Posts tagged ‘career politicians’

TOXIC ATOS REBRANDS AGAIN


 

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/

 

Academic confirmation we have all been waiting 7 years for- AYLWARD’S REPUTATION DESTROYED BY ACADEMIC EXCELLENCE


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 Courtesy of Mo Stewart July29th 2016

Re: Blaming the victim, all over again: Waddell and Aylward’s biopsychosocial (BPS) model of disability.

by Tom Shakespeare, Nicholas Watson and Ola Abu Alghaib

 

Critical Social Policy, May 25,2016: 0261018316649120

http://csp.sagepub.com/content/early/2016/05/25/0261018316649120.abstract

AS you all know, I have been exposing the dangerous WCA in my research since 2009.  Eventually, I was able to expose the use of the totally discredited biopsychosocial (BPS) model of assessment, used for the WCA and adopting a ‘non-medical’ assessment model to resist funding benefit.  Waddell and Aylward’s ‘research’ was based on the modified version of Engel’s BPS model as identified in the 1970s. They are responsible for the BPS model used for the WCA, which has destroyed countless lives.

 

Finally, the very long awaited academic support has arrived in the form of a blistering attack against Mansel Aylward and Gordon Waddell’s research ‘evidence’ who, historically, have written DWP ‘commissioned’ research that has influenced government policy, which led to the introduction of the WCA.

 

Originally published in Critical Social Policy Journal, Tom’s scathing attack against the BPS duo is now attached and is available via Tom’s website at UEA: https://ueaeprints.uea.ac.uk/58235/1/1351_Shakespeare.pdf

 

The Waddell-Aylward BPS has remained largely unexamined within academic literature, although it has not escaped critique by disability activists (e.g. Jolly 2012, Berger n.d., Lostheskold 2012, Stewart 2013). In this paper we build on these political challenges with an academic analysis of the model and the evidence used to justify it. We outline the chief features of the Waddell-Aylward BPS and argue that, contrary to Lord Freud’s comments above, there is no coherent theory or evidence behind this model. We have carefully reviewed claims in Waddell and Aylward’s publications; compared these with the accepted scientific literature; and checked their original sources, revealing a cavalier approach to scientific evidence. In conclusion, we will briefly outline the influence of the Waddell-Aylward BPS on contemporary British social policy, and the consequent effects on disabled people.” (p4) (My emphasis MS)

 

Waddell and Aylward slide between general statements that are scientifically valid, and specific statements that are matters of opinion or political prejudice. They also tend to cite their own, non-peer reviewed papers extensively. For example they claim ‘We have the knowledge to reduce sickness absence and long-term incapacity associated with common health problems by 30–50%, and in principle by even more’ (2010, 45). They underpin this claim by reference to one of their earlier publications, Concepts of Rehabilitation for the Management of Common Health Problems (Waddell & Burton 2004). However, there is no evidence cited in this 2004 work to support such a claim, in fact this publication even acknowledges the paucity of evidence in this area (Waddell and Burton 2004; 50).” (p20)

 

“In conclusion, the relationship of the advocates of the Waddell Aylward BPS to the UK government’s ‘welfare reform’ does not represent evidence-based policy. Rather, it offers a chilling example of policy-based evidence.” (p24)

 

The research ‘evidence’ used by the DWP to justify the dangerous WCA, using the discredited BPS model, is finally exposed as having ‘no coherent theory or evidence behind this model’, which is academic speak for being totally bogus.

 

 

Unfettered Corruption in 21st Century Politics


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It’s always been the case that skullduggery has frequented the political shenanigans as people vye for powerful positions,people have literally lost their heads in times gone by,but in recent times this has gone from being hidden to outright blatant displays where if you have money it can buy you power. Look to the USA where Trump has bought his way to the top!

In the last 30yrs we’ve had to deal with Thatcher’s legacy followed by  Blair,and Cameron’s coalition with Lib Dems,and back to the Tories to finish what Thatcher started. In the meantime, Labour have finally got a man who is principled,decent and who has rallied the people like no other modern-day Politician since Attlee. The Working Class have always suffered under the Tories and under Labour too in recent times, although nowhere near what is being metered out in the last 6years.

Any prosperous nation would like a decent economy, with people in work being paid a decent wage to ease the gap of inequality and a route out of abject poverty where citizens prosper and achieve their aims to provide a decent standard of living for their families survival and well-being.

The last 6 years has seen such corruption from Expenses Scandals,Wars based on lies, Pedophilia cover ups, Deaths and arrests of those who dared speak the truth,election rigging just to name a few.

However Since Mr Corbyn became leader of the Labour Party with the largest mandate of 60% not seen since Atlee, the working class people have risen from the ashes to demand a left government and social changes that benefit the poorest rather than the richest. From the outset of Corbyn’s appointment those who have profitted from personal and political gain from the capitalist society we live in have taken things to another level entirely.

Politics is awash with corruption globally, where if you have powerful freinds and money anything is possible at expense of the people below,where profit is king and people don’t matter,including death.

This is why Corbyn’s ideology has gripped the people of the UK  (except Scotland) to demand change,to wake them from slumber to fight back and tell those in power enough is enough. The plotters within the Labour Party which has now lead to a leadership challenge is nothing short of shameless and a stain on democracy let alone the Labour Party itself.  The deliberate damage caused by those not wanting to give up their careerist postions and that profit and greed is all they care about. They say they care about the Party which is blatent lies they care about themselves and the membership is the party but the rich pickings of the gravy train is hard to give up,  just like a child who has become acustomed to living the high life of fancy holidays and ponies etc they fear Corbyn,but more importantly they have lost any remote connection with those they are meant to serve.Those people are now becoming motivated to challenge the status quo and hold to account those elected politicians who promised them the world and delivered very little unless you count endless suffering under the policies they either introduced or backed in opposition. One thing Mr Corbyn has given the people is ‘Hope’ of a fairer more equal society when they had abandoned all hope of the changes needed. This is why this man is feared so much by the establishment and the rich and powerful.

The media has played a large part in all of the lies and spin,so much so that you cannot believe a word they say or write,as they are so influenced by those who put them in charge ,the rich and powerful have bought the british media off by threats and bullying of closing them down.

The recent debacle of Brexit, A Tory leadership challenge without an election taking place and the blatent lies about Corbyn illustrate what is wrong with our country and politics in general. Labour should have rid itself of the enemies within and chose not too, saying they are a broad church, well that’s all well and good  until someone comes in the middle of the night and starts dismantling the church you have built over decades.

It is time for change, it is time for a purge of those who are stealing the bricks of your foundations and it is time for the working people to be heard and for those changes to reflect all it citizens needs,not just the few who would like to see their profits and personal gains grow at extortionate rates. It is clear the people have spoken in regards to labour’s leadership battle yet still the desperate try to cling on,  circumventing democracy by changing the rules illegally so that they profit from the outcome in the faint hope the Blairite Titanic can sink the Corbyn Battleship Cruiser which is steaming ahead in all the polls and with masses turning out to see the quiet man who has turned politics on its head,one who isn’t a slick polished firebrand some think we need,but a man who is principled,has integrity and most importantly is  a man of the people whose policies will be for those who really matter….The electorate.

Is DRUK Trying To Silence Disability Researcher?


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Disability Rights UK (DRUK) have been around a long time, helping disabled people navigate the benefits system with their informative fact sheets available to download from their website.

Like many other charities, gradually, DRUK have been sitting at the table with government officials in the designing of the WCA since 2010, offering both critique and praise alike.

Many will know that DRUK have recently been afforded Government contracts to supply Disability Equality Training to the new contractor, Maximus, for the WCA assessments to ensure disabled people get better treated  within the process. I am sure that DRUK think they are trying to ease the stress these flawed assessments cause many disabled claimants. However, how can you offer help to disabled people then, with the same breath, support the oppressive regime the WCA has become?  This smacks of conflict of interest.

As many disability campaigners know one of their own, Sue Marsh (Spartacus Network), was co-opted by IDS to work for Maximus. This caused much outrage amongst the disability movement dividing many campaigners into two camps, with some calling Marsh a traitor who they deemed was bought to silence her, and others, as Spartacus members gave personal stories etc to the network. Members felt betrayed and concerned as to where their data was, and how it could be used against them come reassessment, with Marsh now working for the government contracted oppressor of disabled people who are dying in their thousands.

 

Benefits and Work  website reported in January 2015

Following its signing of disability campaigner Sue Marsh earlier this month, Maximus – the company taking over the work capability assessment contract from Atos in March – have now signed up a leading disability charity as well.

Disability Rights UK (DRUK) have announced that they have agreed a contract to deliver training in disability equality to Maximus health professionals.

DRUK has over 300 member organisations, including many national charities, and aims to ‘Break the link between disability and poverty’. Maximus, which is being paid more than double the amount that Atos was being paid to carry out WCA’s seems keen to prevent potential opponents from slipping into poverty by sharing some of its taxpayer funded profits with them.

