Tag Archives: systematic

Viewers of BBC Universal Credit documentary deride it as ‘systematic genocide’

Faceless: Universal Credit is an attempt to avoid treating benefit claimants as people. It is easier to deprive you of everything if they don’t have to think of you as a person.

The latest Tory propaganda effort to promote Universal Credit is not going well, it seems, with viewers labelling the policy “systematic genocide”.

This Site has already commented on the fact that employees at Liverpool’s Toxteth Job Centre didn’t want to appear on the show, because they did not want to be associated with government propaganda.

Now it seems viewers of the programme have rejected claims that Universal Credit helps anybody claiming it – voicing particular horror at the story of a 61-year-old woman who was forced to work three jobs, just to make ends meet.

61-year-old claimant Sue was shown struggling to survive on egg and baked beans after losing her job and being told her benefits would be reduced if she didn’t get 35 hours’ work a week.

@PurpleDon1973 said: “That poor woman. Susan, made redundant, 61 years old. 61 and expected to take on two or three jobs. Landed a job for 10 hours a week and jobcentre still on her back. 61 years old. Ffs.”

Another [viewer] described Universal Credit as “systematic genocide”.

Ant C said there are times he’s needed to claim Universal Credit “but was made to feel so ashamed I quickly withdrew my application”.

“No compassion whatsoever!” he said.

Some viewers were annoyed at the upbeat solutions to the case studies, suggesting the overall programme is actually more about government “propaganda” than showing the brutal realities at their worst.

JJ Wyatt said: “This show smacks of propaganda, the Universal Credit system is deliberately designed to punish and coerce.”

Source: Viewers slam Universal Credit as ‘systematic genocide’ after BBC documentary – Mirror Online

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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‘Brown Envelope Day’ – and the horror it holds for sick and disabled people

[Image: Black Triangle Campaign]

[Image: Black Triangle Campaign]

Look at the blood pressure reading and pulse count mentioned in Julia Smith’s Facebook comment (copied below). Does that really tally with the claim by Damian Green and the DWP to be “helping” people? Really?

Of course it does not.

The Work Capability Assessment and everything associated with it is inimical to health – inherently harmful, as anybody who has even witnessed one will know.

It is carried out, not by a “medical professional”, as the Department for Work and Pensions is still – pathetically – trying to claim, but by the employee of a private company hired to reduce the number of people claiming benefits. They have a multiple choice test on their computers; their questions demand simple yes/no answers that are intended to hide the nature of a person’s condition rather than explain it; and their intention is to deny that real conditions exist.

This is just one of the reasons the United Nations has condemned the UK for systematic violations of the human rights of sick and disabled people.

Oh, and a new wave of them seems to have been sent out to do their worst just before Christmas, in what can only be seen as a campaign of demoralisation against the vulnerable. As This Blog has explained, Christmas is a very unhappy time of year for many people – particularly those who have few friends and family around them, possibly because of an illness. Deprivation of benefit, and the few luxuries it may provide, might just push people over the cliff edge Ms Smith mentions. Damian Green knows this very well.

That is why Ms Smith is in despair.

That is why she is saying her Christmas is ruined; she must fight this latest attempt to force her into destitution. How would you feel, if it was you?

And yet people keep voting Conservative, in order to allow this torture to continue.

They might make alternative claims – “The Tories are the only ones who can be trusted with the economy” (not true, for reasons that have been trotted out many times over the last couple of days, the gist being that they have deliberately harmed the UK’s industrial base and increased the national debt) or “Labour can’t be trusted” (Heaven forbid that those horrible socialists should come along and actually help the people of the UK) – but they know that the torture is taking place.

Therefore, by passing their vote for the Conservatives, they know that they are supporting the torture of the sick, disabled and vulnerable.

Fortunately, Ms Smith is not alone. There is a large support network available to her, should she fall foul of the system, and the long-term effect on her may – and I stress that it is only a possibility – be minimised.

But in the short term her life is disrupted, her plans for Christmas are thrown into chaos, and her mental and physical health are threatened.

