Disabled people take their fight against Tory cuts to the United Nations

Disabled people take complaints about UK Government’s disability rights record to the United Nations.

Deaf and Disability organisations from across the United Kingdom will today (21 August) highlight the Government’s ongoing human rights violations and evasive behaviour towards a major United Nations committee.

Deaf and Disabled people’s organisations (DDPOs) will tell the UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in Geneva that the Government has ignored many of the questions put to it earlier this year by the UN team.

The committee is assessing the UK’s progress in implementing the UN Convention on the Rights of Disabled People, which the UK government ratified in 2009. It will consider the Government’s response to its questions and the DDPOs’ observations before quizzing representatives from the UK and devolved Governments in Geneva later this week (23 and 24 August).

Referring to the Government’s submission for the investigation, Kamran Mallick, chief executive of Disability Rights UK, said: “Many of the Government’s answers have a tone of complacency at best and high-handed evasion at worst.

“The Government produced no evidence or detail to show how it is supporting people to lead independent lives; something it committed to when it ratified the convention in 2009.

“The Government document also makes grand claims about the impact of the Equality Act and the Care Act that simply don’t reflect the everyday experiences of disabled people in the UK.”

DPPOs will tell the committee that a range of Government policies – many arising from the austerity agenda – place it in breach of the convention. These shortcomings are aggravated, the campaigners say, by the failure of other public sector bodies such as local authorities and NHS organisations to deliver the support and safeguards set out in the convention.

Among the issues highlighted in the DDPOs’ submission are:

  • The poor supply of accessible housing
  • The impact of the Government’s welfare reforms
  • A rise in the number of Disabled children in segregated education
  • Cuts in health and social care services that support people to live independently
  • The growing use of compulsory detention and forced treatment powers contained in mental health legislation that are incompatible with the UN convention
  • Plans to cap funding for support that allows Disabled people to work – possibly forcing many to give up satisfying and worthwhile jobs
  • Concerns about the level of hate speech and hate crime
  • A tendency by public bodies to focus on processes rather than meaningful outcomes when fulfilling their legal duty to eliminate discrimination and promote equality.

The cumulative impact is that many Disabled people are unable to live the independent, fulfilling lives that the convention commits nations to delivering. Instead, they continue to face serious discrimination in accessing educational, employment and social opportunities.

Tracey Lazard, Chief Executive Officer of Inclusion London speaking on behalf of the Reclaiming Our Future Alliance, said: “There is clear and extensive evidence of retrogression of Disabled people’s rights in the UK since 2010.

 “To date responses from the Government have failed to acknowledge the existence, let alone the scale, of this problem – a problem that is having a dramatic adverse impact on the lives of millions of Disabled people and our families every day.

“We look forward to taking part in proceedings in Geneva to continue to ensure the disability committee has accurate information about the situation in the UK and in hearing how the government responds to their questions.”

Tony O’Reilly of the North West Forum of People with Disabilities, an organisation in Northern Ireland, said: “The Government needs to do much more to ensure that Disabled people are properly and effectively engaged with in the decision-making processes that impact on their lives.”

Rhian Davies, Chief Executive of Disability Wales said: “Disabled people in Wales are angry at the continued dismissal of their rights by the UK Government. There is only so much that the Welsh Government can do to mitigate the impact of austerity policies.

“With the highest proportion of Disabled people in the UK, the cumulative impact of benefits and service cuts is devastating lives in Wales.”

Sally Witcher, Chief Executive Officer at Inclusion Scotland said: “We remain deeply concerned about the erosion of Scottish Disabled people’s human rights caused by the UK Government-led cuts to benefits and services. We are pleased to join our colleagues from across the UK to challenge this.

“The Scottish Government’s approach is more positive, with commitments to new devolved disability benefits founded on dignity and respect, and to reducing the employment gap, as well as support for Disabled people’s participation in politics and policymaking.

“However, we now need to see more action to realise Disabled people’s human rights – particularly in relation to the real failings of our social care support system.”

Steven Robertson, Chair of the Law and Human Rights Group within People First Scotland, added: “We are again excited to be part of the delegation of Deaf and Disabled People’s Organisations attending the United Nations Committee session.

“People First (Scotland) have been campaigning for the replacement of substitute decision-making regimes, such as Guardianship, with a system of supported decision-making for people with learning disabilities. Only then will Government be in compliance with Article 12 of the convention.”

“DPPOs will also point to the Government’s failure to act on the recommendations of a separate inquiry report the committee published last December. In that special inquiry, which was triggered by the DPPOs, the committee concluded that the UK Government’s welfare reforms were violating rights set out in the convention.

