The Conservative victory in December’s general election has given Boris Johnson free reign to torture the UK’s poorest people.
Amazingly, there are some in the country who either haven’t noticed, or refuse to accept the reality of the harm that is being done.
So this article by Red Revolution is timely. It states:
The Court of Appeal found that the Tory government discriminated against disabled people through the unfair and cruel practices of the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP). The finding confirmed in law what millions have known since 2010, that the Tory government is engaging in nothing less than what can be described as a process of social cleansing through the DWP.
Just last year the United Nations condemned the Tory government, a report comparing British welfare policies to the creation of workhouses. Philip Alston, the UN rapporteur on extreme poverty, accused the Tories of the “systematic immiseration of a significant part of the British population”.
Such is the level of misery inflicted on the British public that many have suggested that the poor and vulnerable are headed back to Victorian levels of inequality and poverty.
Given that people are literally freezing and starving to death, it’s not hard to see the point.
Bear in mind the fact that the UK, with a $2.83 trillion GDP, is the fifth-largest economy in the world.
The piece goes on to tell the stories of 10 infamous cases, including some that have been covered on This Site: Errol Graham, Mark Wood, Andrew Clarke, David Clapson, Mark Smith, Chris Gold, Danielle White, Elaine Morrall, ‘Alice’ and Stephen Smith.
Have YOU donated to my crowdfunding appeal, raising funds to fight false libel claims by TV celebrities who should know better? These court cases cost a lot of money so every penny will help ensure that wealth doesn’t beat justice.
Mark Wood: He died of starvation several months after his ESA was stopped without warning by the DWP.
Mark Wood starved to death four months after the then-government sickness benefit assessor, Atos, found him fit for work.
His death was never entered in Department for Work and Pensions death statistics as it did not happen within two weeks of his claim being cut off. So the DWP could deny responsibility, even though he plainly was not fit for work when he was assessed.
Now it seems government policies are deliberately sending thousands of people to die the same way – poverty-stricken malnutrition.
Perhaps ministers think they have found a way to make the deaths look coincidental?
Consider: Government policies make people too poor to eat, so they either starve to death at home like Mr Wood, or they become a burden on an already-overworked National Health Service, forcing it further towards collapse.
If they live, they have helped push the NHS further into difficulty that can be used later to justify a switch to insurance-based private health; if they die, they cease to claim state benefits.
It’s easy to understand that this is how Jeremy Hunt and Damian Green think.
The number of people so malnourished they need hospital treatment has QUADRUPLED in 10 years.
In a shocking indictment of the nation’s food poverty , more than 16,000 cases of malnutrition were reported in hospitals in England last year, an average of 45 every day.
More than 900 of these cases were classed as severe – meaning patients were in danger of starving to death.
But these alarming NHS figures are just the extreme tip of an iceberg of misery and deprivation as GPs treat thousands more poverty-stricken patients for malnutrition.
Campaigners blame spiralling food prices, falling wages and ruthless benefits cuts and sanctions.
What follows should make you very angry: An ignorant Conservative councillor has attacked an opponent in the Labour Party for tweeting an entirely appropriate comparison between Iain Duncan Smith and Adolf Hitler.
Yes, Cllr Ashley Dearnley, leader of the Conservative group in Rochdale – it was perfectly appropriate for North Middleton Cllr Chris Furlong to tweet a picture of Hitler above one of Iain Duncan Smith and imply that the Conservatives may be responsible for the deaths of more disabled people than the Nazi leader – that is what the figures suggest.
Remember, the reference to the killing of 70,000 disabled people by Nazis is compared with only 81,040 people who died in only just over two years under Duncan Smith’s Conservative policies. We don’t have the full figures yet.
Mr Dearnley can’t say that Conservative Government policy has not led to any deaths because we have the case of Michael O’Sullivan to prove that it has.
Not only that, but north London coroner Mary Hassall’s report, blaming Tory policy for Mr O’Sullivan’s suicide, was filed in January 2014, meaning that the Tory Government’s protestations, throughout the summer, that there is no causal link between Mr Duncan Smith’s policies and the deaths of claimants, is proved to be a lie.