All while millions of people protest helplessness, in full knowledge of the fact that they could stop it at once, if they only had the will.

OH….MY….GOODNESS !!

Never mind ‘Black Friday’… this is definitely ‘Black Wednesday’ for me.

IT’S BROWN ENVELOPE DAY. Only my fellow disabled friends will truly understand the chilling significance of that.

It means I face yet another corrupt assessment.

It means that once again I am in despair.

It means Christmas is ruined.

I feel like I can’t cope, but somehow I will have to.

I refuse to just lay down and die like the Tories want me to.

My blood pressure is 190/125 and my pulse is racing at 110 per min, but at least I get to see the heart specialist on Monday.

This needs saying…for all you people who keep voting Conservative, you are voting for me and my disabled friends to be continually bullied, abused, harassed, criminalised, our human rights deliberately violated and our already challenging lives destroyed. The stress from this oppression is unbearable.

They are pushing hundreds of thousands of us off the cliff.

I am considering publishing a page with links to organisations that provide support for people who face continual interference from the Department for Work and Pensions. If you are a member or organiser of such a group and you wish to be listed, please send me details of your organisation and how it may be contacted by a member of the public, via the form below. THIS IS NOT A COMMENT FORM, SO PLEASE DO NOT USE IT TO COMMENT ON THE ARTICLE!

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A disabled man responds to Damian Green over the UN report on disability rights violations

Damian Green: He won't have read the comments in this article; worse, he clearly doesn't care [Image: Daily Mirror].

Damian Green: He won’t have read the comments in this article; worse, he clearly doesn’t care [Image: Daily Mirror].


The author of this article drew my attention to it, and now I’m asking you to read it too.

This is just a fraction of the whole, and I recommend you visit the Muscular Dystrophy UK site for the full piece.

The government claims as a disabled person, you have rights to protect you from discrimination. It cites the Equality Act 2010 (please refer to here https://www.gov.uk/guidance/equality-act-2010-guidance) & the UNCRPD (please refer to here http://www.un.org/disabilities/convention/conventionfull.shtml) will help to enforce, protect & promote your rights.

So, it is surprising to find last week that the UK, as a result of being the first member to be investigated by a United Nations committee for not fulfilling the terms of the UNCRPD, have been found guilty of grave & systematic violations of the rights of disabled people as a direct result of austerity policies introduced into welfare & social care by the UK government aimed at reducing public spending since 2010, an inquiry has concluded.

The highly critical report (please refer to here http://tbinternet.ohchr.org/_layouts/treatybodyexternal/Download.aspx?symbolno=CRPD%2fC%2f15%2fR.2%2fRev.1&Lang=en), published in Geneva on Monday 7th November 2016, says a range of measures including controversial cuts to disability benefits, social care budgets & the introduction of the bedroom tax, have disproportionately & adversely affected the rights of disabled people to live independently, to work & achieve an adequate standard of living.

It makes 11 recommendations, including calling on the UK government to carry out a study of the cumulative impact of all spending cuts on disabled people & to ensure the human rights of disabled people are upheld.

In response, the government stated it “did not plan to follow up on any of the recommendations”.

Isn’t this to our nation’s shame?

Why hasn’t there been public outcry? Why has it not been plastered across our television screens constantly? Why haven’t hordes of disgruntled & angry citizens waving placards not taken to the streets en masse in protest at the treatment of one of the proudest but, flawed sections of society?

Because it’s been another stroke of luck for the government that in the same week this damning report was published, the Americans voted for a misogynist, racist to be their president & Mondelez International changed the size of bloody Toblerone!

I am shocked & saddened at the apathetic reaction to this report by the public. This is your money, not the government’s, despite what they might think. It’s your money that you work damn hard for that is purposely being withheld or wasted by the very government department, the Department of Work & Pensions (DWP), charged with protecting the less fortunate.

Then there is the derision emanating from the new Secretary of State for Work & Pensions, the Rt Hon Damian Green MP.

[His] reaction is reminiscent of a scolded child. It is vulgar & quite frankly, damn right offensive. [His] protests are based on a misplaced, perceived sense of injustice for which [he has]no justifiable right to be offended.

