Contempt: at the national Remembrance Day commemoration service in 2019, Boris Johnson showed contempt for our Armed Forces by laying his wreath face-down. Is this merely symptomatic of the Tory government’s attitude to veterans generally?
I pass this on without comment. Do I need to amplify it further?
Disabled ex-armed forces personnel are being let down by the welfare system, with many experiencing stress and anxiety brought on by the struggle to access social security benefits, according to the Royal British Legion.
The charity said frontline Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) staff were insufficiently aware of their obligations under the armed forces covenant, which requires public services to give special consideration to injured ex-service personnel.
Among the difficulties reported by veterans to a Royal British Legion survey was the failure of benefits officials to understand post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) when carrying out and scoring health assessments for disability benefits.
A study by a Salford University academic published last year found many armed forces veterans with complex needs reported overwhelmingly negative experiences of universal credit, disability benefits assessments and benefit sanctions.
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.
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.
Maria Caulfield is the clueless Conservative MP for Lewes, in east Sussex. She is a former nurse and the wife of an ex-serviceman – which makes her ill-advised criticism of a Labour campaign group all the more ignorant.
It seems Tooting Labour Party were out campaigning yesterday (November 11) – and Ms Caulfield took umbrage at the apparent absence of poppies from the photograph they posted on Twitter:
… while only one person is visibly wearing a poppy and four are not, we cannot tell whether the other 13 are wearing poppies or not.
It seems to This Writer that Ms Caulfield was, therefore, trying to score a cheap political point rather than expressing any genuine outrage – and I am not alone.
Twitter responded with its usual flair for accuracy. Ms Caulfield was – metaphorically, at least – tarred and feathered. I use the term advisedly, as it was an unofficial form of punishment and humiliation, often used on those who did not support the services, and remains a term for severe public criticism.
This Poppy Fascist has some cheek when the Tories cut support for the disabled, including ex-services. Concern one day a year says all you need to know about some Con MPs https://t.co/Ts4HxCOM3m
For an example of Conservative regard for ex-servicepeople, Ms Caulfield was urged to consider the case of David Clapson. Diabetic Mr Clapson – a former serviceman – is no longer with us because the Conservative-run Department for Work and Pensions decided to make him starve to death.
Here’s a pertinent point from Clive Lewis. He may be under investigation after allegations were made against him, but his willingness to stand up for the veterans speaks volumes:
If you knew anything about history and your Party’s shameful treatment of working class veterans after the WW1 you’d pipe down quick time. Look up ‘Geddes Axe’ then tell us who should be ashamed. https://t.co/x928SaghSK
a reminder that @MariaCaulfieldMP made cheap shots yesterday about lab not wearing poppies, they were were yet *7,000 soldiers left to ROT on our streets: Today we demand HOMES FOR …. homeless veterans need, support, shelter and immediate mental health care..
David Cameron loves selling weaponry to foreign countries. What a shame he doesn’t want to look after his own country’s disabled war veterans.
At any given opportunity when in front of TV cameras, David Cameron waxes lyrically about what this nation owes to British Military Forces, with special consideration given to disabled veterans, writes Mo Stewart.
But it seems that he means modern disabled veterans who, since 2005, have benefited from the more generous Armed Forces Compensation Scheme.
Until April 2005, members of the armed forces who suffered a permanent disablement due to service life were awarded a War Pension, with many awarded access to Disability Living Allowance (DLA), for life, to help to fund the additional costs of disability.
Without warning, the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has sent letters to working-age War Pensioners advising that access to DLA is about to be stopped and that disabled veterans may, if they wish, apply for the new Personal Independence Payment (PIP) – with no guarantee that it will be awarded.
DLA for care at the highest rate is the monitor used by local authorities to provide home care services that permit disabled people to enjoy independent living in the community. Without DLA, or its equivalent replacement, the care services will be removed.
