Tag Archives: sick

Nothing for you if you’re sick, disabled, at school or in care: reaction to the Tory budget

They all do this: but the way Rishi Sunak held the red box indicated there wasn’t much in it. And there wasn’t.

Rishi Sunak’s budget has shown he is a diehard Tory, with concessions for businesses while those of us in need can go whistle.

He has claimed his hands are tied by huge Covid-19-related debts – but we all know that he has already paid them off, by the simple means of creating the money needed to do so.

And his big plans for the future were pathetic: new ‘free ports’ that have always been a bad idea, and an investment bank to replace the one a previous Tory government sold off a few years ago.

We are ruled by intellectual pygmies – and that is being harsh on the pygmies.

I watched the budget speech and commentated on it on Twitter, so I can provide a first-hand account of the announcements – but first, I’d like to go straight to what wasn’t announced, with comments from people who were reading at the time:

So the people who did all the hard work during the Covid-19 crisis will receive no reward for their sacrifices at all – even though many of them sacrificed their lives, contracting the virus and dying because Matt Hancock couldn’t be bothered to supply proper personal protective equipment (PPE) at the right time.

However:

People with disabilities who did not receive the £20 benefit uplift because they are on so-called “legacy” benefits will still receive nothing more, even though the uplift will remain in place until September. After then, it seems people who lost their jobs because of Covid-19 will fall over a so-called “cliff edge”, with the uplift cancelled, forcing them to live on much less.

The Tories have made a major issue of education in the crisis, demanding that our children must go back to school as soon as possible in order to catch up on what they have missed – but Rishi Sunak has provided no extra facilities for this in his budget. It seems it was all talk and – in fact – the plan is to reopen a major vector for transmission of Covid and hope that the increase in infections – and deaths – won’t be noticed amid the falling numbers triggered by the vaccination programme.

And after years of promising to fix problems in the social care system – that became hugely pronounced when 30,000 people died in care homes because of Tory stupidity – Sunak is breaking that promise by offering nothing.

Meanwhile, those who profited hugely from the pandemic – either by being perfectly situated to continue selling goods to people in lockdown or by receiving government Covid-related contracts to provide services at hugely-inflated costs (many of which were not actually provided because the contractors were not qualified to do so) are to get off scot-free because Sunak has backed away from calls to impose a wealth tax.

So, what has he done?

Well, he carped on a lot about borrowing a huge amount of money to pay for Covid-19. That was a stream of lies from start to finish, as I pointed out:

So we were led to expect tax hikes a-go-go. But this didn’t happen:

The refers to income tax, National Insurance and VAT. However – and this is indeed a ‘however’:

This is the amount you earn before you start paying tax, or before you start paying it at a higher rate. Because these thresholds are frozen, it seems more people will pay at a higher rate due to wage inflation, so there will be a de facto increase in taxes. But this depends on people receiving pay rises to cover their costs and Tory policy over the last 11 years has been to discourage that – it’s the reason real take-home pay has fallen by thousands of pounds per year since 2010.

This was the only increase in taxation, and it is only on a tax on profits. So firms that pay corporation tax can avoid it by ensuring that they make no profit from 2023. The best way to do that is to invest in infrastructure and wages (by employing more people, perhaps).

It would be wrong to say that Sunak’s budget does nothing for ordinary people – but it’s all based around existing Covid-related schemes:

Sunak went on to announce plans for government investment. The main points were:

But “free ports” are not new, nor are they likely to help:

Here’s an interesting point:

Mr McDonnell himself promptly answered it:

There was also some muttering about policies that give a nod to the environment but if you blinked, you missed them – and This Writer blinked. They certainly don’t constitute a “Green Industrial Revolution”!

As Tory budgets go, this is not the disaster for working-class people that it could have been – although the main hits have been offset, so it may be a few months or years until we can know the effects for sure.

The lack of any hard taxes or austerity measures suggests a tacit admission that Covid-19 really is bought and paid-for, and there won’t be any real need to pay for it again.

So This Writer is left with a huge sense of anticlimax. I was expecting to be fearful after today; instead I feel let down.

