Sunday, June 30, 2013

Atos deaths: A letter to Mr… Smith

Atos: Welcome to Hell

Is the Department for Work and Pensions unable to compile data about the number of incapacity benefits claimants (including IB and ESA) who have died because it is underfunded – or understaffed?

That is the main question in Samuel Miller’s latest letter to Iain (Something) Smith, which you can find over at

This blog mentioned a few days ago that LieDS and his department have decided to withhold up-to-date information on the number of deaths involving people going through the assessment process for benefits (via Atos), who have been refused benefit or who are appealing against a decision.

Vox Political has put in a Freedom of Information request, requiring the DWP to produce that information, and we know that many of you have followed that lead.

Mr Miller has been in the fortunate position to write an authoritative inquiry – as the person who made the original request all the way back in (and this will make your eyes water if you don’t know about it already) November last year!

“On November 6, 2012, I wrote to your department regarding the number of Incapacity Benefit claimants who had died that year,” he writes.

“I pointed out that ‘Incapacity Benefits: Death of Recipients (9 July 2012)’ was outdated, as it only provided mortality statistics up to November 2011.”

The letter goes on to detail the DWP’s reticence in responding, until he received a reply on June 24 stating that there is “no intention” of releasing an updated version of the statistics.

Mr Miller’s appraisal of the situation, while polite, goes straight for the jugular, and if I were Iain Pretentious Smith, the Secretary would be in a right State after reading it.

“If your department is too understaffed and underfunded to compile such data, then I fully understand and sympathize,” writes Mr Miller-  in the knowledge that the DWP has thousands upon thousands of employees and spends billions of pounds every year on pointless money-wasting projects like the Work Programme (see recent Vox Political articles for the current state of that road crash).

“However, I must confess that while I have been very patient and reasonable regarding this matter over a period of many months, I am succumbing to the belief that your department is resorting to petty obstructionism — even a full-fledged cover-up — because the mortality of the sick and disabled has become too politicized for the Tories to cope with”.

That’s a crippling blow, right there. Now that the observation has been made, it will be interesting to watch Smith squirm out of answering it. So let’s keep asking him until he does.

“I suspect that there has been a staggering increase in the number of benefit claimant deaths since November 2011.”

This, of course, is the killing blow. We all want the answer to that one. A proper answer. A straight answer.

And we want it now.

… which isn’t soon enough for Mr Miller, whose legendary patience has worn out: “I intend to file a complaint with the Information Commissioner’s Office unless the transparency of your department improves.”

That is the next step for the Vox FOI request – if there’s no reasonable response (and you’ll read about it, whatever it may be) then the Information Commissioner will be receiving another complaint.

If you believe this cause is just, go thou and do likewise.

Vox Political

Disabled People Against Cuts Take On DWP Lies


Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC) have produced a report detailing the ongoing misuse of statistics and outright fibs which have been fed to the press by Iain Duncan Smith and the DWP.

The campaign group say: “At the end of this month, the Department for Work and Pensions will be releasing their Annual Report, and Iain Duncan Smith and his henchministers will no doubt be touring the TV studios to deliver more propaganda about worklessness and disability.

We’ve decided to celebrate the release of the DWP Annual Report by releasing a report of our own.

It is a report into how the DWP and DWP Ministers have made claims which are simply untrue. We’ve selected 35 claims and and found clear evidence that these claims have no basis in the facts.

So when you next see Iain Duncan Smith on the TV News, ask yourself, is he lying? or is he simply making it up out of thin air again?”

For a clear and comprehensive record of the endless stream of bullshit which has been pouring out of DWP Minister’s mouths ever since this Government weren’t elected visit (and share):

Work Programme Zombie-Shambles

This week the government announced a further cut of £350 million to the welfare budget – a ‘new contract’ that targets the unemployed.  In future anyone who is made unemployed will have to wait a whole week before being allowed to claim JSA.

Workfare isn't working

As well as this, the governments wants around half the people claiming JSA to go to the job centre twice as often as they do now – the same frequency that will be ‘routine’ for people suffering under the ‘intensive and uncompromising regime’ which will hit leavers of the Work Programme. And, despite funding for English language courses being cut in 2011, people whose English the job centre doesn’t think is good enough will be sanctioned if they don’t attend the courses (though already this is happening on a smaller scale than announced). Lone parents will start having to do what the job centre tells them as soon as their child turns three.

The government knows that ‘claimants targeted by an intensive approach [are] much less likely to stay on benefit’. The aim is to make it as difficult, stressful and intrusive as possible for unemployed people to claim the money they need to survive – and to make it as easy as possible for the job centre to stop that money – by increasing the number and extending the detail of the tasks you have to complete, and the conditions you have to fulfill, in order to deserve benefits.

Shamefully – though predictably – this massive attack on welfare  was yet again supported by the Labour party.

But it’s not all bad news. This week showed again what most of us already know: that the Work Programme is a £5 billion waste of tax payers’ money. Less than a third of the target number of people claiming ESA (Employment Support Allowance – for people who are sick or disabled) found jobs lasting any time at all.

But don’t just take our word for it.  What do the papers say? ‘welfare to work scheme failing to get people into work‘; ‘Government’s £5bn Work Programme failing and failing badly‘. As even government loyalists point out: the DWP have acknowledged that the Work Programme has missed all of its ‘minimum performance targets’.

It’s now a widely known fact: the Work Programme is a £5bn zombie-shambles.

And the Work Programme is just one of a number of workfare schemes – not one of which work. Workfare takes away paid jobs. It just makes it easier to sanction people.

Yet it appears no one has told the Salvation Army, who continue to ‘hold the line‘ for the DWP. Disregarding the facts, the Salvation Army have written up a pro-Work Programme report and have publicly claimed that ‘The Work Programme is working, but it could be working even better’.

It should now be clear to everyone that the Salvation Army put Work Programme profits before the people who they claim they are supposed to help.

Back in March Boycott Workfare occupied the Salvation Army’s headquarters, together with Christianity Uncut.  This week the Salvation Army took action again to pro-actively support the Work Programme workfare and the DWP.

Well we have a week of action coming up too!

Workfare is on the ropes – together we can take it down.

Boycott Workfare

Saturday, June 29, 2013

How To Deal With Benefits Medical Examinations


Never Face Them Alone

This article describes how claimants for disability benefits can deal with the medical examinations by medical professionals, which for many claimants are central in deciding whether or not you are entitled to disability benefits.

Before The Examination

The examinations are run by Medical Services (MS) which is operated by the private profit making company ATOS on behalf of the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP). Before a MS examination your own GP sends info to the DWP. It is important that this info is as full as possible and states clearly whether or not in their medical opinion you are fit for work at that time and in the foreseeable future (at least 6 months ahead).

It is frequently the case that people with a long-term illness gradually minimise in their own minds the effect of their illness on their everyday lives and develop survival strategies to cope on a daily basis in an attempt to lead as normal a life as possible.

This can cause a problem as this habit when taken into a medical examination does not present a true picture of the illness and could be misleading. It might be helpful to discuss the reality of your illness and the limitations it imposes on your life with someone who knows both the illness and yourself well. The reality of your illness is what must be presented to the MS medical professional and to the DWP.

