox blog]

[Picture: Skwawkbox blog]

The Department for Work and Pensions has admitted defeat in its attempt to hide the number of people who have died while claiming incapacity benefits since November 2011 – and has announced that the number who died between January that year and February 2014 is a shocking 91,740.

This represents an increase to an average of 99 deaths per day or 692 per week, between the start of December 2011 and the end of February 2014 – compared with 32 deaths per day/222 per week between January and November 2011.

The DWP has strenuously asserted that “any causal effect between benefits and mortality cannot be assumed from these statistics”.

It is correct to make this point.

The DWP has also claimed that “these isolated figures provide limited scope for analysis and nothing can be gained from this publication that would allow the reader to form any judgement as to the effects or impacts of the Work Capability Assessment”.

However, the increase in the frequency of these deaths is enough to raise questions about the way the incapacity benefit system is being run – questions that demand full, frank and immediate answers.

For example, the work-related activity group is composed entirely of people who are expected to recover from their illnesses and be well enough to return to work within a year. In that group, there should be no deaths at all – barring accidents. Why have nearly 10,000 people lost their lives after being assigned there?

Deaths in the support group and the assessment phase are more problematic because they involve people who do have serious illnesses, many of whom may be expected to die while claiming. But are these deaths being hastened artificially by the DWP’s treatment of them?

A statistical release published today (August 27) in response to my Freedom of Information request dating back to May 28, 2014, states that the total number of deaths involving claimants of Incapacity Benefit, Employment and Support Allowance and Severe Disablement Allowance – between the start of December 2011 and the end of February 2014 is 81,140, including 50,580 (ESA claimants) and 30,560 (IB/SDA claimants). All figures are rounded up to the nearest 10.

Add this to the 10,600 deaths that were already known between January and November 2011 and you have 91,740.

Information for ESA claimants shows:

  • 7,540 deaths while claims were being assessed, bringing the known total to 9,740.
  • 7,200 deaths in the work-related activity group, bringing the known total to 8,500.
  • 32,530 deaths in the support group, bringing the known total to 39,630.
  • And 3,320 deaths in which the claimant was not in receipt of any benefit payment and is therefore marked as “unknown”.

The total number of claimants who flowed off ESA, IB or SDA whose date of death was at the same time and of those the number with a WCA decision of “fit for work”, between December 2011 to February 2014 was 2,650 (2,380 ESA, 270 IB/SDA).

And the total number of individuals who flowed off ESA, IB or SDA whose date of death was at the same time with a completed appeal following a WCA decision of “fit for work”, Great Britain: December 2011 to February 2014 was 1,360 (1,340 ESA, 20 IB/SDA).

The new numbers suggest the average number of deaths per day between January 2011 and February 2014 was around 79.5 – 556 per week.

This compares with an average between January and November 2011 of around 32 per day – 222 per week.

This Writer has not yet examined the DWP’s accompanying statistical release – providing the fudged Age-Standardised Mortality Rates between 2003 and 2014. The information in this one states that mortality dropped from 1,111 deaths per 100,000 (across all three benefits) to 1,032.

But claims for Incapacity Benefit (ESA didn’t exist at the time) were at an all-time high in 2003 – of nearly three million throughout the year. The numbers claiming this kind of benefit have both fallen and risen since then.

So what are we to conclude?

Firstly, the figures released today demand more considered, in-depth study than can be managed by This Writer within an hour or so of their release.

Second, that the DWP should drop its appeal against publishing them (for obvious reasons).

Third, that the Age-Standardised Mortality Rates give a false picture of the number of deaths – as predicted on this blog.

Finally, that serious questions must now be asked about the way incapacity benefits are being administered by the Department for Work and Pensions under Iain Duncan Smith.

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Sanction threat to health: Duncan Smith replies with lies

150222IDSliemoney

Iain Duncan Smith has responded to the concerns of fellow Catholics over the harmful effects of benefit sanctions on health – by lying to them.

Earlier this year, Catholic magazine The Tablet published an open letter from fellow Catholics to the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, urging him to rethink his welfare reforms, and warning that vulnerable people will be harmed by cuts.

Now the man we call the Gentleman Ranker, in tribute to his failure as an Army officer, has responded with a letter published in the current edition. Thanks to Samuel Miller for bringing the matter to This Blog’s attention.

