In the last few days it has been widely reported by various bloggers that those disabled claimants claiming Universal Credit are subjected to finding a job within two years or face a 1 year sanction. This is utter fabrication and feeding many claimants fears which could potentially cause harm. So today I called Welfare Rights ,who called DWP while I remained on the phone, they denied that this information was correct and was downright alarmist and dangerous. That doesnt mean I trust DWP and have submitted a FOI too given 7 years of shenanigans. So you see folks, you can take the fear project and destroy it with Facts!

Those who will be put on Universal Credit (UC) will have to sign the claimant commitment regardless, some will be subjected to full conditionality some will have their conditionality limited depending on the circumstances, and subject to sanctions if they fail to comply with the agreed commitments they agreed with work coach via the Work Plan,My 4 steps,My Values documents.  (Document links provided at bottom of the blog.)

As promised last night, the SKWAWKBOX has been looking further into conflicting reports from DWP insiders concerning the WRAG (work-related activity group) category into which the government, more or less arbitrarily, places some disability benefit claimants and the possibility of sanctions after a fixed period of two years under the Universal Credit (UC) system if claimants have not found work.

Some activists insisted that this was part of the UC system and this was initially confirmed by long-term DWP employees. Others subsequently disputed it. The only thing all were agreed on was that the rules are ill-conceived and extremely confusing.

The SKWAWKBOX contacted a PCS union official who specialises in UC for clarification and received this response:

 

I’ve been looking at the regulations and I can’t find anything that refers specifically to a fixed time limit in which to find employment.

That is right, because no fixed time limit exists in the regulations

 

The ‘disabled’ argument, as I’m sure you are aware, is notorious because ultimately the Department through the provide contractors are essentially able to define who is fit or not for work.

For example, a claimant maybe moved from ESA to UC on the back of a WCA [Work Capability Assessment]. The claimant may disagree with the decision but they are stuck.

If they are adamant they are not fit for work, they could refuse employment in an environment they believe will affect their health.

 

If they have been found to have no Limited Capability for Work, they cannot refuse employment. The fact that claimants think they are unfit for work has been the main issue with the flawed WCA since 2008

 

This is where the sanction process comes in – a 13wk, 26wk and 156wk sanction could apply (although similar regs existed prior to UC and the 2012 Welfare Reform Act if not as harsh or severe).

 

In this case you’re looking at failure to apply, not accepting work or leaving on one’s own accord. Their argument is they aren’t fit, the department will still look at sanctions.

The circumstances described here apply to somebody who has not been found to have Limited Capability for Work.

 

The sanction regime is clearly arbitrary, deeply unfair and dangerous – but there is no rule mandating a fixed time-limit for a claimant to find work.

Again no time limit

 

However, another PCS/DWP source warned that while the rules don’t include such a limit, the way they are applied may not be as clear cut:

I can tell you that we have received complaints from WRAG claimants about having their ESA revoked after two years. And now they are treated as JSA claimants because they are ‘fit for work but not necessarily their precious occupation(s)’.

ESA cannot be revoked. It simply cannot be claimed after a claimant has been found fit for work. Previous occupations are not a consideration. That has always been the case.

 

Sanctions have been applied because the claimant has not fulfilled their requirement to find work. The purpose of the WRAG was to enable people to return to work despite being disabled, but this component has now been removed as WRAG claimants are now treated as jobseekers.

 

WRAG claimants under UC are described as having Limited Capability for Work.. They are not required to search for, be available for and start work, and cannot be sanctioned for not doing so, but they are required to accept work preparation requirements within their commitment and attend WFIs

.

 

Other WRAG claimants have been booted off ESA or the sickness element of UC after a period of two years because they failed their WCA – deliberate decision to bully them back to work.

 

Some claimants will fail their WCA after 2 years. Others after 6 months, 12 months  etc.

2 years is actually a prognosis period, meaning a number of people are reassessed at this stage. Unless there is any evidence of a pattern, this period of 2 years is meaningless

 

Thanks too to Anita Bellows who has worked with me on this 🙂

 

So you see folks, you can take the fear project and destroy it with Facts! 

https://www.scribd.com/document/353594773/4c-ESAHWC1

https://www.scribd.com/document/353595852/CC-O18-E15

https://www.scribd.com/document/352833734/CC-Work-Preparation-Activities-v1-0

https://www.scribd.com/document/353603319/1359203507-UJcompanyleafletJCP

https://www.scribd.com/document/354185048/CC-Requirement-to-Accept-a-Claimant-Commitment-v2-0

https://www.scribd.com/document/354185364/cc-commitment-not-accepted-v1-0

https://www.scribd.com/document/354185650/My-4-Steps-Template

https://www.scribd.com/document/354187257/1816-my-values-1-pdf

https://www.scribd.com/document/349517725/UC-Claimant-Committment

https://www.scribd.com/document/349520361/FTS-FTP-in-WFI-and-Failure-to-Undertake-Work-Related-Activity

https://www.scribd.com/document/349517543/Handout-08-01-Commitment-Pack-v7-7

https://www.scribd.com/document/354182466/Dealing-With-Sanctions-Facsheet-4

https://www.scribd.com/document/353627563/HWC-Exemptions

 

Read Frank Zola Blog below;

https://mrfrankzola.wordpress.com/2017/07/18/disability-rights-uk-disrightsuk-questions-why-dwp-esa-health-work-conversation-mandatory-foi/

Update…….. “The Article originally produced by SKWAWKBOX. Claiming to that Disabled Persons could only claim UC for 24 months, is a mishmash of quotes from Gen William Taggart, who was actually talking about an Early ‘Draft’ of the Welfare Reform Acts. At no time did Gen. T directly associate this with Disabled Persons, in fact it was just a heads up for activists/advocates etc, to remember not to get complacent about the Statutory Instrument placed within the Welfare Reform Acts. “

 

Further confirmation from DWP to my FOI

My FOI response

“Claimants on JSA or UC, who are expected to look for and be available for work, must do all
they reasonably can to find and take up a job. However, the DWP sets no specific time limit for
how long a claimant is given to find a job.
Sanctions are only used in a minority of cases when people fail to attend work-search reviews;
fail to meet the work-related requirements they have agreed in their Claimant Commitment;
fail to apply for work or take up an offer of work; or leave a job, without good reason.
The DWP does not have any statutory powers to sanction or reduce benefit payments solely on the basis
that a claimant has been trying but has been unable to find work within 2 years.”

 

https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/js_a_two_year_clause#incoming-1019979

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This report from Disability Campaigner Gail Ward is a must read for all benefit claimants and those claiming  ‘in work’ benefits claimed by millions in the UK. It has plenty of references and downloads contained within the document and it will alarm many, it should, as this government is targeting the poorest in society at the expense of saving the rich. Some of those already transferred will know the horrors already highlighted recently by Citizens Advice (CAB),but the majority do not. This blog doesn’t have the capacity to embed the entire report to enable reading online ,but you can download it from the link below in the hope that this will help many prepare for the next onslaught by this barbaric government whose sole purpose is to hound claimants, and save money for the state putting profit before people. If you thought WCA (ESA) was bad this will make it look relatively tame.

 

https://www.scribd.com/document/353794654/Universal-Credit-Report


Guest Post By Mo Stewart

 

Mo Stewart

XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

________________________________________________________________________________

Phone: xxxxx xxxxxx                                      Email:                                                                              Date: 1st July 2017

http://disability-studies.leeds.ac.uk/library/author/stewart.mo

 https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Mo_Stewart/publications

 www.whywaitforever.com/dwpatosveterans.html#documents

 

 

Penny Mordaunt MP

Minister for Disabled People, Health and Work

Department for Work and Pensions

Caxton House

London

SW1H 9DA

 

 

Dear Minister

 

Re: Stewart M 2017: State Crime By Proxy: corporate influence on state sanctioned social harm2

https://www.researchgate.net/publication/314045256_STATE_CRIME_BY_PROXY_corporate_influence_on_state_sanctioned_social_harm_An_independent_report

Thank you for your letter of 31st May 2017 and please be advised that this response is an open letter, and will be published online.

 

It remains cause for concern that you continue to disregard all independent detailed evidence identified for you, and place your trust in discredited1 government commissioned research and in the Centre for Health and Disability Assessments (the Centre), as funded by Maximus. The company has a very disturbing reputation2 Minister, which has been disregarded by the government when offering this American company a lucrative contract to seemingly cause as much preventable harm as possible, on their behalf, when conducting the enforced and totally discredited assessment of disabled people.3

 

By definition, ‘the Centre’ has a clear conflict of interest as, when funded by Maximus, the company whose contract to conduct the fatally flawed, totally discredited and dangerous Work Capability Assessment (WCA)1,3,4, at an exceptional and increased cost of £579 million to the tax payer5, demonstrates there is a high possibility that ‘the Centre’ will be conducting more policy based research for the benefit of the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP).  This would simply be history repeating itself.  How many people will the DWP need to remove from welfare funding when using a dangerous and totally discredited assessment model1,3 4 to justify the exorbitant costs of yet another corporate giant taking money from the State which could be much better used?