If you have a Medical Services examination, either at the MS office or at your home, always have someone accompany you. This is your right. We have often done this. They cannot refuse you this right – if they try then just insist you need someone with you.

To obtain benefits you are legally required to attend this examination, and the information obtained at the examination is used, within a legal framework, to decide on your benefit entitlement – it is therefore vital to make sure your legal rights are protected.

If the date for the examination is not suitable, eg your accompanying person cannot make it on that date, you can get the date changed. If you are unable to travel to the examination you can ask for a home visit instead. If you change the arrangements over the phone write to confirm the changes. You have the right to be seen by a medical professional of the same sex.

Meet the accompanying person beforehand to discuss what’s going to happen. Before the examination you should be clear that:
  • The examination can be halted to allow you to go to the toilet, have a glass of water, take a pill, or if you feel faint or ill.
  • The examination should only proceed if you feel happy to continue.
  • You should refuse to do anything that hurts or distresses you.
  • The person accompanying you should take a pen and paper and also a watch.
  • If possible, take a tape recorder. Take your medicines, and any aids you use, such as a walking stick or crutches.
  • You can claim travel expenses for going to the examination – but if you need to take a taxi you must contact the MS beforehand.
At The Examination

You should be aware that the examination begins on entry to the examination centre and does not end until you leave the centre. An evaluation of your medical condition does not only take place when you are in front of the examining doctor, but also potentially on your way into the building, in the waiting room, and on your way out. They could note the length of time you can sit without apparent discomfort, how you pick up your bag, etc..

At the examination the medical professional should:
  • Be courteous and considerate.
  • Spend some time explaining the purpose of the examination.
  • Ask if you are willing to be examined.
  • Ask you and give you time to explain YOUR OWN VIEW of how you are affected by your condition, including how it affects your ability to do day to day tasks like shopping, cooking, cleaning and so on.
The examining medical professional should not attempt to ‘manipulate’ parts of your body.
During the examination you should:
  • Make sure the medical professional realises the full extent of your illness/ disability, including any other conditions/ illnesses you may have. Remember, unlike your GP, this medical professional does not know your medical history.
  • Describe how you feel on a “bad day”, rather than on a “good day”.
If you are accompanying the claimant you should:
  • Write down the name of the medical professional, the place of examination, the time of starting and finishing the examination.
  • Take notes on everything the medical professional and the claimant say, what the Doctor asks the claimant to do and what happens. Especially note any aggressive attitude or manner adopted by the medical professional. Note the exact words spoken.
  • Intervene and ask for the examination to be halted if the claimant becomes unwell or distressed. The claimant should have a break until they feel well enough to continue.
  • Object to and stop any attempt by the medical professional to have the claimant do exercises which could injure or distress them.
  • You should have the examination stopped if the claimant is becoming ill or distressed for any reason. If the claimant is not fit to continue then the examination should be postponed until another day.
  • If the claimant’s distress is due to mistreatment by the medical professional, stop the interview, then say that you will be making a complaint with a request for an examination at a future date with a different medical professional.
  • Time the length of the examination and any breaks taken (some medical professionals have been known to exaggerate the length of time of the examination to make it appear more thorough than it was).
  • At the end of the examination ask the medical professional to read back their notes, to check that they have made an accurate record. If the medical professional refuses, then note that together with the reason given for refusing. If there seem to be any inaccuracies in the medical professional’s notes, check with the claimant, then if necessary ask the medical professional to change their notes. If they refuse then make a note of that, writing down exactly what they said.
After The Examination

If the medical professional did anything wrong, then as soon as possible afterwards write a letter of complaint to DWP – don’t wait for the decision to come through. The letter should be signed by both the claimant and the accompanying person.

How You Can Be Found Incapable Of Work Even If You Don’t Score Enough Points

Even if you don’t score enough points under the personal capability assessment – the medical test to decide if you’re incapable of work – you may still have a chance of being found incapable of work either at claim or appeal stage. This is because of the little known ‘exceptional circumstances’ rules.

There are a number of these, but probably the most important is regulation 27(b), which states that you will be found incapable of work if:
  • “There would be a substantial risk to the mental or physical health of any person if he or she were found capable of work’’
This regulation could apply to you on physical health or on mental health grounds.

For example, if you experience severe anxiety attacks and might harm yourself or somebody else if placed in a situation you find threatening, then this might be grounds for applying regulation 27(b).

Or you may have a lung condition which is made much worse by stress and, in the past, such situations have led to a serious deterioration in your health and perhaps hospitalisation. If you would find being found capable of work, having to sign on for Jobseekers Allowance (JSA) and take part in training or work experience very stressful, then that may be grounds for declaring you incapable of work under the exceptional circumstances regulations.

However, neither doctors nor decision makers are quick to identify people who might be covered by these clauses. And very few claimants even know they exist.

ATOS And The Bigger Picture


ATOS are currently recruiting more staff to help meet Government targets to force more people off disability benefits to reduce the public debt problem caused by banks gambling in the financial markets. The process is driven by cost cutting not objective medical opinion. The most vulnerable in society are being made to pay for the greed of others and the inevitable booms and busts of capitalist economics.

Medical professionals, including physiotherapists, with no experience of mental health problems, for example, are only given a matter of days training before making assessments of claimants. They are paid substantially more than NHS doctors and nurses for leaving their ethical concerns at the door. ATOS claim that they do not make the decision as to whether someone can work and have their benefits reduced, but that the decision is made by the DWP from their report and that performance targets are based simply on the number of claimants seen in a day. However they admit that if a medical professional passes all claimants for disability benefits it will not go unnoticed.

This information has been reproduced from The Crutch Collective formerly Anti Benefit Cuts Glasgow

Please contact BPACC if you require any further information, support or advice. We are not experts in this field but will always show solidarity and try to help in whatever way we can.

Related links:

How to prepare for a ESA Tribunal Hearing – The Crutch Collective
ESA Internal Handbook via The Crutch Collective (pdf)
How points are awarded in ESA assessments via The Crutch Collective (pdf)
Links to factsheets relating to benefits, debt and mental illness – Rethink
Personal Independence Payment – Our free guide to making a claim – Disability Rights UK

Bournemouth & Poole Anti-Cuts Coalition

DWP admits ‘real’ disability poverty rose under coalition

Reblogged from Street Democracy - where it should reach:

