Posts Tagged ‘PIP’

Now Dominic Cummings Has Got Coronavirus

March 31, 2020

Oh, the irony! As Mike says in his article, it’s poetic justice. After all, Cummings privately told people that Boris shouldn’t impose a lockdown because of the effect this would have on the economy. And if a few old people died, it was just too bad. He wanted Brits to develop herd immunity by allowing the virus spread unchecked until about 80 per cent of us had it. Now he himself has contracted it, and, as Ash Sarkar has dryly commented on Twitter, welcome to the herd. Have I Got News For You has recommended that he should immediately go into isolation for a certain period. They’ve decided five years should do it. Mike comments that because of Cummings’ vile complacency about the death toll from the virus, no-one can possibly be blamed for thinking that it’s just too bad that he’s suffering from it. And the great commenters on Mike’s blog have the view that, well, karma’s tough, and if it doesn’t kill him, he should be asset stripped and sacked from government and made to live on PIP or Universal Credit. They’ve also pointed out the hypocrisy behind the Tories expressing deep concerns over the casualties of the Coronavirus, while they have also been responsible for the deaths of over a hundred thousand through austerity and benefit cuts and sanctions.

Unfortunately it’s not just Cummings who holds such odious views about letting people die. So does the vile Toby Young, Scum hack Trevor Kavanagh, Telegraph hack Sherelle Jacobs, Brexiteer Godfrey Bloom and others on a long list of right-wing morons.

https://zelo-street.blogspot.com/2020/03/covid-19-godders-is-moron.html

See: https://zelo-street.blogspot.com/2020/03/toby-young-jumps-virus-shark.html

https://zelo-street.blogspot.com/2020/03/sun-pundit-lies-about-covid-19-deaths.html

https://zelo-street.blogspot.com/2020/03/toby-young-goes-full-nazi.html

Poetic justice: Dominic Cummings has contracted coronavirus

You’d hope that with Boris, Cummings and other members of his cabinet now infected, these idiots might wake up and have some sympathy for the victims of the disease, that they were content to write off and let die. But I doubt that’s going to be the case.

I can seem them still continuing to believe that the country shouldn’t have a lockdown and the poor should be allowed to die for the sake of the economy, even after it affects them.

Iain Duncan Smith Denounces Plan to Introduce Universal Basic Income

March 30, 2020

Universal Basic Income, the scheme by which governments give a specified guaranteed income to all their citizens regardless of personal wealth or employment, has been widely discussed in recent years. I think some countries may already have such schemes in place, and there might be a programme about it this week on Radio 4. It was also one of the ideas mooted to help people out of their financial difficulties caused by the Coronavirus lockdown. Ten days ago, on Friday, 20th of March 2020, Mike put up a piece reporting that Boris Johnson was then considering the idea. And not only that, the idea had the support of some British industrialists, like Liam Kelly, the chair of the Baltic Triangle group of companies. Kelly said that the scheme wasn’t quite as radical as dropping money from a helicopter, but was a plausible solution to the problem of the present crisis. He said “It will help stave off the unprecedented economic challenges we face and protect us from another. This is a sensible fiscal stimulus and it’s time it went directly to the people, not just to the banks.” This might be a reference to one of the criticisms of the government’s financial bailout of the 2008 banking crash. The money went to the banks, who have carried on as before. Some critics have said that what Brown should have done instead is given the money to the public, so that their spending would solve the crisis the bankers had created. Who would have to face the consequences of the massive financial bubble they had created, rather than expect everyone else to bear the costs imposed through austerity while they continued to enrich themselves.

One voice, however, spoke against this scheme: Iain Duncan Smith. The pandemic has had a profound personal effect on some people. It’s brought out the best in them, as friends and relatives rally round to look after those, who are too vulnerable to do things for themselves like go shopping. IDS, however, has remained untouched by this. He still remains a shabby, deplorable excuse for a human being. In an article in the Torygraph stuck behind a paywall – because the Tories don’t let the proles getting anything for free – IDS issued his criticisms of the scheme. He blandly stated that the scheme would make no difference to the financial problems of low-income households and would not alleviate poverty. For which he provided no evidence whatsoever. He also said that it would disincentive work, and cost an astronomic amount of money. This is despite the scheme being budgeted at £260 billion, which is £70 billion less than the £330 billion Rishi Sunak has already imposed.

Mike says of … Smith’s appalling attitudes that they come from a man, who seems to believe that the solution to poverty is killing the poor themselves. Why else, Mike asks, would he have imposed policies that have pushed the vulnerable so deeply into poverty that many have died.

Mike also makes the point that he’s also trying to protect his own political vanity projects, like the Bedroom Tax, Universal Credit, PIP and ESA assessments, which would all become redundant with the introduction of UBI. Mike concludes

And he wants to ensure that we do not get to see the beneficial effects of UBI, even if it is only brought in for a brief, experimental period.

It seems clear that, while the Tories are claiming to be doing what they can in the face of the crisis, the evil that motivates them remains as strong as it ever was.