The DDPOs’ submission was co-produced by Disability Rights UK, Reclaiming our Futures Alliance, Inclusion Scotland, People First Scotland, Disability Wales, Disability Action Northern Ireland, British Deaf Association and Black Triangle.

SOURCE

Universal Credit and applying for benefits destroyed my life and led to poverty, homelessness and abuse

OPINION

Universal Credit is advertised as ‘welfare that works’ or ‘making work pay’.

Those slogans couldn’t be any further from the truth.

When I read them for the first time, I laughed.

What else can you do? It’s laugh or cry, and trust me, Universal Credit makes you want to do more than cry. It makes you want to give up completely.

Teenager killed himself ‘after being belittled by JobCentre staff’ 

More than that, it forces you out of a life. It pushes the vulnerable into crisis.

I say this, because it’s what I experienced.

I applied for Universal Credit when I was unemployed last year, and ended up being pushed into homelessness, poverty and abuse.

It’s common for people to think that those who apply for welfare are lazy.

In fact, Victoria Derbyshire recently posted a clip of Jack Monroe, an author and activist, speaking with Toff from Made in Chelsea.

Toff said: ‘You see people that are sat there, that are clever, can go and work, and choose not to. They choose to go and sign on.’

Vulnerable people ‘being forced to use foodbanks because of benefits system problems’

If that was really the case, I’d understand people’s anger.

Of course, it doesn’t help that shows like Jeremy Kyle depict individuals who perpetuate the stereotype of welfare seekers, that they’re sat around all day, not wanting to work, claiming money from the hard-working taxpayer.

I wish that was true, because it would make the system simpler, and Universal Credit would make sense.

People who can work, but don’t want to, should be given a financial incentive to work, get into employment, and voila, problem solved.

Unfortunately, I’ve seen the reality with my own eyes, and can confirm that it simply isn’t the case.

Powerful photo series captures unemployed youths of Thatcher’s Britain

I’ve worked since the age of 16, taught myself my A-levels while working part time with my own flat and worked part time jobs throughout my time at university.

After graduating, I became university staff but the funding ran out after six months.

So I applied for new jobs, and received an offer to work at a national publication in London.

I moved across the country to the capital, but the job fell through due to changing business needs.

You’d think it shouldn’t take too long for an experienced young person to find another job pretty quickly, right?

I was in the capital, and had years of retail and hospitality work under my belt, alongside a degree, journalism and graduate experience.

I didn’t want to apply for Universal Credit right away – I didn’t want to take the money when I still had a bank loan to live off.

I applied for 20 jobs a day to start with. Half of them graduate roles, half of them retail and hospitality roles.

I got interviews each week, attended, did my best, but got knocked back because somebody else had more direct or recent experience.

When I looked at the ratio of applications to roles, I saw that, on average, 60-100 people were applying for every job I was.

Before too long, I realised I would have to apply for Universal Credit.

So I filled in the online application form and waited.

Mother-of-nine took her life after having benefits cut

Five days later, I got a call saying that my application had been automatically closed.

Despite giving my current address on my application, the system had a different address on file, so I didn’t read as eligible for Universal Credit.

I was told I’d need to travel to my local Jobcentre Plus, fill in a change of address form, wait for the system to process it, call up again, make a new claim, then await a callback with an appointment.

I asked the woman on the line if she was joking. She wasn’t.

So I turned up to the Jobcentre Plus, spent 20 minutes filling out a form, then got told not to fill in any applications. I was meant to apply for Universal Credit online.

Yeah, tried that. Didn’t work, did it?

After explaining my situation repeatedly over the course of two hours, watching three staff stand and scratch their heads over what a change of address form was and where it could be, I was eventually sent away and told it would be sorted.

Four working days later, I’d heard nothing, so I called back.

I’d been applying to 20 jobs a day, attending three to five interviews a week on average, and my money was running out.

I was told that I couldn’t be found on the system, and I had to reapply over the phone.

Woman with mental health issues asked ‘why haven’t you killed yourself’ in benefits assessment

The adviser on the line asked me questions I didn’t know the answer to – such as the full names and dates of birth of all the tenants in my house.

‘I’ve only been living here for a few weeks, I don’t know that information,’ I told him.

‘Well, if you can’t tell me anything, I can’t progress your application, and this whole call is useless,’ he told me irritably.

There was no need for him to be irritable – I was the one paying premium rates for the privilege of listening to his anger.

Eventually, I was told my application was being processed, and I got a call with an appointment a week later.

When I went in, I was told I’d need to wait six weeks until my first payment.

So I was forced to take out another bank loan so that I could afford to eat and keep a roof over my head.

By this point, my credit score was so low, I couldn’t apply for any other loans.

To this day, my credit score stops me from doing a lot of things.

