Posts Tagged ‘PIP’

Vox Political: Government Cuts Benefits to Reward Rich with Another Tax Cut

March 13, 2016

Mike over at Vox Political has also posted a piece reporting a story from the Torygraph reporting that Osbo wants to cut £1.2 billion from the welfare budget to raise the 40 p tax threshold. It’s another case of the Tories cutting benefits in order to make the rich richer and the poor poorer. All in the name of efficiency and making us more independent and free of ‘welfare-dependency’, no doubt.

See http://voxpoliticalonline.com/2016/03/12/outrageous-billion-pound-benefit-raid-is-to-fund-budget-tax-bribe-for-the-rich/.

This looks very much like the cuts to the PIP payments Mike mentions in the article I’ve just reblogged. So yes, the Tories are cutting the benefit to the disabled to give to the rich.

Vox Political: Debbie Abrahams Reports Government about to Cut £1.2 billion from Disabled

March 13, 2016

Mike over at Vox Political has a piece reporting the claims of Labour Shadow Minister for the Disabled, Debbie Abrahams, that the DWP is preparing to slash £1.2 billion from the PIP budget for the disabled. Madam Abrahams states

“Just a week after forcing through cuts to support that will take over £1,500 a year from disabled people, the Tories have today snuck out a proposal to take away a further £1.2 billion, by removing support from people who are not able to manage toilet needs or dress unaided. This will mean that over 600,000 disabled people are set to lose almost £2,000 a year.

“In coming to this decision, the Tories are yet again ignoring the views of disabled people, carers and experts in the field, trying to press ahead with changes, just two years since the introduction of the system. While their own proposals admit that the vast majority of respondents did not think the case for change had been made.”

More information can be read at Mike’s blog at http://voxpoliticalonline.com/2016/03/12/more-than-24-billion-has-been-taken-away-from-disabled-people-to-support-tax-cuts-for-the-rich-who-dont-need-them/.

The title of Mike’s piece has the rhetorical question whether the £24 bill taken from the disabled is to fund tax cuts for the rich. Considering how the government is shifting the tax burden from the rich to the poor, I really don’t think there’s much doubt about it.

Cameron to End DLA for Life for Wounded Servicepeople

March 23, 2015

Mike over at Vox Political has just posted this piece, David Cameron betrays 80,000 disabled veterans about the Prime Minister’s plans to strip permanently disabled war veterans of their disability benefit for life. The article notes that DLA at its highest rate is the yardstick local councils use for providing home care for the disabled. When it goes, so does the local authority services.

The article begins

At any given opportunity when in front of TV cameras, David Cameron waxes lyrically about what this nation owes to British Military Forces, with special consideration given to disabled veterans, writes Mo Stewart.

But it seems that he means modern disabled veterans who, since 2005, have benefited from the more generous Armed Forces Compensation Scheme.

Until April 2005, members of the armed forces who suffered a permanent disablement due to service life were awarded a War Pension, with many awarded access to Disability Living Allowance (DLA), for life, to help to fund the additional costs of disability.

Without warning, the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has sent letters to working-age War Pensioners advising that access to DLA is about to be stopped and that disabled veterans may, if they wish, apply for the new Personal Independence Payment (PIP) – with no guarantee that it will be awarded.

DLA for care at the highest rate is the monitor used by local authorities to provide home care services that permit disabled people to enjoy independent living in the community. Without DLA, or its equivalent replacement, the care services will be removed.

The article notes that disabled service personnel over 65 will retain the DLA for life, while modern service personnel have access to the Armed Forces Compensation Scheme and the Armed Forces Independence Payment. However, this still leaves 80,000 ex-service men and women without DLA, and no guarantee that they will get the PIP brought into replace it.

Mike’s article considers this a betrayal of our boys and girls in the Forces. He’s right. Cameron and the Tories love posing with military equipment and the army. They have been brought up from public school to see themselves as great war leaders like Alexander the Great, Nelson, the Duke of Wellington and Winston Churchill. Yet they still retain absolute contempt for the men and women, who actually go and fight their wars. They’re grunts, cannon fodder, and their derisory treatment by the Tories has shown this again and again. The Spitting Image book Thatcha! The Real Maggie memoirs contained a mock war comic strip showing a former soldier going mad with a gun after the government showed their gratitude for his service in the Falklands by making him, and others like him, unemployed.

