Posts Tagged ‘Benefits’

Protest at its Last Extreme: The Bodies of the Dead accuse their Political Murderers

February 6, 2014

Stalin Famine

Cartoon Showing Stalin responsible for the deaths of millions through his famines

I’ve been reading the descriptions of the suffering of the Russian people during the artificial famine caused by Stalin’s collectivisation of agriculture in the 1930s In Alex de Jonge’s biography of Stalin. It’s truly horrifying stuff. Whole villages were found dead of starvation, while those pitiful souls, who made it into the town suffering from scurvy, boils and sores were rounded up by the authorities and thrown into cattle trucks, to be taken to the edge of the town. They were then dumped and left to die.

De Jonge also states that the peasants had a ‘fashion’ ‘that will appeal to those for whom only the blackest humour will do.’ He then describes how starving Soviet citizens took the bodies of dead friends or even strangers and arrange them at the feet of the statues of Lenin erected in many Soviet cities’.

You can either see this as a ghastly, morbid joke by a brutalised and dying people. Or you can also see it as a last, desperate protest by people, for whom all other forms of protest were closed and denied. Stalin had absolute control of the media and the Communist party itself. He had forced out of office any and all Communist politicians, who had any sympathy whatsoever with the peasants, such as Bukharin. Bukharin was particular unpopular with the rest of the Communist party as he was a vocal supporter of the Lenin’s New Economic Policy, which established a mixed economy, and had made a speech to the peasants telling them to ‘enrich themselves’. Needless to say, after he was forced from office he later died in one of Stalin’s purges.

The pyramidal structure of Soviet politics meant that ordinary Soviet citizens did not have any political power. There had been armed resistance to the collectivisation programme. De Jonge states that in one area there were 150 peasant uprisings, as the smallholders rose up against the regime and its officials, who wished to take away their land, crops and livestock. These were described as ‘women’s rebellions’, and put down ruthlessly.

And so ultimately the only form of protest the peasants and other citizens of the USSR had against a regime that was killing them in their millions was to lay the bodies of the dead at Lenin’s feet as the last, most powerful, mute accusation.

There’s also another similarity between the Coalition’s attack on the disabled and poor, and the Communist apparatchiks who robbed and killed the starving of the USSR under Stalin. Both regimes blame the victims. The Soviet officials in charge of collectivisation blamed the peasants themselves for the famine, claiming that they were deliberately withholding food in order to bring down the Communist system. This accusation reached its most paranoid, ludicrous extreme in the January 1930 edition of the Ukrainian Communist magazine, Collective Farm Activist. This rag hysterically accused the peasants of deliberately starving themselves to death to undermine the Soviet state: ‘they have grain [but] deliberately starve themselves and their families to death in order to sow discontent among other collective farm workers’.

ukraine-great-famine-2011-11-26-11-31-19

A Ukrainian woman reads the names of the victims of Stalin’s famine in her country during a special ceremony to commemorate them in November 2011.

The Coalition and many of their apparatchiks at Jobcentre Plus and the Department of Work and Pensions similarly blames the disabled and unemployed themselves for their condition. They are able to work, they’re just feckless layabouts. At the last interview I had at the Jobcentre Plus here in Bristol, at Eagle House, I was more or less told by a young woman, ‘Arti’, that I should stop coming in as I was ‘not allowing us to help you’. She also asked me rhetorically if I was continuing to come in to make a point. She would have been brilliant in the purges.

‘Are you guilty?’
‘Very guilty, O Stalin!’
‘Then let the mad lice be shot!’

Cameron Pic

David Cameron, whose cuts to benefits have resulted in the deaths of as perhaps as many as 38,000 per year. Not as much as Stalin, but getting there.

I wondered if a far milder form of this protest could be used to protest the ruthless policies of Cameron and Clegg and their lackeys Ian Duncan ‘Matilda’ Smith and Esther ‘McLie’ McVie. People are dying in their tens of thousands now, in 21st Century Britain, due to despair and starvation as the Coalition throws them off benefit. The true figures are not released, and the extent of the deaths little reported by a largely Right-wing media. I’ve reblogged a piece by Sue Marsh from Diary of a Benefits Scrounger on her experiences of being bounced back into the audience, mendacious editing, and simply being cancelled on various television shows purporting to investigate the condition of the disabled. Benefits Street on Channel 5 was merely the latest of these. Her piece is very well worth reading, as she presents a ream of statistics about the cuts to benefits for the disabled that is very definitely not reported. Mike over at Vox Political has also repeatedly blogged on the right-wing bias of the BBC’s reporting on the cuts under Jonty whatever-his-name-is, the current gauleiter in charge of the gleichschaltung of BBC News for the Tories. There’s a real problem in that the protests against the cuts aren’t reported by the Beeb or the rest of the media.