See: https://voxpoliticalonline.com/2020/03/20/coronavirus-trust-iain-duncan-smith-to-try-to-wreck-our-chances-of-survival/

This is absolutely correct, though it can be added that the Gentleman Ranker isn’t afraid of seeing his own political legacy discarded, but the whole Tory attitude to poverty and the question of wealth redistribution. The Republicans in America and the Tories over here hate redistributive welfare policies. The rich, they believe, should be left to enjoy their wealth, ’cause they created it and its all theirs, and the poor should have to work for their money. If they can’t work, or are poor, it’s because of some fault of their own – they’re idle, or simply don’t have the qualities to prosper in the meritocratic society created by unfettered market capitalism. And since Maggie Thatcher, Tory and Blairite welfare policy is based on the assumption that a large percentage of people claiming disability or unemployment benefit are workshy scroungers. Hence the fitness to work tests, in which it has been claimed that the assessors are instructed to find a certain percentage fit, because Tory ideology demands that they do. Even if in reality they are severely disabled, terminally ill, or in some cases actually dead. This also applies to Jobseeker’s Allowance and Universal Credit, and the system of sanctions attached to them. It’s all the principle of less eligibility, by which the process of claiming benefit is meant to be as harsh, difficult and degrading as possible in order to deter people from doing it. It is designed to make them desperate for any job, no matter how low paid or degrading. Or if they cannot work, then they are expected to find some other way to support themselves or die. The death toll from benefit sanctions runs into hundreds, and the total death toll from Tory austerity is 120,000, or thereabouts. And many of these deaths are directly attributable to IDS’ wretched, murderous policies.

If Universal Basic Income were to be introduced and shown to be a success, it would effectively discredit Tory welfare policy. The idea that state welfare stops people from looking for work has been a Tory nostrum since before Thatcher. But with Thatcher came the belief that conditions for the poor should be made harder in order to make them try to do well for themselves. I can remember one Tory, or Tory supporter, actually saying that on the Beeb during Thatcher’s tenure of No. 10. But these ideas would be seriously damaged if UBI were successfully implemented. It would also help undermine the class system the Tories are so keen to preserve by closing the gap between rich and poor through state action, rather than market forces. Which, indeed, have never done anything of the sort and have only created glaring inequalities in wealth.

Iain Duncan Smith couldn’t bear to see this all discredited. And so to stop this, he blocked UBI, even though it offered a plausible solution to some of the financial difficulties people are suffering.

Which shows you exactly how despicable he is, and how devoted to the maintenance of a welfare system that has done nothing but push people into poverty, starvation and death.

 

 

Jeremy Corbyn Denounces Universal Credit at Bangor University in Wales

December 8, 2019

Please hold your noses for this, as it’s a video from the Torygraph. It’s of part of speech Corbyn made at Bangor University in Wales in which the Labour leader denounces Universal Credit, pledges not to sell off the NHS, make Social Care universally available, bring the utilities back into public ownership, give remote communities broadband internet, and compensate WASPI women. And the pride with which he describes his announcement that the Labour party would end Universal Credit in Iain Duncan Smith’s own constituency is a direct challenge to the wretched policy’s architect. The Labour leader begins

In 2010 a political choice was made. They could have invested for the future. Instead, they decided to cut for the present and damage the life chances of a whole generation of people all across the UK. And that austerity started off with Universal Credit being rolled out. Universal Credit, which is cruel in the way it operates, brutal in the way it does PIP assessments, Work Assessments, the way in which it does not give support to children in larger families…

I was very proud to go to Chingford and Woodford Green in the northeast of London, a constituency represented by Iain Duncan Smith and announce a Labour government will end Universal Credit. This is greeted with applause.

You can’t cut your way to prosperity! You invest your way to prosperity! And there’s no more important investment than investing in young people, children and the next generation. And that is what – applause – and that is what I want our Labour government to do. More applause.

Under Labour our NHS is not for sale to anybody… I want Social Care available for everybody all across the UK and I’ll save this today(?) to make that available. Applause.

Our manifesto here, this wonderful red book, I’ve got two red books, one in which I write my memoirs, notes and speeches,  and this one is the manifesto – they’re actually much the same thing really….

We, the Labour government, will compensate the WASPI women. Applause.

I’ll give you an example. Less than 18 hours after he’d become Prime Minister he came to parliament to make a statement and announced there were going to be 40 new hospitals. I was very impolite and asked him where they were going to be. Corbyn then imitates Johnson’s blustering manner, saying there’s no answer to that, old boy, it’s not possible, how can I possibly know…

A Labour government will be one that will empower people but will also ensure that public ownership comes back for rail, mail and water, the national grid,  and that we will – applause – we will invigorate poor and remote communities by broadband to every part of the UK within 10 years. 

These are great policies which will make this country a better, more prosperous and more equal place. A place were it’s people will get the health and social care they need and deserve, women the pensions they should have had, if it weren’t for the Tories, and an end to the austerity that has killed 130,000 people at minimum.

And against that the Tories are offering just more poverty, privatisation, starvation and misery, but are trying to deny this with smears and lies.

Get them out, and Corbyn in!

RT Interview with Paul Peter of DPAC on Tories Ramping Up Distress for Disabled People

October 12, 2018

This is another excellent video from RT, in which the presenter of their ‘Going Underground’, Afshin Rattansi, talks to Paula Peters from the disability organization, DPAC. Peters makes it very clear that, despite the lies of the Tories and particular Esther McVey, their cuts to benefits are causing immense mental distress to the disabled and constitute a human catastrophe, that was called such by the UN, who criticized the Tories for it.

