Tag Archives: living

Man with worsening brain injuries has benefits slashed while Duncan Smith gets a knighthood [VIDEO]


You’re probably sick and tired of me banging on about the way the Tory government has been persecuting the sick and disabled – so I’ll hand you over to one of the victims.

Andy Nicholson runs a video blog under the alias ‘The Brain Damaged Baron’.

Doctors pronounced him lucky to survive a head-first fall down a partially-built stairwell in 1994.

The incident left him with a serious brain injury that means he is partially-sighted, has short-term memory loss, constant headaches, epilepsy and coordination issues, along with chronic fatigue.

These conditions have worsened over time but the Tories have twice pronounced him fit for work, in spite of medical evidence and, indeed, a court order.

Here he is to explain for himself:

It’s powerful stuff; it shows that the Department for Work and Pensions, under the Conservatives, is determined to gaslight people into accepting an unreasonable view that brain injuries can be healed, just because an unqualified assessor says so.

These people have to suffer their way through unnecessarily-complicated appeal procedures, simply to keep the small amount of money they need to survive.

Meanwhile, the man who made to possible for this government department to lie so blatantly and brutally, simply for the sake of holding on to a few farthings, has been awarded a knighthood.

If you live in the UK, you live in a crazed, corrupt country. And if you voted Tory – count yourself among the crazies.

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Johnson outdoes himself: minimum wage rise has upset employees and employers alike

Money: Boris Johnson is rolling in it but his policies have starved the UK of the cash that is the lifeblood of the economy.

Did you think the boost to the minimum wage was a wonderful thing?

Really?

I saw a rich toff on holiday in the sun, throwing a few crumbs at the plebs, so they won’t complain when he comes home and really puts the screws on them.

And did you notice?

The rise still won’t cover the cost of living; people on the minimum wage will have to try to claim benefits as well.

“National Living Wage” – it’s as much of a mockery as it was when the Tories first changed the name.

Oh – and the British Chambers of Commerce are already playing up about it.

They reckon it will eat into training and investment budgets – which is interesting because in This Writer’s experience such budgets no longer exist.

What do these bosses have against paying a decent wage for a day’s work, anyway?

They have tripled their own remuneration over the last 10 years under the Tories, after all.

Still, when all is considered, Boris Johnson is to be congratulated.

He has managed to make an inflation-busting pay increase leave everybody short-changed.

Minimum wage workers will receive a 51p an hour boost from April, the Government announced last night.

The National Living Wage, which is the legal pay floor for employees aged 25 and over, will rise from £8.21 to £8.72.

The rate for 21 to 24 years olds will climb from £7.70 to £8.20.

In contrast, the Real Living Wage, set by independent experts and championed by the Living Wage Foundation, is £9.30 an hour rising to £10.75 in London, where costs are higher.

It is earned by all workers regardless of their age.

Source: Minimum wage will rise by 51p to £8.72 an hour in April, government announces – Mirror Online

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Johnson has broken his minimum wage promise. Will his Tory manifesto be as worthless as May’s?

Duper’s delight: This is the smile Boris Johnson wears when he is lying. Was he wearing it when he promised a big increase in the ‘National Living Wage’?

Boris Johnson has broken his manifesto promise to increase the “National Living Wage” (he means the minimum wage), within days of using it to win a landslide election victory.

Page 14 of the Tory Manifesto states categorically: “In our first months, we announced an increase in the National Living Wage to two thirds of average earnings, currently forecast at £10.50 an hour, and widened its reach to everyone over 21. That means an average pay rise of £4,000 per year for four million people by 2024.”

This was the flagship policy announcement at the Tory conference, where Chancellor Sajid Javid proclaimed it would show the Tories are “the workers’ party”.

It was to be achieved by pegging the wage to two-thirds of median earnings, not 60 per cent as it is now.

But in the Queen’s Speech at the State Opening of Parliament last Friday, the words “provided economic conditions allow” had been inserted – rendering the promise meaningless.

The Tories will always be able to find an economic adviser who can claim conditions don’t allow a rise in the minimum wage.

In fact, with Johnson’s Brexit disaster looming large, it might be a long time before those on the minimum see any wage rise at all. Meanwhile the cost of living may rise out of control.

(… Not that I want to worry you!)

Then when the dirty Johnson decides to call another election (should that every happen), he can always wheel out the same promise all over again and know he can expect enough people to believe it – all over again.