Maggie Cartoon

Anti-Maggie Cartoon. The caption reads ‘Never have so many been robbed of so much for the benefit of so few’.

I wondered if one way of making the point that this Coalition is murdering people in the tens of thousands is use similar imagery to that of the starving in Stalin’s Russia. Stilloaks on his blog has a list and potted biographies of 45 or so people, who have so far died through having their benefit removed by ATOS. It seems to me that one way of waking people up to the way the Coalition’s policies are killing people would be to organise a demonstration, where model coffins or candles, with the names of some of the deceased, were carried by the protesters and laid at an image or statue of David Cameron, or, for real shock value, Margaret Thatcher. After all, she was the ultimate architect of the free-market attacks on the welfare state that Cameron has merely continued and extended. And as we’ve seen from demands by some of the madder Tory politicos, there’s a real cult of Maggie just as great on the Right as Lenin was for the Communist faithful. After all, one of them wanted the May Day Bank Holiday to be renamed in Thatcher’s honour. Previously they just wanted to be restored to St. George’s Day, so that the English can have a national holiday like the Welsh, Scots and Irish. So the cult of Maggie even trumps patriotism. The names and photographs of some of the deceased should be carried, read out and laid at Cameron’s feet.

I’ve no doubt that protests like this have probably been done already, but I think it really needs to be repeated again and again to make the point inescapable. If nothing else, it should show how closely the Coalition of Cameron and Clegg resembles another doctrinaire and murderous regime, which they despise so much and whose despicable utilitarian attitudes to its workers they fully share.

ATOS’ Lies: More Commenters Speak Out!

January 11, 2014

Following my post on the suicide of Jacqueline Harris, who took her own life after Atos found her ‘fit for work’, I blogged on my own experience that ATOS will lie about the results of the medical examinations they conduct in order to find them falsely as capable of working. Others have had the same experience, and I posted the stories of two of the commenters to this blog. Since then, others have also commented with their experiences of ATOS lying and doctoring (ha!) the results of their examinations. Or sometimes even missing examinations they were supposed to hold and then blaming the claimant.

Cristina Light described her ATOS interview:

‘The ATOS GP gave me positive scores for all my joints movements without carrying on any examinations, and though he saw me ‘furniture walk’ with great difficulty, and 20/20 for my eyesight, though I can’t read a word without glasses – an ‘exam’ carried out on a Sunday lunchtime that lasted exactly 22 minutes (from 1pm when he knocked on the door to 1:22pm when the door banged behind him), and during which he never wrote but a few notes on a shorthand notebook. I was never given a copy of the report until a week before the appeal deadline. In it I noticed that he mentioned I could not be depressed because I had good eye contact and was articulate, properly dressed (in jimjams!!!) and had nail polish. The tribunal were appalled, and they made a point to note his name and ATOS number. I hope they gave him hell.’

Sam told how ATOS’ lies had not only cost him his benefit, but also his flat. Not surprisingly, his health was seriously damaged and more than once this poor fellow contemplated suicide:

‘I have just waited 15 months for a hearing of my appeal against a O point WCA finding by Atos HCP. At last, this week, it happened.

I was challenging on nine descriptors: the Tribunal only looked at two.

On the basis of their assessment of my case on those two descriptors, the Tribunal decided not even to look at the other seven.

There was no reason to do so… they’d already awarded me 21 points. It took less than 10 minutes.

During the year I lost my flat because, due to the cut in benefit while I awaited my hearing, I could no longer pay the rent. My inability to meet my obligations at my bank cost me penalties of hundreds of pounds and punitive interest. My health crashed. I seriously and continually contemplated suicide.

I am too exhausted and ill to do awt now. However, if I can recover and find the resources, I can assure Tommaz Jay and others that I have every intention of suing DWP, probably Atos and possibly IDS and and Atos HCP for exemplary damages.

I imagine that a few weeks I shall start visiting every site I can think of to seek help and to publicise (to the max).

I hope to show those conscienceless and incompetent social darwinists, and the world, with solid gold knobs on, that in the case of Sam, they made a terrible mistake.

Success will be doing so with such effect that WCA will be so discredited as to be a dead duck.

Pleasure will be doing so during the election period’.