The number of disabled people in “absolute” poverty rose by 100,000 during the coalition’s second year in office, according to new figures obtained by Disability News Service (DNS). The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) published figures two weeks ago that showed the number of disabled people in “relative” poverty – those who are poor in comparison with the general population – fell by 100,000 in 2011-12.
Street Democracy writes: This is stating the yawningly obvious and it does question the intelligence and moral codes of our Governments conduct when you hear announcements like this. The average common citizen was complaining about poverty to the Tory Coalition Government. But democracy got deserted, and hopes of instituting an honest Government became remote as the days went by. An unscrupulous power based Government that shifted to the far right that even 1935 Berlin would have recognised the traits.
What is demonstrably true is the harsh brutal care the disabled soon began to receive. The codes of ethics that should be high on the list got scrapped, screwed up and thrown in some waste paper bin in Westminster. The shocking account of brutalising the disabled in such a humiliating manner, the long term sick who suffer enough each day, ruthlessly treated at the hands of ATOS. Government demonization and penalisation dominated the agenda as important monies were slashed in benefits, crushing the disabled the most poorest and most vulnerable, some to their death.
Reform is needed but there are ways of change, that don’t expose the sick, the ill, the disabled, certain members of the public to financial massacre. Poverty being the most silent of weapons ‘Bill Cooper’ that can break the spirit of even the most hardy. With economic books filled with sterile digits that cause financial devastation. The only sensible thing our Government could have done, was visit a disabled group, a disabled charity and ask. That is just too simple however, but riddled with common sense.
It should have been the disabled who designed work programs, and welfare payments, benefits for certain disabilities and so on. Not some over grown Etonite with no concept of poverty, if they touched on the subject it was back in grade 6. So far the Tory Coalition Government have produced a breeding ground of discrimination. A nation filled with broken people with misery and fear. Fear of extreme poverty, fear of rent arrears, fear of evictions. Fear is a monster by itself and can cause people to behave in ways they wouldn’t normally, like suicide.
We are still in shock, our Government needs to calm down and needs to reach out, after apologising most humbly. We are a great body of humanity, warm and peaceful citizens who just wish to live our lives without fear of debt. Democracy is our hearts and minds and we need to enforce this back into Westminster.

Dead woman asked why she has not attended DWP appointments

UNWANTED MAIL: Malcolm Pearse
THE partner of a woman who died in April has slammed officials for repeatedly asking to explain why she has not shown up for appointments with the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP).

Darlington woman Patricia Howe, 48, died after suffering a massive brain haemorrhage in April.

Despite her partner immediately informing them of her death, the DWP continued to send Ms Howe letters.

Since her death, Ms Howe has been invited to attend appointments to discuss her claim for Employment and Support Allowance.

When she failed to attend, she received more letters demanding to know why she had not been present.

Malcolm Pearse, her partner of 14 years, slammed the actions of the DWP and said he had been left devastated by their incompetence

He said: “I told them the day after she died and they stopped her money straight away but they are still sending letters.

“I’ve told them, if they need Trish to attend, they need to stop sending letters and get in touch with a psychic. They are total idiots and it is like banging my head against a brick wall.

“Their paperwork must be all over the place. When they want money off you, they are quick enough to act.
“I got up on Friday and was going to do all sorts of things but got their latest letter and it knocked me right back. You think you are just starting to get somewhere and then it comes up again and again. It is hard enough as it is.

“They are a law unto themselves. I just want them to leave me to grieve but there’s more chance of Paul Gascoigne getting fog on the Tyne than getting them to sort anything out.”

A spokeswoman from the Department of Work and Pensions said: “This was an unfortunate administrative error which we are very sorry about.  We will be writing to Mr Pearse to apologise for any distress caused”

Half brother of prominent Tory MP arrested for child abuse

The home of the Tory MP's mum where this morning's arrest took place. Pic courtesy: Exaro
The home of the Tory MP’s mum where this morning’s arrest took place. Pic courtesy: Exaro

The Met police this morning arrested Charles Napier, the half brother of a prominent Conservative MP in a substantial stepping of their investigation into historic child sexual abuse.

The full story of the arrest of John Whittingdale ‘s half brother in the Dorset town of  Sherborne is on the Exaro News website ( see ). The arrest took place at the £500.000 home of the Mp’s 92 year old mother.

The arrest is the first  as a result of inquiries by  Operation Fairbank set up after Labour MP  Tom Watson passed allegations of child sexual abuse dating back to the 1980s to the Met Police.It follows two arrests under Operation Fernbridge, which is looking into child abuse in the London borough of Richmond and at Elm Guest House in Barnes where it is alleged that prominent VIPS abused boys.

 However unlike  reports today in the Telegraph and  Mail on line today  the arrest has NOTHING to do with events at the Elm Guest House, please  see Exaro for an accurate account.
The Met police said: “This arrest is part of a new strand of Operation Fairbank entitled Operation Cayacos, which has now reached the criminal threshold.”
Tom Watson said :” I am extremely grateful for the dedicated team of officers of the Met Police who are investigating a number of allegations regarding child abuse. I am sure people will appreciate  that we should let them continue with their forensic and comprehensive inquiries into this area.”
John Whittingdale said :‘I’m obviously aware that he was convicted of offences some twenty years ago, that is a matter that is in the public domain anyway. But I am not aware that he has committed any offence since that time. But if allegations have been made then I accept that they have to be investigated.”

For those sceptics who have said the Met Police would never dare arrest anybody connected to a prominent person in this investigation – they should think again. To my mind it fits in what I have been assured by the highest levelof the  Met’s Paedophile Unit – that the police would follow without fear or favour wherever credible evidence took them.


British Establishment Protecting Corporations From The Law

21st Century Wire says…
So will the UK political gophers and the Levisons of the world turned a blind eye to THIS phone hacking scandal…? Not to mention GCHQ’s own dark phone hacking practices. We can’t for the “Inquiry” on these, if ever…

Mick Meaney

RINF Alternative News

The Serious Organised Crime Agency (Soca) has yet again turned a blind eye to law breaking, allowing corporations to hack and steal personal information from members of the public and business rivals, it has emerged.

Six years ago Soca became aware that telecoms giants, insurance companies and law firms were engaging in illegal activity by ”routinely” employing private investigators to obtain sensitive data, including the use of telephone interception specialists who would physically attach real-time listening devices to a targets’ landline.

Corporations have also obtained personal information by calling the NHS, councils, Customs, banks, HM Revenue and utility providers.

According to The Independent, Tom Watson, Labour MP, said:
“What is astonishing about this whole murky affair is that Soca had knowledge of massive illegal invasions of privacy in the newspaper industry – but also in the supply chains of so-called blue-chip companies.
“I believe they are sitting on physical evidence that has still not been disclosed fully to forensic investigators at the Metropolitan Police. The law should also be rigorously applied to other sectors that have got away with it.”
The Labour MP Keith Vaz, chairman of the Home Affairs Select Committee, said:
“I am deeply concerned about these revelations. I will be seeking an explanation from Soca as to why this was not told to the Committee when we took evidence from them about the issue of private investigators.
“It is important that we establish how widespread this practice was and why no action was taken to stop what amounted to criminal activity of the worst kind.”
In an attempt to defend itself, a Soca spokesman said:
“Soca produced a confidential report in 2008 on the issue of licensing the private investigation industry. This report remains confidential and Soca does not comment on leaked documents or specific criminal investigations. Information is shared with other partners as required.”
It’s not the first time Soca has come under fire.

In 2012 they were criticised for ignoring dossiers of evidence that proved multimillion-pound international fraud in a criminal conspiracy that resulted in the death of a witness in “unexplained circumstances”.

These latest revelations continue to prove that the British public is justified in its mistrust of the establishment, which ultimately  protects corporate interests over those of British citizens, and the law.