I can’t even apply for rentals that run credit checks and there’s already a housing crisis in London, so my options are severely limited.

On file, I look like somebody who is irresponsible with their money and runs up big bills buying luxury goods.

In reality, I was forced to live off credit to survive.

Theresa May confronted by angry voter who had her disability benefits cut

I was still expected to travel to my Jobcentre on the train every week, attend interviews and pay for my living costs, despite rapidly depleting funds.

I did so, expecting that my efforts at job hunting each week would be recognised by my work coach.

Two weeks in, he asked me why I was applying for graduate jobs.

‘You need to set the bar lower,’ he told me, handing me an application to be a night cleaner in a supermarket.

I felt like he was telling me to give up on my dreams.

When I told him I was getting interviews, but being told that other candidates had more experience, he told me I wasn’t working hard enough.

I struggled not to cry. I was working so hard and being punished for no reason.

I was applying for 30 jobs a day by this point – spending eight hours a day filling in online forms, emailing CVs to companies, tweaking cover letters, updating my LinkedIn profile with as much experience as I could.

When my money finally came through, it was only a fraction of what I’d been told I would get.

I asked what was going on in my next appointment and my work coach shrugged.

‘Dial the call centre,’ he told me, pointing to a phone.

Being unemployed even for a few weeks can change your personality… for the worse

The woman on the line told me that my eligibility for housing allowance had been deducted by the assessment team, as I wasn’t eligible under the criteria.

‘What criteria?’ I asked.

‘You don’t meet the shared housing criteria that makes you eligible for the housing element of Universal Credit as you’re under 35 years of age,’ I was told.

‘What am I supposed to do for rent? Why wasn’t I told this sooner?’ I asked.

‘You can apply to your local housing authority,’ she told me.

‘They’ll take weeks to make a decision, and even then the funds aren’t guaranteed,’ I said, panicking.

‘You’re making me choose between having a roof over my head and food. What am I meant to do?’

‘I know it’s hard, trust me I know,’ she told me.

‘I don’t think you do know,’ I told her, anger mounting.

‘Thanks for nothing.’ I hung up, and started to leave.

‘Get back here!’ my work coach yelled from across the room.

I froze, and turned around.

Everyone was staring at me. I was forced to walk across the room, bright red with embarrassment, while everyone watched.

‘Have you stopped complaining now?’ he asked me.

Universal Credit and applying for benefits destroyed my life
(Picture: Getty)

‘I am incredibly angry right now, and our appointment is over,’ I said, struggling to keep the rage out of my words.

‘I would suggest I am given some time to process the latest decision that’s been made about me.’

For once, he didn’t say anything – just shooed me away with a flick of his hand.

I knew I had to spend the meagre funds I’d been provided with on transport to interviews, so my rent went unpaid and I was evicted.

I put all of my belongings in storage, and moved in with a friend I’d met a few weeks previously.

This unemployed man is not giving up until he finds a job

I barely knew him, but it was sleeping on the floor of his bedsit or sleeping on the streets.

His room was filthy. A blackened mattress lay on the floor, next to a sink covered in dust. Spiders nestled in the corner of the ceiling.

I spent the next two months being routinely guilt-tripped into sex, with the unspoken agreement that, because he had housed me, I was to give him my body in return.

I applied for 40 jobs a day.

Universal Credit and applying for benefits destroyed my life
(Picture: Getty)

I’d wake up, sit on the mattress, and spend all of my time filling out application forms, attending interviews across the city, and receiving rejection emails.

Then I’d be abused, go to sleep, wake up and do it all over again.

I attended the Jobcentre, and they repeatedly told me I’d been on benefits for a long time.

They told me I should be trying harder.

Unemployed graduate spends ‘last £500’ on billboard begging for job

If I stayed on Universal Credit for much longer, they’d need to refer me to a specialist clinic to get me back into work.

I gave up on fighting. It was clear they wouldn’t listen to my efforts. I was just somebody taking up their time, being lazy, not wanting to work, sponging off the government.

Sleeping on the floor of a strangers’ bedsit, going hungry for days at a time, getting repeatedly rejected for jobs in every sector from marketing to hospitality, was not good enough for them.

Universal Credit and applying for benefits destroyed my life
(Picture: Getty)

My spirit was being ground down every day by people who did not care how I felt, or have any desire for me to be happy.

Then I received another cut.

I saw that, if I’d still had my own place, I would have had enough to cover the rent – then have 75p remaining for the month.

Eventually, one of my friends worked out what was going on and told me to seek refuge.

‘This is horrific, you need to get out,’ he told me.

By this point, I felt dead inside. I’d had everything taken from me. My money, the roof over my head, my self esteem, my body. Everything.