Elizabeth Rogerson told how ATOS falsely declared that the autistic son of one of her friends was fit for work, despite the fact that this young lad has always had to be accompanied to such examinations:

‘I have an autistic friend whose mother attended every meeting with him during his application process for benefits because he can’t look after himself. When his ATOS assessment came up, his mother had a hospital appointment of her own to attend that had been a very long time coming and which she couldn’t miss, so I volunteered to be his responsible adult for the assessment. It seemed fairly innocuous when we were actually there, but he was of course rejected, and one of the points upon which they rejected him was “able to attend meetings alone and unsupervised”, which was an outright lie. He has never, never been to any official meeting without a representative attending with him. He would mentally incapable of doing so, just as he would be mentally incapable of answering any of the questions as they claimed he did. The entire transcript of his interview was a fabrication from start to finish.’

Angie Bennetton’s comment describes how ATOS keeps moving the goalposts by cancelling their examination of her at the last moment, and falsely claiming that she has not attended assessments. Again, the motive appears to prevent her from claiming benefit:

‘My complaint about ATOS is currently with the independent case examiner, but I’m not optimistic that anything good will ever come of it. My migration from IB to ESA started almost exactly 2 years ago and I’ve yet to have an assessment – we’re up to 13 appointments and counting. Almost invariably they’re cancelled at the last minute or later by ATOS or the doctor simply doesn’t turn up. ATOS have said so far that the doctor did turn up but I wasn’t in, but can’t explain how the letter telling me this arrived in the post half an hour before the appointment time. They said I refused to be assessed and that I’ve refused to attend the assessment centre. This is despite abundant letters and emails begging them to get this over with and repeated confirmation that they won’t let me in to the assessment centre anyway as ‘I’m too disabled’. They have also made up appointments which I failed to attend but for which they are unable to supply any evidence of informing me about them, then retracted the allegation when challenged. Finally, they have admitted that they knew from the outset that I should be in the Support Group but felt a face to face assessment would be in my best interests. Why? Their best interests more likely – so that they can trip me up with trick questions and find me fit for work and get paid for doing an unnecessary assessment.’

May Jones described how ATOs ignored her serious disabilities to concentrate on the her minor afflictions in order to find her fit for work. What is particularly disgusting here is the official inaction in response to the letter she wrote to ATOS and the DWP complaining about the wrongful conduct of her examination. It was only after she contacted the GMC that action was taken at last. Their punishment to the ATOS assessor is, however, clearly in adequate for the seriousness of his offence. They have simply banned him from carrying out any further assessments, while in fact his conduct in them raises grave questions about his whole integrity as a doctor.

‘ I was asked to have a medical by a DWP tribunal because they couldn’t decide (?) (I couldn’t attend).
The Atos GP ignored all but the minor disability and wrote a report about that.
The Tribunal disallowed me benefits based on this report.
I complained to Atos who upheld my complaint and said they notified DWP straight away.
DWP did nothing, didn’t contact me, the Tribunal service also ignored my letters.
Was ill for a while then, but eventually made a complaint to GMC about this GP. They also upheld my complaint. The only action they took was to stop him doing DWP/ATOS medicals.
If I had lied on a benefit form I’m likely end up in court.
These ‘GP’s’ are a disgrace to the profession and should also be in court or jailed.
DWP refuse to tell me how many others were refused benefits because of this discredited GP.
Think I’ll try a no win no fee solicitor.
Something MUST be done -they make health so much worse, I was thinking about topping myself for a while – I decided to fight back instead; some people can’t.’

She has also given the results of a Friend of Information Request regarding complaints to the GMC about ATOS and their doctors. These are disgusting, in that they show not only how many complaints have been formally submitted, but also that the great majority of them have been dismissed by the GMC. It seems that the deliberate falsification of results, in order to deprive someone of their income, leaving them often homeless and suicidal, are in general not seen as a serious issue by the Council. This in itself should be a major issue, as it has been in the past when the Council has allowed doctors guilty of serious negligence or even crime, such as the sexual assault of their female patients, to continue to practice.

‘complaints to GMC about Atos/DWP ‘doctors’ -Freedom of Info request.
From 2009 – 2013 GMC investigated 149 complaints (cases).
These cases relate to 126 doctors (as a doctor can have more than one case against him)
15 cases still under investigation.
The outcome of the remaining 134 cases:
Closed 120 (no action)
Closed with advice 10 (tut tut)
Warnings: 3 (slap on wrist??)
Undertakings:1 (?slap and tut tut??)