Cllr Dearnley, clearly ignorant of the hole into which his party has dug itself, is quoted as follows: “The remarks are appalling and are totally unacceptable. I would expect the Labour Party to withdraw his whip. If the new Labour leader has anything about him, he will make sure he is removed from the Labour party.”
It seems the matter has been referred for investigation by the Labour Party. This Writer would argue that, if Jeremy Corbyn has anything about him, he would celebrate Cllr Furlong’s forthrightness, highlight the support he has gained from disabled people and demand to know why the mainstream media have chosen to ignore this hugely important issue.
“I know if David Cameron heard that any of his councillors made remarks comparing people to Hitler, then David Cameron would make sure that they were removed from the Conservative party. If Corbyn has any mettle about him, he will ensure that this happens,” Cllr Dearnley continued. The rest of us don’t know that, though. We only see a man, whose policies have caused deaths, being rewarded for it.
Speaking to Rochdale Online, Councillor Furlong defended himself: “I posted the tweet because people are dying because of policies instigated by Iain Duncan Smith and the mainstream media is ignoring it. I have been campaigning on these issues for a while now but, for some reason, the mainstream media is choosing to ignore it.”
Join the club, Chris!
If the MSM really wanted to cover this, there are several possible issues to investigate:
The fact that in May 2014, I submitted a Freedom of Information Request on the number of incapacity benefit claimants who have died, and the Conservative Government has yet to honour that request with a full and honest answer. It claimed to have done so on August 27 but this was a lie.
The fact that part of the Tory Government’s failure to answer my FoI request means we do not know the full number of people who died after being found fit for work under the current government’s brutal regime. We know how many people who had been found fit for work died within two weeks of their claim ending (because they had been found fit for work) – but that is just a fraction of the total number of deaths. Mr O’Sullivan committed suicide six months later, but his death is still directly attributable to government policy. Mark Wood died of starvation, four months after being found fit for work – was the government any less guilty of causing his death?
The fact that the mortality rate in the work-related activity group of Employment and Support Allowance is three times the national average, yet these are people who are expected to be fit for work within a year. Attempts have been made to claim that they have conditions that make them more likely to die early, but this is irrelevant as they are pushed out to join the wider population (which has a far lower mortality rate) in any case. If they really do have more serious conditions, they should be in the support group. Right?
The fact that the death rates for all claimants of incapacity benefits do not tally with the death rates for Incapacity Benefit/Severe Disablement Allowance and Employment and Support Allowance individually. It is to be expected that the number of claimants won’t tally because people have been migrated from the older benefit to the new, so they may have two claims within a particular year – but you can only die once, and you can only be on one benefit when it happens.
The fact that the medical test, taken as part of the work capability assessment for ESA, includes a question about whether the claimant has had suicidal thoughts in the past. If a claimant admits contemplating suicide, the next question is “Why haven’t you done it?” Is this not designed to push the claimant towards taking his/her own life, thus removing themselves from the benefit bill? It’s called chequebook euthanasia, and the Nazis were very fond of it.
The fact that, after visiting the Nazi extermination camp at Auschwitz, Iain Duncan Smith himself started using the phrase “Work makes you free” in direct imitation of the words written in German over the camp gates. Those words were, of course, a sick joke – just as Iain Duncan Smith words have been for an unknown number of incapacity benefits claimants. He has recently adapted the phrase, as part of a drive to get even more ill people off the benefit books into “Work makes you healthy” – for which there is no medical proof at all. In the light of this behaviour, it is impossible not to compare this man with Hitler.
The above examples are just off the top of this writer’s head. The Conservative Government, and flunkies like Cllr Dearnley, want to pretend that everything is working perfectly and there is no cause for alarm.
But then, as you can see, the Conservative Government is full of liars.
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.
‘Bin diving’: This is a stock shot of a man in Chelyabinsk, Russia, looking for food in rubbish bins – but it is happening here in the UK as well, and your Coalition Government will try every trick in the book to deny responsibility for it.
Two stories on Welfare Weeklyyesterday (December 9) really stood out – they express the Coalition Government’s attitude to state-funded benefits and the people receiving them so well.