Older War Pensioners, over 65 years of age, are permitted to retain access to DLA for life. Modern disabled British forces have access to the Armed Forces Compensation Scheme and are unaffected by this unacceptable change as they have access to the new Armed Forces Independence Payment, introduced in 2013.
However, an estimated 80,000 disabled working-age War Pensioners, disabled when in service to the nation before April 2005, are about to have their DLA removed with a guarantee that many will not be awarded PIP, which continues to cause concern with less than 13,000 decisions from more than 220,300 applicants as of May 2014. PIP has a 12 month waiting list for assessments.
This is yet another cost cutting measure by the Prime Minister and the DWP, without consideration for the unacceptable price in human suffering, leaving 80,000 working-age disabled War Pensioners at risk of imminent destitution if PIP is not awarded.
All War Pensioners should be permitted to retain access to DLA to acknowledge their much proclaimed “service to the nation” as constantly mentioned by the Prime Minister – but only when in front of the TV cameras.
Remembrance: Former servicemen and women took part in the formal Remembrance Day parades across the UK earlier this month – but many of them, and many more of their colleagues, are being threatened with the loss of the benefits the country owes to them, thanks to the heartlessness of an ungrateful government [Image: Associated Press].
The following article by disability researcher Mo Stewart was intended for publication in tandem with a story on the same subject in a national newspaper, to coincide with Remembrance Day – but the newspaper concerned got cold feet at the last minute. Don’t all leap up and shout “What else can we expect from the right-wing media?” at once.
Mo has agreed to let Vox Political publish it here. Over to her:
The hypocrisy is breath-taking…
At the annual Conservative Party Conference in October, the Prime Minister offered a very warm and welcome salute to the British Armed Forces.(1) This included the veterans from both WW1 and WW2, an acknowledgement of outstanding efforts 70 years ago when they had fought on the Normandy beaches on D-Day, and a tribute to modern British forces who fought in the Gulf.
Prior to the PM’s conference speech, contact had been made with approximately 80,000 disabled older veterans, advising the annual increase in their monthly Disability Living Allowance (DLA) but warning that this vital benefit was about to be withdrawn. Yet there is no information about this unexpected threat to British War Pensioners on the Department for Work and Pensions’ (DWP) website, or on the MOD or Veterans-UK websites. The DWP’s threat to the financial survival of these older disabled veterans included a suggestion that working age War Pensioners may wish to apply for the new Personal Independence Payment (PIP) that has replaced DLA. This suggestion was accompanied with a stark warning that the award of PIP is not guaranteed, regardless of previous payments of DLA awarded to British military forces who were disabled for life in the service of the nation with a permanent disability that can’t possibly improve.
PIP has a 10-12 month waiting list for new applicants (2) and the government’s own figures predict that 600,000 people with permanent disabilities will lose their entitlement to financial support when they lose DLA and attempt to make a claim for PIP.(3) Many experts have already identified the risk to disabled people as the new PIP benefit is rolled out and DLA claimants are reassessed. Richard Hawkes, the Chief Executive for the charity SCOPE remains concerned:
For months now we have been saying the Government’s assessment
for the new Personal Independence Payment is deeply flawed. It looks set to repeat the mistakes of the Work Capability Assessment.(4)
The removal of DLA guarantees that thousands of War Pensioners, permanently disabled whilst in military service, risk the possible loss of their homes and access to their home carers. This significant risk to older disabled veterans is also in breach of the principles of the much-hallowed Armed Forces Covenant.(5) Working age War Pensioners will now live in fear of the loss of this essential benefit, originally guaranteed for life, as their personal sacrifices when serving this nation are totally disregarded by the DWP, despite the PM’s constant public claim of admiration for British forces and disabled veterans.(6)(7)(8)
The unconditional support for British disabled veterans was exclusively reported by The Sun in May 2012 when Political Editor Tom Newton Dunn ran with the headline: Wounded heroes beat MOD in benefits battle. His strong piece expressed concern that disabled veterans had been expected to subject themselves to the same [bogus] assessments as civilians: (6)