Please remember, a complaint must be os a pretty serious nature before GMC even investigate or create a case.
So out of all these ‘doctors’ most are still collecting their fat fee’s while lying through their teeth.

I suppose I was fortunate, the discredited doctor I complained about can’t do any more harm.’

It is abundantly clear that all too many people have had ATOS lie and fabricate the results of their examinations, in order to get the DWP to deprive them of benefits. I’ve no doubt too that this is done according to the covert instructions of the DWP itself, in order that they can fulfil the quotas they have set of removing as many people as possible from the benefits system. The result has been enormous suffering, deprivation, and, in all too many cases, the claimants’ death.

ATOS must be stopped and held responsible, and the deliberate manipulation of the benefits system and the secret quotas and policies of the DWP and their master, Ian Duncan Smith, exposed, discredited and abolished.

ATOS Lies: Part Two

November 30, 2013

In an earlier post this past week, I stated that from my own personal experience ATOS lies and will falsify the answers a claimant gives in their assessment in order to have that person thrown off benefit. Others have had the same experience. Last week Johnny Void post another piece reporting the death of Victor Cuff. Mr Cuff was yet another tragic addition to the rising number of people, who have killed themselves after being declared ‘fit for work’ by ATOS. He was the second person to have killed himself in despair that week, following the death of Jacqueline Harris in Bristol. Commenting on the post, TM (@cedawnow) describes his own experience of the ATOS assessment. He states that the nurse administering the test was angry that he did not give simple ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answers. He also states that ‘She lied, let me say that again she lied about my responses said she performed physical assessments that she did not and recommended a return to work in three months. Oh and not forgetting that she completely omitted to include my main condition in her report.’ Here is TM (@Cedawnow)’s comment in full:

‘Agreed it is the system that has been instituted by IDS and his cohorts of ministers and civil servants at the DWP who are ultimately responsible for these deaths and many more. But, I was just following orders is not good enough. Atossers are complicit in the current torture of the sick and disabled. It is their so called health professionals who write the report that the DWP uses to make a decision. How can the correct decision be reached when these people omit relevant information, out right lie and try and trick you into proving that you are actually fit for work. How about the old dropping your meds on the floor thing or asking you how you managed to get to the assessment.

In my own case the nurse who I saw was incredibly angry that I couldn’t just give her a yes or or no answer for her tick box computer programme and badgered me throughout to only give yes or no answers. She was the one who suggested that I was actually socialising when I went to the supermarket and leapt on the idea that if I had my dead mothers elderly dog living with me then I was somehow fit to work.

When the brown envelope dropped through my door I could barely believe that the nurses report was actually about me. She lied, let me say that again she lied about my responses said she performed physical assessments that she did not and recommended a return to work in three months. Oh and not forgetting that she completely omitted to include my main condition in her report.

Even the DWP disagreed with her and stated a return to work in a year and a half. Obviously I appealed with all the resultant stress which negatively impacts on my health and now I am in the support group waiting in fear for my next assessment to check if my degenerative conditions have somehow miraculously improved.

I refuse to excuse Atos as just carrying out their job as per DWP instructions. The nurse that I had the misfortune to see was actively trying to deny me sickness benefits not assessing my ability to work and she did not care how she did it whether that be a direct lie or omission of relevant information. Therefore as far as I am concerned Atos are complicit in the harassment of sick and disabled people and not just doing their job.’

His comment and those of many others as well as Johnny Void’s post on Victor Cuff’s death, are at http://johnnyvoid.wordpress.com/2013/11/29/second-suicide-linked-to-welfare-reform-reported-this-week/#comments. The post is entitled ‘Second Suicide Linked To Welfare Reform Reported This Week: RIP Victor Cuff’.

I strongly advise everyone taking the test to take someone else with them into the interview as a witness to the questions and their answers to them. I also recommend recording the interview, although, as Mr Void, Mike Sivier and other bloggers have pointed out, ATOS have had people thrown out or even prosecuted for attempting to do this. Which to me shows very clearly that ATOS know they are in the wrong, and are extremely worried.

The Void on a Joint Week of Action by Civil Servants and Claimants against Austerity

July 19, 2013

The Void has a very interesting piece on the call for action at the Job Centres by the Civil Service Rank and File Network to set up a joint campaign with claimants against the government’s austerity campaign. Mr Void’s piece begins

The Civil Service Rank & File Network (CSRF) has called for action aimed at Jobcentre Plus in the week beginning the 5 August.

“In the week commencing 5 August we encourage civil servants to work with claimants and others who oppose austerity in your area.

