Friday, March 27, 2015

Forced CBT: The power of positive thinking is really political gaslighting

The power of positive thinking.
The government invests a lot of time and money in making people accept the unacceptable.

George Osborne announced in the budget that the government will be funding a “package of measures” to improve “employment outcomes” which will entail putting Cognitive Behaviour therapists in more than 350 job centres to provide “support” to those with “common mental health conditions” who are claiming employment support allowance (ESA) and job seekers allowance (JSA).

The government have put up an online contract notice which specifically states: “This provision is designed to support people with common mental health conditions to prepare for and move into work, with intervention at the earliest possible point in a claim to benefit or access to the Fit for Work service.”

We really must question the ethics of linking receipt of welfare with “state therapy,” which, upon closer scrutiny, is not therapy at all. Linked to such a narrow outcome – getting a job – this is nothing more than a blunt behaviour modification programme. The fact that the Conservatives plan to make receipt of benefits contingent on participation in “treatment” worryingly takes away the fundamental right of consent.

Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT) is used to change how you think (“Cognitive”) and what you do (“Behaviour”). It bypasses emotions, personal history and narrative, to a large extent, and tends to focus on the “here and now.”

CBT is an approach that facilitates the identification of “negative thinking patterns” and associated “problematic behaviours” and challenges them. This approach is at first glance a problem-solving approach, however, it is of course premised on the assumption that interpreting situations “negatively” is a bad thing, and that thinking positively about bad events is beneficial.

The onus is on the individual to adapt by perceiving their circumstances in a stoical and purely rational way.
So we need to ask what are the circumstances that the government are expecting people claiming benefits to accept stoically. Sanctions? Work fare? Being forced to accept very poorly paid work, abysmal working conditions and no security? The loss of social support, public services and essential safety nets ? Starvation and destitution?


Thursday, March 26, 2015

Massive survey majority believes ‘inhuman’ DWP causes and then covers-up claimant deaths

Please note: there are repeated references to suicide in the final section of this article, headed: “Is there anything else you would like to tell us about issues covered in this survey?

A Benefits and Work survey has revealed an overwhelming distrust of the DWP, with the majority of respondents considering that the department:
  • has negatively affected their own health
  • treats claimants inhumanly
  • causes claimants’ deaths
  • covers up the poverty, suffering and deaths it causes
Benefits and Sanctions deaths survey

In the last Benefits and Work newsletter we published a link to a ‘Benefits sanctions and deaths’ survey.

Two things prompted us to create the survey:
    the preceding week Conservative business minister Nick Boles told charity volunteers that some benefits sanctions were ‘inhuman’ – then changed his mind.
  • Channel 4’s Dispatches revealed that that more than 30 secret reviews carried out following the deaths of benefit claimants called for improvements by the DWP.
We received over 1,000 responses to our survey in just two days, with almost 50% of respondents also leaving detailed comments.  We’ve published around 100 of those comments below – we apologise that we couldn’t publish them all.

The results below have been rounded to one decimal place, so do not always add up to exactly 100%.

Bar chart for first survey question
The results for our first question “Do you think that the benefits system is ‘inhuman’ in the way it treats claimants?” were overwhelmingly critical of the DWP and its partners.

99% of respondents said that, at least sometimes, the benefits system is inhuman.

Yes 88.1%
No 0.6%
Sometimes 11.1%
I don’t know 0.2%

Bar chart for question 2 on health
A very strong majority of respondents, 88.7%, said that their health has suffered because of difficulties with the benefits system, with fewer than 10% saying that it hasn’t.

Yes 88.7%
No 9.6%
I don’t know 3.7%

Bar chart for question 3 on deaths
A massive majority of respondents, 97.3% , consider that DWP sanctions, cuts and unfairness have been responsible for the deaths of claimants.

There is uncertainty about the numbers involved, but 82.5% believe it is in the hundreds or even thousands.

No 0.7%
Yes, a small number 14.8%
Yes, probably hundreds 44.0%
Yes, probably thousands 38.5%
I don’t know 2.2%

Bar chart for question 4 on DWP cover-ups
A huge majority are also sure that the DWP is involved in a cover up about poverty, suffering and benefits-related deaths.