Man who applied for 400 jobs finally gets interviews after hiding his disability

Universal Credit had pushed me into homelessness, poverty and abuse, and the trauma is something that remains with me to this day.

When I found refuge, I was picked up by an officer who drove me to a nondescript house, in the outer suburbs of London. She offered me a cup of coffee.

I looked at her, bewildered. Why did I deserve a hot drink? What was the catch? What did I have to give in return?

She showed me into a room, and told me it was mine. I was given a care package, and a bag of food.

The door closed, and I sunk to the floor. I didn’t even know how to cry. I was numb.

A Beautifully Honest Portrayal of Post Natal Depression (Farah Hughes)
(Picture: Farah Hughes)

Why was I being given an entire room to myself? Why did I deserve this luxury?

Food? For free? Surely it was going to be taken off me. This had to be a cruel joke. That’s all my life had been for the last six months.

That’s what Universal Credit did to me: it destroyed my self esteem and made me think I was worthless. What’s more, that I didn’t deserve to be given food and a roof over my head.

‘I didn’t do anything wrong,’ I told a therapist three months later.

‘I just tried to make a future for myself, like everyone else in this world. I worked hard. I did everything asked of me, and more. I don’t understand why it got forcibly taken from me.’

Yes, I’m in therapy – after the experiences that resulted from claiming Universal Credit, the abuse I went through, and the symptoms of PTSD I’ve started having.

‘I never asked for help’: We chat PTSD, anxiety, and life in a mental health unit on our new podcast, Mentally Yours

Obviously I have to pay for it myself each week – getting access to healthcare is a luxury many of us cannot get on the NHS.

Fortunately, I have a therapist who was so horrified by what I went through that the rate for each session is severely discounted.

I became so desensitised to the sexual violence that I would talk about it in a matter-of-fact monotone, face expressionless, sometimes laughing slightly to deal with talking about how disgusting the events were, the shocking nature of the things I was talking about so calmly.

In fact, I didn’t cry at anything I discussed over the following four months, and I’ve been abused over 30 times.

The other day, I went to therapy, and discussed the details of what Universal Credit had done.

‘I applied for 40 jobs a day, and they told me I wasn’t working hard enough. They cut my money, and I was evicted, I was homeless, and I got abused. They gave me 75p a day.’

Universal Credit and applying for benefits destroyed my life
(Picture: PA)

My voice cracked on the last word, and I started crying.

Abusive people, at least in my experience, don’t pretend to be good.

You know what you’re getting with them. That doesn’t make the experiences easier to deal with, but it’s clear cut.

What made me cry is the fact Universal Credit has people believing those on benefits are lazy. Then they make you think you’re worth nothing.

They trot out slogans which, combined with television depictions of those receiving welfare, have people believing that they could walk into a job, should they want to – but they can’t be bothered.

I used to think that, after university, I’d graduate and all the experience I’d gained would guarantee me a job fairly quickly.

What I learned is that, the minute you slip through the net, you get pushed to the floor, then repeatedly kicked, over and over.

Some people give up. I know people who have committed suicide over benefit cuts. 

Universal Credit calls itself a service that makes work pay, when really, all that happens is the most vulnerable people end up paying with their happiness, their security or even their lives.

MORE: America to start drug-testing unemployed people before paying benefits

 

SOURCE

Benefits Freeze leads to Evictions.

It’s terrible that social housing will be gone if something isn’t done to rectify it, perhaps the homeless will rise up like they did back in the 1930s?

CATHY_COME_HOME_1200px
Cathy Come Home by Ken Loach
More Important than Pay Gap for Women at BBC?

No doubt this is important, so important that you can barely turn the radio or the telly on without hearing about it.45 BBC women urge action now from Tony Hall on salaries as Claire Balding reveals Women’s Hour pays 40 per cent less than other shows.But I can’t help feeling, call me a workerist, a miserabilist, and all the rest, that this is a lot more important.

100 tenants a day lose homes as rising rents and benefit freeze hit

Charities demand action to tackle toll of soaring housing costs, welfare cuts and ‘no fault’ evictions.

A record number of renters are being evicted from their homes, with more than 100 tenants a day losing the roof over their head, according to a shocking analysis of the nation’s housing crisis. The spiralling costs of renting a property and a long-running freeze to housing benefit are being blamed for the rising number of evictions among Britain’s growing army of tenants.

More than 40,000 tenants in England were evicted in 2015, according to a study by the Cambridge Centre for Housing and Planning Research for the Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRF). It is an increase of a third since 2003 and the highest level recorded. The research appears to confirm fears that a mixture of rising costs and falling state support would lead to a rise in people being forced out of their homes. It will raise concerns that even those in work are struggling to pay their rent.

