Thursday, July 31, 2014

Confirmed - The FULL Impact of Cuts Disabled People Face

Reblogged from Diary of a Benefit Scrounger:

Since the coalition came to power, sick and disabled people have claimed we are being fundamentally harmed by the coalition welfare reforms. Not scroungers or skivers, but  people living with long term serious illnesses like me, or who live with physical disabilities. Adults AND children. Young and old. People with terminal conditions, people with kidney or heart failure, people waiting for transplants and even people in comas. None have been spared. The government repeatedly assure you they have. 

The government have of course denied that they are putting an unreasonable share of austerity cuts on us. Repeatedly and often aggressively. This is how they respond to the UN of all people :

Since 2011, almost every main voice involved in the services and systems that support sick and disabled people have argued that we must know how all of the changes TOGETHER have affected us so particularly. 

Everything we rely on has been cut severely - in some cases by up to 40%. Disability benefits, sickness benefits, social care services, housing support, legal aid for tribunals, respite care, the independent living fund, council tax relief, higher education funding, everything. 

It is very possible that if you were affected by one of the changes, you were affected by several or even all of them. 

Whilst the government paid lip service to assessing what impact their reforms would have on sick and disabled people, they only did so one by one. They always claimed it was impossible to assess them all together and specifically, how they would affect disabled people when combined. 

It has been a long and dishonest journey. As with so many things, the government have done everything in their power to keep the figures from the public. 

They said that it wasn't possible despite a petition gathering over 100,000 signatures calling for what they called a "cumulative impact assessment" or CIA. (Scroll down for gov response)

The government treated the debate it generated in parliament - a debate sick and disabled people themselves worked so hard for - like a Punch and Judy show of partisan nonsense. You can watch it for yourself if you click on the following link :

They said it wasn't "robust" when both the very well respected Dr Simon Duffy from the Centre for Welfare Rerform and the equally well respected think tank Demos produced models they believed were viable. 

And finally, just 2 days ago, Lord Freud, the failed millionaire ex-banker who re-designed our entire welfare system in just 3 weeks, wrote an official response to the SSAC, the government's own Social Security Advisory Committee, who also called for a CIA relating to disability, confirming yet again, that he believed it was impossible to assess all of the changes sick and disabled people have faced and claiming that the IFS, the all powerful Institute for Fiscal Studies, agreed with him. 

This was yet another lie from Freud - there is no other word for it. As the IFS have confirmed 

“We can’t find anything we have written down saying we can’t do a CIA....We do think it is possible to do a CIA of tax and benefit changes for the disabled population as a whole."

As it happens, they did one themselves for Wales

Today, at the request of the Equality and Human Rights Commission, (EHRC) NIESR, the National Institute for Economic and Social Research have produced a definitive CIA and it is shocking …
"Figure 4.9 shows that households with disabled children lose out by more in cash terms than households with disabled adults, with households with disabled children and adults losing out by more than either group – around £1,500 per household per year on average. 
 "Households with no disabled adults or disabled children in the 7th and 8th deciles [wealthier households] actually gain slightly from the reform package, whereas households with disabled adults or children (or both) lose out. At the bottom of the distribution, households with no disabled people, or with disabled adults, do not lose as much on average as households with disabled children, or both disabled adults and children. In percentage terms the distributional effects are fairly regressive across all four groups, with households with disabled adults and children doing worst of all up to the top decile."
As one of the authors, Jonathan Portes says in an article for the Guardian today 
"Modelling the cumulative impact is feasible and practicable – at least by gender, age, disability and ethnicity. Our model isn’t perfect and could be improved, but it can be done.....Families that have a disabled adult or child lose perhaps five times as much proportionally as better-off able-bodied families."

There is now absolutely no doubt at all that sick and disabled people have been hit over and over again by a barrage of cuts and the more vulnerable the family; the more disabled people within it; the more they have lost. 

The DWP, Iain Duncan-Smith, Lord Freud and many right wing media outlets have kept this information from the public through every possible means. They will probably do so again today. 

But over 100,000 people signed the WOW petition. 

Think tanks and charities and many journalists know that this is hugely significant. And as ever, we can and will make our own news. 



We now know that this government have harmed the very people they promised us they would protect. They have harmed the very people that voters never wanted to be harmed. They have lied about the harm being done at every stage and have actively tried to keep it from both parliament and the media. 

If ever a story needed to be seen and understood, it is this. If you never bothered to click on the links in an article for more information before, click on these. It is a shameful and repellant story and those responsible have no place whatsoever within 100 miles of Westminster. 

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Woman arrested for posting photo of George Osborne at prostitute’s flat

Originally posted on Pride's Purge:

(not satire – it’s the corrupt UK today!)

A woman was arrested today after posting a photograph on Twitter of chancellor George Osborne at her flat when she worked as a madame at an escort agency.

Natalie Rowe posted this photo on Twitter just two days ago:

rowe osborne

Then today Natalie was arrested by the police for “abusive behaviour”:

rowe osborne1

Natalie’s home was also searched last year by police after she tried to publish her memoirs in which she mentions Osborne took cocaine and used her services as a dominatrix called Miss Whiplash:

Cops raid home of ex-vice madam about to tell all on wild parties involving top Tories

Is any more proof needed that our police are being used to protect politicians’ reputations rather than catching criminals?
Please share. Don’t let our politicians get away with this. Thanks:

Is This What They Mean By #disabilityconfident? Disabled Staff Twice As Likely To Get Sacked From The DWP

Originally posted on the void:


One of the ways the DWP has tried to cover up the vicious attacks on disabled people has been the gushing and cringe-making Disability Confident campaign.

This has mostly involved endlessly tweeting the hashtag #disabilityconfident and organising corporate events where large employers and Ministers all meet up to tell each other how wonderful they are being to disabled people.  Then they can all go back to sending disabled people on workfare safe in the knowledge that the campaign they invented has told them that’s okay.

You might expect however that the DWP’s own treatment of their disabled staff would be exemplary.  This is after all the branch of government which also includes the Office for Disability Issues.  The shocking truth, as revealed in their own research, is that disabled employees at the DWP are twice as likely to get sacked as non-disabled staff and just half as likely to get…

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Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Case Of David Clapson Sparks Calls For National Inquiry

DEARLY MISSED: David Clapson, pictured left in 2011 and right during his time as a serviceman.