DRUK are also advertising for people to take part in what looks very much like a promotional campaign for income protection insurance – the sort of thing that Unum provide as an alternative to state support – though there is no suggestion that Unum are involved on this occasion.

Members of the public who have had a serious illness and are trying to return to work are offered the amounts of money and support they would have had if they had been wealthy enough to afford to take out income protection insurance cover. They are filmed as they make the return to work and these films can then be used to encourage people to take out income protection insurance.

Of course, the worse the level of state benefits and state support, the more easily people can be persuaded to take out such insurance, giving insurance companies a vested interest in maintaining the link between disability and poverty.

 

The Black Triangle Campaign and Disabled People Against the Cuts  have also  highlighted on their respective websites many of the shortcomings of this government’s failure to ‘Help the most vulnerable in society and protect them,’ with DPAC going to the UN which recently found that disabled people’s human rights were breached under the convention. (Links below)

Make no bones about it, private disability insurance is on its way under Tory rule as we follow the examples of USA, Canada, Australia etc of welfare provision, which is soon to be highlighted in a new book by independent disability studies researcher, Mo Stewart, called Cash Not Care- the planned demolition of the UK welfare state, due to be published later this year. Former healthcare professional and disabled veteran Mo Stewart has spent 6 long years gathering information, which has assisted many disabled campaigners in their fight against these ideological reforms, which caused preventable harm to disabled people and saved very little money for the government; a pledge they used to sell this lie to the public who bought it hook, line and sinker. Mo’s very detailed research reports are available online.

 

You may wonder that I have wandered off topic but you need to understand the background before I lay the cards on the table.

It seems that DRUK would like to now garner the services of researcher Mo Stewart on the new APPG Inquiry regarding ‘Welfare to Work’ which they administer, and which is the next step of this government’s ongoing psycho- coercion to force claimants into work, regardless of the harm it will cause. They fail miserably to understand that many chronically sick and disabled people cannot work, and that their health problems are permanent, as they built the welfare reform policies based on so called ‘academic research’ which has been subsequently demonstrated to be fatally flawed, in the case of the Freud Report, and based on totally bogus research in the case of the DWP evidence used to justify the WCA. http://csp.sagepub.com/content/early/2016/05/25/0261018316649120.abstract

The aim is to go beyond a critique to a template or blueprint for co-ordinated Government action to halve the ‘disability employment gap’.  Even those who want to work (and many disabled people do work), due to the barriers they face regarding access, together with employers who are unwilling to take disabled people on in the workplace, or to make the necessary adjustments needed, they can’t.  For example, most buildings, transport etc are not disability friendly.

Many disabled people are now being put through the Personal Independence Payment (PIP) assessments and are actually losing both their Motability cars, and their jobs, as many disabled people are unable to use public transport.  So, the removal of access to a Motability car also means the loss of paid work. Yet another consequence of welfare reforms the government failed to consider.

What bit of this do the DWP fail to grasp is mind boggling, and clearly lacks any common sense.  Without addressing the barriers, and accepting that many cannot work, is the sole reason the government has failed to halve the disability employment gap as they claimed they wanted to do.  That claim always was little more than propaganda and Tory party rhetoric used in the ongoing psycho-coercion of the British people via the right-wing press.

Thankfully, Mo Stewart declined the offer to join the APPG government inquiry. She challenges the theory behind the planned report, does not wish to be the ‘token’ disabled person on the research team, and there would be a risk that any negative reaction to the eventual report by the disability support groups could be justified by the DWP when highlighting Mo’s contribution. She totally refuses to become another government ‘patsy.’

So, Mo declined the invitation to join the APPG Inquiry research team and is waiting for her book to be published, which is a strong indictment of all those involved in the WCA process. This is the research the government attempted to stop, and the book the government do not want people to read.

She’s also writing further research to support disabled people, and the DWP have discovered that Mo is not easily silenced in her condemnation of these American influenced welfare reforms that she has spent over 6 years of her life researching and reporting.

 

Lynne Friedli’s powerful talk regarding the psycho-coercion used by the state is well worth 45 minutes of your time, demonstrating the realities of the state using psychosocial rhetoric to enforce work that may be unpaid and certainly, for many, will be harmful.(You Tube link)

 

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

http://www.whywaitforever.com/dwpatosveterans.html

http://guerillawire.org/welfare/disability-charity-signs-maximus-contract/

Leading WCA campaigner swaps sides to join Maximus

https://www.theguardian.com/society/2015/oct/20/un-inquiry-uk-disability-rights-violations-cprd-welfare-cuts

http://www.centreforwelfarereform.org/news/uk-in-breachhuman-rights/00287.html

http://www.disabilitynewsservice.com/scottish-police-assessing-possible-investigation-into-ids-and-grayling/

 

 

 

 

The Criminalisation of the Working Class -Yes it’s Class War


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Observations I have made as have many other campaigners is the constant  oppression of the working class by those in power and those in the  chattering middle classes who believe this government is right to clamp down on the poorest in society and particularly those who cannot work due to disability, those who happen to be made redundant or become unemployed who happen to need support from the welfare state. Many claim Social Security Payments of one description or another that includes the so-called ‘Hardworking’ Poor on Zero Hour Contracts or Low Pay.

Most families in this country claim Child Benefit, some claim Housing Benefit or Council Tax help or Pension Credit top up for pensioners who don’t have enough to live on, yet feel this does not apply to them as they have paid their dues, well guess what -so have many claimants during their working lives! So come and get your scrounger badge here, we welcome everyone.

Claimants have become the scapegoat of society for the failings of successive governments to control the banking sector and the countries finances. They have become demonised, victimised and now criminalised for being poor and working class.  The few  have got greedier and greedier filling their pockets with profits over people with their gold spoils off the working man

The young have become victims of brutal cuts which they had no part in.We have many who are homeless living on the streets of Britain, forced to leave home in some cases rather than stay where they are to suffer abuses that most of us cant imagine, while denied any assistance to live independently with cuts to Housing Benefit, in a home of their own, forced into prostitution in some cases as means to survive, those who are able to claim some assistance are forced into apprenticeships, workfare or sanctions if not in higher education or university. Some people are homeless due to evictions  brought about by the Bedroom Tax or loss of Social Security payments many are young people but not all are. The Government has now given local authorities the all clear  for them to be prosecuted and removed from our streets as they try and brush them from sight so the public don’t hold this government to account, or are portrayed as economic migrants and beggars who are to be refused help, because they are too lazy to get off their backsides and work and pay taxes like rest of us or come from other countries seen as less worthy than our own indigenous people. Yet Corporate Multi-nationals are given tax breaks or avoid paying their fair share of taxes ,bankers are given bonuses for getting the country into the global crash of 2008 and the Conservatives do zilch about chasing these fraudsters which would wipe the national debt overnight if they did so, because they threaten to take their business  elsewhere to avoid any responsibility for their actions and successive governments capitulate as banks hold us to ransom, unlike in Iceland they throw them all in jail and are doing very well thank you.

Many have seen the Immigration card being played out which is another group who are to be blamed for societies ill’s, they’re coming here to take our jobs, they claim benefits they haven’t paid into the system for, they get free homes which is incorrect and misleading, yet in recent times the refugee crisis in Greece and across the world saw the public rush to help those caught up in wars they did not create, by sending supplies and begging their relevant governments to open the borders to let these people find some peace from the constant bombing of their country, while we the UK supplied some of the bombs and guns that they now need rescuing from because they have fallen, in some cases, into militant hands to oppress it’s people. We have seen a rise in race hate crime against anyone deemed muslim or a possible extremist.

Those with disabilities have borne the brunt of brutal welfare reforms which as seen swathing cuts to vital care packages and support and to those who care for them, those with mental health have been especially targeted by this government and many deaths have resulted in this particular group but not exclusively, and many disabled people have suffered massive increases in attacks not just on welfare but on the  themselves by those  who believe they are scroungers and not worthy of assistance. They have become targets of the false fraud tag, as criminals of taking unfairly taxpayers money, fiddling the system of billions of pounds when the truth is more is wasted by this government in error and by the DWP mistakes than in ‘actual’ Claimant Fraud 0.3% (0.9% overall if you include error) which is thrown together to mislead the public.  Various Government projects which are deemed a failure and take much more taxpayers money from the public purse than any claimant ever possibly could in a lifetime. They are brutalised by sanctions or the appalling WCA Assessment because their disabilities set them up to fail as the right provision they actually need to stay in work or start work is severely lacking both from employers and government alike. Many disabled people do work or would work if their needs were to be  properly considered, yet consistently fail to enforce reasonable adjustments on employers under the Equality Act 2010 as we are less productive than our able bodied counterparts. We also have to accept that many disabled people cannot work due to the nature of their disability and the impacts that has on their daily living.