After Gulf War I, John Major’s government did it. There was a national scandal of homeless and unemployed war veterans. Now Cameron is doing it again. And all the while posing with them as the protector of Britain and democracy around the world.

The Tories’ treatment of ex-servicemen and women bizarrely contrasts badly with that of Iran. The mullahs in charge the Islamic Republic gave former soldiers, who had bought against Iraq in the Iran-Iraq War, preferential treatment in a number of areas. One of these was university entrance. This obviously caused friction with the civilian population, who understandably chafed at the reduced opportunities for them.

If a brutal despotism like Iran can reward its servicepeople for the immense sacrifices they made for the homeland, then it more than behoves us to grant our war-wounded proper support and benefits for theirs.

Cameron is a disgrace, and his conduct in this shames Britain and our claim to promote democracy and equality.

Vox Political Asks the People of Broxtowe If They Really Want Their Tory Candidate

March 21, 2015

Mike over at Vox Political has post this piece, whose very title asks a very, very good question Broxtowe: Do you really want Anna Soubry as your MP?. Soubry is a right-wing, true-blue Tory reactionary, who now occupies the seat. It had been Labour since 1997, and although now Tory, is a marginal.

He points out just how right-wing and nasty her views and voting record are. She has voted for the punitive welfare cuts that have sent hundreds of thousands into poverty, including the bedroom tax. Against this, she supports tax cuts for the rich, and the transfer of the tax burden to the poor through raising VAT. She also supports the privatisation of the NHS, the forests, Royal Mail, and Britain’s schools. She doesn’t, however, seem to believe that further and higher education should be free, as she voted for raising tuition fees and ending the support for ‘A’ level students. She also support further military actions overseas and purchasing Trident. As for justice, she supported the ending of legal aid, secret courts, and the further expansion of the powers of the security services to spy on citizens’ private emails and telephone conversations without warrants. She is also an opponent of devolving further powers to local authorities, as well as a referendum on Britain’s membership of the EU. Given this record, it’s to be expected that she also hates green energy and supports the badger cull.

The article begins

Anna Soubry has been among the more vocal Conservatives in the Coalition government – which is interesting as she represents the extremely marginal seat of Broxtowe.

The seat had been Labour-held since 1997, and it seems likely that the Tory victory here in 2010 was a sign of dissatisfaction with the then-current Labour government, rather than interest in anything the Tories had to offer.

How would residents vote if they knew Ms Soubry’s voting record? Let’s find out.

She is against increasing income tax paid by the extremely rich; against a bankers’ bonus tax; supports cutting Corporation Tax (even though this does not make companies more likely to invest in the UK or its workforce); and supported the increase in VAT. Clearly she believes in taxing the poor to pay for the rich.

She is strongly in favour of the current government’s creeping privatisation of the NHS.

She strongly supported the Bedroom Tax.
She strongly supported cuts to social security benefits including Jobseekers’ Allowance, Employment and Support Allowance, Disability Living Allowance, the Personal Independence Payment and so on.
She strongly supported the benefit uprating cap, ensuring that benefits do not rise in line with prices.
She voted very strongly for making local councils responsible for helping people afford council tax – and for reducing the amount available for such support.

She is thus a typical member of Cameron’s Tories, who believes in grinding the poor into desperate poverty and rolling back the frontiers of the state in order to make life even better and more profitable for the rich.

Mike states that people of Broxtowe need to know this information.
They do. Then they can judge if they really want this woman to represent them.

Benefit Sanctions at Record Levels

February 19, 2015

The website Benefits and Work, which also gives a fortnightly news bulletin to subscribers about ESA, PIP and DLA, has reported that the number of people claiming ESA, who have been sanctioned has reached an all-time high. The article begins

Sanctions against employment and support allowance (ESA) claimants in the work-related activity group have hit a new record high, according to DWP figures released today.

In September 2014, the most recent month for which statistics are available, 3,828 ESA claimants were hit with a sanction. The total for the preceding month was 3,096.

It’s a very short piece that also gives the reasons why nearly 4,000 claimants have been sanctioned. It reports, however, that the DWP has so far not given a reason for the massive rise in sanctions since 2012.

The page also links to a fuller set of statistics.