The video begins with Peters stating that ‘She (Esther McVey) is ramping up mental distress for disabled people through the heinous policies that she and the Conservative party are implementing today.’

Rattansi goes on to state that The Department for Work and Pensions Secretary gave quite a barnstorming speech at the conference, raised quite a few eyes across the sector and that he is sure she would deny what Peters is saying. He asks her if there is any hope that the United Nations investigation into what she’s doing at the DWP for these alleged atrocities that people like DPAC are alleging, any hope that the UN can do something?

Peters replies that first of all they refute Wholeheartedly what Esther McVey said last week. The cuts to PIP payments, ESA, JSA, are real news, and they have eight years of evidence to back this up.

Rattansi asks, ‘She called if fake news?’

Peters replies, ‘Yeah, well, it’s not fake news, they are real stories and millions of people affected by these policies can say that, you know, are being plunged further into poverty and destitution as a result of their heinous policies and regarding the UN’s investigation there’s been years of written and oral evidence to back up millions of claimants who have been plunged further into mental distress, further into isolation as a result of DWP policy and it should be noted the government were the first state in the world to be formally investigated under the United Nations Convention of the Rights of People with Disabilities and found guilty of grave and systemic human rights violations. Then in 2017 the Committee ruled that the cuts that disabled people and people in mental distress were experiencing were a human catastrophe on our lives, and the UN rapporteur for poverty is about to visit the UK here in November and there coming here because there’s overwhelming evidence to show that disabled people and people in mental distress are plunged further into poverty by the cuts this government are making. This is not fake news, it’s real news and we need to continue the fight to get the truth out of what this government are doing.’

The video also include three pieces of explanatory text at the bottom of the screen. One states that a spokesperson for the Samaritans had said that McVey had stepped down from their advisory board due to her commitments as secretary of state for work and pensions. She had been invited to become a member of the board in early 2017 when she was chair of the British Transport Police Authority, which was one of the partners the organization works with to reduce suicides on the railways. The organization now states they no longer have an advisory board.

The second piece of text says that they contacted McVey and the DWP about DPAC’s allegations that the cuts were pushing people into poverty, but didn’t get an answer.

And the third quotes the DWP as saying on the subject of the UN that

‘The UK has a close working relationship with UN bodies and is committed to upholding the rule of law and [a] rules-based international system … The UK has a standing invitation to all Special Rapporteurs and it is UK government policy to accept and facilitate such visits, and to encourage other UN member states to do the same.’

Peters is absolutely right. DPAC, other disabled rights organisations, poverty campaigners and left wing bloggers, vloggers and activists have amassed abundant information that fully confirms that the Tory cuts are pushing people into poverty. And no, the government does not like giving the information to people. Mike had to fight very hard getting the statistics from the DWP under the Freedom of Information Act about how many people had died after they had been found ‘fit for work’ by ATOS under the Department’s rules. And even then, the information they sent him wasn’t exactly the information he requested.

I also remember Mike blogging about the UN’s condemnation of Cameron’s government for their maltreatment of the disabled, and the angry denials this due from the Tories.

As for McVile’s speech going down a storm with the Tories at their conference, well, to paraphrase Christine Keeler, it would, wouldn’t it. The Tory party is composed of the entitled, the rich, and the bigoted, who have a vicious hatred of anyone they think is a drain on their money. And that means the poor, the disabled, the less privileged, the working class, the unemployed and Blacks and ethnic minorities. You could see that from Peter Lilly’s prancing about the stage at one conference way back in the ’90s, when he decided to put on his version of a piece from Gilbert and Sullivan’s The Mikado. Like the Nazi U-boat commander in Dad’s Army, he had a little list. It was full of the people the government had decided were welfare spongers and malingerers, like unmarried mothers. As I’ve blogged about many times, the Tories have no sympathy with the poor and disadvantaged, and their policies seem designed to push them into suicide or death by starvation in what Mike has described as ‘Chequebook euthanasia’. Or the Nazis’ Aktion T4 by any other name.

My cartoon of McVey and other Tory lowlifes.

The Tories are positive threat to the health, lives and wellbeing of the people of this country. Get them out!

Jeremy Corbyn: The Tories Created A Hostile Environment for the Disabled

September 27, 2018

This is a very short video, of just over a minute, from Guardian News on YouTube. It’s a section from Corbyn’s speech at the Labour party conference in which he states plainly that the Tories have created a hostile environment for disabled people, and describes the anxiety and misery they are put through by the assessment tests, citing letters he has been sent. He said

For too many people, social security is become a system of institutionalized bullying and degradation. The Tories have created a hostile environment for disabled people. Hundreds of people from all over the country write to me about it every week. People like Richard, who says this,

‘My wife was diagnosed with progressive multiple sclerosis twenty years ago. A few months ago we were told she needed to reapply for Personal Independence Payments. She had an assessment by somebody who was not medically trained. We’ve now been told that all her medical benefit would be stopped, and yes, I have tried to be her rock, but the stress and suffering I can see my wife going through, is so very cruel and I’ve had to be put myself on antidepressants.’