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Did you think the Tories would stop hurting children just because there’s an election? Think again

Kori: This eight-year-old boy had a heart transplant last year, but his body is rejecting it. The Tory-run DWP doesn’t care, though. It has cancelled his disability benefit and left him to fend for himself.

Say hi to Kori.

Kori is eight years old. Last year he had a heart transplant – but it wasn’t a wonderful success.

His body is rejecting the new heart and he is fighting for his life in hospital.

And what have the Tories done?

They have cancelled Kori’s claim for Disability Living Allowance and his family’s Motability car.

Their reason: Kori is “as fit as any other child his age”.

Take a look at the photograph. Do you think that’s accurate?

Friends of Kori and his family have launched a crowdfunding page to help them cope with the loss of their means of support.

You can contribute to it by visiting this website.

Please do – you can be sure the Tories won’t want to help at all.

They won’t care what happens to Kori – despite the fact that they have a duty of care towards him.

They’re too busy planning new tax breaks for their rich friends – if we’re stupid enough to elect them again.

Read more on this Facebook page: Kori’s Fight for Life

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Tories got HALF A MILLION sickness and disability benefit assessments wrong – in five years

Logical conclusion: The Tory-run DWP’s persecution of benefit claimants has been implicated in the deaths of many thousands of people.

Research has shown that new benefit assessment techniques imposed by the Conservative government have led to more than 500,000 wrong benefit assessments in the last five years.

The evidence also shows that other measures introduced by the Tories have served to hide the facts from the general public.

The research covered benefits including Employment and Support Allowance, Disability Living Allowance and its replacement benefit Personal Independence Payment.

The good news is that appeals against bogus decisions are at their highest success rate yet – the article on Teesside Live (link below) shows an increase in successes in North East England from 41 per cent in 2013 to 63 per cent in 2018. Across the UK, the success rate stands at around 76 per cent.

But the number of appeals reaching tribunals has fallen massively since the Conservatives axed legal aid for such cases – pricing such action out of benefit claimants’ capabilities.

The Labour Party has vowed to restore legal aid if it wins the election on December 12, to restore fairness to the system.

The research made it clear that the main reason for appeals against benefit decisions was “poor decision-making” and “obvious inaccuracies” by the private asessors hired to carry out interviews with claimants.

One way to challenge such issues is to record assessments, but it was recently revealed that the Tories have insisted on PIP claimants buying hugely expensive recording systems in order to do so – in what seems an obvious attempt to make it impossible. What benefit claimant has that kind of money?

Note also:

Daphne Hall, the vice chair of the National Association of Welfare Rights Advisers, said: “… The DWP tend to base their decision purely on these assessments and disregard other evidence sent in by the claimant.”

Yet this evidence is always demanded – and further evidence is always demanded when a claimant appeals.

The DWP’s claim that “appeals represent a small percentage of all benefits claim it handles” is unconvincing because of the obstacles the government has put in the way.

Since 2013, people seeking to overturn a benefits ruling must complete a written challenge within a month, known as a mandatory reconsideration. If unsuccessful, people can then appeal against the decision at tribunal.

The problem is that most people run out of money long before the initial process is concluded and are forced by financial necessity to seek an alternative benefit (usually the nightmare that is Universal Credit), even though it is entirely inappropriate.

The denial of legal aid means most people are left unable to navigate the UK’s labyrinthine legal system. For most sick or disabled claimants, it may be impossible to gather together all the information required by a tribunal without help from a legal professional.

The DWP has claimed that any suggestion of a decline in appeals due to legal aid cuts is “pure speculation”. It would, wouldn’t it?

But its further claim that only four per cent of ESA decisions and five per cent of PIP decisions are overturned at appeal rings hollow in the knowledge that this constituted more than 70 per cent of all appeals.

Doubly hollow, in fact, in the knowledge that the number of appeals fell massively after the axing of legal aid.

This is darkly humorous, too: “It says it expects the ‘highest of standards’ from assessment providers and continually monitors performance, while PIP and ESA assessments are carried out by health professionals ‘who receive a variety of training in physical and mental health conditions and have the right clinical experience’.”

Oh really? And did the PIP assessor who happened to be a physiotherapist but ended up examining a person with multiple sclerosis have “the right clinical experience”? Of course not.

Oh, and: “It says PIP was introduced to ensure mental health conditions were given the same parity as physical conditions.” Oh really? This seems strange, considering the fact the mental health conditions are not mentioned even once in the points-based system on which PIP awards are based.

