Tuesday, 14 August 2012

Message for ATOS

To the ATOS workers who deliver the work capability assessments.  After watching the Dispatches programme on Channel 4, well actually before that but the definitive proof and truth emerged during the documentary.  You do realise that you are taking part in real world version of the Milgram experiment.

The Milgram experiment 'on obedience to authority figures' - It measured the willingness of study participants to obey an authority figure who instructed them to perform acts that conflicted with their personal conscience.

You get crisis every so often due to the job, at least I do (atos trainer) Dispatches. I would say this quote shows that the people carrying out the work capability assessments get crisis of conscience from the work they are carrying out.

Miligram designed this experiment to try and find out why so many people in Nazi germany, post war, were using the defence that they were 'just following orders'.
The experiment was set up so volunteers were asked to give 'students who were in fact actors' stronger and stronger electric shocks if they kept on getting a set of answers wrong.  The volunteers were prompted by an authority figure if they questioned the 'authority figure' with regard to them increasing and administering the electric shocks.
Atos assessor Dispatches ‘Ive recently had somebody with prostate cancer but of course that’s not traditionally treated with chemotherapy – so I gave him no points and I couldn’t do anything else – it’s the same with breast cancer – the hormonal treatments don’t count – so he was given no points – I felt very uncomfortable doing it I didn’t like doing it but I had no way of scoring him.'
Most volunteers continued after administering stronger and strong electcri shocks in the Milgram experiment after they had been assured that they would not be held responsible.

Again I return to quotes from the Dispatches programme so you can compare the 'experiments'

(Atos Trainer) always emphasis that the final decision comes from the descision makers at the dwp – just to push the kind of guilt from yourself – the dwp agrees with atos 94% of the time

(Atos Trainer) good thing for us is that even if you make the wrong decision – you don’t see x-rays – you don’t see ECG you just only see the person – so you can be wrong but you never go to the tribunal – this is the good thing – you never go to the tribunal. So sort of, you won’t be blamed.

As can be seen from just a quick comparison between these 2 'experiments' there are extremely obvious similarities the only difference being that in the Milgram experiments the 'students' receiving the electric shocks were in fact actors.  In the ATOS/WCA/DWP 'experiments' the people suffering and dieing are real people.  They could be your brother, your sister, your neighbour, your cousin, your children.

Wednesday, 25 July 2012

Weathermen to Run Economy

Due to the weather interfering with the economy on a regular basis George Osborne has decided to bring in the weathermen to help him factor the weather into the budget.

At a time when harsh winters and cold summer  are having a huge impact and making the economy lurch into a downward trend it has been decided to bring in the weather experts and perhaps even try to alter the weather as this could have a dramatic effect on the economy and solve the defecit problems all in one fell swoop!!

George Osborne has decided that Michael Fish would be ideal in this role as he is as good with his weather predictions as George is with the economy,

Thursday, 2 February 2012

Welfare Reform Bill - Screws the Sick and Disabled and Many More

I was struck yesterday by the speech made by Jennifer Willet - who along with the majority of her liberal democrat colleagues - sold us out.

Unless the woman doesnt know her job - she lied through the whole of her speech in parliament yesterday.

Taking the facts concerning ESA and how its supposed to work.

1. Proffessor Harrington told the select commitee that he did not see the need for the Work Capability Assessment (WCA) to have any relevance to a real job in the real world.

2.  This means people being found fit for some kind of work (which doesnt mean real life work) are being placed onto JSA - many of these people will never realistically be able to work

3. The ESA (WRAG) group is supposed to be for people who at some point in the future will be able to work - many people in this group have deteriorative conditions ie they are not going to get any better and the chances are they will get worse - so once again will never be realistically able to work - this is the group who now after 1 year are expected to miraculously get better.

4.  The ESA (Support group) this is supposed to be the group who will probably never be able to work again.  However, in the main, the people being put into this group are people with only 6 months to live.

There is a thread running through this - people who are unfit for work are being placed in all 3 groups, people who in reality will never get a job in their lives are being found fit for work or capable of returning to work at some point in the future!!