I find Mr Green’s response is in keeping with the condescending & disrespectful attitude to the disabled which lies beneath the policies borne of his department.

Mr Green, if you think people losing their cars, their jobs, their homes, unprecedented reliance on foodbanks, destitution & even people taking or losing their lives are indicative of successfully supporting disabled people & an efficient way of distributing £50 billion then we have very contrasting definition of success.

And exactly how much of this alleged £50 billion outlay does the DWP waste on maintaining an IT infrastructure that’s not fit for purpose? And I would be very interested to know exactly how much of this alleged £50 billion the DWP spend, is spent by them defending & enforcing their draconian measures (such as the bedroom tax) in court via First Tier Tribunals, Upper Tribunals & beyond.

Mr Green is trying to defend the indefensible in government policy & the DWP. The motivation for the change in welfare is to drive down costs.

The reality is; the skivers & malingerers you’ve portrayed us as, the disabled, has turned out to be the genuinely sick & ill & now we’re suffering as a direct result.

Money. It’s all about money for the Tories … & always has been. Austerity is about money & clearly [the Conservative] government value money more than life.

You are guilty of systematic violations of our human rights sir. Fact.

Surely this is the nation’s shame?

Source: The Nation’s Shame – Muscular Dystrophy UK

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UN disability report: It IS time to focus – but not on details we’ve already covered

Nobody's idea of a Mastermind: Damian Green looks very similar to a contestant on the revered quiz show - but he seems clueless about his specialist subject.

Nobody’s idea of a Mastermind: Damian Green looks very similar to a contestant on the revered quiz show – but he seems clueless about his specialist subject.

Blogger Neil Crowther has responded to yesterday’s report on the letter to Ban-Ki Moon, calling for the United Nations to condemn the Conservative Government for dismissing its findings on the violations of human rights here.

The Tories have been found guilty of systematic violations of the rights of people with disabilities, according to the UN.

Mr Crowther suggests that complaining to the UN is “wasted energy”. Unfortunately he goes on to suggest two courses of action that are themselves a waste:

  • The whole point of the inquiry was to shine a light on UK government support for people with disabilities – that work has been done; and
  • It is pointless to discuss the amount of money spent on UK government policies when it has already been established that the policies themselves are at fault.

The article does make some very good points about the timing of the UN report’s publication – forced to take place during the week of the US Presidential election thanks to the complicity of the right-wing Mail on Sunday, so it would be buried beneath coverage of Trump.

But the fact is that this effort has quite clearly succeeded, therefore a new angle is needed, in order to revive interest.

A letter to Ban-Ki Moon is a new angle; revisiting arguments that have already been made is not.

Some have concluded that the government has complacently dismissed an  inquiry report by the UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities into the devastating impact of austerity measures since 2010. I believe they are wrong and the government is on the run.

Why try so hard to bury bad news if you are so confident that the news is inaccurate, or its implications so light?

Perhaps it’s because this is the beginning not the end of a process, one that will refuse to go away for some time and which will become tougher as time goes by.

As President Obama would say, now is the time to focus.   Complaining to the government, or to the Secretary General of the United Nations, about the tone of the government’s response is wasted energy.  Did anyone really expect them to say ‘its a fair cop’ and to embrace the criticism?  Instead our focus has to be on unpicking the government’s arguments:

  • Yes, money isn’t everything and there’s more to life than social security, so let’s shine the light on how well government is supporting people to escape poverty, to exercise choice and control and to participate fully in practice – what is happening to people’s everyday opportunities?  Just how far will the proposals in the Green Paper, or action to implement the Care Act go to address these issues?
  • But with respect to the money, let’s not let the government get away with its glib claim to be spending more today than in 2009-10. Let’s ask how much it would have been spending were it not for cuts, count the human cost of those cuts, and also scrutinise just how well the considerable amount of public money is being spent in support of human rights.

In forcing publication of the UN Committee’s findings and its own response and publishing the Green Paper the government has provided a major opportunity to put it to the test.

