Tag Archives: review

DWP tries to blame Royal Mail for PIP delays but do we believe it?

It’s a sad consequence of having to fight a court case that I don’t have as much time for some of the subjects that made This Site’s name – such as the persecution of benefit claimants by the DWP.

This particular issue is one on which I have personal experience, though – as, I dare say, has anybody who has had to deal with DWP letters.

My case differs from that outlined by Disability News Service, though – in that the DWP contacted Mrs Mike to tell her that her PIP review was due, and could she return the form within a month of the date of the letter?

The letter arrived no less than 10 days after the date on it. That left three weeks to get the review done.

It is not enough time. Not only do PIP claimants have to navigate the form, which is worded in an open way but which is marked according to very specific requirements, but they must also seek corroborating evidence from carers, community helpers and healthcare professionals.

All of this takes considerable time.

As her carer, I knew that we needed to seek expert help in writing the form, so I contacted Citizens Advice and was immediately told that I would have an appointment to talk to someone in a few days’ time – and that I should seek an extension on the deadline at once.

I can’t say that conditions are the same across the UK – I live in Wales – but once I managed to get through to DWP (there was an inevitable wait of more than an hour) the department could not have been happier to extend the deadline.

I think I was given a couple of extra weeks.

I therefore advise everybody to do this – especially if receiving a letter with a deadline that appears to have been delayed in the post. It makes the argument between DWP and the Royal Mail irrelevant.

And I needed the extra time. Mrs Mike has a condition that can only get worse, but it wasn’t until I spoke to somebody else about it that I realised the extent to which her condition had degenerated.

Help I had provided as a favour when she was feeling particularly bad had become a habit – meaning that he condition has worsened – and the very shape of our days had changed as these accumulated.

The changes had been so gradual that I had not taken them into account – but they mean a great deal when dealing with the DWP.

I therefore advise everybody going through a benefit review to seek expert help from Citizens Advice or an organisation that is similarly qualified.

Finally there was the question of corroborating evidence. I provided a letter, as Mrs Mike’s carer, describing the obstacles she faces getting through the day, and the ways I have to help her.

We sought letters from community organisations and some professionals but received no interest in return.

And we contacted Mrs Mike’s doctor, too. This seemed likely to be problematic. “Oh, you’ll get no help there,” people said. “Doctors have been discouraged and disincentivised by the DWP! If you do get a letter, they’ll charge you a fat wad of cash!”

Not a bit of it was true.

We received a letter in due course, containing a printout of Mrs Mike’s medical history and a medical opinion that was adamantly in favour of her receiving the highest degree of benefit available to her.

Finally, when it was time to post the completed form, I took it to the post office and paid extra to ensure that the DWP would have to sign for it, to confirm receipt.]

This is very important. I know from personal experience and the experience of others that the DWP finds it easy to claim non-receipt – as it did in the case of the claimant in the DNS story.

This cannot happen if you have evidence that somebody signed for it. It bypasses any concerns about whether delays were caused by the Royal Mail or the DWP because it provides proof of delivery within the time stated.

The decision took about a month to come back. It confirmed Mrs Mike’s benefit would continue at the highest rates possible.

So that is my advice for anybody going through the benefit review process:

  1. Seek expert advice on filling out the form because they must provide specific information that the DWP must see before it awards any points.
  2. Contact the DWP and ask for an extension on the deadline if its letter arrived late.
  3. Seek evidence from anybody who has experience of the claimant’s disability. The worst that can happen is they decline to provide it. Don’t be put off asking your doctor.
  4. When you post the form back, make sure the DWP has to sign for it to confirm that it has been received.

These are measures that work.

They deprive the DWP of any excuse to blame another organisation for delays in processing a claim.

And they ensure that your benefit payments are disrupted by any nonsense if the DWP claims that you haven’t returned your form.