The case of a diabetic former soldier from Stevenage, who died after his benefits were sanctioned, has led to calls for a national review.

Last week, the Advertiser told the story of David Clapson, who could not afford electricity to keep his insulin cool after his jobseeker’s allowance of approximately £70 a week was suspended on June 28 last year.

Just three weeks later – on July 20 – he died aged 59 at his home in Hillside from fatal diabetic keto-acidosis, which the NHS calls “a dangerous complication of diabetes caused by a lack of insulin.”

Talking to the Advertiser, leader of Stevenage Council Cllr Sharon Taylor said the case was “the most tragic story I have heard in 18 years of being a councillor.”


Benefit sanctions are not fair and are not helping people into work


Hierarchy of human needs – Abraham Maslow

If we  cannot fulfil our most basic survival needs, we cannot be motivated or “incentivised” to do anything else.

Article from The Guardian by

“I was ill with hunger, went to prison for stealing food and became homeless”

In collecting evidence for his review of the failings of the benefits sanctions process, welfare expert Matthew Oakley could have spoken to me. Since 2011, I’ve been sanctioned many times. I received a long benefits sanction due to a mix-up about Work Programme courses I should have attended as a condition of receiving out-of-work benefits. Life became hell. Once my food had run out, I had no money to buy more. I was sent back on the Work Programme but without funds to feed myself. The hunger was unbearable. I did not have the energy to turn up. This led to another sanction.

The sanctions became a vicious cycle as I became too ill to do anything. When I did get a job interview, I looked like a zombie as I had lost so much weight. I could not focus properly and lacked energy. Support from friends and family fell away as they assumed I was addicted to drugs. I was just hungry. I tried contacting my local MP but he did not seem interested. I felt alone and trapped. With nobody to turn to, and feeling like it was my only option, I pocketed a sandwich from a supermarket. I was arrested and fined £80. I had no way of paying and spent a week in prison for non payment. I lost my flat as I was £1,000 in rent arrears and I had piles of outstanding bills.


A distillation of thoughts on Tory policies aimed at the vulnerable

14533697838_dffcc736f2_o (1)

Government policies are expressed political intentions, regarding how our society is organised and governed. They have calculated socio-economic aims and consequences. None of the policies that this government have formulated regarding the “support and care” of the most vulnerable citizens could be seen as anything other than expressions of intended harm.

Unintended consequences may arise from implementing policies, however, governments usually evaluate the merit, worth and consequences of policies, using criteria governed by a set of standards for evaluating, after implementation, and before implementation by carrying out a cumulative impact assessment. There has been neither a review nor a cumulative assessment of the welfare “reforms” carried out by the government to date. (The Social Security Advisory Committee (SSAC) submitted a report with several recommendations for a cumulative impact assessment of welfare reform, which were recently rejected by Lord Freud, in a letter, on behalf of the government). 

Equality impact…

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Give the public a say before selling off the NHS, demands Burnham

Originally posted on Vox Political:

Scheming, lice-ridden vermin: All the airbrushing in the world could not erase the brutal, calculating dishonesty of the Conservative 2010 election poster.

This guy has been impressive from the get-go: Today (Tuesday) Andy Burnham will call on the Coalition to put its plans for further NHS privatisation on hold until there is clear evidence that the public wants the health service to be sold off.
The speech in Manchester is being timed to take place before the Conservative-led government signs a series of new NHS contracts that will – underhandedly – tie the hands of a future government.

Sly little devils, aren’t they?

The British public has never given its consent for far-reaching and forced privatisation of services – and that’s what Mr Burnham will be saying.

He will point out that the forced privatisation of the NHS is entering new territory and becoming harder to reverse: Contracts are being…

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Monday, July 28, 2014

Govt will drip feed VIP paedophile revelations over decades to avoid mass civil unrest

‘The British government plans to strictly control the release of ‘establishment’ paedophile revelations over a period of decades in order to avoid mass civil unrest, according to a Westminster source.

It is further claimed that many cases will never be disclosed due to the severity of the offences that took place, and also the high profile status of those involved.

Even politicians such as Simon Danczuk and Tom Watson, who have pushed for transparency, are all too aware of the dangers that mass disclosure may bring.’

Read more: UK Government will drip feed VIP paedophile revelations over decades to avoid mass civil unrest

Thatcher ‘Told Of Sir Peter Morrison Paedophile Claims’ But Promoted Him Anyway

‘Margaret Thatcher was told about alleged sex parties with under-age boys held by one of her closest aides claims her former personal bodyguard.

Barry Strevens, who worked as the prime minister’s personal bodyguard, said that he passed on allegations about her confidant Sir Peter Morrison.

The former senior police officer said that Lady Thatcher appointed Sir Peter deputy party chairman of the Conservatives despite learning of the rumours.’

Read more: Margaret Thatcher 'Told Of Sir Peter Morrison Paedophile Claims' But Promoted Him Anyway

Disability, long-term conditions and poverty

Most studies underestimate levels of poverty among disabled people. This study shows the size of these underestimates, and explores the difficulty in escaping poverty through paid work – and how policymakers might tackle this.

Key points

  • Poverty among disabled people is consistently underestimated. This study uses two different adjustments, each finding at least a ‘missing million’ of people in poverty in households with a disabled person.
  • Making society less disabling will reduce poverty among disabled people. Possible ways of doing this include improving affordability and accessibility of transport and housing, developing standards for consumer devices, stopping legal discrimination, better use of technology, and making markets for assistive technologies work more effectively.
  • Disabled people are less likely to be working and more likely to be low paid. There are four main ways that this could be tackled:
      • The benefits system: simply removing people from benefits cannot be seen as a sign of success. Rather, changes are needed so that the system doesn’t stop people from being able to work; including flexible, portable benefits are needed that allow people to move to areas where there are more (and more suitable) jobs.
      • Specialist programmes can help people return-to-work when they include personalisation rather than sharp targets. Intensive in-work support with employer subsidies can make a difference.
      • Early intervention can help, including better workplace practices and responsive health systems, as well as a healthy psychosocial work environment.
      • Finally, employers are critical – many disabled people simply face limited opportunities. There are some good managers, yet a common perception that employing disabled people involves extra costs, and a limit to ‘reasonable’ adjustments. Stronger actions may therefore be necessary, including regulation and incentives.
  • Finally, disabled people stressed that work is not always the solution; that all the policies above should resist the temptation to simplify the diversity of disability; and that it may be necessary to change the current public debate. The idea that ‘work is the best route out of poverty’ clearly cannot apply to all disabled people, and reducing the aim of poverty reduction to simply improved access to employment would be counterproductive.

