Tag Archives: vulnerable

Did Tory-run DWP change rules on cancelling benefits to avoid humiliation in court?

Errol Graham: he starved to death after the Department for Work and Pensions cut off his benefits.

The Department for Work and Pensions has quietly changed its rules on stopping benefits of vulnerable claimants – after relatives of a man who died of starvation won the right to have a judicial review.

Relatives of Errol Graham were granted permission for a judicial review of DWP policies after the department failed to review and revise them itself, following his death.

The DWP ignored its own safeguarding advice to deprive Errol Graham of his benefits, This Site reported previously.

Left with no income, Mr Graham starved to death.

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.

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.

Not only that, but 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.

Because he had lost his entitlement to ESA, Mr Graham’s housing benefit was also stopped.

When bailiffs knocked down his front door to evict him on June 20, 2018, they found a dead body that weighed just four and a half stone. The only food in the flat was a couple of out-of-date tins of fish.

Mr Graham was 57 years old.

Solicitors Leigh Day, acting for Mr Graham’s family, revealed they had won the right to have a judicial review last week.

And on Tuesday – the day before Parliament rose for the summer recess – the DWP told Parliament’s Work and Pensions committee that it had changed the rules.

Permanent Secretary Peter Schofield said: “If we tried all of that [contacting the claimant by phone and carrying out two safeguarding visits] we would then take that back and have a case conference about the individual and particularly, obviously if it’s someone with vulnerabilities that we know about, then we would seek to involve other organisations that might have a different way of knowing about that individual.

“And then we would seek to understand what do they know about that individual and how can we support them.

“And if that fails that could then be escalated to the safeguarding leads. And in that way basically what we’d seek to do is provide support not removal of benefits.”

Do you believe that?

Tessa Gregory of Leigh Day seems sceptical, still: “Today’s announcement that the procedures have changed is news to us and news to our client.

“Whilst we cautiously welcome the announcement, it is imperative that the Secretary of State publishes the relevant guidance immediately so that our client and the public can see whether it actually requires decision makers to liaise with different agencies in cases like Errol’s and whether enough has been done to ensure that the vulnerable are adequately protected.”

This Writer thinks the best way to achieve that aim is to go ahead with the judicial review. Why were these changes only brought in when the Tory government was facing humiliation in court?

Source: DWP chiefs quietly change rule on stopping benefits after man starved to death – Mirror Online

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Disabled man starved to death because TORIES omitted him from ‘clinically vulnerable’ lockdown list

This’ll prove that the Tory government has used the Covid-19 crisis to eliminate people with disabilities, then.

The list of people who were defined as “clinically vulnerable” by the government was deliberately written to omit people with many life-inhibiting disabilities.

As a result – well, read it for yourself:

A disabled man starved to death during the coronavirus lockdown because he could not access essential food, an MP said.

Labour MP Bell Ribeiro-Addy said she was aware of a “tragic” report that a man in her constituency of Streatham, south London, had died after being unable to access food essentials.

She asked charities giving evidence to the Women and Equalities Committee what they felt about the Government’s “reluctance” to expand the clinically vulnerable list amid people with disabilities struggling to get food through priority delivery slots.

They said people are still finding it hard to get deliveries, some cannot socially isolate in supermarkets because they are blind, carers are being disbelieved when they say they are shopping for more than one person and customers are being asked to “prove” their disability.

That’s right – the Tories deliberately ensured that people with disabilities would not be able to access food.

This Site’s long-term friend Samuel Miller had it right when he tweeted:

Anyone who voted for the Tories is complicit in these deaths.

Blood on their hands.

Source: Disabled man ‘starved to death during lockdown’ MP claims – Mirror Online

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Why didn’t Matt Hancock send vulnerable Covid-19 sufferers to Nightingale hospitals rather than care homes?

Care: even the image I’ve been using emphasises the impossibility of social distancing in this context.

It’s a simple enough question.

The London Nightingale hospital opened on April 4 – that’s not such a long time to let a person (who is ill, remember) stay in hospital, is it?

The Nightingale hospitals were provided with facilities specifically for sufferers of Covid-19.

But instead, elderly and vulnerable people were carted off to care homes that did not have such facilities, there to infect many of their fellow residents – along with some staff .