 

May I remind you Minister that another ‘Centre’, namely the Centre for Psychosocial and Disability Research, at Cardiff University, was funded with £1.6 million for the first five years by more American government ‘advisers’, then known as UnumProvidentTM Insurance, who were identified in 2008 by the American Association of Justice as the second most discredited insurance company in America4. Why does the government continue to welcome the input of discredited American corporate giants with the welfare of this nation’s most vulnerable people, whose only crime is that they are attempting to claim the begrudged Employment and Support Allowance (ESA)?  Clearly, ‘Cash Not Care’ does appear to be the answer.3

 

A former DWP Chief Medical Officer, Mansel Aylward, co-authored the 2005 DWP commissioned research ‘The Scientific and Conceptual Basis for Incapacity Benefit’ when funded by the American corporate insurance government ‘advisers’, who fully expect to benefit from the ongoing planned demolition of the UK welfare state, having guided future UK welfare reforms since 1994. ‘State Crime By Proxy: corporate influence on state sanctioned social harm’4 refers. As the British public realise that the State now only reluctantly supports some of those in geatest need, it is anticipated that more and more people will invest in private healthcare insurance, that also fails to pay out when a claim is made, when using the same discredited biopsychosocial model of assessment as used for the WCA.3,4 Therefore, your demonstrated reliance on ‘the Centre’, funded by Maximus, does not raise confidence that any research produced will be evidence based and not policy based.1

 

If you are looking for a Centre of Excellence by genuine researchers not funded by corporate America, then I refer you to the Centre for Welfare Reform, whose Director is Dr Simon Duffy. The Centre for Welfare Reform don’t dream up policies used to increase their profit margins, as they don’t have one, and their research is by critically acclaimed researchers not commissioned by the DWP or funded by corporate America. I suggest you contact Dr Duffy as a matter of urgency.  Together with the Director of Ekklesia, Simon has already written to the Department6, and I urge that you should make yourself very familiar with the content of that open letter given that you are named in it.

 

Your claim in your last letter that officials are ‘working with our health assessment provider, the Centre for Health and Disability Assessments, medical professionals and other stakeholders, including disability charities, to develop a set of criteria that will help identify those with the most severe health conditions or disabilities, for whom reassessments can be stopped unless there is a change in circumstances’ is cause for very, VERY serious concern. This comment demonstrates that the DWP have failed to accept the multitude of detailed evidence demonstrating the often fatal consequences of the WCA3,4, which fails to consider diagnosis and prognosis and guarantees preventable harm.

 

The DIAGNOSIS will identify who should be excluded from endless assessments Minister, and the decision to disregard diagnosis for the WCA was a political decision influenced by a discredited corporate American insurance giant, UNUM Insurance, who were government ‘advisers’ on ‘welfare claims management’ from 1994, and were identified as the second worst insurance company in America in 20084.  What work do you actually expect people with Motor Neurone Disease to do Minister?  What work do you expect someone with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease to complete before they drop dead?7

 

In his capacity as Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, Damian Green announced last year that those with the most severe health conditions would not need to be continually reassessed for a health condition that can’t ever improve.8 Therefore, comments in your letter advising that identifying such claimants has yet to be achieved is cause for serious alarm, and once again it seems that the DWP have misled the House of Commons and the general public.

 

As a retired healthcare professional, I insist that it should not take a team of ‘officials’ to comprehend that by disregarding diagnosis and prognosis for any dangerous and discredited1 so called ‘functional assessment’, as used for the WCA, that people will die. And they have Minister, in their thousands.9 Countless more live in hiding in their homes because of the carefully managed suspicion now impacting on society10, created by totally false claims by Ministers and enforced by shameful banner headlines in the tabloid press11, which were guaranteed to influence public opinion to the detriment of the disabled community. Please don’t bother to waste my time by claiming that government have no influence over the national press…

 

Your final paragraph demonstrates that you totally disregard all the detailed evidence that the WCA is a dangerous and totally discredited assessment model1,3,4 when using the biopsychosocial (BPS) model of assessment for the WCA, as recommended in discredited1 DWP commissioned research12.  The co-author of the discredited DWP commissioned research12  confirmed as long ago as 2012 that the BPS assessment model used for the WCA is not satisfactory and should not be used13, and he was a former DWP Chief Medical Adviser and subsequent ‘government adviser’.

 

Furthermore, the other totally discredited commissioned 2007 report used for welfare reforms was by your former colleague David Freud. ‘Reducing dependency, increasing opportunity: options for the future to work’ was discredited within three months of being published4. Yet, most of the welfare reforms, including the fact that the assessments should be offered to the private sector, were based on DWP discredited research and the author of that 2007 report was ennobled, and gained a position as a Junior Minister in two governments, despite never having been elected and confirming that he knew ‘nothing about welfare’.  This he demonstrated during his entire time at the DWP.

 

Minister, the evidence is overwhelming that the WCA was not just introduced as a cost cutting measure, but to eventually demolish the welfare state.  The continued use of the WCA is identified as State Crime By Proxy, when using contracted foreign corporate giants to conduct a dangerous assessment that was always guaranteed to kill some of those for whom State help should be guaranteed.  Your claims that there ‘have been many improvements made to the Work Capability Assessment process since 2008’ are totally unfounded, given that it is a dangerous and totally discredited assessment model and should be removed at once, before many more people die when, quite literally, ‘killed by the State.’3,4

 

Be advised please that the severe austerity measures introduced by the Cameron coalition government in 2010 were totally unnecessary14, and were exposed as being introduced for political ideology not financial necessity. Coroners, academic experts in their field, the Work and Pensions Select Committee, the British Medical Association, the Royal College of General Practitioners, the Royal College of Nurses, the British Psychological Society, the President of the Appeal Tribunals for Social Security, the Centre for Welfare Reform, Ekklesia and Disabled Peoples’ Organisations have all demanded that the WCA should be stopped; all to no avail because the government aren’t listening. The suffering is relentless, the death toll related to this fatally flawed government enforced assessment is vast, and there’s more to come, Minister, if the WCA is not stopped.

 

It was really quite shameful when the former Secretary of State dismissed a report by the United Nations that exposed the negative impact of the ongoing and unnecessary14 austerity policies, which  ‘systematically violated’ the rights of disabled people.15 Indeed, those who now live in fear of the DWP would challenge Damian Green’s claims at the time that the focus was ‘on helping disabled people find and stay in work, whilst taking care of those who can’t.’15  There is not, nor has there ever been, any evidence of the government ‘helping’ sick and disabled people to ‘find and stay in work’, Minister, but there is a great of detailed evidence that many chronically ill and disabled people who depend on the State for financial support now live in fear 3,4,9 of this identified DWP tyranny, masquerading as welfare reforms, and the subsequent unnecesary suspicion created in society.10

 

So far, the Coalition and Conservative governments have demonstrated their utter contempt for those in greatest need, by relying on less that ‘objective’ research to justify their debilitating welfare policies, the often fatal ESA assessment process16 and the unnecessary austerity14 policies, and they have managed to escape all redress.  This is changing.

 

The evidence is mounting and is being published in journals and on academic websites if not by the press and, at some time, someone will be held accountable for this needless mounting despair and increasing death totals linked to the WCA, the relentless psychological intimidation and the constant threat of having essential benefit removed without warning. This identified ongoing preventable harm was created to support a former female Prime Minister’s stated goal, which was the removal of the welfare state to be replaced by private healthcare insurance.  Time will tell how many more people will have been, effectively, ‘killed by the State3,4 before this has become a reality for the unsuspecting and ill informed British people.

 

As for the Green Paper that you mentioned in your letter, it is effectively promotion of private healthcare insurance17, which is something my research identified a long time ago.3,4

 

As you can see, there is a consensus that the WCA creates unnecessary preventable harm, and I trust that the DWP will correct identified past mistakes, based on the most up-to-date evidence.

 

 

Yours, most sincerely.

 

 

Mo Stewart

Disabled veteran (WRAF)

Disability studies researcher

Retired healthcare professional

Author of ‘Cash Not Care: the planned demolition of the UK welfare state’. New Generation Publishing 2016

https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Mo_Stewart/publications

 

 

Copied to:

 

Professor Tom Shakespeare, UEA

Mr Simon Barrow ~ Director of Ekklesia

Professor Peter Beresford, University of Essex

Dr Simon Duffy ~ Director, Centre for Welfare Reform

Ms Marie Rimmer MP ~ Shadow Minister for Disabled People

Professor Woody Caan ~ Editor, Journal of Public Mental health

Professor Nicola Gale ~ President, British Psychological Society

Catherine Hale ~ Lead Researcher, Chronic Illness Inclusion Project

Professor Kate Bullen ~ President Elect, British Psychological Society

Nimrod Ben-Cnaan ~ Head of Policy and Profile, Law Centre Network

Lord Shinkwin ~ Commissioner, Equality and Human Rights Commission

Baroness Campbell of Surbiton ~ Chair, Independent Living Strategy Group

Professor Daryl B O’Connor ~ Chair, Research Board, British Psychological Society

 

References:

 

  1. Shakespeare T, Watson N, Abu-Alghaib O 2016: Blaming the victim all over again: Waddell and Aylward’s biopsychosocial (BPS) model of disability.

Critical Social Policy Journal 37, 1, 22 – 41

http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/0261018316649120

 

  1. PRING J 2014: Incompetence, discrimination and ‘fraud’: the US company that could take over from Atos. Disability News Service 17th October 2014.

http://www.disabilitynewsservice.com/incompetence-discrimination-and-fraud-the-us-company-that-could-take-over-from-atos/

 

  1. Stewart M 2016: Cash Not Care: The Planned Demolition Of The UK Welfare State.

New Generation Publishing, London.

http://www.newgeneration-publishing.com/bookstore/politics/bookdetails/1749

  1. Stewart M 2017: State Crime By Proxy: corporate influence on state sanctioned social harm

https://www.researchgate.net/publication/314045256_STATE_CRIME_BY_PROXY_corporate_influence_on_state_sanctioned_social_harm_An_independent_report

 

  1. Syal R 2016: Maximus miss fitness-to-work test targets despite spiralling costs

The Guardian, 8th January 2016

https://www.theguardian.com/society/2016/jan/08/maximus-miss-fitness-to-work-test-targets-despite-spiralling-costs

 

  1. DUFFY S 2017: Open letter to Damian Green on welfare reform

http://www.centreforwelfarereform.org/uploads/attachment/543/open-letter-damian-green.pdf

 

  1. GANI A 2016: DWP told woman she was not ill enough for benefit on the day she died. The Guardian, 7th January 2016

https://www.theguardian.com/society/2016/jan/07/dwp-told-dawn-amos-not-ill-enough-for-benefit-day-she-died

 

  1. House of Commons Debates 2016 re Employment and Support Allowance http://www.parliament.uk/business/publications/written-questions-answers-statements/written-statement/Commons/2016-10-10/HCWS174/

 

  1. Butler P 2015: Thousands have died after being found fit for work, DWP figures show.

The Guardian, 27th August 2015.

https://www.theguardian.com/society/2015/aug/27/thousands-died-after-fit-for-work-assessment-dwp-figures

 

  1. Hale C 2013: The Big Society Fails The Hardest Hit.

http://www.centreforwelfarereform.org/library/by-az/the-big-society-fails-the-hardest-hit.html

 

  1. Hall M 2011: 75% on sick are sciving. The Express, 26th June 2011

http://www.express.co.uk/news/uk/225311/75-on-sick-are-skiving

 

  1. Waddell G and Aylward M. 2005: The Scientific and Conceptual Basis of Incapacity Benefits. TSO, London.

https://www.tsoshop.co.uk/bookstore.asp?FO=1279028&DI=607598

 

  1. PRING J 2012: Former DWP medical boss Sir Mansel Aylward makes WCA pledge to protestors.

Disability News Service 14th September 2012.

http://blacktrianglecampaign.org/2012/09/14/former-dwp-medical-boss-sir-mansel-aylward-makes-wca-pledge-to-protesters-disability-news-service/

 

  1. Krugman P 2015: The case for cuts was a lie. Why does Britain still believe it?

The austerity delusion by Paul Krugman.

