Distortion With Prejudice: Will we ever get FACTS from the Department for Work and Pensions – or just more spin and spiel?
It seems the answer to the above question is “yes”.
Readers may recall that Mrs Mike received a letter from the Department for Work and Pensions’ ‘compliance unit’ at the end of last month, announcing that our home would be invaded by a ‘compliance officer’ on December 3.
Particularly disturbing was the following passage:
“What will happen if we do not hear from you?
“If you fail to be available for this visit and do not contact me, your entitlement to benefit may be in doubt and your payments will be stopped.
“If there has been an unreported change in your circumstances then any overpayment will have to be paid back. Further, you may be liable for financial penalties.”
The letter put Mrs Mike on the verge of panic – terrified that this ‘customer compliance officer’ was being sent to find any excuse to say she was ‘fit for work’ and throw her off the benefit
In response, and thanks to a friend who signposted us to information on the Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC) website, Mrs Mike told the DWP, in terms only slightly more polite than what follows here, to get stuffed.
You see, the information provided to her showed that any letter causing her considerable distress and exacerbating her illness, as this had, put the DWP in a very actionable position. She was able to respond: “Should the DWP persist in sending me further letters of a similar nature I can only conclude that it does so knowing that it will cause me alarm or distress. Such actions are a criminal offence under section 2 of the Protection from Harassment Act 1997 and I retain the right to make a criminal complaint to the police.”
In addition, she said she was entirely happy to conform to all legal requirements.
Would you believe we had a telephone call from a DWP ‘compliance manager’ today (December 23)?
It was from one of those ‘Out of area’ numbers that we never ever answer, but fortunately she left a message and I called her back.
She could not apologise enough for the upset that had been caused to Mrs Mike.
She said there was no allegation of wrong-doing; it was a purely-routine reassessment.
She said she had already sent a letter assuring Mrs Mike that she need not be worried over the Christmas period; this call was to ascertain whether she would be happy to submit her reassessment in writing, so we would have a copy for our records, to be returned by the end of January.
The whole episode made a welcome change from the usual antagonism – although we should all know it’s just a ceasefire – hostilities will undoubtedly recommence soon.
Insane as it may seem, the Department for Work and Pensions is actively pursuing people with long-term illnesses, apparently in order to make them increasingly anxious and thereby worsen their health.
This will not be news to anybody who is familiar with the benefit system for the sick and disabled. All you others, take note.
On Monday, Mrs Mike received a letter from the DWP. It said:
“Notification of Customer Compliance Visit
“We will be calling at your home.
“A customer compliance officer … will be visiting you at your home on Thursday 3rd December 2015… It is essential that you are available for this visit and provide the documents requested in this letter. This interview has been arranged because your circumstances may have changed and we need to ensure your payments are correct.
“When you claimed benefit you agreed to tell us immediately if the circumstances relating to your benefit entitlement changed.
“What will happen if we do not hear from you?
“If you fail to be available for this visit and do not contact me, your entitlement to benefit may be in doubt and your payments will be stopped.
“If there has been an unreported change in your circumstances then any overpayment will have to be paid back. Further, you may be liable for financial penalties.”
And then there’s a list of documents the ‘customer compliance officer’ wanted to see – ID, bank/pensions/earnings details.
Mrs Mike was deeply distressed by this letter.
I came down from the office to find her in what one might describe as “a proper state”. She was on the verge of panic, in fact – terrified that this ‘customer compliance officer’ was being sent to find any excuse to say she was ‘fit for work’ and throw her off the benefit.
As her carer, it would be grossly understating the situation to say that I was extremely concerned for her mental well-being.
But it’s funny how events transpire – later in the day I saw a tweet from a friend in DPAC (Disabled People Against Cuts): “Template letters for those in ESA Support Group harassed by Job Centres.” How interesting… I clicked the link.
“We’ve had increasing numbers of emails from those in the ESA support group facing constant harassment from local job centres,” the DPAC page begins.
“Harassment takes the form of letters and phone calls ‘inviting’ people to work focused interviews, chats with job coaches or other ‘helpers’. Another type of ‘invite’ suggests that the job centre need to check you’re getting the right amount of benefit. They advise you to take in bank statements and other documents.
“Often these letters and phone calls wrongly state that your benefits are at risk if you do not attend.
“All such interviews are voluntary according to the regulations, not mandatory. It sounds like a scam warning from some dodgy company doesnt it? But this is the DWP Job Centre, supposedly public servants, causing anxiety and misery.
“We have reproduced two template letters to use if these scams happen to you.”