When it comes to our welfare system, we’ve lost the plot

As Britain follows the US in tearing up its safety net, the story of social security needs to be retold from the very beginning

protest benefits street
A protest outside the London offices of Love Productions, which made the TV programme Benefits Street.

The rip-roaringly successful 4’s Benefits Street, on Channel 4, is being followed up by Immigrant Street. This a year after the same station’s Benefits Britain 1949 – to middle England’s delight – subjected contemporary welfare claimants to the social security rules of the ration-book years, as applied by real-life bullying bureaucrats with real jobcentre experience. Meanwhile, Channel 5 has developed its own pauper-baiting programme, On Benefits & Proud, and its cousin, Gypsies On Benefits & Proud.

The boom in poverty porn suggests that the left is getting thrashed on social security, and the polling confirms this. There is still support for the general principle of a safety net and a ladder of opportunity, but turn to the practicalities of particular benefits and suspicions about freeloaders rise as jealousies break out in every direction. Listening to voices from across Britain for my book Hard Times, I found not only workers complaining about the unemployed getting an easy ride, but also jobless people grumbling that the low-paid got more help than them nowadays, not to mention striking mutual antipathy between recipients of different benefits.

To see where this debate could lead, glance across the Atlantic. Four decades after Ronald Reagan invoked the “welfare queen”, the nearest thing America had to income support is long abolished. There is charity, and sometimes state and local relief, but many a chronic health condition goes untreated, and penury abounds. The right, however, still refuses to relent. Paul Ryan, the Republican pick for vice-president in 2012, said about Medicaid and food stamps that year: “We don’t want to turn the safety net into a hammock that lulls able-bodied people into lives of dependency and complacency.” It is remarkable that such language is not being used about cash payments that could be misspent but about programmes to provide food and medicine to poor people in the world’s richest economy.

As the coalition freezes, cuts and applies punitive “sanctions”, we’re heading the same way faster than anyone would have thought possible a few years ago. The only chance of arresting the drift is somehow resetting the whole discussion from first principles.


Friday, July 25, 2014

Do YOU feel as prosperous as you were before the crisis?

[Image: David Symonds for The Guardian, in February this year.]
[Image: David Symonds for The Guardian, in February this year.]

Britain has returned to prosperity, with the economy finally nudging beyond its pre-crisis peak, according to official figures.

Well, that’s a relief, isn’t it? Next time you’re in the supermarket looking for bargains or mark-downs because you can’t afford the kind of groceries you had in 2008, you can at least console yourself that we’re all doing better than we were back then.

The hundreds of thousands of poor souls who have to scrape by on handouts from food banks will, no doubt, be bolstered by the knowledge that Britain is back on its feet.

And the relatives of those who did not survive Iain Duncan Smith’s brutal purge of benefit claimants can be comforted by the thought that they did not die in vain.

NO! Of course not! Gross domestic product might be up 3.1 per cent on last year but it’s got nothing to do with most of the population! In real terms, you’re £1,600 per year worse-off!


DWP Limbo: “Sometimes I Think I Would Be Better Off Dead”

Originally posted on Same Difference:

From yesterday’s Guardian:

Tucked away in this week’s work and pensions select committee report on employment-related disabilitybenefits is a section on an innocuous-sounding policy called Mandatory Reconsideration (MR).

Its blandness hides a host of Kafka-esque sins, however; this is truly a monstrously perverse and bureaucratic generator of poverty and stress.

Here’s an example of one claimant’s experience of being caught up in the strange limbo-land of MR, taken from research by Citizens Advice Bureau:
It has affected me badly. Financially I am struggling – when I pay gas, electricity and bedroom tax I have nothing left. I sometimes don’t have enough money to buy food. Sometimes I go hungry. Sometimes I just have toast as it’s cheaper
So what is MR and how do you get caught up in it? MR kicks in when claimants of ESA or Employment and Support Allowance (unemployment benefit for people who cannot…

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WCA: Labour Should Commit to Scrapping ‘Fit For Work’ Tests, say Campaigners

Labour should commit to scrapping the Work Capability Assessment (WCA), which leaves sick and disabled benefit claimants living in fear, campaigners have said today (24 July 2014).

In a joint statement from Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC), Mental Health Resistance Network (MHRN), Black Triangle Campaign and New Approach (#NewApproach), campaigners argue that the WCA leads to disabled people feeling “harassed” and discriminates against benefit claimants with mental health impairments.

The comments come following the release of a Work and Pensions Select Committee report earlier this week, which found that Employment and Support Allowance (ESA), and the ‘fit for work’ assessments used to determine eligibility for the benefit, is “so grave” that simply “rebranding” the assessment by appointing a new contractor will not solve fundamental flaws and weaknesses within the system.

The committee called on the government to “fundamentally redesign” ESA and the WCA “to ensure that the main purpose of the benefit – helping claimants with health conditions and disabilities to move into employment where this is possible for them – is achieved”.

However, campaigners argue that simply making “improvements” to the ESA assessment system “would not make the WCA any less wrong or any more useful”.


Youth Contract an Abject Failure as Flagship Unemployment Scheme Ends Early

The Government’s £1 billion Youth Contract scheme is to end a month early after failing to help 94% of young unemployed people it originally targeted.

The scheme, launched in 2012, provided wage incentives to companies as a way of encouraging them to employ young people and was scheduled to continue until September this year.

However, the Financial Times has reported that the deadline for employer applications is to be brought forward a month to August.

