Posts tagged ‘social networking’

Truth About Welfare Budgets and the Taxpayers Money


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Nearly everyday in the press or  TV or on social media we hear that cry “Why should I pay my taxes to keep lazy scroungers in life on comfort, get a bloody job!”  Well guess what those decrying benefit claimants are predominantly the ones claiming and the ones also using food banks and Housing Benefit/Council Tax/SMI (supported mortgage interest)  to top up their low incomes because their wages are minimum at best.

Well I suggest the next time you bash claimants for having that big TV  or Wi, Xbox,  think again, because you are also one of those claimants. Many claimants had lives before unemployment struck them  which afforded them such items, many had them before they became disabled and too ill to continue , and most of them also paid their taxes and still do pay stealth taxes like VAT  except those born so severely disabled they need 24/7 care which is fine they shouldn’t be expected to help ,we should help them remain living independently.

It still shock me that people are so ill-informed, ignorant or gullible to swallow the rhetoric from both Tories and Lib Dems & Labour benches. It also annoys me those who blame immigrants for taking jobs etc which is total bullshit to turn groups of people against each other so we don’t keep an eye on the ball to how much our elected leaders take so much more of your hard-earned taxes to offshore in a bank account in Jersey  or Cayman’s.

Seriously People need to wake the fuck up and get a grip of their bigoted views and selfish attitudes of ‘Im Alright Jack’ mentality. What about care ,compassion and some humanity for those not so fortunate, after all it can happen anytime to anyone. we are one pay packet away from losing a job in today’s climate, one accident from being so seriously disabled, and many who do take carers roles within the family unit are paid very little and save this country a fortune, selflessly giving up their hopes and dreams to care for their loved ones.

 

I have copied the following from Oliver James UK Blog the link is below

http://oliverjamesopinion.org/2014/02/03/10-facts-about-benefits-britain/

 

1)      A TUC survey showed that people think around 41% of benefits go to the unemployed, the real figure is 2.6%.   (1)

2)      42% of the Welfare Bill goes to pensioners, 21% goes to people in low paid work.   (2)

3)      Nearly 80% of JSA claimants stop claiming within 6 months.   (3)

4)      Of the 7.8 million families receiving child benefit, 1.2 million have more than two children.   (4)

5)      A TUC survey found that people think around 27% of welfare is lost to fraud – the real figure is only 0.7%, around £1.2 billion.   (5)

6)      Around £17 billion of benefits that people are entitled to goes unclaimed every year.   (6)

7)      Immigrants are 60% less likely to claim benefits than a British-born person.   (7)

8)      64% of families receive benefits – that’s 20.3 million families.   (8)

9)      The UK spends 12% less on benefits per head than France does, and 19% less compared to Germany.   (9)

10)  93% of new Housing Benefit claimants in 2010 and 2011 came from working people, as UK housing costs are the 3rd highest in Europe.   (10)  (10)

 

So next time you feel superior and get indignant on how your taxes are spent think before you speak, because I’m sure when you do you will see the truth behind this governments rhetoric. Instead look at the messengers of hatred and their profit driven ideologies you will find that is where your hard-earned taxes are being wasted and stored.

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Benefit Fraud Does It Really Stand up to Scrutiny? Part1


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

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

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

Simon Dukes, Chief Executive, fraud prevention service CIFAS

Sean Duffield, Partner and Public Sector Director,Nuance Communications

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

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

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

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

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

Jan Smith: It could be a step too far.

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

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Buck Stops At The Top IDS


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With Nationwide ATOS demonstrations tomorrow I thought I would add my voice to the debacle called the WCA. This test has been flawed from the beginning both under New Labour and the present Condem Government which the latter made considerably worse when they redesigned it to be tougher on those it felt were abusing the system, and re negotiated contracts alike. My comments may not always be popular with my fellow campaigners but they can rest assured they have my support and solidarity for tomorrow actions and the fight we have on our hands. I have looked into this company Atos for some time and seeing what reach their tentacles actually have  along with others who are abusing the human rights and dignity of many sick and disabled people and others in their race to make money in our Capitalist system and come out top dog.  As you will see from the graphic on this post all main players thus far are listed but I’m certain this reaches far and wider than I have found so far, mainly due to fact sub contracts and sub companies are not so easy to track but that’s business world for you! The Fact is ,these lot also have been exempt in some cases of paying their fair whack in taxes too as part of deal. This company is already operating across the globe in 48 countries and they are having similar issues as we are in UK.

