Posts tagged ‘disablity’

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.

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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:

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

Benefit Fraud Does it Stand Up to Scrutiny? Part Two


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

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

Watch the meeting.

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

 

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

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

Fraud and Error Monetary Costs 1.2 billion

Claimant 1.6 billion

Official 8.0 billion

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

UC Error

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

 

Secondly they are looking at Claimant Error

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

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

Claimant Error 4.2 %

Official Error 0.1%

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

The breakdown figures for both groups;

JSA  2.9%

Carers 3.9%

 

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

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

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

The methodology measures used were

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

Joint strategy budget for new measures of 425million in 2015

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Australia- A Letter to Liam Byrne


positive for disabled people

Dear Mr Byrne,

Having recently seen press releases relating to Labours vision on welfare, many disabled people are disturbed that the Australian model is even being considered, given that it is failing in Australia.

http://disabilitynewsservice.com/2013/09/labour-conference-party-hears-of-plans-to-copy-aussie-single-assessment/

http://www.socialistworld.net/mob/doc/5309

http://au.ibtimes.com/articles/497848/20130809/welfare-poverty-australia-unemployment-social-security-coalition.htm#.UlHGq41wbyM

Will the Minister guarantee that the Labour Party will not introduce the welfare card system in the UK. The arguments against this are discriminatory and will only induce further stigmatisation of claimants leading to a failure to the ‘right to live’ (Article 8 & Article 14 HRA) as others in the UK currently enjoy who are employed. It also will lead to further rises in Crime particularly Hate Crime towards those on benefits. While the government could argue it is the exception of ‘the economic welfare of the country’ this scheme would cost the taxpayer huge amounts of taxpayers’ money to implement and is NOT value for money.

Many claimants who have paid into the welfare state over their years of work life who have found themselves out of work or sick and disabled and the thought of the  dreaded ‘Welfare card ‘ in Australia forcing them to buy goods from government sanctioned suppliers when in many cases goods can be bought cheaper elsewhere. This will prevent claimants from i.e.; enjoying a family meal, buying birthday cards & presents, having a social life like meeting a friend for coffee or going to the pub for an odd drink with friends, buying petrol to get to see friends/ family members not living locally and medical appointments at hospitals and access to public transport which is limited access.

This is a national disgrace and outrage that the state should dictate a person’s life for some in society, while majority of the  UK enjoy all the freedoms afforded to them, creating a two tier system.

While many issues around lifestyle and health are also quoted as the need to make sure the money is well spent that claimants receive. Taxpayers money will be better spent and lest not forget that most sick and disabled are taxpayers too, (they pay taxes on goods and services and have done so through taxation whilst working including NI which is theoretically a scheme sold to us to help when times are tough in life’s journey). I feel the introduction of this will reflect badly around the world that the UK which prides itself on fairness and justice, to oppress it citizens like this based on a false ideology of ‘Scroungers & Skivers’.

http://www.dailytelegraph.com.au/news/centrelink-begin-welfare-ban-on-booze-tobacco/story-e6freuy9-1226415044967

http://australia.creditcards.com/credit-card-news/Australian-Welfare-Payments-go-Plastic-1265.php

http://www.liberty-human-rights.org.uk/human-rights/human-rights/the-human-rights-act/what-the-rights-mean/article-14-no-discrimination.php

http://www.liberty-human-rights.org.uk/human-rights/human-rights/the-human-rights-act/what-the-rights-mean/article-8-right-to-a-private-and-family-life.php

http://liambyrne.co.uk/making-rights-a-reality-for-disabled-people/

http://inside.org.au/how-fair-is-australia%E2%80%99s-welfare-state/

I understand completely that any government wants to make sure every penny is well spent and that the system helps those who need it the most. The localism of services which in principle would be great idea on paper but in practice would be a disaster, as many of those services are under pressure themselves at present, this however ‘well meaning’ will lead to another systemic failure of the sick and disabled who have already under this coalition suffered greatly.  Please reconsider working more closely with grassroots disabled groups and individuals to come up with a alternative, we know disability better than anyone, we live through it daily and time is running out!

IS FACEBOOK SILENCING THE SOCIAL NETWORKER ?


I havent blogged for a while, but this has slightly irritated me somewhat.

It seems in the UK and USA  Facebook is censoring it’s Users  by blocking them with their spamming tools,when they are just very active users of their accounts using the pay to go algorithm whatever that maybe?  I have since the Christmas break fell foul of this nonsense, which when you use the network as it is intended to be used  ,make friends and share information with each other across the globe.