I’m not remotely surprised that the government hasn’t given out these statistics. They have refused to release the figures for the number of people dying after having been assessed as ‘fit for work’ by Atos to Mike and other left-wing bloggers, after all. And as Johnny Void has repeatedly pointed out, they also won’t give details of the firms signed up for the Work Programme. Their reason? There would be too much of a public backlash against this firms, and this would cause it to fail.

The government is keenly aware how unpopular workfare, Atos and the whole fraudulent sanctions system is. They don’t want the embarrassment of having this revealed to the world at large, and so be unable to supply effective serf labour to their business friends.

Vox Political: Government Making PIP Applications More Difficult

February 8, 2015

Mike over at Vox Political also has another story about the government moving the goalposts again to stop disabled people claiming the Personal Independence Payment. It’s PIP reviews and tribunals: The DWP keeps piling on the pressure. It’s partly a follow-up to Mike’s previous post about how Atos told Mrs Mike that she had to come for an assessment, which on inquiry nobody seemed to know anything about. He goes further, and reports the experiences of two of his commenters, who have tried to claim PIP, one of whom was called before a tribunal. It begins

Further to yesterday’s article on the hoax letters being sent out by (in this case) Atos, summoning benefit claimants to non-existent “assessment” meetings, a couple more developments have come to light.

Firstly, Mrs Mike has received a new letter stating that her assessment has been cancelled and she doesn’t have to attend. This writer shall be going in any case – just to make sure.

Secondly, it seems matters get worse if you are unlucky enough to be denied benefit after an assessment. What follows refers to Personal Independence Payment. First, let’s hear from a commenter who had to go through the ‘mandatory reconsideration’ procedure:

“With the help of my local CAB (Citizens Advice Bureau), I made an application for PIP. As is normal, they refused it. The CAB explained they would, and requested a ‘Mandatory Review’.

“Under the old system, they would write a letter stating their reasons why the decision is wrong. Now, though, Atos will not accept this.

Atos has now resorted to phoning up PIP claimants unexpectedly at different times of the day, so that they will have to present their case unaided and without representation. This is obviously in order to make it easier to turn the claimant down.

The other commenter provides a grim portrayal of the stress caused by their appearance at an Atos tribunal, and the complete inability of the woman, who turned down their application for benefit, to understand even the most basic facts about mental illness. Such as that you can plan ahead, but later changes in the condition may mean you forget. This commenter states

“For anyone with mental health issues to have to go through the PIP claim process, Atos assessment and ultimately a tribunal, it is unbelievably cruel and careless. I have been extremely distressed today.

“I am also not going to find out for a few days due to my appointment time being so late in their working day, which is also upsetting.”

It’s worth checking out the comments on Mike’s blog, because many of the commenters have experience and technical knowledge that can help others. This piece is no exception. Particularly useful are the comments from Beret54 and Levinas.

PIP: Derby Mental Health Group Want to Hear From You

Beret54’s comment is that a mental health group, Derby, is appealing for information from people, who have undergone the PIP assessment. He writes

THE mental health action group derby is shortly to launch a survey form on experiences of PIP and present evidence to DWP will post link to survey when its launched soon,
Mental Health Action Group Co-ordinators
Room 312, Kelvin House
RTC Business Park, London Road
Derby. DE24 8UP

Tel: 01332 345966 ext 5
http://www.mhag.org.uk
Check out our Facebook page “Mental Health Action Group Derby”!

Levinas on Legal Challenges to Atos

Levinas also provides this advice for the two claimants:

The first claimant should invoke the Equality Act and reasonable adjustments in that it is discriminatory to the claimant to expect them to
1- Make representations using a device that in and of itself puts them at a disadvantage due to their disorder/difficulties and
2- to do so without representation they’ve secured being there to represent them. Again invoke EA to secure their presence.

They won’t like it, will argue against it but stick to invocation of reasonable adjustments under the EA to refuse the use of a telephone for contact and lack of representation Equate the representation to the use of a wheelchair or crutches to expose how discriminatory it would be to refuse, comment that it opposes justice to have this thrust upon them. They could also send an email revoking any consent given to release Atos from the DPA and reassert their rights, ergo Atos is not lawfully allowed to hold, nor use your home phone number-All communication therefore will have to be via letter as address is all they can hold. This is how I tackled Atos and WCA for ESA, I’ve not had the hurdle of PIP yet.