These staff, in turn, moved on to other care homes, where they infected more people who would not have caught the disease if people who had been receiving treatment in hospital had not been shifted out, on the orders of the Conservative government.

The whole situation triggered a spike in excess deaths of at least 31 per cent.

Put that way, the decision looks more like a plan, doesn’t it?

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Blame game: Tories try to shift responsibility for sending Covid-19 into care homes – and fail

Care: the Tories don’t.

Pathetic, isn’t it?

The Conservative government has tried to claim that temporary care workers spread Covid-19 between different care homes to cause the huge increase in deaths there.

Those of us with a more rational outlook believe the epidemic was more likely caused by the Tory policy of shifting people with Covid symptoms from hospital into care homes as soon as possible – without caring whether those homes had isolation facilities.

Which do you think is more likely?

Bear in mind that the two possibilities are not mutually exclusive.

And who’s responsible for homes having to employ temporary workers, anyway?

The Guardian certainly seems to think the Tory government is responsible either way. It states:

In evidence that raises further questions about ministers’ claims to have “thrown a protective ring around care homes”, it emerged that agency workers – often employed on zero-hours contracts – unwittingly spread the infection as the pandemic grew, according to [a] study by Public Health England (PHE).

The genome tracking research into the behaviour of the virus in six care homes in London found that, in some cases, workers who transmitted coronavirus had been drafted in to cover for care home staff who were self-isolating expressly to prevent the vulnerable people they look after from becoming infected.

During flu pandemic planning in 2018, a report from social care directors warned ministers that frontline care workers would need advice on “controlling cross-infection”. A 2019 PHE document about flu pandemic preparations called “Infection prevention and control: an outbreak information pack for care homes” urged operators to “try to avoid moving staff between homes and floors”.

But the DHSC’s social care plan, published on 16 April, mentions nothing about restricting staff movements between homes in its chapter on “controlling the spread of infection in care homes”.

So hopeful Tories are set to be disappointed; if temporary care home staff did transmit the bug, it was because of Tory government failures.

Worse is the Tory government policy to transfer elderly people with Covid-19 symptoms out of hospital and into care homes, regardless of whether those homes had the facilities to isolate the patients. Here‘s the Huffington Post:

The government had a “policy of emptying hospitals and filling care homes” when coronavirus began to grip the country, a top care boss has said.

Martin Green, chief executive of Care England, said Boris Johnson should have stopped the spread of Covid-19 to social care settings, where elderly people, many of whom have underlying health conditions, were particularly vulnerable to the disease.

He also criticised the discharge of patients from hospitals to care homes, saying people who either “didn’t have a Covid-19 status or were symptomatic were discharged into care homes” which were full of people “with underlying health conditions”.

Green, whose body represents care home providers in England, said homes should have been isolating residents who returned from hospital – as those in some other countries have – but many did not have the right set-up.

Whichever way you look at it, the Tory government was responsible for what has been an absolute massacre of vulnerable people who were supposed to be enjoying the best possible care.

So we come back to the big question, with the Tories found to have been responsible for causing these infections and deaths in care homes.

Was this result intended?

Source: Agency staff were spreading Covid-19 between care homes, PHE found in April | World news | The Guardian

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Austerity made UK less-prepared to tackle Covid-19 crisis, health expert says

This isn’t rocket science.

Of course austerity contributed to the fact that the coronavirus pandemic found the UK’s Tory government sitting on its collective thumbs.

Professor Sir Michael Marmot, director of University College London’s Institute of Health Equity, said that the lack of financial support given to the health and social care systems during the 2010s is partly to blame for the overwhelming issues now facing the country.

I’ve got an infographic about that. Let’s see…

Sir Michael was particularly sharp about the cuts to social care:

“We’re terribly worried about the health of workers in social care. The reduction in adult social care spending over the last decade was 7 per cent in real terms. But in the most deprived 20 per cent of areas the reduction was 16 per cent. In the least deprived 20 per cent the reduction was 3 per cent.”

And of course the coronavirus has hit the most deprived areas the hardest. You see how this ties together?

“So there’s a clear line between our lack of preparedness in the healthcare system, in the social care system and in community resources more generally – the decline of support for the voluntary sector – a clear line between austerity and our lack of preparedness to cope with this pandemic.”

