ANOTHER DWP ATROCITY: DWP force severely autistic, blind teen to attend eligibility check to see if he deserves benefits

SOURCE

Ciaran Vassie had been told he would receive his benefits for life but the new PIP payment means he is being forced to attend a meeting.

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Ciaran with his mum Colette Vassie (Photo: Colette Vassie/Deadline News)Subscribe

A teenager who is blind, severely autistic and barely able to speak has been ordered to attend a meeting – to check if he should continue to receive benefits.

Ciaran Vassie, 16, was told four years ago that he would receive disability living allowance for life as his condition won’t change.

But now that benefit is being replaced by the personal 
independence payment, which is for a maximum of £141.10 a 
week, he needs to be reassessed – and faces going through the process every three years.

The Department for Work and Pensions have refused to carry out the eligibility check at his home in Clarkston, near Glasgow, because Ciaran’s “unpredictable” behaviour could pose a risk 
to staff.

It means his mum Colette, 
45, who is also disabled, will have to fork out for a taxi to take Ciaran into the city centre for his assessment.

She said: “It’s 
ridiculous. They know the 
condition he 
has and what is he going to say 
in an assessment anyway – he doesn’t speak?

 

Ciaran as a tot in 2002 (Photo: Charles Donnelly/Daily Record)

“This is causing stress to us, yet the DWP aren’t even willing to relieve some of the stress of the situation by coming out to the house. This money is for essential adjustments to Ciaran’s life – he needs braille books, which are very expensive, he needs to get taxis and, if he wants to go out, he might need to pay for someone to go with him.”

Colette said she contacted Scottish Tory leader Ruth Davidson and her MP, Paul Masterton, to ask them to go along to the assessment.

She added: “It was their party who introduced changes to PIP and I want them to see the process. It is ridiculous.”

The Tory Government have been slammed for their welfare reforms, with opposition parties accusing them of treating 
disabled people with contempt.

In April, it was reported that private firms Capita and Atos, who run the assessments, 
stood to earn nearly £700million from the work between 2013 and this year.

Inclusion Scotland policy director Bill Scott said yesterday: “We have a lot of concern about this new system. It was originally estimated that the DWP would only need to do face-to-face assessments with 60 to 70 per cent of people but now 95 per cent are being seen.

“We believe the reason is that there is a fee of approaching £200 for each assessment. There is a financial incentive for the private companies.”p

Ciaran was born 11 weeks premature and was left blind at the age of five after suffering a serious eye infection.

A DWP spokesman confirmed the department were reassessing his case.

But he added: “We’re looking again at whether a face-to-face assessment is required.

“We’ll be in touch with the decision as quickly as possible. In the meantime, his benefit payments will continue as normal.”

THE WAR ON THE POOR: Grenfell Tower fire are the latest victims

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Since the Conservative government came to power in 2010, it has waged a war against the poorest people in the UK. And the people who were affected in the tragic fire at Grenfell Tower are the latest victims in this horrific fight.

Britain could slash environmental and safety standards ‘a very long way’ after Brexit, Tory MP Jacob Rees-Mogg says

While the poorest people have suffered from austerity and public services cuts, the rich have been receiving tax cuts and seeking to gentrify poor areas. This is amplified in London, where poor people are being forced out of London’s boroughs so developers can buy their homes and create playgrounds for the super-rich.

A Labour MP, personally affected, calls the Grenfell Tower fire ‘corporate manslaughter’

Against this backdrop, people are dying. They are dying because of the Tories’ austerity programme. And they are dying because of cuts.

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Cuts

In 2014, ten fire stations across London closed due to cuts. Paul Embery, London regional secretary of the Fire Brigades Union (FBU) stated about former Mayor Boris Johnson:

Boris Johnson will have blood on his hands. It will be only a matter of time before someone dies because a fire engine did not get to them in time.