Second claimant-Is it usual to have the decision maker at the tribunal? Again I’ve only had to attend ESA tribunal hearings but this sounds somewhat ominous to me. Were they on the panel? I doubt they could legally be if independent and wonder if sent by DWP to oppose the claimant? I’ve had DWP turn up to oppose, think it might be usual when there’s a big award at stake. Again argue the case, hopefully with representation and support, to give you breathing space from the DWP rep.

This is proof that Atos and the DWP are as nasty as ever, and if anything getting worse. But hopefully pressure from groups like DPAC, the Disability News Service and the new Derby people will keep the pressure up and force them either to change, or make things so difficult for them they’ll want to lose the election.

Wildthing66 also advises claimants to get angry with the assessors and threaten them with leaving in a body bag. It worked for them at the Jobcentre, apparently. I wouldn’t go that far, as it wouldn’t surprise me if they tried to charge anyone, who adopted quite such an aggressive approach with threatening behaviour. However, they are bullies. One of the DWP whistleblowers has said that quite, meek individuals will get sanctioned, whereas a 6 foot brickie won’t, because they’re obviously physically afraid of the brickie. So, it’s important to stand your ground and not allow yourself to be walked over, as difficult as that may be.

Vox Political: Hoax DWP Letter Sent to Mrs Mike

February 7, 2015

Mike over at Vox Political has the story about a hoax letter sent by the DWP to his partner. As readers of his blog will know, Mrs Mike unfortunately has been left in pain and unable to work by fibromyalgia. The letter told her that she had to go for an assessment by Atos. When Mike phoned up the hospital to enquire about this, he was told they did not have any appointment booked. Here’s Mike’s account:

Don’t you just hate it when you get a hoax call from the Department for Work and Pensions?

Mrs Mike had one this week, it seems – from Atos.

“Your appointment for an assessment with a healthcare professional” was the heading, beneath which were the words: “We have been asked by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) to carry out an assessment in relation to your benefit claim. We have arranged an appointment for you at [date and place]. It is important that you attend this assessment. If you don’t attend, your benefit may be affected.” And so on. It was dated January 30 and we received in on Tuesday (February 3).

Long-term readers will know that this writer is her carer and attended her first work capability assessment in that capacity. I wanted to do so again but on the day we had the letter I was full of a cold that has been going around, and did not feel well enough to deal with grinding bureaucrats until today (Friday).

Phoning up the number on the letter, I gave Mrs Mike’s details, only to be told that there was no appointment booked for her. The person on the other end of the phone – who was very polite and helpful – suggested that her appointment might not be for ESA but PIP, and provided a phone number so I could inquire.

Let’s cut a long story short. She didn’t have an appointment for PIP, or DLA either.

Mike points out that this makes the letter a hoax, but goes on to say that he will take her to the assessment centre at the time requested, just in case.

He goes on to state that he realises that not everyone will be able to do as he plans to do, and that for many merely going to the assessment centre would lead to acute stress. Further stress is caused by the assessment itself, whatever flannel IDS says to the contrary. For a few, this cumulative stress could damage their health, or even end their life.

Which constitutes corporate manslaughter under the meaning of the act, your honour.

Mike’s article can be read at: http://voxpoliticalonline.com/2015/02/06/dwp-appointment-hoaxes-ramp-up-stress-for-the-sick-and-disabled/

I wondered if this isn’t indeed some kind of malign trap by the DWP to try and catch Mike or Mrs Mike out. Other commenters on various blogs have told of being sanctioned for not attending appointments about which they were not informed, apparently deliberately. Could this be another ruse by the DWP to try and prove somehow that Mrs Mike, and anyone like her, is somehow malingering? Or is simply incompetence by a company that wants to get out of its contract as quickly as possible because of all the adverse publicity?

From 2012: Private Eye on Bad Atos Decisions and Flawed Government Reports

January 20, 2015

In their 27th January – 9th February 2012 issue, Private Eye reported the case of Keith Tilbury, a man who had suffered severe physical and psychological harm after being accidentally shot by a police firearms instructor. Despite the severity of his injuries, Mr Tilbury was nevertheless judged fit for work by Atos. The same article also criticised the government report which forms the basis for the government’s replacement of the Disability Living Allowance with the Personal Independence Payment. It ran:

Fit-For-Work Tests
Shits in the Dark

In the Eye’s growing post-bag of appalling decisions made by French service company Atos in assessing sick and disabled people as being ~”fit for work~”, one of the most shocking concerns Keith Tilbury.

