Monday, August 31, 2015

UK Citizens more likely to be killed by DWP than a murderer



DPAC triggers UN inquiry into grave and systematic violations of disabled people’s rights

The UN Inquiry and UN visit to UK to examine the grave and systematic violations of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD) was initiated by DPAC.

This inquiry is the first of its kind-it has great historic importance. It means the UN will examine the vicious and punitive attacks on disabled people’s independent living as well as the cuts which have seen so many placed in inhuman circumstances and has led to unnecessary deaths.

In May 2013, after 3 years of onslaught against disabled people by the Condem government, DPAC made a formal submission under the CRPD Optional Protocol which establishes an individual complaints mechanism for the Convention.

There was less information and statistics than now on the impact of the Welfare Reform and loss of a right to independent living on disabled people. However the evidence DPAC presented to the CRPD Committee was extremely strong

DPAC’s evidence presented the regression of disabled people’s convention rights and the grave and systematic violations of disabled people’s rights under the UNCRPD. It was accepted by the UNCRPD Committee.

After an initial response from the government responding point by point to the DPAC submission, DPAC made a second submission, supported by further evidence of the disproportionate impact of all cuts on disabled people.

This submission, as the first one, included,
  • the failings of the Work Capability Assessment,
  • the bedroom tax,
  • the closure of the Independent Living Fund
  • the unwillingness of the government to make an assessment of the cumulative impact of the Welfare Reform on disabled people
  • its reluctance to monitor what was happening to disabled people who were found fit for work after an assessment and who lost their only means of support (see complete list)i,.
This submission was partly based on firmly sourced statistical and other factual evidence, and also on the hundreds of personal testimonies that DPAC has received from individuals who have been affected adversely by the governments’ welfare reforms.

The UK government sent a second response to the UN about DPAC’s submission but by then the CRPD Committee had decided that there was enough evidence to open an inquiry into the violations of disabled people’s rights by the UK government.

The Committee also told DPAC that the inquiry was totally confidential and could be jeopardised and called off if any news of an UN inquiry was leaked.

It was the indiscretion of an ex-member of the CRPD Committee which brought the inquiry into the open, but DPAC kept its side of the non-disclosure agreement. The further leak in newspapers on Sunday 30th August convinced us that disabled people needed to know the full extent of the process

This inquiry is an unprecedented move and unchartered territory for the UNCRPD Committee.

It is also another route of hope for disabled people who have been abused by the UK government, ignored by most of the opposition and betrayed by the big Disability Charities.

Sunday, August 30, 2015

UN investigating British Government over human rights abuses caused by IDS welfare reforms

‘The UN is to visit the UK to investigate whether Iain Duncan Smith’s welfare reforms have caused “grave or systematic violations” of disabled peoples’ human rights, it has been reported.

A leading disability charity says that they have been contacted by the UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities as part of an investigation into human rights abuses against disabled people in the UK.

Inclusion Scotland, a consortium of disability organisations in Scotland, says the UN committee has advised them that they will be sending a Special Rapporteur to the UK in the “near future” as part of their probe.’


Saturday, August 29, 2015

Friday, August 28, 2015

Death Has Become Part Of Britain’s Benefits System

More than 80 people a month are now dying after being declared ‘fit for work’. The safety net that used to be there for the most vulnerable is being torn to shreds.

Go to your local benefits office and desperation can be boiled down to a six-point plan, mounted on pink laminated card. The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has assembled written guidance on suicide for its “frontline staff” – a euphemism for workers hired to call people and break it to them that they’ve been rejected for benefits. One section of the guidance – that is to be reported to managers to alert them of “a suicidal intention” – instructs jobcentre staff to find out what the person plans, when it is planned for, and whether “the customer has the means to hand”.

I don’t know at what point social security and a risk of suicide became inevitable partners. Or when government “supporting people” – as the DWP described the guidance this week – began to mean, not helping people build their lives, but checking that they do not want to die.

Death has become a part of Britain’s benefits system. That is not hyperbole but the reality that the stress caused by austerity has led us to. Shredding the safety net – a mix of sanctions, defective “fit for work” tests, and outright cuts to multiple services – has meant that benefit claimants are dying; through suicide, starvation, and even being crushed by a refuse lorry when a 17-week benefit sanction forced a man to scavenge in a bin for food.

How can a government have such disregard for death? It is worth looking at how it expects some of us to live...

This morning, the government released mortality statistics – or rather, was forced to after several freedom of information requests – that show more than 80 people a month are dying after being declared “fit for work”. These are complex figures but early analysis points to two notable facts. First that 2,380 people died between December 2011 and February 2014 shortly after being judged “fit for work” and rejected for the sickness and disability benefit, Employment and Support Allowance (ESA). We also now know that 7,200 claimants died after being awarded ESA and being placed in the work-related activity group – by definition, people whom the government had judged were able to “prepare” to get back to work.

Notably how or why each of these people died was not recorded – meaning it’s impossible to say whether a death was linked to an incorrect assessment. But for the government, distortion is key and it is not restricted to faked benefit sanction leaflets. If we needed a sign of the DWP’s intentions, as it prepared to release today’s mortality statistics it was seemingly hedging its bets by finalising the details for a tribunal where it had planned to try to repress some of them.

How can a government have such disregard for death? It is worth looking at how it expects some of us to live. Until a few months ago in Bootle, Merseyside, a 48-year-old severely disabled man was being washed in a paddling pool in his front room. Rob Tomlinson, who has cerebral palsy, had used a purpose-built walk-in shower in the specially converted four-bed council house he shared with his carers, his brother and sister-in law. The bedroom tax saw the family evicted and until a new property was found a year later, Rob lived with only a child’s pool and hose to stay clean.

There is a reason, in the age of austerity, that politicians and much of the media has stopped using the term social security and replaced it with “welfare”. It sets expectations much lower. A sense of security for members of society in need bumped down to mere subsistence.

Today’s mortality statistics do not simply point to the death of disabled, poor, and ill people but of the system that was meant to protect them. Before our eyes the principle of a benefit system is being reduced from opportunity, respect, and solidarity to destitution, degradation and isolation.

Six-point plans to avoid people on benefits killing themselves do not exist in a society that has hope for their lives. The welfare state was built on the idea of “the cradle to the grave”. Now for thousands, all they receive is help to that grave. © Guardian News & Media Limited 2010
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Thursday, August 27, 2015

Fake benefits claimant 'Zac' quoted in other DWP documents

Non-existent benefits claimant featured in second Department for Work and Pensions leaflet describing how his jobseeker’s allowance was cut

DWP Leaflet - with fake quotes and pix

A non-existent benefits claimant invented by the government to talk in glowing terms about its welfare system has been quoted in other documents published by the Department for Work and Pensions, it has emerged.

“Zac”, who appeared in the DWP leaflet withdrawn on Tuesday amid a storm of criticism, features in a second document describing how his jobseeker’s allowance was cut.