The last two anti-Iain Duncan Smith posts have been leading towards this – a call to action by Jayne Linney. It appears on her blog but hopefully she won’t mind that you can read it in full here. It’s worth it. She writes:
After yet another series of posts demonstrating how IDS and the DWP are continuing to lie about the impact of Welfare Reform on disabled people; I decided it was time to take action, and along with Debbie Sayers, we’ve started another petition.
This time we are demanding – KATHRYN HUDSON PARLIAMENTARY COMMISSIONER FOR STANDARDS to
Use the full Powers of the Commission and investigate Iain Duncan Smith Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, for his regular use of untruths and the persistent deception misleading of The House of Commons, Select Committees and the Media.
The Commissioner is responsible for investigating complaints about MPs who have allegedly breached the Code of Conduct or related Rules and we believe IDS has breached at least TWO of the Principles. Most of these principles are concerned with finance and expenses but, we argue IDS persistent use of distorted statistics, causes a breach of Accountabilityand Honesty; this is especially the case asThe Government in their response to the Work & Pensions and the Public Administrations Select Committees, agree that “Government statistics should be presented in a way that is fair, accurate and “unspun” .
” Iain Duncan Smith continues to ignore his Government and persists in misusing statistics, and it is for these reasons we believe it is time for the Powers of the Commissioner for standards to be exercised, and for Iain Duncan Smith to be independently and openly investigated for breach of Conduct”
If YOU agree that it is time for IDS to be made to pay for this ongoing assault on disabled people, please SIGN, SHARE, BLOG, & TWEET about this Campaign –
This is my first official post for Deaeper, the blog site for DEAEP (Disability Enabling And Empowerment Project), writes Jayne Linney in her blog.
Wearing my professional hat, I wanted to share my experience of working with 3 other disabled people, collectively utilising our skills and experience to become financially viably self employed. The following has been adapted from a letter I sent to Kate Green MP in response to Labour’s plan to turn around £8 billion overspend on disability benefits, and the suggestions at the end are specifically aimed at Government.
You can read the bulk of the article on Jayne’s site. Here are her suggestions:
We believe the following would make a huge difference:
A loosening of the earning on benefits regulations would allow people to continue receiving ESA/JSA until such time they become financially independent
Access for small companies to government grants/contracts which offer direct provision to disabled people
A government funded grant programme enabling disabled people develop the confidence and self awareness to allow them access further opportunities
Changes to access to FE opportunities specifically aimed at disabled adults thus removing the current barriers
This is a précis of our experience to date and I would welcome positive feedback and comments from others on this post.
Any comments sent to this blog will be passed on to Jayne.
We’re spoilt for choice with this subject – so many people have commented on it. Here’s Jayne Linney‘s contribution, as hers was the first to reach Vox Towers:
I am totally unsurprised, albeit perturbed, that the Chancellor of the Exchequer and Second Lord of the Treasury George Osborne, has demonstrated his total lack of understanding of the Welfare Reform Act. In his Conference speech he announced ‘working-age benefits will be frozen for two years after 2015′ with an added proviso that “the elderly and the disabled will be protected”.
He then confirmed Cameron’s statement of yesterday, of a £3,000 reduction in the Benefits Cap; and this is where confusion arises. Despite his promise of protection for disabled people, individuals in receipt of the work-related activity component of ESA will be included in the cap. Clearly Osborne has failed to notice that many disabled people are in receipt of precisely this benefit; and frequently these are the same people awaiting mandatory reconsiderations and/or Tribunals.
For more of her observations on this, please read the rest of the article on Jayne’s site.
Jayne Linney writes: Further to my post earlier this week, today another example of the most seriously ill disabled people being told they must attend work focussed interviews or else be sanctioned; never mind this is in direct conflict with the DWP’s own guidance which states :
If you have a condition that severely limits what you can do, you’ll be in the support group. You’ll not be expected to look for work and we won’t expect you to take place in any work-focussed interviews”.
How the DWP are going to spin this is yet to been seen; what I do know is this is yet another time this unelected Government has deliberately broken it’s own rules and then lied about it!
This ongoing discrimination against disabled people is totally unacceptable and I can only hope people say ENOUGH
It is Time to Join the Truth Campaign and Sign the Petition to STOP The SPIN.