Source: DWP and Royal Mail dispute cause of PIP delays – Disability News Service

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Jo Bird, the proposed standards review of the Jewish Chronicle… and me

Jo Bird: her complaint against the Jewish Chronicle over inaccuracies in its report about her was upheld; now she, I, and seven other victims of its falsehoods are demanding an investigation into whether the paper’s editorial standards have fallen to an unacceptable level.

In case you’ve been living under a rock since the weekend, the newspaper regulator IPSO has made yet another ruling against the Jewish Chronicle for failures in its journalism.

The right-wing rag was found to have wrongly reported that Ms Bird, a Labour councillor in the Wirral, had been suspended for a third time in late 2020.

Details are below, including her own statement on the ruling which points out that the JC crucially failed to mention the fact that she is Jewish in its account of alleged anti-Semitism by her – thereby omitting crucial context.

As you can see from the last paragraph of her statement, Ms Bird demanded a formal Standards Investigation by IPSO into the JC.

This means that IPSO would consider whether the number and regularity of Editor’s Code breaches means that the JC‘s editorial standards have fallen to an unacceptable level. If it were to find against the newspaper, then penalties – and measures to improve it – may be demanded.

Where do I fit in to this?

I’m glad you asked.

Back in 2018, the JC was one of a handful of newspapers that re-published a false claim from The Sunday Times that I was a Holocaust denier. There was no truth in the allegation, which was derived from documents leaked by the Labour Party, which was investigating me at the time; investigators had ignored their own regulations on fairness in order to fabricate the claims.

The JC had not attempted to verify any of the claims against me before it published them. I complained to IPSO and my complaint was upheld (although you wouldn’t know it from the surly line of clarification that was added to the story, to the effect that I had said the claim was false. The Sunday Times was subsequently forced to publish a lengthy clarification in which it admitted that there was no truth at all to its claim about me).

After Ms Bird’s victory was announced, I was contacted by friends acting on her behalf, to ask if I would be willing to sign a letter calling on IPSO to conduct the Standards Investigation that she had already demanded, in my capacity as another victim of false reporting.

I was happy to do so.

And that is the reason my name is attached to the following letter:

Dear Lord Faulks,

We welcome IPSO’s agreement to consider Jo Bird’s proposal for a Standards Investigation into the Jewish Chronicle and we urge you to launch such an investigation without delay. With 28 recorded breaches of the Editors’ Code and four libel defeats in just three years, it is clear that the paper’s editorial standards are shockingly low and IPSO’s actions to date have made no difference.

We have all either seen our complaints to IPSO about the Jewish Chronicle’s bad journalism upheld or secured admissions of libel from the paper. Unless standards there improve there will be more victims, while readers will continue to be misled.

IPSO’s regulations say a Standards Investigation can take place where there is evidence of ‘serious and systemic breaches of the code’. The seriousness of the breaches by the Jewish Chronicle is attested to in IPSO’s own rulings while the sheer number of breaches and libel defeats – taking place at a small publication that appears only weekly – proves the problem is systemic.

We would be grateful if you would circulate this letter to all IPSO board members and to senior management.

Yours,

Jo Bird

John Davies

Ibrahim Hewitt, Interpal

Jenny Lennox

Kal Ross

Mike Sivier

Thomas Suárez

Marc Wadsworth

Audrey White

Now we must wait for a response from IPSO, due by August 12, and then for its findings – if an investigation is launched.

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Vox Political reviewed! Favourably! Watch this and then read the articles from other sites too


This is fun.

Bywire News has reviewed a Vox Political article, along with others, in this online show:

I’m not saying I’m aligning with Bywire or any of the opinions expressed there, but I do think that simply drawing attention to the independent media is a good step forward.

Watch it for yourself, and maybe give some attention to the other sites mentioned.

Let’s break out of our ghetto!

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The DWP carried out dozens of secret reviews into benefit claimant deaths – and deleted them. Why? What did they show?

[Image: Black Triangle Campaign].

If you’ve got nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear, right?

In that case, what is the Department of Work and Pensions afraid of?