We now have Iain Duncan Smith denying any causal links to his welfare reforms to harming disabled people but there are cases out there if you look like Michael O’Sullivan, Stephanie Botterell, Mark Woods ,David Clapson but there are thousands more who have lost their lives , yet still disabled people are persecuted not only by government but by those who really believe this governments rhetoric. Many are denied legal aid due to this government stripping away the right to justice making it impossible for most of society, whose only crime is to be poor.

To add insult to injury were are now seeing the criminalisation of the working poor who are the main clients in food banks even though many claimants whom are sanctioned or have benefit delays also use food banks, initially set up to mop up this governments mess of austerity as now being integral part of the welfare state he plans to put Welfare Advisors in them to mitigate his mess, alongside installing food banks in NHS hospitals and linking information gathered by these advisors to punish them further, this ruse is to tie in with his lifestyle choices cost the Government and NHS & Taxpayer to blame them further for being poor, so if you drink ,smoke obese or take illegal substances then your claims are at risk of being sanctioned if you don’t comply to forced treatment for your addictions, which not only is against your human rights. Not to worry though because your government is about to strip your Human Rights from you as well by pulling out of EU so they can carry on abusing you.

Workers and Unions are fighting for their lives tomorrow to stop the Trade Union Bill which is about stripping workers rights and the rights to withdraw your labour to hold your employer to account for injustices they deal upon you.

THIS IS CLASS WAR make no mistake about it, the criminalisation of the poor and working classes of this country have not been under such threat since 1930 Germany, only this time it isn’t just the jewish people at risk it is ‘all working class people at risk’ including those who do not fit into a capitalist society and are deemed unworthy by the elite ,while we will go down in history if we do not stand up and fight back, as collateral damage to benefit the deserving ruling classes. It is divide and rule tactics to divide us into two camps ,deserving and non deserving, which like the hunger games pit various factions within those two groups in a fight to the death of survival of the fittest.

You may think Im crazy  but history repeats itself more often than people think, and now is time to say enough is enough as it will be too late in a few years time and many more lives will be lost and when we have all gone, the chattering middle classes will take our place at the bottom as they cant climb to the top because the elite wont allow it.

We the people at the bottom are being criminalised for the mistakes at the top and denied justice ‘for all’ not the few, by those who inflict harm on those who dare stand up and say stop not in my name . It is time to hold them to account, the next person could be you if you happen to fall on hard times.

 

 

Patriotism/Nationalism Argument in the UK?


 

 

 

jack britainjpgNow the UK is made up of 4 nations, Scotland, Northern Ireland, Wales , England yet the political climate at the moment our people crave changes for its survival for future generations. Each nation wants devolution to manage it own affairs rather than a Central Westminster that governs all . The UK has never been such a divided country for centuries as it is in 2015. On social media/press it has set our fellow-man against each other like never before. I question whether it will break up the UK as we know it.  England , N Ireland and Wales have a certain amount of control over what happens and where central government money they are given is spent, yet when the Scots ask for same all hell breaks loose. The independence debate divided the Scots  let alone the rest of UK,and the government is already talking of making laws to make sure English MP’s only vote on English issues yet no comment re the other two countries will they be dealt the same blow as Scots. Now controversial as it seems if we all pay into the pot via taxes then surely they should all have a say in how those taxes are spent in their own countries? We can all govern our own countries while still remaining to be a United Kingdom on issues that affect us all.

 

The Scots have always been a passionate nation  not afraid to be forthright in speaking out, just as Ireland and Wales have had their own battles, and it’s not as if England wouldn’t say ‘stuff you’ to other three if push came to shove, because they would.

Don’t get me wrong I love this country but I can’t see why devolution in part wouldn’t help all of us, after all we are part of Europe and have to negotiate with other nations so why can’t we do same here within the UK without discourse. I would like us to stay together as one, but I also understand why each countries people want to have some control over what happens in their own backyard where they know what is needed and where funds need to go as priority. Some will argue it would be disastrous and breaking up the UK and lead to inner turmoil between the nations and take us back hundreds of years where feuds will break out, but we have come a long way since those days and I think we can sort a deal in which all can live in harmony, just as we do now, while gaining some control over what happens in our own backyards.

One thing I dislike is the need to demonize each other as some sort of infidels trying a power grab and assuming they would destroy the other, when it wont realistically happen.  All in the name of votes for a party which is based on corruption of those at top vying for that last vote that will give them overall control of its population to inflict its policies which isn’t equal or fair to the many, but in favour of the few.

This is why we need change in UK and a radical one at that, where the people decide not the party elite, we are just pawns in the ‘big society’ game plan by all main parties but if we are to survive internationally we need to come to terms that change is needed and must be enacted while remaining part of Europe for businesses are to flourish on the world stage, where our influence as a nation can still mean we have a say. Westminster will always have a central role in the distribution of money of our countries needs nation by nation because all our major banking houses are in London.

The Blame Game Society of Britain


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I am sick to death of the public media attacking those on benefits. It is high time we had some balanced reporting in the media and on many television channels and the constant rollout of poverty porn bashing those who unfortunately find themselves out of work or who become disabled through no fault of their own. The Condem Government has done a brilliant brainwashing job of demonising those who find themselves in such a difficult position. The labels attached to those individuals are a national disgrace and we need to change the language and mind-set of society to a more compassionate viewpoint. Firstly it is not ‘Welfare’ it is Social Security which many have paid into over their working lives by paying National Insurance Scheme to which they are entitled to claim against when they fall on hard times providing a safety net, they are not ‘Handouts’ either!

The discriminatory language used toward sections in society is both misleading and entirely dishonest. The figures banded about in the press are also inaccurate yet daily we see alarming headlines about benefit cheats to fuel the feeding frenzy to convince the population they are cracking down on those who are deemed undeserving because they are not contributing to society at this moment in time. While no one condones those who do cheat the system, generally the alarming headline includes a combination of many benefits added up over a number of years and rightly those people should be bought to atone for their greed. The actual total of fraud is 1.2 billion representing less than 0.7% of the total welfare budget.

Most of the welfare budget 65% goes to our pensioners who are deemed worthy of protection while the rest are vilified and demonised. Do we see screaming headlines or programmes on’ Politics Street’ or ‘Banker Street’ , ‘Spot the Tax Avoider’ programmes  in the media where they are publicly shamed and prosecuted ? No we do not!

Why because it doesn’t sell!

Political party ideals to be Compassionate, Caring, to look out for others is a distant memory it doesn’t  exist in modern Britain on a large-scale for those of us old enough to remember the days when people did  precisely that, because Thatcher killed off those communities. Many have been bought up with Thatcher’s ideals of thinking about ‘self’. We live no longer in a democracy and politicians have failed society in the most heinous way and they wonder why the UK have a political crisis where the disaffected voter is failing to turn up at the polling booth to vote for them. They represent their parties not their constituents, they represent corporations and big business to fuel the capitalist society they have created, they fail to punish the bankers and themselves for their failings yet preach to society about ‘responsibility’ and ‘transparency’ and blame those at the bottom of the ladder and immigration for their own mistakes. It is time for change and for people to understand the political wrangling of parliament and to take the fight for change to those in power.

It is time to stop punishing those at the bottom, and time for society to stop the disease of capitalist greed which is rife and running through communities like the Bubonic Plague. Where neighbours are encouraged to inform authorities about a myriad of perceived offences to the taxpayer who is contributing to the pot, but many of those claimants have paid their taxes and hidden taxes on everyday things we all take for granted.  Just like the informer who has an attack of the green-eyed monster which is present within all human beings just because their neighbour maybe more thrifty while they have lavished their own income amongst family and friends and live an extravagant lifestyle compared to Mr Jones down the street who is very frugal and has different priorities of how their income is spent. If you walk in any store in modern Britain you can only buy ‘flat screen TV’s’ yet many claimants are vilified on this basis alone, they may well have bought that before they lost their job, they may have also retained Sky TV for their family because they also had such things before falling on hard times plus with switchover you cannot get by without basic TV package which they rammed down the nations throat with some ferocity, and the likes of Richard Branson, and Sky who saw the pound signs rolling in front of their eyes. Did society ask for the digital switchover? No it didn’t it was forced upon the nation.  It is time for change and it is time that our nation’s leaders are held accountable and stop wasting billions on ill thought out policies which actually cost more than any benefit claimant has. We have ministers complaining they cannot live on taxpayer-funded wages and second homes with all their needs paid for by us the taxpayer yet they expect the less fortunate to live on Minimum wage or JSA of which is £3764.80 a year plus a few passported benefits such as housing benefit and council tax which is still less than 10k a year generally speaking.

We have a government who blames labour for absolutely everything when they have borrowed more money in a 5yr term than labour did in all their terms, trading insults over ‘Social Security’ spending, rather than the well-being of the nation as a whole and the trickle up economics of the 1% as they line their pockets with their illicit gains in some tax haven while our NHS goes begging for a massive cash influx to treat ‘everyone’ in our once great nation which has become the standing joke to others around the world for allowing this to happen or turning that blind eye while we are striving long hours on Zero contracts which is failing to provide a living wage so they are bought into line with a decent society.