Source: Following the UN Disability Committee report – it’s time to focus | Making rights make sense

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UN urged to act after Conservative government dismisses report on disability

161113-ban-ki-moon

Campaigners including This Writer have sent a letter to UN Secretary-General Ban-Ki Moon, calling for action over the UK government’s disgraceful treatment of people with illnesses and disabilities.

Thanks to the efforts of our Tory-supporting media, most people in the UK don’t even know the United Nations has found the government guilty of systematically violating the rights of people with disabilities.

As one of the signatories of this letter, I’m surprised the Herald has published this story – it wasn’t due for release until the middle of the week.

So you should perhaps consider this a taste of things to come, and I would certainly appreciate it if everybody reading this could share it with as many friends and associates as possible.

Clearly we cannot rely on the mainstream press to report on this matter, even though it is one of the worst disgraces the United Kingdom’s government has ever committed – a national disgrace.

Spread the word and shame the Tories.

Campaigners are urging the United Nations to condemn the UK Government’s “unacceptable” dismissal of criticism over the impact of its welfare policies on disabled people.

Its report, published last week, found austerity policies had led to “systematic violations” of the rights of people with disabilities, with changes to benefits disproportionately affecting this group.

But in response, UK Work and Pensions Secretary Damian Green said it demonstrated an “outdated view of disability which is patronising and offensive.”

Now campaigners are writing to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon asking him to “censure” the UK Government for its “unacceptable behaviour” in trying to discredit the report.

The letter, which will be submitted early this week, has been backed by more than 50 signatories including Paul Laverty, scriptwriter of “I, Daniel Blake”, several SNP MPs and disability and poverty campaigners.

John McArdle, co-founder of the Scottish disability rights group Black Triangle, said the report stood to be “totally disregarded” by the UK Government.

He said: “The Government have rejected all of their recommendations out of hand.

“But it is now on the international record that the UK is the first country in the world to be found to have met the standard for committing grave or systemic violations of the fundamental rights of disabled people.”

Source: UN urged to act over UK Government’s ‘unacceptable’ dismissal of report on disability (From HeraldScotland)

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Damian Green’s silly money-based argument on disability falls apart when questioned

161109-disabled
Once you find a flaw in an argument, it becomes easy to punch holes right through it.

This Blog just published an article demonstrating that Damian Green’s response to the UN’s report on systematic violations of the rights of people with disabilities is wrong.

His claim that the report is out of date is inaccurate – the report refers to measures brought into practice this year (2016).

And Sue Jones deftly rubbishes his comment about spending (following up on my own point, made a couple of days ago, that he is claiming the UN is out of date for using 2015 as a reference point but feels perfectly justified in quoting figures from 2010).

Damian Green: “Their [UN and stakeholder’s] evidence period runs up until the end of 2015, so it is already out of date. We intend to point out that the UK spends around £50 billion a year on benefits to support disabled people and people with health conditions, which is over £6 billion more than in 2010.”

Sue Jones: “Exactly how much of that spending has gone to those people needing essential support, and how much has been spent on contracting private companies, ironically to save money and cut support for disabled people, in order to “target” the ever-shrinking category of “those most in need”?

And given that the government’s track record up until the end of last year indicates that ministers have been atrociously negligent in observing the human rights of disabled people, how do the more recent cuts to ESA, and proposals set out in the work, health and disability green paper remedy that, precisely?”

Source: Damian Green dismisses ‘offensive’ UN report on UK disability rights : The Guardian. – Politics and Insights

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Liar Damian Green has derided the UN report on disability rights. Does he have a point?

If you're thinking that fibromyalgia is an illness rather than a disability, remember that Damian Green sees no difference. This person doesn't look ill, so he would want to make her - and any disabled person who doesn't look disabled - go looking for a job. But he doesn't look stupid!

If you’re thinking that fibromyalgia is an illness rather than a disability, remember that Damian Green sees no difference. This person doesn’t look ill, so he would want to make her – and any disabled person who doesn’t look disabled – go looking for a job. And he doesn’t look stupid, does he?

Silly question, really – he’s talking nonsense, as the Conservative Party has been since it came back into office in 2010.