96% believe this to be the case, whilst fewer than 1% think the DWP is being open about these issues.

Yes 96.0%
No 0.9%
I don’t know 3.1%


Monday, March 23, 2015

TV Licence Violates Terrorism Act: Man Wins Lawsuit against BBC for 9/11 Cover Up

‘Tony Rooke, in an act of civil disobedience, refused to pay the mandatory £130 TV license fee claiming it violates Section 15 of the Terrorism Act. Rooke’s accusation was aimed at the BBC who reported the collapse of WTC 7 over 20 minutes before it actually fell, and the judge accepted Rooke’s argument. While it was not a public inquiry into 9/11, the recognition of the BBC’s actions on September 11th are considered a small victory, one that was never reported in the US.

“Today was an historic day for the 9/11 truth movement,” Peter Drew of AE911Truth UK told Digital Journal, “with over 100 members of the public attending, including numerous journalists from around the UK as well as from across other parts of Europe.”’

Read more: BBC Foreknowledge of 9/11 Collapse of WTC Building Seven: British Man Won Law Suit against BBC for 9/11 Cover Up

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Benefit Sanctions National day of action - Thursday 19 March 2015

No Sanctions logo

Please join an event near you on Thursday 19 March to stop benefit sanctions in your community.   

We will continue to add new actions on a regular basis, so please check back.

For further information please email your Unite community coordinator

Northern Ireland - Albert Hewitt
Scotland - Jamie Caldwell 
North West - Sheila Coleman

Monday, March 9, 2015

Father says daughter took own life over benefits cut

Julia Kelly
Julia Kelly Credit: ITV News Anglia
A father says his daughter took her own life because she was worried her disability benefits could be cut.
Julia Kelly from Northamptonshire suffered from chronic pain and took her own life days after receiving a letter from the Department for Work and Pensions.

Julia with her parents
Julia with her parents Credit: ITV News Anglia
At her inquest the coroner said the threat of losing her benefits triggered her to end her life...

Watch Sarah Cooper's ITV report here


Widow’s treatment by DWP ‘has been inhumane and cruel’

A disabled widow has accused the government of subjecting her and her late husband to “inhumane and cruel” treatment, after the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) argued that it was not responsible for supporting them.

Laurel Duut’s husband Peter died in October 2011 at the age of 42, just seven months after being told he was not entitled to claim employment and support allowance (ESA) or jobseeker’s allowance (JSA), because he was a Dutch national and was not “active in the labour market”.

They had returned to the UK in 2008, although Peter had spent most of his life working in the Netherlands. He worked as a carpenter, firstly in London – commuting six hours a day from their home in Suffolk – and then closer to home for a housing association.

But in March 2011 Peter lost his job, and was told he was not entitled to JSA because he was a Dutch national.

They were forced to survive on Laurel’s disability living allowance (high rate care and lower rate mobility), and the carer’s allowance that Peter claimed. This left them just a few pence every week for food after paying their bills.

Peter became ill with undiagnosed cancer in April 2011, but his health deteriorated rapidly from June 2011, and he began to lose weight. He was six feet three inches tall, but his weight fell from 11 stone four pounds to just nine stone two.

After being told by Jobcentre Plus that he would need to travel to find work – despite writhing in pain during the interview – Peter walked in despair to his local newspaper and told them how he was being treated.
He told the Cambridge News that he and Laurel were living on just 12p a day each for food.

Laurel finally received about two weeks’ worth of ESA for her husband, but it only arrived after Peter died in October 2011. She put it towards the cost of his funeral...


No Such Thing As A Fair Benefit Sanction - And They Are Not A Tory Invention

Iain Duncan Smith’s mass use of benefit sanctions is driving people to their deaths.  But it began under Labour, and was not opposed by most trade unions or charities established to support people living in poverty.

In 2008 the Labour government published a green paper entitled ‘No one written off: reforming welfare to reward responsibility’ (PDF).  Gordon Brown himself wrote the forward to the document pledging “tough responsibilities that respect tax payers” for all of those on some form of out of work benefit.