These are human consequences of a Tory government that puts tax cuts for the wealthy ahead of care for the disabled people of our society.

He ends his speech to massive applause.

He’s absolutely right, but it’s not just the Tories, who are to blame. The assessment system was brought in by New Labour on the advice of the private health insurance company, Unum. It was based on a series of papers by one of their pet scientists about the role of the mind in illness, which has now been discredited as utter bunkum. It was also based on other, discredited studies that assumed that most people on sickness or disability benefits were malingerers. At the same Blair, like the Tories, loudly proclaimed that working was good for the long-term ill and disabled, even when it was obviously making their conditions worse. Since then we’ve had scandal after scandal of the terminally ill and those, who are clearly too disabled to work, being found ‘fit for work’ and having their benefits stopped.

It’s now time to end this vicious, unscientific, degrading and cruel system. The Tories must be thrown out of power, and the Blairites from the Labour party. After all, there are still Blairite MPs who believe that conditions should be made harder for the unemployed so that Labour can win over Tory voters.

Ellen Clifford of DPAC Attacks DWP and the Renewed Contracts to Atos and Capita

June 17, 2018

This is another short video from RT. It’s just over five minutes long, and is an interview with Ellen Clifford of Disabled People Against Cuts on the renewal of the contracts given to Atos and Capita to continue assessing disabled people’s benefit claims.

The interviewer states that the two outsourcing companies have been criticised for failing to meet targets and disabled people themselves through incorrectly assessing them as fit for work. 100,000 people have so far had the decisions against them overturned on appeal. The Labour and Liberal parties have called on the work to be taken back in house by the state.

The government, however, has released a statement, which runs as follows

The quality of assessment has risen year on year since 2015, but one person’s poor experience is one too many. We’re committed to continuously improving assessments, and have announced we’re piloting the video recording of PIP assessments with a view to rolling out this widely.

Clifford states that Capita and Atos have had their contracts extended only for two years, but that’s two years too long. They want this profiteering by the outsourcing companies to end. She also makes the point that one of the major complaints they hear about the assessments is dishonesty – or lies – by the company, and this is at such a rate that it cannot be coincidence. The current rate for decisions being overturned on appeal is 69 per cent. The interviewer asks if there is a chance that the process could be improved in the next two years. Clifford replies that over the past few years the government has announced that they’re changing and improving the scheme, but this is just tinkering around the edges. What is needed is a fundamental overhaul of the system, which is based on a model of disability that DPAC would not advocate. She hopes that the videoing of assessments will lead to more transparency, and DPAC will be watching this very carefully.

The interviewer also states that the majority of people are satisfied with the assessment process, and looking at the number of appeals against the positive cases, wonders if the issue isn’t being politicised. Clifford states that while the percentage of bad decisions may be small, they still affect millions of people, and so are statistically high. She says that anyone who works in the welfare sector or disability is inundated with cases from people, who have been turned down when they genuinely need that money. The interviewer asks her if she sees a glimmer of hope. She states that they see a government under pressure, experiencing market failure in this area. She states that DPAC also wants the assessments to be taken back in-house. They need to keep the pressure up. The assessments need to be taken back in-house and the whole system given a radical overhaul.

Everything Ellen Clifford says in this interview is exactly true. I’ve personally experienced Atos lying about my assessment and health, when they assessed me for incapacity benefit several years. And this was overturned on appeal. And when blogging about this issue, Mike and I, and many other left-wing bloggers, have received posts from commenters telling us how they were also wrongly assessed by the outsourcing companies to prevent them claiming benefits. Whistleblowers from inside the companies and DWP have come forward, stating that the government has set targets for the number of people, whose claims are to be rejected. I’ve reblogged a number of pieces, including videos about this. The fault lies with the DWP. And Kitty S. Jones has also described extensively on her blog how the DWP’s model of disability was produced by an American researcher working for Unum, one of the private medical insurance companies. They won the ear first of Peter Lilley, and then Blair and New Labour. The model assumes that people are malingering, and has been scientifically discredited. Nevertheless, this model is still used by the DWP.

The current system is a disgrace. It is, as Clifford states, all about throwing people off benefit. And despite its promises, all the so-called improvements introduced by the Tories are nothing but tinkering at the edges. When the Tories haven’t promised something more ominous. When they talked about cutting the rate of appeals, what they intended to do was not make the assessment process more honest, so that disabled people could claim benefit more easily, but actually making the conditions for being assessed as disabled more difficult, so that fewer people would be assessed as disabled, but could not successfully appeal against the decision because it followed the new, harsher conditions.

The whole process needs to be taken back in-house, and a radical overhaul done, with a view not to throwing disabled people off benefit, so that greedy multi-millionaires can enjoy another tax cut, but to make sure they genuinely have the welfare support and money they deserve and need.

Vote for Corbyn to Stop the Work Capability Tests

June 8, 2017

This is the text of another of my table-top pamphlets, this time against the notorious Work Capability Tests. These were also introduced by New Labour at the behest of Unum and other private healthcare providers.