So why have Facebook done this I ask myself…  I’m aware many countries censor their people but have the UK Users fell foul of this malpractice of making a social network unsociable! Then I found this.

I first came back and logged onto my account as usual to catch up with stuff I had missed over the festive season. it was sluggish but soon got stuff posted and shared amongst the groups I help administrate and  the odd picture I thought that amused my sense humour.  I had hardly posted maybe 20 items when I get a message flash up that clicking the share button to share a news article was seen as misuse of it purpose……I’m am sitting looking rather puzzled at this message then thought as im an activist against the barbaric cuts of the Welfare State in Uk maybe  I had annoyed the Authorities, then I sent feedback/complaint to Facebook asking why this was happening.

Silence is all I have had and numerous warnings, so I decide to set up another temp profile  till this glitch is sorted I thought, within mins of my friends being added I was warned on that too for adding too many friends. I’m like  is this a joke you just cant make up can you ?

A social network that doesn’t want users to network and share information!

“We need your help piercing through Facebook’s pay-to-share algorithm! Help us reach as many users as possible by posting about the FB Declaration of Independence on your walls, your pages’ walls and any other walls you can! To avoid having your messages inappropriately flagged as spam, make sure you change one or two characters in your messages each time you post.”

http://www.change.org/petitions/the-facebook-declaration-of-independence

https://www.facebook.com/EndCensorship

 

Only thing is no cancel button in UK

warning box

In the digital age we live in where people are glued to their smart phones and other means of communication with Twitter, Stumble, and more than I care to list, how can’t we use the tools without interference from neo libertarian rulers controlling every aspect of our lives.  The Sinister side of this are just a few examples here ; Store cards track what we buy , bank cards track our income,taxes,purchases,governments lose data like water down the drain,we are told what and when and how high to jump through hoops just to live our daily lives yet we accept this generally as the ‘norm’, when it comes to free speech though I draw the line.

Why do these people think they have a right to have free reign to bully its people without some consequence,why can a countries people not criticise it government,or challenge  their practices or say to a company providing a service they are wrong,unfair etc. The people of any country should be able to say ‘hold on a minute ‘ !

We do have a choice whether to use this media source of course,but when something has what you need all in one place why should we be forced to use another service that doesnt meet our needs.

Atos-Saint or Sinner?


This company was paid a handsome sum of money to carry out the Work Capability Assessments (WCA) by Labour in 2008. A pilot scheme was set up (after an impact assessment ) and carried out and a review showed serious flaws which Labour were in the process of addressing when they lost office. The Condem Vilification of the Sick and Disabled went into full swing like a drunk in charge of a vehicle under the supervision of Ian Duncan Smith (IDS) . A car crash was about to ensue. The WCA was changed by IDS to the cruel ,biased test we know now.The Atos contract was changed and regulations are being changed consistently to ensure his introduced targets are carried out as exposed by Dr Steven Bick,and Joyce Drummond the so-called   ‘Atos Whistleblower’. So the disability community have always thought Atos is their enemy ,when the reality is that enemy is DWP and the Government. They blame Labour for introducing this, which they did,but no way was it as cruel as it is now it was in fact fairer. Were the deaths so high under Labour ..no they were not!

I was lucky to meet with Shadow Minister last week who told a delegation of campaigners (inc myself)  what I personally had suspected for some time, Atos are the governments scapegoats for failure, rather than the Government/DWP taking responsibility for an assessment process which was already flawed, being made worse by someone at the helm who threw caution to the wind, ignored the need for an impact assessment and by any means necessary was going to remove the vital support that people needed and who change regulations like they change their underwear. Atos Dr’s ,Nurses etc are not able to use the skills they trained years for,but are now Disability Analysts. The welfare of the Sick and Disabled do not come into it, if you can work one day a week then this is what they will say,this process  IS NOT A MEDICAL that many believe it is in fact a programme to work regardless of levels ability to do so,where it is possible. I know many will be outraged by these comments but that is the stark truth,I’m not going to dress it up or give you a sticky plaster for it. It is now costing more in appeals than to implement the test itself, a 9 month wait on DLA alone for appeals.

Atos are no angels they are banned in 15 countries for mismanagement so they are not off the hook entirely and are culpable in the suffering of our community but it seems what they took on,  in many places around the globe  were factors that lead to their failures also. The Sick and Disabled know it is fair to have assessments to make sure the genuine get the help they deserve, and work where they can,but this brutal regime will only get worse with the coming changes and more cuts next year with the introduction of Universal Credit,Bedroom Tax, PIP.