The Guardian, 29th April 2015

https://www.theguardian.com/business/ng-interactive/2015/apr/29/the-austerity-delusion

 

  1. BUTLER P 2016: Damian Green dismisses ‘offensive’ UN report on UK disability rights.

The Guardian, 8th November 2016

https://www.theguardian.com/society/2016/nov/08/damian-green-dismisses-offensive-un-report-on-uk-disability-rights

 

  1. GENTLEMAN A 2014: Vulnerable man starved to death after benefits were cut.

The Guardian, 28th February 2014.

https://www.theguardian.com/society/2014/feb/28/man-starved-to-death-after-benefits-cut

 

  1. MEADEN B 2016: Does Green Paper reveal government’s lack of commitment to the welfare state?

Ekklesia, 11th November 2016.

http://www.ekklesia.co.uk/node/23562

 

 

 

 

 


This is likely to be a very long blog and I make no apologies as this is important information we all need to get to grips with to survive.

 

Universal Credit (UC) is slowly being rolled out across the UK for some claimants , mainly single claimants and to be continued for couples. The legacy benefits that people are currently getting will eventually become Universal Credit,which runs a live programme (with gateway conditions) and a full rollout programme (no gateway conditions)alongside each other. Advisors will need to determine which is operating in their area and inform clients and explain in full their rights and eligibility. The fact that some will get hit hard  is just the scratch on surface to the vile and brutal conditions of the health & work programme which is incorporated within it. ESA Claimants in WRAG (Work Related Activity Group) will lose the £30 a week inline with JSA for new claims while others migrating will get transitional protection until they have a change circumstances,or appeal, then they will lose it. If you have a change of circumstances at present on ESA  in a UC area  you will be put on UC and stay on it you wont be able to go back to your legacy benefit. For those on ESA it you will continue be assessed via WCA (Work Capability Assessment ) as you are now, but support group will be required to engage with claimant commitment to continue to receive payment according to UC documents. The specialist employment programmes are likely to be part of this commitment if the work coach feels the claimant could move closer to labour market. This will be done via Health & Work Conversation with a Work Coach.

 

Framework The claimant is supported in this regime by use of their Commitment. The claimant agrees their Commitment and is required to alert Universal Credit to any upcoming unemployment and changes of circumstance. The claimant can be sign posted to relevant support depending on their circumstances.

Claimants in this regime may still need or require some support in helping them to move closer to the labour market. If this applies, flexibility exists to sign post claimants to non-funded voluntary support. Consider existing voluntary options in the local area.

 

Support groups claimants will also be hit by losing SDP (Severe Disability Premium) which is currently £62.45 a week for single people and £124.90 for couples unless someone gets Carers Allowance to help you then the single rate will continue,providing you get middle or high rate care needs. Carers too will be affected if they care for a disabled person

 

If other benefits are received, this may impact on the Universal Credit award. Some benefits are ignored whereas other benefits have a pound for pound impact on the Universal Credit award.

Other benefits Universal Credit should not be paid to claimants with enough income available from other sources to support themselves. Exceptions are where payments are received in respect of additional costs which the claimant has, for example disability benefits.

Claimants who receive other benefits in addition to Universal Credit are subject to the relevant Universal Credit Labour Market regime based on their relevant Universal Credit legal conditionality group.
Other benefits taken fully into account The following benefits are taken fully into account when calculating Universal Credit payments:  Bereavement Allowance  Carer’s Allowance  New style Employment and Support Allowance (contribution-based)  Incapacity Benefit  Severe Disablement Allowance  Industrial Injuries Disablement Benefit  New style Jobseeker’s Allowance (contribution-based)  Maternity Allowance  State Pension  Widowed Mother’s Allowance  Widowed Parent’s Allowance  Widow’s Pension

This means for each £1 received from these benefits, the Universal Credit payment is reduced by £1.

Any benefit, allowance or payment from a country outside the United Kingdom could also be taken fully into account, depending on the circumstances.

Pension Credit Universal Credit offers a signposting service for State Pension Credit (SPC).Claimants can find further information about SPC on Gov.UK. A benefit unit cannot be in receipt of both Pension Credit and Universal Credit. One of the basic conditions for getting Universal Credit is that a claimant must not be over the qualifying age for SPC.

This is called the Upper Age Limit.
Joint claim The Upper Age Limit doesn’t apply if the person over State Pension age is in a joint claim and their partner has not reached that age. Both adults are eligible for Universal Credit providing all other conditions of entitlement are met. The person over the SPC qualifying age is exempt from work conditionality and will be placed in the no work related requirements regime. Example: One adult in a couple is 57 and the other is 75. Both are able to claim Universal Credit together as a joint claim in the normal way.

Once Universal Credit Full Service is live nationally for all new claims, couples with only one person over the Pension Credit qualifying age will no longer be eligible for Pension Credit. This will ensure that the younger member of the couple has access to support to find work, if appropriate.

The person over the SPC qualifying age is exempt from work conditionality and will be placed in the no work related requirements regime.

So even some pensioners will be targeted as the above example illustrates. Also targeted are single parents .

 

This combined with the benefit cap now  and the family cap (2 child Rule) from 2018, will also face cuts to housing benefits via LHA being reduced with those in private accommodation hit by a new Bedroom Tax and Supported Mortgage Interest being turned into a loan will hit virtually impacting on everyone especially those who are in work too and off sick. The latter will now face 4 wks fit note and then a assessment to determine eligibility to top up benefits to SSP, and subjected to claimant commitment conditions. Those in exceptional circumstances such as Domestic Violence, etc will get the opportunity to ask for alternative payments arrangements so they are not left penniless by abusive partners. Nobody will be deemed exempt it seems, from the vile clutches of this ‘monster’ created by the government and these things need to be urgently addressed and with Brexit around the corner and prices rising already the poorest will most likely be affected the most. There are even two regimes to get people into labour market depending on your given  perceived status. one is Light Touch and the other is Intensive regimes. It is impossible to upload all documents which are many, but main ones are listed below as now is the time to plan ahead to help people understand how Universal Credit can affect you and your families understand the system to make sure you can understand what is expected of them.

One the many hideous things hidden in the Health and Work Programme is IAPT (CBT therapy) which will become compulsory as well as Troubled Families roll out, and targets to enforce therapy regimes on those who are obese, drink,drugs,smokers. Refusing to  take part in this mandatory requirement you will cease to be entitled to Universal Credit.Those considered in debt  and financially vulnerable will also be put forward to personal budgeting support advice where they will be judged and no doubt blamed for buying services that the nanny state deem expensive/unnecessary given the amount they have to live on. Health and Work Blog is linked below.

This Government has excelled itself in brutality towards claimants of social security,while convincing the populace of the UK that demonising the poorest is the acceptable norm and that they are fair game to be abused and they are not worthy as they are unable to contribute in same way a fit able bodied person , leading to further division. While this is not in depth Blog I have included relevant documents for download and uploaded a powerpoint to help people understand how they will be affected.

Anyone needing further advice can use the calculator link below to find out how they will be affected or seek proper advice locally and this blogger would urge people to check how you will be affected to prevent distress and income depravation.

http://www.entitledto.co.uk/benefits-calculator/startcalc.aspx

 

https://www.scribd.com/document/349604179/Housing-Costs-Private-Rented-Sector-v4-0

https://www.scribd.com/document/349604161/Housing-Mortgages-Previously-MQPs-v3-0

https://www.scribd.com/document/349517725/UC-Claimant-Committment

https://www.scribd.com/document/349526820/hwc-claimant-booklet

https://www.scribd.com/document/349520880/Customers-With-Additional-Needs

https://www.scribd.com/document/352763377/Carers-V4-0

https://www.scribd.com/document/352763488/Universal-Credit-and-APAs

https://www.scribd.com/document/352764924/Personal-Budgeting-Support-Guidance

https://www.scribd.com/document/352765382/Labour-Market-Regimes-V4-0

https://www.scribd.com/document/352833624/Appointees-v4-0

https://www.scribd.com/document/352833674/Benefit-Cap-v3-0

https://www.scribd.com/document/352833734/CC-Work-Preparation-Activities-v1-0

https://www.scribd.com/document/352833773/Child-Maintenance-V1-0

https://www.scribd.com/document/352833815/childcare-costs-at-a-glance-v2-0

https://www.scribd.com/document/352833897/Health-Conditions-and-Disabilities-v5-0

https://www.scribd.com/document/352834778/Students-v5-0

https://www.scribd.com/document/352834943/UC-Monthly-Rates-v5-0

https://www.scribd.com/document/358512453/Warm-Up-Letter-v-2-0

https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/mandatory_psychological_treatmen

 

 

 

https://blueannoyed.wordpress.com/2017/02/10/the-health-work-programme-is-work-really-a-health-outcome/

 

 

UPDATES : More documents have been uploaded including the powerpoints below, Please also check out my blog on Dementia Tax , Cuts that will cut Deep blog also.