Blogger Jayne Linney has published an account of what happened when new Personal Independence Payment (PIP) assessor Capita telephoned to tell her a representative wanted to call at her home to carry out an assessment… just 90 minutes from the time of the call.
You can read her story on her own blog site, but her advice for others is well worth repeating here:
“It appears it is not uncommon for Capita to turn up on your doorstep without warning, to carry out a PIP assessment.
“If this happens to you or someone you know, I suggest you do as we have, refuse to let them in and insist they follow their procedure which states:
“You will receive a letter with an appointment for a face to face consultation or member of our booking team may contact you by phone to arrange this with you. (their emphasis)
“I was hoping Capita weren’t going to be another ATOS but…it seems the games are under way!”
Esther McVey: Has never taken a test to discover if she is “bewildered” – but should.
The articles debunking myths about the Labour Party, published on Friday and yesterday (Saturday), have stirred up the Tory-supporting trolls into a frenzy of misinformation and the Vox Political blog, Facebook page and Twitter feed have all been straining under the weight. For this reason, the blog has not had a chance to address the latest evil plot to scapegoat the unemployed for their own joblessness while funnelling cash to undeserving private firms like there’s no tomorrow.
Fortunately, here’s Jayne Linney with her take on the government’s new psychological test to discover benefit claimants’ resistance to work.
She writes: “Last December Sue Jones and I wrote an article, The Just World Fallacy, considering the purpose of the Governments Nudge Unit; therein we demonstrated how unemployment is not caused by psychological barriers but by Government’s failure to invest in appropriate growth projects, and how the aforementioned Nudge Unit works to spread the Tory mantra- the fault of worklessness lies firmly with the claimant.
“Yesterday Esther McVey announced the latest ‘ psychological test’ for unemployed people, an attitude profile of their ‘psychological resistance to work’; an assessment to identify if they are “determined”, “bewildered” or “despondent” about seeking employment.
So no conflict of interest there, then! </sarcasm>
“Claimants in three unidentified Jobcentres are currently being interviewed to assess their attitudes, norms and self belief regarding work; this along with a ‘background profile’, reported to determine if they come from a ‘troubled family’, the likely support of any partner in looking for work and their job history; will decide the ‘segment they are directed to.
“Having undertaken the assessment, it appears claimants will directed into one of the WorkFare programmes, or for those being deemed less ‘mentally prepared” for work, they’ll become subject to intensive coaching, most likely to be claimants physically spending 35 hours a week in the Jobcentre learning how to write cover letters and sit interviews!”
For the rest of the article, you’ll have to nip over to Jayne’s own blog, but her conclusion hits the nail right on the head:
“I believe it is Time this Government STOPPED playing games with the public purse, STOPPED developing programmes of no public benefit and STOPPED LYING to the People – What do you think?”
“I’ve argued for many years that far too much money given to these agencies, fails to reach the people the organisations purport to aid,” she writes. “I’ve even disappointed my 84 year old mum, who readers know I adore, when I refuse to buy the raffle tickets she receives twice a year, regular as clockwork, from several of these orgs. For me the Top ‘Charities’ no longer qualify as such, and it’s time for the Charities Commission to do its job and remove this status, lets call them what they are Big Businesses.
“I worked in the voluntary sector for many years, providing a real service to local people. Such projects are run by regular people, who find themselves forced to battle with these multi-million pound companies, in their efforts to raise less money than Stroke pay for fund-raising to keep their service going. I do not believe this is Right and I’m not convinced people who donate hard earned money, expect it to go to the same company who then hassle them by calling them at home with a Hard Sell?”
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.
Taking sides: Some of the demonstrators at Newtown, Powys. [Image: Mike Sivier]
Were you one of the many, many people – both able-bodied and with disabilities – who gathered outside Atos assessment centres yesterday to demand an end to the system that continues to cause the deaths of thousands of innocent people every day?
I attended one of the 144 locations used by Atos to carry out the discredited work capability assessments – in Newtown, Powys – where I was just another face in the crowd that had gathered to remind the public of the atrocity being carried out with their tax money.
The Newtown campaign was undoubtedly small in comparison to others around the country, with a maximum of 15 protesters at its height, but the public response was excellent. The assessment centre is next to a major traffic junction, meaning there were plenty of opportunities to talk to motorists while they waited for the lights to change.
The overwhelming majority of them were enthusiastically supportive.