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Sick & disabled people to be subjected to same harm as Universal Credit claimants from April

The Department for Work and Pensions is to run trials on a new “integrated” assessment service, putting sick and disabled benefit claimants under the same conditions as Universal Credit claimants.

What a disaster for people with long-term illnesses and disabilities.

Universal Credit is known to be harmful to its claimants. The five-week wait before anything is paid puts most people into debt and forces them to take out advance loans, meaning that the amount they receive – when they do get it – is much less than their government-assessed need, and continues to be so for many months.

This creates serious mental and emotional stress and otherwise fit and healthy UC claimants have done horrifying damage to their own health as a result.

People with illnesses and disabilities are already suffering damage to their own health. The current system already piles mental and emotional stress on them –

Only yesterday I wrote about “brown envelope anxiety”, that pushes sick and disabled people (especially) to avoid opening communications from the government, in the expectation that the message inside will inflict harm upon them.

– and putting them under Universal Credit conditions can only make matters worse.

I notice that the new trial is set to start in April, when the effects of Covid-19 are expected to be dying down.

Is it the Tory aim to immediately replace one fatal attack on sickness and disability with another?

Source: Justin Tomlinson confirms that the new DWP intergrated assessment service to be trialed in April. – The poor side of life

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Sickening hypocrisy: Johnson’s tribute to Captain Sir Tom Moore

The late Captain Sir Tom Moore: a better man than Boris Johnson.

I didn’t take part in the national hysteria over Captain Tom Moore’s NHS fundraising, extraordinary though it was.

The health service had been put in an impossible position by the Conservative government of the day, and it seemed to me that this act of criminal negligence (it has cost more than 100,000 lives so far, no matter how you fiddle the numbers) was being compounded by unusual cruelty in forcing a 99-year-old man to do laps of his garden in order to make up the shortfall.

And what has been done with the £33 million that he raised, by the way? Does anybody know?

The event as a whole seemed to be nothing but a distraction from the abominable mess that Boris Johnson and his forerunners had created.

It strikes me as a tragic irony that Captain Sir Tom Moore should now have passed away having contracted the disease against which he had raised so much money to protect people.

And then Boris Johnson, the incompetent poser whose deliberate inaction put this centenarian ex-serviceman to so much more trouble for his country, had the nerve to record a video paying tribute to him.

If the prime monkey had admitted that it was due to his own failures that Captain Sir Tom had been put to so much trouble; if he had agreed that his government had been forced to rely on a solitary member of the social group most threatened by the pandemic because of his short-sighted selfishness, then he might have vindicated himself, if only slightly.

But he didn’t. He tried to use a great man’s death for his own gain.

That isn’t a tribute.

It’s an insult.

Source: Captain Sir Tom Moore: ‘National inspiration’ dies with Covid-19 – BBC News

Trickster Coffey: she says disabled people should switch to Universal Credit – where they’ll be worse-off

Therese Coffey: you wouldn’t think she was trying to get her jollies by encouraging people to quit legacy benefits for Universal Credit with a false claim that they’ll be better-off, would you?

Did Therese Coffey get her doctorate in lying to people?

Having refused calls to extend the £20-per-week Universal Credit uplift to so-called “legacy benefits” that sick and disabled people receive – Employment and Support Allowance (ESA), Personal Independence Payment (PIP) and others – she has suggested that they should claim UC instead.

People on Severe Disablement Premium (SDP) were unable to make that move until Wednesday (January 27) – when the Tories removed that barrier.

But charities have warned that this is a trap.

People with long-term illnesses and disabilities are more likely to lose money if they switch to UC and, once they have made the move, there is no going back.

It’s just another example of Tory discrimination against people with disabilities, that has reached new heights in the Covid-19 crisis, which they have used as an excuse for persecution.

People who’ve been on SDPs can get £120, £285 or £405 per month in transition payments – depending on their circumstances. But DWP officials have confirmed these payments “will be subject to erosion and cessation” over time.