 

https://www.scribd.com/presentation/352840015/Universal-Credit

 

Further Updates Uploaded Documents (more to come yet watch this space!)

 

https://www.scribd.com/document/358512765/CPAG-Sanction-Disputes-and-Challenges-Conference-Notes-Sept2015

https://www.scribd.com/document/358512813/Martin-Williams-CPAG-Making-an-Exception-Slides

https://www.scribd.com/document/358512424/UC-Checklist-Applying

https://www.scribd.com/document/358512597/ESAHWC1-Invitation-Letter

https://www.scribd.com/document/358514059/Universal-Credit-for-Disabled-People-Carers-1

https://www.scribd.com/presentation/358512367/Emha-Uc-Presentation  – Housing

https://www.scribd.com/document/358514229/Appointees-v4-0

 


 

Toxic Atos are again having to rebrand claiming

Following an independent review of the PIP assessment journey claimants experience in December 2014, Paul Gray recommended a number of changes to claimant communications to the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) and Assessment Providers.
After consultation with DWP and reviewing our communications, we have introduced a new business name that better represents the work we do independently assessing PIP cases.
We believe Independent Assessment Services does this because: • It makes it clear that we are ‘independent’ providers, distinct from DWP • ‘Assessment’ explains the service we deliver assessing PIP cases more clearly than ‘healthcare’ does

It can rebrand as much as it likes, it  doesn’t stop the DWP destroying disabled people’s lives when being assessed and losing their money,  vehicles, jobs when they fail to be assessed correctly and leaving some so distraught their health actually deteriorates or they lose what income from working they had , and the worst case scenario is they are left housebound  when they lose their mobility vehicles.

The stories are now coming thick and fast towards those contractors, which Atos is one, of lies and malpractice of assessors. Capita is the other contractor whose reputation has also been tarnished badly .

65% of decisions are now being overturned on appeal, some just give up because they genuinely cannot cope with their health conditions and the long protracted process that it entails and the loss of vital income which helps with the extra costs they face as disabled people. Recently those with mental health were asked ‘why they had not killed themselves yet’ ! Reports given to DWP in a lot of cases are filled with fabrication, claim claimants.

One the eve of election night many are scared witless by these assessments praying to god that Labour are installed into Number 10 who have promised to scrap these assessments along with the notorious WCA assessments which Atos used to carry out until they left their contract early leaving Maximus to pick up the pieces.

Either way these assessments are going the same way,  should Labour get power this will need to be tackled head on to prevent serious preventable harm to those whom are struggling under the last 7yrs of horrific reforms to survive. Many thousands have died along the way, with Atos and the DWP blaming each other, but the blame lays fairly and squarely at the governments door for a badly thought out policy decision that has affected the disabled community on a grand scale, while blaming disabled people for being workshy,lazy , and faking disability which the general public have latched onto and left the disabled community easy targets of Hate Crime. Disabled people do not mind having a fair assessment given the public purse is helping them live independently, what they object to is being hounded to their graves and every waking moment being made scapegoats for a failed government policy that was only ever going to cause harm and they did not even have the decency to step in and stop this happening. The enquiry into PIP (Personal Independence Payments) was conveniently called off due to the fact Mrs May called a snap election in the hope of continuing these awful policies to cut the welfare bill of those they promised to protect.

The disabled community has been hit 9 times harder than any other section of society, for the failure of a society who no longer care, a department who is determined to put saving money over human life of a community that takes the least of the welfare budget.

 

Read here the Stakeholder Document to Advisors

https://www.scribd.com/document/350681967/DRG-Toolkit-for-Stakeholder-Mailing-010617

 

Read more here

https://www.disabilitynewsservice.com/election-forces-mps-to-abandon-pip-inquiry-but-evidence-backs-up-dishonesty-claims/

https://www.disabilitynewsservice.com/pip-assessment-lies-and-distortions-exposed-by-double-apology-to-claimant/

https://www.disabilitynewsservice.com/pip-suicide-womans-sister-blames-barbaric-system-for-her-death/

https://www.disabilitynewsservice.com/

 


Corby with mos book

 

Without a right-leaning New Labour leader, there is now an opportunity for the Labour Party to represent the people it was originally created to serve, writes MO STEWART.

There is an entire generation in Great Britain who have no knowledge of the original Labour Party, who confuse Tony Blair as its former leader and who have no comprehension of the damage the New Labour Party created.

 

Three consecutive general election wins for Tony Blair when leader of the New Labour Party was, by anyone’s standard, a significant achievement.  Blair was the Prime Minister from 1997 to 2007, was the youngest British Prime Minister since 1812 and was to became the longest serving (New) Labour Prime Minister which is an achievement not easily surpassed.

 

However, there was a reason why the party was called ‘New Labour’ as it broke away from its traditional roots, and engaged with right-leaning policies not dissimilar to those of the previous Conservative government. Efforts to impress the middle class voters were at the expense of the Labour heartlands and the workers the original Labour Party was created to protect.

 

Blair claimed to want to move the Party to what he called the ‘centre ground’ which, in reality, created right-leaning policies, which were in opposition to traditional Labour Party values. Under his leadership New Labour reduced what had been historic links with trade unions, abandoned what had been the Labour Party’s commitment to nationalisation and supported Britain’s entry into the European Union.

 

His landslide victory over the Conservatives in the 1997 general election was impressive following eighteen years of Tory rule and, for a while, all was well.  However, the longer Blair served as Prime Minister the more right-leaning policies were produced. He made every effort to attract the middle class vote, whilst distancing the party from the working class and the trade unions, whose members stopped voting at general elections in their hundreds of thousands as no political party represented them.

Blair’s embarrassing devotion to all things American meant that the regularly claimed “special relationship” between America and Great Britain was reflected in foreign policy, as Blair took this nation into a war in Afghanistan in 2001 we had no business fighting, which was used to give the Republican President Bush the moral justification for American hostilities.

 

On the domestic front, it was the Blair government who commissioned David Freud to investigate welfare funding.  As a consequence of a totally discredited 2008 report by Freud, Blair’s successor Gordon Brown was the New Labour Prime Minister who introduced welfare reforms.  The reforms permitted an unaccountable foreign corporate giant to reassess welfare claimants using the entirely bogus American influenced Work Capability Assessment (WCA), and was no longer in charge by the time it became obvious that the use of the WCA would kill people.

 

Time has moved on and Jeremy Corbyn was elected as the leader of the Labour Party, for the second time, in September 2016.  Never in the history of the party has there been such relentless personal abuse by Labour MPs still loyal to Blair , but opposition to Corbyn from some Blairite Labour MPs couldn’t muster the support he attracted from the grassroots membership of the Labour Party, who elected him to office.

 

Corbyn has rejected the austerity measures employed by the Tories, which were always guaranteed to cause preventable harm to the most vulnerable people in society.  He has also rejected the neoliberal politics employed by the Conservative, the Coalition and the New Labour governments, which created a free-for-all in the world markets, which eventually led to a world banking crisis in 2008.

 

Whilst grotesque salaries were offered to the few, Cameron used the banking crisis to justify the introduction of austerity measures in 2010.  The sick, the disabled and the poor have all suffered the most as a direct consequence of the austerity measures, as tax breaks were given to the wealthiest people in the country and corporate giants were permitted to fail to fund corporate taxes.

 

Devotion to neoliberal politics, together with austerity measures and a vast reduction in funding for essential public services by the Conservative government has created preventable harm and vast inequalities. There has been a return of Rickets to Britain for the first time since the Second World War, together with increases in Tuberculosis, which are linked to the savage Conservative/Coalition government austerity measures which meant that the poorest and the most vulnerable would be often left without food.

 

The answer to that is the desperate need for food banks generously supported by the British public, school breakfasts begrudgingly introduced by the Tories to reduce adverse commentary, to be replaced by nourishing hot school lunches if Labour are returned to power in the 2017 general election.

 

As leader of the Labour Party Corbyn would never agree to commit British military forces to another war zone at the behest of the Americans. He will return rights to British workers, stop the university students being plunged into debt when attending university and has promised to stop the dangerous WCA which has been linked to the deaths of almost 100,000 people since 2011.  This, together with a guaranteed increase in funding for vital public services, including the NHS, the Police Service and the Fire Service would secure a much better and safer future for the British people.

 

It’s now twenty years ago since Blaire enjoyed a landslide victory against the Tories in 1997 and introduced New Labour to the unsuspecting British people. Twenty years later, it is possible that Corbyn could enjoy another significant victory over the Tories, and this time he would introduce a traditional Labour government to the British public.

 

All that is need is for a majority of adults to vote Labour in the general election on June 8th.

 

Mo Stewart is an independent researcher and retired healthcare professional. Her acclaimed book ‘Cash Not Care: the planned demolition of the UK welfare state’ was published in September 2016 by New Generation Publishing.


Watch The  Video Here…..

//players.brightcove.net/624246174001/82f79524-152c-485f-bcb0-09197a216c87_default/index.html?videoId=5452010632001

 

Reblogged Article  Courtesy of  May Bulman -Independant Newspaper 29/5/2017

 

A Tory MP has dismissed a disabled woman on live television after she told him tens of thousands of disabled and sick people were dying every year due to cuts in health and social care.

Conservative MP Dominic Raab responded to an emotional address from Fiona, a disability activist from Aberdeen, in which she said she had known disabled people who and committed suicide, by saying it was “just a childish wish list” if there was not a “strong economy creating the revenue”.

During the open debate on the Victoria Derbyshire show, Fiona said disabled people were “fleeing” from England to Scotland where she said the devolved parliament was doing more to protect them.