Since February 2012 (as far as we can be sure), it has been carrying out secret reviews into the reasons benefit claimants died – but has destroyed records of all such reviews carried out before 2016.

Why? What did they find that the DWP needed to hide?

Freedom of Information requests show that 49 reviews took place between February 2012 and autumn 2014 (all records of them have been destroyed) – and nine reviews took place between August 2014 and April 2016 (but these overlap with other periods where we know the numbers).

The reason this is cause for serious concern is that the DWP’s policies and practices have been linked to the deaths of benefit claimants – particularly those claiming Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) and Personal Independence Payment (PIP) who suffered mental distress – ever since the Tories took over control of that department in 2010 (if not before).

At the time of writing it is only a day since This Site published an article highlighting the fact that more than 300 terminally-ill people have been dying every month after being denied fast-track access to benefits by the DWP.

The department has been rejecting around 100 claims per month.

The concern – as I pointed out yesterday – is that the Department for Work and Pensions intentionally harms people claiming benefits by depriving them of their payments in order to hasten their deaths.

Is that what was revealed in the now-destroyed reviews of the reasons claimants died?

Is that why the DWP shredded them?

If so, then it seems this department’s bosses – and their political leaders from 2010 onwards – have good reason to be afraid. But when will they be brought to justice?

Source: DWP admits carrying out more than 175 secret reviews into benefit deaths in nine years – Disability News Service

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Tory dictatorship: MPs and Lords say attack on courts will weaken rule of law. But THEY CANNOT STOP IT

Manifesto commitment: the Conservatives made their plan to end democracy clear in their 2019 election manifesto. Every Conservative voter demanded an end to democracy and a slide into dictatorship and there is no way to stop it now.

This will make no difference at all to Boris Johnson’s plans because none of the objectors are Conservatives.

It seems a cross-party group of MPs and peers has written to Justice Secretary Robert Buckland to say government plans to restrict judicial review will weaken the rule of law (and therefore harm justice).

Buckland couldn’t care less, of course. That is what these plans are supposed to do – as some of us have been saying for years.

Judicial reviews examine whether an action or decision of a public body – like the government – follows the law.

Boris Johnson was deeply embarrassed by judicial reviews that overturned his decisions to mismanage Brexit and to prorogue Parliament, back in 2019.

So he made plans to stop the courts from forcing his government to obey the law, and put them into his 2019 election manifesto.

And then every single tribal Tory headbanger in the United Kingdom voted away their right to a law-abiding democracy.

Johnson has couched his plan to end democracy in the UK with (typically) a lie: he said his plan will “restore the balance of power between the executive, legislature and the courts”.

In fact, it will enshrine in law the right of a sitting – Tory – government to do whatever it wants, by making sure the rest of us don’t have any legal power to stop it.

In their letter to Buckland, the 32 Labour, Liberal Democrat, Green, SNP, Plaid Cymru, DUP and Alliance MPs stated

the proposals “would weaken both individuals and the courts, and effectively put government actions beyond the reach of the law.

“Together, these changes would make it much harder for people to put things right when mistakes are made or governments overstep their bounds. They would undermine the rule of law and the crucial principles of fairness and accountability.”

The letter said the proposals are based on a “false claim” (read: lie) by Johnson and his government that a panel led by Lord Faulks QC had found that courts in judicial review cases had become more prone “to edge away from a strictly supervisory jurisdiction”.

Faulks himself has contradicted this Tory lie. He said his panel did not identify any such “trend” and “was not ultimately convinced that judicial review needed radical reform”.

The plan to put the government above the law has been condemned by the  Bar Council, Law Society, Constitutional and Administrative Law Association, Liberty, Justice and the Public Law Project for the same reason.

The Ministry of Justice has stated: “We made a manifesto commitment to ensure the judicial review process is not open to abuse or delay, or used to conduct politics by another means.” Fine words that are not borne out by the substance of the plan.

When we consider the ways the Tories have abused the system during the Covid-19 crisis – bypassing the competitive tendering system to give contracts worth fortunes to their friends, who failed to deliver, meaning tens of thousands of lives were sacrificed for profit, we can predict what this plan will mean.