In it, he claims that “safeguarding the vulnerable” is at the heart of the Conservative Government’s changes to the benefit system, and goes on to say, “Let me be clear that there is no evidence to suggest that sanctions have caused claimants’ health to deteriorate.”

Oh, really?

Take a look at this excerpt from the Department for Work and Pensions’ own guidance on the effect of benefit sanctions:

150121dmg-sanctions

Note that it does not say anything about there being no evidence that claimants’ health will decline – it automatically assumes that this will happen.

“It would be usual for a normal healthy adult to suffer some deterioration in their health,” according to the DWP’s official guidance.

It goes on to say that, in the case of claimants with a medical condition, a DWP decision maker (DM) must decide whether they would suffer a “greater” decline in health than a “normal healthy adult”.

Yet again, Iain Duncan Smith is revealed to be a liar and, more importantly, a man who would deceive the public in order to continue inflicting harm on his fellow human beings.

Is this a Catholic attitude?

Is it a Christian point of view?

Remember, Iain Duncan Smith lied to Parliament recently, when he claimed that statistics on the deaths of incapacity benefit and Employment and Support Allowance claimants are not collected by the Department for Work and Pensions. Not only are they collected, they are being prepared for release to the public.

The data has been delayed for several years, however – because he wants it released in a form that will not reveal what is suspected to be a horrifying amount of blood on his own hands.

The claims in the rest of the letter pale into irrelevance next to these facts.

How can anyone trust the claims of a habitual liar?

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Mock indignation from IDS won’t halt the uproar over benefit-related deaths

The latest DWP-related death (to be reported in the newspapers): David O'Mar had collected thousands of football kits, to be given to children in Eastern Europe, before he succumbed to pneumonia after a tribunal said he was fit for work - while he was lying in a hospital bed.

The latest DWP-related death (to be reported in the newspapers): David O’Mar had collected thousands of football kits, to be given to children in Eastern Europe, before he succumbed to pneumonia after a tribunal said he was fit for work – while he was lying in a hospital bed.

The Conservative Government’s stalling tactics when confronted with questions about benefit-related deaths have at last tarnished the image of Prime Minister David Cameron, along with his ministers at the Department for Work and Pensions.

When Debbie Abrahams, a Labour MP whose own image is refreshingly glowing after she stood up for her principles and voted against the Tory ‘Welfare’ Bill last night, asked an Urgent Question of him in the House of Commons yesterday (Tuesday), Cameron was nowhere to be found, having run like a jackrabbit and left others to face the grilling.

His Work and Pensions Secretary, Iain Duncan Smith, was present – but refused to respond, despite this being an issue of serious concern to the public.

Instead, he sent his minister for employment, Priti Patel, to the Dispatch Box and confined himself to muttered comments from the sidelines. At one point he could be heard very clearly, whining, “Don’t lecture us about it.”

It was a public relations disaster – and on the very last day before the summer recess, meaning people will remember it.

Ms Abrahams asked the Prime Minister to make a statement on his commitment of June 24, to publish DWP data on the number of people in receipt of Employment and Support Allowance and Incapacity Benefit who have died since November 2011, including those found fit for work – to honour This Writer’s Freedom of Information request on the subject, and answer more than 240,000 petitioners who have supported it.

“I am disappointed that the Prime Minister is not here in person to explain why he has not yet honoured his commitment,” she said.

“When will we see the data published?” she asked of Ms Patel. “When are they being prepared for publication?”

“Will the Minister commit to publishing the actual numbers of deaths?”

She also asked how much the DWP had spent on staff and legal fees in the decision to refuse my FoI request – and now to contest the Information Commissioner’s ruling that my question should be answered.

She called on Duncan Smith to reconsider his decision not to publish the details on any of the DWP’s 49 peer reviews into social security claimants who died, including – importantly – changes brought forward by the department as a result of them.

Finally, she asked what assessment has been undertaken of the potential impact on the health status of those on Incapacity Benefit or Employment and Support Allowance, given the measures introduced in the Welfare Reform and Work Bill.

Ms Patel repeated the platitudes we have heard already – that the information will be published “but before doing so the statistics need to meet the high standards expected”.

