Posts tagged ‘disability’

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/

 

Tory MP Dismisses Disabled Activist Live on TV


Watch The  Video Here…..

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

STATE CRIME BY PROXY: corporate influence on state sanctioned social harm


An independent report by Mo Stewart

 

Abstract

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

 

Introduction

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

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

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

Background

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

The Waddell-Aylward biopsychosocial model

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Conclusion

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

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

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

 

Acknowledgements

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

Funding

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

 

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

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

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

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

15

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mo Stewart February 2017

© 2017 Mo Stewart

Nobody is Unfit For Work Anymore


Reblogged from Black Triangle & DPAC

 

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

The Human Cost Of Austerity


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What is the Human Cost of Austerity?

Well for most working people it not affected them yet, they actually have been least hit, unless you’re on low pay poverty wages .The pensioners are ‘untouchable’ as far as political ideology is concerned,but for some of the most vulnerable groups they have been affected the most and they are ones least likely to be able to take the hit of both financial and personally as they have least means for survival. the last 6yrs has seen sick & disabled people penalised the most, resulting in fatalities that should shock anyone with a ounce of humanity in their souls.

Why has this been allowed to happen I hear people cry, well I will tell you why …because you allowed it to happen by not standing up for a fair society for all!

A colleague Kitty Jones summed up this in one of her thought provoking quotes Read more here ..  https://kittysjones.wordpress.com/

Neoliberalism is based on competitive individualism. In such a competitive system it’s inevitable that there will be a few “winners” and many “losers”. That’s what “competition” means. It means no rewards for most people – inequality and poverty for the 99%. It’s not possible to “work hard” to change this. It’s built into the very system. Therefore it’s hardly fair or appropriate for a government to blame and punish people for the failings of their own imposed dominant ideology – a political and economic mode of organisation – which most ordinary people did not intentionally choose.

 

The fact is this Government blames anyone and everyone but themselves and they spout on about ‘people taking responsibility’ which is all well and good in ideal world but the one we live in now is a far more dark and frightening space. It uses behavioural conditioning to pit one section of society against the other  in a global hunger games like experiment you would see in an apocalyptic movie, but its not a movie , for many it a reality of daily struggle in some mind bending experiment of your nightmares.

Again Kitty Jones points this out well

The Tory mindset is very disciplinarian. In their view, everyone else needs “corrective treatment” to ensure that society is shaped and ruled the way they think it ought to be. The government believes that rather than addressing social problems – many of which are created and perpetuated by their own policies, such as growing inequality and absolute poverty – can be addressed by “incentivising” people to “behave” differently. In other words, they believe that people can be punished out of poverty, being ill, being out of work, and being less “competitive”, cost effective citizens, letting down the conservative’s constructed, overarching neoliberal state.

The government is conducting behavioural experiments on the public without their consent, to fulfil the needs of government, rather than the needs of the public. This turns democracy totally on its head. Citizens are being coerced to act as the government deems necessary to fulfil conservative notions of cost reduction and “efficiency” – such as their notion of a low tax, low welfare society. “Living within our means” means austerity for the poorest, tax cuts for the rich => growing inequality and poverty.

The government mindset: “Psychology as a behaviorist views it is a purely objective experimental branch of natural science. Its theoretical goal is … prediction and control.” From – https://gcs.civilservice.gov.uk/…/GCSBehaviourChangeGuideJu…

And: “Behaviour change is one of the primary functions of government communications – helping change and save lives, helping the government run more effectively as well as save taxpayer’s money.

Our approach is to use a mix of awareness raising, persuasion, practical help and behavioural theory, to demonstrate why changes in behaviour are important and to make these changes easy for the public to adopt.”

Making changes “easy to adopt” sounds like choices are being offered, however, the use of “incentives” includes rigid, coercive measures such as welfare sanctions and savage cuts to public support and services.

A government that imposes policies on citizens using coercion is not “democratic.” It’s a government displaying some very worrying totalitarian tendencies.

