Tag Archives: mandatory

Tories are attacking disabled people again while we’re looking the other way

The Conservative government has changed its assessment process for disability benefits to make it harder for people to get a correct decision on their claim – it seems.

The Tory miniser for disabled people, Justin Tomlinson, revealed details of the secret change in a letter to the Commons Work and Pensions committee, after its chair, Stephen Timms, raised the issue on behalf of claimants.

It has been usual practice for claimants to request and receive a copy of their assessment report within days of the report being submitted to the DWP.

They have been able to request a copy of their report, check it thoroughly, raise any issues with the assessment providers and receive responses before they have received the decision.

In a fair, sane system, this is appropriate. So of course the Tories have changed it.

In a letter dated September 16, Tomlinson MP wrote:

“The department does not share assessment provider reports with claimants before they have been considered by a DWP Case Manager.”

This is because:

“Providing the report to claimants immediately after the assessment and before the Case Manager has made their decision could therefore give a false impression on the outcome of their claim.”

This will make it much harder for claimants to demand the mandatory review that the Tories insist they have to endure before appealing against a wrong decision.

It can take up to 15 weeks for claimants to receive the decision. Once they do, and if they disagree with it, they will have about three weeks – or less – to make a request for a mandatory review. 

The 30+ page assessment report is a key part of the process and it will take about 10 days from requesting a copy to receiving it.

This leaves very little time for them to see the recommendations made, to analyse the report, to check it for accuracy, to see if there are any errors, and to prepare and send a request for MR if necessary.

Many people with disabilities are very weak, due to their condition, and do not have the strength of will needed to push through a dispute with the government that has a short time limit.

You can be sure the Tories had this in mind when they secretly made this cruel change.

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Tories have wasted £120m in two years trying to tell people they’re not disabled

Habitual cruelty: if you thought the Tories stopped persecuting people with long-term illnesses and disabilities during the Covid-19 crisis, think again.

What a waste of time and money.

Over the last two years, Conservative governments have spent more than £120 million in taxpayers’ money fighting disability benefit claims – despite losing three-quarters of tribunal appeals.

That means automatic wastage of £90 million – but it is likely that the quarter of claimants who lost their appeals also had valid grounds to claim Personal Independence Payment and/or Employment and Support Allowance but were outflanked by a prejudiced system.

The increase in expenditure is far greater than the 13 per cent increase in applications would suggest. And it is happening at a time when the country can ill-afford to waste any cash at all. There can only be one reason for it: sick cruelty – the Tories are enjoying torturing sick and disabled people to death.

And why are there so many applications for disability and sickness benefits in the UK? Do conditions here – especially working conditions – cause illness and disability?

The new figures are further proof that the Tories’ convoluted appeal process has nothing to do with saving money from fraudsters and everything to do with starving people with disabilities – to death, if possible.

It is now well-documented that claimants initially have to go through an internal appeal process within the Department for Work and Pensions called mandatory reconsideration.

The courts only recently ruled that a Tory regulation forcing claimants to go without any benefit payments, and therefore without any income, for the period of a mandatory reconsideration – no matter how long that may be – was illegal.

Only after the DWP rules that a claim should be rejected can the sick or disabled person take their case to a tribunal.

And it is at tribunals that 76 per cent of PIP claims, and 75 per cent of ESA claims, are upheld.

This means the Tories have needlessly and cruelly deprived these people of their means of survival for the number of months – years in some cases – that these claims have been disputed.

We all know that there is hardly any fraud in disability benefit claims – the last recorded number This Writer saw was somewhere in the region of one or two per cent of claims.

So the huge proportion that the Tories refuse – and the amount of time and money wasted in the appeal process – can only mean one thing:

The Tories hate disabled people and want them to die.

Why isn’t this a national – if not international – scandal?

Source: Government spends £120m in taxpayer money fighting disability benefit claims in two years, figures show | The Independent | Independent

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U-turn again, Tories, as face masks are made compulsory in England’s shops (for today, anyway)

Either the Tories can’t make up their collective mind or they’re arguing in public.

On July 12, Michael Gove said there would be no compulsion for people to wear face masks in English shops. Didn’t he say he trusted people to use their common sense?

The very next day, Matt Hancock – himself a stranger to common sense – at least looked at how well that had worked on the beach and in the pub and announced that face coverings would become mandatory after all.

So if we go shopping in England any time after July 24, we need to put a mask on.

(The date is far enough in the future that the Tories can change their minds again, I notice.)

It’s revealing that the Tories’ initial decisions always seem to be wrong. This is just the latest in a long line. Weren’t they elected because people thought they were more likely to make the right choices? It seems the electorate was very badly mistaken and we should all take note before voting in any future elections.