These are not objective tests to assess who is well enough to support themselves. They are simply a callous, bureaucratic mechanism for throwing people with disability off the benefits they need to support themselves. These have included severely disabled people, including terminal cancer patients in comas!

This iniquitous system has been retained and expanded by the Tories – David Cameron and his Lib Dem lackey, Nick Clegg, and now Theresa May.

It is killing people. As I’ve mentioned far too many times before, about 600 + people have died in misery and despair after having their benefit withdrawn due to these tests. Stilloaks, Johnny Void, Mike at Vox Political and DPAC have put together lists and videos putting names to faces, to show the human reality of these statistics – whose mothers, fathers, sons, daughters, brothers and sisters were killed thanks to the Thatcherite insistence of cutting down on welfare.

The number of people, who have died after having been assessed as ‘fit for work’ is well above ten thousand, though the true figure may never be known. Mike and the other disability activists, who tried to get the figures were blocked by IDS and the DWP at every turn when they tried to get them.

Jeremy Corbyn has also promised to end workfare.

So vote for him. Don’t let the Tories kill more disabled people under the pretence of saving money.

Stop the Work Capability Test –
Before More People Die

by David Sivier

One of the very worst policies introduced by various governments as part of their campaigns to dismantle the welfare state over the past decade has been the Work Capability Test. This was introduced by New Labour in October 2008 along with a new benefit for the disabled and long-term sick, the Employment Support Allowance, which replaced Incapacity Benefit. The Work Capability Test is intended to show if the person claiming benefit really cannot work. It consists of questionnaire, in which boxes are to be ticked in answer to particular questions about the claimant’s health and disability. 2Ten of these tests were on the claimant’s physical health, and another ten are on their ‘mental, cognitive and intellectual’ fitness. There may also be a brief physical examination. The tests are performed by medical doctors working on behalf of a government outsourcing company. This was given to the French company, Atos, but the company was forced to terminate its contract a year early in 2014 following public anger at the system’s incompetence and maladministration. The contract was then given to an American company, Maximus. The tests may be repeated as often as the JobCentre Plus decides. If the disabled person scores low in the tests, they are judged fit for work. They lose their ESA and are told to apply for Jobseeker’s Allowance.

The tests are based on a monograph, The Scientific and Conceptual Basis of Incapacity Beneft, by Gordon Waddell and Mansel Aylward, of 2005 and a succeeding work, Is Work Good for Your Health and Wellbeing? By Gordon Waddell and Kim Burton. They were also strongly influenced by a 2001 New Labour conference, in which Aylward was a contributor, Malingering and Illness Deception. These led in turn to the publication of a Green Paper in 2006, A New Deal for Welfare: empowering people to work – an independent assessment of the arguments for the proposed Incapacity Benefit reform. Both Waddell and Aylward were professors at the Unum Provident Centre for Psychosocial and Disability Research at Cardiff University, which was funded by the American insurance giant from 2004-9. The Work Capability Test uses a form of Bio-Psychosocial model of assessment, developed in America by Unum Provident. This model of assessment is considered to have been devised by George Engel in 1977. In 2006 a paper produced by Professor Christopher Butler and his colleagues attacked the model as ‘wanting’ and inadequate. Waddell and Aylward’s 2006 paper has also been attacked and discredited by Emeritus Professor Alison Ravetz.

Unum, and pseudo-medical testing actually became part of the disability benefits system twelve years or so prior to the Waddell and Aylward’s paper, in 1993, when the-then Conservative Health Secretary, Peter Lilley, introduced tougher testing designed to evaluate whether claimants were totally incapable of work. They had previously been awarded benefit if they were unable to do their job. Lilley considered that this approach was to open to sentimental interference by doctors, and so set up an ‘Incapacity benefit medical valuation group’, whose members included Dr John Le Cascio, the second vice-president of Unum Corporation. Lo Cascio had recently been seconded to its British branch, Unum Ltd, based in Dorking in Surrey. In 1994 Lo Cascio was appointed to train the British doctors charged with carrying out the tests by the Benefits Agency Medical Services. New Labour claimed that the purpose of the Work Capability Tests has been ‘to get people back into work’. This was always a misleading claim. New Labour had a ten-year plan to remove one million people from the 2.8 million receiving disability benefits. Their Secretary of State for Health declared ‘We know that being in work can be good for your wellbeing’, echoing the title of the paper by Waddell and Burton. 13 Years before that, Lilley introduced the tests with the aim of cutting £2 billion from the benefits bill.

And Unum itself regarded the benefit cuts as a great commercial opportunity. In their report in 1994, Chairman Ward E. Graffam was enthusiastic about ‘exciting developments in Britain’, saying ‘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.’