It is time for society to stop and think with an impending election looming large to think that it is our leaders who in times of hardship blame the less fortunate in society when we have the following; food banks rising faster than spring daffodils, homelessness, crime, absolute poverty, hate crime against sections in society, national debt amongst many others we could name. It is right to fairly lay the blame were it belongs at the top of society by our leaders who govern our nation for crimes they are accountable for…mismanagement of public funds.

 

Just remember we are all one pay packet away from losing our Job, One accident away from disability,one breath from ill health we should be a more caring compassionate society looking out for each other, not demonising each other or  our neighbours or sections in society!

The ‘Condition’ of Britain-We are Screwed100% by the Elite


I have been reading the IPPR  Condition of Britain report (see link at bottom) which was plastered all over the press with Ed Miliband’s speech saying what Britain  needed. Well I can tell you Ed a fair system for all , which is no easy task for anyone and no one would disagree this country is a mess, but who bloody caused it yes your Bankers, who dropped the ball, those in power while the rest of the peasants worked their fingers to bone.

I wont pull no punches as there will be upset and hardship for most of the peasants while those at the top drink the cream.Its not all bad news to be honest there are some good points  in it and that means you only need one hand to add them up. I will focus on welfare provision as this is what my blogs are generally about and this one is long but relevant.

We come to our the  future of our young;

For 18–21-year-olds, existing out-of-work benefits should be replaced by a youth allowance that provides financial support conditional on looking for work or completing education, targeted at those from low-income families.

8. A youth guarantee for 18–21-year-olds should be established that offers access to education or training plus intensive support to find work or an apprenticeship, with compulsory paid work experience for those not earning or learning within six months.

9. The National Citizen Service programme should be expanded so that half of young people aged 16 and 17 are taking part by 2020, using money saved from holding down cash benefits to families with older children.

10 The remit of youth offending teams should be extended to those aged up to 20, in order to provide locally-led, integrated support to help keep young adult offenders out of prison, cut reoffending and prevent them from entering a life of crime.

 

Again our young people who have been ignored for a very long time will have a chance of gaining some experience via the youth allowance, however I would prefer that the government promised to pay our young people a wage with real hands on experience via old fashioned apprenticeships with a job  guarantee at the end of it with the employer. It is not only beneficial to our young people but to the company too, by allowing growth of both company and market ,while allowing those coming to end of work life retiring as before, so these trained young people can take their place in job market.

Next we come to working life which relates to benefit clamiants ;

  • The National Insurance Fund should be given institutional and financial independence from government, with a responsibility for ensuring that national insurance contributions are sufficient to finance contributory benefit entitlements over the long term.
  • As a step towards reviving the contributory principle, the rate of contributory JSA should be increased by £30 a week, and those entitled to it should also gain access to help with mortgage interest payments if they become unemployed.
  • The next phase of the Work Programme should focus on supporting long-term jobseekers and those recovering from temporary health conditions, with contracts based on meaningful economic geographies and a job guarantee to prevent long-term unemployment.
  • Those with a long-term health condition or disability that reduces their capacity to work should participate in ‘New Start’, a new, locally-led supported employment programme for ESA claimants, with integrated budgets and incentives for success.
  • Small firms should be able to recover sick pay costs for employees hired from ESA. In addition, there should be greater back-to-work engagement between individuals and employers during sickness absence, matched by a longer period of employment protection.
  • An independent, non-state Affordable Credit Trust should be established to capitalise and mobilise local, non-profit lenders capable of providing low-cost loans, while also supporting low-income households to build up savings of their own.

The vast majority of people in Britain want to work, for their own self-esteem, to support their families, and to make a contribution to society.

One of the biggest tasks for the next government will be to enable as many people as possible to contribute to society through paid employment, including those who need to balance work with vital caring responsibilities. A further priority should be to improve the financial protections available to those who have made a contribution through work and care.These moves will be essential to help families secure rising standards of living, finance public services and social protections, and rebuild public trust in the social security system.Our priorities are a more focused Work Programme; a separate, qualitatively different ‘New Start’ programme for people with long-term health conditions or disabilities; a job guarantee to prevent long-term unemployment; and steps to increase the retention of sick and disabled people in the workplace and improve the incentives for employers to hire them in the first place.As well as supporting people to find employment, the contributions that people make through working or caring also need to be better recognised and rewarded.Our goal should be a social security system that offers more generous temporary benefits for people who have contributed, alongside better employment support so that fewer people claim out-of-work benefits for long periods.Our priority is an act of institutional reform that would directly connect contributions and entitlements, through a reconstituted National Insurance Fund.Finally, among the most pernicious and damaging trends of recent years has been the rise of personal debt (Lawrence and Cooke 2014). Many families, faced with falls in income and rises in the costs of basic essentials, have been forced into the arms of payday lenders who often charge extremely high fees and interest rates. Rather than helping to protect families from such dependency, the welfare system has often contributed to the problem.By the establishment of a new non-state, non-market institution – an Affordable Credit Trust – to mobilise and capitalise alternative providers of affordable credit. These local providers should also support low-income households to build up savings of their own. Such an institution would give many more people a realistic chance of building greater financial resilience and independence, and reduce their reliance on the social security system.

This institutional reform would also tap into the national insurance ‘brand’, and start to restore the sense that citizens have a stake in a social security system that offers ‘something for something’

Now where have we heard those buzz words before..oh yes the ‘something for nothing’ culture spouted by Coalition! It gets better though get this they are going to reinvent the wheel

To achieve this goal, we argue that the National Insurance Fund (NIF) should be rebuilt as an independent institution for financing the national insurance system.The government introduce a National Insurance Act that would reconstitute the NIF as an independent, ringfenced account, separate from government receipts and expenditures

In the first instance this would include: the single-tier state pension; contribution-based jobseeker’s allowance (JSA); contribution-based employment and support allowance (ESA);statutory maternity, paternity and adoption pay;maternity allowance; and bereavement benefits.This would make explicit the fact that NICs finance contributory benefits and determine eligibility for them, and that they are not just an additional income tax in disguise.

A reconstituted NIF should be governed by a board of trustees representing the interests of those who have a stake in the national insurance system: employees, employers, the self-employed, pensioners and carers. The trustees should be responsible for ensuring that the fund operates in the interests of all members and maintains financial sustainability over time. The NIF should have the capacity to conduct and publish analysis and projections of its revenues and expenditure, and be required to provide regular updates on its financial position in order to improve transparency and public engagement.The board of trustees should also be responsible for making annual recommendations to parliament about future contribution rates and entitlements, setting out the implications for the NIF’s balance sheet. These recommendations should include any reforms needed to respond to economic or demographic shifts, such as further increases to the state pension age. Recommendations should represent the consensus view among the trustees, following widespread consultation and engagement.

Final decisions about contribution rates and entitlements should remain with parliament, but the government should not be able to ignore the trustees’ recommendations. If it disagreed with them, the government should have to make alternative proposals that are consistent with hitting the same target balance for the NIF as the board had sought to achieve (as well as explaining why they chose not to implement the consensus recommendations of the trustees).

Now forgive me if I misread this but trustees should make decisions  but the final decision is in parliament? Isn’t that  a contradiction in terms or are they just fobbing us off with another Quango without any teeth, where they get final say anyway?

Second, the structure of SMIcould be changed to reduce its cost. For instance, after a two-year period, further SMI payments could be recouped through a charge on the property, redeemed when the claimant is back in work or when the property is sold.This would give people time to get back to work, adjust their finances, or move to a more affordable property. Support would not be cut off after this point, but it should be reclaimed at a later date. It is not appropriate for the state to permanently subsidise families or individuals to live in a home they cannot afford – especially when they, rather than the state, benefit from any uplift in its capital value.

The Work Programme currently provides back-to-work support for those who have been claiming JSA for a year and those in the ‘work related activity group’ of ESA. It is delivered by ‘prime providers’, largely from the private sector, operating across 18 large contract areas across England, Scotland and Wales. After a rocky start, the performance of the Work Programme is now broadly in line with expectations and previous, similar employment programmes for JSA claimants. However, it is not proving effective at boosting employment among ESA claimants.

The core activity of Work Programme providers consists of tried and tested back-to-work strategies like supported jobsearch, help with maintaining a CV, and interview preparation, plus some extra help with skills or confidence-building. Participants are also required to demonstrate that they are taking steps to get back into work. This combination of support and obligation tends to be sufficient for the majority of jobseekers, but it is rarely effective for people with long-term or chronic health conditions that reduce their capacity to work, or for those with little or no record of employment.Often, the biggest challenge for such groups is finding an employer willing to take them on.