The decision does fly in the face of concerns raised by retailers and unions that their staff could face violence from customers, as it seems some people find it offensive to be asked to protect themselves and others from Covid-19.

And the Tories seem to have ignored the implications for people who cannot wear face coverings, due to pre-existing health issues. What measures will be put in place to protect them?

Source: Coronavirus: Face masks and coverings to be compulsory in England’s shops – BBC News

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Javid admits illegal DNA tests on immigrants – what’s that about him not being racist, again?

Matt Turner, on Twitter, corrected the BBC’s news story about the DNA tests to make it more accurately reflect the facts.

The evidence is mounting up against racist Sajid Javid and his racist government.

The latest is from an internal Home Office review into the mandatory provision of DNA evidence to support immigration claims – a practice that is banned by law in the UK.

But the Home Office has demanded these DNA tests at least 449 times, under its ‘hostile environment’ policy – possibly many more times, as 1,150 Afghan nationals, including 700 family members and parents of those employed by UK government, have been relocated to the UK under a scheme targeted with mandatory DNA testing.

Mr Javid said he had set up a taskforce to deal with anybody who felt they had been unfairly treated by being subjected to this process. What will this group do – pay them fast-track compensation if they sign non-disclosure agreements, as with the Windrush generation?

He said he had already issued instructions that officials should not demand DNA evidence. Did he not do this in June, when the Labour Party revealed the problem? If not, why not?

We all know Mr Javid has racism issues. It isn’t that long since he lined up everybody in this country of Pakistani Asian descent to be targeted as potential paedophiles, due to an ill-advised tweet.

In another tweet he showed anti-Semitism, separating “decent” Jews from those who support Jeremy Corbyn.

And his denial of Islamophobia in the Conservative Party prompted a bitter row with Muslims across the UK.

This is a man with no conscience and, apparently, no understanding of the racist nature of the policies he has been allowing as Home Secretary.

He promised to end the harm done to the Windrush generation, for example – but refused to end the ‘hostile environment’ policy that caused it. And now we see it causing further harm.

The Labour Party has taken him to task, with Shadow Home Secretary Diane Abbott saying: “This issue was first raised by Labour in June and the Government has known for months that some immigration applicants were being compelled to provide DNA evidence to support their claims, even though that is illegal. When presented with clear cases of the Home office requiring DNA evidence, the Minister denied it happened.

“Abuses like this don’t fall from the sky. Officials at the Home Office have been carrying out the Government’s hostile environment policy, which is also what led to the Windrush scandal. People are being treated as guilty or illegal unless they can prove their innocence.

“We need a fair and robust immigration system, but the hostile environment isn’t it and the Government should end it.”

The bad news is that Sajid Javid won’t end it – because he doesn’t think there’s anything wrong with it.

Source: The Government has known for months that some immigration applicants were being compelled to provide DNA evidence, even though that is illegal – Abbott – The Labour Party

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No, HuffPost, it isn’t a ‘taste of his own medicine’ – Chris Williamson wants re-selection for ALL Labour MPs

Up for re-selection: It’s what Chris Williamson wants.


Paul Waugh at the Huffington Post really needs to rein in his anti-Corbyn sentiments; this is fake news.

He has published an article claiming that efforts to make Chris Williamson go through a re-selection procedure, after he campaigned to make re-selection of Labour Parliamentary candidates mandatory, may be considered a “taste of his own medicine”. Clearly, it is not. It is what he wanted.

Here are a few snippets from the HuffPost piece:

“One of Jeremy Corbyn’s most vociferous supporters – who has pushed for the deselection of MPs critical of the Labour leader – is set to face his own battle for reselection following anger at his attacks on trade unions.

“One fellow MP said he will “get a taste of his own medicine” after spending months campaigning for some members of the Parliamentary Labour Party (PLP) to be effectively booted out.

“The left-wing backbencher is popular among many members of the grassroots Momentum organisation, not least for his Democracy Roadshow campaign for automatic reselection of every Labour MP.

“But what was seen as Williamson’s move to cut trade union members out of the process sparked a furious backlash, with both Unite and the GMB warning that it was an attempt to cleave Labour from its historic roots.

“The issue flared up at the party’s conference last month, with some Momentum supporters shouting “shame on the unions” after they blocked more radical attempts to open up every Parliamentary seat to automatic selection.”

This does not make sense.

The article attacks Mr Williamson for “campaigning for some members of the… PLP to be effectively booted out” and also for campaigning “for automatic reselection of every Labour MP”. Well, which is it?