She added: “We will publish all aspects of the data that we have been asked to publish.”

Rest assured that this writer will hold her – and the Conservative Government – to that!

She did not say anything about the cost of refusing and appealing against my FoI request, about the 49 peer reviews, or about assessments of the health status of those on IB or ESA – despite being challenged several times by different MPs on the first of these issues in particular.

The tone of Ms Patel’s responses left so much to be desire that it attracted particular comment from – among others – the Father of the House, Gerald Kaufman.

In a room where emotions were already running high, due to the nature of the issue being discussed, she began by demanding: “Would Labour Members like to listen to my response before they start chuntering away?”

Her response was immediately branded “arrogant” by Mr Kaufman and a later claim that the Conservative-led Coalition was the first government to publish statistics on benefit-related deaths was labelled “misleading” by Labour MP Dawn Butler.

It is as though the government deliberately set out to cause upset, as Parliament dissolved for its summer recess.

For the record, the last-published statistics on benefit-related deaths were released in July 2012 and conveyed figures for the period January-November 2011, in which 10,600 ESA claimants died. That’s around one every two or three hours.

As Labour’s Kate Green pointed out: “There is huge disquiet among disabled people, as story after story surfaces in the media about disabled people being found fit for work and dying shortly afterwards—last week another story appeared in the Daily Mirror about a disabled man who died two weeks after his assessment.

“The shenanigans in the DWP around the release of the statistics are concerning—and puzzling, if the Department has nothing to hide.”

Mr Kaufman put Ms Patel right in her place when he said: “I say to the junior Minister that she needs to take some lessons from her boss in dealing with questions in this House, because whatever the nature of his replies, he replies with courtesy. She needs to learn about that as well.”

He had already cast doubt on the honesty of the Conservative Government as a whole, remarking witheringly: “I wish my hon. Friend (Debbie Abrahams) every good fortune in awaiting a reply to a letter to the Prime Minister, in view of the fact that in the last five years I have had exactly one letter from him, and that was after I had received a letter from No. 10 signed by somebody who did not exist.”

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Are ratios the evasive politician’s new favourite tool?

You may be aware that This Writer made his writing debut in the national news media today (June 25), discussing the struggle to get the DWP to update its statistics on the number of people who have died while claiming incapacity benefits.

It was appropriate that this should happen today, because it is the second anniversary of the launch of my first Freedom of Information request on the subject – you know, the vexatious one.

The article that appeared was, in fact, the second piece I sent in to The Independent. The first was considered – rightly – to be a little too involved for the casual reader, so I pulled back a little and wrote a new version.

Here’s what I originally wrote:

IBelieve-IDS

If percentages are the evasive politician’s favourite tool, what does this make ratios?

Ministers love to use percentages if the numbers don’t add up too well – but the Department for Work and Pensions has introduced an entirely new level of evasion.

In response to my Freedom of Information request for an updated number of deaths among sickness-related benefit claimants, the DWP has said it wants to publish the details as ‘Age-Standardised Mortality Rates’ (ASMRs) – as a ratio compared with the population as a whole.

Apparently the DWP has been working on this for no less than two years – it was first mentioned in a refusal to honour a similar request in 2013.
At the time, we were told: “We can confirm that we do intend to publish further statistics on this topic and these will answer a majority of your questions. As the statistics are intended for future publication this information is exempt from disclosure.”

Not according to the Information Commissioner!

His guidance states that any details withheld by a public authority must either have a planned publication date or a deadline for publication. Alternatively, if an information-gathering exercise is under way or there are related matters, publication may be delayed.

None of those conditions apply. I have an email from the DWP, stating that the Department has most of the requested information and could publish it within cost limits.

When I appealed against the DWP, the Information Commissioner supported me. But the DWP is taking the matter to a tribunal because it insists on holding back the information – until it can be fudged in the form of ASMRs.

That is not what I wanted when I made my latest FoI request in May 2014 – nor is it wanted by more than 225,000 people who have signed a petition in support of my request.

We want to know how many people have died, to compare with what we were told in a DWP release from July 2012 stating that, between January and November 2011, 10,600 ESA claimants had lost their lives.

Work and Pensions secretary Iain Duncan Smith has labelled this demand “disgraceful”.