As such, the next phase of the Work Programme should continue to cater for JSA claimants who have not found work during a year with Jobcentre Plus. However, only ESA claimants close to recovering from a temporary health condition should continue to participate in it.The Work Programme’s activation strategies are likely to be appropriate for this group. This segmentation should be determined by a reformed work capability assessment (WCA), which should aim to better distinguish between temporary and chronic limitations to work capacity ESA claimants with a chronic health condition or disability that is likely to reduce their capacity to work for a long time should instead participate in a qualitatively different ‘New Start’ supported employment programme.

Contracts for the next Work Programme should be let on the basis of local enterprise partnership (LEP) geographies, matching the boundaries of combined authorities wherever possible.The next Work Programme should continue to reward providers when participants secure a job and then stay in work for a certain period. This would retain the current strong focus on employment outcomes and minimise the need for central prescription. However, providers should also receive an amount of funding for every participant (the ‘attachment fee’) throughout the whole contract period; this should not be progressively withdrawn, as it is now.

To prevent long-term unemployment, if someone has not found work after a year on the Work Programme they should be guaranteed paid work experience and be required to take it up. This would mean that no one could spend more than two years unemployed (one year on the Work Programme rather than two, plus an initial year with Jobcentre Plus). This ‘job guarantee’ should involve 25 hours a week of meaningful work for up to six months, paid at least the minimum wage, with another 10 hours a week of training and help with looking for work on the open labour market. People should not be able to continue receiving JSA if they refuse this offer. In time, a similar offer and obligation could be extended to ESA claimants on the Work Programme, consistent with their capacity to work.

Like the Work Programme, this job guarantee for the long-term unemployed should be organised on the basis of LEP geographies, with its delivery led by either a combined authority, a consortia of local authorities within an LEP, a contracted provider, or the local Jobcentre Plus. Public, private and voluntary sector organisations should be able to bid for funding to offer paid work placements that are of value to both the individual and the community.To pay for this policy, we propose scrapping the government’s Help to Work scheme for those who leave the Work Programme without a job.However, it is not certain how much this would raise – and the aim would be as little as possible, due to effective provider performance.Therefore, to complete the funding of a job guarantee, we propose raising the higher rate of capital gains tax (CGT) from 28 to 35 per cent, and devoting £220 million of the £400 million a year it would raise (based on estimates in HMRC 2014) to prevent long-term unemployment.

Despite an improving labour market, disabled people continue to face a substantial employment penalty.This suggests that worklessness among disabled people is largely structural, and not strongly linked to the economic cycle.

However, there are a significant number of people who have a long-term health condition that will affect their capacity to work for a long time, possibly permanently (in terms of the hours or the type of paid employment they can undertake), but which need not prevent them from working altogether.The notion of ‘distance from the labour market’ sets up a binary distinction between whether someone can or cannot work, rather than asking what kind of employment might be possible and what it would take for that to be enabled.Despite contrary intentions, the WCA remains a gateway to benefits, rather than to support with securing work.

We suggest that such a supported employment programme for ESA claimants with a long-term health condition should be named ‘New Start’, to indicate a fresh, positive approach that is rooted in disabled people’s own potential and capacities. New Start should also replace the specialist disability employment programme, Work Choice, when its contracts expire. To be effective, the introduction of New Start would need to be combined with reforms to the WCA that orientate it towards identifying the kinds of work that an individual could undertake, and the support they are likely to need to be able to do so, rather than simply operating as a gateway to benefits.Unlike traditional back-to-work programmes, this approach seeks to directly confront the so-called ‘demand-side’ problem, by working with specific employers to make a successful job match possible.Moreover, it would treat employment as often being an essential part of treatment or condition-management, rather than this being something that must precede entry into work.

By charting a course between traditional ‘activation’ strategies and ‘no support, no conditionality’ tracks, the aim would be for more ESA claimants to engage in back-to-work activity, and for fewer to enter the support group.

The fundamental principle of New Start should be that anyone who wants to work can do so. It should have a positive and empowering culture designed to nurture and unlock individuals’ talents and capacities. For this reason, participants should not be mandated to participate in particular activities. However, there should be an obligation on ESA claimants to engage with New Start, and to take responsibility for their own situation. This should involve regular meetings with an employment adviser, and the agreement of a personal employment plan. If a claimant persistently fails to engage with their adviser, there should be a backstop of benefit sanctions. However, this should only be triggered after a face-to-face meeting with a personal adviser to review activity, assess personal circumstances and better understand any underlying problems that are getting in the way of employment.

We therefore recommend that the New Start programme be led by local areas, tapping into local leadership and relationships. It should form part of wider strategies to integrate local services, rather than attempting to drive this process from Whitehall, which has rarely proved effective. Local councils often have far more established relationships with ESA claimants, such as through social housing or social services, than Jobcentre Plus, which has limited contact with this group.

The connection between health and employment services would be particularly important – and has been made more possible by the recent devolution of public health funding to local government, alongside the local clinical commissioning group (CCG) structure. Better employment outcomes would in turn help to improve local health outcomes and potentially reduce local health spending. The role of housing, adult social services, further education and, in some cases, probation or drug and alcohol treatment services in New Start could also be crucial.In addition, local councils should aim to draw in further capacity and resources from primary and secondary health services in their area. This could involve mobilising the active involvement of GPs, and securing agreement for the local CCG to commission occupational health and mental health services consistent with the local New Start plan. Making employment a more prominent focus within the NHS Mandate would further boost such efforts.

If this funding could be further matched by CCGs and LEPs across the country, New Start would have an annual budget of £800 million. With funding at this level, the programme could work with 400,000 ESA claimants – more than three times the number participating in the Work Programme each year.

At this scale, New Start would have the potential to make a substantial impact on the employment rate of people with long-term health conditions or disabilities, while significantly reducing expenditure on ESA and related benefits. Local areas should be free to give participants the right to take New Start support as a personal budget, and to provide a version of a job guarantee backstop to limit the amount of time for which local ESA participants were without work.Therefore, to support the New Start programme, we recommend that small firms are allowed to recover virtually all of the SSP costs they incur for individuals hired directly from ESA. This would reduce the risk of taking on someone who is more likely to take periods of sick leave.

Requiring employers to bear a small portion of the cost would retain an incentive for them to help people on sick leave return to work quickly.This change should be accompanied by ongoing efforts to confront disability discrimination, improve employers’ understanding of disability in the workplace, and increase opportunities for flexible working.Therefore, keeping more people healthy and in work could make a big difference to the number of people who enter the benefit system.With this in mind, the government is currently in the process of introducing a ‘health and work service’ to provide voluntary advice and support to employers and employees, available from the fourth week of sickness absence.

To overcome these challenges, we propose that it be made mandatory for an occupational health plan to be agreed between an employer and employee after 13 weeks of sickness absence, with the input of an occupational health expert. Employees should be obliged to engage with this plan, consistent with their health, and employers should also have obligations to consider reasonable changes that would facilitate a return to work. These could include the offer of an alternative position with the same employer, though with no obligation for the employee to accept a reduction in their terms or conditions at this stage. The aim of these plans should be to promote more active engagement between employer and employee. However, in some cases it might become necessary for an employment tribunal to test whether both parties have done enough to fulfil their obligations.At present, employees are entitled to statutory sick leave for up to 28 weeks if they fall ill or acquire a health condition or disability while in work. If people exhaust their SSP entitlement, they may then have their employment contract terminated.

Therefore, as part of the implementation of universal credit, we recommend that the ESA assessment phase be scrapped, as it automatically delays the point at which people switch their focus from claiming benefit to returning to work. For those who have exhausted employer-funded sick pay, there should instead be an equivalent period of conditional, state-funded sick pay. In such circumstances, the employment contract should be protected during this period, in order to give employees a little longer to recover and return to work, matched by obligations on them to take steps to do so. The employee should have to agree an updated back-to-work plan with their employer, an occupational health expert and a Jobcentre Plus adviser. The goal would be to exhaust absolutely every opportunity for rehabilitation and a return to work, including a requirement to accept alternative job offers from their employer.

For those making a claim for ESA that does not follow a period of sickness-related absence from work, the consequence of scrapping the ESA assessment phase would be to remove the inbuilt three-month wait before a WCA is carried out. This wait is actively damaging for those without a recent job, as it delays the point at which a person’s focus switches from benefit entitlement to a return to work.

 

I know this is long winded but  it is important to those who need to understand the thinking behind the neoliberal fuckup they face in a future government. It isn’t about you the individual its about them getting as many into work as possible (not that is bad thing if you can) and reducing the welfare bill, while handing out more contracts for others to make a mint ,in my opinion they are no better than people traffickers to make a fast buck in this case for for the 1%.

 

http://www.ippr.org/publications/the-condition-of-britain-strategies-for-social-renewal

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Benefit Fraud Does it Stand Up to Scrutiny? Part Two


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My blog yesterday covered one part of Universal Credit  but this one is where Lord David Freud was present on 7th April. This also means another long Blog.