The letters were directly below. They were written as if by the ESA recipient.
“The DWP is aware that I have been placed in the Support Group for Employment and Support Allowance and therefore exempt from activity of this nature,” the template letter relevant to Mrs Mike states. “The Welfare Reform Act 2012 makes no provision for people allocated to the Support Group to be summoned to attend random benefit interviews.
“On the .GOV website the DWP states:
“Y’ou’ll then be placed in 1 of 2 groups if you’re entitled to ESA:
“‘* work-related activity group, where you’ll have regular interviews with an adviser
“‘* support group, where you don’t have interviews’
“In fact the DWP has the Benefit Centre network that contains benefit integrity centres and performance measurement to undertake this type of review by appropriately qualified officers. Therefore, this interview appears to be incompatible with the DWP’s own processes.
“In respect of payments the DWP knows that I am in the Support Group and the amount of which I am in receipt. Therefore, it can easily determine if this amount is correct without recourse to a face to face review.
“To the best of my knowledge my circumstances have not changed. If the DWP has evidence to the contrary please address it to me in writing as I find the benefit system far too complex and distressing to deal with on the telephone or face to face. I also rely on extensive support from other people when dealing with the DWP.
“This letter has caused me considerable distress and has exacerbated my illness. Should the DWP persist in sending me further letters of a similar nature I can only conclude that it does so knowing that it will cause me alarm or distress. Such actions are a criminal offence under section 2 of the Protection from Harassment Act 1997 and I retain the right to make a criminal complaint to the police.
“As the DWP is acting contrary to the Welfare Reform Act 2012, please regard this letter as notification to cease and desist all such activities immediately.
“I will not be accepting the customer compliance visit and in doing so I will not be placing my entitlement to ESA at risk. Any suggestion by the DWP to the contrary will be considered harassment.
“I remind the DWP that I will continue to comply with all lawful requirements in respect of my ongoing claim for ESA.”
Now, some of you might think it’s a bit dicey, sending what is effectively a “cease and desist” demand to a government department, and backing it up with the threat of criminal prosecution.
But those of you who are familiar with This Writer will also know that I love humiliating the DWP, and my natural inclination when offered a chance to do something, rather than sit by and let authority roll over me, is to take the plunge.
So the letter went off yesterday (Tuesday). I had to do a bit of detective work because the DWP correspondence had no return address (clearly they’re trying to make it as difficult as possible for people to shut them down).
The following article is set to appear as an update to the latest petition on Change.org by This Writer, Maggie Zolobajluk and Gill Thompson, for the government to implement the recommendations put to it, ensuring that no benefit claimants are left unable to support themselves due to withdrawal of payments, and that a broad, independent review of the system should be enacted.
In support of the petition, Maggie has written the following:
The Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) published guidance to job centre officials who decide whether claimants should have their payments stopped.
The guidance says: “It would be usual for a normal healthy adult to suffer some deterioration in their health if they were without: 1. essential items such as food, clothing, heating and accommodation, or 2. sufficient money to buy essential items for a period of two weeks.
“The Decision Maker must decide if the health of the person with the medical condition would decline more than a normal healthy adult.”
As if it wouldn’t!
I have compiled a list of the deceased using the information here, here, here and here.
I fully agree with the assertion of Welfare Tales that these are the deaths that we know of because a friend, relative or the coroner has commented. Sadly, there are probably many more.
Many of our supporters have left distressing replies about their experiences on our petition.
If you feel able to share your experience please post them as comments; if you wish to remain anonymous please put a note on your comment and you will be anonymised.
Please let us know if:
You have had a JSA or ESA sanction, or
You have received a JSA sanction and/or you have been left without funds while awaiting a Mandatory Reconsideration decision.
Please also let us know why and how long you have been without funds and the effect on your health.
If you are feeling suicidal, please speak to your doctor and/or someone close to you. Or contact the Samaritans on 08457 90 90 90.
The list Maggie compiled follows.
On a personal note, This Writer recalls recent attempts to claim that the vast majority of deaths were likely to happen anyway, due to the fact that (among other elements) the vast majority of the dead were aged over 50. Among the 72 people named on this list, 33 of those whose ages are known were younger than 50 when they died – nearly half the total.
Conor Cribbin, 25 years old. The student suffered from Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder and his medical card was stopped in the period leading up to his suicide. He had also learned just days prior that he had failed to secure a college grant. According to his father, Conor was in low spirits in the days beforehand. He added: “He couldn’t get his medication for his ADHD.”