Every incompetent, corrupt and self-serving decision by Boris Johnson will carry the full force of the law, because there will be no law to stop him.

It will extinguish democracy and force you into a new dark age of dictatorship.

And while this letter of protest is a nice gesture, it is futile.

The decision was made in 2019. There is nothing you can do to stop it.

Source: Plans to restrict judicial review weaken the rule of law, MPs warn | Law | The Guardian

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Investigation of Conservative Islamophobia is another blatant whitewash

Boris Johnson’s comments about the clothes worn by Muslim women are only part of the huge volume of Islamophobia and racial hatred he has tried to stir up on his own – but the EHRC was happy to let the Tories investigate accusations against their own party and now that report stands revealed to be a whitewash.

An independent (was it?) review into Islamophobia in the Conservative Party has said there is no “institutional” problem – to howls of outrage from the rest of us.

Even though it does report attitudes that make “uncomfortable” reading for Boris Johnson and other Tories, the report is as much a whitewash as the examination of “institutional racism” in the UK, a few weeks ago.

The government has been resisting calls for that report to be discredited and scrapped ever since and the Conservative Party must now face the same calls over this.

Here’s the BBC, calmly presenting the Tories in as kind a light as possible (in other words, very dimly):

There is “clear evidence” the Conservatives’ complaints system is “in need of overhaul”, Professor Swaran Singh’s independent review into alleged Islamophobia and discrimination in the Conservative Party said.

It found anti-Muslim views were seen at local association and individual level.

But claims of “institutional racism” were not borne out by evidence of the way complaints were handled.

The report warned it “should make for uncomfortable reading for the party”.

But it also said it found “no evidence the party had… systematically failed any particular community”.

Oh, really?

Let’s go to some of our favourite people on Twitter for their analysis.

Here’s Ash Sarkar, who happens to be a Muslim who has suffered Islamophobia from Conservative Party members:

She was also able to provide an example of Islamophobia by a very senior Conservative, from very recent history:

She was referring to this:

Johnson’s own comment about women wearing the burqa (or burka, spell it how you like) looking like “letterboxes” and “bank robbers” was criticised as “insensitive”. That’s a strange way to spell “racist”!

It seems he tried to excuse himself with the pathetically weak comment that he wouldn’t do it again, now that he is prime minister.

How is that acceptable? He was saying that he still holds his racist, Islamophobic opinions, but he now intends to deceive the public that he doesn’t by choosing not to broadcast them!

Perhaps he feels he should not be picked out for special investigation because he isn’t the first Tory prime minister to be out-and-out racist filth. Theresa May’s “hostile environment”, that gave rise to her racist “go home” advertising vans and the Windrush scandal, springs to mind.

But apparently these historical examples of racism and Islamophobia are still not enough for the Singh review!

They were enough for Russ Jones:

Also on a party-wide basis:

Some have seen this as marking the right time for the Equalities and Human Rights Commission to resume its own investigation into Tory Islamophobia, that was called off after the Singh review was announced.

This was rightly criticised at the time because the EHRC point-blank refused to call off its inquiry into Labour anti-Semitism after that party announced an internal review.

So Peter Oborne’s suggestion rings hollow:

The most that is likely to come from it, even if the EHRC deigns to respond, is confirmation that it is biased towards the Conservatives.

And as far as Conservatives are concerned, we have this comment to put the whole situation in its proper context:

Divide and rule. It is the Tory mantra. They have spent more than a decade encouraging prejudice and racism across the UK.

And they’re not going to stop, now they know it’s working.

Source: PM’s burka comments gave impression of insensitivity – report – BBC News

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‘National embarrassment issues’ as Daniel Morgan panel refuses to hand report to Priti Patel

Daniel Morgan: Priti Patel, who is in charge of the police, still wants to interfere with a report into the murder of a man who had been investigating police corruption.

What a principled, positive stand by the panel responsible for the Daniel Morgan murder inquiry.