High numbers of “no-fault” evictions by private landlords is driving the increase. More than 80% of the extra evictions had occurred under a Section 21 notice, which gives a tenant two months to leave. The landlord does not have to give a reason and there does not need to be any wrongdoing on the part of the tenant.

The study found that changes in welfare benefits have combined to make rents unaffordable to claimants in many areas. Housing benefit was no longer covering the cost of renting in some cases, with average shortfalls ranging from £22 to £70 a month outside of London, and between £124 and £1,036 in inner LondonHousing benefit has not risen in line with private rents since 2010, and a current freeze means the rates paid will not increase until 2020.

The number of tenants evicted from their properties reached a record high, according to a new report highlighting the misery and insecurity faced by renters struggling on low incomes.
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1960’s image of slums: homeless was rife at this time encouraging Ken Loach to make the film Cathy come Home

The report shows:

  • the rented sector has grown in the past 12 years by nearly a half, and the number of tenants being evicted from their homes has grown by a third: 10,000 more tenants lost their homes in 2015 than in 2003
  • the number of tenants evicted by private landlords exceeded the number evicted by social landlords for the first time in 2014
  • the increase in repossessions in recent years has been almost entirely due to the increasing use of ‘no fault’ evictions, using Section 21 (S21) of the Housing Act 1988
  • the use of S21 is highly concentrated geographically – four out of every five repossessions using S21 are in London, the East and the South East, and nearly two-thirds are in London alone.

JRF is calling for the Government to end the freeze on support for housing costs, and uprate Housing Benefit in line with local rents.

According to recent research carried out by CCHPR for the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, the growing gap between rents and support for housing costs is a key factor behind the rise in private rented sector evictions.

The research included in depth interviews with tenants on low incomes and identified the high levels of stress and disruption caused by insecure housing.

‘With the £50 a month [housing benefit shortfall] coming out of the JSA – that’s almost a week’s money in itself – and then you’ve got the other bills…I just couldn’t make it work. I had to choose… do I pay the rent… electricity… buy some food?’

Changes in welfare benefits have not kept up with rising rents, causing misery for tenants as they cope with inevitable financial pressures. Furthermore, the rising number of ‘no fault’ (Section 21) evictions gives rise to insecurity as tenants on low incomes face a complete lack of options when they lose their home.

The full report ‘Poverty, evictions and forced moves’ can be downloaded here.

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Disabled researcher slams ‘dangerous and totally discredited’ benefit assessments

Work capability assessment ‘creates unnecessary preventable harm’, says researcher.

 

Disabled veteran and researcher in disability studies, Mo Stewart, has written the following letter to DWP minister Penny Mordaunt:

Re: Stewart M 2017: State Crime By Proxy: corporate influence on state sanctioned social harm

Thank you for your letter of 31st May 2017 and please be advised that this response is an open letter, and will be published online.

It remains cause for concern that you continue to disregard all independent detailed evidence identified for you, and place your trust in discredited (1) government commissioned research and in the Centre for Health and Disability Assessments (the Centre), as funded by Maximus. The company has a very disturbing reputation (2) Minister, which has been disregarded by the government when offering this American company a lucrative contract to seemingly cause as much preventable harm as possible, on their behalf, when conducting the enforced and totally discredited assessment of disabled people.(3)

By definition, ‘the Centre’ has a clear conflict of interest as, when funded by Maximus, the company whose contract to conduct the fatally flawed, totally discredited and dangerous Work Capability Assessment (WCA) (1,3,4) at an exceptional and increased cost of £579 million to the tax payer, demonstrates there is a high possibility that ‘the Centre’ will be conducting more policy based research for the benefit of the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP). This would simply be history repeating itself. How many people will the DWP need to remove from welfare funding when using a dangerous and totally discredited assessment model (1,3,4) to justify the exorbitant costs of yet another corporate giant taking money from the State which could be much better used?

May I remind you Minister that another ‘Centre’, namely the Centre for Psychosocial and Disability Research, at Cardiff University, was funded with £1.6 million for the first five years by more American government ‘advisers’, then known as UnumProvidentTM Insurance, who were identified in 2008 by the American Association of Justice as the second most discredited insurance company in America. Why does the government continue to welcome the input of discredited American corporate giants with the welfare of this nation’s most vulnerable people, whose only crime is that they are attempting to claim the begrudged Employment and Support Allowance (ESA)? Clearly, ‘Cash Not Care’ does appear to be the answer. (3)

A former DWP Chief Medical Officer, Mansel Aylward, co-authored the 2005 DWP commissioned research ‘The Scientific and Conceptual Basis for Incapacity Benefit’ when funded by the American corporate insurance government ‘advisers’, who fully expect to benefit from the ongoing planned demolition of the UK welfare state, having guided future UK welfare reforms since 1994. ‘State Crime By Proxy: corporate influence on state sanctioned social harm’ (4) refers. As the British public realise that the State now only reluctantly supports some of those in greatest need, it is anticipated that more and more people will invest in private healthcare insurance, that also fails to pay out when a claim is made, when using the same discredited biopsychosocial model of assessment as used for the WCA. (3,4) Therefore, your demonstrated reliance on ‘the Centre’, funded by Maximus, does not raise confidence that any research produced will be evidence based and not policy based.