Lord Freud, Minister for Welfare Reform, and Mike Driver, Finance Director General, Department for Work and Pensions, Mr David Gauke MP, Exchequer Secretary, HM Treasury, and Nick Lodge, Director General, Benefits and Credits, HM Revenue and Customs

Watch the meeting.

http://www.parliamentlive.tv/main/Player.aspx?meetingId=15278

 

There was twice as much error was discovered in the system and when the Chair Dame Anne Begg pointed this out, they seemed unperturbed by this but attempted to explain the process in ways to address this matter.

The Latest figures for fraud and error  given by minister David Freud were as follows;

Fraud and Error Monetary Costs 1.2 billion

Claimant 1.6 billion

Official 8.0 billion

Yet daily we hear of all this fraud but little about error which is being used to demonise claimants as ‘all on the make’.  The committee chair did point out why was the emphasis on fraud when 2/3rds was error. Is the 1.2 billion monetary costs caused by an  anomaly or is that overall? One thing Lord Freud explains is ways in which they plan to address it by introducing  4 main points across UC & PIP, They are as follows to help you understand processes being put in place;

UC Error

  • Simplification of process of UC & PIP
  • IT/Data Sharing using (RTI  (real time information) and Atlas (http://thefedexperts.com/post/22124968271/government-consulting-services)
  • A New Quality Framework (making sure information is consistant and accurate)
  • Case Cleansing (this means they take caseloads and cleanse it of fraud and error ) ie: overpayements for example

 

Secondly they are looking at Claimant Error

  • Claimant Error  (Making sure  Government information is in plain english and communicating what is required)
  • Centralising (Communication Products)
  • Awareness Messages
  • Introduction of Civil Penalties £50 fine

When the committee  asked why so much emphasis was on fraud when the committee felt the department should be focussing on top priority of  error of 8  billion as it was highest  cost, the treasury minister went on to explain  figures of tax credit overall expenditure 2011/12 was 3.0% error overall.

Claimant Error 4.2 %

Official Error 0.1%

At the moment this only affects Carers and JSA groups but will affect others when it comes to the roll out.

The breakdown figures for both groups;

JSA  2.9%

Carers 3.9%

 

Anne Begg challenged the perception of public view on fraud which they admitted across depts is 0.7%  being lumped together  is deceptive, yet public perception is that fraud is rife in system,  yet error which looms large 34 times higher than fraud is in actual fact not being fairly reported. She suggested that maybe they should be separated which they denied should happen, maybe that doesn’t fit government rhetoric  to indoctrinate the general public into backing their reforms if they knew the truth. Minister Glenda Jackson MP also asked why particular the DWP presented the argument to public  using ‘Black Propaganda’ that fraud was running amok while in actual fact error is worse, not only did she dare say this but called Lord Freud , Lord Fraud (Freudian slip) much to the raised eyebrows in the room of the committee but to the amusement of the nickname given him by activists. Social media was alight with this faux pas. She also brought up his conjucture that the complication of forms and the departments system on delivery to claimants was erroneous, causing misery to many and surely it should be changed, he responded by saying many drift into fraud. She argued that he didn’t answer her question , in that it is the responsibility of the department to make sure the greatest misuse of public money which is in error, not fraud and therefore the department is as culpable as the claimant itself in falsely claiming  statistically they were misleading the public into believing that fraud was the greater misuse of public money. on this Glenda has my vote for ‘getting it’, but Lord Freud said he would have to beg to differ on that point. The sheer arrogance of the minister in his dismissal to her fair and valid question. The chair did not force him to answer the question which is what he is there for, which was disappointing to say the least.

The public view against claimants  is appalling and perpetuated by the rhetoric being spun by ministers & celebrities who  misuse the fact to suit the agenda, the latter depending which party they follow and donate too. Most claimaint’s would work if they could, but  sadly the painful truth is most of them even with support  cannot, which is down to the fact they are too sick or disabled to do so, the mind is willing in most cases the body isn’t. Claimants & Campaigners and the public are waking up to realise they are being hoodwinked by politicians and the media when the realities on ground are plain to see. While the backlash of those in power caught with their hands in the overflowing cookie jar of capitalism is gaining some momentum. The public are treated as if they are stupid  when the reverse is true. When they can’t get care for an elderly relative at home or hospital, or they are treated like criminals for making a mistake  on a claim form being classed and labelled as a fraudster then the reality of it is,  the word is spreading like a bush fire and it can only come to discord on the streets which I believe will be worse than previously seen around UK a few years ago. Politicians need to realise this will come to the fore, and to be frank I think this is what a driving factor behind it is, they know if they push people enough it will cause untold misery and give the government an excuse to crackdown on Joe Public further stripping away their human rights  and say I told you so, while those  barricading themselves in their homes from the riotous behaviour going on outside. Fraud to me is a deliberate attempt to gain from something, not a mistake which they call low level fraud., which is classed to error.

Lord Freud went on to say that the government has an elaborate measurement of fraud and error and one the best systems  in the world. Nick then went on to say in his dept  tax credit expenditure is higher than they would like it to be but at 7.3%   it had actually come down in real terms. This is individual fraud  statistic rather than organised fraud by large groups of people.

The methodology measures used were

  • Earnings
  • Capital
  • Under declared occupational pension
  • Living together
  • Fraud Abroad

Joint strategy budget for new measures of 425million in 2015

  • Actual Money 286 million
  • Savings to be made 1.93 million

Measures to get people to use the fraud line  of DWP, have got financial incentives to those whose give information which result in a claimant being caught and removed from the system and monies reclaimed are still in place in the strategy report  as the chair queried if they had been dropped ,which she was told they had not. Work is also being done with Crimestoppers to address this and is on going.

Incentives to combat fraud in place is by means of making information of what is required plain and clear to declare. the HMRC targets 5.1/2 % reductions of fraud and error is what they are  looking at. DWP targets are x2 hopes 1.7% reduction in 2014/15 the business case on targets are on delivery with the hope it will plateau at 2.1% MFE of which data will be published in June. The Single Fraud and Error Service is investigations into fraud being brought under one roof and funded accordingly as  a single unit, and at present no benchmarking is done between depts in public sector & private sector.

The next question raised by Glenda Jackson was on the excessive data  sent to LHA  using Atlas and that they had reported that they had to wade through loads of data to find what was needed  in case of Housing Benefit when assessing a claim Glenda asked if it was going to be streamlined , Mike Driver stated he wasn’t aware of this but would tell his team  so they also went on to talk about automated systems and the emphasis on consistency and data matching across  the systems involved ie Atlas. She asked Mr Driver why it was  that overpayments of Housing Benefit (HB) was twice as much as it should be and therefore is resource intensive both monetarily and labour wise using Atlas and could they not incentivise to reduce Fraud and Error the subsidy is reduced to 40% by LHA’s,   if they identifiy fraud or error  and recover the amounts they are given up to 140% subsidy the rest goes to treasury rather than LHA’s. Under Universal Credit the responsibility for HB will go to DWP and LHA’s have raised concerns about  the cross matching of data they share between other authorities and how that will impact on those claiming HB. The Intergrated Risk Intelligence Service (IRIS) which is used  by Government  she asked if that had been removed, redesigned or still in place? Lord Freud stated it  had a data matching service which was in place for live service (although it wasn’t in UC pilots) and they are developing IRIS in where they are splitting it up into 4 ways

  • Information confidence
  • Analytical Hub (RTI)
  • Design
  • Session in Confidence (Security Division Risk Assessment)

Only JSA  are at present been involved in pathfinders for UC. Anne Begg interjected to ask  how DWP was going to intergrate  LHA info on property and local information to UC. Anne Begg highlighted a issue of how if you have 4 flats on left all with same number 26 on a floor compared to 4 flats on right having same number 27 , how would the DWP data match those  to make sure a claim wasn’t fraudulent? Freud waffled his way through facts that the DWP ‘look to get’ not the will have local knowledge and housing data to cross match like LHA’s do at present, under the UC system if and when it rolls out. He said that at the moment those housing officers  will continue to be in HB dept’s for some time while the rollout continues. The question by Graham  Evans MP   asked  with the cross party support  of a Single Investigation Unit (SIU)  and asked how the concerns of LHA’s were worried they would lose some experienced fraud investigators especially in corporate area which Freud stated they wouldn’t lose those in corporate teams, and that funding was made available to them to enhance that team to deal with corporate fraud. Most Investigators in large authorities will be absorbed into the SIU and smaller ones will not lose any staff who may cover a wide range of fraud investigations across all fields. Stats on investigators to transfer are around 800.

 

When Mr Evans asked about UC rollout the next batch is June 2014  and then they take a break until October 2014  which they then expect will take 18mths and by 2016  the rollout should have completely ironed out any glitches in the system by March 2016.