And the Disability Rights UK group has claimed that, “after transitional help is eroded after time”, Universal Credit will be “significantly less generous” than legacy benefits for disabled people.

So the two-tier discrimination against people with disabilities in fact continues, no matter whether they are on “legacy benefits” or Universal Credit.

This Writer’s advice is clear: stay where you are. Don’t give Trickster Coffey the giggle she wants to get from hurting you.

Source: Fears as DWP chief urges disabled people to switch to Universal Credit from Wednesday – Mirror Online

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The Tories have started PIP and ESA video assessment trials. Claimants are terrified

What the claimant sees: benefit assessors carrying out video interviews may think they’re being perfectly reasonable but the Depatment for Work and Pensions has created such a stink around its denial-of-benefits system that people with illnesses and disabilities are likely to be terrified by them. And that’s if they can even afford the equipment to take part in video interviews!

People are being put in fear for their lives because the Johnson government has started work trialling video assessments of disability and sickness benefit claims.

The trial arises from a false premise – that people with long-term illnesses and disabilities are as capable as able-bodied people of taking part in video calls with confidence and coherence.

That is not true and, in many cases, the mere fact of taking part in one of the Tory government’s notoriously-rigged benefits “assessments” will be enough to put them off.

Work and Pensions Secretary Therese Coffey announced the trials at a meeting of the Commons Work and Pensions committee on September 30, saying, “We did try to get some extra capital on video assessments. We weren’t successful in getting additional money, so we have reprioritised some of our capital budget to get that underway.”

A senior civil servant, John Paul Marks, put flesh on these bones: “For video, CHDA has started trialling how to do fit for work decisions by video, so we’re starting that now.

“For PIP we’re trying to also test doing video assessments for about 500 customers.

“So we can understand, does that improve the health care professionals capacity to ensure a positive experience for the customer and be able to get more evidence to support a recommendation on a functional assessment.”

The website Benefits and Work pointed out that many claimants will be “deeply unhappy” with the principle of video assessment:

Some will find the experience of talking on camera provokes considerable anxiety. Some will have concerns about data protection, given that a copy of the video is likely to be saved on a server by the DWP.

At the moment it is not clear whether claimants will have the option to refuse to have a video assessment and insist on either a telephone or, when they become available and safe, face to face assessment instead.

A commenter to the site said the issue would be particularly acute for those with mental health issues:

“This could breach the Equalty Act 2010… Anxiety would make the assessment inaccessible or [the claimant] would suffer an unreasonable experience if required to be video [or] audio-recorded.”

Not only that, but what happens if the claimant doesn’t have the technology to take part in a video assessment, due – for example – to extreme poverty? After all, why would they be claiming the benefit if they didn’t need the money?

Consider this response to This Site’s story yesterday:

Some have already come to the conclusion that this is a quota-filling exercise; that the DWP isn’t interested in whether people deserve Personal Independence Payment or Employment and Support Allowance – the only concern is ensuring that a certain number of people are pushed off the books:

As with any change in a benefit system, it seems clear that video trials will be open to abuse.

This will have to be monitored closely and I will be keen to hear of any experiences.

Source: PIP and ESA video assessment trials have started

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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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MP of the Year award attacked over harmful corporate sponsor. Time for a campaign to remove it?

KPMG: this corporation, part of the Atos group that has done so much harm to sick and disabled people, sponsors the Patchwork Foundation’s MP of the Year awards, Should it?

It seems the only element likely to stop Jeremy Corbyn from winning the Patchwork Foundation’s MP of the Year award is the fact that it is sponsored by corporations that have contributed to the oppression of the poor and vulnerable.

Mr Corbyn is on the shortlist of MPs for whom the public is asked to vote.

But some supporters of the former Labour leader – including his own former Shadow Chancellor – are having nothing to do with it because it is sponsored by firms including KPMG.

The controversy sprang up on This Writer’s Twitter feed overnight, springing from discussion over whether certain vested interests would allow Mr Corbyn to win, after their success in ousting last year’s popular left-wing candidate, Chris Williamson.