Mr Tilbury spent 13 days in a coma fighting for his life after he was accidentally shot in the stomach by a police firearms officer. The bullet smashed a rib, damaged his sternum and put a hole in his liver. He had to have part of a kidney removed and lost part of his bowel. He had massive entry and exit wounds, muscle and other extensive soft tissue damage.

Since that disaster in 2007, Mr Tilbury has suffered two heart attacks, two while undergoing surgery, a quadruple coronary bypass, two transient ischemic attacks (mini-strokes), one full-blown stroke resulting in reduced vision 9in his eyes, post-operative complications – and post-traumatic stress disorder.

Mr Tilbury, 60, says: ” I have had many hours of cognitive behaviour therapy with a psychotherapist trying to work out why a Thames Valley Police firearms instructor would fire Dirty Harry’s weapon of choice – a.44 magnum – in a seminar room.”

Given his well-documented health records, Mr Tilbury, who had been a civilian emergency call centre operator, is trying to establish how on earth the Atos nurse or doctor – he is not sure which – could decide that he is fit to work without “dropping down dead” when there has been no improvement in his health since his last assessment.

Like thousands of others, Mr Tilbury is having to go through the ordeal of appealing against the decision. He sees the box-ticking Atos test – drawn up with the help of US insurance giant Unum, which was fined millions in the US for cheating its clients – as no more than a government tool to slash the benefits of people who through no fault of their own can no longer work.

As the Eye has extensively reported (see issues 874, 1300, 1301 and 1302), Unum has been helping both Tory and Labour government with so-called welfare reform, going right back to Peter Lilley’s 1994 social security “Incapacity for Work” shake-up.

Atos, which boasts that its contract with the current government is worth “approximately 100m a year”, happened to be the only other private company sitting alongside Unum on the then Labour government’s panel which reviewed and came up with the hated “work capability test” which is now failing Mr Tilbury and thousands like him.

Companies like Atos and Unum (which markets its insurance on the back of welfare reform) now stand to make even more millions, however, as the coalition presses ahead with its plans for similar assessments for those receiving disability living allowance (DLA). By replacing DLA with a personal independence payment which is subject to regular review and face-to-face assessments, the government says it can save £1bn because it claims many people no longer require the support.

But a recent detailed study, Responsible Reform, accuses the government of consistently using inaccurate figures to exaggerate the rise in DLA claimants, while concealing the overwhelming opposition to its latest reform. The detailed 40-page study – dubbed the Spartacus report and written and funded by disabled people receiving DLA, excluding those with mental health conditions, had remained remarkably stable.

One of the authors, Kaliya Franklin, said: “cutting spending on DLA will increase the burden on local authorities, the NHS and community services at the very time they seeking to find savings by reducing eligibility, particularly for social care support.”

There is no point in subjecting people with permanent disability to regular assessments and those whose conditions do improve would welcome reform – and indeed assessments – if they were simplified and considered robust, fair and transparent. But as Mr Tilbury and so many like him have found, the government’s work capability test, delivered by Atos, is none of those things.

PS: After the shooting incident in which Mr Tilbury was injured, Thames Valley police was fined £40,000 with £25,000 costs and the PC fired the weapon, David Micklethwaite, £8,000 and £8,000 costs, for breaching health and safety regulations.

Although Atos have now pulled out of administering the test, the same deep flaws remain. The test itself, as reported by many bloggers such as Johnny Void, and Mike over at Vox Political, is based on discredited pseudoscience, the biopsychosocial model of illness. Johnny Void has also blogged the other day about how the new contractors for the test, Maximus, will pursue exactly the same policies and recruit many of the same personnel. The only difference is that they’re better at PR, and are seeking to conceal their involvement behind a front company. And Unum are still pressing for further contracts and the dismantlement of the welfare state.

As for the discontinuation of the DLA and its replacement with PIP, many bloggers, including Mr Void and Mike have criticised this. Bloggers like Glynis Millward and the people at DPAC also posted on the findings of the Responsible Reform report.

The Work Capability Assessment is rubbish, and has been shown repeatedly to be rubbish. But as Johnny Void has reported, some Labour shadow ministers continue to think that the system only needs to be reformed.

It doesn’t. It needs to be scrapped completely, along with the parasitic and malign companies, Unum and Maximus, that formulated and administer it.