Mark Cotton, 54 years old. Lost both his legs due to a medical condition. Died in an apparent suicide fewer than 48 hours after being told an allowance to pay his carer was being cut from nine hours a week to only three.
Terry McGarvey, 48 years old. Dangerously ill from polycytheamia, Terry asked for an ambulance to be called during his Work Capability Assessment. He knew that he wasn’t well enough to attend his WCA but feared that his benefits would be stopped if he did not.
He died the following day.
Elaine Lowe, 53 years old. Suffering from COPD and fearful of losing her benefits. In desperation, Elaine chose to commit suicide.
Mark Wood, 44 years old. Found fit for work by Atos, against his Doctors advice and assertions that he had complex mental health problems. Starved to death after benefits stopped, weighing only 5st 8lb when he died.
Paul Reekie, 48 years old, the Leith based Poet and Author. Suffered from severe depression. Committed suicide after DWP stopped his benefits due to an Atos ‘fit for work’ decision.
Leanne Chambers, 30 years old. Suffered depression for many years which took a turn for the worst when she was called in for a WCA. Leanne committed suicide soon after.
Karen Sherlock, 44 years old. Multiple health issues. Found fit for work by Atos and denied benefits. Fought a long battle to get placed into the support group of ESA. Karen died the following month of a heart attack.
Carl Payne, 42 years old. Fears of losing his lifeline benefits due to welfare reform led this Father of two to take his own life.
Tim Salter, 53 years old. Blind and suffering from Agoraphobia. Tim hanged himself after Atos found him fit for work and stopped his benefits.
Edward Jacques, 47 years old. years old and suffering from HIV and Hepatitis C. Edward had a history of severe depression and self-harm. He took a fatal overdose after Atos found him fit for work and stopped his benefits.
Linda Wootton, 49 years old. years old. A double heart and lung transplant patient. Died just nine days after the government found her fit for work, their refusal letter arriving as she lay desperately ill in her hospital bed.
Steven Cawthra, 55 years old. His benefits stopped by the DWP and with rising debts, he saw suicide as the only way out of a desperate situation
Elenore Tatton, 39 years old. Died just weeks after the government found her fit for work.
John Walker, 57 years old. saddled with debt because of the bedroom tax, John took his own life.
Brian McArdle, 57 years old. Suffered a fatal heart attack the day after his disability benefits were stopped.
Stephen Hill, 53 years old. Died of a heart attack one month after being found fit for work, even though he was waiting for major heart surgery.
Jacqueline Harris, 53 years old. A former Nurse who could hardly walk was found fit for work by Atos and her benefits withdrawn. in desperation, she took her own life.
David Barr, 28 years old. Suffering from severe mental difficulties. Threw himself from a bridge after being found fit for work by Atos and failing his appeal.
David Groves, 56 years old. Died of a heart attack the night before taking his work capability assessment. His widow claimed that it was the stress that killed him.
Nicholas Peter Barker, 51 years old. Shot himself after being told his benefits were being stopped. He was unable to work after a brain haemorrhage left him paralysed down one side.
Mark and Helen Mullins, 48 and 59 years old. Forced to live on £57.50 a week and make 12 mile trips each week to get free vegetables to make soup. Mark and Helen both committed suicide.
Richard Sanderson, 44 years old. Unable to find a job and with his housing benefit cut forcing him to move, but with nowhere to go. Richard committed suicide.
Martin Rust, 36 years old. A schizophrenic man who killed himself two months after the government found him fit to work.
Craig Monk, 43 years old. A vulnerable gentleman and a partial amputee who slipped so far into poverty that he hanged himself.
Colin Traynor, 29 years old and suffering from epilepsy was stripped of his benefits. He appealed. Five weeks after his death his family found he had won his appeal.
Elaine Christian, 57 years old. Worried about her work capability assessment, she was subsequently found at Holderness drain, drowned and with ten self inflicted wrist wounds.
Christelle Pardoe, 32 years old and Kayjah Pardoe 5 month old. Pregnant, her benefits stopped, Christelle, clutching her baby son jumped from a third floor balcony.
Mark Scott, 46 years old. His DLA and housing benefit stopped and sinking into deep depression, Mark died six weeks later.
Cecilia Burns, 51 years old. Found fit for work while undergoing treatment for breast cancer. She died just a few weeks after she won her appeal against the Atos decision.
Chris Cann, 57 years old. Found dead in his home just months after being told he had to undergo a medical assessment to prove he could not work.