“You’re all talking about numbers and money, and there is an ocean of suffering under that. Oxford University just released research showing that in 2015 in England and Wales alone there were 30,000 excess deaths caused by cuts to health and social care,” she said.

“Tens of thousands of disabled and sick people are dying every year. We are dying. There have been hundreds of suicides. I spent hours after the last general election trying to talk people out of killing themselves, and I didn’t always succeed.

“People are dying here and nobody cares. I have friends who have been helping resettle disabled people in Scotland because at the very least we have a Scottish parliament which is trying its best with limited funds to protect people against the worst of these cuts. People have been fleeing England for their lives.”

Fiona cited a study by Napier University that found the work capability assessment causes deterioration in people’s mental health and can lead to thoughts of suicide, adding: “It kills people. It is an act of violence and we are dying.

“This election is life or death for us. Anybody who votes for the Conservative Party, who are going to further these cuts, they are complicit in those deaths.”

In response to Fiona’s comments, Mr Raab said: “There are plenty of heart-rending stories here, and no one could be anything other than moved by it. We have put in 11,000 more doctors into the NHS, 12,000 more nurses. We have got a renewed focus on mental health and also making sure we’re trying to take the pressure off big hospitals in the manifesto.

“But the real truth is the money’s got to come from somewhere, and I can think of lots of things that I would like to avoid making difficult decisions on and lots of areas like the health service or schools that I want to put even more money in, but unless you’ve got a strong economy creating the revenue, it’s just a childish wish list.

“We’re trying to do our best to get the balance right between responsible public finances and investing in some of those crucial areas you discussed.”

Fiona responded by saying: “So you choose to sacrifice tens of thousands of disabled people, for the sake of that? This is the sixth richest country in the world. It is a choice that people make.

“In Scotland, we have a limited block grant, and they still manage to create a health service which functions, they still manage to create a care service which functions. And you are choosing to sacrifice us.”

It comes after Theresa May refused to rule out making further cuts to disability benefits in the next Parliament if the Conservatives are returned to government.

Asked by The Independent at a campaign event in Mansfield earlier this month whether she would rule out any further cuts to support, the Prime Minister responded: “If you look at what we’ve been doing on disability benefits, what we have done is look at focusing disability benefit payments on those who are most in need.

“In fact, we are spending more on disability benefit payments than has been done by any government in the past.”

 


An independent report by Mo Stewart

 

Abstract

In the UK there are three words that identify the government enforced suffering of sick and disabled people, and they are: Work Capability Assessment (WCA). This report identifies the influence of an American healthcare insurance giant with successive UK governments since 1992, the influence of a former government Chief Medical Officer and the use of the WCA, conducted by the private sector, as the government permit state crime by proxy when justified as welfare reform.

 

Introduction

Historically, the United Kingdom’s (UK) welfare state provided a guaranteed financial safety net for those in greatest need, from the Beveridge Report (Beveridge 1942) until recently. However, with people living longer and the cost of the welfare budget rising, in 2006 the New Labour government identified future welfare reforms (DWP 2006) to reduce the growing costs of out-of-work disability benefits. Identified as ‘a political choice and not a financial necessity’ when introduced ‘without any ethical approval’ (McKee 2014), the adoption of additional austerity measures by the Conservative led Coalition government in 2010, which accelerated the welfare reforms, soon created a climate of fear for chronically sick and disabled claimants dependent upon welfare income for financial survival. Subsequently, government imposed benefit sanctions, used to enforce the welfare reforms, would eventually cause death by starvation in C21st UK (Gentleman 2014). The future demolition of the welfare state was first suggested in 1982 by the Conservative Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher (Travis 2012). Using neoliberal politics, every UK government since that time has covertly worked towards that goal. It is the political thinking used as justification for the welfare reforms of the New Labour government, which introduced the use of the Work Capability Assessment (WCA) for all out-of-work disability benefit claimants (Stewart 2015), and for the extensive welfare reforms and austerity measures introduced by the Coalition government since 2010, and the Conservative government since 2015.

In 2008 the out-of-work disability benefit was changed from Incapacity Benefit to the Employment and Support Allowance (ESA), in an attempt by the then New Labour government to limit claimant numbers. Outsourced to the private sector, all claimants of the new ESA would be subjected to the WCA ‘fitness for work’ assessment, as exclusively conducted by Atos Healthcare, with the WCA using the critically flawed (Shakespeare et al 2016) biopsychosocial (BPS) assessment model (Waddell and Aylward 2005), adopted to limit the numbers of successful ESA claimants, as the diagnosis and prognosis of the claimants would be totally disregarded, as first advised by Aylward in 1995 (Aylward and LoCascio 1995: 755).

Using the BPS model, the WCA was identified as causing preventable harm to chronically sick and disabled claimants who were not fit to work (Stewart 2011, Jolly 2012, Hale 2014), together with the inevitable harm created by the adoption of additional austerity measures (Pring 2015; Barr et al 2015; Stewart 2016a; Garthwaite 2016; Shakespeare et al 2016; Elward 2016), with all additional research evidence disregarded by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), who exclusively cite DWP commissioned research in official reports.

Background

Following in Thatcher’s footsteps, in 1992 the John Major Conservative government invited the American corporate giant UnumProvident Insurance to consult, with reference to future welfare claims management. By 1994, the company were appointed as official government advisers and the 1994 Social Security (Incapacity for Work) Act introduced Incapacity Benefit, as designed to limit access to out-ofwork disability benefit (Wikeley 1995), which had significantly increased due to increasing numbers of claims for psychological causes of illness.

By 1995, the Department for Social Security’s (DSS) then Principal Medical Adviser, Mansel Aylward, co-authored an academic paper with UnumProvident government adviser John LoCascio, the second Vice-President of UnumProvident Insurance. ‘Problems in the assessment of psychosomatic conditions in social security and related commercial schemes’ (Aylward and LoCascio 1995) was supported by evidence from America, and argued that the UK’s General Practitioners (GP) should not be expected to determine a patient’s incapacity, and so the authority and clinical opinion of GPs would be curtailed (Aylward and LoCascio 1995: 755)

Prior to joining the Civil Service, Aylward was a GP and also worked in the private sector as Chairman and Managing Director of Simbec Research, from 1974 – 1984, which was a company founded by Aylward (Wales online 2004). Shortly after being appointed as the Principal Medical Adviser for the DSS, Aylward was identified in the national press as having been involved with the creation of a private company identified as Mediprobe, when trading as the Nationwide Medical Examination and Advisory Service Limited, and used by healthcare insurance companies to medically assess insurance claims (Rowe,1998). The company was incorporated in 1994 and dissolved on 20th January, 2015. This clear conflict of interest was disregarded by the DSS, yet Aylward’s significant links with the private healthcare insurance industry questions his objectivity when writing a future government commissioned report regarding the assessment of welfare claimants for disability benefit (Waddell and Aylward, 2005).

The 1995 paper (Aylward and LoCascio 1995) expressed concern as to the increases in ‘subjective impairments’, with conditions such as chronic pain and fatigue syndrome listed as the significance of diagnosis was rejected as having ‘a high degree of subjectivity’. This had implications for the welfare budget, and it was suggested that claimants of Incapacity Benefit should have a psychiatric evaluation (Aylward and Lo Cascio 1995:760).

The introduction of the biopsychosocial (BPS) model of assessment had been successfully adopted by UnumProvident Insurance in America, to limit payment for healthcare income protection insurance claims (Rutherford 2007, Bach 2012, Stewart 2015), and LoCascio was guiding the DSS as to how to introduce the BPS model into the UK. Quite literally, by disregarding diagnosis, the main emphasis of the BPS assessment would be an excessive concentration on psychological factors. The DSS doctors were trained by LoCascio, and DSS non-medical Adjudicating Officers would make benefit decisions based on activity ‘descriptors’, not medical evidence, as the claimant’s doctors’ opinions were marginalised (Sivier 2013).

The former Department for Health and Social Security was split into the Department for Health and the Department for Social Security (DSS) in 1988 and the DSS was then renamed the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) in June 2001. By November 2001 a conference was assembled at Woodstock, near Oxford, with the conference listed as ‘Malingering and Illness Deception’ (Conference 2001). Many of the conference participants had an association with UnumProvident Insurance, as represented by John LoCascio, and the goal of the Oxford conference was the future demolition of the British welfare state (Stewart 2015). There was a total of 39 participants, including the DWP Chief Medical Officer Mansel Aylward, and Malcolm Wicks, in his capacity as the then DWP Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for the New Labour government. To reduce the numbers eligible for benefit, illness would be redefined and many welfare claimants would be declared fit for work, and incentivised into jobs as entrepreneurs if no paid employment was available (Conference 2001: 290).

New Labour was committed to reducing the 2.7 million people claiming Incapacity Benefit and, to do that, a new assessment model would be used. From 1979 to 2005 the numbers of working age claimants of Incapacity Benefit had increased from 0.7m to 2.7m. A total of 21% were recorded as having a mental health problem in 1995 but, by 2005, a total of 39% of claimants had a mental health problem, which was just under 1 million people (Rutherford 2007: 40). Since that time, politicians of all persuasions have prioritised the reduction of Incapacity Benefit claimant numbers by 1 million people. New Labour decided to alter this situation, which had implications for the welfare budget and so ‘…claimants will become customers exercising their free rational choice, government services will be outsourced to the private sector, and the welfare system will become a new source of revenue, profitability and economic growth’ (Rutherford 2007: 41).

More DWP commissioned research was to follow to justify future government plans. Dr Mansel Aylward was the DWP Chief Medical Officer until 2005 and accepted his future appointment, as the Director of the new UnumProvident Centre for Psychosocial and Disability Research (the Centre) at Cardiff University in 2004, with no-one other than Professor Malcolm Hooper objecting to this very obvious conflict of interest (Stewart 2015).