Atos immediately decided that three-quarters of those in receipt of benefit were fit for work.16 Between the introduction of the tests in October 2008 and February 2012, the Department for Work and Pensions made over 1.36 million decisions on whether to award ESA following the administration of the tests on claimants. It declared 794,000 sick and disabled people ‘fit for work’. From the very beginning, the tests were criticised as being vastly inaccurate, and the treatment of claimants under it as cruel and degrading. ‘We Are
Spartacus’, a network of disability researchers and campaigners, denounced the way claimants were ‘wrongly assessed, humiliated and badly treated’. In response to repeated requests by disability campaigners, the DWP finally released the figures for the number of people dying over 11 months in 2011 while in receipt of ESA. 10,600 people in total had died. Of these, 1,300 had died after being taken off benefit following the decision that they were ‘fit to work’. Some of the people, who have died, committed suicide in despair at having their income terminated. One of these was a 47 year old man, who took a drug overdose. Others experienced a deterioration in their mental health due to the stress of assessment. Between 2008 and 2014, there were 600,000 appeals. This constitutes a third of all assessments, and in 2012-13 there were 465,000 appeals, with a success rate of 39 per cent. In some areas, lawyers had a success rate of over 80 per cent overturning decision by Atos against the claimant receiving benefits. 60 per cent of those, who had successfully appealed had scored zero. That is, Atos had declared them entirely fit for work. In 2013, however, the Conservative government took the decision to end legal aid for claims for welfare payment, which meant that fewer people would be able to afford to take the government to court.

In America, Unum Provident was fined $31.7 million in a class action lawsuit in California in 2003 for running ‘disability denial factories’. Two years later in 2005, John Garamendi, the California Department Insurance Commissioner, fined the company $15 million, declaring ‘Unum Provident is an outlaw company. It is a company that has operated in an illegal fashion for years’. The insurance commissioners of 48 American states had made a settlement with the company by 2006 that required it to review 200,000 claims and pay a $15 million fine. In 2008 the American Association of Justice declared that the company was the second most discredited insurance provider in America.

Despite public anger at Atos’ conduct of the Work Capability Test for ESA, the government in 2012 awarded the company another contract, worth over £400 million, for assessing whether disabled people were suitable for the Personal Independence Payment that was scheduled to replace the Disability Living Allowance in 2013. The Disability Living Allowance provided the handicapped with up to £130 per week to help them look after themselves. This was mostly awarded to help people cook, wash, and assist those with mobility problems. In the three years from April 2013 to 2016, this is to be phased out and replaced with the PIP, which is designed to get people back into work. The government was determined to cut spending on the PIP by twenty per cent during these three years, after the number claiming DLA rose by 30 per cent to 3.2 million people between 2002 and 2011. This was expected to throw 500,000 people off disability benefit.

As with their administration of the ESA fitness to work tests, Atos has proved to be less than efficient in its administration of the PIP. Those applying for the benefit may have to wait months before being notified that they are entitled. The cancer charity, MacMillan Cancer Support, stated that there were serious delays in the approval of payments. As well as leaving the terminally ill without this benefit, it also meant that they were unable to claim other vital benefits with which PIP was linked. As a result, some were forced in their desperation to take out loans from payday loan companies, which have a truly exorbitant interest rate. The number of problems with ESA dealt with by Citizens Advice rose by 54 per cent from 2011 to 2012, when the bureaux dealt with 450,000 of them.

Paul Farmer, the head of the mental health charity, Mind, criticised the tests for failing to consider the effects of mental health on people’s ability to work. In an interview with the Guardian in 2012, he said

The system is based on assumptions that claimants need to be forced back to work, rather than supported on their own terms, and that those not well enough to go back to work are somehow perceived as scroungers. These attitudes only serve to further damage individuals’ mental health and increase the time until they may be ready to return to work.

Richard Hawkes, the chief executive of Scope, another disability charity, stated that the tests ‘should be more than an exercise in getting people of benefits. It should make sure disabled people get the specialist, tailored and flexible support they need to find and keep a job.’ The House of Commons Work and Pensions Committee condemned the tests, stating that the system was so flawed it needed to be completely overhauled.

Guy Standing in his A Precariat Charter states that governments have been able to cut benefits for the disabled far more than for other groups, because they are a minority and so there is likely to be fewer objections to their treatment and lost votes. He also recommends that any firm hired by the government to provide services for the disabled should be bound by three commitments. The first should be to the disabled themselves; the second should be to the government; and the third should be to the whole of society, as the rest of us could be next. The employment contract awarded to such outsourcing firms should include penalty clauses requiring them to compensate the disabled claimant directly when they do not award them the correct benefits. This compensation should be much more than the benefits the disabled person did not receive. They should also be penalised for their mistakes. This would be a start, but it is not enough. The problem lies not with the companies administering the tests, but with the whole system of tests itself. The cause of the problem is attitude of successive governments, from John Major’s Conservatives, through Blair and Brown’s New Labour and then the Conservative-led governments of David Cameron, that the disabled should automatically have their benefits reduced, regardless of the poverty and hardship involved. The goal should be to provide benefits to support the poor and disabled, rather than cuts intended to reduce the tax burden for the rich. The Work Capability Test and the poverty and stress it inflicts should be stopped. Now.

American Politico Rick Santorum Calls People with Medical Conditions ‘Scammers’ Trying to Steal Health Insurance

March 2, 2017

In this video from The Ring of Fire, presenter Farron Cousins rips into Republican politician Rick Santorum for his mean-spirited, bigoted comments about people with pre-existing medical conditions. Santorum appeared on CNN this week, where he described people with these conditions as ‘scammers’ who were trying to steal others’ medical care. Farron points out that he didn’t describe how this was being done, when a scam is a deceit that is carefully planned and executed. He points out that people with medical conditions like diabetes or heart conditions aren’t scammers, trying to cheat others out of their healthcare. They are often people, who haven’t even spent a day doing anything wrong, who would otherwise find it extremely difficult to get medical care without Obama’s Affordable Care Act. How dare they take medical care away from those Americans, who don’t really need it! He makes the point that this is the common Republican strategy of trying to get people to turn on each other, as they’ve done with immigration.

