This blog is with kind permision of Fiona Goffe
There is a campaign of hate and bullying against the most vulnerable in our society – the sick and disabled. The changes in the system of benefits is causing people not just unneccessary suffering but people are dying because of it.
I hope that you will read this and share it.
It seems to me that unless people are directly affected they don’t want to know. But this is something that could be stopped if there was enough of a public outcry.
My father spent time in concentration camps during WW11 and was marched through the streets of Germany. The question he, and I, always asked was how could the ordinary German people have allowed this to happen? Now I understand. They were too busy ‘coping with their own lives’, trying to make themselves feel better by partying, drinking, focussing on the good things, in denial, felt powerless etc etc. And yet they stand accused of guilt by association. We all know they could have done more to stop what was happening.
The same applies to us, today. And yet I find that even on FB it is only those people who have been directly affected that take an interest. People can’t even be bothered to read stuff, let alone go to the trouble of pressing a button and sharing the stories that demonstrate the depth of this crisis, the despair that people around them are experiencing or even the horror at the number of deaths.
People seem happy to share pretty, funny pictures, to share that they care about disasters and crimes in other places, to show their concern about animals, the environment etc etc. And so am I, don’t get me wrong. But they don’t want to know about what is going on under their noses, in their name.
We all know that stress makes you sick. If you are sick it makes you sicker. If you are very weak it can kill you. Trying to get the benefits you are entitled to to ensure you can live while you deal with illness is incredibly stressful.
The number of people who have died is horrifying and this is a crisis that could affect you, your family and anyone that you love.
Below is acouple of stories and an article that was written with some early statistics in.
I feel so frustrated that we do not seem to be getting across to the general public how serious this is.
The Motto of this government is that work makes people healthier.
Above the gates of Auschwitz is said “Arbeit Macht Frei” (Work makes you free). Pretty similar eh?
First They Came – Pastor Martin Niemoller
First they came for the Communists
And I did not speak out
Because I was not a Communist
Then they came for the Socialists
And I did not speak out
Because I was not a Socialist
Then they came for the trade unionists
And I did not speak out
Because I was not a trade unionist
Then they came for the Jews
And I did not speak out
Because I was not a Jew
Then they came for me
And there was no one left
To speak out for me
“Paul Mickleburgh, one of the world’s longest surviving kidney dialysis patients is hooked up to a dialysis machine for five hours, three days a week. He’s also had cancer and pneumonia and suffers from spontaneous internal bleeding, brittle bones a twisted bowel and agonising joint pains as a result of his renal treatment. He’s had four failed kidney donations.
To top it all off, Paul has had 14 heart attacks in the last five years and believes his last attack was caused in part by the stress of trying to deal with the DWP. Sadly, patients with chronic kidney disease are actually more likely to die from associated heart disease than from kidney failure itself.
In spite of this, Paul has been placed in the work-related activity group,(external link) meaning that he is someone who is expected to return to the workplace in the reasonably near future. Paul’s request for this dreadful decision to be looked at again came back with the same result – he should be moving towards a return to work.
We hope that Paul is now appealing . . . and that his heart will stand the stress.” (From the Work and Pensions website)
RIP Karen Sherlock (From diary of a benefit Scounger/Spartacus)
I just found out that Karen Sherlock, @pusscat01 has passed away.
Here is here twitter profile : “Chronic Spoonie, lots wrong. ESA stopped by this inhumane government. Preparing for dialysis. Each day is tough.”
Karen embodied our fight in almost every way. She was desperately ill. Her kidneys were failing, putting a huge strain on her body. Ultimately it seems she died of a cardiac arrest. An operation had recently been cancelled at the last minute, though I have no idea why or if it is relevant to her death.
She had been found capable of some work by the DWP. Placed in the Work Related Activity Group, her Employment and Support Allowance was time limited to one year after the welfare reform bill went through. Not only that, but it was limited retrospectively, meaning that she only had a few months left to appeal for long term support (Support Group) before she lost everything.
