Posts Tagged ‘Invalidity Benefit’

More Memes Against Conservative-Lib Dem Killing of Disabled from Vox Political

May 6, 2015

Mike over at Vox Political has produced a couple more memes against Cameron’s and Clegg’s mass murder of the sick and disabled through their benefit reforms. Mike posted up a piece last Friday, letting his readers know that the Information Commissioner had finally ruled in his favour. The DWP was now required to release the information to him on the numbers of people, who died between 2011 and last year, while claiming invalidity benefit and ESA.

These figures give the lie to the Tory claim that those willing to work are being helped into employment, while those who can’t are being given the support they need.

These people died in misery, poverty and desperation, because the benefit simply wasn’t enough. If they were fortunate enough to get it, of course. Many didn’t. They were sanctioned for the most trivial and contrived of reasons.

Since being informed of the Commissioners’ decision, Mike has received now word from the DWP itself. They have not sent him the information he requested. He therefore states on his blog that he feels they intend to make him wait the full 35 days before sending him the information.

The reason? If they give him the information now, it might cost them the election. Too many people could be swayed by the horrifying fact that Cameron, Clegg, Iain Duncan Smith and Esther McVile have killed an estimated 60,000 or more with his wretched benefit reforms.

There has also been little interest in this information from the mainstream media, although he says there have been some encouraging signs from certain editors.

He’s therefore produced these two memes to help get the word out to the public. He’s encouraging people to share them, so please, feel free to print ’em off, and post them up, whether in hard copy or on the Net.

The first meme shows how the number of people, who have officially died while receiving benefits, is probably on the tip of the iceberg.

tipoftheiceberg

The second meme lays out the case that for the disabled, voting Tory or Lib Dem in the election is like certain poultry voting for a certain seasonal feast.

DWPturkeys

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At Last! Vox Political Wins Legal Challenge to Force DWP to Release Death Numbers

May 4, 2015

I’m afraid I’m a bit late covering this, for which I duly apologise. Mike over at Vox Political has finally won his appeal before the Information Commissioner for the DWP to release the stats for the number of people, who have died while claiming Invalidity Benefit and ESA between November 2011 and May 2014.

Mike’s article reporting his victory, Victory for Vox Political: DWP ordered to give details of benefit-related deaths, states that the government now must release the figures within 35 calendar days of April 30th. The statistics must also be broken down into the following categories.

◾Those in the assessment phase,
◾Those who were found fit for work,
◾Those who were placed in the work-related activity group,
◾Those who were placed in the support group, and
◾Those who had an appeal pending.

The Information Commissioner ruled

“It appears … that the DWP has had reasonable time to prepare for publishing [the] information and that disclosure was not so novel or unusual given the previous requests and disclosures made.

“DWP have not supplied any detailed or convincing evidence about the time needed and what preparation would need to be undertaken during this time or what the specific impact of disclosure would be… The DWP has previously published similar information.

The decision notice continued: “It is not reasonable for the DWP, having had enough time to extract the information and prepare internally for publication, to seek further time to provide the information requested.

“The Commissioner also finds that delaying publication is not reasonable in light of the requests DWP have received from the public and the fact that the previous statistics published were around two years old at the time of the request.”

Mike describes what initially moved him to campaign for the release of the information – an interim government report in 2013 Incapacity Benefit (Deaths of Claimants), which contained information on 10,000 + people, who had died. The report claimed that the amount they had been claiming was sufficient to give them sufficient to live on. Mike states he was sceptical, as there was later information suggesting that many had died because of unsympathetic treatment by a government determined to clear as many people off its books as possible, no matter how many casualties this would incur.

He describes the considerable difficulty he had in obtaining the information from the DWP, including their ruling that his request was ‘vexatious’. The DWP can still appeal the decision, but Mike believes that this would be unsuccessful. When he was first turned down by the Information Commissioners, they stated that they were sympathetic to his case. It was that comment that convinced him that a second attempt would be successful.

He is highly suspicious, however, of the delay in releasing this information. He feels it has been done for political reasons, as if the true number of deaths of people on Invalidity Benefit and ESA were made known – and these could be as high as 60,000 – it may deter many people from voting for the Tories and their Lib Dem collaborators. He then questions the validity of an election result if the details of the numbers of people dying while claiming benefits is not known.

The article’s at http://voxpoliticalonline.com/2015/05/01/victory-for-vox-political-dwp-ordered-to-give-details-of-benefit-related-deaths/. Go there for more information.