It told the story of Mike from New Cross, who called LBC radio to describe how he has had to live off a tin of spaghetti a day and is forced to root through supermarket bins to survive.
“What you get covers just what you need, and you have to go to food banks,” he said.
“For these people to sit there to say oh go and get a job – I’m out there every day, looking and searching, and you know you’re trying to do it on your own, but you can’t, and it gets harder and harder.
“You’re just trying to get by. Some days I can’t eat. I don’t eat.”
New claimants will not be eligible for any financial support during the first week of their claim, and will then have to wait a further month before any benefits are paid.
The warning came in response to a cross-party inquiry into hunger and child poverty, which found that delays in benefit payments is one of primary reasons for soaring numbers of food bank users.
Clearly the Coalition Government is not bothered about the plight of people like Mike – its Universal Credit policy makes it perfectly clear that the plan is to increase the agony – for anyone who has the temerity to claim the social security for which they have been paying taxes, ever since they were old enough to be trusted with money.
And there’s another factor at play here: Blame.
Look at what Mike said: “For these people to sit there to say oh go and get a job…” Suppose he starves to death, as Mark Wood already has. What will the Coalition Government and its media puppets say? “He was another lazy man who couldn’t get up off his backside and get a job“?
Suppose more people do end up going to food banks as a result of a switchover to Universal Credit (you never know, that change might just happen) – will right-wing critics attack them in the same way a commenter on Mainly Macroattacked them? Will they be told they don’t really need the free food parcels on offer there? Will they be told they’re only going because it is free, and there is limitless demand for anything that is free? Will they be told they are just pretending to be hungry?
And what, exactly, is the ultimate purpose behind these claims?
Is it not to insure the Coalition Government against the backlash when somebody dies?
They may starve; they may commit suicide through despair. Both have already happened – here in the UK – many times since the Coalition slithered into office. Ministers don’t want you to know that they were responsible; that their policies led people to this point; that this is what they were intended to do.
Speaking ill of the dead is a better outcome for ministers than admitting they failed to provide the protection for which the people of this country pay their taxes.
Following the bogus Work Capability Assessment (WCA) conducted by Atos Healthcare, as contracted by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), the United Kingdom (UK) Government admitted that it was wrong to cut the disability benefits of Mark Wood, the vulnerable disabled man who starved to death following the removal of his benefits, in the 21st century UK, when weighing only 5st 8lbs.
Despite the fact that the WCA was introduced by the Labour Government in 2008, it was originally designed by previous Conservative Governments, in consultation with the notorious American corporate giant now known as Unum Insurance, identified in 2008 by the American Association for Justice as the second most discredited insurance company in America.
Without a welfare state, sick and disabled people in America are required to use private healthcare insurance. The tyranny now imposed on the sick and disabled people in the UK, using the WCA, was designed in consultation with Unum Insurance to oblige the general public to purchase private income protection insurance policies once it was made very clear that chronically sick and disabled people could no longer rely on the British State for adequate financial support.
Americans often suffer when attempting to claim from the income protection insurance policies of Unum Insurance, who use an identical bogus disability ‘assessment’ model as that used by Atos Healthcare.
Due to the similarities of the negative and damaging experiences of claimants, American sick and disabled people are periodically informed about the struggle in the UK by the high calibre and relentless work of Linda Nee, who tries to encourage claimants to publicly protest as witnessed in the UK, which it seems disabled Americans still don’t dare to do – such is the intimidation of Unum Insurance & the American authorities (see here, here and here).
The new report by The Mental Health Welfare Commission for Scotland, regarding a woman’s suicide after being ‘stripped of disability benefits’, was reported by John Pring at the Disability News Service (DNS) and by many others. The Coalition Government knew this carnage would happen.