Now is the time to start laying the blame where it truly lies firmly and squarely on the doorstep of our present government,and realise the fact that unless we get behind Labour the only credible alternative we will be socially cleansed out of existence. I can hear you all screaming  ‘what Labour are you kidding me’, actually no I am not,while they made an attempt to make sure disability was taken into account and their original idea was flawed they are not to blame for the last two years destruction,we have suffered under this bunch., or for the harsh changes to the WCA or the constant changes to Atos contract and the hidden targets to get 7 out of 8 off benefits.

On reflection I can honestly say hand on heart that Atos are not the real enemy like any business they are fulfilling a contract what is being asked of them and struggling to do so because the staffing levels are not up to scratch to deal with the volumes the Government/DWP are pressuring then to achieve which is why the whole thing is a catastrophe.

I like many others blamed Labour for introducing it, which is unfair of me,it amazing when you get that lightbulb moment and you open your eyes  and realise that Atos also are scapegoats and the Real Culprits are laughing all the way to the bank as they asset strip our welfare system to keep the banks and themselves afloat at our expense. I asked why the deafening silence from Labour, the reality is they do not have majority on committees, the Tories and Lib  Dem’s do, hence the lack of perceived progress from Labour, who are fighting our corner in the background with Human Rights Abuses being lodged in EHRC.

I ask everyone to rise up against this let us get this lot out of office ,LETS KICK SOME BUTT!

Is Anyone Listening? Is this How The German People Were Fooled by Nazi Ideology!


This blog is with kind permision of Fiona Goffe

There is a campaign of hate and bullying against the most vulnerable in our society – the sick and disabled.  The changes in the system of benefits is causing people not just unneccessary suffering but people are dying because of it.

I hope that you will read this and share it.

It seems to me that unless people are directly affected they don’t want to know.  But this is something that could be stopped if there was enough of a public outcry.

My father spent time in concentration camps during WW11 and was marched through the streets of Germany.  The question he, and I, always asked was how could the ordinary German people have allowed this to happen?  Now I understand.  They were too busy ‘coping with their own lives’, trying to make themselves feel better by partying, drinking, focussing on the good things, in denial, felt powerless etc etc.  And yet they stand accused of guilt by association.  We all know they could have done more to stop what was happening.

The same applies to us, today.  And yet I find that even on FB it is only those people who have been directly affected that take an interest.  People can’t even be bothered to read stuff, let alone go to the trouble of pressing a button and sharing the stories that demonstrate the depth of this crisis, the despair that people around them are experiencing or even the horror at the number of deaths.

People seem happy to share pretty, funny pictures, to share that they care about disasters and crimes in other places, to show their concern about animals, the environment etc etc.  And so am I, don’t get me wrong.  But they don’t want to know about what is going on under their noses, in their name.

We all know that stress makes you sick.  If you are sick it makes you sicker.  If you are very weak it can kill you.  Trying to get the benefits you are entitled to to ensure you can live while you deal with illness is incredibly stressful.

The number of people who have died is horrifying and this is a crisis that could affect you, your family and anyone that you love.

Below is acouple of stories and an article that was written with some early statistics in.

I feel so frustrated that we do not seem to be getting across to the general public how serious this is.

The Motto of this government is that work makes people healthier.

Above the gates of Auschwitz is said “Arbeit Macht Frei” (Work makes you free).  Pretty similar eh?

Remember:

First They Came – Pastor Martin Niemoller

First they came for the Communists

And I did not speak out

Because I was not a Communist

Then they came for the Socialists

And I did not speak out

Because I was not a Socialist

Then they came for the trade unionists

And I did not speak out

Because I was not a trade unionist

Then they came for the Jews

And I did not speak out

Because I was not a Jew

Then they came for me

And there was no one left

To speak out for me

TODAY:

“Paul Mickleburgh, one of the world’s longest surviving kidney dialysis patients is hooked up to a dialysis machine for five hours, three days a week. He’s also had cancer and pneumonia and suffers from spontaneous internal bleeding, brittle bones a twisted bowel and agonising joint pains as a result of his renal treatment. He’s had four failed kidney donations.

To top it all off, Paul has had 14 heart attacks in the last five years and believes his last attack was caused in part by the stress of trying to deal with the DWP. Sadly, patients with chronic kidney disease are actually more likely to die from associated heart disease than from kidney failure itself.

In spite of this, Paul has been placed in the work-related activity group,(external link) meaning that he is someone who is expected to return to the workplace in the reasonably near future. Paul’s request for this dreadful decision to be looked at again came back with the same result – he should be moving towards a return to work.

We hope that Paul is now appealing . . . and that his heart will stand the stress.”  (From the Work and Pensions website)

THIS WEEK:

RIP Karen Sherlock  (From diary of a benefit Scounger/Spartacus)

I just found out that Karen Sherlock, @pusscat01 has passed away.