It is a great victory for Mike, after his long struggle trying to get this information out the DWP and the serial liars Iain Duncan Smith, Esther McVile and the public school bullies and thugs. They have indeed tried nearly every trick in the book to avoid releasing these figures. And it hasn’t just been Mike requesting them – many others have too, and been given the same feeble excuses, or simple flat denials.

And I’ve no doubt that Mike’s right when he says that the release of this information has been deliberately delayed until the very last minute in order to save the government from embarrassment. Others have been given the same treatment and shown the same attitude when making different, but similar requests for government information that should be freely available. Johnny Void and the other anti-workfare campaigners have tried to get the DWP to release details of the firms, that have enrolled on the scheme to use such forced, unfree labour. The DWP have turned down his and the others’ requests for the information flat. Why? Because they actually admit that if they released the information, it might stop people from using the firms involved. They would then be forced to pull out, and the scheme would fail.

Which also shows that the Tories and Lib Dems have absolutely no shame, and freely acknowledge that the scheme is unpopular, and wouldn’t go ahead if people actually knew more about it and the firms backing it.

It also shows the absolute contempt Cameron, Clegg and their oligarchic clique have for public opinion, despite all the mouthing they have done about democracy and expanding choice. They despise the poor and weak, and sneer at any genuine concern for them by the opponents of their exploitation.

In the case of the information on the number of deaths due to their benefit reforms, they have a bit more self-awareness, and realise that adopting the same attitude would just spread contempt and disaffection for them and their policies. So they have simply resorted to excuses such as the information wasn’t ready yet; or it didn’t need to be released right now, because it was already being prepared for publication in due course. Of course, their first, and risible response was simply that it would take too long, and the request was ‘vexatious’. By which they meant it wasn’t genuine, and was just done to cause trouble.

It’s a good excuse, as it does recognise that the request was made in order to question and challenge the welfare reforms and the policy of sanctions that forms a part of them. It also tries to dismiss this, as not being a serious request. There’s no need to take it seriously or release the information. It’s just some troll causing trouble for the fun of it. Now get back to work.

But it is a serious request, no matter how badly Cameron, IDS and their circle have tried to shrug it off. It’s good that Mike’s now got a ruling in his favour, but it is also marred by the fact that this information probably won’t be released in time for the election.

Apart from Mike’s success in finally getting a positive court ruling, I’m also touched and heartened reading and hearing about the many messages of support he’s had from people reading his blog. A huge number of people all across the country have wanted this information to be released, and are glad that someone is campaigning against the policy, even if it’s only in a small way.

You can see just how many people back the critics and protestors against the Coalition’s attempts to degrade, humiliate and destroy the very poorest sections of society reading the comments not just on Mike’s blog, but also over at Tom Pride, Johnny Void, the Angry Yorkshireman, Disabled People Against Cuts and so many others.

In the run-up to the election, the government will trying telling everyone that their policies are wonderful, and have almost unanimous support. They’re even manufacturing letters from business and charity leaders to present this mirage. There has also been comments posted on left-wing blogs supposedly by welfare claimants, saying how wonderful and positive the government’s policies have been and how they’ve worked for them. These have also looked suspiciously like fakes coming from someone at Tory Central Office. Particularly now as Wikipedia has accused Grant Shapps, AKA ‘Michael Green’, fraudster, of editing his Wikipedia entry and those of this political colleagues.

Go and read the comments on Mike’s and the other blogs to see how far this piece of spin very definitely does not correspond to reality. Despite their lies and spin, the Tories know very well how unpopular their policies are with the very people they’ve inflicted it on. Hence the attempts to shut them up by denying them information on just how destructive and pernicious these policies are.

Paul Foot on the Insurance Company Unum and Cuts to Disability Benefit in Private Eye from 1995

August 12, 2013

Paul Foot, the journalist brother of Labour leader Michael Foot, had a regular column in Private Eye until his death. Entitled ‘Footnotes’, this documented the abuse of corporate and political power, and Right-wing attacks on welfare, the poor, the disabled, minorities and the working class. After his death it became ‘In the Back’, and is one of the features that lift the Eye above being merely another humour magazine making cheeky comments about politicians and celebs. One of the companies standing behind the Coalitions cuts to disability benefit and the welfare state is the American private insurance company, Unum. Paul Foot turned his gaze on the company way back in the Eye’s issue for the 16th June 1995, when they were hired by Major’s Social Services Secretary, Peter Lilley. The article went as follows:

Doctor on Call

To help him in his bid to save £2 billion a year by slashing the benefits of disabled people, Peter Lilley, social services secretary7, has hired the vice-president of a big multinational insurance company which is usinig the benefit cuts to boost its sales.