 

 

As this governments ideology marches on towards it goal of dismantling the Welfare State,NHS social care and redefining chronic sickness & disability (as in to eradicate it ) ,and  child poverty at alarming rates, a government which stokes racial disharmony , and homelessness which will swamp streets in every part of the UK then we are heading for very troubled waters indeed . In April the two child policy comes in, further cuts to a variety of benefits that people receive and the process of getting them made almost impossible to get, and enforced treatment of some claimants to make them fit for work with a very dangerous Health & Work programme  later this year,  will cause preventable harm to many and most likely more deaths that go hand in hand with Mental Health issues, poverty,malnutrition etc that we can barely see the apocalypse coming as so many are blinded by their own survival and greed.

 

What sort of legacy are we leaving our children and future generations? One where human life is deemed worthless and disposable, christ we only need to look at what damage we do to the planet we live on and the destruction that is causing to see this a road of no return.

Unless we wake up, Mad Max will become a reality and those left behind will not have the coping strategies to cope and the knowledge of their forefathers will be lost forever.

They say history repeats itself, well yes it does, because we still haven’t learned to value what’s precious and not repeat past horrors like both wars where humans are brutalised and then become emotionally disconnected because it is too painful to see or feel. This has to change if we are to make a real difference and that change can start with ourselves and join together to unite against what is wrong.

People think they do not have power to change things so become accepting but collectively we do have power  and thats what scares governments the most. It is time to wake from your slumber and rise up like lions to defend life and create a better world for all.

It is  time to put our differences aside and work together as a collective to achieve changes we wish to happen!

Psychological Wellbeing and Work-Mo Stewart


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Guest Blog by Mo Stewart

Dear Christian van Stolk

Re: Psychological Wellbeing and Work

Please excuse this unsolicited contact by an independent researcher in Cambridge.

I have read with interest the Psychological Wellbeing and Work report, as conducted by RAND Europe and funded by the Contestable Policy Fund and, FYI, please be advised that I am a former healthcare professional in my previous career.

I shall copy in the Secretary of State for Health, who now leads on mental health, and his Shadow together with the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions and his Shadow.

Now in my 8th year of independent research into the ongoing welfare reforms in the UK, as guided by neoliberal politics and strongly influenced by American social security policies which have had a detrimental impact on claimants, may I please draw your attention to the book ‘Cash Not Care: the planned demolition of the UK welfare state’, which has achieved critical acclaim since its publication in September 2016.

To that end, may I suggest you invite access to the research by contacting my publisher and inviting a review copy of the book.

 This recent book review may be helpful: http://www.disabilitynewsservice.com/disabled-researchers-book-exposes-corporate-demolition-of-welfare-state/

It is cause for continued concern that major DWP policies, often negatively impacting on the wellbeing of some very ill and vulnerable people, are invariably introduced using research commissioned by the DWP, whilst disregarding the vast catalogue of distinguished research evidence as provided by a variety of academic experts when not commissioned by the DWP and whose funding is not linked to political ideology.  Please see attached examples of academic excellence.

It is noted that your report refers to ‘work’, which exclusively identifies with paid employment and disregards the beneficial nature enjoyed by an army of volunteers in the UK, many of whom are chronically ill or profoundly disabled and for whom a return to paid employment is neither practical nor inducive to their wellbeing. As a volunteer, it is possible to benefit from a working environment with colleagues and a purpose when well enough and enjoying a ‘good day’.  There is no-one to make accusations when too ill to leave the house, with a diagnosed condition that will never improve regardless of DWP intimidation and threats.

In keeping with reported comments by David Freud, all DWP commissioned research seems to presume that anyone in receipt of out-of-work disability benefits should have access to the benefits for the short-term, with no acknowledgement at all that many, many health conditions are permanent, cannot improve  especially with endless intimidation and coercion by the DWP, and that there is no evidence whatsoever other than totally discredited DWP commissioned research of the claimed one million people on out-of-work disability benefit who should or could return to work.

