Ipswich Unemployed Action.

Campaigning for Unemployed Rights.

Hardest Hit Protests.

with 35 comments

There have been magnificent protests, notably in London, against the cuts and the way new rules will affect disabled people.

The Employment and Support Allowance, combined with harsh reductions in local help for the disabled, are particularly controversial. As is the role of ATOS in drawing up assessments of people’s capacity to work.

One individual, claiming to be a doctor in ATOS employment, has posted on this site protesting against our ‘ Communist ‘criticism of the mutinational.

He then went on to say, after defending his actions and belief that most, if not all,  disabled are skiving,

This extends to all Activities in Daily Living (ADLs). For example, I (deliberately) booked an assessment with a claimant purportedly suffering from “depression” first thing on Monday morning. Now anyone, let alone someone with “depression” would find it burdensome to attend such an appointment. This lady who has NEVER worked and has been claiming benefits for “depression” since she left school turned up in the most presentable fashion; very well made-up, immaculately dressed, clean clothes, excellent personal hygiene, it would have been easy to mistake her for a job interviewee. A million miles away from the dishevelled smelling of body odour “depressive” that I was expecting. And before anyone says it, I know that “depressives” can have on and off days but this in itself passes the SOME work test. I failed this young lady and passed her papers to the DWP Decision Maker. Bear in mind also, that those who fail this assessment are only being moved to a lower rate Jobseeker’s Allowance, not excluded from the benefit system altogether.

I have to add that I have yet to assess anyone who was not capable of at least SOME work.

Perhaps the good doctor thinks depressed people are trying to do a Blackadder “wibble”.

Louise has some more serious thoughts here.

With the well-qualified medical assessor of how young women dress and smell in charge of ‘assessments’,  it’s not surprising that people are angry.  The Hardest Hit campaign has spread far.

Cambridge.

Protesters occupy healthcare building

Suzan Uzel

Protesters outside Atos Healthcare
Protesters outside Atos Healthcare

Protesters last night occupied a city-based office building that is home to Atos Healthcare, claiming the firm is “victimising” those with specific needs.

Banners were strung from the roof of the building and dozens of campaigners entered the office building in Hills Road, Cambridge, pledging to stay overnight.

The office was chosen because Atos won a recent Government contract to reassess incapacity benefit claimants and the demonstration was part of UK-wide action.

Employment Minister Chris Grayling previously said there was “clear evidence” of need for change in the welfare system.

Tom Woodcock, secretary of the Cambridge and District Trades Union Council, who was at the city protest, said the building housing Atos had been occupied when he left at 5.30pm, but not the Atos offices.

Mr Woodcock said: “People are inside and there are posters all over the windows and banners hanging from the roof. I support what they are doing 100 per cent.”

Representatives from campaigning group Cambridge Defend Education were also involved in the protest.

A spokesman said last night: “The Cambridge activists have occupied the building and roof, and plan to stay the night.”

Mr Woodcock said: “The Government is attempting to decimate the social security offered to thousands of people with physical and mental health issues.

“Worse still they are allowing a private firm to profit from the process. In reality the reassessment of incapacity benefits will not increase the number of people in work but force some of the most vulnerable people into a more precarious existence.”

He added: “Atos claim they are occupation health specialists but rather than holding employers to account they are victimising and disenfranchising individuals with specific needs.”

A police helicopter was flying over Hills Road to monitor the protest. Atos was unavailable for comment last night.

From Here.

Those wanting to find out more about ATOS, or indeed tell them what they think of them, can visit their Web site here.

Anyone wanting to work for ATOS can find information on employment here.

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Written by Andrew Coates

May 12, 2011 at 4:07 pm

35 Responses

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  1. Well done to those in Cambridge! This will hopefully be the begining of the end for the DWPs rottweiler; ATOS.

    shabbysquire

    May 12, 2011 at 4:36 pm

  2. This site is really in danger of losing focus and turning away from it roots – taking the Unemployed out of Ispwich UNEMPLOYED Action. I am half expecting a name change to Ipswich Disability Action. There is a lot of good information on this site which is invaluable to the unemployed and is not really covered elsewhere which is in danger of being lost if the site changes direction.