Overcoming the xenophobia to which he so often gives voice at Tory party conferences, Mr Lilley has appointed an American.

Founded in Portland, Maine, in 1848, the Unum Corporation describes itself as “the world’s leading light in disability insurance”. Unum Ltd, its British arm, is based in Dorking, Surrey. It issued its annual report last September, when chairman Ward E. Graffam enthused about “exciting developments” in Britain.

He explained: “the impending changes to the State ill-health benefits system heralded in the November 1993 Budget will create unique sales opportunities across the entire disability market and we will be launching a concerted effort to harness the potential in these”. In January, the full extent of Lilley’s plans to replace invalidity benefit with incapacity benefit revealed to the Commons. Estimated “savings” for the year 1995-1996 were £410 million; for 1996-97 £1.2 billion; and for 1997-98 an astonishing £1.7 billion.

Obviously, with so much less government money going to sick and disabled people, the opportunities for private disability insurance were enormous. No longer could people rely on benefit income if they became ill or disabled. They would have to fend for themselves. Accordingly, UNUM Ltd, as its chairman had promised, “launched a concerted effort to harness the potential”. In April this year, a glamorous and expensive advertising campaign coincided with the new rules for incapacity benefit.

One UNUM ad warned: “April 13, unlucky for some. Because tomorrow the new rules on state incapacity benefit announced in the 1993 autumn budget come into effect. Which means that if you fall ill and have to rely on state incapacity benefit, you could be in serious trouble”. Lurid tables estimating weekly outgoings for an average family at £276, and benefit under the new rules at £100, urged people to “protect yourself with a Long Term Disability policy from UNUM”.

Crucial to the new rules were tougher medical tests to find out if people really are incapacitated. The Benefits Agency Medical Services (BAMS) recruited a new corps of doctors to carry out new “all-work tests”. The basic change in the tests was simple. In the past, disabled or sick people were entitled to benefit if they could no longer do their job. From now on, people are entitled to benefit only if they can do no work at all.

The new medical tests were fundamental to the “savings” Lilley hoped for. If the tests were too lax – if doctors were allowed to slide into sentimental slackness in assessing peoples’ ability to do any work at all – the whole purpose of the tests would be thwarted. So Lilley’s department set up an “incapacity benefit medical valuation group” to “monitor and validate the quality standards for the doctors involved in the all-work assessments”.

The most famous member of the group is Dr John Le Cascio, second vice-president of the Unum Corporation, who has recently been seconded to the company’s British arm. Dr Le Cascio was also invited last year by Lilley’s department to help in the extensive training of doctors in the new techniques of testing. The DSS stresses that “the doctors don’t decide the incapacity benefit – that is done by an adjudication officer”. No doubt; but the officer makes a decision on the expert medical information provided by the tests.

No press release was issued about Dr Le Cascio’s appointment. No one told taxpayers that the DSS is shelling out £40,000 to Unum Ltd for D Le Cascio’s services in the year from October 1994 to September this year. A DSS spokeswoman explained: “this comes down basically to a daily rate of £440 a day. That’s cheap for a consultancy, actually.”

The Eye asked Dr Le Cascio if he agreed there was an absolutely obvious conflict of interest in his position as validator and monitor of tests for a benefit, the cutting of which was being exploited to the full by the advertisements for his company. He replied:

“Well, I don’t feel that way of course, and if I did I wouldn’t have accepted the job. I was brought in for a specific reason, and that is to teach some of the medical principles which are contained in the design of the new test – that’s what I do, that’s my area of expertise. I’m a technical person and I can do that. To me, there is no sort of conflict as long as I do that job. I feel comfortable doing it, and I assume that those n the department feel comfortable with my contribution. The reason they’ve turned to me is because the commercial insurers have been working with this sort of valuation system for a long time and that’s where the knowledge lies”.

And in that article you can see the origins of the whole modern benefits system. The use by the government of a private company, in this case Unum, that stands to profit from cuts to the welfare system and the recruitment of new corps of professionals by BAMS to make the tests more difficult. The only difference is that BAMS has now gone and been replaced by ATOS. It’s another example of the way Blair merely inherited and developed a system that was put forward by the Tories.

Graffam

Graffam

Lilley

Peter Lilley