There have been 31 people who have been found fit for work - who within weeks of being pronounced thus, have died from the very condition which they were claiming for!!

How can Jennifer Willet have been reassured that the word of Professor Harrington had reassured her that this policy regarding time limiting cESA was fair as the correct people were beginning to be put into the support group - when the whole test is set up on a false premise!!! When people arnt even getting on ESA to start with who are terminally ill and have weeks or less to live!!

She reassured her fellow lib-dem MP's that it was safe to overturn the Lords amendment as the WCA test was fair and safe!!! And this was despite the libdem membership voting expressly against it at their party conference and placing that in their manifesto.

I am ashamed and disgusted with the majority of parliament and the majority of the media.

The other amendments that were overturned I am also extremely angry about - in fact the majority of the bill is the most inhumane peice of legislation ever written!

Sunday, 29 January 2012

Between 0.00335% and 0.0134% of benefit recipients affected by £26,000 benefit cap

From what I can gather these are the correct figures.

apparently 67,000 people are expected to be affected by the benefit cap whether working part time or out of work.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/mobile/uk-politics-16675314 looks like figures have been revised upwards frm 50,000 to 67,000

1 in 8 people on housing benefit are unemployed

approx 2.5 million people are on JSA

if we times this by 8 to get the total number of people on benefits of some sort this adds up to 20 million.

Dividing 20 million by 67,000 we get 298.5 which means that 1/298.5 of people will be affected by the benefit cap or 0.00335%

To get a more accurate figure of those of working age affected I have doubled that amount as half of the people in receipt of housing benefit are OAPs  resulting in 0.0067% - and then doubled it again as the cap applies per household and many people live as couples - this reaches the figure of 0.0134% - so this is a definate over estimation. 

As such - those affected by the benefit cap are in an extreme minority and therefore in exceptional circumstances. 

To put this in context - a couple living together in my area without children would receive approx £10,000 between them ie for their household - thats adding up JSA, Housing Benefit and Council Tax Benefit and thats if they are over 35 - if they are under 35 it would be less.

Wednesday, 11 January 2012

the vote we are trying to make sense of

Lord Freud

45A Leave out Clause 52 and insert the following new Clause

Condition relating to youth
In section 1 of the Welfare Reform Act 2007

and subject to section 52  (clause 36A was to insert this line - this bit in brackets put in by me for clarificatipn of what 36a is)

 (employment and support allowance), after subsection (3) there is inserted—“(3A) After the coming into force of this subsection no claim may be made for an employment and support allowance by virtue of the third condition set out in Part 1 of Schedule 1 (youth).””

Monday, 9 January 2012

Press Release from the #spartacusreport Responsible Reform

Revealed: New Report shows overwhelming opposition to coalition’s disability benefit reforms kept hidden by the government

Conservative Mayor of London heavily critical of government’s plans for Disability Living Allowance

Report was entirely researched, written, funded and supported by disabled people.

A report published today (9 January) finds that Government misled MPs and Peers over the hostility to disability benefit reform. It finds that Parliament has been given only a partial view of the overwhelming opposition to the Coalition’s planned reforms of a key disability benefit, Disability Living Allowance (DLA). It finds that this opposition was previously not released to public scrutiny by the Government. 

It is based on the responses to the government's own consultation on its planned DLA reforms, which were only made public once disabled people requested them under the Freedom of Information Act. Findings included:

·  98 per cent of respondents objected to the qualifying period for benefits being raised from 3 months to 6 months 

·  99 per cent of respondents objected to Disability Living Allowance no longer being used as a qualification for other benefits 

·  92% opposed removing the lowest rate of support for disabled people

In all three cases, as well as many others, London’s Conservative Mayor, Boris Johnson also objected to the proposed changes. He said in his response

“The Mayor would call for the Government to retain the three-month qualifying period as the increase to six months will mean that people with fluctuating conditions have increased difficulty meeting the qualifying period. People with fluctuating conditions face the same barriers that all disabled face in relation to higher costs of living and DLA is essential to maintain a decent quality of life.”