Three years ago a list of distinguished academics, together with politicians and disability support groups, identified the future in a letter as published in The Guardian newspaper: ‘Welfare reform bill will punish disabled people and the poor.’ Now, three years after this letter was published, questions are being asked as to why the appointed and totally unsuitable Lord Freud, in his capacity as the Minister for Welfare Reform – who was not elected by anyone in the usual democratic way – deemed it necessary for the DWP to stop collating the numbers of deaths recorded after the long-term sickness and disability benefit, Incapacity Benefit, now changed to the Employment Support Allowance (ESA), is removed from claimants. (My emphasis.MS)
Questions are also being asked as to why this unelected former City banker was ever afforded so much authority and power in the UK Government given his reputation, where one commentator described Freud as: ‘…one of the key players in several of the most embarrassing and badly managed deals in investment banking history.’ (See here and here)(My emphasis. MS)
The recent welfare Backbench Business debate in the House of Commons (HOC) was granted due to the 104,000 signatures on the WOW petition, as gathered by disabled people and their carers, who are demanding a cumulative impact assessment of all the welfare reforms. The debate was held on February 27, 2014 where, lamentably, most Coalition Government Members of Parliament (MPs) failed to attend this very important and historic debate. Of course, Coalition MPs still played the ‘blame game’, reminding the opposition that the previous Labour Government had introduced the Work Capability Assessment (WCA).
However, the Coalition routinely overlook the fact that they knowingly changed the WCA into the government-funded nightmare that it is today, whilst MPs such as George Hollingbury (Column 430) actually claimed that the Coalition “took it forward”… (Welfare Reform Act 2012) whilst disregarding the fact that a WCA face-to-face assessment with Atos Healthcare is taking over six months to arrange. (Column 433) (My emphasis.MS)
Hollingbury waxes lyrically about all the ‘expert’ opinion (Column 431) that totally failed to expose the dangerous and limited reality of the WCA, not least due to the restricted possible answers in the tick box WCA computer questionnaire, as conducted by Atos Healthcare, that fail to offer the choice of ‘none of the above’ as an additional possible answer when the WCA questions do not refer to a particular claimant’s situation.
Hollingbury quotes Dr Litchfield’s WCA review whilst overlooking the fact that Professor Harrington, who conducted the first three annual reviews into the WCA, when no longer responsible, appeared in a BBC Panorama documentary and confirmed that ‘…people will suffer.’ No government representative can answer the subsequent obvious simple question – why should chronically sick and disabled people ‘suffer’ in the UK, apart from at the whim of a tyrannical government? (My emphasis.MS)
During the historic WOW petition debate, Alan Reid (Column 434 & 435) claims to be proud of his record in government as a Liberal Democrat (Lib Dem), still claiming that Lib Dems in government have been responsible for ‘improving’ the WCA process, whilst totally disregarding the fact that it is irrelevant how much more ‘flexibility’ is given to the DWP ‘Decision Makers’ and overlooking the fact that the ‘Decision Makers’, by their own admission, are totally unqualified for the vast responsibility they have. (My emphasis.MS)
They are basic grade administrators, not medical administrators, and they are incapable of comprehending diagnosis, prognosis or the implications of long term drug use when using a combination of prescribed drugs. (See here and here) More and more DWP bureaucracy with more and more administration means more and more delays, increasing DWP errors and utter chaos with a system clearly in meltdown as more and more victims of this UK government suffer and die. (See here and here) (My emphasis.MS)
Guto Bebb (Column 442) demonstrated that he is very poorly briefed, and doesn’t appear to want to be better informed, claiming that the damning report by the National Audit Office was ‘disappointing’ but insisted that the policy aims were OK. Bebb still seems to think that any sick or disabled person not in paid employment is ‘unproductive’. This disabled researcher begs to differ and, if the MP reads the very detailed published reports (here and here) as accessed by academics at universities throughout the UK, he’d know how incorrect he is.
Dame Angela Watkinson (Column 445) also appears to be remarkably poorly informed, as were various other speakers in this poorly attended yet important debate, who continued to repeat government rhetoric whilst disregarding the detailed evidence that has exposed the realities behind the ‘reforms’ as paving the way for private insurance to replace the once-hallowed UK Welfare State.