If you are looking for a Centre of Excellence by genuine researchers not funded by corporate America, then I refer you to the Centre for Welfare Reform, whose Director is Dr Simon Duffy. The Centre for Welfare Reform don’t dream up policies used to increase their profit margins, as they don’t have one, and their research is by critically acclaimed researchers not commissioned by the DWP or funded by corporate America. I suggest you contact Dr Duffy as a matter of urgency. Together with the Director of Ekklesia, Simon has already written to the Department (6), and I urge that you should make yourself very familiar with the content of that open letter given that you are named in it.

Your claim in your last letter that officials are ‘working with our health assessment provider, the Centre for Health and Disability Assessments, medical professionals and other stakeholders, including disability charities, to develop a set of criteria that will help identify those with the most severe health conditions or disabilities, for whom reassessments can be stopped unless there is a change in circumstances’ is cause for very, VERY serious concern. This comment demonstrates that the DWP have failed to accept the multitude of detailed evidence demonstrating the often fatal consequences of the WCA (3,4) which fails to consider diagnosis and prognosis and guarantees preventable harm.

The DIAGNOSIS will identify who should be excluded from endless assessments Minister, and the decision to disregard diagnosis for the WCA was a political decision influenced by a discredited corporate American insurance giant, UNUM Insurance, who were government ‘advisers’ on ‘welfare claims management’ from 1994, and were identified as the second worst insurance company in America in 2008 (4). What work do you actually expect people with Motor Neurone Disease to do Minister? What work do you expect someone with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease to complete before they drop dead? (7)

In his capacity as Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, Damian Green announced last year that those with the most severe health conditions would not need to be continually reassessed for a health condition that can’t ever improve. (8) Therefore, comments in your letter advising that identifying such claimants has yet to be achieved is cause for serious alarm, and once again it seems that the DWP have misled the House of Commons and the general public.

As a retired healthcare professional, I insist that it should not take a team of ‘officials’ to comprehend that by disregarding diagnosis and prognosis for any dangerous and discredited (1) so called ‘functional assessment’, as used for the WCA, that people will die. And they have Minister, in their thousands. (9) Countless more live in hiding in their homes because of the carefully managed suspicion now impacting on society (10), created by totally false claims by Ministers and enforced by shameful banner headlines in the tabloid press (11), which were guaranteed to influence public opinion to the detriment of the disabled community. Please don’t bother to waste my time by claiming that government have no influence over the national press…

Your final paragraph demonstrates that you totally disregard all the detailed evidence that the WCA is a dangerous and totally discredited assessment model (1,3,4) when using the biopsychosocial (BPS) model of assessment for the WCA, as recommended in discredited (1) DWP commissioned research (12). The co-author of the discredited DWP commissioned research (12) confirmed as long ago as 2012 that the BPS assessment model used for the WCA is not satisfactory and should not be used (13), and he was a former DWP Chief Medical Adviser and subsequent ‘government adviser’.

Furthermore, the other totally discredited commissioned 2007 report used for welfare reforms was by your former colleague David Freud. ‘Reducing dependency, increasing opportunity: options for the future to work’ was discredited within three months of being published (4). Yet, most of the welfare reforms, including the fact that the assessments should be offered to the private sector, were based on DWP discredited research and the author of that 2007 report was ennobled, and gained a position as a Junior Minister in two governments, despite never having been elected and confirming that he knew ‘nothing about welfare’. This he demonstrated during his entire time at the DWP.

Minister, the evidence is overwhelming that the WCA was not just introduced as a cost cutting measure, but to eventually demolish the welfare state. The continued use of the WCA is identified as State Crime By Proxy, when using contracted foreign corporate giants to conduct a dangerous assessment that was always guaranteed to kill some of those for whom State help should be guaranteed. Your claims that there ‘have been many improvements made to the Work Capability Assessment process since 2008’ are totally unfounded, given that it is a dangerous and totally discredited assessment model and should be removed at once, before many more people die when, quite literally, ‘killed by the State (3,4).