Wounded war heroes are to keep their disability benefits for life after the PM stepped in to halt a bid to cut them… Incredibly, MOD bureaucrats were insisting that wounded heroes get the same grilling as suspected cheats and scroungers – because they feared their cash-strapped department would be left to pick up the bill for administering the pay-outs. (6)
When visiting Camp Bastion in July 2012 the PM made a very public promise, as reported by the BBC News and the national press (7)(8). David Cameron claimed that ‘disabled veterans’ would not be adversely affected by the welfare reforms and could retain access to DLA for life, without the need for any reassessment, in recognition of their ‘service to the nation.’ Yet, the PM forgot to mention that this decision only applied to modern disabled veterans (9) and the DWP have now covertly threatened the financial survival of a minimum of 80,000 disabled older British veterans by the planned removal of DLA from this nation’s working-age War Pensioners.(10)
This disturbing threat to the welfare of older disabled veterans is despite the fact that this researcher received a personal telecom from the Cabinet Office last year, as witnessed by care staff, confirming that ‘…the Cabinet has just agreed that all War Pensioners can retain access to DLA and will not be reassessed as an acknowledgement of their service to the nation’. During the same conversation, the caller asked what this decision would mean for the research.
Evidence from the self-funded independent research, demonstrating American corporate influence with the UK government’s welfare reforms (11), has been used in every welfare reform debate in the House of Lords and the House of Commons since 2011. The research exposed the fact that the Work Capability Assessment (WCA), as conducted by Atos Healthcare and used by the DWP to remove vulnerable people from long-term sickness benefit was a totally bogus assessment using a manipulated bio-psychosocial model.(11)(12) The research further exposed the enforced welfare reforms as being totally unrelated to the banking crash that had created the need for austerity measures, yet the national press refused to publish the research findings. In reality, the eventual demolition of the welfare state is the long-ago planned Thatcher legacy, inherited by her devoted disciple David Cameron. The PM waited for a plausible excuse to introduce welfare reforms as this nation moves ever closer to the removal of the welfare state with welfare and health care, eventually, to be funded by private insurance (12) as the national press help to undermine the welfare state with increasing numbers of adverts by private health insurance companies…
The same research evidence was accepted by the United Nations (UN) and it is widely believed that the UN are to investigate the UK government for the abuses of the human rights of sick and disabled people.(13) The many victims, survivors and bereaved relatives of claimants of long-term sickness benefit, who didn’t survive this government-funded medical tyranny masquerading as welfare reforms, are waiting to learn when the Coalition government will eventually be investigated for crimes against humanity.(14) Meanwhile, Lord Freud, the Minister for Welfare Reform, continues to refuse to publish the annual death totals of sick and disabled people, removed from long-term sickness benefit and forced to apply for jobs their health will not permit them to tolerate as the DWP finally admit to reinvestigating 60 suspicious deaths following the WCA.… (15)
At the time of the phone call from the Cabinet Office, the caller was advised that DLA for War Pensioners was totally unrelated to the research, which would continue. However, with this recent reality that removes DLA and threatens the welfare of 80,000 working age War Pensioners, it seems that the call was an attempt to incentivise this veteran to end the research. It was an attempt to prevent more detailed research that had already exposed the authority of a notorious American healthcare insurance corporate giant, whose representatives happily boast of their influence with successive UK governments regarding the UK welfare reforms.(16)
The recent justification for the shocking and unexpected threat to this nation’s working age War Pensioners, as provided by the poorly-briefed Defence Personnel Secretariat, is that disabled War Pensioners have access to the more generous constant care allowance, which is a supplement added to the basic war pension that replaces DLA for care. This statement is not only misleading but totally incorrect. It is disregarding the fact that War Pensioners need to demonstrate an 80 per cent disability or higher to access the constant care allowance; whilst disabled veterans with less than an 80 per cent permanent disability were awarded DLA for life because they would be disabled for the rest of their life – something that the PM, Iain Duncan Smith and DWP Ministers still fail to grasp.