Also supportive were the local police. We were lucky enough to have two beat officers – I think their names were Graham and Geraldine – checking in on us at regular intervals to ensure that we were not harassed or abused.
I understand that this was not the case nationally – in London, according to the Atos National Demo Facebook page, “150 Police including riot Police were … waiting for 80 disabled demonstrators”.
Elsewhere, people took creative action to raise awareness. Beastrabban’s blog tells of a rosette laid for the victims of Atos and the government’s benefit ‘reforms’ in Derby. He writes: “In the centre of the rosette is a form of the dedication to the dead read out annually for the victims of the First and Second World Wars at the Cenotaph, adapted for these new victims of government indifference and cruelty:
“‘Atos shall not weary them, nor IDS condemn. At the going down of the sun, we shall remember them.’
“Each of the ribbons surrounding this dedication has the name of one Atos’ victims.”
If you want to see the rosette, visit the blog; there is a link to the image.
In Leicester, Jayne Linney was up at 5am, taking her medication, in order to be coherent for a local radio interview at 8am, with time to recover before attending her local demo with around 50 other people.
This featured a programme lasting more than two hours, with speakers, poets and singers – captured by local homeless project Down Not Out and featured in the local press. Further information is on her blog.
But not all experiences were positive. Look at this:
This sign was found outside the Atos office in Weston-Super-Mare. I believe the person in the photograph was among those who found it, not those who made it – so please don’t direct any harsh comments at her.
This sign is what greeted demonstrators in Weston-Super-Mare when they arrived at the Atos office there. Clearly this office contains some very hard-line supporters of government policy, whose attitude demonstrates the blinkered, small-minded, fantasy-world attitude that allows policies like the Atos assessment regime to exist in a supposedly advanced country like ours.
For information: Not everybody attending the Atos day of action was on incapacity or disability benefits. Many were people of excellent health who came along because they are thinking people who have realised how hugely damaging the Atos assessments are, or who have friends and relatives who have been victimised by the system, and wanted to voice their opposition.
A similarly large proportion of those taking part – both able-bodied and with illnesses or disabilities – had jobs. They took time off to join the demonstrations because they believe it is wrong to victimise those who are least able to fight back; that it is wrong to bully them into an early grave.
I cannot speak for any of the other events but at Newtown, three-fifths of those present were able-bodied, including myself.
Long-term readers of this blog will be well aware that Mrs Mike has been at the receiving end of Atos – and DWP – mistreatment for years. That is why I am vocal in my opposition to Atos and the government policies that support its assessment regime.
Was the day of action a success? Yes and no.
Undoubtedly the impact on the general public has been huge. Many, many people have been made aware that people are being pushed to their deaths by government policy, and many more will become aware of it over the next few days, as media reports go out in the local press (for example, I’m expecting a report in a Powys paper today).
The task now is to remind people on the street of this fact – as often as is necessary to cement in the knowledge that a vote for the Conservatives or the Liberal Democrats is a betrayal of the most vulnerable people in the UK today.
After all, what kind of psychopath wants their vote to condemn an innocent person to destitution – and possibly even death?
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Several months ago this blog accused Iain Duncan Smith of being a liar and a coward because, not only had he fabricated statistics on the number of people leaving benefits because of his new benefit cap, but he had also weaseled his way out of an appearance before the Commons Work and Pensions Committee to account for this behaviour.
The very next day, we had to apologise (to readers) and publish a correction saying that the man we call ‘Returned To Unit’ would be attending a follow-up meeting in September, at which the 100,000-signature petition calling him to account for the benefit cap lies, organised by Jayne Linney and Debbie Sayers, would also be presented to MPs.
Apparently the meeting was being timed to coincide with publication of the DWP’s annual report for 2012-13.
Now it is November, and we have still had no meeting with RTU. Nor have we seen the annual report, which is now almost eight months late. Meanwhile the calamities at the DWP have been mounting up.
The latest appears in a Guardian report published yesterday, about the ongoing disaster that is Universal Credit. You may remember, Dear Reader, that the Department for Work and Pensions has admitted it had to write off £34 million that had been spent on the scheme; it subsequently emerged that the total amount to be written off might actually be as high as £161 million.
The Guardian article appears to confirm this, adding £120 million to the £34 already written off if the DWP follows one of two possible plans to take the nightmarish scheme forward.