Labour MPs who may be removed, if they have to go through reselection, can’t complain if it is Labour Party policy, as Mr Williamson wants. And a campaign for “every Labour MP” to face automatic reselection cannot target particular members “to be effectively booted out”.

As for the unions who are targeting Mr Williamson for re-selection – from the article, it appears they blocked an attempt to make the Labour Party more democratic, justifying it by claiming it was “an attempt to cleave Labour from its historic roots”. I understand tradition but there is a place for it and, if it harms democracy, that place is in the past.

Mr Waugh, and the HuffPost, have been upbraided for the misleading (in fact, confusing) report:

https://twitter.com/ToryFibs/status/1049658150469681155

What do you think about Mr Williamson and his campaign for mandatory re-selection? You have an opportunity to make your voice heard, simply by Re-Tweeting the Tweet below:

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Lucy Powell’s speech at festival of ‘racial hatred’ makes the case for mandatory reselection

Lucy Powell: What stronger argument for mandatory reselection could there be?

What a great team player Lucy Powell really is!

Despite being “100 per cent” on the side of hecklers who shouted “Corbyn out!” at an event last weekend, her mere presence showed that she was in support of the ‘mandatory reselection’ of MPs, a policy that Mr Corbyn’s supporters want imposed across the party.

Because you see, she was attending an event that purported to be a demonstration against anti-Semitism… organised by friends of far-right organisations including the English Defence League and the Football Lads’ Alliance.

That’s not a demonstration against racism – it’s a rally for it!

And Ms Powell was there, along with fellow Labour MP Louise Ellman (representing the Jewish Labour Movement, so we all know where that organisation now stands), and former Labour Home Office minister Beverley Hughes (now Baroness Hughes of Stretford, deputy mayor of Greater Manchester for policing and crime).

Also attending were Marie van der Zyl, current president of the Board of Deputies of British Jews, and Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mervis.

All of the above clearly thought it was worth standing up with racists in order to attack a man who is not a racist.

How would you describe such people?

Tony Greenstein – another target of the accusers – knows exactly how he would describe them.

In his blog, he states: “This demonstration has nothing to do with anti-semitism and everything to do with supporting Israeli Apartheid. Those organising it stand full square behind a racist ‘Jewish’ supremacist state that bars Palestinians from hundreds of Jewish only communities.

“The EDL, formed by Tommy Robinson aka Steven Yaxley-Lennon, was an organisation of Islamaphobic and racist bigots which managed to combine support for Israel with Hitler salutes. Tommy Robinson himself is popular with Zionists these days and completed a tour of Israel with his Zionist fan Dr Brian.”

He said the organisers of Sunday’s demonstration, the North West Friends of Israel, were deeply involved with the EDL: “In its opposition to Palestine solidarity demonstrations outside the Israeli Kedem shop protest in Manchester in 2014, NWFOI worked with the EDL… As a report at the time observed: ‘NWFOI warmly welcome the English Defence League to their demonstrations.’ The accompanying commentary by Natan Levinson of NWFOI, explained that: ‘the enemy of my enemy is my friend.’”

That seems to have been Ms Powell’s justification for attending an event supported by the far-right. She jumped in feet-first, too, as this clip shows:

Mr Greenstein’s article describes the connection between the EDL and the organisers of Sunday’s event, the North West Friends of Israel. He also states that the Board of Deputies of British Jews said it would never have anything to do with the EDL and its then-leader: “Tommy Robinson’s record of anti-Muslim provocation means that he could never be a partner of a respectable or mainstream Jewish organisation.”

Yet here’s the Board’s president, reeling off a list of lies about Jeremy Corbyn at Sunday’s event.

The enemy of her enemy is her friend, it seems.

This should signal the end of any credibility held by the people named at the top of this article, and the organisations they represent. The reaction on the social media has been damning:

And Jewish Voice for Labour – a group that represents British Jews just as much as the Board of Deputies claims to – made its own disgust at the event, and participation in it by people claiming to represent them, perfectly clear.

In a press release, the organisation stated: “For the last three years there has been a concerted effort to discredit and unseat Jeremy Corbyn as Leader of the Opposition, a man who is quite possibly the most consistent anti-racist leader the Labour Party has ever known.

“This campaign has been led by a coalition of groups which are deeply opposed to Jeremy’s championing of Palestinian rights together with political opponents many of whom have shown little previous interest in combating antisemitism.

“Rather than seeking to oppose genuine anti-Jewish hatred, they have cynically sought to amplify and manipulate the anxieties of British Jews in order to further their political aims.

“Many of those organisations and individuals taking part this Sunday, including Margaret Hodge, Louise Ellman and the Board of Deputies, are the same instigators of the campaign against Jeremy.