 

The Waddell-Aylward biopsychosocial model

Commissioned by the DWP, the Scientific and Conceptual Basis of Incapacity Benefits (S/C Basis) was rapidly produced in 2005 by Gordon Waddell and Mansel Aylward (Waddell and Aylward 2005), when both authors were sponsored at the Centre with £1.6 million by UnumProvident Insurance (Cover 2004), who fully expected to gain from the UK welfare reforms, and the planned future reduction of the numbers eligible for State funded welfare support for sickness and disability (Stewart 2015).

The S/C Basis DWP commissioned report (Waddell and Aylward 2005) was used as evidence for much of the 2006 Green Paper (Green Paper 2006): A New Deal for Welfare: empowering people to work 2006, which criticised the ‘perverse incentive’ of giving people more money the longer they stayed on benefit (Green Paper 2:13). The Green Paper also claimed that up to one million people could return to work, with further political claims that a million DWP claimants had expressed the wish to do so, which was dismissed as being without foundation in the S/C Basis footnote 16 (Ravetz 2006).

The S/C Basis report (Waddell and Aylward 2005) identified Incapacity Benefit which it claimed ‘traps’ people on benefits and, effectively, condemned claimants to a lifetime of dependency. The report acknowledged that: ‘Contrary to some sensational headlines, IB is not out of control… There is no “crisis”…’ (S/C Basis, 4: 75) The emphasis of the DWP commissioned S/C Basis report by Waddell and Aylward (2005) was that the model used to assess Incapacity Benefit claimants was incorrect and, instead of using the medical model, which the report claimed focused on a claimant’s incapacity rather than their ability, the Waddell and Aylward recommended model to be used was the biopsychosocial (BPS) model.

Of course, the medical model of assessment also acknowledged medical opinion, so it was time to change to using the BPS model of assessment, which disregards medical opinion in order to limit the possible number of future claimants. This was a replica of the BPS assessment model successfully introduced by UnumProvident Insurance in America to limit access to healthcare insurance claims and to guarantee future profits (Stewart 2015, Bach 2012, Rutherford 2007).

Waddell and Aylward’s 2005 report (S/C Basis), which would be used by the New Labour government to justify the introduction of the welfare reforms, was subsequently exposed by Emeritus Professor Alison Ravetz, who identified the DWP commissioned report as being ‘largely self-referential’ (Ravetz 2006). The Waddell and Aylward designed BPS model would eventually be discredited by academic excellence, which exposed the Waddell and Aylward BPS model as having ‘no coherent theory or evidence behind this model ‘and demonstrated ‘a cavalier approach to scientific evidence’ (Shakespeare et al 2016), when referencing ‘Models of Sickness and Disability applied to Common Health Problems’ (Waddell and Aylward 2010).

The former city banker, David Freud, was commissioned by the New Labour government in December 2006 to offer recommendations to reduce the welfare budget. Commonly known as ‘the Freud Report’, ‘Reducing Dependency, Increasing Opportunity’ (Freud 2007) was rapidly produced in six weeks, with claims of a potential massive reduction in Incapacity Benefit claimants. By May 2007 Professor Danny Dorling, when writing as the Guest Editor for the Journal of Public Mental Health, exposed the identified flaws in the Freud Report. It seems that Freud had ‘got his numbers wrong’ and had misinterpreted his own references, so there never was going to be the predicted massive fall in claimant numbers (Dorling 2007).

The protocol and limitations of being published in an academic journal meant that Dorling’s substantial evidence, which had exposed significant flaws in the Freud Report, would not become public knowledge and the DWP based their future welfare reforms on more totally discredited DWP commissioned research. Enobled, never elected and appointed as the DWP Shadow Minister for Welfare Reform in 2009, in 2010 Freud was appointed as the DWP Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for the Coalition government and was reappointed as the DWP Minister of State for Welfare Reform in May 2015 for the Conservative government. A DWP press release in December 2016 announced Freud’s retirement from his ministerial position (DWP 2016a) and claimed that Freud had been ‘…the architect of welfare reform, which has revolutionised the way benefit claimants interact with the state’.

The influence of UnumProvident Insurance with the UK welfare reforms was demonstrated in the supplementary memorandums provided for Work and Pensions Select Committee (WPSC) reports, which clearly listed the transformation of Incapacity Benefit to the new ESA out-of-work disability benefit. The requirement to ‘resist diagnosis’, ‘revise the ‘sick note’, ‘encourage the Government to focus on ability and not disability’, ‘change the name of Incapacity Benefit’ and ‘benefits not to be given on the basis of a certain disability or illness but on capacity assessments’ have all come to pass, as UnumProvident Insurance have influenced UK government welfare policy since 1994 (Stewart 2015). Yet, the fact that UnumProvident Insurance was identified, in 2008, by the American Association of Justice (AAJ, 2008) as the second worst insurance company in America was totally disregarded by the DWP.

Gordon Brown succeeded Tony Blair in 2007 as the New Labour leader and Prime Minister and, in 2008, introduced the WCA for the future reassessment of all Incapacity Benefit claimants, and the assessment for all new claimants of its replacement, the ESA. The lucrative WCA contract was outsourced to Atos Origin IT Ltd, identified as an international IT corporate giant with no healthcare experience. To conduct the WCA, a branch of the company identified as Atos Healthcare was formed, and the Lima software used for the WCA computer questionnaire was designed by Atos.

Adopted by the Brown government in 2008, following the introduction of New Labour’s 2006 Welfare Reform Bill, the recommendations from the 2001 Malingering and Illness Conference (Conference 2001), the S/C Basis DWP commissioned report (Waddell and Aylward 2005) and the Freud Report (Freud 2007) would greatly reduce the authority and the clinical opinion of GPs, and offer the assessment of claimants who are too sick or profoundly disabled to work to the private sector whose doctors, according to the General Medical Council, ‘have total immunity from all medical regulation’ (Stewart 2015). Based on the BPS model, the removal of the significance of GP opinion opened the door to the introduction of the WCA ‘non-medical’ assessment. This meant that very many genuine ESA claimants were to be refused financial support, and the ‘nonmedical’ BPS assessment of chronically ill people would be conducted by the unaccountable private sector, as recommended by Waddell, Aylward and LoCascio and by former City banker David Freud, when adviser to the New Labour government (Freud 2007). Atos Origin IT Services UK Limited is a French corporate IT and software company, who were contracted by the New Labour government in 2008 to conduct the WCA, at a then cost to the public purse of £500 million per annum (Rutherford 2007).

From 2010 Atos Healthcare used the computer based WCA questionnaire to begin to reassess all long-standing Incapacity Benefit claimants being migrated to the ESA. This meant that very many genuine claimants were refused financial support and instructed to apply for the unemployment benefit, Jobseekers Allowance, with severe sanctions and the total loss of income, often for weeks, when too ill to attend an appointment with the Jobcentre (Stewart 2016a). ‘It is discussed how the state and business act in collusion, as both generally share the same neoliberal conviction on how society should function. This partnership is no more evident than within welfare, where the state have established proxy measures to outsource harm production to distance themselves from potential ramifications’ (Elward 2016). In March 2015, Atos Healthcare were replaced by Maximus to conduct the WCA.

The American healthcare insurance system of disability denial was used for the design of the WCA (Stewart 2013), and the involvement of Atos Healthcare was used to distance the government from the preventable harm created by the use of the WCA. Identified state crime by proxy was knowingly created by the DWP, as the private sector was introduced on a wide scale in many areas of welfare and social policy (Elward 2016). As of February 2014, 92,000 people have died following a WCA, including 2,380 people who died after being found ‘fit for work’ (Butler 2015), as the DWP have again refused to publish the updated ESA mortality totals (DWP 2016b).

Zemiology is the study of social harm. Eight years after the introduction of the WCA, when using the totally discredited Waddell and Aylward (2005, 2010) BPS model of assessment (Shakespeare et al 2016), the preventable social harm created by the introduction of the WCA has been identified by independent research (Stewart 2015, Barr et al 2015, Baumberg et al 2015, Shakespeare et al 2016, Garthwaite 2016, Stewart 2016b), which continues to be disregarded by DWP Ministers. Instead, Ministers prefer to reference DWP commissioned policy based reports, or publications from a right-wing think-tank, whose research exclusively references DWP commissioned policy based research and demonstrates that the claimed ‘independent’ research is ideologically motivated (Robertson, 2012).

It remains cause for concern that, in keeping with Conservative Party ideology, certain corporate funded academic think-tank research demonstrates the ongoing influence of neoliberal politics in published reports when claiming: ‘…almost three quarters of claimants who have had their assessment are in the support group and subject to no conditionality, with very little support to return to work.’ (Pickles et al 2016: 6). This one statement demonstrates the danger of right-wing think-tanks whose research demonstrates that costs, not need, are the priority of the welfare reforms when presuming that people in the Support Group, allocated because they are considered by the DWP to be too ill to work, yet ‘independent researchers’ continue to suggest that there is a problem because these often very, very ill people haven’t yet made any effort to find work. One more example of the danger of commissioned academics considering cash not care, when totally disregarding diagnosis and prognosis in any welfare setting (Stewart 2016b).

These influential reports either commissioned by the DWP (Waddell and Aylward 2005, Aylward and LoCascio 1995), or provided by right-wing think-tanks (Pickles et al 2016) when funded by the private sector (Robertson 2012), continue to demonstrate the ideological resistance to the fact that many chronic illnesses are permanent. Recovery is not possible for many very ill people, and totally disregarding diagnosis and prognosis is dangerous as is the constant psychological pressure that welfare benefit for a permanent diagnosis is no longer guaranteed (Stewart 2015), and those in greatest need are intimidated by the DWP who have ‘…guaranteed human suffering of the least able on a vast scale.’ (Stewart 2017)
What was once the psychological security of the welfare state has been totally destroyed by neoliberal politics, when enthusiastically supported by the national press (Stewart 2017). The market is the dominant force, costs are the only priority, and all evidence of care, concern and compassion has been successfully removed when using academic research that lacks credibility and totally fails scrutiny (Shakespeare et al 2016, Stewart 2016b).