I won’t go into more detail here. It’s not for me to list her complaints and trials, but there is one thing everyone in this country should know.
She was terrified. Beside herself with fear. She lived her last months desperately scared that her family would not survive the onslaught it faced. She was “the most vulnerable” whatever that is. The system failed her and she spent her last precious moments in this world fighting. For herself, for her family and for others. She was one of us. She was Spartacus. And now she’s dead and she died in fear because the system failed her, because cruel men refused listen and powerful men refused to act. She spent her last months fighting for the “security” of £96 a week and the reassurance that it couldn’t be taken away. She won her battle. Just two weeks ago she was finally put into the Support Group of ESA. After months of unbearable stress, resilient commitment and endurance beyond comprehension, she won her battle.But she lost her war and we must all make sure that whatever comes, we win that war in her name and in the names of the many thousands more fighting for life and dignity. RIP Karen. We WON’T forget you.
From Scottish Law Blogspot:
BRITAIN — HUNDREDS OF SCOTS DEAD as FOI reveals thousands DIE in UK as a RESULT OF TORY-LIBDEM BENEFITS ‘TESTS’ by ATOS Healthcare.
OVER ONE THOUSAND PEOPLE HAVE DIED as a direct result of ‘reforms’ to benefits payouts ordered by the Conservative Liberal-Democrat Coalition Government in Westminster, with likely to be HUNDREDS OF SCOTS also among the dead, according to information published by the media after Freedom of Information responses revealed over 32 people are dying a week after having passed through work capability assessments carried out by by private firm ATOS, on a £100million a year contract to the ConDem coalition Westminster Government. ATOS made a £42million profit in 2010 and paid boss Keith Wilman £800,000, a 22% pay rise on the previous year.
With the revelations of the numbers of dead, Scots may now be entitled to ask – “Would a Scottish Government of an Independent Scotland hire a French based firm for £100million a year to do the same to Scots citizens and cause as many deaths ?” (errm No ! – Ed)
The Daily Mirror newspaper reports :
32 DIE A WEEK AFTER FAILING TEST FOR NEW INCAPACITY BENEFIT
More than a thousand sickness benefit claimants died last year after being told to get a job, we can reveal. We’ve highlighted worries about the controversial medical tests for people claiming Employment Support Allowance which are being used to slash the country’s welfare bill. The Government has boasted that more than half of new claimants are found “fit to work” – failing to mention that over 300,000 have appealed the decision and almost 40% have won. Instead, employment minister Chris Grayling says this ”emphasises what a complete waste of human lives the current system has been”.
We’ve used the Freedom of Information Act to discover that, between January and August last year, 1,100 claimants died after they were put in the “work-related activity group”. This group – which accounted for 21% of all claimants at the last count – get a lower rate of benefit for one year and are expected to go out and find work. This compares to 5,300 deaths of people who were put in the “support group” – which accounts for 22% of claimants – for the most unwell, who get the full, no-strings benefit of up to £99.85 a week.
We don’t know how many people died after being found “fit to work”, the third group, as that information was “not available”. But we have also found that 1,600 people died before their assessment had been completed. This should take 13 weeks, while the claimant gets a reduced payment of up to £67.50 a week, but delays have led to claims the system is in “meltdown”.
Mr Grayling admitted last month that 35,000 people are waiting longer than 13 weeks. Commenting on the deaths of claimants, a Department for Work and Pensions official said: “It is possible that the claimant had already closed their claim and then subsequently died, meaning that these figures may be overestimating the true picture.” Of course, they’re bound to include some people who died of something completely unrelated to their benefit claim.
But there are plenty of tragic cases – such as that of David Groves (left) who died from a heart attack the night before taking his work capability assessment. The 56-year-old, from Staveley, Derbyshire, worked for 40 years as a miner and telecoms engineer but stopped on doctors’ orders after an earlier heart attack and a string of strokes. His widow Sandra said: “When Dave was called in for a medical, he felt like he was back to square one. “He was in a terrible state by the day he died. It was the stress that killed him, I’m sure.”