“We would recommend that the passporting system remains the same as           under DLA as it has worked well when signposting people to additional benefits to which they may be entitled.”

“The Mayor does not support this change, as those on the lower rate care component may have additional costs as a result of their impairment but may lose their access to this benefit as part of the proposed removal under the reforms.”

The Mayor also objected to the government's strategy for clamping down on disability benefit fraud, arguing:

"The government proposes imposing penalties if disabled people do not inform the government in changes in their circumstances. However, the Department of Work and Pensions statistics give the overall fraud rate for Disability Living Allowance as being less than 0.5%. For those with fluctuating conditions asking them to report every change to their condition would prove very stressful."

The Mayor’s views were representative of the overwhelming majority of responses to the Government’s consultation..

The new report, Responsible Reform, suggests that the government’s DLA consultation breached the government’s own code of practice and was “highly misleading”.

Researchers have used the Freedom of Information Act to obtain more than 500 responses to the consultation that were submitted by disabled people’s organisations, disability charities and other groups – including the response submitted by Boris Johnson – and have carried out the first detailed, independent analysis of those responses.

The analysis showed overwhelming opposition to replacing DLA with a new Personal Independence Payment (PIP). The government also plans to cut spending on DLA/PIP by 20%.

The new report has been researched, written and funded by sick and disabled people, thousands of whom contributed to the research through their use of social media.

Its authors now hope to use the report to persuade members of the House of Lords to back an adjournment debate calling for a pause of at least 6 months. In that time, plans for PIP should be reconsidered with the views of disabled people properly taken into account.

The report has already been backed by organisations and disability experts including

Disability Alliance


Papworth Trust


Bert Massie CBE &


Disability Alliance  -  "The Government's mis-portrayal of the DLA consultation response is truly shocking and could represent a betrayal of the process of consultation and engagement with disabled people. The Government has refused to provide a justification for a 20% cut in DLA expenditure and we fear that the same faulty rationale, misunderstanding of disability and higher costs of living and poor judgement exposed in this report sadly underpin the basis of the entire reform plans."

Paul Farmer, Chief Executive of the mental health charity Mind, said:

“The ‘Responsible Reform’ report is essential reading for everyone with an interest in Disability Living Allowance (DLA) reform including the Government and Department for Work and Pensions Select Committee. It is a vital contribution to the debate on reform and a huge achievement for the volunteers who have produced it.

“As well as forensically deconstructing many of the arguments offered by the Government for their proposed reform, the report shows that much of the rise in claimants over recent years has been down to better access to the benefit for people with mental health problems, whose needs are often fluctuating and invisible.

“Rather than getting out of control as the Government claims, DLA has been increasingly going to people who really need it. The proposed 20 per cent cut to the budget will have an enormous impact on many people with illnesses and disabilities, and we remain very concerned about the unintended consequences this could lead to.”

Papworth Trust supports this report's concerns that the decision to reduce DLA by 20% may have been based on incomplete or misleading data about the reasons for growth in DLA. Our recent survey found that almost 9 out of 10 people would have to cut back on essentials such as food or being able to get out and about if their DLA payments were reduced or stopped under PIP. We believe that the proposed 20% cut will push more disabled people into poverty. 

Given that this report was entirely researched, written, funded and supported by the people that these changes will affect, we believe that the questions it raises should be answered by the Government.

Richard Hawkes, Chief Executive of disability charity Scope said:

“This report once again reveals the very real concerns disabled people have about the government’s reform of Disability Living Allowance.

“We know that this benefit is a lifeline for millions of people and families.

“It gives them the opportunity to meet the extra living costs they incur as a result of living with a condition or impairment and we know that people are genuinely worried about the impact these reforms will have on their quality of life.

“We urge the government to listen and act on these concerns and to ensure its replacement takes into consideration all the barriers disabled people face in everyday life so they can live independently and play an active role in their local community.”