Conclusion

By disregarding diagnosis, prognosis and the claimant’s past medical history, when using the Waddell and Aylward (2005) BPS model for the WCA, the constant suggestion by DWP Ministers is that claimants of out-of-work disability benefit are ‘inactive’, so disregarding the vast numbers of chronically ill and disabled people who do work in the voluntary sector whenever well enough. By definition, anyone allocated to the Support Group following a WCA are too ill to work in paid employment. But, the constant political rhetoric insists that not enough people leave the Support Group to find work (Pickles et al 2016). There seems to be no comprehension that working in paid employment is inflexible, whereas working in the voluntary sector means that chronically ill volunteers can work when having a ‘good day’, and rest when too ill to contemplate leaving the house. This is very obvious to anyone whose healthcare trained, and whose priority is the welfare and wellbeing of the chronically ill claimant and not simply the desire to reduce the costs of the welfare budget, regardless of human consequences (Stewart 2016a).

There is a strong ideological resistance within the DWP as to the reality of the lives of chronically sick and disabled people. The DWP disregard the fact that many ESA claimants are profoundly ill, and will never recover regardless of intimidation and coercion. Relentless DWP threats of benefit sanctions, using a discredited assessment model (Shakespeare et al 2016) that totally disregards failing health and can oblige claimants to seek Jobseekers Allowance when deemed ‘fit to work’ regardless of diagnosis, prognosis or consultant medical opinion (Stewart 2016b) was always guaranteed to cause preventable harm on a vast scale. When advised by Waddell and Aylward (2005), illness is dismissed by the DWP, as is diagnosis and prognosis, and this problem remains relentless and a constant threat to the wellbeing and the survival of chronically ill claimants.

Due to policies demonstrated to have created state crime by proxy when using the private sector to distance the government from the predictable inevitable harm created by the introduction of extreme right-wing policies (Elward 2016, Stewart 2016b), those who were meant to benefit from a welfare state as originally designed to protect them, now live in fear of the DWP, which is causing them guaranteed preventable harm and unnecessary loss of life (Scott-Samuel et al 2014, Gentleman 2014, Pring 2015, Butler 2015, Elward 2016, Stewart 2017).

 

Acknowledgements

Grateful thanks to Lewis Elward for access to his Masters dissertation and his kind permission to quote from it.

Funding

This research received no grant from any funding agency in the public, commercial, or not-for-profit sectors.

 

References

American Association of Justice 2008: The Ten Worst Insurance Companies in America.https://www.justice.org/sites/default/files/fileuploads/AAJ_Report_TenWorstInsuranceCompanies_FINAL.pdf

Aylward M and LoCascio J 1995: Problems in the assessment of psychosomatic conditions in social security and related commercial schemes. Journal of Psychosomatic Research 39, 6, 755-765

Bach M 2012: DWP, Atos, Business and Unum Insurance. http://www.whywaitforever.com/dwpatosbusinessunum.html

Barr B, Taylor-Robinson, Stuckler D, Loopstra R, Reeves A, Whitehead M 2015: ‘First do no Harm’ : Are Disability Assessments Associated with Adverse Trends in Mental Health? A Longitudinal Ecological Study. Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health 70: 339-345

Beveridge 1942: Beveridge Report and post war reforms 1942: http://www.psi.org.uk/publications/archivepdfs/Victims/VV2.pdf

Butler P 2015: Thousands have died after being found fit for work. The Guardian, 27th August

https://www.theguardian.com/society/2015/aug/27/thousands-died-after-fit-for-work-assessment-dwp-figure

Conference 2001: Malingering and Illness Deception. Oxford University Press 2003

Cover 2004: UnumProvident teams up with Cardiff University http://www.covermagazine.co.uk/cover/news/2151231/unumprovident-teamscardiff-university

Dorling D 2007: Guest Editorial: The Real Mental Health Bill Journal of Public Mental Health 6, 3, 6 – 13

DWP 2006: Welfare reform green paper: incapacity benefit https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/welfare-reform-green-paperincapacity-benefit

DWP 2016a: Lord Freud to retire from ministerial role. https://www.gov.uk/government/news/lord-freud-to-retire-from-ministerial-role

DWP 2016b: Social Security Benefits: Written questions – 41684 https://www.parliament.uk/business/publications/written-questions-answersstatements/written-question/Commons/2016-07-04/41684/

Elward L R 2016: Corporate Welfare Crime : two case studies in state-corporate harm. MA Dissertation, the University of Liverpool.  https://www.researchgate.net/publication/311683866_Corporate_Welfare_Crime_ Two_Case_Studies_in_State-Corporate_Harm

Freud D 2007: Reducing dependency, increasing opportunity: options for the future of welfare to work. Department for Work and Pensions.

Garthwaite K 2016: Hunger pains ~ life inside foodbank Britain Bristol: Policy Press

Gentleman A 2014: Vulnerable man starved to death after benefits were cut. The Guardian 28th February.

https://www.theguardian.com/society/2014/feb/28/man-starved-to-death-afterbenefits-cut

Green Paper 2006: A new deal for welfare: Empowering people to work. Department for Work and Pensions

Hale C 2014: Fulfilling Potential? ESA and the fate of the Work-Related Activity Group. The Centre for Welfare Reform

Jolly D 2012: A Tale of Two Models: Disabled people vs Unum, Atos, Government and disability charities. The Centre for Disability Studies, the University of Leeds

McKee M 2014: Austerity, A Failed Experiment on the People You Tube recorded talk in New Zealand https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G7Fd-uBRPqY

Pickles C, Homes E, Titley H, Dobson B 2016: Working welfare: a radically new approach to sickness and disability benefits. REFORM February 2016

Pring J 2015: Coroner’s ‘ground-breaking’ verdict: Suicide was ‘triggered’ by ‘fit for work’ test. Disability News Service, 18th September.

Ravetz A 2006: Green Paper: A New Deal for Welfare: empowering people to work. An independent assessment of the arguments for proposed Incapacity Benefit reform. The Centre for Disability Studies, the University of Leeds.

Robertson A 2012: Social Investigations: Reform think tank and their links to the Conservative Party.http://socialinvestigations.blogspot.co.uk/2012/10/reform-think-tank-and-theirlinks-to.html

Rowe W M 1998: Top doctor in job for wife row. The Independent, 29th March. http://www.independent.co.uk/news/top-doctor-in-job-for-wife-row1153041.html

Rutherford J 2007: New Labour, the welfare state, and the end of welfare Soundings Journal, Issue 36: Politics and Markets

SCOTT-SAMUEL A, BAMBRA C, COLLINS C, HUNTER D J, McCARTNEY G and SMITH K 2014: The impact of Thatcherism on health and well-being in Britain. International Journal of Health Services, 44, 1, 53-71

Shakespeare T, Watson N and Abu Alghaib O 2016: Blaming the victim all over again: Waddell and Aylward’s biopsychosocial (BPS) model of disability. Critical Social Policy, 37, 1, 22-41.

Sivier M 2013: Unum, Atos, the DWP and the WCA; who gets the blame for the biopsychosocial saga? Vox Political 18th January.

15

Stewart M 2011: Welfare Reform ~ Redress for the Disabled http://www.whywaitforever.com/dwpatosveterans.html#WRES

Stewart M 2013: The Hidden Agenda https://www.researchgate.net/publication/263673312_THE_HIDDEN_AGENDA

Stewart M 2015: The influence of the private insurance industry on the UK welfare reforms.   https://www.researchgate.net/publication/271199429_The_influence_of_the_private_insurance_industry_on_the_UK_welfare_reforms

Stewart M 2016a: The Human Cost of Welfare Reform https://www.researchgate.net/publication/311667353_The_Human_Cost_of_Welfare_Reform

Stewart M 2016b: Cash Not Care ~ the planned demolition of the UK welfare state. London: New Generation Publishing

Stewart M 2017: Welfare reform is killing people, but the Tory press don’t want you to know. http://www.welfareweekly.com/welfare-reform-is-killing-people-but-the-torypress-doesnt-want-you-to-know/

Travis A 2012: Margaret Thatcher’s role in plan to dismantle welfare state revealed. The Guardian, 28th December.

Waddell G and Aylward M 2005: The Scientific and Conceptual Basis of Incapacity Benefits. The Stationary Office.

Waddell G and Aylward M 2010: Models of Sickness and Disability applied to Common Health Problems. The Royal Society of Medicine.

Wales Online 2004: Tending a family crisis. http://www.walesonline.co.uk/news/local-news/tending-a-family-crisis-2429599 Wikeley N 1995: Social Security (Incapacity for Work) Act 1994 The Modern Law Review 58, 4, 523-533

Mo Stewart February 2017

© 2017 Mo Stewart


Picture Courtesy of Kanjin Tor

 

I make no apologies for the length of this blog but it needs explaining so that people can grasp the nettle into this devious policy.

Many people think this vile policy is an outrage, which it is. The Conservative Government under Theresa May has come up with a cunning plan to flog off the family home once you’re dead after decades of encouraging people to save for old age and the right to buy under Thatcher (which they also reintroduced and plan to extend according to their manifesto) led many to jump at the opportunity to buy their first home, work hard and save ,but it not as simple as people think, but a policy contrived in such a manner that the nasty party are back with a vengeance.

Questions are being asked by many how they plan to implement this well, I think they will do the following.

 

Many disabled people and pensioners get Passported Benefits to top up their incomes including those who own their own homes,some of those are Means Tested benefits, Private Tenants also face bedroom tax under Universal Credit in 2018.