GPs should provide information for every fitness for work assessment, urges BMA


Disability Rights Activist Susan Archibald of The Archibald Foundation and Black Triangle with Dr. Alan McDevitt Chair of BMA Scotland’s General Practice Committee (above).

John McArdle handed in a copy of a letter signed by leading doctors, six general secretaries of Britain’s trade unions; medically allied professional bodies and fellow campaign groups in support of Black Triangle’s ESA Regulations 29 and 31 Campaign. Dr. McDevitt was also supplied with a copy of Black Triangle’s recent written submission to the Scottish Parliament’s Health and Sport Committee  


Friday 28 June 2013 | By Madlen Davies

GPs should be asked to provide factual information for every Work Capability Assessment to enable ‘better-informed decisions’ to be made about their patient’s eligibility for benefits, says the BMA.

In a letter to the Government sent this month, BMA chair Dr Mark Porter said the current process is ‘insufficiently rigorous and consistent’ and causes ‘avoidable harm to some of the weakest and most vulnerable in society.’

The news comes as the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) is planning to pilot a new approach to collecting information from claimants’ GPs, though a spokesperson could not confirm any details about the pilots as ‘options are still being considered’.

Dr Porter expressed disappointment at the lack of progress in implementing the recommendations of a review in 2010 into the DWP scheme to assess claimant’s fitness for work, run by private company Atos.

The review – by House of Lords and House of Commons select committees advisor Professor Malcolm Harrington, recommended further documentary evidence was obtained for every Work Capability Assessment before making a final decision on whether they could seek Employment and Support Allowance. Currently 40% of decisions are overturned at the appeal stage.

Dr Porter said the BMA had ‘continuing concerns’ about the programme and expressed his concern that the recommendations from Professor Harrington had not been implemented.

The letter said: ‘If the recommendation is implemented appropriately, with GPs providing factual information, it should result in better-informed decisions being made about eligibility for ESA by DWP decision makers, earlier in the process.’

This would lead to better-informed decisions, and would save GPs time, he said.

He added: ‘As well as making the system fairer for claimants, this should also significantly reduce the administrative cost of dealing with so many appeals.’

Dr Porter also called for an urgent update on the pilots proposed by the DWP to look into new approaches of collecting evidence to support claims.

A DWP spokesperson said: ’We are considering options for piloting a new approach to collecting further medical evidence in support of a claimant’s application for Employment and Support Allowance. We are not yet in a position to give further details.’

‘As always we are keen to strike the appropriate balance between seeking the right information for making a decision on someone’s benefits, and avoiding placing undue burdens on GPs.’

ATOS: 'Tender is the blight'


TRICKY questions over the decision to award a new £184m disability assessment contract to the Eye’s favourite outsourcing giant, Atos, are to be raised in the Lords this week.

The French service company has already been roundly condemned for the way it mishandled work capability assessments for disabled people (see another shocking example below). But now cross-party peers are concerned that Atos has failed to fulfil the promises made in its tender to run one of four regional contracts to assess the eligibility of hundreds of thousands more disabled people for the new personal independence payments (PIP) – a failure that will cause disabled clients extreme difficulties.

Atos claimed in the tender that it had “contractually agreed” with 22 NHS and private health subcontractors to provide a network of 740 assessment centres across London and the south of England. But in reality there are only eight subcontractors and neither Atos nor the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) is able to say how many of the promised 740 centres will actually materialise. Thus many disabled people with mobility and care needs will face longer journeys – up to 90 minutes by public transport – to reach their assessment appointments, rather than the maximum 60 minutes originally promised by Atos.

Dropped out 

In the document, Atos claimed it had an “extensive” network of 16 NHS trusts, two private hospital chains and four physiotherapy providers ready to provide sites for assessments. But nearly a year after it was awarded the contract it has emerged that 12 of the trusts and both the private healthcare providers have dropped out, leaving Atos with just four NHS and four physiotherapy providers. Many of the NHS trusts named in the tender have also said that they did not, as Atos had claimed, “contractually agree to providing accommodation”.

Full Story – Private Eye

Friday, June 28, 2013

ESA appeals more than double – and decisions in the claimant’s favour are increasing

Reblogged from Vox Political:

Why this is important:  "Atos Still Kills". We don't even know the current death rate because the Department for Work and Pensions won't tell us; but the figures revealed here show that the assessment system for people on disability benefits is still fatally flawed.
Why this is important: “Atos Still Kills”. We don’t even know the current death rate because the Department for Work and Pensions won’t tell us; but the figures revealed here show that the assessment system for people on disability benefits is still fatally flawed.
The number of appeals against decisions made after Atos work capability assessments has rocketed, with an increase in tribunal decisions in favour of the claimant – according to official government figures.

The government’s Tribunals Statistics Quarterly for January 1 to March 31 this year records a 33 per cent increase in the number of appeals (“receipts” in the language of the document), compared with the same period in 2012 – that’s a rise of almost one-third to 255,084.

It states: “The increase in the overall number of receipts was mainly due to the 37 per cent increase in the number of appeals received in social security (note: not “welfare”) and child support in 2012/13, compared to the same period in 2011/12.

“This was driven by appeals in relation to Employment and Support Allowance (ESA), which more than doubled over between Q4 2011/12 and Q4 2012/13 and accounted for 70 per cent of all SSCS receipts in Q4 2012/13.

The report states that “of the 130,517 social security and child support cases disposed of in January to March 2013; 63 per cent were for ESA; 16 per cent for Disability Living Allowance and 10 per cent for JSA”.

The tribunal service found in favour of the “customer” (the benefit claimant) in 43 per cent of ESA cases (up from 38 per cent previously – it comes out at around 35,357 of 82,226 cases) – and also, notably, in 41 per cent of Disability Living Allowance cases (8,562 of 20,882 cases).

Incapacity Benefit cases decreased by 92 per cent because the benefit has been replaced by ESA.

So nearly half of appeals against ESA and DLA decisions are successful – an increase on previous totals. This should serve as a slap in the face to ministers at the Department for Work and Pensions, especially Employment Minister Mark Hoban, who said in February that criticism of the Atos-run assessment system for ESA was “scaremongering”.

Speaking after the Commons Work and Pensions committee criticised the system, he said: “Rather than scaremongering and driving down the reputation of the WCA, critics might like to acknowledge the fact that independent reviews have found no fundamental reforms are needed to the current process because of changes we’re making.”

If that was true, then why – at the time he said those words – was the number of successful appeals against this process increasing?

The committee had stated that “the decision-making process for new Employment Support Allowance applications and Incapacity Benefit reassessments all too often leads to the wrong decisions and is failing far too many people”. This blog judged that claim to be accurate at the time and this is now borne out by the figures.

In January he said: “Some of the worry experienced by claimants is as a result of adverse media coverage, and it risks being fuelled by incorrect anecdotal information, and indeed total myth.”

Will he come back to the House of Commons now, and admit that this media coverage was accurate, that the anecdotal information is now supported by his own department’s statistics, and that the only total myth is the narrative he and his fellow ministers – including Iain (Something) Smith, the Secretary of State – have tried to create?

I doubt it.

But that is what the figures prove.