Here is here twitter profile : “Chronic Spoonie, lots wrong. ESA stopped by this inhumane government. Preparing for dialysis. Each day is tough.”

Karen embodied our fight in almost every way. She was desperately ill. Her kidneys were failing, putting a huge strain on her body. Ultimately it seems she died of a cardiac arrest. An operation had recently been cancelled at the last minute, though I have no idea why or if it is relevant to her death.

She had been found capable of some work by the DWP. Placed in the Work Related Activity Group, her Employment and Support Allowance was time limited to one year after the welfare reform bill went through. Not only that, but it was limited retrospectively, meaning that she only had a few months left to appeal for long term support (Support Group) before she lost everything.

I won’t go into more detail here. It’s not for me to list her complaints and trials, but there is one thing everyone in this country should know.

She was terrified. Beside herself with fear. She lived her last months desperately scared that her family would not survive the onslaught it faced. She was “the most vulnerable” whatever that is. The system failed her and she spent her last precious moments in this world fighting. For herself, for her family and for others. She was one of us. She was Spartacus. And now she’s dead and she died in fear because the system failed her, because cruel men refused listen and powerful men refused to act. She spent her last months fighting for the “security” of £96 a week and the reassurance that it couldn’t be taken away. She won her battle. Just two weeks ago she was finally put into the Support Group of ESA. After months of unbearable stress, resilient commitment and endurance beyond comprehension, she won her battle.But she lost her war and we must all make sure that whatever comes, we win that war in her name and in the names of the many thousands more fighting for life and dignity. RIP Karen. We WON’T forget you.

From Scottish Law Blogspot:

BRITAIN — HUNDREDS OF SCOTS DEAD as FOI reveals thousands DIE in UK as a RESULT OF TORY-LIBDEM BENEFITS ‘TESTS’ by ATOS Healthcare.

OVER ONE THOUSAND PEOPLE HAVE DIED as a direct result of ‘reforms’ to benefits payouts ordered by the Conservative Liberal-Democrat Coalition Government in Westminster, with likely to be HUNDREDS OF SCOTS also among the dead, according to information published by the media after Freedom of Information responses revealed over 32 people are dying a week after having passed through work capability assessments carried out by by private firm ATOS, on a £100million a year contract to the ConDem coalition Westminster Government. ATOS made a £42million profit in 2010 and paid boss Keith Wilman £800,000, a 22% pay rise on the previous year.

With the revelations of the numbers of dead, Scots may now be entitled to ask – “Would a Scottish Government of an Independent Scotland hire a French based firm for £100million a year to do the same to Scots citizens and cause as many deaths ?” (errm No ! – Ed)

The Daily Mirror newspaper reports :

32 DIE A WEEK AFTER FAILING TEST FOR NEW INCAPACITY BENEFIT

More than a thousand ­sickness benefit claimants died last year after being told to get a job, we can reveal. We’ve highlighted worries about the controversial medical tests for people claiming Employment Support Allowance which are being used to slash the country’s welfare bill. The Government has boasted that more than half of new ­claimants are found “fit to work” – failing to mention that over 300,000 have appealed the decision and almost 40% have won. Instead, employment minister Chris Grayling says this ­”emphasises what a complete waste of human lives the current system has been”.

We’ve used the Freedom of Information Act to discover that, between January and August last year, 1,100 claimants died after they were put in the “work-related activity group”. This group – which accounted for 21% of all claimants at the last count – get a lower rate of benefit for one year and are expected to go out and find work. This compares to 5,300 deaths of people who were put in the “support group” – which accounts for 22% of claimants – for the most unwell, who get the full, no-strings benefit of up to £99.85 a week.

We don’t know how many people died after being found “fit to work”, the third group, as that information was “not available”. But we have also found that 1,600 people died before their assessment had been completed. This should take 13 weeks, while the claimant gets a reduced payment of up to £67.50 a week, but delays have led to claims the system is in “meltdown”.

Mr Grayling admitted last month that 35,000 people are waiting longer than 13 weeks. Commenting on the deaths of ­claimants, a Department for Work and Pensions official said: “It is possible that the claimant had already closed their claim and then ­subsequently died, meaning that these figures may be ­overestimating the true picture.” Of course, they’re bound to include some people who died of ­something completely unrelated to their benefit claim.