At the launch of the scheme, Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg said that enough money would be made available to support businesses in employing 160,000 under 25′s on a six-month “job start”.

Despite the pledge from the Liberal Democrat leader, figures show that only around 10,000 young people had been helped into work through the scheme by November 2013. The figure represents just 6.25% of the 160,000 originally targeted by the Youth Contract scheme.


Esther McVey's OWN firm needs to be bailed out

  Esther McVey looks at Prime Minister David Cameron

My hero: Esther McVey with David Cameron

Rising Tory star Esther McVey has racked up big debts – running her own company.

The Employment Minister recently urged youngsters to be their own boss rather than studying at university and going on to take a job with a large corporation.

Ms McVey, 46, said: “If you have this seed, this idea, this creativity, you want to set up a business, that’s what you should do.”

But now it has been revealed that her own entrepreneurial efforts have plunged her into the red.

The former TV presenter has had to borrow tens of thousands of pounds to bail out a firm she set up before becoming an MP.

She ploughed the money into Making It, a company providing serviced offices – and is still owed £56,847.

The revelations call in to doubt David Cameron’s judgment in handing her a place at the Cabinet table in last week’s reshuffle.


WCA: Response to the Work and Pensions Committee report - Joint statement by BT, DPAC, MHRN and #NewApproach

Joint statement by Black Triangle Campaign, Disabled People Against Cuts, Mental Health Resistance Network and #NewApproach

The WCA presumes that there are too many people on disability benefits because disabled people are too lazy or too comfortable living on benefits to work.

It is founded in the idea that disabled people need to be harassed and hounded out of their comfortable life into finding work under the threat of loss of benefits.

No one is comfortable living on benefits. Disabled people are no more lazy that the rest of the population.

The real reason that there are so many people on benefits is that society does not include disabled people.

We do not have the same access to education, transport, housing and jobs.

Social attitudes ensure that disabled people in the workplace are seen as a problem, rather than an equal opportunity.

And there are large numbers of disabled people who simply can not work. Why should they be harassed? Why should they be hounded?. Why should they have to live in fear?.

We know, and this report confirms, that many people have wrongly been found “fit for work” when they can’t work.

We also know and the UK courts have confirmed WCA discriminates against claimants with mental health impairments.

The Work and Pensions Committee report recommends “improvements” to make the system more workable and less harmful.

This is pointless, because it would not make the WCA any less wrong or any more useful

We call once again on Labour to commit to scrapping the WCA and to address the real problems that disabled people on benefits face in society.

We call once again on the British Medical Association to send guidance on DWP rules “29 and 35″ which allows doctors to prevent foreseeable harm being done to ‘at risk’ patients.

They didn’t improve slavery, they abolished it, because it was wrong.

They didn’t amend Apartheid , they ended it because it was wrong

The WCA is wrong, and it needs to be abolished


Andy Greene, Disabled People Against Cuts
Annie Howard, Disabled People Against Cuts
Bob Ellard, Disabled People Against Cuts
Debbie Jolly, Disabled People Against Cuts
Denise McKenna, Mental Health Resistance Network
Jane Bence, #NewApproach
Eleanor Firman, Disabled People Against Cuts
Ellen Clifford, Disabled People Against Cuts
Gail Ward, Disabled People Against Cuts
John James McArdle, Black Triangle Campaign
Katy Marchant, Disabled People Against Cuts
Linda Burnip, Disabled People Against Cuts
Nick Dilworth, #NewApproach
Paula Peters, Disabled People Against Cuts
Rick Burgess, #NewApproach
Roger Lewis, Disabled People Against Cuts
Roy Bard, Disabled People Against Cuts
Wayne Blackburn, #NewApproach


Youngsters self-harming over poverty has risen by 40% since Tories came to power

Hard times: Self-harm cases are up from 289 in 2010-11 to 404 in 2013-14

The impact of the Tory-led austerity drive on Britain’s children is laid bare in a devastating report.

It reveals the number of youngsters self-harming in Birmingham because they live in poverty has shot up 40% since David Cameron took power.

The Birmingham Child Poverty Review found 84,114 children, a third of the total, are in poverty.

And it says school secretaries have to arrange food parcels for hungry kids in Britain’s second city.

Labour MP Liam Byrne, who commissioned the probe, said: “Child poverty in our city is a moral crisis.
"This is a wake-up call for Birmingham and Britain.”

Self-harm cases among under-18s in A&Es are up from 289 in 2010-11 to 404 in 2013-14.

NHS witnesses told investigators: “There have been far more children with mental health issues.

"Often they present at A&E as suicidal.”


Thursday, July 24, 2014

Malnutrition soars by more than 70% since Coalition came to power

During the Tory-led Government’s relentless cuts drive doctors in England have seen huge increases in conditions usually associated with the Third World

Malnutrition has soared by more than 70% since the Coalition came to power according to shocking data on hospital admissions. During the Tory-led Government’s relentless cuts drive doctors in England have seen huge increases in conditions usually associated with the Third World.

People unable to feed themselves saw a staggering 6,686 admissions where malnutrition was the primary or secondary diagnosis during 2013/14. This is a rise of 71% from 3,899 in the year up to April 2010.

Data from the Health and Social Care Information Centre released today also revealed admissions for scarlet fever were up by 110% and cholera by a staggering 450% since 2010.

Labour has branded the figures a “national scandal”.


Leaders On A Broken-Down Train Joke – Rewritten For Leaders Of The British Conservative Party

Originally posted on TheCritique Archives:

by Martin Odoni

Please note: If you haven’t heard the original version of this very, very famous old joke before, it has been popular in Russia for decades, and there are many variants of it. You can witness an animated version of it on YouTube, and a pre-Mikhail-Gorbachev version is available to read here. This is an adaptation to reflect the ideological stupidities of the various Tory leaders of the last forty years.

Edward Heath, Margaret Thatcher, John Major, William Hague, Iain Duncan-Smith, Michael Howard and David Cameron are all travelling together in a railway carriage through the open countryside. Unexpectedly, the engine shudders and splutters, and the train grinds to a stop. They look at each other in consternation, and immediately start trying to work out how to get the train moving again.