“That progressive Jewish organisations, including those supporting Palestinian human rights, were excluded from participating suggests that the organisers and speakers are not acting in good faith.

“For some of the headline speakers, however, the demonstration is not just about antisemitism. Rather it concerns the uncritical defence of some of the actions of the Israeli government whilst giving voice to those who want to remove Jeremy Corbyn, a consistent and principled supporter of Palestinian rights, as leader of the Labour party. We cannot emphasise enough that they do not speak for us.”

Of course – according to some – JVL represent the “wrong kind of Jew”. Look at the reaction this announcement received:

The evidence is clear. This was a racist event, organised and supported by racists who hid beneath a banner of opposition for anti-Semitism.

Under normal Labour Party rules, Lucy Powell, Margaret Hodge and all the other elected representatives who supported it would get away with such an outrage, free as birds, because constituency Labour parties would have no democratic power to remove them.

They would then be able to continue openly campaigning against a leader who is supported by a clear majority of Labour members, presenting lies about him to the public via an unquestioning (right-wing) media establishment, with an ultimate aim of undemocratically removing Mr Corbyn from office.

But their appearance at this event shows that the current situation cannot be allowed to continue. MPs must support the leader, and the will of the party – or they must be replaced by those who will.

By appearing at this appalling event, Lucy Powell and the others have done the Labour Party a huge service.

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Tories have been breaking the law by rejecting vulnerable benefit claimants

This could have serious repercussions for the Conservative government.

Suddenly, instead of dismissing appeals for mandatory reconsideration from people who were not able to submit them in time, ministers have been told benefit claimants must have a right to a tribunal.

It’s a game-changer, and it could save lives.

What does that tell us about the Tory policy that refused people this legal recourse?

Senior judges from an Upper Tribunal have ruled that Theresa May’s government has been acting illegally. And once again, those affected by the ruling are some of the most vulnerable people in the country. The judgment means that the government has likely been screwing over thousands of disabled people who will now potentially be affected by the ruling.

The case was brought by two people who failed to appeal the decision to stop their Employment and Support Allowance in time. Current Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) rules state that the first stage of appealing a decision – a mandatory reconsideration – needs to be lodged within a month.

These claimants didn’t make the deadline because of their “extenuating circumstances”; both have mental health issues along with other problems. But the DWP initially refused to hear their appeals or allow them to present their arguments to a tribunal. So with the help of the Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG), they took the case further.

The problem with strict time limits for people with health conditions should be obvious. They may have issues that do not always allow them to appeal quickly. And this is something the Upper Tribunal judges thought should be “obvious”.

They ruled that: “We have concluded that as a matter of statutory interpretation a claimant in such circumstances has a statutory right of appeal to the first-tier tribunal.”

Source: Senior judges rule that Theresa May broke the law and probably screwed over thousands of people | The Canary


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Tory rag revives ‘benefit scrounger’ lie to smooth over DWP’s bad publicity

The state of this:

This Writer suspects that the editors of The Sun have run this story because the Department for Work and Pensions has been shown up for denying benefits to people who deserve them, in order to meet a quota.

The policy has caused a huge amount of suffering – both due to deprivation and damage to mental health. So The Sun runs a piece attempting to remind the easily-led that benefit claimants are an underclass in Tory Britain, worthy only to be ‘nudged’ off-benefit and toward death.

“And,” as @TyronWilson puts it, “when you actually read the story it says that she saves her benefits all year and doesn’t spend money on herself so she can do this for her kids.”

And there is always the backstop reason for stories like this:

It’s miserable and mean-spirited – as is anybody who believes and/or supports it.


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A job only half-done: Tories SAY they are dropping ESA and PIP Mandatory Reconsideration targets

[Image: Black Triangle Campaign]

The claim that there has never been a Mandatory Reconsideration target for upholding original decisions is, of course, not true.

The Mandatory Reconsideration system was introduced on October 28, 2013, and This Site reported in 2015 that the proportion of ESA decisions overturned by MR had fallen from 35 per cent to 20 per cent – in line with the DWP’s then-secret target.

By the 2016-17 financial year, 87 per cent of MR requests were resulting in the original decisions being upheld.

The fact that the DWP had a target to reject 80 per cent of ESA – and later PIP – appeals at Mandatory Reconsideration was not made public until mid-May this year (2017), when the admission was made in response to a Freedom of Information request.

The revelation prompted an immediate chorus of outrage from organisations that work to protect people with long-term illnesses and disabilities, who rightly pointed out that having a target means the Department for Work and Pensions cannot be trusted to carry out MRs in a trustworthy manner – people who deserved their benefit would be denied it in order to allow the DWP to meet its quota.