 

•             Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance
•             Income-related Employment and Support Allowance
•             Income Support
•             Pension Credit
•             Tax Credits (Child Tax Credit and Working Tax Credit)
•             Housing Benefit
•             Council Tax Support 
•             Social Fund (Sure Start Maternity Grant, Funeral Payment,
Cold Weather Payment)
•             Universal Credit

My thinking is as follows that most people do not have wealthy stash of cash to pay for Social Care they may need in later life or currently,so they claim top up benefits such as above list. In many cases when an assessment for care is done many councils who provide social care are now including the care component of DLA/PIP even though it is a Non Means Tested Benefit as the list of exclusions get smaller and smaller with councils tightening their belts due to cuts to their budgets.

In the Tory Manifesto this is how they justified social care promises

A long-term plan for elderly care Our system of care for the elderly is not working for the hundreds of thousands currently not getting the dignified and careful attention they deserve, nor for the people and organisations providing that care, nor is it sustainable for today’s younger people who will potentially one day face care costs themselves. It is not fair that the quality of care you receive and how much you pay for it depends in large part on where you live and whether you own your own home.

Where others have failed to lead, we will act. We have already taken immediate action, putting £2 billion into the social care system and allowing councils to raise more money for care themselves from Council Tax. We are now proposing medium and long-term solutions to put elderly care in our country on a strong and stable footing.
Under the current system, care costs deplete an individual’s assets, including in some cases the family home, down to £23,250 or even less. These costs can be catastrophic for those with modest or medium wealth. One purpose of long-term saving is to cover needs in old age; those who can should rightly contribute to their care from savings and accumulated wealth, rather than expecting current and future taxpayers to carry the cost on their behalf. Moreover, many older people have built considerable property assets due to rising property prices. Reconciling these competing pressures fairly and in a sustainable way has challenged many governments of the past. We intend to tackle this with three connected measures

  • First, we will align the future basis for means-testing for domiciliary care with that for residential care, so that people are looked after in the place that is best for them. This will mean that the value of the family home will be taken into account along with other assets and income, whether care is provided at home, or in a residential or nursing care home.
  • Second, to ensure this is fair, we will introduce a single capital floor, set at £100,000, more than four times the current means test threshold. This will ensure that, no matter how large the cost of care turns out to be, people will always retain at least £100,000 of their savings and assets, including value in the family home.
  • Third, we will extend the current freedom to defer payments for residential care to those receiving care at home, so no-one will have to sell their home in their lifetime to pay for care.
    We believe this powerful combination maximises protection for pensioner households with modest assets, often invested in the family home, while remaining affordable for taxpayers. We consider it more equitable, within and across the generations, than the proposals following the Dilnot Report, which mostly benefited a small number of wealthier people.
    An efficient elderly care system which provides dignity is not merely a function of money. So our forthcoming green paper will also address system-wide issues to improve the quality of care and reduce variation in practice. This will ensure the care system works better with the NHS to reduce unnecessary and unhealthy hospital stays and delayed transfers of care, and provide better quality assurance within the care sector.

Pg 64/5

 

Sounds good on paper doesn’t it, except the sting in the tail is your home is an asset and they plan to means test you on something that isn’t theirs in first place, especially if you claim one of the above benefits. So either when they shove you in a residential place of care, or you claim top ups to live independently you are going to have Covenant Charge against your property that you bust a gut to buy and things you went without to achieve it, thinking you were doing the right thing.

You can hear the laughter from millionaire mansions as they plot to rob you blind twice, and some will agree that the Conservatives are right to do so. Now ask yourself this who has private interests is Care Homes, yep you guessed it Politicians! http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/selling-nhs-profit-full-list-4646154

So now to nitty gritty in how they will do this, will be not only use your assets from your home but use the above benefits to implement it (as UC documents attached will show).

Supported Mortgage Interest (SMI) is equivalent Housing Benefit for those who own their own homes, from 2018 that will be turned into a loan against your home so you pay it back if you return to work if not Bingo they use the Covenant Charge upon your death. So either way the government will own your home which will solve their house building crisis so some extent while failing to build adapted homes for disabled people and elderly to enable them to downsize.

https://www.scribd.com/document/349604161/Housing-Mortgages-Previously-MQPs-v3-0

https://www.scribd.com/document/349604179/Housing-Costs-Private-Rented-Sector-v4-0

https://www.scribd.com/document/349608915/Housing-Paying-for-Two-Homes-v1-0

 

 


Reblogged from Black Triangle & DPAC

 

More background from Black Triangle Campaign’s sister organisation Disabled People Against Cuts: ‘Claiming ESA under Universal Credit: Nobody is unfit for work anymore’ Wednesday May 25 2017
What you will read may be very distressing for you, but we are looking at the worst-case scenario and identifying measures to help you and other claimants. It would be good to have some feedback on the Health and Work Conversations from people who have made an ESA claim. More we know about it, and more we can fight this.
What you should not do, is to decide not to claim ESA. That is what DWP wants you to do.
Some documents released by the DWP have shown the direction of travel in terms of claiming ESA under UC.
Under the old regime, a person wishing to claim ESA was placed in the ESA assessment phase, attracting the lowest ESA rate (JSA rate), and also no conditionality, and this until a Work Capability Assessment could decide whether the claimant was fit or unfit for work.
The Work and Health Conversation
Under Universal Credit, a person wishing to claim ESA will be first called for a Health and Work Conversation (HWC). This conversation is basically a Work Focus Interview, and is mandatory, which means that a claimant can be sanctioned for not attending. Attending does not only mean being physically present at the interview but also fulfilling all the requirements set by DWP for a WFI:
Regulation 57 of the Employment and Support Allowance Regulations 2008:
57.—(1) A claimant is regarded as having taken part in a work-focused interview if the claimant—
(a) attends for the interview at the place and at the date and time notified in accordance with regulation 56;
(b) provides information, if requested by the Secretary of State, about any or all of the matters set out in paragraph (2);
(c) participates in discussions to the extent the Secretary of State considers necessary, about any or all of the matters set out in paragraph (3);
(d) assists the Secretary of State in the completion of an action plan.
 (2) The matters referred to in paragraph (1)(b) are—
(a) the claimant’s educational qualifications and vocational training;
(b) the claimant’s work history;
(c) the claimant’s aspirations for future work;
(d) the claimant’s skills that are relevant to work;
(e) the claimant’s work-related abilities;
(f) the claimant’s caring or childcare responsibilities; and
(g) any paid or unpaid work that the claimant is undertaking.
(3) The matters referred to in paragraph (1)(c) are—
(a) any activity the claimant is willing to undertake which may make obtaining or remaining in work more likely;
(b) any such activity that the claimant may have previously undertaken;
(c) any progress the claimant may have made towards remaining in or obtaining work;
(d) any work-focused health-related assessment the claimant may have taken part in; and
(e) the claimant’s opinion as to the extent to which the ability to remain in or obtain work is restricted by the claimant’s physical or mental condition.
So the main difference with the previous regime is that people with a fit note from their GP saying they are not fit for work, will be (are being) called for a mandatory WFI.
They also will be asked to fill a questionnaire which is also mandatory and to undertake an optional exercise called My values. There will be another article specifically about the questionnaire
According to the DWP, some ‘vulnerable’ people will be exempted from this conversation. [1]
The DWP defines vulnerability as “an individual who is identified as having complex needs and/or requires additional support to enable them to access DWP benefits and use our services.” but has not yet released the guidance given to Work Coaches on who will be exempted from the HWC. As these conversations have already started, this guidance exists and should be released immediately by the DWP.
Unfortunately, based on the DWP ghastly track record, it is likely that pressure to attend will be placed on people unable to attend because of their health conditions. DPAC has already encountered a case of a person with mental capacity issues and a life threatening health condition being requested to attend a HWC.
After the Health and Work Conversation
Unlike under the previous regime, when ESA claimants with a GP fit note saying they were unfit to work were not expected to fulfil any work related requirements until a WCA said otherwise, ESA claimants under UC will be by default assumed to be fit for work and expected to fulfil all Work Related Requirements until their WCA . [2]
Claimants to whom the All Work Related Requirements apply:
claimants who have a fit note and are awaiting a WCA claimants who have been found not to have limited capability for work at the WCA and are appealing against this outcome
claimants who have some paid work but are earning below conditionality earnings threshold claimants who do not fall into any other group
What All Work Related Requirement means:
Claimants in this group must be available for full-time work of any type and look for this within 90 minute travelling time from their home. Restrictions can be applied to looking for work, the type of work and hours of work where it is appropriate due to the claimant’s capability and circumstances.
Claimants must be engaged in work search and work preparation activities for at least the number of hours they are available for work. Claimants must take all reasonable action to obtain paid work.
Work Coaches must set work search activities for the claimant to search for work for their expected hours (This is the number of hours that the claimant is available for work or 35 hours, whichever is the lower figure) less deductions from this for the allowable time spent undertaking agreed work-preparation activities , voluntary work and paid work.
Only one restriction for people with health conditions is mentioned in the document: claimants who have a fit note will not be required to take up work that they are not capable of doing until their fit note ends
Any other derogation to the All Work Related Requirements will be at the discretion of work coaches. For most claimants, work coaches will not have more medical information than the fit note (the diagnosis) or in some cases, the WCA outcome when they have not be found to have Limited Capability for Work and Work-Related Activity, and they should not be able to ask claimants for this kind of information without breaching the Data Protection Act. These work coaches are also not medically trained. Any Work Related Requirement will be based on the diagnosis, and on what the claimant would have told them during the HWC conversation and in the questionnaire. Also based on that, claimants would have to complete an action plan and sign a claimant commitment. Failure to do so could result in a sanction.
This is deeply worrying because:
1) an extra step is introduced before the WCA which is already stressful enough
2) all claimants assessed by their GP as unfit for work, will be considered by default fit for work by the DWP.
3) work coaches are medically untrained and unable to comprehend whether a work related requirement can have a detrimental effect on the health of a claimant
4) GPs medical judgement is undermined by medically untrained staff.
5) DWP definition of ‘vulnerable’ may be so restrictive that some claimants with very serious health conditions could be requested to attend a HWC and sanctioned for failing to do so
Additional Things I have since found:
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