Since being introduced by the Conservative Government in 1992, all UK Governments have used the second worst insurance company in America as “government advisers” on welfare reforms, and the dangerous and totally discredited WCA is the result. (See here and here)
Jim Sheridan’s comments (Columns 448,449) were especially welcome during the debate when making reference to the new Personal Independence Payment (PIP) that has replaced DLA: “Reference has already been made to the obsession with people receiving welfare benefits, but for those with money – the tax avoiders and evaders – life goes on as normal. If only a fraction of the resources used and the time spent on chasing down those on welfare benefits was diverted to tackle tax avoidance and evasion, some people might understand the rationale behind it.”… “When people finally hear about their assessments, there is not much hope. Only 15.4 per cent of new claims have received a decision, and only 12,654 of the 220,300 people who have made a new claim since April 2013 have been awarded some rate of PIP. A constituent of mine got in touch because her father had been diagnosed with lung cancer. Because there is a possibility that his treatment will work, giving him a life expectancy of up to five years, he has not been classed as terminally ill. He is not well enough to attend a medical assessment and so will have to wait longer for a home visit. It appears that letters from his GP, cancer doctor and cancer hospital are not enough to prove the seriousness of his illness.”… “Inclusion Scotland has highlighted the case of the father of an applicant who was told that they would have to wait at least 10 months for any kind of decision, and perhaps even for a first assessment. A constituent of mine who is undergoing cancer treatment has been told that the eight-week time frame given by DWP is an unrealistic amount of time in which to process an application and offer an assessment slot. When my staff called the MP’s hotline, they were told that they simply cannot process the number of applicants as there is not enough staff. They also say that most people who have applied for PIP will not be entitled to it, even before individual cases have been looked at. If that is the mindset of the staff processing the applications, it is hard to see how balanced decisions will be made.” (My emphasis. MS)
Dr Eilidh Whiteford’s comments during the debate were also very welcome (Columns 450 & 451) and highlighted the vital work of the disability support groups such as the Black Triangle Campaign: “The Government are looking at this through the wrong end of the telescope. Raising the bar on eligibility will not make anyone any less sick or any less disabled; it will just make it more difficult for them to function in society and place more pressure on those on whom they rely for their care and support”…. “One of the most profoundly disheartening experiences for me as an MP since being elected in 2010 has been the relentless way in which disabled and sick people have been vilified and stigmatised in the public discourse about welfare reform. Those who had very little responsibility for the financial collapse and subsequent economic problems have nevertheless had to carry the can. The attempt to discredit disabled people in order to justify harsh and punitive cuts in their already fairly paltry incomes is quite shameful. It appals me that the most disadvantaged have been asked to pick up the tab disproportionately for the profligacy of others. As we look to the future, we see further cuts of £12 billion, at least, promised in the years ahead. For disabled people in Scotland, the choice between two very different futures is opening up before them: one with decisions on welfare made in Scotland or one where further cuts slash their incomes even more. That choice must seem very stark indeed.” (My emphasis. MS)
The very experienced Labour MP, John McDonnell, who requested this Backbench Business debate, actually confirmed the involvement of Unum Insurance with the entirely bogus WCA (Column 426): “The work capability assessment was flawed from the start. It stemmed from the work of the American insurance company Unum, and the so-called biopsychosocial model of disability assessment. That was exposed as an invention by the insurance companies simply to avoid paying out for claims.” … “The staff employed in order to achieve that often had minimal medical or professional qualifications, and their expertise or experience was often totally unrelated to the condition or disability of the people they assessed.”… “Assessments largely disregarded people’s previous diagnosis, prognosis or even life expectancy. The recent Panorama programme Disabled or Faking It? exposed the scandal of seriously ill patients—people diagnosed with life-threatening conditions such as heart failure or endstage emphysema—being found fit for work. The so-called descriptors, or criteria, on which assessments are based bear no relation to the potential employment available, take little account of fluctuating conditions and are particularly unresponsive to appreciating someone’s mental health issues.” John also identified the utter absurdity of this Government, introducing yet another bogus assessment as the Personal Independence Payment (PIP) that will ‘replace’ DLA although it is likely to remove this additional support from the vast majority of the 3.5 million people in receipt of DLA.