Peter Hodgson, 49 years old. Called to JCP to see if he was suitable for volunteer work. Peter had suffered a stroke, a brain haemorrhage and had a fused leg. His appointment letter arrived a few days after he took his own life.
Paul Willcoxson, 33 years old. Suffered with mental health problems and worried about government cuts. Paul committed suicide by hanging himself.
Stephanie Bottrill, 53 years old. After paying £80 a month for bedroom tax, Stephanie could not afford heating in the winter, and lived on tinned custard. In desperation, she chose to walk in front of a lorry.
Larry Newman suffered from a degenerative lung condition, his weight dropping from 10 to 7 stone. Atos awarded him zero points, he died just three months after submitting his appeal.
Paul Turner, 52 years old. After suffering a heart attack, he was ordered to find a job in February. In April Paul died from ischaemic heart disease.
Christopher Charles Harkness, 39. After finding out that the funding for his care home was being withdrawn, this man who suffered with mental health issues, took his own life.
Sandra Louise Moon, 57 years old. Suffering from a degenerative back condition, depression and increasingly worried about losing her incapacity benefit. Sandra committed suicide by taking an overdose.
Lee Robinson, 39 years old. Took his own life after his housing benefit and council tax were taken away from him.
David Coupe, 57 years old. A Cancer sufferer found fit for work by Atos in 2012. David lost his sight, then his hearing, then his mobility, and then his life.
Michael McNicholas, 34 years old. Severely depressed and a recovering alcoholic. Michael committed suicide after being called in for a Work Capability Assessment by Atos.
Victor Cuff, 59 years old and suffering from severe depression. Victor hanged himself after the DWP stopped his benefits.
Charles Barden, 74 years old. Charles committed suicide by hanging due to fears that the Bedroom Tax would leave him destitute and unable to cope.
Ian Caress, 43 years old. Suffered multiple health issues and deteriorating eyesight. Ian was found fit for work by Atos, he died ten months later having lost so much weight that his family said that he resembled a concentration camp victim.
Iain Hodge, 30 years old. Suffered from the life threatening illness, Hughes Syndrome. Found fit for work by Atos and benefits stopped, Iain took his own life.
Wayne Grew, 37 years old. Severely depressed due to government cuts and the fear of losing his job, Wayne committed suicide by hanging.
Kevin Bennett, 40 years old. Kevin a sufferer of schizophrenia and mental illness became so depressed after his JSA was stopped that he became a virtual recluse. Kevin was found dead in his flat several months later.
David Elwyn Hughs Harries, 48 years old. A disabled man who could no longer cope after his parents died, could find no help from the government via benefits. David took an overdose as a way out of his solitude.
Denis Jones, 58 years old. A disabled man crushed by the pressures of government cuts, in particular the Bedroom Tax, and unable to survive by himself. Denis was found dead in his flat.
Shaun Pilkington, 58 years old. Unable to cope any more, Shaun shot himself dead after receiving a letter from the DWP informing him that his ESA was being stopped.
Paul ?, 51 years old .Died in a freezing cold flat after his ESA was stopped. Paul appealed the decision and won on the day that he lost his battle to live.
Chris MaGuire, 61 years old. Deeply depressed and incapable of work, Chris was summonsed by Atos for a Work Capability Assessment and deemed fit for work. On appeal, a judge overturned the Atos decision and ordered them to leave him alone for at least a year, which they did not do. In desperation, Chris took his own life, unable to cope anymore.
Peter Duut, a Dutch national with terminal cancer living in the UK for many years found that he was not entitled to benefits unless he was active in the labour market. Peter died leaving his wife destitute, and unable to pay for his funeral.
George Scollen, age unknown. Took his own life after the government closed the Remploy factory he had worked in for 40 years.
Julian Little, 47 years old. Wheelchair bound and suffering from kidney failure, Julian faced the harsh restrictions of the Bedroom Tax and the loss of his essential dialysis room. He died shortly after being ordered to downgrade.
Miss DE, Early 50’s. Suffering from mental illness, this lady committed suicide less than a month after an Atos assessor gave her zero points and declared her fit for work.
Robert Barlow, 47 years old. Suffering from a brain tumour, a heart defect and awaiting a transplant, Robert was deemed fit for work by Atos and his benefits were withdrawn. He died penniless less than two years later.
Carl Joseph Foster-Brown, 58 years old. As a direct consequence of the wholly unjustifiable actions of the Job centre and DWP, this man took his own life.
Martin Hadfield, 20 years old. Disillusioned with the lack of jobs available in this country but too proud to claim benefits. Utterly demoralised, Martin took his own life by hanging himself.