As This Site has demonstrated many times before, the Tory benefit system is a mockery.

Labour has promised to reform the system, dissolving the DWP altogether and replacing it with a new Department of Social Security.

Labour also intends to pilot a Universal Basic Income scheme, in which everybody receives an amount of money deemed enough to support them – making assessment interviews unnecessary.

People with illnesses and disabilities would receive appropriate top-ups.

Considering the huge number of deaths that have been connected with bogus benefit refusals, this is to be welcomed.

So the choice for people claiming – or dependent on – benefits is between an ever-more-draconian Tory system that penalises those in genuine need – often to death, and a return to justice under Labour.

That isn’t even a choice, is it? It has to be Labour all the way.

Source: DWP: Disabled Teessiders wrongly denied benefits are increasingly beating the government at appeal – Teesside Live

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Dupers’ delight: body language suggests Javid and Johnson’s policy promises are lies

Consider this:

‘This is Boris Johnson talking about his new policy in “building 40 new hospitals” – mouth curling and raised eyebrows are micro-expressions indicating someone is lying. It’s called “dupers delight”,’ according to a post on Facebook.

 

“Duper’s delight”…

“Duper n. a person who deceives or tricks someone.”

It seems Mr Johnson may not have been entirely truthful about his promise to invest billions in NHS hospitals, then.

Now, what about this:

Chancellor Sajid Javid has pledged to raise the National Living Wage to £10.50 within the next five years.

He will also lower the age threshold for those who qualify from 25 to 21.

Look at his face:

It’s not going to happen under the Tories, is it?

Mr Javid was just saying it as something to put up against Labour’s offer. If you’ve forgotten (or weren’t aware of) what Labour’s offer is, it’s this:

Labour pledged to raise the National Living Wage to £10 an hour in 2020 and to include all workers under 18 – who currently get a minimum wage of £4.35.

Even on the surface, Labour’s offer is better – £10 an hour, for everyone, by 2020 leaves opportunity for much more growth than an extra 50p by 2024, which is all Mr Javid is offering, and then only for people aged above 21.

But the clincher is always going to be the simple fact of body language that it seems neither BoJob nor The Collector can hide:

Labour’s offer isn’t a lie.

Source: Tory conference: National Living Wage to rise to £10.50, says chancellor – BBC News

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It doesn’t matter which theory underpins Tory disability jobs strategy – they’re both awful

[Image: Lisa Norwood via photopin cc.]

So the Tories have moved from trying to make people with disabilities believe their health problems are all in their mind to trying to make them believe society is stopping them from getting a job?

Neither seem helpful ways of getting these people to live a useful life, if you ask This Writer!

And to be honest, I don’t see much effort made to get society to adjust to help people with disabilities. Look at Philip Hammond’s comment that disabled workers were holding back productivity in the UK economy.

He was saying there’s no point employing people with disabilities because the adjustments they require cancel out any usefulness they have.

How are we to expect employers to offer them any opportunities after that?

The Biopsychosocial model has been explored at length on This Site, and I am grateful to see that it is supposed to be discredited.

But I haven’t seen any evidence that the questions in assessment interviews have changed, or that the decisions made by assessors are based on criteria that are any more sympathetic.

According to Welfare Weekly, more than 220,000 people have been awarded zero points after being assessed for Personal Independence Payment, in the last 18 months.

The same article claimed 180,000 people have been denied PIP after being told to transfer from Disability Living Allowance, again in the last 18 months, despite having been in receipt of the other benefit.

These are people who have been told that there is nothing wrong with them – or at least nothing that would justify them drawing benefit money to help them cope with their disabilities in everyday life.

That seems to bear out the claim that the BPS model is still being used, and people are still being told their disabilities are all in their minds – and blamed for it, rather than helped.

The civil servant who leads the government’s work and health unit has sparked fresh concerns that the new disability employment strategy could be heavily influenced by the discredited “biopsychosocial” (BPS) model of disability.

Tabitha Jay told a meeting of the all-party parliamentary group for disability (APPGD) … that the social model of disability underpinned the strategy, which has an aim of seeing one million more disabled people in work over the next 10 years.

But she also appeared to suggest that the BPS model was “running in parallel” to the social model within the strategy.