The WCA Assessments are without doubt causing untold misery for many and deaths have occurred for those with mental health issues who cannot cope with this barbaric test which is designed to remove as many as possible from claiming what is considered ‘their entitlement’ under guise of austerity and cutting back on the welfare bill. Most of these people have paid into the National Insurance system when they were able to work, and those who were born with severe disabilities   cannot help the fact they are unable to pay into system given their difficulties should not be penalised of the welfare support they rightly receive. Having been through two of these assessments myself, and soon to be my third time, I have seen complete lack of empathy from Atos HCP’s and their unwillingness to produce an accurate reflection on reports of those they assess and the mistakes they make cost those claimants on a wider scale than a few measly quid. The targets are set by non other than DWP for Atos are unrealistic and impractical to carry out in time given, while staff training  is now reduced from two weeks to 1 week which is ridiculous state of affairs to train anyone to do a job well. We have had 4 reports on WCA thus far which haven’t been complimentary to ATOS or DWP yet this government is like a runaway train on track and nobody knows where the handbrake is to stop this test and admit it made the biggest of blunders which is costing the taxpayer billions of pounds every day, far more than it is saving!

This statement was issued by Atos re actions tomorrow.

http://blog.atoshealthcare.com/

http://johnnyvoid.wordpress.com/

This was issued by Capita in March 2013

http://www.theguardian.com/society/2013/mar/05/stephen-duckworth-new-disability-benefit

http://johnnyvoid.wordpress.com/2013/03/06/dont-blame-us-for-disability-benefit-cuts-say-capita-were-just-in-it-for-the-money/

Yet daily we hear Joe Bloggs complain about their hard earned taxes been frittered on those workshy ,lazy scroungers yet they say absolutely nothing on MP’S expenses, and this utter waste of money being spent on this hell bent welfare reform dreamed up by the current powers that be. To a point  I actually can see what Atos are saying ,although it does not absolve them from any responsibility in this mess, and as it is pointed out ‘I was only following orders isn’t a ‘get out clause’ ! In business we all know that contracts are issued and failure to produce results are penalised with indemnity clauses written in should contract failure occur, yet Atos doesn’t appear to have had this applied yet, but at same time they can only work with tools they have and if that is rushed then failures are to follow. Labour have been saying they will rid us of the WCA but haven’t said what they will replace it with nor have they been frank about the enormous cost of billions of taxpayers money should they sack Atos when the government breaks it  contract with Atos as they will without doubt want compensation for breach of contract.

http://press.labour.org.uk/post/77060694599/atos-work-capability-assessment-needs-fundamental

Long ago Atos should have told government the impossibility of their goals in the timeframe, but they didn’t publicly come out and we have no evidence they did although if anyone would like to send me it I will be happy to print it.

Still the Universal Credit fiasco rolls on too along with PIP delays while IDS says they are on track  to roll out UC later this year for couples followed by further rollouts across UK later, and only single people are being assessed under UC at present.

One thing they all fail to realise or hide is Atos own the LIMA software for this, although copyright is Slumberger, which Atos bought out, so regardless of all the political banter ,are they going to replace that too? . We have DWP Head of the Project Howard Shipley off ill with pneumonia, and many more in IT have walked off away from this Toxic Test so when will IDS say ‘sorry I screwed up’ , the answer is never because the man is on a mission  determined to push his reforms through, which include our beloved NHS , and GP extraction data service under Jeremy Hunt, Atos run Cloud software under a company called Canopy and Bluetooth technology too ,doesn’t matter what you do in your daily life somewhere Atos are collecting your info and tracking your every move. they run Energy Utilities , MOD , Prisons, Telecare,  plus much more, they have a big profile.

http://uk.atos.net/en-uk/home/your-business.html

http://uk.atos.net/en-uk/home/we-do.html

So to end this blog is just a peep into the big world of Atos and connections, the control they have over government software etc as graphic shows, but ultimately the buck stops at the top of any organisation that’s Cameron and his government, but Lord  David Freud and IDS are at the engine room of this mess and their heads should roll, but we are living in a twilight zone of late where the UK has become a police state to dictate to its people at will!