We don’t yet know whether cuts had any impact on the fire brigades’ response at Grenfell Tower. But as recently as April 2017, firefighters blamed cuts for a 15% increase in fire-related deaths in the UK.

But Tory cuts go further. Disabled people are dying because of cuts to their benefits. Benefit sanctions and extortionate rental prices, meanwhile, are driving record numbers of people into homelessness. Essentially, people are suffering and dying on our streets while the rich have opulent properties sitting empty.

Here’s the difference between Jeremy Corbyn and Theresa May’s visits to Grenfell Tower

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‘We want justice’: Grenfell Tower protests spill on to streets

Social cleansing

But there is also another front to this war. The battle of gentrification and social cleansing. Poor people are being forced out of the capital city. Data from 2015 shows that tens of thousands of people were forced from London as a result of a combination of benefit cuts and council sell-offs.

Now Mayor of London Sadiq Khan said at the time:

This data shows that the government’s policies on welfare and housing have caused social cleansing in London on a vast scale. Families have been driven out of large parts of the city… this is not the kind of London I grew up in or want my daughters to live in.

Meanwhile, London is full of empty houses. There are 1,399 in Kensington and Chelsea alone. Across London, there were 19,845 homes sitting idle for over six months in 2016.

FIRE MINISTER WAS AMONG 72 TORY LANDLORDS WHO VOTED AGAINST MAKING HOMES “FIT FOR HUMAN HABITATION”

And while many people are homeless or in inadequate housing, offshore companies own a big chunk of London’s houses. In 2016, there was a 9% rise in the number of properties in London owned by offshore companies. In Kensington and Chelsea, 7% of all properties are owned in offshore tax havens.

Britain needs to fight back

What happened at Grenfell Tower was political. Whether we like it or not, the war against the poor is raging. The question for the rest of us is how we fight back. The support for Jeremy Corbyn and a different way of doing things was evident from the general election. People are angry. And they are seeing people suffer at the hands of austerity while the rich prosper.

Boris Johnson tells London Assembly member to ‘get stuffed’ in response to questions on cuts in the fire service

But Corbyn didn’t win the election. And we’re now faced with a Tory coalition of chaos with the DUP. A potential five-year wait for another voting opportunity is not good enough. For now, change will come from us taking action in our communities, our towns, and our cities.

Corbyn’s election surge started this fightback. Now, we need to work out how we continue the fight. Because there’s too much at stake not to.

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I Didn’t Realise Corbyn Was Such a Comic

It is customary on these occasions to congratulate the returning Prime Minister and I absolutely do so. I congratulate her on returning…and I’m sure she’ll agree with me that democracy is a wondrous thing and can throw up some very unexpected results.

 

I’m sure we all look forward to welcoming the Queen’s Speech just as soon as the Coalition of Chaos has been negotiated. Just to let the House know and the rest of the nation know that if that’s not possible the Labour party stands ready…to offer strong and stable leadership in the national interest.

SOURCE

JUSTICE MY EYE! Tory MP who dismissed a disabled woman on live TV appointed as justice minister

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INDEPENDENT

Dominic Raab said calls to reverse disability benefit cuts are a ‘childish wish list’ unless economy is growing

A Conservative MP who dismissed a disabled woman on live TV after she said people with disabilities were dying because of spending cuts has been appointed as a government minister.

Dominic Raab, the MP for Esher and Walton, has been promoted by Theresa May to the role of justice minister as she reshuffles her top team following the general election.

Last month, Mr Raab was criticised for his response to a disabled woman, named Fiona, during an appearance on the BBC’s Victoria Derbyshire show.

READ MORE

In addition to his comments on disability benefits, he also received criticism for suggesting that people use food banks not because they are poor but because they have “cash flow problems”.

A disability campaigner from Aberdeen, Fiona said she knew disabled people who had committed suicide because of spending cuts.

“You’re all talking about numbers and money, and there is an ocean of suffering under that. Oxford University just released research showing that in 2015 in England and Wales alone there were 30,000 excess deaths caused by cuts to health and social care,” she said.