Sir Bert Massie CBE said

“The Government’s proposed changes to the system of financial support for disabled people, from Disability Living Allowance to Personal Independence Payment, has caused anxiety to many disabled people. I have always found the explanations offered by the Government to be unconvincing and I therefore welcome this report which analyses the evidence on which the decisions were based.  It shows that rather than being broadly welcomed by disabled people and disability organisations the new proposals were subject to widespread criticism and alarm. I hope this report will result in the Government reviewing its proposals so they enhance rather than damage the lives of disabled people.

Simon Barrow, Co-Director of the beliefs and values thinktank Ekklesia, said :

“This is an excellent piece of research. There remains a gaping chasm between the government’s rhetoric about maintaining support for disabled people and the actual evidence about the impact of the changes and cuts it is imposing. The voices of those at the sharp end are not being listened to in a way that shapes policy. The concepts of justice dignity and social solidarity are being eroded and replaced with a piecemeal approach to provision which sees care as essentially voluntary.”

Sue Marsh, the disabled blogger and activist who led the research, alongside Dr Sarah J Campbell, said:

“For some years now, poorly designed Social Security reforms have created a “trust deficit” among disabled people towards government.

“We believe that reform must be measured, responsible and transparent, based on available evidence and designed with disabled people at the very heart of decision-making. Currently, we do not believe this to be the case.

“While disabled people welcome reform of DLA where it will simplify the system and better support their needs, they do not want a new benefit. They believe it is a costly irrelevance during a time of austerity.

“We urge members of the House of Lords – across party political boundaries – to take note of this research and the strength of opposition to the proposals. It is not too late for them to halt these deeply damaging reforms.”

Another contributor to the report, Kaliya Franklin, said :

“Cutting spending on DLA will increase the burden on local authorities, the NHS and community services at the very time they are seeking to find savings by reducing eligibility, particularly for social care support.

“Sick and disabled people have voluntarily combined our skills, experience and talent to produce this report, demonstrating that if we are able to work in the way our conditions demand we can participate in the world of employment, but only if it is willing to receive us on our terms, with more flexible ways of working and participating.”

Among the report’s conclusions:

  • Only 7% of organisations that took part in the consultation were fully in support of plans to replace DLA with PIP
  • There was overwhelming opposition in the consultation responses to nearly all of the government’s proposals for DLA reform
  • The government has consistently used inaccurate figures to exaggerate the rise in DLA claimants
  • The report shows that nearly all of the recent increase in working-age claimants of DLA has been associated with mental health conditions and learning difficulties. Between 2002 and 2010, the number of working-age DLA claimants – excluding those with mental health conditions and learning difficulties remained remarkably stable
  • 98% of those who responded opposed plans to change the qualifying period for PIP from three months (as it is with DLA) to six months
  • 90% opposed plans for a new assessment, which disabled people fear will be far too similar to the much-criticised work capability assessment used to test eligibility for employment and support allowance (ESA)
  • Respondents to the consultation repeatedly warned that the government’s plans could breach the Equality Act, the Human Rights Act and the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities

Contact details:

Sue Marsh, email: suey2yblog@hotmail.co.uk ; mobile: 07851 547217

Kaliya Franklin, contributor and co-ordinator : 0151 345 1495

PAs :    07896 562110

            07972 611782

Notes to editors:

  • The government’s response to the consultation on its DLA reforms was published in April 2011
  • Discussion of the Welfare Reform Bill is due to resume at its report stage on 11 January in the House of Lords
  • The report was written by Sue Marsh, the author of the blog Diary of a Benefit Scrounger, and Dr Sarah J Campbell
  • Employment and Support Allowance is the replacement for Incapacity Benefit, introduced by the Labour government in 2008
  • The research suggests that, although the number of people with mental health conditions claiming DLA has risen continuously over the last 15 years, only one in 100 working-age adults is claiming DLA in association with a mental health condition. This is far lower than estimates of the population prevalence of more severe mental health conditions. This is a global phenomenon and unlikely to be related to the design of the UK benefit system.
  • The research also suggests that the rise in the number of people with learning difficulties claiming DLA is likely to be due to earlier diagnosis of certain conditions
Boris Johnson’s full response to the consultation can be found here: http://www.leftfootforward.org/images/2012/01/Mayoral-Submission.pdf