Just look at his comments in the Guardian article quoted below.

He claims the UN’s report on “systematic violations of the rights of people with disabilities” presents an “outdated” view of disability in the UK – but fails to identify in what way it is outdated. It seems more or less up-to-date to This Writer, and I know my stuff when it comes to disability and long-term sickness.

It seems to me that he is trying to suggest that the UN’s concentration on the rights of people with disabilities is outdated in comparison with his government’s view, which is based on the biopsychosocial model of disability.

In that case, it is the Tory government’s view that is outdated, as the biopsychosocial model has long been discredited.

Its basis is the belief that many illnesses and disabilities have no physical reality and are instead figments of a person’s imagination. This means they may be told there is nothing wrong with them and sent back to work – which is why Tory policy is about sending the sick and disabled back to work.

The model was developed by the criminal Unum insurance corporation in the US, as a means to avoid paying out when people’s health insurance policies matured. This has been explored previously by Vox Political.

The UN’s view is that the Tory government should focus on ensuring that the rights of disabled people are upheld. Perhaps Mr Green’s problem with such a view has more to do with his government’s plan to strip disabled people of all their human rights, replacing them with a list of things that Tories think we may be allowed to have.

“We strongly refute its findings,” said Mr Green. Oh really? Where is this refutation, then? For clarity, if a person refutes an assertion, they are providing evidence to demonstrate that it is false or wrong. Mr Green provides no such evidence.

He said, “The UN measures success as the amount of money poured into the system, rather than the work and health outcomes for disabled people.” This is a lie.

Only one part of the UN’s recommendations refers to the amount of money spent on people with disabilities – and it does not say anything about whether the UK government currently spends enough.

It calls on the Conservative Government to “Ensure that public budgets take into account the rights of persons with disabilities, that sufficient budget allocations are made available to cover extra costs associated with living with a disability and that appropriate mitigation measures, with appropriate budget allocations, are in place for persons with disabilities affected by austerity measures”.

Mr Green’s criticism is more appropriate directed at himself – he demonstrated that his government measures its success in money terms by telling the Guardian it spends £50 billion a year supporting people with disabilities, and went further by claiming this is a larger proportion of the nation’s wealth than that of Canada, France and the US.

In a nutshell, Mr Green’s arguments are that he does not want disabled people to have any rights, so the UN’s rights-based arguments are irrelevant; that he measures his success according to the amount of money spent on pushing disabled people into work, whether they can do it or not, and that – underpinning his entire philosophy – he relies on an outdated and discredited model of disability, that was originally created to allow a corrupt American insurance company to dodge paying out on its policies.

Put like that, it seems – in this situation – he is the one who cannot support himself.

The work and pensions secretary, Damian Green, has dismissed a critical UN report that concluded that the UK government’s austerity policies “systematically violated” the rights of disabled people.

Green said the report was “patronising and offensive” and presented an outdated view of disability in the UK. He said Britain was “a world leader in disability rights and equality”.

Green said: “At the heart of this report lies an outdated view of disability which is patronising and offensive. We strongly refute its findings. The UN measures success as the amount of money poured into the system, rather than the work and health outcomes for disabled people. Our focus is on helping disabled people find and stay in work, whilst taking care of those who can’t.”

The government said it spent about £50bn a year to support sick and disabled people – a bigger proportion of GDP than countries including Canada, France and the US.

It said the recent publication of its work and health green paper, which included ambitious proposals to increase employment levels among disabled people, was “a turning point in our action to confront the attitudes, prejudices and misunderstandings within the minds of employers and across wider society.”

Source: Damian Green dismisses ‘offensive’ UN report on UK disability rights | Society | The Guardian

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UK austerity policies ‘amount to violations of disabled people’s rights’, says UN

zun-disability-report

Before anybody quibbles with my figures, they are accurate, covering the period between December 2011 and May 28, 2014.

As one of those who contributed a large volume of evidence to the United Nations’ investigation, This Writer welcomes its findings.

At the time of writing, I haven’t read the full report but, from the article extract below, it seems my argument – and that of the others who provided similar insight – has been persuasive.