Seven-day wait for benefits may cause hardship, says Church agency

The Comprehensive Spending Review plans to cap welfare expenditure (PA)
The Comprehensive Spending Review plans to cap welfare expenditure (PA)

The British Government’s proposed seven-day wait before jobseekers can claim benefits may cause financial difficulties for vulnerable families, a Church agency has said.

Caritas Social Action Network (CSAN) expressed concerns about the recent Comprehensive Spending Review’s plans to cap welfare expenditure. The proposed changes involve a seven-day wait before the unemployed can claim benefits, along with a 10 per cent reduction in local government funding.

Liam Allmark, CSAN’s public affairs officer, said: “The proposed seven-day wait before jobseekers can claim benefits could cause severe financial hardship for families who are already trying to balance tight budgets and meet rent payments.”

CSAN is a Catholic agency working for social action in England and Wales. At a recent CSAN conference, Archbishop Vincent Nichols of Westminster voiced his concern about the lack of support for struggling families in Britain.

He said: “A social safety net that fails to protect essentials such as food and shelter for those who cannot work, is not worthy of being regarded as a safety net at all.”


Atos Doctor Harasses Disabled Woman At Home Assessment… Video…

Reblogged from Atos Victims Group News:


How is this man licenced to practice as a Doctor? The people employed by Atos have no morals or integrity whatsoever, so long as they get their greedy little hands on their paychecks at the end of the month they care little for lives they are destroying?

And what may I ask is this supposed Doctor going to report in the assessment, “She is fit for work” I bet, we need more and more people to covertly record their assessments so the wider public and politicians can really see what’s going on?

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, anyone who records their assessment and wants the truth to get out then please send it to Atos Victims Group News, I’m more than willing to publish the covert recording????

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Work Programme Still Worse Than Doing Nothing At All


Today’s Work Programme performance figures reveal that the bungled scheme is still performing far worse than if the Government hadn’t handed approaching a billion pounds to welfare-to-work companies.

For those claimants on Employment Support Allowance (ESA) – the benefit for people who are sick or disabled – just 5.3% of people found jobs which lasted over 3 months.  This is against the DWP’s own minimum performance figure of 16.5%.

As the name suggests, the minimum performance figure is not a target.  It is a contractual requirement set 10% higher than the rate of people who would have been expected to find jobs under their own steam with no intervention whatsoever.  This means that had the Work Programme not existed then the number of people who would have come off sickness benefits and found work would have been expected to be three times higher.

Failure to meet the minimum performance figures should mean contracts being pulled and the DWP has already warned this might be the case saying today that:  “Performance Improvement Notices have also been issued for 12 contracts where providers must show significant improvement over the next four months or face the contract being terminated.”

Yesterday George Osborne warned of a “a hard-headed assessment of under-performing (DWP) programmes”.  If contracts are pulled later this year, and not replaced, then this will be the surest indicator yet that the Work Programme is being quietly abandoned.

The figures for those claiming Job Seekers Allowance also failed to meet the minimum contractual standards.  The performance level for claimants under 25 was 31.9% against the minimum of 33%, whilst for those over 25 it stood at 27.3% against 27.5%.

Whilst this is marginally over the number who would have found work without the Work Programme, it is still below the very minimum expected of the welfare-to-work companies.  These money grabbing poverty pimps have been paid hundreds of millions of pounds for virtually nothing at all – a handful of extra jobs for those who are easiest to help into work.  It would have been cheaper to bury money in the ground and pay unemployed people to dig it up.

In total, after two years of the scheme, just 13.4% of all claimants have found jobs which lasted over six months, or three months in the cases of those on sickness or disability benefits.  Overall this is still less than the number who would have been expected to find work without the Work Programme, yet the DWP are today trying to tell us what a wonderful success the whole sorry farce has been.

In a gushing press release the skiving Employment Minister Mark Hoban even makes a rare appearance with the astonishing claim that the Work Programme is giving “taxpayers a far better deal than previous schemes.”  Almost a billion pounds has been squandered and nothing has been achieved – and Hoban thinks this is a good deal.  No wonder he was so happy to spend £35 quid of our money on a fucking bog brush he could have picked up on the market for less than a fiver.

In truth all the DWP can really say is that these figures are better than the last ones – something which would be entirely expected for two reasons.  The first is that they could hardly have been worse, but also, as people have been on the Work Programme longer, the number of people finding work has risen.  Someone is more likely to find a job in a two year period than they are in just a year.  That is why the minimum performance levels have also risen.

One indicator of the Work Programme’s failure which isn’t included in today’s statistics is soaring long term unemployment.  The number of people out of work for over one year has risen almost every single month since this Government weren’t elected.  The vast majority of claimants are referred to the Work Programme after a year on benefits.  With the number of people unemployed for over one year soaring, this suggests that the tiny number of people who have got jobs on the Work Programme have got those jobs at the expense of people not yet referred to the scheme.  It is unlikely one single job has been created by the Work Programme.

This is because you can’t fix unemployment with crude attempts to fix unemployed people.  There are no fucking jobs.  It doesn’t matter how many billions of pounds are handed to vile scum like A4e to bully and harass claimants, there will still be no fucking jobs.  It’s about time politicians of all parties grew up and accepted the real, brutal and unequal nature of the capitalist economy that they all think is so fucking wonderful.

Join the Week of Action Against Workfare from the 6th-14th July.

Follow me on twitter @johnnyvoid

The Void

Work Programme year two result: FAIL

Reblogged from Vox Political:


The government’s flagship Work Programme has failed to reach its own minimum standard of results – for the second year running.

The Department for Work and Pensions said 13 per cent of jobseekers had managed to find work lasting at least six months (three months for the hardest to help) – but targets for the second year were higher than the first and the DWP admitted that the Work Programme has failed to meet them.

Of the 1.02 million who have been on the programme long enough to count in today’s figures, 132,000 people found work lasting long enough to be counted a success according to its (low) standards. Six months in work is not a long-term job.

This totals 13.4 per cent. Broken down into particular payment groups, Work Programme providers got 31.9 per cent of JSA claimants aged 18-24 into sustained work against a contracted level of 33 per cent – so that is a fail. For JSA claimants aged 25 or over, they averaged 27.3 per cent against a contracted level of 27.5 per cent – so that is also a fail.

We should concede that this is a big improvement from the first year, when no provider reached their contracted level of 5.5 per cent for either group.

But 31.9 per cent and 27.3 per cent creates a combined average of 29.6 per cent, so you’re probably wondering why the Work Programme’s actual average is 13.4 per cent.

Part of this has to do with the total for people on Employment and Support Allowance. The achievement for ESA new customers was just 5.3 per cent, against a target of 16.5 per cent – and is therefore a bitter fail.

This still does not create a combined figure of 13.4 per cent but I am momentarily at a loss to find any other figures to account for it in the statistical release or the DWP’s press release.

This – the press release – is a piece of comedy rather than information, as we have come to expect from the Department of Wayward Pronoouncements.

It makes no mention of the abject failure to meet ESA targets but states: “Compared to many employment schemes under previous governments, the programme targets the hardest to help into work, such as those claiming Employment and Support Allowance.”