Challenged about his refusal to publish the figures by Labour MP Marie Rimmer on Monday, he said, “Opposition Members deliberately try to misrepresent what happens… I find it disgraceful that she is going round making such allegations.”

He added, “The Department does not collate numbers on people in that circumstance” – a lie. Labour’s Debbie Abrahams raised a point of order about it on Wednesday and the DWP has yet to respond.

It seems clear that any “disgraceful” behaviour is being carried out by Iain Duncan Smith and his department.

These are time-sensitive figures; they should be published regularly, so that policies may be modified – particularly if many people are dying. This means figures need to be published in a way that makes them easily comparable – which is exactly what Iain Duncan Smith is trying to avoid.

And how does the DWP justify its bid to fudge the figures? “Taken in isolation, the statistics… were likely to be misinterpreted. Specifically, incorrect conclusions were likely to be drawn as to causal links between assessment outcomes and mortality.”

Perhaps the DWP’s £49,000+ per year lawyer failed to notice that Freedom of Information requests are “motive-blind” – it does not matter why I or anyone else want the information, or why DWP representatives think we want it; all that matters is whether the DWP has it and can publish it within cost limits.

It does, and it can.

Let’s have it.

Follow me on Twitter: @MidWalesMike

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‘Dear Chingford’: An open letter about Iain Duncan Smith

Smug: Iain Duncan Smith thinks his Parliamentary seat is safe. Can YOU help to wipe that grin off his face?

Smug: Iain Duncan Smith thinks his Parliamentary seat is safe. Can YOU help to wipe that grin off his face?

Here’s a little gem that Vox Political has been saving up since last December – an ‘open’ letter to the people of Chingford and Woodford Green about Iain Duncan Smith, from a person affected by his policies. It runs as follows [boldings mine]:

“Hello. You don’t know me, but I’m 40 years old, male, disabled and live outside of London, and recently employed. That’s all that matters really.
I’ve been employed on and off over the past four years. I’ve spent most of that time though under the system at the Department for Work and Pensions. It’s hell, it’s dehumanizing and it’s heart-breaking.

“I struggled my way to this job… but I’m here now. Unfortunately, that’s not an option for everyone. Some people can’t work, not that the Department for Work and Pensions cares. Under Iain Duncan Smith – your MP – people have died. I have read stories that should break your heart, if you have one.

“You do have a heart, don’t you? Good. Here’s what someone with a heart would do: Rid this country of Iain Duncan Smith.

“Seriously. Go and vote. You should be doing that anyway. But this time, I beg you, plead with you, not to vote Conservative. On behalf of everyone who dreads facing another five years of this man deciding whether we can heat our houses or feed ourselves every winter. For the old lady I read about today who can’t even afford a mince pie.

“Because it might be your mum next year. We’re all just a few meals away, a road accident, a terrorist attack or a heart attack, from really needing other people.”

Chingford and Woodford Green is a Conservative Party ‘safe seat’. Iain Duncan Smith won it in 2010 by a majority of more than 12,000. If he is to be unseated, it means thousands of people will have to vote for somebody else instead – or simply refuse to vote in this election.

Conservative mentality suggests that this is unlikely. Party supporters tend to do exactly as they are told and turn out to vote come hell or high water. But this year’s election is unusual – all the pundits are saying so, and we know that many people are influenced by what they get from the media, so it might just become true.

And, let’s be honest, removing Iain Duncan Smith from Parliament would be a net gain for the prosperity of the United Kingdom.

Bearing in mind the statistical likelihood that Chingford’s voters continue to act against all reason and return that candidate to Parliament, the only hope is that voters elsewhere refuse to support the Conservative candidates in their own constituencies.

Remember: It doesn’t matter if your Tory seems nice, or capable, or reasonable, or safe – a vote for any Conservative is a vote to put Iain Duncan Smith back in charge of benefit-related genocide. Yes, it may be described in those terms. Why else would the DWP hide the number of benefit-related deaths, if that number isn’t shockingly high?

Enough is enough. Let’s put the prosperity of the nation before our own selfish, sectional interests and do something genuinely good at this election.

Alternatively, as the “open” letter asks, will you let him take your mum next year?

Follow me on Twitter: @MidWalesMike

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