But there are plenty of tragic cases – such as that of David Groves (left) who died from a heart attack the night before taking his work ­capability assessment. The 56-year-old, from Staveley, Derbyshire, worked for 40 years as a miner and telecoms engineer but stopped on doctors’ orders after an earlier heart attack and a string of strokes. His widow Sandra said: “When Dave was called in for a medical, he felt like he was back to square one. “He was in a terrible state by the day he died. It was the stress that killed him, I’m sure.”

Stephen Hill, 53, of Duckmanton, Derbyshire, died of a heart attack in December, one month after being told he was “fit to work”, even though he was waiting for major heart surgery. Citizens Advice told us it has found “a number of cases” of people dying soon after being found fit for work. “There seems to be a clear link between the cause of death and the condition they were suffering from that led to the claim,” said Katie Lane, head of welfare policy.

“We have always supported the idea that people who could work and want to work should be helped to do that. But we are seeing a lot of seriously ill and disabled people being found fit for work. “We have serious concerns about whether the test used to decide if people are fit for work is the right test.” The work capability assessments are carried out by private firm Atos, on a £100million a year contract. The firm made a £42million profit in 2010 and paid boss Keith Wilman £800,000, a 22% pay rise on the previous year.

The response to our FOI request:

Thank you for your Freedom of Information request of 16 February 2012. You asked:

Can you please provide me with the number of ESA claimants who have died in 2011?

Can you please break down that number into the following categories:• Those who are in the assessent phase• Those who have been found fit to work• Those who have been placed in the work related activity group• Those who have been placed in the support group• Those who have an appeal pending

The table below provides data on the numbers of Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) claimants where the Department holds information on a date of death being recorded in 2011 and whose latest Work Capability Assessment (WCA) date (or activity towards assessment) was before the end of August 2011, the latest data available.

In total, between January 2011 and August 2011, some 8,000 claims ended and a date of death was recorded within six weeks of the claim end. This represents about 1% of the total ESA caseload in May 2011 (the latest caseload data available). The table below shows the position of these claims when they were closed.

Those in the Support Group receive unconditional support due to the nature of their illness, which can include degenerative conditions, terminal illness and severe disability. Note it is possible that the claimant had already closed their claim and then subsequently died, meaning that these figures may overestimate the true picture. Care should therefore be taken when interpreting these figures.

WCA Outcome at most recent assessment and number of claimants with a recorded date of death :

Assessment not complete 1,600Work Related Activity Group 1,100Support Group 5,300Total 8,000

All figures have been rounded to the nearest 100.

Data on the number of ESA claimants that have died following a fit for work decision is not available, as the Department does not hold information on a death if the person has already left benefit. The Department does not hold information on the number of claimants who died whilst an appeal was in progress.

We then asked for: The total Employment and Support Allowance caseload figures most comparable with the ones in the FOI request, eg Jan-Aug 2011, showing how many ESA claimants are put in support group, WRAG group, fit to work or claim ended. Clarification on whether these figures are only new ESA claims or whether they include the transfer from Incapacity Benefit? Clarification on the six-week cut off figure – why was that selected?

We were told:

“As at August 2011 there were around 730,000 people receiving ESA. In the three quarters Jan-Sep 2011, 380,000 people left ESA.

It is not possible to provide the further detail you request. These figures only cover new ESA claims – claims from IB recipients are not included. The six-week figure is used routinely within the department when looking at where people go after leaving benefits.”

http://scottishlaw.blogspot.co.uk/2012/05/hundreds-of-scots-dead-as-foi-reveals.html

further additions to this blog  are;

With this publication we now have figures for the whole of the financial year 2010/11.

They show: 0.8% of benefit spending is overpaid due to fraud, amounting to £1.2 billion, and that this proportion is the same as in 2009/10.

If we look at the estimates for different benefits, they are:

Retirement Pension 0.0%;

Incapacity Benefit 0.3%;

Disability Living Allowance 0.5%;

Council Tax Benefit 1.3%;

Housing Benefit 1.4%;

Pension Credit 1.6%;

Income Support 2.8%;

Jobseeker’s Allowance 3.4%;

Carer’s Allowance 3.9%.

http://statistics.dwp.gov.uk/asd/asd2/fem/fem_preliminary_1112_revised.pdf

http://blogs.independent.co.uk/2012/08/03/its-not-the-benefit-fraudsters-who-are-targeted-in-the-media-its-the-disabled/

http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2012/08/13/daily-mail-rightminds-article-graduates-nazi-auschwitz-slogan_n_1772110.html

http://www.guardian.co.uk/theguardian/2012/aug/05/disability-benefits?fb=native&CMP=FBCNETTXT9038

While I agree the similarities are very  scary it has to be said, it thankfully has not gone that far as yet but many fear it will!

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