Cameron suggests: “Let’s cajole the directors of the train company with a tax cut…

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Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Court orders DWP to name and shame workfare exploiters

View full decision: “The DECISION of the Upper Tribunal is to dismiss the [DWP] appeals (download as a PDF) and the full history of one of the FOI request’s of 25 January 2012, concerning the names of Mandatory Work Activity placement hosts. This tribunal decision concerned DWP appeals against three ICO decision notices (FS50438037,FS50438502 and FS50441818) all requiring the DWP to name workfare placement hosts.

Above via

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Diabetic dies after benefit sanction: Is this how we treat our former soldiers?

Hundreds Of Disabled People Sent On Workfare Every Week, Is Unpaid Work The New Segregation?

Disabled activists protesting in 2007 against Tesco, an early pioneer of unpaid work.

The new Minister for Murdering Disabled People, Nick Harper has teamed up with David Cameron this week to boast about huge numbers of disabled people being sent to work without pay, often for profit making companies.  The gushing press release forms part of the DWP’s cringe-making Disability Confident campaign, the latest gimmick to cover up the endless vicious attacks on disabled people by the department.

According to the figures around 45,000 people registered as disabled with Jobcentres have been referred to an unpaid work placement since 2011.  Of those 29,000 were sent on the Work Experience programme and 16,000 on Sector Based Work Academies, which the DWP now appear to be claiming leads to a guaranteed real job.  This is a lie...


Monday, July 21, 2014

5 Reasons Workfare is Coming Undone

by Christian Garland

What is broadly termed ‘workfare’ has been in existence in some form or other since at least the mid-80s, but in its current form – six complementary work schemes – it can be understood as a key element of the restructuring of capital, with a specific role in disciplining and punishing the ‘reserve army of labour’, i.e. the unemployed. The growing obsolescence of ‘work’ – understood as wage labour – and thus of a growing section of the workforce, means ‘workfare’ becomes of immediate concern for a significant number of the population, even if they have yet to have any dealings with the punitive benefits system. Initially popular with a range of companies for its ‘free labour’ appeal, workfare is slowly coming undone. Here’s why:

1. There is such thing as bad publicity.

On the streets and on social media the power of ‘branding’ has been turned to lethal effect. At least 35 organisations – household name companies and charities – have ended their involvement, swapping the maxim ‘there’s no such thing as bad publicity’ with ‘never underestimate the power of negative publicity’.
Although different groups and networks such as Boycott Workfare and Keep Volunteering Voluntary have played a crucial role, the effectiveness of the anti-workfare campaign cannot be attributed to any one organization or group of individuals. The barriers between ‘activists’ or ‘politicals’ and ‘non-political’ people are breached and fall when ex-customers and ex-donors let the company or charity in question know why they are no longer prepared to either shop or donate to them.

2. The campaign has drawn upon ‘virality’.

The term ‘going viral’ also truly comes into its own on social media, as share and retweets spread the anti-workfare word far beyond any effort to ‘get the message across’, via traditional media and actions – not to undermine such efforts. The initial storm on claimants being made to work unpaid broke in the media in 2012 following the legal actions of Cait Reilly and Jamieson Wilson against the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) and the hasty re-writing of Work Programme legislation, but the real effects were only to be felt once the concerted and ongoing campaign got going later that year.

3. Ongoing challenges have left the DWP struggling for a defence.

The campaign against workfare has had noticeable effects on actual policy and is shifting the coordinates of what is considered ‘compulsory’ and ‘voluntary’ work through contesting the (deliberately) muddy interpretive nature of the different variants of workfare. The British Chambers of Commerce has claimed criticism of workfare risks “undermining” it, and that government and employers should not to let the debate on social networking sites such as Twitter and Facebook drive policy decisions.  In 2014 the DWP – clutching at straws – has had to delay and indefinitely postpone the launch of the most punitive version yet: Help to Work. The proposed scheme includes ‘Community Work Placements’ and ‘Traineeships’ or ‘Apprenticeships’ targeting unemployed youth, with the DWP noting: “Most of the participants may have the wrong attitude to the government’s plan for getting work experience to get a job.”

4. And the courts are continually ruling against them.

The DWP has attempted to block repeated FOI requests for full disclosure of the names of sub-contractors in ‘Mandatory Work Activity’ and other workfare schemes via court order, and has repeatedly lost. It has launched appeal after appeal in a vain attempt to win a ruling in its favour, the latest attempt being indicted thus: “The DWP arguments are a classic case of focusing on certain words and seeking to get a ‘drop of blood out of a stone’…” The DWP has previously claimed that publically disclosing the lists of all those ‘sub-contractors’ involved in the different versions of workfare, “would have been likely to have led to the collapse” of MWA and other workfare schemes. In the latest tribunal appeal the DWP’s legal team has claimed, “Boycott Workfare’s ‘strident’ criticism, online petitions and direct action against hosts [is] not ‘standard criticism’.”

5. Workfare is unworkable but entrenched: the more it is pursued the more disciplinary it will become.

Workfare is any scheme at all with an element of material compulsion involved, and can be traced back to ‘Restart’ interviews in 1986. Material compulsion means the actual or threatened withdrawal of Job Seekers’ Allowance. However, in addition to the social ‘other’ of the unemployed, all those employed claimants who are chronically underemployed – a modest estimate putting the figure at between 8 and 10 million of the workforce – the unworkable vanity project that is so-called ‘Universal Credit’, will put them under the same workfare cosh, expecting them to “look for more or better paid work” as a condition of being able to supplement their meagre earnings. The alternative becomes either workfare or facing ‘sanction’. This serves to present low-paid waged work as a privilege, while it is simultaneously undercut by an increasing pool of free labour in the form of workfare. The result is an instrument of discipline which denies people a wage earned from a job, but also allows the state to withdraw assistance on the grounds that people didn’t ‘try hard enough’.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

How the IDS ‘Iron Dome’ defence system shoots down incoming facts

Originally posted on Pride's Purge:


Iron Dome is a mobile all-weather defence system deployed around Iain Duncan Smith’s head, designed to intercept and destroy short-range and long-range facts fired from distances of 4 kilometres (2.5 mi) to 70 kilometres (43 mi) away and whose trajectory would take them into populated areas of the Secretary of State for Work and Pension’s brain.