Annette Francis, 30 years old. A mum-of-one suffering from severe mental illness, found dead after her disability benefits were ceased.
Ian Jordan, 60 years old. His benefits slashed after Atos and the DWP declared Ian, a sufferer of Barratt’s Oesophagus, fit for work, caused him to run up massive debts in order to survive. Ian was found dead in his flat after taking an overdose.
Janet McCall, 53 years old. Terminally ill with pulmonary fibrosis and declared ‘Fit for Work’ by Atos and the DWP, this lady died 5 months after her benefits were stopped.
Stuart Holley, 23 years old. A man driven to suicide by the DWP’s incessant pressure and threat of sanctions for not being able to find a job.
Graham Shawcross, 63 years old. A sufferer of the debilitating disease, Addison’s. Died of a heart attack due to the stress of an Atos ‘Fit for Work’ decision.
David Clapson, 59 years old. A diabetic ex-soldier deprived of the means to survive by the DWP and the governments harsh welfare reforms, David died all but penniless, starving and alone, his electricity run out.
Chris Smith 59 years old.While he lay in a hospital bed, dying of cancer. The Jobcentre bombarded him with texts telling him he had to apply for jobs, and letters urging him to come to ‘job workshops.’
Nathan Hartwell, 36 years old, died of heart failure after an 18-month battle with the Department for Works and Pensions.
Michael Connolly, 60 years old. A Father of One, increasingly worried about finances after his benefits were cut. Committed suicide by taking 13 times the fatal dose of prescription medicine on the 30th October – His Birthday.
Jan Mandeville, 52 years old, A lady suffering from Fibromyalgia, driven to the point of mental and physical breakdown by this governments welfare reforms. Jan was found dead in her home after battling the DWP for ESA and DLA.
Trevor Drakard, 50 years old. A shy and reserved, severe epileptic who suffered regular and terrifying fits almost his entire life, hounded to suicide by the DWP who threatened to stop his life-line benefits.
Unnamed, death of a severely disabled Dorset resident, who took her own life while battling the bedroom tax.
Aaron Lane, 31 years old. A talented musician battling mental health problems took his own life after he was ruled fit to work.
Glen Harris, 55 years old. Killed himself with an electric saw because he feared his benefits would be changed after being found fit for work.
Peter Kelleher, 44 years old. Found in his flat with a ligature around his neck and in a state of decomposition after the pressure of mounting debt and no benefit at all became too much to bear.
Malcolm Burge, 66 years old. A retired gardener who killed himself after being hounded for £800 after changes to his benefits left him unable to cope.
Julia Kelly, 39 years old. Suffering with chronic back pain and hounded constantly by the DWP, Julia commited suicide after receiving a letter demanding that she pay back over £4000.
Benjamin Del McDonald, 34 years old. A doting Father of three children suffering from depression due to removal of his lifeline benefits, Benjamin committed suicide by hanging.
Mark William Jacka, 26 years old. Stressed to the point of suicide, Mark was found hanged at his home the day after a visit to his local Job Centre to apply for JSA.
David O’Mar, 58 years old. Suffering from Pneumonia in a hospital bed. Found ‘Fit for Work’ by the DWP only to die two weeks later.
Moira Drury, 61 years old. Suffering from limited mobility, mini-strokes, epilepsy and depression. Her daughter believes that a seven-month delay in processing her benefit claim hastened her death.
Gordon Lang, 62 years old, A marine veteran who died from cancer while battling the state over benefits.
Nick Barker, a former sheep farmer, had a brain haemorrhage which left him struggling to walk. The father of two shot himself after the DWP claimed he was fit to work. Recording a suicide verdict, coroner Michael Oakley said the benefits assessment was key to the tragedy.
Found Fit for work
David Waite, 60 years old, suffers from a string of health problems including brain, damage neck pain, diabetes and depression.
The Peoples review of the WCA published this report. There is a long depressing list of other people whose health has deteriorated after being “found fit for work”.
The story was about a man who had been sanctioned off of his benefit and had to survive without any money for 17 weeks. He was reduced to scavenging in bins for leftovers or out-of-date food, and it was while he was doing this that a rubbish-compacting lorry arrived, picked him up and crushed him to death.
Here’s the response from one Nicholas Blanch on Google+: “I’m going to ask you why he was sanctioned in the first place, because if it was for something he had no control over then that was Wrong with a capital W, worth wholeheartedly condemning, and the government should bear the full weight of responsibility for the end of this man’s life and the corresponding loss to all of us of whatever this man might have contributed directly or indirectly to our lives.