According to The Guardian,

The independent panel investigating the Daniel Morgan scandal is refusing the home secretary’s demands to hand over its report before it can be published, as senior police sources say nothing in the case affects national security.

Patel cited the need to consider national security and human rights obligations before making the report public.

But one source with close knowledge of the five Metropolitan police inquiries into the case and the documents involved, said: “There are no national security issues involved. There are national embarrassment issues.”

The grounds on which Patel is justifying her demand to review the report are very shaky indeed:

The Home Office pointed to one part of the panel’s terms of reference which, it said, allows it to see the report before agreeing to its publication, and make changes as it sees fit.

The relevant section says: “The independent panel will present its final Report to the home secretary, who will make arrangements for its publication to parliament.”

A government source said: “Before the home secretary lays it before parliament she has to satisfy herself as to her statutory duties.

“Those relate to national security considerations and that it complies with human rights obligations such as the right to life (article 2) and the right to privacy (article 8).”

This is an attempt to shoe-horn new requirements into rules that were written six years before Patel got anywhere near the Home Office. And it shouldn’t work.

There is nothing in that section of the terms of reference that says the Home Secretary may do anything other than arrange for the report to be published.

In fact, it could be argued that the omission specifically prohibits her from trying; if she was to be allowed such leeway, it would have been written into the terms.

I reckon this will go to the High Court.

Source: Daniel Morgan murder: panel refuses to hand over report | Police | The Guardian

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What’s the point of a ‘review’ of the Greensill Scandal that can’t actually effect change?

George Eustice has a record of defending the indefensible: he also believes children should starve during the holidays, asylum seekers should drown and people should die of Covid-19 rather than let the economy be harmed.

After the Greensill Scandal brought to light a mountain of evidence showing corruption at the highest level of government, Boris Johnson announced a ‘review’ – that won’t have power to change anything.

Environment Secretary George Eustace admitted the review will be utterly pointless:

Mr Eustice told Sky News’ Sophy Ridge: “This review doesn’t need enforcement powers as such, it just needs to get to the bottom of what happened.”

Asked if the government would act on any recommendations from the report, Mr Eustice said there probably wouldn’t be any.

He said: “I don’t think the review’s going to make any policy recommendations.”

Asked what the point of the review was, when it has no powers and won’t make any recommendations, he said: “People are raising questions about what happened in this particular instance around [failed bank represented by David Cameron] Greensill…The purpose of the review is to answer those questions, not prescribe policy.”

In other words, it seems the aim is to make up a plausible fairy story that the Tories think we’ll accept.

That’s about as reassuring as “Ministers ‘will look at’ ideas for new lobbying rules”.

Maybe they will. They’ll look at the ideas and then they’ll file them in a litter bin.

The review will undoubtedly find that Cameron’s activities were entirely legal and conformed to the rules – intentionally avoiding the point.

The point is that the rules are intentionally corrupt. They were devised by David Cameron to allow him to do – legally – what he did.

And they also allow any other Tory to take advantage of them in the same way.

That is the reason no member of the current Tory government is going to lift a finger to change them.

Source: Minister admits Boris Johnson’s ‘review’ of lobbying scandal will have no powers – Mirror Online

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Greensill: Johnson launches government-run review of lobbying. It’ll be another whitewash

David Cameron: he acted very slick in office but it seems he simply refused to do anything right.

Labour has (rightly) attacked Boris Johnson for launching only a government review of lobbying rather than a full independent inquiry in the light of the Greensill scandal.

Revelations about David Cameron’s involvement with the failed finance firm – for which he lobbied Tory ministers after quitting as their prime minister – are coming thick and fast.

The latest is that the government’s former head of procurement, Bill Crothers, was allowed to take a job with Greensill Capital two months before quitting his civil service role.

Having made this decision, the Cabinet Office (run at the time by Matt Hancock) then decided that, because he was already working for the firm before leaving, Mr Crothers would not have to apply to Whitehall’s “revolving door” regulator, the Advisory Committee on Business Appointments (ACOBA).