“Tens of thousands of disabled and sick people are dying every year. We are dying. There have been hundreds of suicides. I spent hours after the last general election trying to talk people out of killing themselves, and I didn’t always succeed.

“People are dying here and nobody cares. I have friends who have been helping resettle disabled people in Scotland because at the very least we have a Scottish parliament which is trying its best with limited funds to protect people against the worst of these cuts. People have been fleeing England for their lives.”

Citing a Napier University study that found the work capability assessment can be linked to thoughts of suicide, she added: “It kills people. It is an act of violence and we are dying.

“This election is life or death for us. Anybody who votes for the Conservative Party, who are going to further these cuts, they are complicit in those deaths.

In response, Mr Raab said calls for cuts to be reversed were just a “childish wish list” unless the economy is growing.

“There are plenty of heart-rending stories here, and no one could be anything other than moved by it,” he said. “We have put 11,000 more doctors into the NHS, 12,000 more nurses. We have got a renewed focus on mental health and also making sure we’re trying to take the pressure off big hospitals in the manifesto.

“But the real truth is the money’s got to come from somewhere, and I can think of lots of things that I would like to avoid making difficult decisions on and lots of areas like the health service or schools that I want to put even more money in, but unless you’ve got a strong economy creating the revenue, it’s just a childish wish list.

“We’re trying to do our best to get the balance right between responsible public finances and investing in some of those crucial areas you discussed.”

 Mr Raab was also widely criticised for comments he made during the election campaign about food banks. “Look, in terms of the food bank issue, I’ve studied the Trussell Trust data”, he told the BBC.

“What they tend to find is the typical user of a food bank is not someone who’s languishing in poverty, it’s someone who has a cashflow problem episodically.”

The Trussell Trust, which runs food banks across the UK, responded by saying that delays in benefit payments were a major cause of people using food banks but that this was a particular problem for people on low incomes.

“It is our experience that people living in poverty are more likely to experience a sudden short-term crisis where they are referred for emergency food, whilst the underlying causes are addressed”, Adrian Curtis, a food bank network director for the organisation, said.

TORY PRIORITIES: Ruth Davidson’s Hypocrisy!

There’s nothing like Ruth Davidson’s priorities and I saw this photo on twitter and it reflected my feelings about her, I even tweeted how she didn’t give a fig about the rape clause.

PRIORITES
PHOTO SOURCE

HYPOCRITE Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson storms out of interview over DUP gay rights question

‘As the Conservative party we are the party of equal marriage, we introduced it to the House of Commons and also we would use our influence to try and advance LGBTI rights in Northern Ireland’

Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson walked out in the middle of an interview after she was questioned about Democratic Unionist Party’s stance on LGTB rights.

The Northern Irish party is currently in talks with senior Tories about an agreement which would keep Theresa May’s minority government in power.

The DUP’s 10 parliamentary seats would give the prime minister a majority of three.

However, the party has gained a reputation for its strong and controversial views on a number of social issues. It opposes same-sex marriage and is anti-abortion – with abortion remaining illegal in Northern Ireland, except in specific medical cases.

Ms Davidson has already sought assurances over LGBT rights from Mrs May about the potential alliance, but when she was asked on Channel 4 News  about the deal she walked off camera.

“We have to work with other parties and that means taking on some of their ideas as well,” she told reporter, Ciaran Jenkins.

Continuing his line of inquiry he asked: “Just on the DUP. Theresa May yesterday described the DUP as her ‘friends.’ Are you prepared to use that word? Are they your friends?”

Miss Davidson replied: “Well look, I have friends in politics across many parties but what I spoke to the Prime Minister about yesterday was the need for a category assurance that talking with the DUP would not result in any roll back of LGBTI rights in the rest of the UK because as the Conservative party we are the party of equal marriage, we introduced it to the House of Commons and also we would use our influence to try and advance LGBTI rights in Northern Ireland and they are assurances that I got.”