 

Sheila Gilmore MP then went on to ask who is verifying tenancy agreements and leases in regards to UC & HB And Freud said they are talking to LHA’s which is on going, and that so when a claimant applies for UC that info is sent to UC and then verified by the LHA ,as where what is level of checking that’s needed . The HB system has been stripped down to cover all the needs according to Lord Freud, he also said the concerns she raised were not in the social rented sector so one can assume it is in private rented sector where the level of fraud and verification is needed the most.

Identity Assurance for UC  is being implemented under UC and that this will ensure who is on the end of phone or in office is who they state they are. Freud stated that a Cabinet Office led program being developed around the IT system in regards to face to face and telephone systems to create a process across all government departments and beta sites are in place. when Gilmore brought up biometric such as voice recognition will not be persued at this stage. The information as it comes in will be monitored by a security service type application where risk and threat  of fraud will be monitored 24/7  that will be adapted into UC. Red Flags trigger visits within the system, whereas green flags will be simple straight through process through a automatic system. Conditionality groups (Jsa,Wrag) can be seen or monitored by attending JCP for instance and they can be called in more often if need be. the analytics hub will stop this abuse  and before it gets into the system. 400 million savings are expected  from this approach across the departments, earning checks will be done across all benefits as this rolls out. RTI is already showing benefits  in flagging up potential problems. she asked how those not on monthly payments how would the adjust for that and the ministers said that could be achieved. self employed will have to self report along with a few others monthly. he said he didn’t want debt and fraud building up. they have also ramped up civil penalties to 50,000 per year.

No doubt this will become clearer as time rolls on as to whether or not this actually works or indeed gets off the ground given the train crash it appears to be with database matching and RTI systems that thye put in place.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Benefit Fraud Does It Really Stand up to Scrutiny? Part1


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The talk is all about benefit fraud both in media and press about how ‘scroungers’ are taking the ‘hardworking’ taxpayers money . Well the truth is after listening carefully to DWP Committee chaired by Dame Anne Begg seems most of it the 0.7% is Error. Now some of that error is claimant error through not reporting changes, but most of it seems to be departmental error. In this another very long Blog I will discussing that and the way they plan to tackle the issue by various means but still insisting on lumping fraud and error in same basket with no intention of separating the two, as it clearly isn’t beneficial when it comes to media demonization of  claimants  and their awful clumsy drunken approach to welfare reform rhetoric and the lies being spun. THIS IS REALLY IMPORTANT TO UNDERSTAND THE BACKGROUND BEHIND IT!

In March 31st the DWP Select Committee heard evidence from;

Jan Smith, External Affairs Director, Call Credit Information Group,

Simon Dukes, Chief Executive, fraud prevention service CIFAS

Sean Duffield, Partner and Public Sector Director,Nuance Communications

This was indeed a interesting take on the ways they were looking at tackling Fraud & Error within the benefit system overall. Simon Dukes kicked it off with saying he felt it was fair to separate Fraud and Error in his view as 80% was within HMRC & DWP  and in his opinion “It is important to identify these two together and to split them apart to identify how much is fraud and how much is error. Only by doing that and measuring it can we actually measure success against it”, Jan Smith agreed with Mr Dukes. Debbie Abrahams MP suggested  that benchmarking might be way to measure risk like Visa do in banking, however Mr Dukes felt it should be based on Risk Management and was cautious re benchmarking as it was suggesting pitting one against the other which brings in competitive element into the mix.

Jan Smith stated “By taking that risk-based approach, you have more flexibility with your resource, because the low-risk cases can be dealt with by one area and the high-risk cases by investigators, etc”. The risk of low case management and high risk cases are clearly defined and the letter would under risk analysis be flagged up. Debbie Abrahams MP queried whether or not there was a acceptable level of loss due to fraud and error, Mr Duffield said that there was a sort of” inevitability  about it” and said had it even identified fraud within the system and without full access  he would reserve judgement on questioning the figures in front of the committee but any fraud was unacceptable. The Chair Anne Begg suggested that it was possible that large amounts of unreported  fraud could be hidden in the system  that isn’t yet flagged up and that error normally shows up eventually, Mr Dukes agreed that was indeed a possibility, so this fraud  thus far seems to be one of just possibility rather than fact?

Mr Dukes said fraud data sharing between organisations  helped prevent it at the gate rather than wait till horse had bolted approach in the private sector and felt that could be applied to the public sector too, using a zero tolerance approach, and was key to tackling the issue. Risk Management is key to tackling that a mistake by a claimant failing to report is fraud at low level while others have made a deliberate attempt to claim benefits for example from 3 different boroughs is high end fraud. Mr Dukes suggested checking the lifecycle of a claim could highlight risk management being successful in clamping down. 42% of overpayments it was suggested by Dame Angela Watkinson was down to incorrect reporting of income or earnings  Mr Dukes concurred with her assessment on this,  she asked that correct information reporting is only way of verifying correct claims Jan Smith agreed with her. “The fields that they complete and the information they provide in that claim need to be standardised. Everybody needs to be filling in the exact same form, providing the exact same information, no free format.You have to have values in because, if you have the accurate data, it is far easier to follow up when someone’s circumstances change.In the private sector, there is technology available that allows monitoring to take place so that, when there is a change in someone’s circumstances, you can be proactive about it. If you do not have the correct information in the first place, it is difficult.”

The subject of repeat offenders was brought up which Mr Dukes felt was 40% of re-filing and that was fraud was being in-putted into the system which he felt could be tackled using technology that is widely used in private sector ,by banks, insurance sector  which the banks have worked on over last few years called’ single customer review’, this enables the bank to look across its divisions and highlight any potential problems. Anne Begg queried the complexity of the Social Security system and sheer volumes of people’s changing circumstances.  That constant is not just one thing that is changing; it is two or three different elements that might be changing in that. Jan Smith agreed .

I totally agree with you on that but, if you know you have that customer and you know the different benefits they are entitled to and what is happening with them, if there is any change in circumstance, you are in a far stronger position to cut any areas and stop any fraud that may take place.

The Chair Anne Begg asked when moving to Universal Credit would the system be on household basis or individual basis like it was under Housing benefit at present, it was confirmed it will be individual by Jan Smith, and Simon Dukes concurred that while data was complex it was merely just a case of ‘pipework or plumbing’ within the system.

Then Nigel Mills MP brought up technology ,by ways the system could tackle multiple claims (Organised Fraud) to the individual who has had cash payments they didn’t declare. Mr Duffield said he had the voiceprint  technology to tackle that.

Sean Duffield   I have a technology of voiceprint identification so, if somebody was contacting on one channel and then being somebody else on another channel, I could potentially, with other pieces of data, identify that you have that duplicate fraud happening there. It is hard to crack that small casual fraud, if you could categorise it as that, versus a fraud that is more organised and systemic.

Jan Smith then went on to explain a fraud hub that has been used in Housing Benefit Sector in London and other areas so far . CIFAS  highlighted that fraudsters move from region to region  not nationally,  which has brought about successes in housing benefit crime.  This highlighted hot spots of criminality , which they were able to tackle. Mr Dukes agreed.

Kwasi Kwarteng MP then brought up prosecutions in relation to fraud and the monetary values of pursuing an investigation and what could they learn from the private sector .

Jan Smith When we started working with local authorities to pull this fraud hub together and produce a fraud product, a lot of the benefits they were looking for from it was making it a swifter process to identify fraud in order to manage their resources moreeffectively. The way that we deliver information can be used by anyone, so you could have someone frontline who identifies, because of all the data that is washing around, that this is a potential fraud case. We identify them as red, amber or green so, if you get a red case, that probably means it needs to have full investigation; you need to do yourSection 29s. That is going to be resource-intense. Some of the lesser frauds can be dealtwith by other people, so it helps local authorities manage their budgets more effectively. In the public sector, if you identify what you think is fraud, you can, under Section 29 exemption, come to a credit reference agency and access a lot more data than you would be able to normally to investigate that fraud. They are used by public sector investigators, but you have to be fairly confident that there is a serious fraud taking place. You cannot just do a blanket case for everyone.

 

They went on to discuss that prosecution rate at present is around 28% but they didn’t have that data as it was other organisations that held that information . Kwarteng  queried if they felt it was acceptable rate and Mr Dukes felt it was rather low overall, while acknowledging it could be lowered , although it is very resource intensive to decide to follow through a fraud case, it was also would they be able to get the money reclaimed. he suggested they focussed on prevention not cure.

Kwasi Kwarteng: The idea is that you would reduce the numbers at the beginning,  if  you like,  and then,  if you keep the numbers of prosecutions,  that would be a higher proportion? Simon Dukes: Exactly.

So here we have a play on figures and statistics  and we wonder where they seem dream stuff up from, this is obviously how. You are probably bored to death by now, however it is important to understand this important information ! Only by understanding the methodology behind it can we address  the serious issues we face and how they operate. They call it tackling a problem, I call it  setting up a system so complicated that a simple error  or mistake, can be costly to you the claimant being labelled a fraudster.

Graham Evans MP then brought up ‘digital by default’ mantra. Using  Indentity Assurance  (IDA) .