    I would think that is fair to say that the disabled are well-served elsewhere and this is also symptomatic of other anti-welfare abolition campaigns where the unemployed have been pushed aside and have been left without a voice. I have watched this happen time and time again. You have to be careful; you welcome people in, then they push you out. The disabled are in no way disabled in fighting for their rights and appear to be a lot more vocal and pushy than the able-bodied unemployed.

    A bigger focus on disability issues may well attract more disabled readers to the site but the unemployed will eventually desert it in droves.

    And it is the unemployed that are being hardest hit by these draconian and abusive policies – not the disabled.

    At least Work Programme Network is staying true to its remit.

    Concerned Reader

    May 13, 2011 at 12:28 am

    • Fair point Concerned,

      But anyone who’s done a New Deal or Flexible New Deal course in the last couple of years will have come across increasing numbers of people with mental health issues who have been pushed onto JSA when they are in reality incapable of work, or at least extremely unlikely to get offered a job.

      This, in fact, is an issue that needs highlighting – which we have.

      I don’t think you’ll find much about this elsewhere on the Net.

      Meanwhile we are still waiting for the details about what the Work Programme is going to mean…

      I have one of those regular special dole interviews in a fortnight, which I expect will mean something from that quarter.

      Andrew Coates

      May 13, 2011 at 7:25 am

      • Yeah Work Programme is still rather secretive. This means in basic terms its going to be ****! If people at Jobcentre Plus doesn’t know anything about it then there is going to be significant problems in the first few months… this would be avoided if the staff knew in advance.

        Jobcentre staff are scared about the changes. They don’t know if their jobs are safe. The woman I spoke to seemed very certain that providers will be taking over Jobcentre Plus offices.

        Work Programme

        May 13, 2011 at 7:43 am

      • Yes Work Programme, there’s this: http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2011/may/12/job-centre-posts-cut-2400

        “Nick Clegg and David Cameron’s efforts to reunite after a fortnight of infighting suffered a setback when it emerged that the loss of 2,400 jobcentre posts is to be announced today, just a day after they jointly announced a £60m youth unemployment initiative.

        The Guardian has learned that the job cuts at Jobcentre Plus over the next 12 months include the loss of 17 benefit processing centres and five contact centres, representing nearly 20% of staff.”

        Andrew Coates

        May 13, 2011 at 8:37 am

      • “The woman I spoke to seemed very certain that providers will be taking over Jobcentre Plus offices”

        Yeah, just mention Work Programme and you can feel the fear. The staff member will start sweating and you can see them shaking and – you should all try if for a laugh 🙂

        Val

        May 13, 2011 at 9:51 am

      • Thanks for the link. Brings the A4e and Serco run Jobcentres plan a step forward…

        Work Programme

        May 13, 2011 at 9:51 am

      • When you think about if if a customer 🙂 has a dispute with one of em nasty providers and the job centre stops their benefit cos of it then the job centre is strengthening the providers position and bringing their own demise one step closer. Pity those idiots at work for the jobcentre can’t see that lol

        Val

        May 13, 2011 at 9:55 am

      • Yeah – the problem is at my local jobcentre there is about 3 decent people that I know of – so it will be a shame for them – but the rest, just desserts! lol

        I liked the 😀 after “customer” lol… 😀

        Work Programme

        May 13, 2011 at 11:26 am

      • I mean 🙂 after “customer” hehe

        Work Programme

        May 13, 2011 at 11:29 am

      • According to a post on Indus Delta, Work Programme was supposed to start on June 1st but may be delayed due to staff shortages.

        http://indusdelta.co.uk/discussion/work_programme_delayed/5579

        Average Joe

        May 14, 2011 at 9:22 am

      • I also heard specifically that in my area it might not be until Autumn before people are referred (around September) – although everything is speculation. Ask any Jobcentre Plus adviser for a concise explanation about the Work Programme… you wont get a proper answer. Its pretty much limited that no one (apart from a handful at the top) knows whats going on – its not just jobseekers worried, JCP staff are too… even more that the 1/5th of staff are losing their jobs. This is an embarrassment for the Conservatives which could be the final nail in the coalition.