But as he attempted to ask a follow-up question Miss Davidson walked off.

It is unclear why the Conservative leader decided to end the interview.

Miss Davidson helped Theresa may secure 13 seats in Scotland, and George Osborne has described her as the “heroine of the party.”

She is expected to prioritise free trade in the upcoming negotiations, and has said she does not intends the topic of restricting immigration to be a key focus.

The Independent has approached Ms Davidson for comment but none had arrived at the time of publication.

There’s no hypocrite like a Tory hypocrite!

11 General Election 2017 issues that mustn’t be allowed to drop

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A lot of the post-election focus has (understandably) been on Theresa May’s efforts to cling onto power by throwing members of her inner circle under the public opinion bus and sucking up to the most extreme political party in parliament, but we mustn’t forget some major issues from the campaign.

All of these issues need to be addressed

1. Security
During the election extreme security lapses led to two avoidable terrorist atrocities.

One was committed by an Islamist fanatic known to be plotting a terror attack against the UK who was allowed to come back through the UK border and was left unwatched as he planned and executed his attack.

The ringleader of the next was such a well known extremist he’d even featured in a Channel 4 documentary called “The Jihadists next door”.

During the election Theresa May refused to release the report into the funding of terrorist networks in the UK, presumably because it allegedly implicates Saudi Arabia.

The extreme security lapses can’t just be allowed to pass because they happened during an election and everyone was focused on campaigning, and serious pressure needs to be applied to get the government to admit what they know about foreign funding of terrorist networks in the UK.

2. The Naylor Report
If it wasn’t for a citizen journalist called Chris Holden few of us would ever have considered the contents of the Naylor Report that Theresa May was championing.

It’s basically a plot to use public money to bribe hospitals into selling their land off on the cheap to property speculators, and if they don’t take the bribe they get their funding slashed.

It’s nothing less than Tory asset stripping of the NHS.

There needs to be a concerted effort to oppose the implementation of the Naylor Report.

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3. Dark ads
The Tories ran an unprecedented campaign of dark ads, spending millions on spewing their propaganda all over social media, front loading Youtube songs with political attack adverts, and hijacking political Google searches with paid ads.

There are several things to consider.

In my view the specific targeting of particular voters in particular constituencies with dark ads should surely be declared under local, rather than national campaign budgets.

There should be an absolute requirement that copies of every political advert are lodged with the electoral authorities.
Many of these Tory adverts (including the one they used to hijack Google searches for the Labour manifesto) contained outright lies about opposition parties and politicians. The electoral authorities really need to explain to the public what they intend to do to stop the dissemination of outright political lies.

Additionally steps should be taken to ensure that no political party is allowed to hijack legitimate Google searches by paying for sponsored ads at the top of the search.

4. Lying politicians
Aside from the campaign of Tory dark ads, numerous Tory politicians were guilty of outright lying to the British public. Theresa May herself told a couple of absolute whoppers.

Theresa May outright lied about Diane Abbott’s stance on the DNA database (she doesn’t want it scrapped, she wants the DNA of innocent people, including victims of crime, removed from it).

May also lied that Labour proposes “uncontrolled immigration”, when in reality their manifesto pledged clampdowns on all kinds of harmful migration and increased funding of services for areas that have had large immigration influxes (see here) and is actually far more sensible than the Tory approach of recycling their twice-broken promise to reduce immigration to an arbitrary number.

After Brexit and now this, something really needs to be done to prevent our politicians from deliberately lying to us.

5. Yes First Strike
One of the most bizarre aspects of the General Election debate was the way Jeremy Corbyn was repeatedly rounded on by the public and the mainstream media for his sensible No First Strike nuclear weapons policy, but Theresa May wasn’t hauled over the coals at all about the announcement of a crackpot Tory Yes First Strike nuclear policy.