The former civil servant says he did not promote Greensill for any public sector business for more than two years after leaving – but what did he do during those two months in 2015?

Labour’s Rachel Reeves did the morning media rounds today (April 14), saying that an internal review would not be good enough. Considering the Crothers revelations, she had a point:

Adil Ray on Good Morning Britain tried to torpedo her by pointing out that Tony Blair took a job with JP Morgan – one of the world’s biggest banks – after quitting as the UK’s prime minister in 2007.

She responded: “If anyone has any evidence that former Prime Ministers have been using their status to access special treatment for firms they are working for they should be investigated.

“But there are no accusations.”

Mr Ray might have scored a more palpable hit if he had pointed out that Labour has its own experience of whitewashing a corruption inquiry: the Forde inquiry was originally intended to examine whether party officers had worked to prevent the party from winning the 2017 election with Jeremy Corbyn as its leader – but this was subsequently removed from its remit and the inquiry’s report has been suppressed by the Labour leadership for many months.

There will be a vote on the form any inquiry will take later today (I’m writing this at around 11.30am) – but it won’t succeed because of that 80-seat Conservative majority that means Boris Johnson can impose any corruption he fancies; his backbenchers will vote it through mindlessly, herding through the lobby like the sheep they are.

And no doubt many members of the public will believe the findings of that inquiry, drinking the whitewash like the sheep they are, even though they know it is poison to their own well-being; government corruption harms the nation.

But it is good to see Labour attacking Tory corruption at long last.

Johnson has had a free pass from Keir Starmer’s right-wingers for far too long. It is many months past time the UK’s main opposition party actually did some opposing and held him to account.

But I fear that it is only happening because Starmer thinks it will look good in the run-up to the local elections – and that it will prove to be the usual half-hearted attempt from his party: too little, too late.

Source: Greensill: Labour’s call to widen lobbying probe rejected by No 10 – BBC News

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Review whitewashes Metropolitan police behaviour at Sarah Everard vigil

Is anybody surprised that Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services (HMICFRS) has cleared the Metropolitan Police of any inappropriate behaviour at the Clapham Common vigil for Sarah Everard?

The review said the force “was justified in adopting the view that the risks of transmitting COVID-19 at the vigil were too great to ignore”.

So that made it reasonable to kettle these people – crowd them into an ever-smaller space, making those risks much greater, did it?

That made it reasonable to arrest these people, did it? Were they crammed like sardines in police vans? Were they crammed like sardines into cells?

Forcing people into close contact with each other seems an extremely odd way to combat a disease that is spread by close contact – especially people who had been very recently injured.

The review said “officers remained calm and professional when subjected to abuse” and “did not act inappropriately or in a heavy handed manner”.

So this wasn’t heavy-handed?

How about this?

Or this?

Hmm.

Like many others, I notice that there was no problem with the Duchess of Cambridge attending the event that Met Police Commissioner Cressida Dick branded illegal.

Why wasn’t Kate Middleton attacked with a baton and bundled into a White Maria?

Ah, but she attended during daylight. The police didn’t move in and start hurting people until after dark. Now, why was that, do you think?

The report by Sky News makes it clear that the atmosphere did not turn hostile until the police started kettling people. Oh, the cops were telling people to leave, were they? How could they do that when the uniforms were cutting off their ability to go?

The bandstand was soon almost surrounded by officers and the atmosphere started to become more hostile. It was at this point that a number of women appeared to be shoved and people starting shouting at the police.

It seems clear to me that HM Inspectorate of Constabulary came to the conclusion it usually reaches – that the police can do no wrong.

How many attendees at the event were consulted during this review?

None, I’m betting.

No wonder the result was one-sided.

Let’s have a proper, public inquiry – then we’ll hear some uncomfortable facts (but of course, that will never happen).

Source: Met Police ‘acted appropriately’ at Sarah Everard vigil, review finds | UK News | Sky News

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