Sir Michael went on to say that rather than being “the great leveller”, as some have described the coronavirus pandemic, he believed it had instead exposed “underlying health inequalities” and amplified them.

He’s saying that, since they came into office in 2010, the Tories have been using well-known funding inequalities to make deprived areas less able to cope with a crisis like Covid-19.

They may not have had a pandemic in mind (although that’s debatable) but the result is the same:

His comments followed a report by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) that found that people living in the most deprived areas of England have experienced coronavirus mortality rates more than double those living in the least deprived areas.

For those deaths involving Covid-19 that took place between March 1 and April 17, the mortality rate in the most deprived areas was 55.1 deaths per 100,000 population.

By contrast, the rate was 25.3 deaths per 100,000 in the least deprived areas.

So there’s a clear link: more than twice as many people have died in deprived areas than in affluent places – because of Tory austerity policies that hit the poorest much harder than the rich.

Source: Coronavirus latest: Britain’s lack of preparedness for tackling Covid-19 crisis linked to austerity, health expert says | inews

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Coronavirus: DWP/Post Office plan to send cash benefits to claimants at risk has one serious flaw

Cash money: it’s one of the most obvious ways possible of transmitting diseases – and the Tories want to send it direct to the homes of the people the coronavirus is most likely to kill.

We’re all being asked to use cash money as little as possible under the coronavirus lockdown because it is a notorious carrier of disease.

Those little gold, silver and bronze coins that we normally handle every day – who knows where they’ve been? This Writer knows of people putting them in their mouths so anything could be on them.

And paper money – what else has been on the hands that have handled them? Again, the mind can only imagine.

So why in blazes is the Tory-run Department for Work and Pensions trying to send this money into the homes of people whose lives are most at risk from coronavirus?

Is it a deliberate attempt to bypass social distancing procedures and make sure they catch the disease?

The DWP and Post Office have launched a joint initiative to deliver benefit payments direct to the homes of claimants shielding because of the risk of coronavirus infection.

The new service from the Post Office will enable cash benefit payments to be sent to individuals identified by the DWP as shielding at home because of the risk of infection from COVID-19 and who agree to receive payments in this way.

The joy of it – for the malicious Tories – is that if these claimants die of the disease alone at home, nobody will know for a considerable period of time and they won’t be added to the government’s already-questionable death figures.

But someone needs to have a serious talk with whoever approved this homicidal plot – and get them to find a less terminal way of paying people what they are owed.

Source: DWP and Post Office launch joint initiative to deliver cash benefit payments direct to homes of claimants most at risk from coronavirus – Rightsnet

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Look how coronavirus has changed Tory persecution of people with disabilities

Back at the end of March, This Writer warned that the Tories might ban people with certain disabilities from treatment.

The list included people with Down Syndrome, cerebral palsy, autism or any of the other reasons for receiving Personal Independence Payment, and the fear was that the Tory government would follow some US states that were denying ventilators to people with those conditions.

It turns out to be worse than that – people with disabilities are being denied food because they’re not on an extremely limited list of the ‘most vulnerable people’.

According to The Guardian:

Disabled people are being left without food after being missed off the government’s list of those vulnerable to coronavirus.

The government set up an online register billed as a way to reach “extremely vulnerable” households in England who have been told to shield for 12 weeks – either offering them food parcels via their local authority or liaising with major supermarkets to give priority for online delivery.

But it has emerged that large numbers of disabled and older people are being excluded from the scheme due to the highly selective criteria.

Among those who have been rejected are people with cancer being treated with chemotherapy, heart disease, tetraplegia, motor neurone disease (MND), myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME) and muscular dystrophy.

These people have been starving to death – they can’t go out, you see – and the paper noted that one had contracted the virus.

So by making its list of vulnerable people too restrictive, the Tories have ensured that people who deserve protection are catching the virus.

Are they still improbably claiming that they care about disabled people and aren’t trying to drive them to their deaths?

Source: Disabled people left off coronavirus vulnerable list go without food | Society | The Guardian

Coronavirus: Where’s the government retraction on ‘do not revive’ guidance for vulnerable people?