I oppose nuclear weapons, but I at least understand the nuclear deterrent argument people put forward in favour of them. Yes First Strike makes no such sense. It’s total and utter madness that would, in times of global conflict, actually significantly increase the chances of a nuclear strike against London in order to eradicate the insane strike first leader before they themselves launch a nuclear attack.

The Tory government needs to be pressed a lot more on Theresa May’s Yes First Strike nuclear policy because I’m pretty sure that public opinion would be strongly against Britain being the country to trigger Armageddon by using nukes as attack weapons.

6. Austerity
Tory austerity dogma resulted in the slowest recovery from a recession since the South Sea Bubble burst in the 18th Century, the lowest level of house building since the early 1920s, the worst wage collapse since records began, and the least affordable house prices in history.

Not only that, but we’ve been getting left behind on the world stage because the Tories have been investing far less in infrastructure development (the foundations of future economic prosperity) than any other developed nation because of the Tories’ ideological fixation with their economically inept and self-defeating cost-cutting exercises.

For seven ruinous years the mainstream media has pitifully failed to hold the Tories to account over their ideological fixation with austerity dogma. But after more voters supported anti-austerity parties than pro-austerity parties in this election, surely now is the time for austerity dogma to be subjected to proper public scrutiny, especially at the supposedly impartial BBC?

7. Dementia Tax
The Tories’ depraved policy of asset stripping people who need social care has not gone away. They’ve simply announced that there will be a limit on how much wealth they can extract from frail old people and other disabled people. They’ve not said how much that limit would be, nor whether it would be an overall cap (a weak incentive to suicide) or an annual limit that rolls over indefinitely (a strong incentive to suicide).

Questions need to be asked about the details that Theresa May failed to disclose, and also over the morality of the policy.  How is it remotely justifiable to asset strip frail old people whilst simultaneously giving tens of £billions in handouts to corporations and your mega-rich chums?

8. Tory self-interest
Theresa May could have maintained political power until 2020, but she clearly and undeniably put her own self-interest above the good of the nation by calling a snap election when her poll lead was at an all-time high.

Instead of conducting Brexit amicably (taking the views of opposition parties and devolved governments into consideration and forming some kind of UK-wide consensus) she wanted to crush all political opposition to be crowned the undisputed Brexit queen to dictate the whole process herself.

After the failure of David Cameron’s EU referendum gamble (wagered in order to poach a few hundred thousand UKIP voters in 2015), Theresa May’s vanity election is the second time in a single year that the Tories have thrown the nation into chaos by putting their own opportunistic self-interest first.

It’s now abundantly clear that the Tory party simply can’t be trusted to consider the good of the nation as a whole above the self-serving opportunism of their leaders.

9. Press corruption
One of Theresa May’s most despicable manifesto pledges was to sling the Leveson investigation into press corruption into the bin as if Rupert Murdoch’s minions had never hacked into the phone of a murdered teenage girl.

During the election the billionaire-owned propaganda rags went into absolute overdrive with an unprecedented smear-mongering campaign against Labour.

Thankfully the smear-mongering tactics didn’t pay off and deliver Theresa May the super-majority she was expecting when she called her vanity election, but the malign influence of the billionaire press barons was still enough to help her avoid a resounding defeat, which means there’s still the possibility that the Tories will try to bin the Leveson investigation as a favour to their faithful mainstream media attack dogs.

The astoundingly biased smear-mongering conducted by certain publications during the election is another important reason that the investigation into press corruption absolutely mustn’t be dropped.

10. Internet freedom
Theresa May is obsessed with controlling the Internet. Even after the woeful security lapses that led to murderous acts of barbarism during the election campaign, her initial response was to piggyback her pre-existing authoritarian fixation onto the atrocities by harking on about censoring the Internet.

Theresa May doesn’t like the freedom of the Internet because it allows people to think outside the constraints of the neoliberal consensus that she is the figurehead of.