The Conservative Government’s claim that it presents an inaccurate picture of life for disabled people in the UK is a lie.

Based on what is said in the report below, I’d say the UN has it exactly right.

Perhaps the Tories would like to demonstrate where the UN has it wrong? I’d like to be shown the evidence that tens of thousands of people haven’t been harmed by Tory policies. Let’s see it.

Particularly filthy is the comment that, “while the government continues to improve and build on the support available to disabled people, it stands by and is proud of its record.”

This government’s record is of killing more than 2,380 people for no very good reason.

I am bitterly amused by the recommendation that the government carry out a cumulative impact assessment, examining the effects of all its spending cuts on people with disabilities. The Tories have already argued that such an assessment of its “welfare reforms” was impossible – only to be proved wrong by another organisation, the Equalities and Human Rights Commission.

It seems doubtful the Tories will carry out now what they said was impossible before.

And I despair of any good coming from the UN report. Those of us who know the situation may take heart from the knowledge that the international community agrees with us – but those who pay attention to the Daily Mail will choose to believe the Tories.

And what help with the United Nations provide? How will that organisation penalise the UK government for the thousands of deaths it has caused?

It won’t. Look at the effect of its report on the Bedroom Tax – the Mail (and other Tory-supporting rags) simply slagged off the woman who wrote it.

So the question remains.

How many people have to die before the citizens of the UK wake up to the atrocities being committed in their name?

Austerity policies introduced into welfare and social care by the UK government amount to “systematic violations” of the rights of people with disabilities, a UN inquiry has concluded.

It says a range of measures aimed at reducing public spending since 2010, including controversial changes such as the bedroom tax, and cuts to disability benefits and social care budgets have disproportionately and adversely affected disabled people.

The highly critical report, published in Geneva on Monday afternoon, says the rights of disabled people to live independently, to work, and achieve an adequate standard of living have been negatively affected by austerity measures.

It makes 11 recommendations, including calling on the UK government to carry out a study of the cumulative impact of all spending cuts on disabled people, and to ensure the human rights of disabled people are upheld.

The report is withering about the manner in which ministers have conducted welfare and social care reforms, arguing that they pushed ahead with changes even when they knew they would have an adverse impact on disabled people.

Cuts such as those to personal independence payments and the independent living fund had “hindered various aspects of [disabled people’s] right to live independently”, it says, making them more reliant on family and carers and in some instances forcing them into institutional care.

The bedroom tax and other cuts to housing support had led disproportionately to debt and eviction, it says. “Evidence indicates that persons with disabilities affected by cuts in their housing benefits have undergone high levels of stress anxiety and depression as a consequence of the shortfalls in their budget.”

It is highly critical of what it calls the “functional assessments” of disabled people who have applied for social security benefits, noting that their experience tended to be one where they were “merely processed rather than being listened to or understood”.

Government attempts to decrease the disproportionately high levels of unemployment among disabled people have had little impact, the report notes, while notorious “fit-for-work” tests were riven with flaws.

It noted that disabled people had suffered from a climate in which they were portrayed as “lazy and putting a burden on taxpayers”. They had continued to experience “increasing hostility, aggressive behaviour and sometimes attacks to their personal integrity”.

The report, issued by the committee on the rights of persons with disabilities, concludes: “There is reliable evidence that the threshold of grave or systematic violations of the rights of persons with disabilities has been met.”

The inquiry was triggered after campaigners, including Dpac, made a formal complaint to the UN in 2012 about alleged violations of disabled people’s rights. After two years of deliberations, the UN committee on the rights of persons with disabilities gave the green light to the inquiry in May 2014.

The inquiry report is based on an 11-day inquiry tour of the UK undertaken by two UN envoys in October 2015. The inquiry team met with more than 200 individuals, including officials and MPs as well as activists and academics.

The UK government, however, rejected the UN report, saying in a formal response its findings presented an inaccurate picture of life for disabled people in the UK. “While the government continues to improve and build on the support available to disabled people, it stands by and is proud of its record.”