Stephen Hill, 53, of Duckmanton, Derbyshire, died of a heart attack in December, one month after being told he was “fit to work”, even though he was waiting for major heart surgery. Citizens Advice told us it has found “a number of cases” of people dying soon after being found fit for work. “There seems to be a clear link between the cause of death and the condition they were suffering from that led to the claim,” said Katie Lane, head of welfare policy.
“We have always supported the idea that people who could work and want to work should be helped to do that. But we are seeing a lot of seriously ill and disabled people being found fit for work. “We have serious concerns about whether the test used to decide if people are fit for work is the right test.” The work capability assessments are carried out by private firm Atos, on a £100million a year contract. The firm made a £42million profit in 2010 and paid boss Keith Wilman £800,000, a 22% pay rise on the previous year.
The response to our FOI request:
Thank you for your Freedom of Information request of 16 February 2012. You asked:
Can you please provide me with the number of ESA claimants who have died in 2011?
Can you please break down that number into the following categories:• Those who are in the assessent phase• Those who have been found fit to work• Those who have been placed in the work related activity group• Those who have been placed in the support group• Those who have an appeal pending
The table below provides data on the numbers of Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) claimants where the Department holds information on a date of death being recorded in 2011 and whose latest Work Capability Assessment (WCA) date (or activity towards assessment) was before the end of August 2011, the latest data available.
In total, between January 2011 and August 2011, some 8,000 claims ended and a date of death was recorded within six weeks of the claim end. This represents about 1% of the total ESA caseload in May 2011 (the latest caseload data available). The table below shows the position of these claims when they were closed.
Those in the Support Group receive unconditional support due to the nature of their illness, which can include degenerative conditions, terminal illness and severe disability. Note it is possible that the claimant had already closed their claim and then subsequently died, meaning that these figures may overestimate the true picture. Care should therefore be taken when interpreting these figures.
WCA Outcome at most recent assessment and number of claimants with a recorded date of death :
Assessment not complete 1,600Work Related Activity Group 1,100Support Group 5,300Total 8,000
All figures have been rounded to the nearest 100.
Data on the number of ESA claimants that have died following a fit for work decision is not available, as the Department does not hold information on a death if the person has already left benefit. The Department does not hold information on the number of claimants who died whilst an appeal was in progress.
We then asked for: The total Employment and Support Allowance caseload figures most comparable with the ones in the FOI request, eg Jan-Aug 2011, showing how many ESA claimants are put in support group, WRAG group, fit to work or claim ended. Clarification on whether these figures are only new ESA claims or whether they include the transfer from Incapacity Benefit? Clarification on the six-week cut off figure – why was that selected?
We were told:
“As at August 2011 there were around 730,000 people receiving ESA. In the three quarters Jan-Sep 2011, 380,000 people left ESA.
It is not possible to provide the further detail you request. These figures only cover new ESA claims – claims from IB recipients are not included. The six-week figure is used routinely within the department when looking at where people go after leaving benefits.”
further additions to this blog are;
With this publication we now have figures for the whole of the financial year 2010/11.
They show: 0.8% of benefit spending is overpaid due to fraud, amounting to £1.2 billion, and that this proportion is the same as in 2009/10.
If we look at the estimates for different benefits, they are:
Retirement Pension 0.0%;
Incapacity Benefit 0.3%;
Disability Living Allowance 0.5%;
Council Tax Benefit 1.3%;
Housing Benefit 1.4%;
Pension Credit 1.6%;
Income Support 2.8%;
Jobseeker’s Allowance 3.4%;
Carer’s Allowance 3.9%.
While I agree the similarities are very scary it has to be said, it thankfully has not gone that far as yet but many fear it will!