All the talk about preventing terrorism is just a front for her extreme-surveillance agenda. If she actually gave a crap about terrorism then she wouldn’t have ignored all the expert advice (community engagement is the very first defence against Islamist and extreme-right radicalisation) and plough on with her plan to devastate community policing by scrapping 20,000 police jobs.

11. Human rights
Theresa May didn’t just opportunistically piggyback her hatred of Internet freedom onto the terrorist atrocities that happened under her watch, she also tried to infect the debate with her visceral hatred of our human rights.

She’s so incapable of thinking things through that she doesn’t even understand that the destruction of our western justice-based human rights would be seen as a massive ideological victory for the Islamist extremists.

These depraved fanatics absolutely hate our liberal values and our non-Sharia justice systems. If we scrapped our human rights after one suicide bombing and a couple of sick rampages through the streets of London, they’d obviously see it as a huge victory and wonder what could be achieved with a more concerted and coordinated sequence of attacks.

What we can do

Write to your MP:

If you have an opposition MP you can ask them what their party intends to do to hold the Tories to account over these 11 issues (feel free to include a link if you want to raise all 11 issues, or copy and paste from this blog if you intend to raise one or just a few specific issues).

If you have a Tory MP you can write to them and ask them to provide explanations. I’d be interested to see what they come up with to defend all of this hideous stuff.

Write to your MP here (remember to include your name and postal address and then they have an obligation to reply to your message)

Contact mainstream media:

Get in touch with mainstream media publications to request more coverage on these issues. Submit contributions to their letters pages. Contact individual mainstream media journalists that you respect and ask them if they would consider working to shed more public light on any of these subjects.

Tory candidate: ‘I’m really pleased we have food banks’

WELFARE WEEKLY

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Tory candidate Sheryll Murray has sparked public outrage after declaring she was “pleased we have food banks” at a hustings event, then threatened to call police on an audience member who challenged her views.

Sheryll Murray is standing for the Conservatives as a member of parliament for South East Cornwall. She has been an MP at Westminster since the 2010 general election.

Rules mean she can no longer call herself an MP after the Prime Minister called a snap general election.

A video filmed by an audience member at the hustings (see below) shows the Tory hopeful saying: “If, say for instance, someone has no house. Or if their financial situation has changed while they were going through the [benefit] assessment, and their benefit is delayed, then they need to call upon the food bank.”

She was then met with gasps from the audience, after publicly declaring: “But I’m really pleased we have food banks in South-East Cornwall.”

An audience member can be heard shouting: “Society shouldn’t need it!”

Rattled by the show of anger, Sheryll Murray appears to struggle to continue her speech, as she then says: “Let’s ignore these (gesturing to the audience)”, and is then met by further gasps.

A member in the audience shouts: “We are all human!”. Seemingly ignored by the Tory candidate, the person can be heard shouting: “Excuse me!

“How dare you stand there and say you’ll ignore me! I’m sitting down now, but you’re being rude.”

There is then a period of what appears to be an angry exchange between the woman and the Tory candidate, but we’ve been unable to ascertain exactly what was said.

However, another member of the audience can then be heard saying “oh my god!”, just moments before Sheryll Murray says: “I think we’ll leave. I’m not being subjected to this.”

Murray then says “I’m really sorry”, as anger among the audience reaches fever pitch. She adds: “I’m really sorry to everybody but this sort of behaviour….. We obviously, obviously…

“You’ve all witnessed this horrendous behaviour. I came here in good faith today….”

Her comments are interrupted by a man filming the event on his phone: “In good faith!?”, he can be heard saying in an exasperated voice.

Murray then says: “We’ll, perhaps the lady should leave then?” The woman responds: “You were being very rude, and I’m not leaving!”

She adds: “If you want me to leave, you call the police.”

Turning to what may be her aide or an event organiser, Murray says: “Right, Bob, would you like to try and go do that then?”

The video then ends abruptly.