Shockingly, the provision of a Motability long leased vehicle, as funded by the mobility component of the DLA, will now be removed from the majority of chronically disabled people who do work; thus actually preventing them from going to their place of work since they are physically unable to use public transport, which will dramatically and knowingly increase the numbers of disabled people not in paid employment. (Column 428) (My emphasis.MS)
No matter how many unnecessary tragedies are reported, or how many people die in utter despair and destitution, Conservative MPs like George Hollingbury will dismiss them all as ‘questionable’ results….and Alan Reid, for the Lib Dems, still actually claims to have had some positive function in a Government that helped sick and disabled people, whilst disregarding the horrors, the deaths, the suicides and the overwhelming evidence; including distinguished academic papers from UK universities, together with detailed reports by both the British Medical Association and the Royal College of Nurses. Reid accepts no responsibility for the nightmare he helped to create, blaming anyone except the Government he belongs to. He needs to read the detailed, referenced research to help him learn what the disability movement already know. As he talks nonsense, people die.
Reid complains about Atos whilst ignoring the fact that the DWP is complicit. Totally unqualified DWP ‘Decision Makers’, under any UK Government, are dangerous as they aren’t qualified; they can’t comprehend diagnosis or prognosis and hence they are a liability and constantly make incorrect decisions. Their decisions to remove benefits from genuine claimants are killing the innocent victims of this UK State tyranny. Their countless wrong decisions mean that people die, encouraged by this enthusiastic and very dangerous UK Government, who sit back and watch as the majority of people blame Atos Healthcare who are simply following the DWP contract by using the bogus Lima computer assessment to conduct the WCA, as required by the DWP. (My emphasis.MS)
Atos Healthcare doesn’t remove anyone’s benefits – a constant incorrect claim by many – as they don’t have the authority. All Atos staff can do is to decide if someone is ‘fit for work’ based on the results of a bogus imported computer assessment. Any other company in the same position would result in the same conclusions as that is how the computer software in designed, which is why the Lima software should be banished and this particular WCA cancelled. (My emphasis.MS)
By definition, DWP ‘Decision Makers’ actually make the decisions about welfare benefits. These totally unqualified administrators are required to consider all additional evidence provided by the claimant; including detailed letters from Consultants and GPs who know their patients very well. It is the incompetence of the unqualified DWP Decision Makers, who fail to comprehend the details of medical information and choose to accept any decision following the WCA, as conducted by Atos Healthcare, that makes these DWP staff so very dangerous to the most vulnerable people in the UK. Mandatory reconsiderations won’t help if the Decision Makers remain unqualified for the job. What better way is there to remove as many people as possible from welfare benefits than to employ totally unqualified staff to make these vital decisions? (My emphasis.MS)
Identified claimant suffering includes dramatic increases in the onset of mental health problems. The General Practice (GP) service is close to collapse due to overwhelming numbers of patients needing support with DWP paperwork, that limits GP time spent with other patients who are ill and the British Medical Association (BMA) and the Royal College of Nurses (RCN) have both exposed the WCA as causing ‘preventable harm’ (as we have already seen). Yet this dangerous UK Government, with a Cabinet full of millionaires who fail to comprehend need, dismisses all other evidence regardless of source. They disregard the obvious fact that the ‘reforms’ are falling disproportionately onto chronically disabled people, and those who are very ill and in need of guaranteed long-term welfare benefits, as the Government sells the UK and transforms a once-great nation into UK plc. (My emphasis.MS)
In a now-infamous 2008 interview, Lord Freud claimed that he ‘couldn’t believe’ that anyone had been awarded a benefit ‘for life’, demonstrating the immense danger of permitting a former investment banker to have control of welfare spending when he fails to comprehend that many health conditions are permanent and do indeed last a lifetime. Meanwhile, the Public Accounts Committee’s report of February 2013 regarding the DWP’s contract management of medical services was unlimited in its criticisms of the DWP: ‘Poor decision-making causes claimants considerable distress, and the position appears to be getting worse, with Citizens Advice reporting an 83 per cent increase in the number of people asking for support on appeals in the last year alone. We found the Department to be unduly complacent about the number of decisions upheld by the tribunal and believe that the Department should ensure that its processes are delivering accurate decision-making and minimizing distress to claimants.‘ (My emphasis. MS)
There were many powerful speeches in the historic WOW petition debate and it isn’t possible to highlight them all. However, one name in particular should be highlighted for the courage to expose the fact that, if a link could be proven, “…there would be a case for corporate manslaughter.” (Column 460) (My emphasis.MS)
I salute Caroline Lucas MP of the Green Party for her courage and, in particular, for her condemnation of the official opposition for their total failure to offer detailed, significant support to this nation’s chronically sick and disabled people, with the new Shadow Secretary for Work and Pensions, Rachel Reeves MP, using her first interview to announce that she ‘…would be tougher on people on benefits’. (My emphasis.MS)
What a catastrophic announcement from the Shadow Secretary for Work and Pensions that, effectively, offers this nation’s most vulnerable people no hope if the Labour Party were to win the next General Election in 2015.