While I have little or no sympathy for Atos & their staff I have even less for this government, I have nothing but utter contempt for them. It takes a strong person to admit they made mistake in public  but any decent man would hold hands up, not these two snakes in grass, they slink off into darkness of the abyss to inflict more pain and it carry on regardless, after all we are ‘stock’ which they play games with  like pawns in chess game, only this game has deadly consequences for those going through it.

While I can understand people calling for their dismissal ASAP, it will mean we have another bunch replacing it with more incompetence and as we have seen re Serco,G4S fiddling  the figures, it’s more of the same regardless. It may be more effective to stop all assessments and allow for backlogs to be cleared then look at ways to alter timeframes and look at why this test is failing before shelling out more taxpayers money on another hair brained idea which will cost taxpayers billions more and make changes to they way it is designed  &  processed. Time for a rethink IDS and realise you wont make it work before you get booted out of office in 2015.

‘Better the Devil you know’ is my motto

SOLIDARITY COMRADES FOR TOMMORROW !

Disability-Disabilism-Mistrust


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I have campaigned for some years now and since the Condems got in, more so, as the austerity measures they put into action are hitting those who are the hardest hit-THE POOREST in society!

Never before have I come across such a movement in my lifetime that has been so willing to risk everything they have got, to make a better future for all those affected by this governments cuts and I have met some fantastic dedicated campaigners along the way who are regardless of their own ill-health and disabilities and personal circumstances (that many have little clue of behind the scenes), as the tireless tirade of media rhetoric, government rhetoric of hatred that has spewed from the mouths of those who can change the course of people’s lives at the drop of a hat, and in many circumstances cause indirectly the deaths of so many without redress.

One thing I have noticed of late is the ugly head of mistrust of those making a difference-the campaigners! They are attacked by their own as well as by this government, where Disabilism is rife and a hierarchy where those being oppressed oppress others by sitting as judge and jury about neighbours, or other people within the movement which I will call ‘the deserving and not deserving’ culture which sickens me to my stomach. We are not doctors or assessors we cannot tell whether someone’s circumstances warranty their awards or not! For one it isn’t any our business either!

The other thing I have noticed is that the inherent racism that breeds like a plague which only serves to distract from the focus of the campaign as a whole, and divides us even more just as this government wants. In fact I wouldn’t be surprised if this wasn’t a deliberate ploy by paid flunky’s to infiltrate the movement just like they did with the miners.

We have to stand together as one, each group has a different approach but the goal is the ‘same’ to scrap the WCA and start again, as this assessment is so flawed it is causing more pain and suffering to those who have to go through this awful test while not saving the money this government had hoped for , in fact it costing them more as flaw after flaw is exposed and money is wasted so shamelessly while they tweak it which just causes more issues because from the beginning it wasn’t thought through and managed correctly.

The many groups who are there for support have thousands of members and help and advice is there for all who are in need, administrated by those who freely give their time while being disabled themselves to help their fellows to help themselves in this god awful mess that has been thrust upon us all. However some among us are only there to disrupt and cause mischief which is what irritates me the most, it like a scratch you cannot itch, but most of all it’s done in such an underhand cowardly way.

My message to those individuals is STOP because many campaigners are now having to involve the police due to threats and general insulting behaviour and ‘isms ‘ that they send via text, private messages, email or in some cases online in social networks and in some cases death threats are made and these are being taken very seriously by the police so be warned . Many are considering naming and shaming those who do such things, which I don’t agree with personally as it makes another victim due to someone’s ignorance etc.