A question for you, if I may, Sean: IDA, the identity assurance for universal credit, is apparently some way off. I understand that it is “overly complex and potentially unwieldy”. Can you expand on that view?

http://www.computerweekly.com/news/2240208131/Identity-assurance-system-moves-into-beta-test-phase.

 

The hub will manage communications between users, identity providers and government service providers. It will allow users to select and register with an identity provider, and then use their assured identity to access digital services,” wrote Steve Wreyford, the head of communications and marketing for the IDA programme. Eight companies were selected last year to provide IDA services – The Post Office, Cassidian, Digidentity, Experian, Ingeus, Mydex, Paypal and Verizon.

 

Sean Duffield stated “how that is going to work on the telephony channel.” You mentioned at the top of your question digital by default, and I would just caution on that. Today, we know that 11% of the population have got very low skills when it comes to using the web, so we need to make sure that, if people want to identify and verify with the DWP, they can do that across channels, both web and the telephony channel. We need to make sure that we have processes for security across all those channels that are also the same across those channels, so you do not need to know one set of passwords for the web channel, for instance, and another set for, let’s say, the telephony channel.

 

 

Graham Evans went on to ask “Howard Shiplee, the DWP senior responsible officer for universal credit, told us in February that “no one is using a totally online approach”. Do you agree that an entirely digital approach to this thing is feasible, achievable or indeed desirable when dealing with financial transactions?”

Sean Duffield responded that “I do not think it is a good idea, no. Nobody in the commercial world has really achieved that and people who have set out to just have a web service, quite commonly, have then ended up with call centres”.

My question is if that’s the case why are we trying to push a square peg in a round hole at the huge cost to taxpayer when it probably isn’t going to happen to make it a success , and  the more I read the transcript the more worried for taxpayer I became talk about elephant in the room scenario. also that 11% demographic was 50-55 and over age group weighted against the elderly and lower socioeconomic backgrounds which I may add will be the most disadvantaged group in society, yet again bearing the brunt of this complex system which they say is simplifying it.  They are planning to make income reporting  a central point of this benefit claiming system and that is coming into play as I am writing at end of the month for Jsa and Lone parents amongst other groups in my universal credit for homeowners blog. The next point they address is the worrying part  of welfare reforms being similar to the Australian Model and of  the use  of voice verification technology for those who are nervous on phone , suffer mental health or have a speech impediment or deafness. how in god’s name are those people’s needs going to be addressed, using voice technology. This is big brother stuff you saw as a kid in Dr Who, which is being implemented here in reality. This is called Centrelink in Australia and a automated income/ earning information line where claimants can report changes of circumstances, initially they gave out passwords but found that many forgot their password as many of us do.

Mr Duffield reported that you go into that and just using your voiceprint, based on previous calls, you just need to know your account number in fact and then, through your voiceprint, the rest of the identification process is done. It has saved a lot of time and increased reporting.It is very hard to impersonate. Like all technologies, it is not 100% but, when you combine it with knowledge-based information, i.e. your account number and the voiceprint, it is a very secure way of transacting.To date via that system the Australians state they have had no fraud via that system. He didn’t not have figures to back that up. Barclays Wealth has deployed a biometric solution.Sean Duffield You phone into Barclays Wealth. The first time you phone in, it will put you through the standard identification and verification process, asking you the third and fifth letters of your password, as you would with your bank normally. Once they have then captured your voiceprint, you are offered an enrolment, “Would you like to enrol in the process?” Most people say yes; 93%, I believe it is, say yes. Subsequently, when you phone back into the bank, you just give your account number and then, through talking to the agent for around 15 seconds of audio, that is sufficient for them to let you in to use your banking services.Just as under universal credit where people are going to have to report their income, that line was set up so that people could report their income. Obviously it cuts both ways. You do not want people falsely reporting income to people or being malicious as well, and it prevents that.

Sean Duffield stated the use case for this technology is it stops imposter fraud. Sheila Gilmore MP stated ” I am quite surprised that this has not been mentioned to us before as a possibility, because it has been one of the real problems in getting a working IT system. We were told that one of the reasons for the slowing up and so on was that this was one issue that had not been properly resolved”. Sean replied this is not new technology the technology has been around a while now. There are a number of deployments out there. As more organisations take it on, more organisations will go with it. There has been that slight element that it is new, so people have been a little wary of deployment. However, I want to emphasise that this voiceprint technology is part of this overall solution. If I do not have correct data in the first place to enrol people, I may enrol fraudsters. I need to have data based on credit histories and all of these things, so I know that I am not enrolling fraudsters in the first place. It is not the be-all and end-all; it is part of an overall solution. There are two ways you can do it: you can do it with an agent-assisted way using the say-anything technology, or you can use text-dependent technology where people have a set passphrase. If you did three-factor authentication of people that is very, very hard to sidestep

 

 

This will surely discriminate against the groups mentioned previously from my perspective if this is UC ‘sway forward. Simon Dukes stated you have to have ID assurance alongside fraud prevention as well. You have build fraud prevention into your system. The topic of identity fraud, is helped by online social networking  being a insecure way people data gather or even via conversations on train where people give details out in earshot of potential  identity fraudsters.60% online false identities are on social networks and 80% of fraud is committed online via online shopping sites such as Amazon, Ebay etc.

Jan Smith stated that via LHA’s they are identifying 10% potential fraudulent cases a week  yet some LHA are reluctant using legal and data protection citing  not to join up to data sharing, yet the Serious Crime Act of 2007 says that “public sector data can be shared with the private sector where it is to be used for prevention or investigation of fraud, but there is no clear guidance that says, “Here’s what you can share; here’s what you cannot share.” In the private sector Oral evidence: Fraud and error in the benefits system, HC 1082 15 there is; there are rules on reciprocity and there are rules on data sharing. That has been a stumbling block for us”.

Dame Angela Watkinson: Would you say that there are opportunities for the private and the public sector to work collaboratively or co-operatively together in combating fraud, to the benefit of both sectors? Mr Dukes stated I find it extraordinary that we do not!

Nigel Mills: Ms Smith, in your written submission, you quoted the Information Commissioner who said something like “responsible data sharing in a good cause is always Oral evidence: Fraud and error in the benefits system, HC 1082 17possible”. Is what you are saying that it might be possible for the Department perhaps to be a little less conservative in its approach and try to push the boundaries? She replied Exactly. Nigel Mills MP asked “In theory, it could be a condition of claiming a benefit that you let us have access to all your data, anywhere we choose to go and find it. That might be going a little bit far.”

Jan Smith: It could be a step too far.

Too blooming right it is a step too far  would they like to come and live with us too? This is way past  the point of ‘Fairness’  and a invasion of our human rights for a poxy  £71 quid a week JSA for instance. ever feel like you stepped into a matrix?

 

 

Nigel Mills: Do you think there are any further powers the Government needsto take, perhaps changing legislation or something? We saw some changes in the Prevention of Social Housing Fraud Act 2013, which allowed local authorities to ask for a range of information. Do you actually think more powers are needed or is it better use of powers that already exist?

Jan Smith: I think better use of powers that already exist and the removal of this confusion of what can and cannot be done, so you have a consistent approach, whether it is central Government or local government.

Simon Dukes: The Serious Crime Act 2007 quite clearly set up this SAFO type of organisation—a specified anti-fraud organisation—for the purpose of being able to facilitate public and private data sharing. It has not happened. Clarification of SAFO andwhat is written in the Serious Crime Act would go a long way to helping perhaps remove the logjam, and then there is a bigger cultural thing in some Departments about data sharing with the private sector. That is a different issue, but some clarification on theSerious Crime Act would go a long way.

When talking about data matching and errors that were made by HMRC which resulted in benefits being stopped  raised by Sheila Gilmore MP,  Mr Dukes commented We are talking about the differences between the challenges facing DWP and the challenges facing the private sector. You are absolutely right that DWP is going to have to pay claimants regardless of whether they have committed fraud in the past, if they are entitled to those payments. Jan Smith: All the data matching we will do will raise exceptions. It is those exceptions that need investigating. The majority of data that is held by credit reference agencies is accurate . Simon Dukes: By the fact that we are going to an online system whereby, with assurance of identity, you will be able to— Sheila Gilmore: The assurance of identity is the crucial bit.

However Lord Freud has thus far rejected joining CFIAS according to Mr Dukes who has stated that they will do that work for nothing, which the committee like the sound off  ‘something for nothing culture’ clearly runs through government dept’s. So Basically this risk management is for purpose of flagging up potential fraud.

If you have managed to stick with this exceptionally long blog ‘Well Done ‘ I will attempt to do Part Two tomorrow, health permitting where I will show how they apply methodology and talk more about fraud stats. 

http://www.parliament.uk/business/committees/committees-a-z/commons-select/work-and-pensions-committee/news/committee-hears-evidence-from-dwp-and-treasury-ministers/

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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