The BPS model places blame for being unemployed on the individual disabled person and their supposed negative attitudes towards working, whereas the social model explains that it is the barriers in society – and not people’s impairments.

Source: Civil servant sparks fresh concerns over ideological basis of jobs strategy


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Sickness and disability benefit assessments: Has anything changed in the last five years?

Unhealthy: Theresa May insists on employing private contractors Atos and Capita to assess benefit claimants’ fitness for work according to criteria that are not fit for purpose, and this has caused huge problems.

The video clip below resurfaced on This Writer’s Facebook page today; apparently I posted the link to it five years ago.

Has anything changed – other than the fact that Atos has been joined by Capita in carrying out the assessments?

Comments from people who have had assessments recently will be illuminating, I think.


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Esther McVey: Already the lies and cover-ups have started

Esther McVey’s promotion to Secretary of State for Work and Pensions has left many without hope [Image: REX/Shutterstock].

Already the arrival of Esther McVey as Secretary of State for Work and Pensions has been followed with lies.

Disabilities Minister Sarah Newton misled Parliament – less than 24 hours after Ms McVey’s appointment was announced – with a claim that, although her 2012 decision to close the Independent Living Fund (ILF) was challenged with a judicial review, “throughout the process the DWP won on all points.”

In fact, the Tory-Liberal Democrat Coalition government was forced to reconsider, after a damning verdict from three Court of Appeal judges in November 2013.

John Pring, of Disability News Service, explains:

The three judges unanimously overturned an earlier ruling by the high court and found that her decision to close the fund was unlawful, and that she had breached the Equality Act’s public sector equality duty.

She was heavily criticised by the judges, with one saying there was no evidence that she had “directed her mind to the need to advance equality of opportunity”.

He added: “Nor is there evidence she considered the proposals having due regard to the need to minimise the particular disadvantages from which ILF users and other disabled persons suffer or the need to encourage such persons to live independently and to participate in public life and other activities.”

The judges were also highly critical of DWP officials, with one saying there was a tendency for officials “to tell the Minister what they thought she would want to hear”, although he added that he was convinced that McVey “was sufficiently aware of the very real adverse consequences which closing the fund would have on the lives of many of the more severely disabled”.

A DWP spokeswoman told Disability News Service the minister had not intended to discuss the proceedings in any depth, and: “The preparation for the ILF debate was carried out well before the reshuffle, and the minister had no prior knowledge of its outcome.”

That’s not good enough.

It is dishonest – and that word sums up Ms McVey’s ministerial record very well.

DNS has also reported on the backlash against Ms McVey’s appointment to the Cabinet:

Soon after McVey’s appointment this week as the new work and pensions secretary, a petition calling on the prime minister to sack her was launched by a disabled campaigner on the website 38 Degrees as a way to “give people hope, a visual representation of numbers of support for those of us who’ve woken to this frightening news today”.

One of those who signed the petition said: “This is a terrible insult to every disabled and sick person.

“She didn’t show any understanding of the struggles people endure on a daily basis and I doubt she learned anything from her past experiences.”

Another pointed out that the UN had criticised the government for causing a “human catastrophe” with its disability policies, with the appointment showing Theresa May “returning one of the very ministers who has been at the heart of this ‘conscious cruelty’ meted out by the Tories to society’s disabled, sickest and poorest citizens”.

Disabled researcher and campaigner Catherine Hale said McVey’s appointment had been “a heartsink moment”, and that she felt “anguished on behalf of people on employment and support allowance especially”.

She said: “The appointment of McVey as secretary of state for work and pensions must be the Tories’ darkest hour yet.

“We can’t give her the benefit of the doubt in her intentions towards us, given her record as minister for disabled people.

“She and her morally bankrupt party have to be unseated urgently if disabled people are to survive and thrive.”

Anne McGuire, a former Labour minister for disabled people, said: “This is an unbelievably worrying decision.

“Esther McVey will be treated with justifiable suspicion after her tough, uncompromising and insensitive approach when last a DWP minister.

“Her lack of understanding of the severe problems facing those at the sharp end of benefit cuts means her appointment will fuel the fear that disabled people and other benefit recipients will continue to bear the brunt of government’s austerity policies.”

Linda Burnip, co-founder of Disabled People Against Cuts, said: “The appointment of the much-hated Esther McVey as secretary of state for DWP has provoked a massive backlash from disabled people and their organisations against Theresa May and her government.