That’s a shot in the foot right there, because it immediately sent me looking for the relevant – and damning – figures.

The omission here, coupled with the recent BBC news report in which WP providers got their begging bowls out and demanded more cash to help ESA claimants into work, creates a bleak picture for sick and disabled people who are being forced to seek employment and reinforces the position set out in a previous Vox Political article that these are people who are too ill to work and should not be forced to seek it.

It’s a lose-lose scenario: The Work Programme providers will fail to hit their targets and the ESA recipients’ health will suffer.

And we all know that the DWP is hiding the figures showing how many ESA recipients are dying every week as a result of participation in its brutal assessment process and silly work placement schemes.

Employment minister Mark Hoban, commenting on the programme’s failure to meet its contracted targets, said: “The Work Programme is helping large numbers of people escape the misery of long-term unemployment and get back into real jobs. The improvement in performance over the past year has been profound and the scheme is getting better and better.”

So we know that he’s living in a fantasy world.

In fairness, it should be pointed out that 18 out of the 40 Work Programme providers have met or exceeded their targets. Unfortunately we don’t know how they managed this; considering some of the horror stories that have come from the schemes, it seems a miracle that anyone got a job at all.

Oh, and there’s a sideswipe at commenters like Vox Political. The statistical summary states: “Many commentators on the previous statistical release looked to compare total job outcome payments with total referrals in the period covered by that publication (June 2011 to July 2012) and assess this against a minimum benchmark.

“Incorrectly the media calculated 3.5 per cent (using data covered by full release period) and 2.3 per cent (using data from June 2011 to May 2012) as the relevant figure to compare against the 5.5 per cent benchmark. The contractual benchmark is measured each financial year for three specific groups of Participants only.”

The press release states that – for once – the DWP has an endorsement from the UK Statistics Authority: “The UK Statistics Authority has said that it does not regard the calculation by commentators that 3.5% of people got into work in the first year of the scheme is the most relevant figure on which to assess performance.

“It agrees with the DWP that performance is better measured by counting how many people referred to the Work Programme get into sustained employment within a year of being referred to the scheme.”

That’s very nice. It would have been even nicer to have been provided with the correct figure at the time. I remember wondering why vital information had been omitted from the releases provided to us, forcing us to make the best calculations we could with what was available.

If the DWP wants to play silly games with the figures, its people have no right to come crying to the rest of us, just because we have tried to fill the gap.

To summarise: The Work Programme has failed to hit targets in its second year, with the results being particularly disastrous for the sick and disabled.

Gov't spin can't hide the fact the the Work Programme is still not working

Reblogged from alittleecon:

I remembered today that the latest Work Programme figures were being published and did my usual thing of looking for the story on the BBC News website. Its article on the figures is entitled “More find jobs on the Work Programme, DWP figures suggest“. I then looked for the DWP press release which was titled “Work Programme transforming lives as number finding lasting work soars to 132,000“. So after the complete failure of the first year, things now seem to be going well. Better than expected even?

But having then found the official statistical release, I  look ed for the Minimum Performance Levels, which I think is the main information that should be highlighted to judge success or failure of the programme. The Minimum Performance Levels are based on what proportion of people would get jobs on their own if the Work Programme didn’t exist. The minimum levels are set 10% above this non-intervention estimate. For the first year, they were set at 5.5% for the three target groups (JSA 18-24; JSA 25+ and ESA new customers).

There is some discussion in the statistical release about how media reporting of the performance failure last year was inaccurate, with it being reported variously that performance was either 3.5% or 2.4% (I did so myself here). So that makes you think Minimum Performance Levels were actually better than reported. In actual fact though, they were much, much worse!

MPLs are calculated over the financial year apparently, so the first year only covered June 11 to March 12. This meant the official performance levels (which I didn’t hear the Government state once) for the first year were:

JSA 18-24: 1%
JSA 25+: 1%
ESA new customers: 0.6%

In total, only 9,000 job outcome payments were made in year 1 out of 687,000 referrals.

Remember, DWP expected 5.5%, and 5% if there was no Work Programme at all!

The 2nd year’s (the first full year) targets were much higher (reflecting that the providers would be well established and would have had much more time to work with clients), but again providers have failed. Here were the performance levels they achieved (with the minimum performance targets in brackets):

JSA 18-24: 31.9% (33%)
JSA 25+: 27.3% (27.5%)
ESA new customers: 5.3% (16.5%)

So the best that can be said is that for JSA claimants at least, the Work Programme is marginally better than nothing, but for ESA new customers, it’s still worse than nothing. Just under half of providers (18 out of 40) are meeting their targets for JSA clients (only just). None met their targets for ESA clients.
You’ll hear a lot of spin about how the Working Programme is ‘transforming lives’, but against the DWP’s own benchmark, it is still failing to meet even the minimum levels expected. So DWP are lauding the success of the Work Programme, but all providers are in breach of their contracts. Time to rethink the whole thing?

The Wonga coup: Chancellor George Osborne's 'gift to the payday lenders' in Government Spending Review

'George Osborne was accused of driving the jobless into the arms of foodbanks and payday lenders tonight after announcing that the unemployed would have to wait seven days before claiming benefits.

In his government-wide spending review, the Chancellor unveiled an unexpected £365m package of further cuts in welfare.  Under a "work first" policy, the jobless will have to sign on every week instead of fortnightly; look for work from the start of their claim and learn English or face losing benefits if poor language skills are a barrier to work.  Single parents will have to prepare for work when their youngest child is three so they can get a job when the child is five.'

Disability activists ask for 2nd opinion from reneging GPs

Tuesday 25 June 2013
by Rory MacKinnon
Disability activists will demand a second opinion from GPs today at a rally outside the British Medical Association’s annual conference.
Up to 100 people are expected to picket the union gathering in Edinburgh over its low-key response to the government’s widely reviled work capability assessments for people on sickness benefits.

The computerised tests, administered by contractor Atos, have been harshly criticised by campaigners and medical professionals – around 40 per cent of those ruled “fit for work” win on appeal, and many others cleared to toil have subsequently died of their illnesses.

Delegates at last year’s conference voted to “demand that the (assessments) should end with immediate effect.”

But campaigners at today’s demonstration say the union has failed to throw its weight behind the campaign.

They said the BMA had declined to encourage GPs to provide patients with further medical evidence in appeals – despite regulations saying people could not be drafted into work with a “substantial risk” to their health.

Demonstrators with the Black Triangle Campaign said today they planned to distribute model letters to delegates demonstrating how GPs could do so.

An association spokesman said the GPs only had to provide a “factual report” of medical records when requested by Department for Work and Pensions “decision-makers.”

“Anything beyond that is at the discretion of the individual GP,” he said.

“It should be for the discretion of the individual GP as to whether they feel comfortable promoting the employment and support allowance to their patients,” he said.

But the Black Triangle Campaign’s John McArdle told the Morning Star the BMA stance was “totally unacceptable.”

“We sympathise 100 per cent – we want to oppose the cuts and condemn this government for scapegoating them.

“But doctors and patients need to stand and fight. In return they can expect our solidarity.