If the government is prepared for coronavirus, as Matt Hancock keeps saying, why are patients being told they’ll be automatically denied treatment?

Look at the state of this.

After all the fuss last week, when a GP practice in Wales sent out a circular to patients described as vulnerable to coronavirus, telling them they won’t get treatment if they contract it and should sign “Do Not Attempt Resuscitation” forms so health workers will leave them to die…

After the BMA, CQC, and other organisations demanded that decisions on whether to treat anybody must be made on an individual basis rather than about groups…

GP practices in Brighton and Hove sent letters to care homes with exactly the same message.

NHS England says there is no national guidance at all that picks and chooses who can receive treatment in hospital.

In that case, why are GP practices in Sussex sending people the same message as one in south Wales?

It’s time we had an explanation and apology from the Department of Health and Social Care…

And a direction to all health professionals that nobody is to be denied treatment.

Source: Coronavirus: Care workers ‘shocked’ by virus treatment guidance – BBC News

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Coronavirus: Are poor kids REALLY getting food vouchers during the lockdown?

Fear of hunger: already vulnerable children have been going hungry during school holidays. Now – unless the Tories really have got their voucher scheme going, they could be going without due to the coronavirus lockdown.

How sad that we cannot trust the government to follow through on a promise.

Boris Johnson’s gang has promised that children who would normally receive free school meals will be supplied with food vouchers during the coronavirus lockdown.

We are told that schools are able to provide parents with a weekly shopping voucher worth £15 for every eligible child, to spend at supermarkets while schools are closed.

But we were also told that people who are most vulnerable to the coronavirus would be contacted with a view to being supplied with essentials by supermarkets.

This Writer’s brother is on that particular list – he’s just received a second letter warning him not to leave his home under any circumstances – but he hasn’t heard word one about help getting the groceries in.

So I’d like to ask parents if this voucher scheme is actually happening – or if it’s yet another promise that the Tories made without ever intending to put it into action.

Source: Poor kids to be given food vouchers during coronavirus outbreak – Welfare Weekly

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This is how your government handles coronavirus: families in debt for food one week into lockdown

School meal: this image is from before the coronavirus lockdown. Now parents are saying they’ve had no substitute for school meals with which to feed their children, despite an(other) empty promise from the Tory government.

You think coronavirus is a deadly contagion but the Tories seem to think it’s a money-making opportunity.

Here’s what’s happening, according to The Guardian. I’ll lay out what it means below:

Millions of British people are already struggling to get the food they need and are falling into debt because of the coronavirus pandemic, a survey carried out this week suggests.

More than 1.5 million adults in Britain say they cannot obtain enough food. Half of the YouGov poll sample reported that they were self-isolating, and 53% of NHS workers were worried about getting food.

Half of parents on low incomes with children eligible for free school meals said they had not yet received any substitute meals to keep their children fed, despite government promises to provide food vouchers or parcels. Around 830,000 children are therefore likely to be going without daily sustenance.

On 21 March the government instructed people at greater risk of Covid-19 to stay in their homes and self-isolate for 12 weeks. It said it would contact 1.5 million people in this category and set up a system with local authorities, voluntary organisations and business to deliver food parcels to the homes of those who lacked family support.

Military planners have been assigned to work with councils, but the Guardian understands that the scheme is not yet running and will take a few weeks to scale up to supplying food to 400,000 people. The Food Foundation has calculated that more than twice that number – 860,000 people who fall into the medically vulnerable category – were suffering from food insecurity even before the crisis.

The government of the United Kingdom could put the systems in place to get food to people within minutes if it so desired.

So we have to ask why this has not been done.

The obvious answer is: money.

People in debt end up not only owing the amount of the debt but interest on it as well. They become long-term sources of income to their creditors.

And what’s the easiest way to make people borrow? Simple: depriving them of food.

Why do you think the Tories are so keen for so many people to claim Universal Credit? It’s a debt-creation machine; the five-week wait for payments means you have to borrow money.

It’s the “zombie economy” but using private money instead of national funds.

And by attacking the poor and vulnerable, it’s practically a guarantee that these people will never be able to pay it off.

Source: Families borrowing to buy food a week into UK lockdown | Society | The Guardian

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