Their concerns have been upheld by the Commons Work and Pensions Committee, as you can see in the extract from the UK Parliament website below.

The DWP’s response was to categorically deny the existence of the target and to claim it was simply an “internal measurement”. But the Department has still agreed to drop it.

But will this happen?

It has taken four years to establish that the DWP has this target and force the Department to scrap it. During that time, hundreds of thousands of claimants have had decisions to reject their claim for ESA or PIP upheld. The fact that these decisions were target-based and not evidence-based casts doubt on the entire process.

And what has happened to the people whose claims have been rejected?

It seems clear to This Writer that every claim rejected under the former system should be re-examined – independently. We need to know how many erroneous decisions were not identified and corrected.

Dropping the target alone will leave the job half-done. We need to know how many people were falsely denied their benefits and we need justice for those people.

When may we expect it?

In response to pressure from the Work and Pensions Select Committee the Department for Work and Pensions has announced that its target for upholding original PIP and ESA decisions at the first stage of appeal, known as Mandatory Reconsideration (MR), will be dropped.

On 28 November the Committee wrote to DWP with concerns about MRs, which had come up in the Committee’s current inquiry into the medical assessments carried out by ATOS, Maximus and Capita to inform DWP’s decisions on awards of disability benefits PIP and ESA.

The Committee had heard of “pressure to turn out numbers” in relation to both the original decision and at MR stage, and that MRs simply “rubber stamp” the original decision. The DWP revealed in an FOI request in May 2017 that one of the performance indicators for MRCs was that 80% of the original decisions are to be upheld. The Committee queried how a target for upholding original decisions could be compatible with ensuring that questionable reports are thoroughly investigated, and erroneous decisions identified and corrected. MR should be an important extra safeguard, but instead appears to be creating another “hurdle” in a process that is already arduous and stressful for many claimants, as the Committee has heard directly in nearly 4,000 individual accounts submitted to it.

The Department’s response “categorically state(s) that there has never been a Mandatory Reconsideration target for upholding original decisions”, and that the 80% target, “an internal measurement only used to indicate areas” where there were problems with the original decisions being made, will be dropped.

Commenting on the response, Rt Hon Frank Field MP Chair of the Committee, said

“It is great news that the target has been dropped and we congratulate the Department on this response. This is a great victory for the thousands of PIP and ESA claimants who have responded to our inquiry, and for anyone going through this process, who can now go to the first stage of appealing a benefits decision with more confidence that the reconsideration will be fair and impartial.”

Source: Victory for claimants as Government agrees to drop MR measure – News from Parliament – UK Parliament


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Funding for women’s refuges should be mandatory, says Starmer

The shadow Brexit secretary tweeted that it was better to ‘save lives and protect’ than ‘investigate afterwards’ [Image: Martin Argles for the Guardian].

It’s good to see MPs of the calibre of Keir Starmer fighting the Tory project to support domestic (and other) abuse.

This site demonstrated how the Tories are supporting abusers in a recent article.

The Tory government says it is providing £100m of dedicated funding for tackling violence against women and girls, lasting until 2020. This includes a £20m fund to support refuges and other accommodation-based services, which ministers say will provide 2,200 additional bed spaces.

According to whom? Is there any independent information on the cost of keeping refuges open across the UK? How do we know these bed spaces are additional, and in addition to what?

The Tories are also threatening to publish a “landmark” draft Domestic Violence and Abuse Bill “to protect and support victims, recognise the life-long impact domestic abuse has on children and make sure agencies effectively respond to domestic abuse”.

You know it will be a travesty.

Keir Starmer, the shadow cabinet member and former chief prosecutor, has called for mandatory funding for refuges amid criticism over a shake-up of funding for women’s services.

Abuse survivors and charities have warned the lives of vulnerable women and children will be put at risk by government plans to remove refuges and other forms of short-term supported housing from the welfare system.

On average, housing benefit makes up 53% of refuge funding and as there is no obligation for local authorities to fund refuges, is the last remaining guaranteed source of income.

Instead of being able to use housing benefit to fund refuges, the government proposes handing a “ring-fenced” grant to councils for short-term supported housing. However, this does not exclusively cover refuges – it is also aimed at older people, homeless people, offenders, people with mental illnesses and drug addicts.

The document detailing the proposals, published in October, contains a caveat that funding for refuges will be looked at in November 2018, but provides no further details or reassurance.

Starmer, the former director of public prosecutions (DPP) and shadow Brexit secretary, called for mandatory funding.

Source: Keir Starmer: make funding for women’s refuges mandatory | Politics | The Guardian


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