“When they come out with such a statement as ‘all of this work is going to be taking time which should be spent with our patients,’ it’s completely absurd.

“It’s absolutely a matter of life and death,” he said.

CALL OUT: Stuff the Banks! Saturday 20th July

There are now over half a million people in the UK going hungry, forced by our government to make the choice between paying the bills or eating, feeding themselves or feeding their children.

That’s why on Saturday 20th July UK Uncut will be setting up our own UK Uncut style food banks inside branches of HSBC – shutting down the UK’s biggest, bonus-munching, crisis-causing, tax-dodging bank. Our taxes bailed them out, but they won’t pay their fair share and the government continues to let them get away with it.

As banker's continue to be rewarded with bonuses and subsidies, and tax dodging is rife (£25 billion is lost annually), there’s been a 170% increase in the number of people relying on food banks in the UK. We need to demand that the government stop propping up the people who caused this crisis and put an end to the need for food banks.

The government try and cover it up by saying food banks are ‘the Big Society in action’. But Cameron, Osborne, Clegg and Co. have made a political choice to attack the poorest in our society. Cuts to jobs, wages and benefits are forcing families to choose between a roof over their head or putting food on the table.

The banks got us into this mess, but this cabinet of millionaire men are forcing us to pay the price. And that’s not all – banks are some of the biggest tax dodgers out there. HSBC uses more tax havens than any another UK bank. HSBC – the world’s local tax dodger! Last year they helped some of the richest people in Britain dodge hundreds of millions of pounds in tax in Switzerland and Jersey – once again showing we are not all in this together.

The government tell us there is no alternative, that public services and the welfare system are too expensive. This is a lie. They tell us the only way to deal with the deficit is to slash public spending. This is also a lie. There are alternatives to these cruel, devastating and unnecessary cuts.

Don’t just sit at home getting angry. Join UK Uncut’s National day of action on Saturday 20th July, where we’ll be occupying and transforming HSBC branches across the country into our own UK Uncut-style food banks, because it’s the banks that should be targeted, not ordinary people. Let’s show the government and tax-dodging fat cats we know there are alternatives to the cuts. Make the banks pay, stop the tax-dodgers and hands off our public services and welfare state.

So don your UK Uncut apron, put together your food packages, whether that’s real food or not and let’s show HSBC what’s really going on out there. This isn’t about setting up real food banks, but highlighting the divide between rich and poor through creative civil disobedience.

Now’s the time to get talking to your mates and people in your community, find your nearest HSBC branch, list an action on our website and get planning. If you need any help, drop us an email on

We are the big society. Let’s show them how big we are, by stopping business as usual and continuing our creative resistance to the cuts.

See you on the streets!
UK Uncut

Time for a full public inquiry into standards & ethics of policing

Reblogged from Michael Meacher MP:

The secretive parts of the British State are slowly being exposed to the light, and it’s a pretty ugly vista.   Today we learn that over 8,900 political activists are being monitored by a secret police organisation called the National Domestic Extremism Unit within the Met.   Apparently it uses surveillance techniques, paid informers, intercepts and under-cover police operations against these so-called ‘domestic extremists’.   One might have thought that Britain was in the throes of revolution, yet senior officers have admitted that many of those listed on the secret database had no criminal record.   So who are these ‘extremists’?   Apart from far-right racists in the EDL, the list includes anti-capitalist and anti-war demonstrators, animal rights protesters, and environmental campaigners.   One was an 88-year old pensioner.   Leaving aside the tiny violent fringe, is this really a sensible priority for police time?   Is it morally or even legally proper for police to spy on legitimate political protest at all?

The trouble with secret power in all societies, even in relatively stable countries like Britain, is that it always becomes perverted.   Only a perverted police force would secretly try to dig up ‘dirt’ against the Lawrence family after a horrifying murder – not protecting citizens against attack, but protecting the police themselves against scrutiny of their failure (or unwillingness) to discover the killers.   Only a discredited police force/MI5 would covertly pass information, unchecked, to another secret database run by a former MI5 officer which was then used to deny employment to over 3,200 blacklisted workers, in some cases for more than 20 years.   Only a corrupted police force would adopt set up a unit to adopt the identities of dead children in order to infiltrate protest groups, including forming relationships with, and fathering children of, peace activists.

The real problem with secret power is that, allowed to operate outside the bounds of regular open accountability, it readily strays into areas that were never sanctioned.   Surveillance was intended to detect spies, criminals and those who threaten violence, not to spy on foreign representatives of friendly countries attending international conferences like the G20.   ‘National security’, always a panjandrum phrase concealing a multitude of sins, was never meant to be used to facilitate industrial espionage.

Nor should the police be allowed to investigate themselves.   When things go badly wrong, if police officers in one force are allowed to carry out the inquiry into fellow-officers in another force, there can be no public confidence that justice will be done.   When hundreds of persons have died in police custody over the last 30 years, some in very suspicious circumstances, there has never been a police conviction because the coroner’s procedure tilts the balance in favour of the police.   When police officers are found to have seriously broken the rules, they often escape conviction by taking ‘early retirement’.   Whether it is police spying that is out of control or GCHQ’s Tempora project of indiscriminate mass surveillance which has comprehensively breached privacy rights and civil liberties, there is an urgent need now for an independent commission of inquiry – not Cameron’s merely extending the scope of existing internal police inquiries – into the ethics and standards of policing as much as, if not more than, in the case of the banks.

On the spectrum of deceit, ministers have gone off the scale

Statistics have long been argued one way or the other, but this government twists them beyond reality to suit its ruthless agenda

The Guardian,
Matt Kenyon on political lies
Illustration by Matt Kenyon
"Lies, damn lies and statistics," they say. "Torture a statistic enough and it will tell you anything," they say. Aphorisms that once sounded sound wry and urbane now make me want to set fire to things. I know, it is a risky old business, making a threat of arson, but I've already done it in an email, so this will hardly be news to GCHQ.

Worldwide, the era of post-truth politics began some time ago; during the last US elections, there were how-to guides for media outlets. "How does one evolve for the post-truth age?" asked the Atlantic, and it was a serious question. If you were trained in the "he-said, she-said" mode of reporting ("the chancellor says we are on the road to recovery; the shadow chancellor says, on the contrary, we are up shit creek with a baguette for a paddle") that will seem to you to be the fair and defensible way of doing things. If, however, one party starts to peddle a deliberate falsehood ("the chancellor says the deficit has gone down; the shadow chancellor says, on the contrary, the ONS figures show the deficit has gone up" – this is an example from real life, and happened on Tuesday), then the act of reporting both positions, in a tone of impartiality, serves to give them equal weight. Your neutrality shores up a lie.

This is for newshounds to tie themselves in knots over; I have never aimed at nor pretended impartiality. But I did prefer it when politicians, broadly speaking, told the truth. I have a pretty high tolerance for personal fibbing, who did and didn't have sex with whom, who was driving when the speed limit was broken. I don't enjoy, but I accept as the price of human variety, perspectives so different to mine that we exist in the orbit of extra-fact, our ideological magnets repelling one another so strongly that facts wouldn't help, because we'd never get close enough to jointly examine them (examples: Osborne on the Philpotts' benefits lifestyle; Hunt on the unaffordability of the NHS; Gove on most things). I used to get riled by the misuse of statistics, but at least that's done on the shared understanding that people should tell the truth in public life. A fact may turn out to have so much topspin that it isn't really true, but so long as the politicians have plausible deniability the contract isn't broken.