The IDS Iron Dome was declared operational and initially deployed on 27 March 2011 to protect Duncan Smith’s brain from the large numbers of facts which were being deployed against him and since that time the range of Iron Dome’s interceptions has increased from the current maximum of 70 kilometres (43 mi) to 250 kilometres (160 mi) to make the system more effective at protecting him from the reality of his policies.

IDS iron dome

According to defence experts, Iain Duncan Smith’s Iron Dome has been updated recently to enable him to intercept facts coming from two directions simultaneously.

The IDS Iron Dome…

View original 27 more words

Bedroom Tax vote to be forced through to abolish hated charge after Lib Dem U-turn

Blameless residents are forced to pay an average £14 a week for one extra bedroom and £25 for two or more - Labour leader Mr Miliband has pledged to scrap the tax

Change: Nick Clegg has called for the tax to be scrapped

Labour aims to make Nick Clegg put government money where his mouth is and scrap the Bedroom Tax, reports the Sunday People.

Ed Miliband plans to force a Commons vote in the autumn on abolishing the hated charge.

Last week the Liberal Democrats called for a major overhaul of the levy they had previously supported .

A Labour motion for abolition after the 2013 summer recess was defeated by 252 to 226 votes because of coalition support.

But if the Deputy PM now gets his MPs to vote with Labour – the housing benefit cut would have to be abolished.

Shadow work and pensions secretary Rachel Reeves told the Sunday People: “The Lib Dems have a simple choice to make.

“They could do the right thing and vote with Labour.

"Or they can vote with their Tory friends to keep the cruel and unfair Bedroom Tax in place.”


Saturday, July 19, 2014

The protection of freedom under the Human Rights Act: some illustrations

By Helen Wildbore, Research Officer, Human Rights Futures Project, LSE

Some examples of what difference the HRA has made.

Protest: Preventing demonstrators reaching a protest is unjustified intrusion into right to freedom of assembly.

The decision by the police to stop a coach of demonstrators reaching an anti-war demonstration in 2003 was challenged under the HRA. The police concluded that a breach of the peace was not imminent but decided to send the coaches home with a police escort to prevent a breach of the peace occurring at the demonstration when the passengers arrived. The court said that the police must take no more intrusive action than appeared necessary to prevent the breach of the peace.

The police had failed to discharge the burden of establishing that the actions they took were proportionate and constituted the least restriction necessary to the rights of freedom of expression (Article 10) and freedom of peaceful assembly (Article 11). It was wholly disproportionate to restrict a person’s exercise of her rights under Articles 10 and 11 because she was in the company of others, some of
whom might, at some time in the future, breach the peace.

The House of Lords referred to the “constitutional shift” brought about by the Human Rights Act, so that its no longer necessary to debate whether we have a right to freedom of assembly. (1)

Kettling to be used only as last resort.

To be lawful, crowd control measures by the police, such as kettling, must be resorted to in good faith, be proportionate and enforced for no longer than is reasonably necessary. (2)

The police must have a reasonable apprehension of an imminent breach of the peace, i.e. that it is “likely to happen”. Kettling had to be a last resort and no more intrusive than appeared necessary to avoid a descent into violence. This test of necessity would only be met in extreme and exceptional circumstances. Kettling a group of protesters at the G20 summit where the risk of a breach of the peace was not imminent, was an unlawful deprivation of liberty under Article 5.3

• Freedom of expression and the media.

Responsibly written articles on matters of public interest are protected

The common law defence of qualified privilege in libel cases includes a public interest defence for the media. (4)

Although this was developed in a case just before the HRA had come into force, but after it was passed, the court referred to the need for the common law to be developed and applied in a manner consistent with the right to freedom of expression (Article 10). The court listed ten matters to be taken into account in deciding whether the reporting was responsible.

More recently, this list has been held to be guidance, not hurdles, and the defence is to be applied in a flexible and practical manner. (5)

As a result, the media have much more freedom when reporting matters of public interest, where it may not be possible to subsequently prove the truth of the allegations, provided that they act responsibly and in the public interest.

Anonymity orders set aside to protect media’s right to free expression.

A group of media organisations successfully applied to set aside anonymity orders made in favour of individuals who were alleged to have links with Al-Qaeda and were suspected of facilitating acts of terrorism. The individuals had been designated under the Terrorism (United Nations Measures) Order 2006 and their assets were frozen.

The Supreme Court had to weigh the competing claims of the right to free expression of the press (Article 10) and the right to respect for private life of a relative of two of the individuals (Article 8), who would be identified if the anonymity orders were lifted. The court ruled that, in the circumstances, there was a powerful general public interest in identifying the relative which justified curtailment of his right to respect for private life. The anonymity orders were therefore set aside. (6)

Freedom of expression includes the right to receive information.

The right to freedom of expression (Article 10) includes not only the freedom to impart information and ideas but also to receive. The media have been granted access to a hearing in the Court of Protection, (7) when such hearings had previously been closed. (8)

•  Privacy: Damages awarded for unjustified intrusion into private life.

Where an invasion of private life is a matter of legitimate public interest because a public figure had previously lied about the matter, there will be a strong argument in favour of freedom of expression under Article 10 that will often defeat a claim of privacy under Article 8.

The publication of the fact that a public figure had taken drugs and was seeking treatment was necessary to set the record straight given her previous statements to the contrary, but the additional information published in the stories, including a photograph, was an unjustified intrusion into private life. Balancing the competing interests, the right to privacy under Article 8 outweighed the newspaper’s freedom of expression under Article 10 and damages were awarded for the breach. (9)

Retention of DNA and fingerprint evidence a breach of right to private life.

The blanket and indiscriminate retention of fingerprints, cellular samples and DNA profiles of people suspected but not convicted of offences failed to strike a fair balance between the competing public and private interests. The court* ruled that it was a disproportionate interference with the right to respect for private life (Article 8) and could not be regarded as necessary in a democratic society. (10)

Following this decision at the European Court of Human Rights, two men have brought a case in the domestic courts claiming that the retention of their DNA and fingerprints is a breach of their right to respect for private life (Article 8). One was arrested but released without charge, the other was charged of an offence but acquitted at trial. Both men had their requests to destroy their samples refused by the police, as there were no ‘exceptional circumstances’ for destroying them, as stated in the Association of Chief Police Officers guidelines.