“People see this as a deliberately provocative appointment which they feel will lead to the further abuse and denial of rights for disabled people.”

She said that neither McVey nor Jeremy Hunt – who was re-appointed as health secretary, with his role renamed as health and social care secretary – were “fit to be MPs, let alone hold any office”.

Disability rights activist Alice Kirby said: “In Esther McVey, the prime minister has selected someone whose actions had already caused considerable harm to disabled people to oversee a department already renowned for abusing our rights.

“In the past she has championed sanctions, the bedroom tax, and reducing the number of people being awarded disability benefits by replacing DLA with PIP.

“She also stated that it was ‘right’ and to be expected that people needed food banks as well. McVey’s record speaks for itself, she is not to be trusted.”

John McArdle, co-founder of Black Triangle, said: “The fact that Theresa May has appointed someone with such an infamous reputation for defending policies that the chair of the UN committee on the rights of persons with disabilities (UNCRPD), Theresia Degener, has described as a ‘human catastrophe’ reveals in stark relief the utter contempt with which this government holds the human rights and welfare of disabled people.

“We can now expect an intensification of the government’s campaign of violations against the fundamental human rights of the UK’s disabled population.

“We urge everyone to protest vigorously by signing the petition on 38 Degrees calling for McVey to be sacked and urge a campaign of peaceful direct action against Conservative members of parliament to highlight this grave injustice at local, national and international level.

“Along with other organisations we will be keeping the UNCRPD informed of developments as they occur and will seek by every means at our disposal to hold the government to account in the courts and in the court of public opinion at home and abroad.”

Sue Bott, deputy chief executive of Disability Rights UK, said McVey had “a very full in-tray when it comes to disabled people”.

She said: “We hope she’ll work with us to come up with practical responses to some of the critical issues around disabled people’s ability to live as full and equal citizens in the UK.

“High on the list are the assessment process for disability benefits such as employment and support allowance and personal independence payment; these assessments were a growing problem during her earlier tenure as minister for disabled people, and that remains the case.

“The injustices around the bedroom tax and the burgeoning problems with universal credit are also things that disabled people are worried about.

“We want to see concrete proposals to support disabled people coming out of the previously announced industrial strategy, and the health and work discussion paper – that is the only way we might start making progress on the stated aim to get more disabled people into paid work.

“If the new secretary of state really wants to make a difference to disabled people’s lives, she’ll have to do more than promote the Disability Confident initiative and encourage employers to be more disability friendly.

“Actions, not words, need to be the order of the day.”


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This girl has arthritis but gets no benefits because Tories don’t understand variable conditions

Hollie Stonehouse: She looks happy and healthy enough, but in fact she suffers from a highly debilitating condition that your Tory government simply doesn’t understand [Image: The Gazette].

The DWP has provided its standard off-the-shelf comment – that decisions are based on all the information and Hollie’s family can always appeal.

The statement fails to mention the fact that the DWP does not acknowledge variable conditions. A claimant can be unable to move one day, but if it is possible for them to function in any way on another occasion then they are perfectly healthy as far as the minority Tory government is concerned.

It is a nonsense, and it ruins lives for the sake of a few farthings.

Somebody should send every Conservative the following:

But then, they’d probably say it was a fabrication of the social media.

That’s the Conservative welfare state for you.

The mum of a brave little girl who needs chemotherapy to treat severe childhood arthritis has told how her daughter doesn’t qualify for disability allowance.

Since the age of 18 months, little Hollie Stonehouse, from New Marske, has suffered from Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis (JIA).

The disease, affecting around 12,000 UK children, is so severe in seven-year-old Hollie’s case, that it leaves her unable to move on mornings and requires chemotherapy drugs to treat it.

In November last year, Hollie’s JIA appeared to be in remission and in March this year all disability benefits, including carer’s allowance paid to Hollie’s mum, Andrea Keenan, were stopped.

But Andrea, 48, said that Hollie’s arthritis came back “with a vengeance” just before Christmas.

Andrea – who works night shifts as a support worker to fit around looking after her daughter – still receives no help from the Government.

“The saddest thing is she can’t even get disability allowance,” said Andrea.

“Because she gets her medication in the hospital and, on good days like today, she can be up and about, they say she’s not eligible.

“But no two days are the same. Tomorrow she might be as stiff as a board.”

Source: Hollie needs chemotherapy to treat severe arthritis – so why isn’t she entitled to disability benefits? – Gazette Live


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