That deal is over. As Daniel Knowles of the Economist pointed out, more in impatience than in anger: "Over the last few months, as welfare cuts have started, questionable numbers have floated out of Iain Duncan Smith's office into the public debate like raw sewage." The protest group Disabled People Against Cuts collated 35 major untruths to emit from the government since 2010, and almost half of them came from IDS, who is well known to the (statistics) authorities, and has been reprimanded many times. If I were in charge, I would institute an asbo system in parliament; beyond a certain number of lies, MPs would have to sport a visible tattoo so that the casual onlooker would know to double-check their remarks.

The key things to watch with IDS are claims that the benefit cap is working; claims that the Work Programme is working; claims that the benefit system is rife with fraudsters; any claim about jobless households; most things he says about foreigners (with the caveat that if he is talking about a specific foreigner, José Mourinho or Angelina Jolie, it's likely that defamation laws will keep him on the straight and narrow); and everything he says about family breakdown.

But what chilled me most was the (relatively) minor lie, put about in November 2010, that private sector rents had fallen by 5% the previous year, while the amount paid by local authorities in housing benefit had gone up by 3% (Inside Housing analysed and rejected the claim). The clear implication was that people claiming the benefit were on the take – it was never said outright because it would have been functionally impossible (housing benefit is paid directly to the landlord); yet there it was, an impression hanging in the air, yet more craftiness from the feckless spongers.

David Cameron, meanwhile, has been reprimanded by the Office for Budget Responsibility (for lying about what it had said); and by the UK Statistics Authority for lying about the direction of the national debt (he said we were "paying it down", when in fact we were beefing it up). Osborne, besides lying this week about the deficit, has been reprimanded by the OBR (for lying about the nation's risk of bankruptcy) and by the UKSA. Amusingly, the Office for National Statistics was recently reprimanded by the UKSA for allowing the chancellor to pretend that a raid on the Bank of England's cash pile was equivalent to tax receipts. It's a carousel of meta-rebukes, as Osborne pulls ever more agencies into his circle of deliberate untruth.

There is a point on the spectrum of deceit at which the totally unprincipled, who will say anything to hold sway (I put Osborne in this category), meet the deeply religious, who are so sold on the notion of their own superiority that it is not necessary for reality to support them, merely for us all to be quiet, while they set us on the course of righteousness (and IDS in this one). But more important than any of their motives – there must, surely, be conservatives who would rather lose the argument than win it like this.

Twitter: @zoesqwilliams


Jobseekers may have been sending blank e-mails not CVs using Universal Jobmatch

Source: Private Eye

News reaches the Eye that thanks to a computer cock-up, tens of thousands of jobseekers may have been firning off blank emails to prospective employers, instead of their CV's. No wonder they have not managed to secure any work.

Since March,benefit claimants with access to the internet are obliged to use the DWP online Universal Jobmatch - which is supposed to match jobseekers with suitable available jobs - or risk losing their jobseekers' allowance. The system, run by the US-based job adveriser Monitor under a £15m DWP contract, checks how active jobseekers are in pursuing work.

But some have recently been told by their JCP and employment agencies that if they opted to mark their online CV's "private" rather than "public", the system merely forwarded blank files, thwarting any chances of the unemployed landing a job.

One young Manchester arts graduate, who contacted the Eye after being told last week of the "error" on the direct gov websites, said he had applied for 572 jobs via the system and was furious to learn it had been a waste of time. He had ticked the "private" box, intending that hi CV should be viewed only by the employer he was applying to, rather than the public box, which he understood could be viewed by all job advertisers.

That he should be concerned about online security and identification theft is not surprising - not least as the Eye has already highlighted how lack of any effective policing of the DWP jobs site means dodgy employers, scammers and others ave been able to exploit the unemployed. Hundreds of jobs are advertised where agencies flout the minimum wage. Others are offering jobs that do not exist, are little sort of pyramid selling or could cost the jobseeker money.

A former postman also told the Eye that he made a similar decision to mark his CV private and was told by his employment service last week, without apology, that only blank emails ad been sent out on is behalf. e said he had made dozens of applications and had also been troubled because the system was flagging up "alerts" on his account, indicating he hadn't been "active" in his job search when he clearly had been.

The DWP said it was not aware of any problems with the system, insisting "There has been repeated testing of the CV function and in all tests the employer received a complete CV. However, if we receive any details of specific incidents where blank CVs have been sent to employers, we would be happy to investigate."


The DWP is preparing the latest WP figures as Private Eye goes to press, so we cannot comment on how ministers will spin poor performance by "benefit'busting" contractors. But let's hope the BBC doesn't do their work for them this time.

Last November Nick Robinson, the BBC's political editor, reported the first WP figures - when every firm failed to meet minimum targets - on Radio 4s Today programme, telling listeners that while the numbers were bad, "one last brief point: the taxpayer is slightly better off because we don't pay benefits to people while these companies try to get them a job".

Robinson repeated the claim on his BBC blog and twitter - showing a confused understanding of government spin about "payment by results". In fact, taxpayers lose out all round, as claimants in the WP still get benefits and the firms themselves receive some payments eve when they don't find anyone a job. At a stroke, Robinson had made over £500m in government spending disappear.

The Eye and unemployed campaigners pointed out the error within minutes, and the BBC's political editor quickly corrected himself on his blog and Twitter. But no correction was issued to Radio 4s 7m Today listeners.

The Eye asked for an on-air correction. After a lengthy complaints procedure, the Beeb's editorial complaints unit this month upheld the complaint and declared Robinson's nonsense a "breach of editorial standards". But while there was a "good case for broadcasting a correction soon after the item", it considered that "the passage of time had rendered such action inappropriate" - so ignoring the principle that corrections should be made where the error first occurred.

Time only passed because Robinson, who was well aware of his howler, did not tell Today about his mistake. In a mild bollocking to him, the BBC said that "correspondents will be reminded that the relevant programme teams should be notified when an error is acknowledged or corrected.

DWP internal documents

A treasury of DWP pdf.'s, mainly relating to Atos but some of broader interest.

Courtesy of The People Vs The Government DWP and Atos.

Lies, Damn IDS and statistics

At the end of this month, the Department for Work and Pensions will be releasing their Annual Report, and Iain Duncan Smith and his henchministers will no doubt be touring the TV studios to deliver more propaganda about worklessness and disability.

We’ve decided to celebrate the release of the DWP Annual Report by releasing a report of our own.

It is a report into how the DWP and DWP Ministers have made claims which are simply untrue. We’ve selected 35 claims and and found clear evidence that these claims have no basis in the facts.

So when you next see Iain Duncan Smith on the TV News, ask yourself, is he lying? or is he simply making it up out of thin air again?

You can read the full report here:

Source; DPAC