The court made a declaration under the HRA that those guidelines on retention of biometric data are unlawful because they are incompatible with Article 8. The court noted that it was the intention of the government to bring new legislation on this issue into force later this year. (11)

Local authority snooping on family is intrusion of private life.

A council’s surveillance of a mother and her children to determine whether they lived within a school catchment area was ruled unlawful and a breach of their right to respect for private life (Article 8). The Council used surveillance powers given to it by the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 but a tribunal found their use of the powers was improper and unnecessary. (12)

Stop and search regime a breach of ECHR.

The stop and search powers under section 44 of the Terrorism Act 2000 are a breach of the right to respect for private life (Article 8). Under section 44 senior police officers can authorise the police to stop and search vehicles and people without the precondition of reasonable grounds of suspicion. Authorisations under section 44 covering the whole of Greater London have been made continuously for successive periods since section 44 came into force in February 2001.

The court* ruled that the use of coercive powers conferred by anti-terrorism legislation to require an individual to submit to a detailed search of their person, clothing and personal belongings amounted to a clear interference with the right to respect for private life. The powers of authorisation and confirmation as well as of stop and search under s44-45 were not in accordance with the law, in violation of Article 8.13.


Public Support For Axing ‘Bedroom Tax’ Has Never Been Higher

Nearly half of the British public are now opposed to the controversial ‘bedroom tax’, a poll by YouGov has revealed.

The YouGov poll for The Sun found that 49% were opposed to the ‘bedroom tax’ in July 2014, compared to 41% who still support the housing policy. This is in stark contradiction to March 2013, when 49% approved of cutting Housing Benefit for people under-occupying their social home and 38% disapproved.

Public support for the ‘bedroom tax’ has not been higher than 42% since November 2013, while opposition to the policy is now at its higher ever level, according to the poll.

The poll comes after Liberal Democrat Leader Nick Clegg announced a dramatic U-turn on his party’s earlier support for the ‘bedroom tax’. Nick Clegg said his party would seek to overhaul the policy, if it is still in government after the 2015 general election, by only penalising social housing tenants who refuse a smaller property.


Message to minister with 'blood on her hands'

CAMPAIGNERS demonstrated at an international golfing event in Tory MP Esther McVey’s Merseyside constituency yesterday to demand she be kicked out at the next general election, writes Peter Lazenby.

The Wirral West MP (pictured) will attend Cabinet after this week’s ministerial reshuffle but campaigners argue she should be ditched for what she’s done to disabled people as employment minister.

She supports sanctions delaying benefits to disabled people for up to two years, has attacked the Citizens Advice Bureau, denied foodbanks are linked to welfare cuts and said “many of those classed as disabled are not.”

Wirral Trades Union Council has launched a campaign to oust her at the general election, backed by disabled people.

Yesterday they targeted the Open golf tournament at Hoylake in Wirral.

Wirral TUC’s Alec McFadden said: “Esther McVey has blood on her hands. It’s quite clear that not only the people of Birkenhead and Wirral want to see Esther McVey sacked, but the response from the golfers and people coming here has been fantastic.”

Friday, July 18, 2014

Liars! The National Charity Who Are Deceiving The Public About Their Role In Workfare

johnny void


Some of the UK’s largest charities have a dirty little workfare secret and one of the best known has even resorted to telling bare-faced lies about their involvement in forced work.

In a statement on their website, updated on 14th July 2014, Age UK say:  “Age UK, the national charity which includes our 453 shops, is not involved in the mandatory welfare to work scheme.”

This will come as a surprise to G$S who have recently announced that an Age UK training centre in Preston will be acting as Placement Brokers for the recently launched and very much mandatory Community Work Placements.  Age UK’ have claimed up until now that only local branches, who are managed independently of the national charity, are involved in workfare.  But according to the charity themselves these training centres are a division of the national organisation, they are not locally run.

Whilst one part of Age UK is flatly denying any involvement with workfare, another division is actively involved in forcing people to work for free.  This is either staggering incompetence or Age UK are telling bare-faced lies...


Religious leaders unite against assisted suicide

The leaders of Britain’s faith communities have united to warn Parliament against the “grave error” of legalising assisted suicide.

Cardinal Vincent Nichols of Westminster and Anglican Archbishop Justin Welby of Canterbury joined 21 other of the most senior Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, Zoroastrian and Jain faith leaders to protest the Assisted Dying Bill.

The legislation scheduled to be debated in the House of Lords July 18 was designed to abolish the crime of assisting a suicide by allowing doctors to supply lethal drugs to people expected to die within six months and who are mentally competent.

But in a July 16 open letter, the faith leaders said the bill would allow doctors to decide if some people are “of no further value” and that it would place vulnerable and terminally ill people at “increased risk of distress and coercion at a time when they most require love and support.”

“This is not the way forward for a compassionate and caring society,” said the letter, signed also by Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis of the United Hebrew Congregation of the Commonwealth and Dr Shuja Shafi, secretary-general of the Muslim Council of Britain.

“While we may have come to the position of opposing this bill from different religious perspectives, we are agreed that the Assisted Dying Bill invites the prospect of an erosion of carefully tuned values and practices that are essential for the future development of a society that respects and cares for all,” the letter said.

The show of unity among faith leaders followed three senior Anglicans saying they supported assisted suicide.


Tory plans for human rights withdrawal slammed by Amnesty

TORY plans to withdraw from the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) would remove an essential safety net and “beggar belief,” Amnesty said yesterday. 

Prime Minister David Cameron has reportedly been presented with proposals on human-rights law this week, drawn up by a working group of Conservative lawyers, suggesting that the plan for an alternative British bill of rights could force changes in the way the ECHR operates.

But the lawyers also acknowledge that the changes could lead to Britain being expelled from the 47-member Council of Europe, which upholds human rights across the continent.