Be advised please that the severe austerity measures introduced by the Cameron coalition government in 2010 were totally unnecessary (14), and were exposed as being introduced for political ideology not financial necessity. Coroners, academic experts in their field, the Work and Pensions Select Committee, the British Medical Association, the Royal College of General Practitioners, the Royal College of Nurses, the British Psychological Society, the President of the Appeal Tribunals for Social Security, the Centre for Welfare Reform, Ekklesia and Disabled Peoples’ Organisations have all demanded that the WCA should be stopped; all to no avail because the government aren’t listening. The suffering is relentless, the death toll related to this fatally flawed government enforced assessment is vast, and there’s more to come, Minister, if the WCA is not stopped.

It was really quite shameful when the former Secretary of State dismissed a report by the United Nations that exposed the negative impact of the ongoing and unnecessary (14) austerity policies, which ‘systematically violated’ the rights of disabled people. (15) Indeed, those who now live in fear of the DWP would challenge Damian Green’s claims at the time that the focus was ‘on helping disabled people find and stay in work, whilst taking care of those who can’t.’ (15) There is not, nor has there ever been, any evidence of the government ‘helping’ sick and disabled people to ‘find and stay in work’, Minister, but there is a great of detailed evidence that many chronically ill and disabled people who depend on the State for financial support now live in fear (3,4,9) of this identified DWP tyranny, masquerading as welfare reforms, and the subsequent unnecessary suspicion created in society.

So far, the Coalition and Conservative governments have demonstrated their utter contempt for those in greatest need, by relying on less that ‘objective’ research to justify their debilitating welfare policies, the often fatal ESA assessment process (16) and the unnecessary austerity (14) policies, and they have managed to escape all redress. This is changing.

The evidence is mounting and is being published in journals and on academic websites if not by the press and, at some time, someone will be held accountable for this needless mounting despair and increasing death totals linked to the WCA, the relentless psychological intimidation and the constant threat of having essential benefit removed without warning. This identified ongoing preventable harm was created to support a former female Prime Minister’s stated goal, which was the removal of the welfare state to be replaced by private healthcare insurance. Time will tell how many more people will have been, effectively, ‘killed by the State’ (3,4) before this has become a reality for the unsuspecting and ill informed British people.

As for the Green Paper that you mentioned in your letter, it is effectively promotion of private healthcare insurance (17), which is something my research identified a long time ago. (3,4)

As you can see, there is a consensus that the WCA creates unnecessary preventable harm, and I trust that the DWP will correct identified past mistakes, based on the most up-to-date evidence.

Yours, most sincerely.

Mo Stewart

Disabled veteran (WRAF)
Disability studies researcher
Retired healthcare professional
Author of ‘Cash Not Care: the planned demolition of the UK welfare state’. New Generation Publishing 2016

Copied to:

Professor Tom Shakespeare, UEA

Mr Simon Barrow ~ Director of Ekklesia

Professor Peter Beresford, University of Essex

Dr Simon Duffy ~ Director, Centre for Welfare Reform

Ms Marie Rimmer MP ~ Shadow Minister for Disabled People

Professor Woody Caan ~ Editor, Journal of Public Mental health

Professor Nicola Gale ~ President, British Psychological Society

Catherine Hale ~ Lead Researcher, Chronic Illness Inclusion Project

Professor Kate Bullen ~ President Elect, British Psychological Society

Nimrod Ben-Cnaan ~ Head of Policy and Profile, Law Centre Network

Lord Shinkwin ~ Commissioner, Equality and Human Rights Commission

Baroness Campbell of Surbiton ~ Chair, Independent Living Strategy Group

Professor Daryl B O’Connor ~ Chair, Research Board, British Psychological Society

References:

1.) Shakespeare T, Watson N, Abu-Alghaib O 2016: Blaming the victim all over again: Waddell and Aylward’s biopsychosocial (BPS) model of disability.

Critical Social Policy Journal 37, 1, 22 – 41

http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/0261018316649120

2.) PRING J 2014: Incompetence, discrimination and ‘fraud’: the US company that could take over from Atos.  Disability News Service 17thOctober 2014.

http://www.disabilitynewsservice.com/incompetence-discrimination-and-fraud-the-us-company-that-could-take-over-from-atos/

3.) Stewart M 2016: Cash Not Care: The Planned Demolition Of The UK Welfare State.