Source: UK austerity policies ‘amount to violations of disabled people’s rights’ | Society | The Guardian

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DWP blamed by second coroner for incapacity benefit claimant suicide

The late Julia Kelly

The late Julia Kelly

So you thought Mary Hassall was the only British coroner to have blamed a benefit claimant’s death on the DWP? Think again.

To This Writer’s shame, the case of Julia Kelly was reported in This Blog, earlier this year – but I did not recall that Northamptonshire County Coroner Anne Pember’s report had conferred responsibility for her death on the Department for Work and Pensions after the case of Michael O’Sullivan was reported last month.

Mr O’Sullivan committed suicide in late 2013. North London coroner Mary Hassall, at his inquest early the following year, recorded that his death occurred as a direct result of being declared “fit for work” in a DWP work capability assessment, made in response to his claim for Employment and Support Allowance.

Julia Kelly took her life in November 2014. At her inquest in March this year, according to the Northampton Chronicle, “Coroner Anne Pember, recording her verdict of suicide, said she also believed that the ‘upset caused by the potential withdrawal of her benefits had been the trigger for her to end her life’.”

Ms Kelly had been forced to give up work in 2010 due to pain caused by a car crash (which was not her fault) five years previously. In 2013, she was involved in a second crash and had to undergo a six-hour operation on her spine as a result.

Together with her father, David Kelly, she formed a charity – Away With Pain – to help fellow sufferers of chronic back pain.

But then the Department for Work and Pensions told her she had to repay £4,000 in Employment and Support Allowance payments, saying she had failed to declare capital funds.

It seems the government department was referring to money held by the charity, rather than funds owned by Ms Kelly herself.

Ms Kelly, who had fought for every penny of her benefit at three tribunal hearings, was bombarded with a series of repayment demands. According to her father, it was this relentless stream of brown-envelope letters that pushed her to suicide.

He told Channel 4 News about it. Take a look at the report:

A few months later, the DWP started stridently claiming that no causal link had been shown between claims for incapacity benefits and the suicide of claimants, in response to demands from almost 250,000 petitioners – and more than 90 MPs including the new leader of the Labour Party, Jeremy Corbyn – to publish the number of claimants who have died on benefits.

We all know the DWP was lying, thanks to Ms Hassall’s report on Michael O’Sullivan.

The facts about Julia Kelly mean we must now question the magnitude of the lie.

We know the DWP examined the cases of around 60 people who committed suicide after their benefits were withdrawn or reduced – that fact was most recently mentioned in Prime Minister’s Questions, in the House of Commons on Wednesday (October 21) – but the Department has refused to publish its findings.

All Cameron would offer was that he would “look … at” the question asked about publication. He can look at it all day without doing anything about it, of course.

Meanwhile, serious questions are arising as we learn more about these deaths and the extent of the DWP cover-up.

How many people have died due to the reduction or withdrawal of incapacity benefits?

How many of these deaths happened long enough after their benefits were withdrawn that the DWP never bother to record them – on the grounds that it was none of the Department’s business (this is what happened with Mr O’Sullivan)?

How many more coroners’ verdicts have implicated the DWP in the deaths, but have been quietly swept under the carpet?

And – as the United Nations investigates possible grave and systematic violations of incapacity benefit claimants’ human rights – what can be done to secure the release of the facts?

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Serial shaming for Iain Duncan Smith in Prime Minister’s Questions

151021IDSshame

Shame: Iain Duncan Smith.

No doubt the secretary-in-a-state about work and pensions won’t admit it, but any cabinet minister who comes under such a sustained assault during questions to the Prime Minister must be doing something wrong.

Iain Duncan Smith was attacked over the United Nations’ inquiry into the possibility that the UK has committed grave and systematic abuses of the human rights of disabled people, over suicides committed by benefit claimants due to DWP decisions, and over the vertiginous increase in food bank use. Just because David Cameron had to field the question, that doesn’t mean the Gentleman Ranker shouldn’t take the blame.