This time, however, it won’t work. Ill health affects everyone, regardless of their political affiliation, Republicans and Libertarians just as much as Democrats, Green Partiers or whoever. By sneering at people with these medical problems, Santorum also shows how much he despises that segment of the Republican party who have them.

Cousins then lays into Santorum’s own massive political incompetence. He’s repeatedly tried and failed to get the presidential nomination. Cousins makes the point that he’s a stupid man, who says whatever comes into his head, who has so far been fundamentally lucky, but thinks it’s due to his own cleverness. With heavy sarcasm Cousins ends the clip ‘Good luck with your political career, Mr Santorum. You’re going to need it.’

Santorum is indeed no stranger to controversy. A few years ago his vocal opposition to gay marriage resulting in outrage gays and their supporters taking their own bizarre revenge against him. The submitted his name to the Urban Dictionary as the name for a substance too crudely biological to be decently mentioned in a family website.

It would be easy to dismiss Santorum’s comments as another product of the weird mentality of the American Right, which has no relevance to us Brits. But his mindset isn’t confined to him by any means.

It’s also very much the attitude of the Tories and the Blairites in the Labour party.

Mike and the other left-wing bloggers have pointed out that welfare fraud only accounts for 0.7 per cent of benefit claims. But thanks to the Tories and their media collaborators, like the Daily Heil and the Scum, the general public believes that it’s far more than that, and that roughly a quarter of all claims are fraudulent. This is how the Tories get their support for cutting down ESA, PIP and continuing with the wretched health assessments by ATOS and now Maximus.

And speaking of the work capability assessment, let’s not let Blair and his coterie in the Labour party off the hook for introducing it. Blair introduced it based on advice from insurance fraudster Unum and its head, John Lo Cascio, based on a piece of scientifically invalid nonsense, that considers poor health to be largely determined by mental attitude. Critics of the conference in which New Labour formulated its introduction of the tests and took the advice of Unum and other private health insurance companies on its implementation have repeatedly pointed out that the policy assumes that a large number of benefit claims are simply malingering. Blair and his minions even stated this at the conference in so many words.

The result of this is that there has been a massive rise in hate crime against the disabled. Mike last week reported the case of a young man with learning difficulties, who was beaten to death by a couple of young thugs. They seem to have thought their victim was a paedophile, but Mike also points out how much of their hate was inspired by the constant demonization of the ill and disabled by the Tories and their media.

And then there’s the role of the tests in creating massive poverty in this country. Mike, Stilloaks, Johnny Void, the Angry Yorkshireman, Kitty S. Jones and many, many other left-wing bloggers have posted up the names of some of the hundreds of victims of the Work Capability Assessment, who have died of starvation, misery or despair after being thrown off benefit. There’s even a whole website devoted to criticising it and the harm it’s doing to the sick and disabled: Atos Miracles. As Mike reported, another poor woman ended her life this week, thanks to the same malignant policy.

Mike, and Jeff3, one of the commenters on this blog, have repeatedly asked the rhetorical question whether behind all this there is a deliberate eugenics programme to cleanse Britain of its disabled by stealth, just as the Nazis started murdering the congenitally ill in the infamous Aktion T4 during the Third Reich. It’s a good question. Thatcher’s mentor, Sir Keith Joseph, stirred up controversy in the 1970s when he claimed that single mothers were a threat to British genetic stock. If it wasn’t for the fact that he was Jewish, he would have fitted right in with the Nazi party.

Santorum’s stupid, bigoted comments about the long-term sick and disabled being ‘scammers’ aren’t the exception. They aren’t the peculiarly twisted view of some nutty American right-winger. They’re bog-standard across the transatlantic Right. You find them in the Tories, their Lib Dem enablers, the Blairites in the Labour Party, and screaming at you every day in the page of the Murdoch Press, the Heil, Express and other tabloids. And this is having an effect. They’re encouraging a government determined to deny people support even if, or especially if, it kills them.

If you accept Santorum’s comments, if you support the Republicans in their repeal of the Affordable Care Act, or support the Tories and Lib Dems over here, or hanker for the return of Blair or one of his cabinet of horrors to return to lead the Labour party, you are supporting this policy of bigotry, murder and death.

Vox Political on the Tory DWP Chiefs Forcing Paraplegic Miners to be Continually Reassassed

December 21, 2016

Yesterday Mike also put up a story about a protest by Alan Cummings, the secretary of the Durham Miners’ Association, against the DWP’s insistence that two miners should reapply for their ESA benefit. The two men had been made paraplegic in mining accident 25 years ago, and had not worked since. Nevertheless, the DWP still wanted them to fill in ‘a labyrinth of forms’, according to Mr Cummings, who accused the Department of acting like Scrooge.