• Hold workplace meetings to discuss the type of action needed to win.
• Stage pickets outside of the Jobcentre to bring workers and claimants together in opposition to the government.
• Occupy the Jobcentre and bring business to a halt for as long as you practically can.

This is interesting, as the civil servants at the frontline of the benefits system are frequently seen as hostile or obstructive to the people they see. Years ago the Private Eye/ Spitting Image spoof of Mrs. Thatcher’s memoirs, Thatcha! The Real Maggie Memoir carried a spoof Unemployment Benefit form. One of the questions were: Do you hang about on the steps of the office building with a couple of dogs, drinking Special Brew? Yes/ No. If you ticked ‘Yes’, the answer was ‘You’re not a complaint, you’re one of the staff, so get back to work, you lazy b*stard’.

The full story can be read here:

http://johnnyvoid.wordpress.com/2013/07/19/week-of-action-down-the-jobcentre-starts-august-5th/

Benefit Tales on the Record Number of Maimed Soldiers Losing their Benefits

July 19, 2013

The blog Benefit Tales, which is devoted to criticising the Coalitions cuts and war on people on benefits, has a piece from the Daily Mail on the record number of maimed soldiers now being assessed as fit for work by Atos. The piece begins

Anger as record number of maimed troops are denied disability benefit in Government’s controversial assessments
Hundreds of injured ex-soldiers declared fit for work by Atos Healthcare

Royal British Legion announce rise in soldiers having claims rejected

Soldiers forced to undergo demeaning physical tests by firm

A record number of wounded war veterans have been denied disability benefits in the past year after undergoing tests carried out by the Government’s controversial assessment company.

Hundreds of injured ex-soldiers are being declared fit for work by Atos Healthcare in spite of physical and mental injuries they suffered in the conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Last night, the Royal British Legion (RBL) announced a 72 per cent annual rise in former soldiers having their applications to receive Employment Support Allowance (ESA) turned down. Several hundred wounded personnel were denied the benefit on the basis of physical examinations conducted by Atos, according to the RBL.

This is disgusting, as these men and women have had their bodies and minds mutilated in the service of their country. It is a shocking betrayal of people of immense courage. It is also shows the new attitude of indifference and contempt by the Conservatives towards the sections of society that traditionally formed the backbone of Tory support. The Tories always claimed to be the party of law and order and defence. The cuts to the police force and the services have raised real questions about this. This new campaign to deny benefits to their traditional supports, people who have been through some of the most hellish experiences on this Earth, shows their contempt for ordinary people knows no bounds.

The full story can be read here:

http://welfaretales.wordpress.com/2013/07/18/anger-as-record-number-of-maimed-troops-are-denied-disability-benefit/

Blog of Interest: Atos Victims Group

July 15, 2013

I found this website through the links on Rainbowwarriorlizzie’s Human Rights and Political Blog – see the links at the side of this page. The Atos Victims Group contains news and comprehensive opposition to Atos bullying and victimisation of the disabled under the spurious argument that such cuts to their benefits will get them into work. I’ve also added them to the links bar. As I have mentioned before on this blog, Private Eye have run numerous stories on severely disabled people, who have been told that they are fit to work. These include the terminally ill, and individuals with severe physical and neurological conditions. My brother, Mike, has been trying to get the DWP to release the precise statistics of how many poor souls are committing suicide a week after Atos has removed their benefit. Others are trying to do the same, but the government rather petulantly refuses, on the grounds that this is ‘harassment’.

In one case, Atos’ victim was a woman suffering from severe depression. After she was told by Atos that she was no longer eligible, she attempted to take her life. Private Eye covered this story, and quoted the relevant legislation that should have stopped the incident from ever occurring. Under the provisions of one of the acts covering welfare assessments, these examinations may not occur if they would exacerbate the health of the person examined. Or as Hippocrates told his medical students way back in the 5th century BC, ‘First do no harm’. It was a maxim proudly quoted by the Holographic Doctor on Star Trek: Voyager back in the ’90s. This fact alone shows that Star Trek geeks probably have a better understanding of medical ethics than the benefit slashers in Atos. If that incident is true, then Atos broke the law.

It’s not only the disabled that Atos has bullied and led to commit suicide. According to the Eye, the head of Atos was at one time the chairman of France Telecom, in charge of its privatisation. Under his regime, about 30+ employees committed suicide due bullying by management. We do seem to be dealing here with a person almost completely devoid of any kind of human sympathy or morality. The Atos Victims Group is to be applauded for their campaign against such an amoral, predatory organisation.