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Everybody should know by now that British citizen Mark Wood starved to death four months after a medical assessment by Atos found him fit for work, even though it was only reported widely yesterday.
The ruling on the 44-year-old was made against the advice of his GP and in the knowledge that Mr Wood – who lived in David Cameron’s Witney constituency – had mental health conditions including phobias of food and social situations. He weighed just 5st 8lbs when he died in August last year.
His GP, Nicolas Ward, told an inquest into Mr Wood’s death: “Something pushed him or affected him in the time before he died and the only thing I can put my finger on is the pressure he felt he was under when his benefits were removed.”
In a normal society operating under the rule of law, that should be enough to trigger a halt on all work capability assessment medical tests while the entire system is examined with a view to preventing further harm. This was discussed in Parliament last week (read my live blog) but because this was a backbench motion the government has insisted that it only needs to take the unanimous vote in favour of the move as “advisory” – and has done nothing.
That is not good enough for many of us. Samuel Miller, the campaigner who has been trying to bring UK government discrimination against the disabled to the attention of international organisations like the United Nations has already signalled that he will be demanding action.
On Twitter yesterday (February 28), he wrote: “I’ll inform the UN’s human rights office… as well as write the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP); a corporate manslaughter investigation into Atos and the DWP needs to be opened.
“I’ll also file a criminal complaint against Atos and the DWP with Britain’s Metropolitan Police Service.”
Mr Miller has also been awaiting a ruling from the Information Commissioner on his Freedom of Information request from November 6, 2012, demanding details of post-November 2011 Incapacity Benefit and Employment and Support Allowance claimant mortality statistics. The Commission called on the Department for Work and Pensions to come up with a valid reason for its refusal, under the FoI Act and the DWP has failed to provide one so far.
For Mr Miller, the situation has now dragged on far too long. “I’m not going to wait for a ruling from the Information Commissioner’s Office, which I’m unlikely to win. Due to the tragic starvation death of Mark Wood, I’m going to request that the UN’s human rights office obtain a subpoena from the International Criminal Court prosecutor, requiring that the Department for Work and Pensions release the post-November 2011 IB and ESA claimant mortality statistics that I requested on November 6, 2012.”
He is also awaiting the findings of an inquest into the death of Stephanie Bottrill, the Bedroom Tax victim who died when she walked in front of a lorry on a busy motorway, after leaving a note blaming the government. That hearing has not yet taken place.
Samuel Miller has cerebral palsy and lives in Canada, and yet he is willing to do all this to correct injustice in the UK. He puts most of us to shame.
Of course, I am looking forward to my tribunal hearing, in which I hope to trigger the release of those post-November 2011 IB and ESA claimant mortality statistics. If Mr Miller manages it first, then my hearing will focus on why my request for the information was dismissed as “vexatious”, as this has serious implications for any future Freedom of Information requests.
I’d like to hear from others who are doing something about this – even if it only comes down to contacting their MP.
Or do you think this man’s death should be in vain?
Vox Political is an independent political blog.
We don’t receive any funding other than contributions from readers. Vox Political cannot continue without YOUR help. You can make a one-off donation here:
Alternatively, you can buy the first Vox Political book, Strong Words and Hard Times in either print or eBook format here:
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