Amnesty International UK policy head Allan Hogarth warned the move would “rip away” our human-rights safety net. 

“The steady drumbeat of threats to dismantle human-rights protections for people in the UK reached a manic crescendo this week,” he said. 

“These latest reports beggar belief and, if true, reveal a plan which is both immature and ill conceived.
“Cameron appears intent on rubbishing the UK’s commitment to human rights and so undermining its influence as a moral authority on the world stage.” 

Not Dead Yet USA Write An Open Letter To The UK House Of Lords

As the British House of Lords prepares to hold debate on an assisted suicide bill modeled after Oregon’s law, American disability rights advocates from Not Dead Yet weigh in regarding the American experience. In an open letter to the House of Lords, John Kelly summarized arguments that helped defeat assisted suicide bills in three New England states this year.

Not Dead Yet USA today announced an advocacy and outreach effort to the British House of Lords, which is to debate an assisted suicide bill, HL 6, in Parliament on Friday, July 18. In addition to blogging and Twitter support, the group released an open letter to the House of Lords by Northeastern regional director, John Kelly.

“Over the past year, we have beaten back Oregon-style assisted suicide bills throughout the Northeast,” said John Kelly, “I wanted to share that experience with the House of Lords.”

“Bill 6, like the American bills, draws on shoddy science to create reckless public health policy,” wrote Kelly in the letter. The letter summarized the disability rights arguments against assisted suicide, with a list of problems including the impossibility of accurate diagnosis, the threat to depressed people, inevitable cost calculations, dangers for elderly people, and prejudice against disability.

Kelly wrote, “What we disabled people see in legalizing assisted suicide is that some people get suicide prevention, while others get suicide assistance, based on value judgments and prejudice.”

“We are joining our sister group Not Dead Yet UK and other advocates against this bill, which leaves vulnerable people unprotected,” said Not Dead Yet USA president Diane Coleman. Not Dead Yet UK plans to hold a rally on Friday at the House of Lords to voice opposition to the bill.

Not Dead Yet USA’s research analyst Stephen Drake blogged about UK proponents’ strategy of avoiding comparisons with the European countries with legalized euthanasia, such as Belgium, which has allowed euthanasia based on disability and has made children eligible as well.

“Instead,“ Drake wrote, “UK assisted suicide advocates have taken to pointing to the United States as a shining example of how assisted suicide can be contained and safeguarded.”

“People tend to forget that slippery slopes don’t just happen,” Drake said. “Incrementalist strategies – taking planned steps toward a desired result – are commonly called ‘slippery slopes,’ but they are really political advocacy working for partial victories toward a final policy goal.”


Benefit Sanctions Rocket By As Much As 563%, Shocking Figures Reveal

New figures obtained by the SNP have found a staggering increase in the number of people being hit by benefit sanctions at the hands of Westminster welfare reforms, further highlighting the need for a Yes vote and the full powers over welfare it would bring.

An answer to a Written Question from SNP MSP Kevin Stewart found that, since 2009, there has been a 65 per cent increase in the number of disabled people being sanctioned and a 76 per cent increase in women being sanctioned.

Lone parents have been hit the hardest, with a staggering 563 per cent increase in sanction since 2009.
Analysis from the Child Poverty Action Group has previously found that 100,000 more children in Scotland face being pushed into poverty by 2020.


Thursday, July 17, 2014

Cameron pledges to leave the European Convention on Human Rights.

BBC (Conservative) political editor Nick Robinson said a report written by a working group of Conservative lawyers has predicted that the so-called British Bill of Rights would force changes in the way the Strasbourg court operates. Robinson unbelievably quoted Theresa May on the radio earlier today, from this:

“We all know the stories about the Human Rights Act. The violent drug dealer who cannot be sent home because his daughter – for whom he pays no maintenance – lives here. The robber who cannot be removed because he has a girlfriend. The illegal immigrant who cannot be deported because – and I am not making this up – he had pet a cat.”

Of course this was a lie. At the time May made the bizarre claim, the Judicial Office intervened and stated “This was a case in which the Home Office conceded that they had mistakenly failed to apply their own policy – applying at that time to that appellant – for dealing with unmarried partners of people settled in the UK. That was the basis for the decision to uphold the original tribunal decision – the cat had nothing to do with the decision.” The recently ‘retired’ Ken Clarke also clarified at  a Telegraph   fringe event that no- one had ever avoided being deported for owning a cat.

It’s no surprise that David Cameron has pledged to explore  ways to leave the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) again, in the wake of the departure of his most senior legal advisor, according to the Daily Telegraph. Ken Clarke said: “It is unthinkable for Britain to leave the European Convention on Human Rights,” he was also a departing Cabinet minister. The Prime Minister is believed to have wanted rid of the Attorney General Dominic Grieve because he was supportive of Britain’s continued ECHR membership.


Disabled people need help to live, not die

I am terrified by Lord Falconer’s assisted dying bill – and so are the doctors who would have to act as suicide judges - Penny Pepper

I tried to commit suicide when I was 19. How tragic, you might say, so young and so unhappy. Yet if I tell you I’ve had a chronic illness since early childhood that is known for excruciating pain, for causing immobility and secondary – sometimes life-threatening – conditions, does that change your view of my suicide attempt?

I was unhappy and badly needed mental health support to treat depression. Sad to say that the standard response was to link my illness and disability automatically to my depression – and my “understandable” suicide attempt. There is a link, but not the one perceived by mainstream thought, medical or otherwise. I was stuck in an isolated dead-end existence within the family home, and as I wrote in the Guardian recently my mother was my only carer.

It felt like there was no chance of escape from a pointless existence; frustration dragged my depression into a downward spiral and I attempted suicide. I was in despair with barriers, with limits on personal freedom, and lack of independence – issues that can be alleviated by proper social care and the adaptation of physical boundaries.

Pain was, and is, a constant. But for the rest of my life I want to experience, to feel and to create as much as I can. I believe I am as valuable, with all my flaws and contradictions, as any other average human being. Yet the bill to legalise assisted dying – to be debated in the Lords on Friday – puts us on a dangerous road of devaluing disabled people. It frightens many; it frightens me...