“If, however, the sanction came about through that man’s actions or lack thereof then the responsibility for his situation and its deadly consequence lies with him.”
Take a moment to let that sink in.
In effect, this person conferred the death sentence on any benefit recipient who has been sanctioned by Job Centre Plus according to current DWP rules. Anything that happens to them as a result – including death – is their fault, in his opinion.
Hopefully the sceptics who refused to believe the Chequebook Euthanasia article – because they couldn’t accept that people think in such ways – are hastily reconsidering their position.
What he’s saying is so appalling that he deserves to be named and shamed on this blog.
Mr Blanch continues: “To draw an analogy, if a person gets into a car crash and dies, you want to know the cause of the accident before you assign the blame over the death. You don’t just assume that the problem was the speed limit and demand that it be lowered to make the road safer.”
Okay, let’s look at some real sanctions that have been applied by Job Centre Plus staff – these are from a Vox Political article but there are many more listed on the web.
“You apply for three jobs one week and three jobs the following Sunday and Monday. Because the job centre week starts on a Tuesday it treats this as applying for six jobs in one week and none the following week. You are sanctioned for 13 weeks for failing to apply for three jobs each week.” Does that justify a man’s death?
“You have a job interview which overruns so you arrive at your job centre appointment nine minutes late. You get sanctioned for a month.” Would this have you reaching for the black cap and calling the executioner?
“Your job centre advisor suggests a job. When you go online to apply it says the job has ‘expired’ so you don’t apply. You are sanctioned for 13 weeks.” The death sentence?
“You are on a workfare placement and your job centre appointment comes round. The job centre tells you to sign on then go to your placement – which you do. The placement reports you for being late and you get sanctioned for three months.” And if you die, is that fine?
You apply for all the jobs you can physically attend, but the Job Centre says you should have applied for those that are impossible to get to and from. Should you die for that omission? Alternatively, should you die for failing to attend any job interviews at the locations it is impossible for you to physically attend?
Mr Blanch gets worse: “Also, if any party wants to influence my vote away from the Coalition [note: he supports the Coalition Government, made up of the Conservative and Liberal Democrat parties] on the strength of this issue, then I want to know what their alternative plans are to ensure that my tax money goes only to people that are on benefits because that’s where they have to be rather than where they choose to be.”
“As poor as this policy is, and as grim as the side-effects are, at least this Coalition Government took steps to try to make sure that all of my tax money goes to that majority of people that are in honest need so that there was a chance that the welfare budget might have been enough for them to have a shot at something approaching decency and dignity in their quality of life rather than forcing them to make the choice to eat or to heat due to the fact that some of my money is wasted on those fortunately few but sadly still-present people who have decided that working the system is preferable to working a job.”
This convoluted and confused sentence takes a bit of unravelling.
Firstly: “This Coalition Government took steps to try to make sure that all of my tax money goes to that majority of people that are in honest need.” No it did not. If you’re talking about all of your tax money, what about the huge amount that goes to the City of London – £103.4 billion a year, despite the fact that there is no need for any subsidy at all? What about the millions that go to work capability assessors and work programme companies, despite the fact that they make no material contribution to a claimant’s needs (work capability assessments may be carried out just as efficiently by a claimant’s doctors, and it has been calculated that claimants are statistically more likely to get a job if they do not take part in the work programme than if they do).
“The welfare budget might have been enough for them to have a shot at something approaching decency and dignity in their quality of life.” No, it would not. The Coalition Government’s benefits squeeze is nothing to do with the number of claimants; it is about ensuring that the unemployed cannot enjoy a decent, dignified quality of life. The aim is to make them desperate for any job, in order to keep wages down. Employers can argue that they don’t need to give anyone a raise because “there are hundreds more out there who’ll do this job for less than you”.
“Some of my money is wasted on those fortunately few but sadly still-present people who have decided that working the system is preferable to working a job.” Such people comprise roughly 0.7 per cent of benefit claimants – a figure that has not changed since before the Coalition Government came into office, no matter what measures Iain Duncan Smith has forced on them. It is such a small proportion of the claimant population that any action by the Coalition Government to tackle it is hugely disproportionate to the threat it represents – initiatives to stop the fraud are more harmful than the fraud itself.
All of this information is freely available to anybody with a modicum of curiosity – you only have to go and look.
That is why Nicholas Blanch’s comment is not only shocking and outrageous; it is also disgracefully ignorant.