It is also noted that a report identified as ‘Psychological Wellbeing and Work’ disregards the ongoing identified preventable harm created by the DWP, the relentless political manipulation of the public with claims for which there is no foundation, suggesting that 75% of claimants of out-of-work disability benefits are ‘inactive’,  ‘bogus’, ‘idle’, ‘skiving’, ‘workshy’ and ‘scrounging’.  This has created a situation where chronically ill people, who are not capable of paid employment, now live in fear of the DWP following relentless coercion and intimidation, aided by the national press, which led to a 213% increase in disability hate crimes in the UK during the Coalition government’s term in office, and genuine claimants now living in fear of applying for welfare funding to which they are entitled, to this nation’s everlasting shame.

There are now claimants who have starved to death in the UK, quite literally, as the unreserved and savage use of sanctions has been imposed by the DWP in an effort to force compliance of the unprecedented DWP welfare ‘reforms’ on those least able to protest.

The most vulnerable in society are paying a high price for the political ideology of neoliberalism, some with their lives.

Suicides and deaths are the tip of the iceberg of misery and suffering on an unimaginable scale experienced by those who

are physically or mentally unfit to work, as the government implements an increasingly punitive and authoritarian regime

against benefit claimants. Vulnerable people are left destitute by sanctions that suspend or end their benefits if they fail

to comply with orders to attend ‘assessments’, ‘training courses’, or submit the required number of job applications.

Psycho politics, neoliberal governmentality and austerity

Philip Thomas

Self & Society Journal

Volume 44, 2016 – Issue 4

Perhaps, when considering future interventions for mental health, Consultant Psychologists and Psychiatrists who are not politically motivated could be consulted as they actually have clinical experience of working with ‘common mental health’ problems, which should not imply that they are not serious problems, and they are less inclined to have the welfare budget as their top priority as opposed to the wellbeing of often very ill patients.

It seems unlikely that more coercion by Jobcentre Plus and the DWP, when masquerading as psychological support, is likely to benefit sufferers of mental ill health, who are not known to respond well to relentless intimidation with endless threats of sanctions and the possibility of starvation close to their lived experience.

The travesty of this ongoing government imposed human suffering, where chronically ill people in receipt of welfare benefits are presumed to be bogus, was adopted due to the introduction of neoliberal politics, the outsourcing to private companies very lucrative DWP contracts and the failure to audit the contracts.  Chronically ill people have suffered and died due to political ideology that is unrelated to the health or the welfare of the claimants, and was motivated by the desire to reduce welfare costs regardless of human consequences. The fact that the DWP have refused to publish updated mortality totals of those who have died following the totally discredited Work Capability Assessment may alert you to the ongoing problems, as faced by those least able to defend themselves against this ideological assault.

See: http://www.disabilitynewsservice.com/green-party-calls-on-government-to-launch-benefit-deaths-inquiry/

I would alert you to the fact that a great deal of the identified increased mental health problems are due entirely to the DWP policies of recent years, where all chronically ill and disabled people in need of welfare benefits are presumed to be bogus unless proven otherwise, the constant savage rhetoric in the national press, the increases in disability hate crimes and the fact that the British public have been successfully misdirected on route to the UK eventually adopting private healthcare insurance to replace the welfare state.

Your research will no doubt benefit administrators in the DWP and the DoH, but will not benefit anyone suffering from a common mental health problem as enforced ‘therapy’ may well now be added to their many burdens for the enormous crime of being too ill to work. The fact that what was once guaranteed and vital financial support has been removed actually guaranteed an increase in the onset of mental health problems, for those who are physically disabled as well as for those with a mental health diagnosis as their primary health problem.

I trust this information may be helpful.

Best

Mo Stewart

Disabled veteran (WRAF)

Disability studies researcher

Retired healthcare professional

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

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

www.whywaitforever.com/dwpatosveterans.html#documents

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.