Even for a Government which had already introduced workfare and the despised Work Capability Assessment, some of the measures proposed were shocking.  These included mandatory work related activity – a vague term that often means workfare – for both sick and disabled claimants and lone parents with children over 5.  Other proposals included a policy that long term unemployed people should be sent on workfare for “as long as needed”.  Those with a drug problem would be required to undertake mandatory treatment regimes and possibly even drug testing.  Benefit sanctions would be strengthened. A new and privatised ‘Fit For Work’ service would be introduced to encourage people to go back to work quickly if they became ill.  And all those currently claiming sickness or disability benefits would be ‘frequently’ re-assessed at the notorious Work Capability Assessments which were being run by French IT company Atos.

Atos were far from the only private company set to rake in huge sums from Labour’s savage attack on the poor.  The green paper proposed that private providers would be able to bid for any welfare-to-work service.  This was based on a recommendation from David Freud, now better known as Lord Fraud, the current Tory Minister for Welfare Reform.

Except for mandatory treatment for drug users, all of these measure were eventually introduced, some by Labour and some by the Tories.  Many of Iain Duncan Smith’s most vicious policies were actually first proposed by Labour.


Saturday, March 7, 2015

Protests in Ireland against Austerity Measures, Political Policing and Imprisonments

‘My name is Paul Kiernan and I am a resident of Tallaght, Dublin, Republic of Ireland. I was politically arrested on Monday 16th February 2015 and face a possible charge of false imprisonment (which has a maximum sentence of 15 years imprisonment) of our Tanaiste Joan Burton (Labour party leader, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Social Protection).

I am 1 of 23 people arrested (with a reported 41 due to be arrested) so far which include men and women aged in their 40,s, 50,s and 60,s and children aging from 12-18 years old. There was also 1 TD (MP) and 3 local councilors from the AAA (Anti Austerity Alliance) arrested. At this very moment there are 4 people imprisoned and 1 which will be when he returns from holiday with sentences of 28 days and 56 days for breaching a court injunction which banned them from been within 20 meters from Irish Water Meter Installers.

These arrests and imprisonments and others taken place throughout Ireland are taken place against people that are taken part in civil disobedience against a corrupt and inept political system and government.’

Read more: Protests in Ireland against Austerity Measures, Political Policing and Imprisonments

Britain’s Horrific VIP Paedophile Cover-Up

‘A newspaper editor was handed startling evidence that Britain’s top law enforcement official knew there was a VIP pedophile network in Westminster, at the heart of the British government. What happened next in the summer of 1984 helps to explain how shocking allegations of rape and murder against some of the country’s most powerful men went unchecked for decades.

Less than 24 hours after starting to inquire about the dossier presented to him by a senior Labour Party politician, the editor was confronted in his office by a furious member of parliament who threatened him and demanded the documents. “He was frothing at the mouth and really shouting and spitting in my face,” Don Hale told The Daily Beast. “He was straight at me like a raging lion; he was ready to knock me through the wall.”

Despite the MP’s explosive intervention, Hale refused to hand over the papers which appeared to show that Leon Brittan, Margaret Thatcher’s Home Secretary, was fully aware of a pedophile network that included top politicians.’

Read more: Britain’s Horrific VIP Paedophile Cover-Up

One In Five Hammered By Benefit Sanctions, Says Expert

Originally posted on UNEMPLOYED IN TYNE & WEAR:

Nearly one in five (18.4%) jobseekers were affected by punitive benefit sanctions in 2013-14, new analysis suggests.

Analysis of official Government figures by Dr David Webster, a researcher from the University of Glasgow, shows that 568,430 of the 3,097,630 individuals who claimed Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA) during 2013/14 were sanctioned – with some seeing their benefits stopped more than once.

Furthermore, 22.3% of the total 8,232,560 individuals who claimed JSA between 2009/10 to 2013/14 (inclusive) have seen their benefits removed. Equivalent to 1,833,035 people.