Paula Peters, a popular campaigner for people with disabilities and friend of This Site, raised the alarm:

It was confirmed by others:

Atos is the company that – now under an alias – carries out assessments of benefit claimants’ ability to work, when they claim sickness and/or disability benefits. It took over KPMG in 2002, and it seems some have little to say in its favour.

The firm’s record for refusing benefits to people who genuinely deserve them – who have then gone on to suffer extreme hardship and, in many cases, death – is well-documented on This Site and elsewhere.

It reflects extremely poorly on the Patchwork Foundation that it would seek – or allow – sponsorship of any of its work by a firm of such character.

KPMG’s sponsorship of the award is not well-signposted; it appears as one of many on a tickertape at the bottom of the awards’ web page.

Paula’s tweet sparked strong responses:

For This writer, the most telling comment in the discussion is Paula’s below:

So perhaps that is what should be done.

Obviously I am too busy with annoying distractions like my two court cases to take on another campaign, but would anybody like to launch one calling on the Patchwork Foundation to decline sponsorship from organisations that are known to cause harm to people?

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Parents are having to re-use ventilator parts for their sick children because of Tory Covid-19 failures

No ventilator for you: the government is continuing to ensure that only able-bodied people with coronavirus can have access to a ventilator. The rest can die as a result of the Tories’ refusal to make proper preparations at the appropriate time.

Children are suffering again because the Conservative government is incompetent.

Back at the beginning of the Covid-19 crisis we learned that, despite having been warned that a flu or flu-like pandemic was on its way and they should stock up on ventilator equipment, successive Tory governments under David Cameron, Theresa May and Boris Johnson ignored the advice.

They didn’t buy ventilators, causing a crippling shortage of equipment when the inevitable happened and the virus hit us.

Then, when the EU generously offered Boris Johnson a chance to join a bulk-buying scheme that would have brought much-needed ventilators into the UK, he refused. His reason? “We are not in the EU.”

Pathetic.

Here’s the result:

(The Dyson ventilators never happened; the Tory government told the company its services were not required.)

Johnson was then able to treat the lack of ventilators as a golden opportunity to rid the UK of some of the “useless eaters” (as I’m sure the Tories call them, picking up on Nazi terminology). So people with disabilities were told they would be denied ventilators if they caught Covid-19, the excuse being that their disabilities mean their chances of survival are less.

Senior citizens faced the same discrimination.

Now the Tory decision is making children suffer as well.

Child malnutrition has already at least doubled since the Covid-19 pandemic hit the UK. Now this:

Parents of children reliant upon ventilators are being asked to reuse vital parts after the demand caused by COVID-19 created a shortage.

Maisie Lossau, 15, has needed the equipment day and night following surgery to remove a brainstem tumour four years ago.

But when her mother, Dawn, put in an order for supplies she was told there were none to send.

“We have a very small piece of equipment which is called an HME, which is a humidification valve, changed every day.

“When we went into lockdown we were told there was a shortage of those and we would have to change them on a less regular basis… once a week maybe or twice a week if we could.

If that gets too wet, too damp, and we don’t change it, it becomes a breeding ground for germs.”

The danger then is infection.

There are more than 3,000 seriously ill children like Maisie across the country and the charity WellChild says supplies must be ring-fenced for them.

The government has dissembled; it won’t address the subject directly.

So a statement merely says: “We have put in place a range of measures to address these challenges, including making it easier for clinicians to report shortages and identifying opportunities to open up new supply options and using additional brands.”

The Tories said nothing about actually supplying the equipment. We must conclude that they have no intention to do so.

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Try telling Errol Graham that ‘Black Lives Matter’. Oh you can’t – he’s dead

Errol Graham.

What? You think Errol Graham only died because he was ill? Your Conservative government is multiply-prejudiced and can ensure that people die for any number of trumped-up and ridiculous reasons.

Consider this:

Fair point?

Errol Graham was starved to death by a prejudiced Conservative-run benefit system.

My report on Mr Graham states:

He had been receiving incapacity benefit, and then ESA, for many years as a result of enduring mental distress that had led to him being sectioned.