 

 

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/

 

 

 

 

Telling It Straight-Disabled People Lives at Risk from Further Ideology on Welfare Reform


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Yesterday The Reform Think Tank published its second report with a further one to come before the white paper is published later this year, recommendations in this report will fuel the fear project inflicted by the Tories on those who are considered the most vulnerable whom they promised to protect. Its proposals call for a Single Working Age Benefit (SWAB) while claiming it is not a cost cutting exercise. These folks are so detached from the real lives of those  suffering disability or chronic sickness  it is an indictment of the discourse between policy and real life experience written by non other than IDS lackey Charlotte Pickles. She spent two years as Expert Adviser to Iain Duncan Smith, Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, helping to design and deliver the Government’s welfare agenda. Before that she was Policy Director at the Centre for Social Justice . So this is hardly impartial and often a pre-curser for Tory policies in the pipeline.

What does this mean for you as a person with a disability or a chronically sick person, ‘hell in a cart’ where they slash benefits and support  needed to live independently. I apologise if this blog is long but you need to know the implications this will have, I cannot sugar coat it or contain my disgust at the disdain shown to those on the receiving end of this frankly disgusting ideology which smacks of 1930 nazism reinforcing the Deserving /Undeserving Poor Rhetoric . We saw recently the Lords reject the cut to ESA of £30 week which will punish cancer patients and others while they need financial support which will go back to the Commons to be further debated,while Cameron stated those with cancer should be in Support Group we know in reality  many are misplaced in Wrag Group and subjected to conditionality of either looking for a job or bullied until they return to work before they are fully recovered if that is indeed a reality for them.The employment rate for disabled people in
the UK is just 48 per cent.

So lets look at just a few of the proposals by this report ;

Shortly after becoming Secretary of State for Work and Pensions in 2010, Iain Duncan
Smith announced his ambition to create “[a] welfare system that is fit for the 21st
Century.”9 In 2015 he argued that Universal Credit (UC) “opens the way for us to re-think
the relationship between sickness benefits and work.”10 This paper outlines the structural
reforms that would maximise UC’s impact for people with health conditions. The package
of reforms cover the benefit rate, gateway and conditionality. They are not about costsaving,
but building a more coherent, effective and personalised benefit system.
The difference in the benefit level for unemployed people compared to that for people with
significant health conditions is sizeable – and under UC the gap will widen.The Government should
therefore set a single rate for out-of-work benefit.

The savings from this rate reduction should be reinvested into Personal Independence Payment which contributes to the
additional costs incurred by someone with a long-term condition and into support
services.

1A single out-of-work allowance should be established, removing all out-of-work
disability-related premiums.
>> Time-limited transitional protection should be provided for current Employment
and Support Allowance support group claimants.
>> The single out-of-work allowance should be uprated by a more generous
mechanism that better reflects the inflation experience of beneficiaries.
2. The savings from moving to a single out-of-work allowance should be reinvested
into increased rates for Disability Living Allowance and Personal Independence
Payment and increased provision of support programmes to help claimants move
back into work.

The current requirement to provide a ‘fit note’ from a GP should be scrapped

6. As part of the Occupational Health Assessment, where appropriate claimants should
co-produce an occupational health plan with their health adviser. This should be
accompanied by a personal budget that is unlocked by a ‘dual key’ of claimant and
specialist employment adviser. This should facilitate implementation of the plan to
assist the claimant in moving closer to the labour market by treating or managing
their condition.

The latter will most likely be be through IAPT/CBT  and work choice programmes currently planned pilot in Islington GP practices and Work Coaches.

Link ;  http://www.islington.gov.uk/advice/employment/employment-commission/Pages/default.aspx

Although the introduction of a WRAG was intended to tackle this by recognising an
individual’s remaining work capacity, in the quarter up to May 2015, only around one per
cent of WRAG claimants left the benefit. In addition, the majority (almost 75 per cent) of
post-assessment ESA claimants are assigned to the support group where the absence of
any work expectation reinforces the negative messaging that they cannot work.

