Posts here at MADD Suspicions since update 4:
Following the release of the 3rd Harrington Review of the Work Capability Assessment released just a few days ago, there was understandable negative reaction to the hugely flawed process.
This was the reaction from Rethink Mental Illness:
“We very much hope the government will listen to Professor Harrington’s concerns and will work with us and health professionals to develop a better system, which we believe should put the onus on decision makers to gather medical evidence, not claimants with severe mental illness.
“In the meantime, the mass reassessment of claimants should be halted. It’s an absolute scandal that every day, ill and vulnerable people continue to be subjected to a process which is not fit for purpose.”
The Citizens Advice Bureau say this in response to the review:
“Tightening Atos’ performance targets will help, but what we really need is regular, independent monitoring of the accuracy of work capability assessment reports – as Professor Harrington himself recommended last year – and financial penalties on Atos for every inaccurate report that they produce.
“Mistakes by Atos have a human cost and a cost to the tax payer. Getting medical assessments right first time is absolutely essential to ensuring that seriously ill and disabled people get the support they are entitled to, and cutting the number of unnecessary and costly appeals.
“It is incredible that it is still not standard procedure for Atos to collect medical evidence from the healthcare professional who knows the claimant best. Professor Harrington is right to expect DWP decision makers to request medical evidence or have to justify in writing why they do not, but they also need to give proper weight to this evidence. As things stand they are all too often simply rubber stamping Atos assessments.
This was the response from Mind:
We are disappointed that some key areas have not been addressed in the review, such as ensuring that people with mental health problems are assessed by assessors with expertise in mental health, reassessing people less frequently because of the negative impact this has on their health, and ensuring people have access to good welfare advice so they can navigate the system.
We also need a more fundamental review of whether the WCA is accurately assessing ability to work and a rethink of the current approach for helping disabled people into work, which is currently too focused on conditionality and sanctions.”
The Multiple Sclerosis Society had this to say in response to the review:
“Too many people with MS tell us horror stories of stressful experiences of Work Capability Assessments, from misleading assessor reports to inaccessible assessment centres. To make sure assessments improve, Atos should not just be monitored more closely, but should face financial penalties for poor performance.
“Snapshot face-to-face assessments often fail to recognise the impact of fluctuating conditions such as MS, so we support the call for more evidence to be sought in such cases – but it’s vital this evidence is collected as early as possible in the process and properly considered.
“We also want future reviews to look at rates of reassessment, to prevent people with long-term conditions such as MS being subjected to multiple and onerous assessments when they are not necessary.”
And the opposition Labour party say this.
Prior to Harrington’s 3rd review being published, the “We are Spartacus” group published their own review of the system fro real life experiences of those who have experienced it. The People’s Review of the Work Capability Assessment.
The Disabled People Against Cuts website also features a survey, including questions that were ignored by the Harrington review:
DPAC, Black Triangle, and Social Welfare Union, along with the British Medical Association and a growing number of organisations and MPs condemn the WCA and call for its immediate end. We hope the contents of this report will help those who fail to understand why these calls are being made to begin to understand why this is the only justifiable option.
The Turn 2 Us website commissioned research on benefits and stigma, which shows harsh public attitudes towards benefits and those of us who claim them. Some examples of findings include:
- The public vastly overestimated the numbers of people ‘claiming falsely’ or ‘committing fraud’
- 1 in 5 people believe a majority of claims are false, while 14% believe a majority of claims are fraudulent. The Government’s own statistics indicate an actual fraud rate of around 1%
- The public now see claimants as less deserving than they did 20 years ago, with noticeable shifts in opinion in the late 1990s and early 2000s
Sadly regime figures continue to peddle myths surrounding benefits claimants despite the facts, which contributes to the stigma:
The Tory peer Lord Freud has said that the benefits system is “dreadful” and that those with less money should take more risks as they have less to lose.
Lord Freud, who is an adviser on the overhaul of the welfare state, claimed that he understood the challenges facing those on benefits, saying “you don’t have to be the corpse to go to the funeral.”
The fact that he’s claimed those of us less well off than him and his chums has less to lose shows just how out of touch politicians of various parties are.
On the subject of rhetoric and stigma, the New Statesman argues:
Undue focus on “scrounging” is draining public support for welfare at a time when a proper safety net is desperately needed by millions of vulnerable people.