The DWP stopped Mr Graham’s Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) entitlement – and backdated that decision to the previous month – after making two unsuccessful visits to his home to ask why he had not attended a face-to-face Work Capability Assessment (WCA) on August 31, 2017.

He had not been asked to fill in an ESA50 questionnaire, though. Why not?

The government department managed to stop an ESA payment that had been due to be credited to his bank account on October 17, the same day it made the second unsuccessful safeguarding visit.

Its own rules state that it should have made both safeguarding visits before stopping the benefits of a vulnerable claimant.

So the Tories cut off his benefits early, after a botched benefit reassessment procedure.

Here’s the clincher:

On an ESA form years before, he had told the DWP he could not cope with “unexpected changes”, adding: “Upsets my life completely. Feel under threat and upset…”

He said: “Cannot deal with social situations. Keep myself to myself. Do not engage with strangers. Have no social life. Feel anxiety and panic in new situations.”

The DWP had needed – but failed – to seek further medical evidence from Mr Graham’s GP, in order to make an informed decision about him.

In fact, it seems this would not have made much difference as Mr Graham’s GP had not seen him since 2013, or recalled him for vital blood tests or issued prescriptions since 2015, despite medical conditions including significant, long-term mental distress and hypothyroidism.

It was known that Mr Graham’s condition made him fear contact with people he did not know – like benefit assessors who turned up on his doorstep unannounced. But they still did it. And they still demanded that he attend a work capability assessment in a place full of people he did not know, without even having sent him a benefit claim form first.

They treated him unfairly. Isn’t that the whole point of the Black Lives Matter movement – that people of colour are treated unfairly?

As a result, he starved to death.

And the only reason we know this is his Housing Benefit was cut off at the same time as ESA, so he stopped paying rent. His body was found by bailiffs entering the house to repossess it.

The Tory-run Department for Work and Pensions would never have checked up on his well-being.

We already knew this. When I submitted a Freedom of Information request to find out how many people had died after the Tory government had cancelled their sickness benefit claims, the Department for Work and Pensions said it was unable to provide information for anyone whose claims had been cancelled more than two weeks before their deaths. It is government policy to leave these people to fend for themselves with no support at all.

Of course, leaving someone to starve to death in their home is not as dramatic as beating them to death on the street (or asphyxiating them, in the case of George Floyd).

But it is still prejudicial treatment.

So, what is the current outcry saying, if it does not include sick/disabled people like Errol Graham in its outrage?

Is it really saying some black lives matter more than others?

Let’s change that.

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.

https://www.crowdjustice.com/case/mike-sivier-libel-fight/


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Coronavirus: Government’s lockdown decision ‘deliberately puts disabled people at risk’

 

Remember: the Conservative government was victimising people with long-term illnesses and disabilities, long before Covid-19 came along.

The crisis just gives them another opportunity to shift such people into the grave.

Researchers from University College London said in a study published in the Lancet that easing the lockdown too soon could lead to thousands of avoidable deaths among people with underlying health conditions such as heart and kidney disease, diabetes and severe obesity.

Three days before Johnson’s speech, disabled activist Ellen Clifford, a member of the national steering group of Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC)told an online rally held by the People’s Assembly Against Austerity that if the lockdown ended too soon, many more disabled people would lose their lives.

Clifford told the online rally: “If lockdown ends too soon, we will lose many, many more, either through the virus or through over-stretched NHS resources, not being able to respond to the illnesses or pre-existing impairments that disabled people have.”

The grassroots disabled people’s organisation Bristol Reclaiming Independent Living (BRIL) said it believed that easing the lockdown rules would put disabled and chronically-ill people at further risk.

BRIL questioned how any disabled person could feel safe when, in March, the government said it “was unlikely that people receiving care in a care home or in the community will become infected”, but this week it had been shown that the number of deaths in care homes in England and Wales linked to coronavirus was likely to be more than 22,000.

Source: Coronavirus: Government’s lockdown decision ‘deliberately puts disabled people at risk’ – Disability News Service