The report looks at both the New Zealand ,Sweden,Danish Models and ways they think UK can follow suit. The Chancellor George Osbourne  said in his summer budget;

In the 2015 Summer Budget, the Chancellor acknowledged the unintended
consequences of the system:
The Employment and Support Allowance was supposed to end some of the perverse
incentives in the old Incapacity Benefit. Instead it has introduced new ones. One of
these is that those who are placed in the work-related activity group receive more
money a week than those on Job Seekers [sic] Allowance, but get nothing like the help
to find suitable employment.
He announced that, from April 2017 and for new claimants, the ESA WRAG component
and the UC equivalent Limited Capability for Work (LCW) element would be aligned to that
of JSA. This contrasts with the support group which retains the relevant ESA component,
and in UC the LCWRA element. Once UC is rolled out, this means that those on the UC
standard allowance (around £73 a week) will receive half the payment that those on the
standard allowance plus the LCWRA element will get (around £146 a week). As well as
this, from April 2016, a four-year freeze is being applied to all out-of-work benefits
excluding ESA support group, which continues to be uprated by the Consumer Price
Index, further expanding the differential.

This represents a growing incentive for people to be assigned to the support group. Dr
Paul Litchfield raised concerns about making the support group more attractive in relation
to time-limiting contributory ESA WRAG. In his year five independent review of the WCA
he argued:
Time limiting applies only to those placed in the WRAG and therefore increases the
existing financial incentive for individuals to be placed in the support group, if they need
to remain on the benefit beyond 12 months.
With limited access to employment support and no work-related conditionality, people in
the support group are completely detached from the labour market. This is particularly
concerning given that, according to one survey of ESA recipients, 52 per cent of support
group claimants said they “currently want to work.”

All out-of-work disability-related premiums should be removed from the current system,
along with the LCWRA component in UC. This would leave a single out-of-work
allowance. The level at which this allowance is set must balance multiple and often
competing objectives. These include poverty alleviation, fairness, sustainability and
incentivising work. Ultimately, the precise rate will be a political judgement, but
maintaining work incentives will likely mean a rate that is not that dissimilar to the current
JSA/UC standard allowance rate.

1.2.1 The vision:

Absent any transitional protection or reinvestment in other benefits, this would mean
sizeable loses for those currently in receipt of the premiums, and ‘notional losses’ for
future claimants. The average weekly payment for those in the ESA support group, which
includes the ESA component and disability-related premiums, is around £131.105 Under
UC, anyone in the support group will receive the LCWRA element in addition to standard
allowance, taking their weekly payment to around £146. This means a loss, on average,
of around £58 per week under the current system and a loss of around £73 under UC. For
those receiving the maximum possible amount of disability-related premiums under the
current system, the loss will be higher.
1.2.1.2 Transitional protection
Implementing a single out-of-work rate would require some form of transitional protection
to avoid a ‘cliff-edge’ effect. One option would be to create a time-limited support group
cash payment – replacing the existing component and disability premiums – to be
withdrawn over that set time period. For example, over three years a £60 a week payment
(roughly the average loss) could be reduced by £20 each year. . £131 is the average
weekly amount paid to single people in the ESA support group.