This latest DWP decision is a betrayal of working age disabled War Pensioners by the Coalition government as David Cameron continues to make supportive speeches and to lay a wreath at the Cenotaph, knowing his government has jeopardised the future survival of 80,000 disabled veterans who willingly risked their lives for the nation in years gone by.
Many War Pensioners have the additional unemployability supplement added to the basic pension, which identifies a profound disability and confirms that they were not expected to work again, so why are they being threatened with destitution, or worse, at the same time as the Prime Minister pays tribute to the British Armed Forces in this the 100th anniversary year of WW1 and the 70th anniversary of the Normandy landings?
It is unprecedented for any UK government to threaten the welfare of one generation of disabled veterans over another, yet members of the Coalition appear to do it with ease. They are no doubt confident that there is no authority in place to prevent this unacceptable reality. It remains unclear as to how many politicians are aware of this decision that will negatively impact on their constituents who were disabled when serving this nation when in uniform in years gone by. Once again the DWP has taken a decision based on costs alone, without any apparent consideration of the inevitable dire human consequences. Of greatest concern, the loss of DLA for care at the highest level will remove access to funded carers in the home as supplied by the local authorities. The award of DLA for care at the highest level is the tag used by local authorities to justify the costs of providing home carers to disabled people in the community. Without it, the care will be removed and there is no guarantee that those now in receipt of DLA for care at the highest level will be awarded the equivalent level of PIP or, indeed, any award of PIP at all. (17)
The Defence Personnel Secretariat don’t like being challenged and claim even more justification as approximately 50 per cent of the 166,000 surviving War Pensioners are now over the age of 70 years old, will retain access to DLA and, happily, this callous decision will not affect them. Modern British forces already have the Prime Minister’s guarantee of permanent access to DLA so someone, somewhere, should be asking why approximately 80,000 working age disabled War Pensioners are now being targeted by the DWP when all other disabled veterans are permitted to retain access to DLA with all the financial security attached to it.
Are they really being punished because my integrity is not for sale?
vhttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jgs4UjwWtow – video
Readers will be familiar with the name ‘Mo Stewart’ – it belongs to a researcher into government attitudes to – and policy on – the disabled who has provided Vox Political – not to mention Parliament – with a wealth of invaluable information on the damage that has been done by uncaring politicians over the years.
Yesterday Mo gave her first public speech on the subject, in London, after being asked to help open Disability History Month by its organisers.
For Mo, this was a courageous act; she has spent years avoiding any kind of limelight and was extremely nervous of standing up in public. But she had a message to pass on and – as you can see from the headline – it was important.
Don’t take VP‘s word for it – read it for yourself. Here it is [all boldings mine]:
At the same time as the Prime Minister was waxing lyrically about what this nation owes to British Military Forces and veterans when speaking at the recent Conservative Party Conference, the DWP were busy advising 80,000 disabled War Pensioners that we were about to lose access to DLA and could, if we wished, apply for the new – highly discredited – PIP award.
PIP has a 12 month waiting list for all new applicants and, according to the DWP, a guarantee that the majority will not be successful.
By May 2014 only 15.4 per cent of new PIP claims had received a decision, and only 12,654 of the 220,300 people who had made a new claim since April 2013 have been awarded some rate of PIP.
This unexpected threat to this nation’s working age War Pensioners was despite the fact that I received a personal telecom from the Cabinet Office 12 months ago, as witnessed by my carer, claiming that the Cabinet had ‘… just agreed that all War Pensioners could keep their DLA for life and will not be reassessed, as an acknowledgement of their service to the nation.’ My opinion was invited and given and, of course, I was delighted with the news.