New Generation Publishing, London.

http://www.newgeneration-publishing.com/bookstore/politics/bookdetails/1749

4.) Stewart M 2017: State Crime By Proxy: corporate influence on state sanctioned social harm

https://www.researchgate.net/publication/314045256_STATE_CRIME_BY_PROXY_corporate_influence_on_state_sanctioned_social_harm_An_independent_report

5.) Syal R 2016: Maximus miss fitness-to-work test targets despite spiralling costs

The Guardian, 8th January 2016

https://www.theguardian.com/society/2016/jan/08/maximus-miss-fitness-to-work-test-targets-despite-spiralling-costs

6.) DUFFY S 2017: Open letter to Damian Green on welfare reform

http://www.centreforwelfarereform.org/uploads/attachment/543/open-letter-damian-green.pdf

7.) GANI A 2016: DWP told woman she was not ill enough for benefit on the day she died. The Guardian, 7thJanuary 2016

https://www.theguardian.com/society/2016/jan/07/dwp-told-dawn-amos-not-ill-enough-for-benefit-day-she-died

8.) House of Commons Debates 2016 reEmployment and Support Allowance http://www.parliament.uk/business/publications/written-questions-answers-statements/written-statement/Commons/2016-10-10/HCWS174/

9.) Butler P 2015: Thousands have died after being found fit for work, DWP figures show.

The Guardian, 27th August 2015.

https://www.theguardian.com/society/2015/aug/27/thousands-died-after-fit-for-work-assessment-dwp-figures

10.) Hale C 2013: The Big Society Fails The Hardest Hit.

http://www.centreforwelfarereform.org/library/by-az/the-big-society-fails-the-hardest-hit.html

11.) Hall M 2011: 75% on sick are sciving.  The Express, 26thJune 2011

http://www.express.co.uk/news/uk/225311/75-on-sick-are-skiving

12.) Waddell G and Aylward M. 2005: The Scientific and Conceptual Basis of Incapacity Benefits. TSO, London.

https://www.tsoshop.co.uk/bookstore.asp?FO=1279028&DI=607598

13.) PRING J 2012: Former DWP medical boss Sir Mansel Aylward makes WCA pledge to protestors.

Disability News Service 14th September 2012.

http://blacktrianglecampaign.org/2012/09/14/former-dwp-medical-boss-sir-mansel-aylward-makes-wca-pledge-to-protesters-disability-news-service/

14.) Krugman P 2015: The case for cuts was a lie. Why does Britain still believe it?

The austerity delusion by Paul Krugman.

The Guardian, 29th April 2015

https://www.theguardian.com/business/ng-interactive/2015/apr/29/the-austerity-delusion

15.) BUTLER P 2016: Damian Green dismisses ‘offensive’ UN report on UK disability rights.

The Guardian, 8th November 2016

https://www.theguardian.com/society/2016/nov/08/damian-green-dismisses-offensive-un-report-on-uk-disability-rights

16.) GENTLEMAN A 2014: Vulnerable man starved to death after benefits were cut.

The Guardian, 28th February 2014.

https://www.theguardian.com/society/2014/feb/28/man-starved-to-death-after-benefits-cut

17.) MEADEN B 2016: Does Green Paper reveal government’s lack of commitment to the welfare state?

Ekklesia, 11th November 2016.

http://www.ekklesia.co.uk/node/23562

THIS WEEK’S DWP ATROCITIES

Disabled war veteran rode mobility scooter on 60mph road for 20-mile trip to attend benefits test

Geoffrey Berry drove along the hard shoulder to the assessment centre after he was told he could not get a home consultation.


Disabled woman felt “dehumanised” after being forced to crawl up stairs for benefits appointment

Maria Quinn, 32, has blasted the centre for its shocking disabled access after she was told staff would not be able to attach a wheelchair ramp over the stairs for her to use


Man left almost blind in road accident ruled fit to work just weeks after coming out of coma

BENEFIT assessors have ruled a man left almost blind by a road accident as fit to work – just weeks after he came out of a coma.

Alex Howe, from Coxhoe, County Durham, is blind in one eye and has severely reduced visibility in the other, struggles to walk and has lost hearing in one ear.


Teenager denied benefits despite urgently needing kidney replacement

Brooke Johnson with mum Tara and dad Darren

teenager in need of a kidney transplant is angry she will not be allowed a supportive benefit. Brooke Johnson, 19, has autoimmunity, a condition which causes the body’s immune system to attack healthy cells.

After suffering symptoms including anaemia, nausea, high blood pressure, vision problems and fatigue she was forced to quit her job at Home Bargains and defer studying her A levels.


Stroke sufferer may need to sell his home after being denied benefits

Chris Gold

A Somerset man, who was left partially paralysed after suffering a stroke, may be forced to sell his house. This is because he has accumulated high levels of debt whilst waiting to receive benefit payments.

Chris Gold was initially refused the Universal Credit benefit after being told he should be working.

This was despite Chris suffering brain damage as well as paralysis following the stroke….

UTTER SICKENING & GETTING WORSE!