The findings draw into question claims from DWP ministers, who insist only a “tiny number” of people are sanctioned and that they are only ever used as a “last resort”.

Statistically, the percentage of JSA claimants sanctioned each month stands at an average 6.5%.

However, according to the analysis, this headline statistic fails to account for the cumulative effect of benefit sanctions, which can last for a…

View original 276 more words

'Die in Six Months Or We’ll Prosecute You' - DWP To Terminally Ill Claimant

Originally posted on Same Difference:

A lady came in to see me today. She was beside herself as the DWP had treated her very badly over numerous different aspects of her claim. She had been misled and lied to, but this is the thing that’s making me want to roll some heads…

Her phone call to DWP last year….

Lady: I am calling to inform you of changes to my health; I now have cancer.
DWP: Well?
Lady: I was told to inform you of any changes to my health.
DWP: Well, are you going to die?
Lady: I’m not sure. I’ve only just been diagnosed.
DWP: Well, I can put you through on the special rules for terminal claimants, but if you don’t die within six months we will prosecute you.

She was so taken aback, she didn’t get…

View original 18 more words

RIP Julia Kelly: Another Tragic Suicide After DWP Threats

Originally posted on the void:


A woman who founded a charity to help people suffering with chronic pain committed suicide after a battle to claim disability benefits ended with the DWP demanding that she repay £4000 in backdated payments.

Julia Kelly was just 39 when she took ker own life at the end of last year.  In an  inquest into her death the Northampton Chronicle reported that the coronor believed the “upset caused by the potential withdrawal of her benefits had been the trigger for her to end her life.”

According to a statement made by her father at the inquest, Ms Kelly had attended three tribunals in her attempts to gain disability benefits.  Mr Kelly said he “firmly believed” correspondance from the DWP triggered her death adding:

“Not to be believed by the DWP that she was suffering chronic back pain and also to be accused of wrongdoing and be told her payments might…

View original 158 more words

Dad-of-three killed himself after benefits were stopped and he was threatened with eviction

” Pathologist Dr Mohammed Aslan, who performed a post-mortem examination on Mr McDonald, gave the medical cause of death as hanging.

He said toxicology tests had found no evidence of drugs or alcohol other than a small dosage of Sertraline, an anti-depressant.

Concluding Mr McDonald had taken his own life while suffering from depression, Mr Taylor said:
“Something must have happened to make him behave the way he did, because He had so much more to live for, especially his relationship with his daughter.

“At the time, his money had been stopped, he had no form of income, and he said he was threatened with eviction from his home – all matters that can play one someone’s mind very much.

“The appropriate conclusion for me today is that while he was suffering from a significant bout of depression, he took his own life.”


DWP’s Mandatory Reconsiderations have “effectively destroyed” independent Tribunals

Originally posted on

Benefit Sanctions Briefing – 18 February 2015: The DWP’s latest release updates the sanctions statistics to the end of September 2014. For the first time it includes the results of mandatory reconsiderations.

Download briefing – view online
Highlight:  “The Mandatory Reconsideration system, introduced on 28 October 2013, has fundamentally changed the whole appeal process, introducing additional steps and a new Jobcentre Plus structure. MR has cut the proportion of JSA sanctions which are challenged by claimants from about one third (33%) to about 20-25%. ESA sanction challenges have returned to below their pre-MR level, at about 45%. The independent element in the system offered by Tribunals has been effectively destroyed, completely in the case of ESA and almost completely for JSA, where only 0.14% of sanction decisions are now being taken to…

View original 91 more words

First Human Death Confirmed From Eating GMO

’31-year-old Juan Pedro Ramos died from anaphylaxis shock after consuming tomatoes containing fish genes that triggered the deadly allergic reaction. Doctors of the Carlos III hospital in Madrid Spain have confirmed this in a press conference shortly after his death and autopsy. The young Spaniard’s health rapidly declined immediately  following the severe allergic reaction.  The drugs administered to counter the anaphylaxis were completely inefficient. The team of medical experts concluded the genetically modified tomatoes that the victim ate during his lunch break resulted in his demise.’

Read more: First Human Death Confirmed From Eating GMO