Then, the very nervous caller asked me what this decision would mean for my research? Evidence from the research exposed the Work Capability Assessment, conducted by Atos Healthcare, as being bogus and using a totally discredited assessment model. The WCA was copied from a notorious American corporate insurance giant in order to remove as many as possible from long-term sickness benefits, regardless of the consequences in terms of human suffering. The research has been accepted by the UN and evidence from it has been used in welfare debates in the House of Lords and especially in the House of Commons – largely thanks to John McDonnell MP.
Ask yourself why the national press will not publish the research evidence accepted by academics throughout the UK. Do we have a free press or a government controlled press?
The same research also exposed the fact that the welfare reforms were totally unrelated to the financial collapse, regardless of repeated government claims.
The evidence confirmed that the destruction of the welfare state is the legacy of the Thatcher government, and the current prime minister had been waiting for a plausible excuse to justify introducing this long-ago planned destruction of the welfare state, masquerading as welfare reforms, as the UK moves ever closer to health care and welfare funded by private insurance.
Twelve months later, it seems that the phone call from the Cabinet Office last year was an attempt to stop the research and, being naive, I didn’t anticipate that the Department for Work and Pensions would now threaten 80,000 working-age War Pensioners because my integrity is not for sale.
Since the outpouring of public and political outrage the last time the DWP published the mortality figures of the thousands of sick and disabled people who had died, often within weeks of being found fit for work and removed from long-term sickness benefit, the DWP has refused to publish any more annual death totals.
The unelected Lord Freud has far too much authority and the press have blood on their hands. They willingly quote any new DWP fantasy attacking sick and disabled benefit claimants as people are dying, in their thousands, killed by the State.
For some of us, this DWP decision to remove DLA from working age disabled older veterans will be a death sentence whilst all other disabled veterans, including War Pensioners over the age of 70, have a government guarantee of DLA for life without any further reassessment, in recognition of their ‘service to the nation.’
ALL disabled veterans were disabled serving this nation and all War Pensioners should be treated the same, regardless of age, and be allowed to retain the promised access to DLA for life.
The UN are apparently investigating the UK government for breaches of the disability rights of disabled people and time will tell how long it takes for members of the present UK government to be investigated for the identified crimes against humanity, masquerading as welfare reforms. Members of the House of Lords now compare the Coalition government to 1930s Germany where elderly, sick and disabled people were nothing more than a burden to the State that needed to be removed.
Clearly, the social consequences of disablement in the 21st century UK are the abuses of hard-won disability rights by a very dangerous government. There are now in excess of three million disability benefit-dependent claimants living in fear of imminent destitution or worse, including 80,000 working age War Pensioners.
They also fear possible public hostility due to the often-extreme press headlines that report the deeply disturbing rhetoric of DWP ministers, as disability hate crime is now the highest ever recorded.
There are reported examples of disabled people being thrown out of their wheelchairs and spat at in the streets, in the 21st century UK, thanks to disabled people being constantly vilified by DWP ministers, politicians and commentators who have all joined the bandwagon.
Speaking personally, over the past 12 months in particular, I have been very aware of members of the public looking at me in a judgemental manner, to the point where some will make derogatory comments, no doubt encouraged by influential press headlines and the Secretary of State’s frequently-quoted comments referring to ‘shirkers and skivers.’
There can’t really be any surprise that many sick and disabled people now no longer feel comfortable when venturing out of the safety of their homes into the no-man’s land of public opinion. Many are now prisoners in their own homes, and that includes disabled working age War Pensioners fearing imminent death or destitution. There really isn’t much difference between being incarcerated in institutions or a prisoner in your own home, as independent living is being systematically destroyed by these very dangerous welfare reforms.
Few benefit-dependent disabled people can possibly absorb a monthly reduction of £300 per month or more without serious or fatal consequences.
The removal of DLA from working age War Pensioners is a totally indefensible decision given our much proclaimed ‘service to the nation’ – as frequently acknowledged by the prime minister – [but] only when in front of the TV cameras.
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