1 Working welfare / The rate therefore less attractive option would be to replicate, in part, the approach taken in UC:
the actual amount lost by each individual claimant as a result of the reform could be
frozen in cash terms (as per UC losers), but unlike UC also reduced over time (i.e. not just
left to erode naturally with inflation). That time period could vary according to the size of
the loss, for example by a set amount, say £20 a week, each year until it was fully
removed. This would not only add complication, but also take longer to reach the new
system, and thus longer to release the savings for reinvestment. The former is therefore
the preferred option.1.2.1.3 Maintaining benefit value
Successive uprating decisions that have applied below inflation increases to many
working-age benefits have eroded their value. Without the caps of the last Parliament and
the freeze which will be applied in April 2016 for four years, JSA and the UC standard
allowance would have been almost £80 a week in 2019-20 – 8.5 per cent a week higher
than they will actually be.106 In Updating uprating: towards a fairer system, Reform argued
that the Government should scrap the benefits freeze and look to implement a fairer
uprating mechanism for income-replacement benefits that better reflects their inflation
experience.107 This, in short, would mean a more generous uprating policy: one that would
track more closely rises in beneficiary living costs.
Recommendation 1
A single out-of-work allowance should be established, removing all out-of-work
disability-related premiums.
>> Time-limited transitional protection should be provided for current Employment
and Support Allowance support group claimants.
>> The single out-of-work allowance should be uprated by a more generous
mechanism that better reflects the inflation experience of beneficiaries.
1.2.2 Reinvesting the savings
The move to a single out-of-work benefit is not about saving money but about creating a
simpler, more coherent system. As such, the savings resulting from removing the
disability-related additions to the standard allowance should be reinvested into extra
costs benefits (PIP) and support services. Determining how best to split the savings
between these areas is also a political decision.
1.2.2.1 Investing in extra cost benefits
DLA and its working-age replacement benefit, PIP, are designed to contribute to extra
costs incurred by someone with a long-term health condition. Eligibility is not based on a
specific condition or disability, but the impact it has on the individual. It is paid both in and
out of work and is not means-tested or taxed. PIP has two components, daily living and
mobility, and each has two rates, standard and enhanced. In replacing DLA, the then
Minister for Disabled People, Maria Miller, argued that PIP would “create a new, more
active and enabling benefit.”The Coalition Government argued that PIP would be
“easier to understand, more efficient and will support disabled people who face the
greatest challenges to remaining independent and leading full and active lives.” By
introducing an objective assessment, and removing the lower rates of DLA, the Coalition
expected to reduce the caseload – focusing the new benefit on those with the greatest
need.Existing policy will see this spend reduced further. From April 2017, the Work Programme,
along with Work Choice, a voluntary employment programme for disabled people costing
around £80 million a year,125 will be merged into a new Health and Work Programme. This
will cater for claimants with health conditions or disabilities and those who have been
unemployed for over two years, with estimated funding of just £130 million a year.126 This
represents a cut in the main components of employment support spend of around 80 per
cent.

So is this the death knell for those placed in Support Group,  given many are being invited into a work focused interview to see if they would like to work, under a guise yet again by this slimy bastard Government.are they planning to make everyone a Jobseeker you bet your arse they are!

Along with PIP being sucked into the factoring of this report proposing higher PIP premiums to compensate for  any losses  under SWAB ,does this mean PIP will  become means tested in the future?

Many on PIP are losing their vehicles which allow those who can to work. It seems to me a bit of an own goal to remove their means to get to work when Public transport is an issue for disabled people and not fit for purpose.

Best get some Work Clothes/Boots while you still have little money left before they come snatch it all away and drag you out your sick bed  and into your wheelchair at 6am to force you onto public transport which is unusable for the majority, let alone those with Mental Health conditions who never leave their homes and the damage this will cause,  in cost to the human beings within this bloody experiment this government is dogmatically pushing forward even if the reality of evidence  does not support this position.

Now is the time to make a stand  otherwise they will cause untold harm to thousands, don’t leave it to someone else there are many ways you can stand up and be counted,Get involved !

 

 

Link to Reform report ;   http://www.reform.uk/publication/working-welfare-a-radically-new-approach-to-sickness-and-disability-benefits/

Bernadette Meaden viewpoint ;   http://www.ekklesia.co.uk/node/22694

http://www.prospectmagazine.co.uk/politics/disability-benefits-incapacity-benefit-iain-duncan-smith-welfare-perverse-incentives?utm_content=buffercdcb9&utm_medium=social&utm_source=twitter.com&utm_campaign=buffer

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

 

 

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