It saddens me to my core that the divide and rule of some, affect so many, and make their lives more miserable than they already are when struggling to deal with the day-to-day onslaught of the  ill-health & disabilities they suffer and the flawed assessments imposed by this government, without turning on each other which is exactly what mostly happens in times when extreme hardship comes to bear upon us.

Those campaigners are doing it because they ‘care’ passionately about getting things right for the ‘many’ not the few. Who work tirelessly behind the scenes for the betterment of all as well as administer groups and pages when possible, help fill in forms or show you where you can get the right help.

So please I ask you all support these people in their efforts and stop attacking them just because you have a different viewpoint or method of doing things, it serves no purpose  except to hold back what we all dearly want –to bring about changes to a fair  playing field for all and stop many more dying as a consequence.

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!

WHOS GOING TO FEED OUR KIDS DAVE?


Not Since  WW2 and the creation of the Welfare State has Modern Britain seen such Poverty until the Tories came to power. I’m not saying it wasn’t there, it’s just reached such alarming levels since the last election that even the elite cannot continue to ignore it.

Why is this happening I hear you cry, well since this Government took office and introduced the Welfare Reforms which cruelly deprive the poorest the basic levels of sustanance and unemployment levels through the roof, and a economy about to snap in half caused by a Banking  Euro Crisis, that is why we are seeing such levels of food poverty. Unless your going through it no one seems to care in the 1% who rule this country,while the others  face the crippling realities of no longer being able to put food on table is hitting Britains familes like a Tsunami .

Not only do they face problems getting a job ,they also face the cruel assessments of entitlement to benefits  that help the most vunerable in society(which are almost impossible to get due to tightening of rules and regulations) . How do you tell your child sorry I have nothing to give you,or the baby crying for milk they dont have money for cos they need to pay a bill? Naturally I’m not suggesting babies go without because parents would miss the bill and rather sit in dark or cold. I myself have often had to do without or scrimp by on one meal a day till the next payment is in the bank,cos cash is tight.

This is the new picture of Breadline Britain created by a Conservative Government and is indefensable, where they are rumours they are telling supermarkets not to give the surplus food they arent allowed to sell because of the sell by date for H&S reasons,so they can implement their heartless voucher scheme,where people are humiliated into going cap in hand to issuing authorities to a local foodbank should you be lucky to have one within your area let alone money to get there and back. The sell by date is a guide not exacting and much of this food could be donated to help those in need locally. Most people know with certain foods it not possible but for many it is a case of it could actually stop people being seriously ill, how long before the UK is back to levels of Consumption(TB) that fill the hospitals if they are still around after being sold off to the highest bidder. Hospital Wards are going to be rammed full, levels of TB are rising now and we have Ricketts back too diseases not seen in this country for decades.

So what are we going to do about it I hear you ask,well one could grown own veg etc if you have garden and share costs and produce with neighbours like they did in the war but society today is no longer like that, we live in the ‘ME ME ME’ society where most people dont evn see ,know or talk to a neighbour,let alone tell them their personal business for fear of being dobbed in to DWP malicious call unit and scroungers and such like rhetoric from the likes of our Government Officials and the Media who have all played a part in fuelling the Hatred of the Poor.

DAVID CAMERON WELCOMED food banks is a happy emboidment of the concept of the big society

His Secretary of State for Environment said it was an excellent example of citizenship.

There is a 233 per cent increase in kids fed by local charity in london kids charity. 2 children in every class are hungry, the problem getting worse, in last 2 years, children has no idea wheere next meal is coming from.

The Trussel Trust which is a Salisbury based charity, co ordinates all the foodbanks through out the UK, as of May 2012, there are 201 foodbanks in the UK.

The foodbanks are served by local churches and local community groups, a third of food is from supermarkets, near to the end of the line produce, and the rest is from indiviudals donating, something the supermarkets need to hang their heads down in shame only a third and the money they make.

In 2011-12 40% of foodbanks clients were experincing benefits payments delays.