All this, on the day his new mascot (ha ha), a demonic-looking furry something called, ironically, Workie, made its debut in a nationwide TV advertising campaign costing more than £8.5 million. That’s money that could clearly have been better-spent elsewhere.

First up was Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, quoting a party supporter he named ‘Louis’. Prefacing his question with the comment, “This is deeply embarrassing to all of us in this House and, indeed, to this country as a whole,” he read out the following:

“The United Kingdom is currently being investigated by the UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities because of allegations of ‘grave and systematic` violations of disabled people’s human rights.

“This is very sad news indeed, but it is even sadder that we need to be investigated because of violations that have occurred. Will the Prime Minister commit to co-operate fully with the inquiry and publish in full the Government’s response to it, so that we can ensure that people with disabilities are treated properly and legally and given full respect by and opportunities in our society?”

Cameron, perhaps briefed by his Work and Pensions secretary, would not. First, he twisted the question, trying to make it about the number of disabled people who have gained work under the Conservatives (tens of thousands, he reckoned. How many lost their jobs when the Tories closed Remploy, again? Nearly 2,000? And how many of those tens of thousands have gained permanent work? He didn’t say.

He continued: “Of course I will look at any United Nations investigation, but sometimes when you look at these investigations you find that they are not necessarily all they are originally cracked up to be.” Like Tory promises on tax credits (for example)?

“There are many disabled people in our world who do not have any of the rights or any of the support that they get here in Britain, and I think we should be proud of what we do as we co-operate with this report.” Shifting the goalposts, there. Bad conditions endured elsewhere in the world are not an excuse for a Conservative Government to worsen conditions here.

The SNP’s Westminster leader, Angus Robertson, touched on a favourite subject of This Writer when he said: “Information has recently been released showing that a coroner has found that a 60-year-old disabled father of two from north London, Mr Michael O’Sullivan, committed suicide following his work capability assessment. The coroner warned that there is a risk of further deaths. The Department for Work and Pensions has reportedly undertaken 60 investigations into suicides that occurred after benefits were withdrawn or reduced, but it has so far refused to publish what it has learned. Will the Prime Minister publish those findings?”

This was something of a missed opportunity as Mr Robertson could have asked why nobody has been prosecuted for causing Mr O’Sullivan to take his life. Never mind; This Writer has something in the pipeline about that, which will hopefully bring out some useful information.

Cameron didn’t have any: “I am aware of the case the hon. Gentleman raises, although I am sure he will understand that it would not be appropriate for me to discuss the specifics of the cases. Suicide is always a tragic and complex issue. We should take these matters incredibly seriously.” More seriously than this Prime Minister, certainly.

“I will look very carefully at the specific question he asks about publication.” But will he actually publish anything? And if so, will it be as opaque as the death figures the DWP released on August 27?

“We have changed the work capability assessment to lead to significant improvements, following a number of independent reviews, to make sure that people get the support that they need, and I think that is vitally important.” No – because the work capability assessment is still based on a disproved theory that illnesses and disabilities are all in benefit claimants’ minds.

Finally, Labour’s Jo Stevens pointed out: “Food bank use has risen by 1,665 per cent since the Prime Minister took office in 2010.”

HOW MUCH? Let’s have that again:

“1,665 per cent”

Is that one of the achievements that make Cameron “proud”, as he stated in his response to Mr Corbyn?

Back to Ms Stevens: “In Cardiff Central, I meet people every week who rely on food banks to feed their families. Does the Prime Minister know how many more families will be relying on food banks as a result of his Government’s cuts to tax credits, and does he care?”

He didn’t, so he quoted some figures about unemployment instead.

“Of course, I do not want anyone in our country to have to rely on food banks,” he lied (if he doesn’t, why have his policies led to such an exponential increase in their use?) before going on to highlight other Tory economic policies, at least one of which – the so-called National Living Wage – demonstrates perfectly why we cannot trust Tories.

A living wage is one that provides enough for people to cover all their costs without going into debt or resorting to benefits – unlike the forthcoming Tory version. If they can lie about that, they can lie about everything else.

And David Cameron, speaking for Iain Duncan Smith, is a dab hand at dishonesty.

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