There has been much criticism of course about the upcoming “Universal Credit” system. Due to come into force from April 2013.
Vox Political reports on the work of the Work and Pensions parliamentary committee:
“The Committee notes that the Government has set a very ambitious timetable for Universal Credit implementation and expresses concern about whether there will be sufficient time for the Government to learn from its pilots and whether it is desirable or necessary to implement so many changes at once,” the report states.
The committee is chaired by Dame Anne Begg, who added: “We have serious concerns about how more vulnerable people will cope with the changes, especially the online claims system and the proposed single monthly payment. Some claimants will not be able to make an online claim and others may struggle to adapt to monthly payments.”
“Universally Screwed by Universal Credits”, suggests The Depressed Moose, quite rightly:
The fuckers who supposedly work for the people who elected them into parliament are conspiring to screw us with no lube and no cuddle afterwards! The same people who are being investigated for fiddling expense claims, having multiple houses and money in the bank have decided the only way for Britain to get back in track is to systematically fuck us when we need their help the most! Heaven forbid that we go after the banks that we bailed out yet continue to pay millions in bonuses!
As for Iain Dickhead Smith he is worth a reported £1 million according to his wiki page and has had such a successful career in politics that when he was leader of the Conservative party he was forced out by a vote of no confidence from his party! Yet he is now likely to have more blood on his hands than the worst serial killers seen in the UK!
The Void blog reports on the massive data gathering excercise involved, despite the current Lib Con regime claiming they were against ID Cards. And of course, as the blog rightly points out there, this is a virtual id scheme:
Universal Credit will not just collect details of income on a monthly basis, but will contain details on health conditions, employment, job seeking activity, housing, family make up, bank details, childcare, tenancy agreements, and personal information such as dates of birth and National Insurance numbers. There have even been recommendations that this database could be linked to NHS prescription records (PDF), whilst the launch of Universal Jobmatch is giving Jobcentres unprecedented access to spy on how and when claimants look for work.
And also posts about the so called “Universal Jobmatch” website:
The Government’s new benefit regime, Universal Credit, will depend on the largest and most complex IT database ever constructed in history. Over 20 million people are to be transferred onto the new benefit. If Universal Jobmatch is an early sign of the DWP’s ability to procure and manage IT services then it paints a chilling vision of the future when all benefits are to be digital by default.
Indeed! Meanwhile, Paypal, with its parent company’s tax dodging has secured itself a place on the regime’s ID scheme providers, courtesy of TechWeekEurope:
If PayPal does become part of the Universal Credit system, it might turn into a PR gaffe for the government. PayPal is owned by eBay, which paid just £1.2 million in tax on £789 million profits (0.15 percent) in 2010 it made in the UK, making it one of the top tech tax avoiders, along with Amazon and Google, which were publicly grilled by MPslast week over their use of (perfectly legal) means to reduce their tax bill.
The DWP said the eighth provider is yet to be announced. PayPal declined to comment.
The BBC looks at the potentially fatal consequences for those renting accommodation from social landlords, following the introduction of Universal Credit, of course, those of us renting from private landlords already receive payments directly, i’ve spoke of problems myself previously:
Well, if the rumours are right, the lesson to be learned is that about 20-30% of tenants may well struggle to pay the rent on time when UC comes in. Such an outcome is a massive headache, not just for the housing providers and social landlords, but for the whole welfare reform project.
The DWP recognises that a minority of housing benefit recipients may never be able to manage their finances and there is a system for some tenants to have their housing benefit extracted from UC and paid directly to the landlord in the traditional way.
But the government doesn’t want this to be more than about 10% of the total – very much the exception rather than the rule. There will obviously be additional cost and complexity in such a measure and the whole welfare reform package is built upon simplicity and cost-saving.
The Hardest Hit have sent this letter to Chancellor George Osborne in relation to the freezing of benefits rates, and possibly more cuts, prior to the autumn budget statement on the 5th December.
Jayne Linney has a guest post from someone in relation to the so called “Personal Independence Payments” which are due to replace Disability Living Allowance, and the devious tactics employed by Esther McVey – “A Call to Arms- PIP Needs You”
And finally, another desperate person affected by regime cuts. After his benefits were stopped, the victim of the DWP visited the jobcentre and apparently punched a member of staff. The staff member and others have been offered counselling, while the victim of the DWP was sent to jail for 4 months.