Mike states that a spokesperson for the Department has tried to fend off these criticisms by claiming that Personal Independent Payment is a ‘dynamic’ benefit, which needs to reassessed as claimants needs change.

Mike makes the point that this statement is inapplicable, as they were claiming ESA, not PIP. Furthermore, the men had not worked for 25 years, and so were obviously extremely unlikely to find work now.

The spokesperson also announced that the government was going to make sure that in the most serious cases, people receiving ESA would no longer be required to be continually reassessed. Further details would be announced in due course.

Mike concludes that this looks like another case of official harassment to deter the former miners from receiving benefit, before the new legislation was brought in which would prevent this.

http://voxpoliticalonline.com/2016/12/21/tory-dwp-chiefs-know-paraplegic-miners-cant-work-but-still-make-them-take-reassessments/

This follows all the previous cases in which the DWP has harassed and hounded severely disabled and terminally ill people with demands that they be reassessed for their benefit. Such as the incidents where amputees have been asked when they expect their missing limbs to grow back, as if they were the shed tails of lizards. Or found people in comas, dying of cancer, ‘fit for work’.

As for this new legislation, which will exempt the most extreme cases from reassessment, I’m not going to hold my breath waiting for it. The Tories have shown themselves to be inveterate, shameless liars, always making promises they have absolutely no intention of keeping. Such as Cameron’s claim that NHS spending would be ‘ring-fenced’ against cuts. Or May’s promise to put employees in the boardroom. Or all the lies about not privatising the NHS. I think this statement is another lie, and that the Tories have absolutely no intention of exempting anything from their policy of harassing people to deter them from claiming benefit.

Chunky Mark on the Horror of Theresa May’s Cabinet

July 14, 2016

Theresa May was declared the winner of the Tory leadership contest. Yesterday, she moved into No. 10, and now today she has announced her cabinet. This includes such luminaries as Boris Johnson (foreign secretary), Jacob Rees-Mogg (Secretary of State for India) and Liam Fox. In this video, Chunky Mark the Artist Taxi Driver gives his considered view of this cabinet of horrors. As you’d expect, it’s a rant, and Mark compares May and the rest of her cabinet ministers to some of the classic monsters of horror cinema. May herself is the Queen from Aliens, and he likens all of them to the Omen, Norman Bates, Pinhead from Hellraiser, and Pennywise the Clown from Stephen King’s It. He says at one point that they’re so horrific, he expected poltergeists to fly out of No. 10. This is Margaret Thatcher’s revenge from beyond the grave, he tells his viewers. And none of them have been elected. The leadership of the country was simply transferred from one Tory to another, without our consent or involvement.

But he has a point. These people are monsters. May stood in the street yesterday, and announced that she was going to work to continue the Tory party’s work of creating a more equal Britain, and not one that was for ‘the privileged few’. This is surely a lie, as flagrant as any the Tories have ever uttered. Chunky Mark points out that she praised David Cameron’s social programme, which has seen even more people forced down into misery and poverty. And May is, of course, the authoritarian, who wants to spy on everyone with her ‘snoopers’ charter’. Chunky Mark goes a bit far when he says that she wants to implant chips in our heads. But as Lobster has shown in a number of articles on mind control, the technology is there, and has been refined ever since one of the scientists involved in developing the technology stopped a raging bull with it in an experiment for MKULTRA back in the 1960s. The paranoiacs might be nuts, but sometimes they’re right.

Mark also discusses the shouting that was also heard on camera when May made her speech. You never saw them, and nobody from the BBC decided that the public should listen to them, or hear what they had to say. They were protestors from DPAC – Disabled People Against Cuts, protesting against the cuts to Disability Living Allowance and the PIP. But the Beeb didn’t want you to know that.

He also covers May’s stance against Scots independence. The British Conservative Party also includes the Scots Unionists, indeed, until the 1970s, the Conservative Party was known as the Unionist Party north of the Border. And May has made it abundantly clear that the Conservative and Unionist Party will never let the Scots have their independence.

The Chunky One is also rightly incensed about the vile racism in all of this crew. One of May’s new ministers declared that our society was being wrecked by North African and Syrian immigrants. Chunky Mark points out that they’re refugees, who’ve been forced to flee their countries because of the wars we’ve started there, and our own looting of them. Then there’s Boris Johnson with his infamous rant about ‘watermelon picaninnies’ and how Obama hates Britain, because he’s half-Kenyan, and we tortured his people. It’s a very dark joke when this man becomes our foreign minister. And then there’s the appointment of Jacob Rees-Mogg as the Secretary of State for India.

It’s a rant, but an accurate one. This is indeed a cabinet of horrors, in which people, who are clearly deeply unsuited to any kind of responsible cabinet role, have been given the posts to which they are the most unsuited. Kenneth Clark said in his unguarded conversation with Malcolm Rifkind that if Boris got in, he’d have us fighting three wars at the same time. Well, he’s not Prime Minister, but he has been made foreign secretary, so perhaps he’ll have his chance yet. Completely absent from all of them is any concern for the poor, or for anything except corporate profit. Cameron’s was an administration of aristos and corporate elites for the rich. That has not changed one iota, no matter how much May spouts about ‘equality’ and not working for the ‘privileged few’.