So no, Mr Blanch, there is no point in seeking to influence your vote away from the Coalition parties.
With attitudes like yours, nobody else would want it.
Here’s another great success story for the DWP – Iain Duncan Smith must be revelling in it.
The above woman (wearing costume so the Jobcentre staff don’t recognise her) was sanctioned when 23 weeks pregnant. The reason you may ask…. for attending a work fare interview (work for nothing) at B&Q, according to The Poor Side of Life.
Whilst at the interview they noticed that she was pregnant and they said yep we will put you on light duties…. The jobcentre decided otherwise… in their words “we are sanctioning you because you told them that you were pregnant”.
Much more information is available on the Poor Side of Lifeblog – you are encouraged to visit it and read on.
Unfair treatment: The sick and disabled are used to poor behaviour from the Department for Work and Pensions, from the rigged ‘work capability assessment’ scheme to the current revelation that sanctions against them have rocketed.
The BBC is reporting a “shocking” rise in the number of sanctions given to those who receive a key sickness benefit, according to homeless charity Crisis.
“In the first three months of 2014, there were 15,955 sanctions on ESA claimants, compared with 3,574 in the same period last year.” That’s three per cent of the 552,000 claimants in the Work-Related Activity group (the only ESA group that can be sanctioned) – uncannily close to the five per cent sanction target allegedly operated by Job Centre Plus workers on Jobseekers’ Allowance claimants.
We have almost-confirmation within the BBC article, where “a spokeswoman said that around six per cent of all JSA claimants receive a sanction, with the most common reason being the benefit claimant failing to actively look for a job”.
Failing to actively look for a job? What about the jobseeker who arrived at a Job Centre appointment nine minutes late – after attending a job interview – and was sanctioned for a month? There are many other accounts of similar idiocies and it seems likely that ESA may be contaminated with the same “sanction wherever possible” culture.
Scope chief executive Richard Hawkes said: “Disabled people are being sanctioned for things like missing interviews with advisers. How often do sanctions take into account the reality of disabled people’s lives? Interviews with advisers can clash with medical appointments and inaccessible transport can make attendance extremely difficult.”
But the DWP is sticking to its line: “Under the sanctions, benefits can be docked temporarily. Ministers said they were a last resort.”
Last resort? Or first opportunity? Expreience suggests the latter.
It is as if staff at the Department for Work and Pensions were trying to commit vocational suicide, in pale emulation of the lengths to which they drive their ‘customers’.
Following on from yesterday’s article on the DWP’s sickening response to the latest Freedom of Information request on incapacity claimant deaths come two accounts of the heartlessness of the Department’s staff.
The first is from our old friend Pride’s Purge, and concerns a letter from the DWP to a woman who suffers with Ewing’s Sarcoma, a rare bone cancer.
It states, in very poor English: “On whether you have contributed to your medical condition. We have now decided that you did contribute to your medical condition.”
This is physically impossible and DWP staff, who are not medically qualified, had no right to suggest otherwise. The lady’s boyfriend was so enraged by the incident that he posted the letter on Facebook and you can see it below.
“A sick and disabled man attend[ed] Newcastle JCP to use the phones to make an enquiry when he was attacked by [a] G4S guard for using his mobile when they refused his request… The JCPs are now removing telephones.
“It is now policy that you are intimidated BY G4S security to turn off your mobiles after many used them to film maladministration of JCP staff.
“At the time of writing this blog a complaint has gone in to the manager of this JCP and the police have been informed.”
Honest appraisal: The national opinion of Iain Duncan Smith is reflected in this comment, delivered direct to the Work and Pensions Secretary by ‘pigeon post’.
Iain Duncan Smith typifies the classical definition of an idiot – and his latest speech will prove it by ignoring Britain’s real problems in favour of self-centred, ideologically-motivated foolishness.
The Greeks used to believe idiots were ignorant people, incapable of ordinary reasoning, whose judgement in public and political matters was poor – but who refused to change their minds.
If you don’t think that’s Iain Duncan Smith, take a look at parts of his speech, as quoted in today’s (Monday) Daily Torygraph.
First off, take a look at the headline: “Cutting benefits is vital for economy, says Iain Duncan Smith”. Why? That money goes out to people on extremely low incomes who cannot save it and must use it immediately, to service their needs. They spend it straight away, boosting the economy as it then passes through the system. Taking it away from people will only stall the system so Duncan Smith is wrong from the start.
This is why we call him RTU, or Returned To Unit, on this blog. It’s a phrase referring to his Army career in which he did not achieve promotion to Captain despite training at Sandhurst. This kind of failure, in the Army, leads to a soldier being RTU’d as a failure.