In JAN/FEB there are a rise of people using food banks because of high
heating bills, and the cost of  Christmas

In Jan 2010 young couple with 18 mth baby, dad off sick, no sick pay, delay in benefit payments, face eviciton from home, no money for food, living in one room and sleeping in it too, could not afford heating with ice on the windows,  the food bank helped them.

Primary school boy, skipping school lunchtime, no money for lunch, father left family, benefits in his fathers name, informed of father left, all benefits stopped because of change of circumstances, 2-4 months before money sorted, to claim free school meals need to be in recipt of benefits,no help, so relied on foodbank support.

Nutmens carried out a survery of 1146 parents this was carried out on
behaf of NSPCC and Princes Trust, 2,000 children are fed every week and in 2011
they saw 30 famiiles a week needing thier support their only meal of the day,
in 2012 its 70 families a week needing theier support as the only meal of the
day the charity were providing.

ONE MILLION CHIDLREN IN SEVERE AND PERSISTENT POVERTY IN THIS COUNTRY.

62 per cent of people know local familes where children are going hungry as there is not enough to eat, and are way under the breadline. The school meals serving are being cut and portions are tiny even though costs of meals are rising. Plus school milk has been universally cut unless you pay for it in a few places

These are just examples of what people are facing in our country NOW!

Cumbria alone has seen a 600% rise in need for assistance alone this is a national disgrace see link below.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-cumbria-19172293

http://www.bournemouthecho.co.uk/news/9279724.Food_bank_crisis_____don___t_let_us_turn_people_away___/

http://www.trusselltrust.org/resources/documents/UK-foodbanks-double-numbers-fed-in-one-year1.pdf

This is an appalling legacy which has got lost in the ether because of Olympic Fever,so why are we not telling our government to stop wasting taxpayers money on such ridiculous piecemeal schemes they keep trying to tell us is for our benefit and feed our own people or do we have to put out a call to the UN for Aid?

“Falling incomes and welfare spending cuts have triggered an explosion in demand for emergency food parcels as Britain’s poorest families struggle to put a meal on the table, say charities.

FareShare, a charity that supplies millions of free meals to charities, food banks  and breakfast clubs using food donated by supermarkets, said it could not keep pace with demand, which it expected to continue growing for at least five years.

“We are experiencing ridiculous growth. The only brake is how much food we can get out of the industry. We have the operational capacity to deliver more food and the charities that want to take that food,” said Lindsay Boswell, chief executive of FareShare.

FareShare said the food it distributed in 2011-12 contributed to more than 8.6m meals, benefiting an average 36,500 people a day via 720 organisations that deal with people in food poverty. Its long-term plans are to triple the numbers of people and charities it supplies. Along with charity shops and payday loans companies, food banks have become one of recession Britain’s high growth sectors. Originally set up to support homeless individuals, food banks report they increasingly serve families hit by benefit cuts or unemployment, and low-income working households who can’t make ends meet”

The Guardian’s Breadline Britain investigation revealed last week that up to 3.6m UK households were at risk of slipping into poverty as a result of spiralling living costs, shrinking incomes and welfare benefit reforms. Britain’s biggest food-bank network, the Trussell Trust charity, reported in April it had doubled the number of emergency food parcels issued over the past year and was opening food banks at the rate of two a week.

Chris Mould, director of the Trussell Trust, said: “Every day we meet parents who are skipping meals to feed their children or even considering stealing to stop their children going to bed hungry. It is shocking that there is such a great need for food banks in 21st-century Britain, but the need is growing.”

says the guardian article http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/2012/jun/25/breadline-britain-growth-food-parcels

It is time to get rid of this ‘Shower in Power’ and society needs to show some compassion for it’s fellow man,not hatred,which is being permeated from every corner of the media and our government ministers  who dont need to worry where their next meal is coming from and get our country back while we still have one left. you can even do your bit by just asking a neighbour are you ok can I help,or check on Old Billy down the road to make sure he has a meal!

Lastly thanks to Paula Peters who helped me collect some of the information here.

 

Update :

Benefit Breakdown of the Governments Spending

42.3% Elderly
20.8 % Low Income
18.4% Families
15.5% Disabled
2.6% Unemployed

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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