The other plan would attempt to salvage the existing system, and is understood to be favoured by the Secretary-in-a-State. The drawback is that it could lead to an even greater waste of taxpayers’ money (not that this has ever been a consideration for Mr… Smith in the past. He’ll waste millions like water while depriving people of the pennies they need to survive).
Universal Credit aims to merge six major benefits and tax credits into one, restricting eligibility for the new benefit in order to cut down on payouts. It relies on the government creating a computer programme that can synchronise systems run by HM Revenue and Customs, the DWP itself, and employers. So far, this has proved impossible and a planned rollout in April was restricted to just one Job Centre, where staff handled only the simplest claims and worked them out on paper. Later revelations showed that the system as currently devised has no way of weeding out fraudulent claims.
A leaked risk assessment says the web-based scheme is “unproven… at this scale”, and that it would not be possible to roll out the new system “within the preferred timescale”. Smith has continually maintained that it will be delivered on time and on budget but, as concerns continue to be raised by senior civil servants that systems are not working as expected and there are too many design flaws, it seems likely this is a career-ending claim.
Is this why he hasn’t deigned to account for himself before the Work and Pensions Committee?
Is this why he hasn’t deigned to account for himself before the committee?
We have yet to learn why this man felt justified in claiming 8,000 – and then 12,000 – people had left benefits because of the £26,000 cap he introduced in April (he claimed it is equal to average family income but in fact it is £5,000 and change short of that amount as he failed to consider benefits that such families could draw). Information from polling company Ipsos Mori showed that the real number of people who had dropped their claims after hearing of the scheme was more likely to be 450 – just nine per cent of the figure he originally quoted.
Is this why he hasn’t put a meeting with the committee in his diary?
Perhaps we should not be surprised, though – it seems that RTU has never had a decent grip on the way his department works. For example, he allowed George Osborne to cancel Disability Living Allowance for one-fifth of claimants in 2010, claiming that the benefit had been “spiralling” out of control because it had 3.1 million claimants – triple the number since it was introduced in 1992. Smith said the rise was “inexplicable” but in fact the explanation is simplicity itself, as The Guardian‘s Polly Toynbee pointed out just two days ago:
“DLA is only paid to those of working age, but when they retire they keep it, so as more people since 1992 move into retirement, numbers rise fast. There has been no change in numbers with physical conditions, despite a larger population; back injuries have declined with the decline of heavy industry. There has been a real growth in numbers with learning disabilities: more premature babies survive but with disabilities, while those with Down’s syndrome no longer die young. More people with mental illness claim DLA now, following changes in case law: there has been no increase in mental illness, with 7% of the population seriously ill enough to be receiving treatment, yet only 1% claim DLA. Psychosis is the commonest DLA diagnosis, hardly a trivial condition. This pattern of disability mirrors the rest of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development countries, with nothing exceptional here.”
In other words, from the moment he took over this hugely important government department, with its huge – and controversial – budget, Iain Duncan Smith had about as much understanding of its workings as a child.
It seems Sir John Major was exactly right when he expressed fears about the DWP Secretary’s ability last week, claiming his genius “has not been proven”.
Is this why we’ve seen neither hide nor … head of the Secretary of State?
Finally, Dear Reader, you will be aware that Vox Political submitted a Freedom of Information request to the DWP, asking for up-to-date statistics on the number of Employment and Support Allowance claimants who have died during a claim or while appealing against a decision about a claim – and that the request was dismissed on the indefensible grounds that it was “vexatious”. This was not good enough so the matter went to the Information Commissioner’s office and, according to an email received this week, will soon be brought to a conclusion.
Is this why Iain Duncan Smith is hiding?
Perhaps it’s time to drag him out of his bolt-hole and force some answers out of him.
Jayne (Linney), in her blog, has called on people who use Twitter to start tweeting demands for Smith to come forward, using the hashtags #whereisIDS and #DWPLateReview. This is good, and those of you who do so are welcome to use any of the information in this article as ammunition in such a campaign.
There is nothing to stop anyone writing to the press – local or national – to ask what is going on and why benefit claimants are being left in suspense about the future of their claims. People have to work out how they will pay their bills, and the continued uncertainty caused by Mr… Smith’s catalogue of calamities is causing problems up and down the country.
A short message to your MP might help stir the Secretary of State out of his slumber, also.
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