Look at his main claim – that immigrants have taken British jobs, not ahead of British people, but because British people refused to take them, preferring a life on benefits. The man is delusional.
Does he not understand the hell into which he has turned the benefit system? Getting any money out of the Department for Work and Pensions at all is a minor miracle in the age of RTU! The disabled are forced to wait months at a time, without any means of support, while hired hands from private profiteer companies mull over whether the DWP should bother to help, while people who are actively seeking work are sanctioned by Job Centre Plus for attending job interviews rather than signing on.
Those who do get work are either encouraged into self-employment at extremely low pay and no holidays or pensions, zero-hours contracts at extremely low pay with no holidays or pensions, or part-time work with extremely low pay and no holidays or pensions. The figures make it seem that full-time work is increasing but these are reversed when self-employment is removed.
He is trying to say unemployment surged upwards after 2008 because people were refusing work, in line with the Conservative Party’s current attempt to re-write history. In fact it increased because of a recession engineered by greedy bankers that cost many thousands of jobs and had nothing to do with migrant workers or the preferences of the people affected.
In fact, the way to get British people back to work is the exact opposite of what RTU has been doing, and the exact opposite of what he is proposing.
The Conservatives have been pushing wages down, and squeezing benefits with below-inflation rate rises in order to make it possible for them to say they are “making work pay”. Anyone can see through this lie – just because work pays slightly more than benefits, that doesn’t mean it pays enough.
But he wants to make matters worse by lowering the Benefit Cap further – from the already-below-what’s-needed £26,000 per family to £18,000 – the average amount of take-home pay, according to new figures his party has plucked from its posterior.
It is an idiotic move; taking money out of the economy will stall it.
If he were to encourage firms to pay the Living Wage, ensuring that workers do not have to claim benefits at all, he would find that all the issues he mentions would disappear.
Sure, some people would want to remain on benefits – there is an acknowledged 0.7 per cent rate of fraud and error, after all (yes, just 0.7 per cent, and RTU spends billions trying to say it is worse) – but most are desperate to be self-sustaining and would take work that allowed them to achieve that aim.
These people would still be low-earners, meaning the money would still be spent into the economy straight away on necessities, and to pay off debts accrued under RTU’s disastrous regime – and this means it would provide much-needed lubrication for the economy.
They would also be paying Income Tax, rather than claiming benefits, meaning funds would pour into the Treasury rather than out of it.
All the talk of economic recovery indicates that employers are in a much better position to provide the Living Wage, now, than they were over the last few years, so why isn’t Iain Duncan Smith suggesting so in his speech today?
Not the whole story: But it seems unemployed people claiming they are self-employed may still be part of it. [Image: Ros Asquith in The Guardian]
It seems a surge in the number of people who say they are self-employed is not (solely) due to a DWP wheeze that gets people off the unemployment statistics after all.
Instead, Flip Chart Fairy Taleswarns that a lot of people are staying in self-employment rather than becoming employees again or retiring.
This suggests that either they have not been able to reach their target in terms of pensions, or there are no jobs available for people of their particular expertise or experience. The latter seems likely to Yr Obdt Srvt, who is currently trying to make Vox Political a workable concern in order to make a buck or two.
FCFT warns that “this is old-timers seeing their business shrink, rather than newbies trying to find their feet, under-charging and messing things up”.
The figures also show an increase in the number of self-employed tax credit claimants, lending credence to Vox Political‘s long-held belief that Job Centre Plus advisors have been telling jobseekers to pretend they are self-employed in order to get them off the books – let’s not write off that idea too quickly.
And a steady rise in non-VAT-paying businesses not only tells us “a lot of low-profit and low-turnover businesses are hanging on in there, or a lot more of them have become low-profit and low-turnover businesses since 2008”, it tells us that George Osborne will have a nasty surprise in January, when their tax returns come in.
If they are not paying VAT, they are not clearing the earnings threshold that would make such payments necessary. This mitigates against their earnings having increased significantly since the disasters of 2008-2012, when self-employed earnings fell by £8 billion.
So it seems our dancing Chancellor (see yesterday’s post) will find that either the music stops or the tune will change significantly…
Less ‘Gold’ by Spandau Ballet; more ‘I Don’t Need This Pressure On’.
The cookie settings on this website are set to "allow cookies" to give you the best browsing experience possible. If you continue to use this website without changing your cookie settings or you click "Accept" below then you are consenting to this.