        I am not surprised however I wont report this as I don’t see it as news. The providers under Flexible New Deal although received top heavy payments and had Future Jobs Fund jobs to claim for. Most providers did their best to wriggle out of staffing commitments especially after it was announced that the scheme would be replaced. Most people on FND have not done their MWRA (M standing for mandatory) period, the common two reasons were 1) cannot find enough placements for people and 2) no one in jobs to build relationships with employers and to co-ordinate the placements.

        Take TNG for example, and reduce this further by picking Ipswich. They are deliberately running understaffed. Almost half the positions are vacant and have been for a while now. No disrespect, but all positions from “trainer” to “employer relationship manager” can be covered by anyone. This is not to say that you want just anyone doing the job when you can have someone better suited however to hold the fort you would need someone in that job position (even temporary) and should they not be ideal… just offer them NMW.

        There is no training just someone talking through a powerpoint presentation on a subject handing out photocopies with a guide to backup the trainer when needs be. This means a person of good character and personality is ideal for this job and they need no qualifications to match it (the truth is the person left – possibly for a better job as the organisation is crap – TNG if you forgot who we are talking about – although the truth is they haven’t advertised the position. Same for the ERM: any person ex-sales is sufficient.

        Work Programme

        May 14, 2011 at 1:17 pm

    • IUA focus on disabilities in specific recently as ESA claimants are being forced onto JSA!

      The disabled get messed around a lot too – I can remember my Appeal Tribunal at Kesgrave, one of the benefit claimants I shared a nursery classroom with (where people had to wait to be called – nursery not on obviously) had been to numerous tribunals, this occasion was part of a previous case which kept being postponed and once against his got postponed until March (it was October or November at the time).

      I wouldn’t worry about content regarding the unemployed on JSA: there will be plenty about the new Work Programme, Workfare scheme, etc.

      Work Programme

      May 13, 2011 at 7:34 am

      • Yeah, the disabled, who I think for the most part.. unless they are in intensive care.. but even they could still work a tv remote lol ok anyone who is not lying on a stainless steel trolley in the mortuary will be be thrown onto jsa so they really need to get up to speed and this site is a good place to be 🙂

        Val

        May 13, 2011 at 10:01 am

  3. As for the ESA to JSA transfer I have some very interesting information which has been kept under wraps. I hope to disclose it some time today.

    Work Programme

    May 13, 2011 at 7:45 am

    • Can’t wait 🙂

      Val

      May 13, 2011 at 10:04 am

    • Yeah, it happens to be on a new site (although will post about it on WPN and IUA) which I need to get online before I can post about it here.

      Jobseeking and doing that recently has taken up all my time, its like I wasn’t even aware of the link Andy posted regarding Jobcentre Plus staff being reduced 20%. (that will also have to be a blog post haha)

      Work Programme

      May 13, 2011 at 11:28 am

      • lol You need to stop working so hard, Work Programme, you are always setting up new sites for us, I have never came across such a workaholic (maybe with the exception of Mr Coates 🙂 )

        You need to slow down a bit… it can’t be doing your health any good, if you keep this up an ATOS doctor is going to declare you unfit for work 🙂

        Val

        May 13, 2011 at 12:10 pm

      • should be ATOS “doctor” lol 🙂 as in “Dr” Mengele of concentration camp infamy.

        Val

        May 13, 2011 at 12:18 pm

  4. Tenerife: British woman beheaded in Canaries attack

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-13393694

    With these crazy, nazi policies that this government is intent on implementing how long before we see:

    Ipswich: British woman beheaded in dwp/provider/atos office attack

    When you leave people with nothing and destitute there will be someone out who rather than go and quietly kill themselves as the dwp/providers/atos apparently would prefer will take this more drastic action.

    I am sure that we all feel desperately sorry for the woman in Tenerife who died in this brutal and unprovoked attack and who in all probability has no connection with the dwp/providers/atos but who at the receiving end of these brutal policies would give a toss if say a welfare-to-work advisor or an atos doctor were to suffer in a similar manner. You reap what you sow.

    If you implement policies that are designed to push and push people over the edge and into desperation this sort of resultant behaviour is a distinct possibility and should come as no surprise.

    Desperate people do desperate things.

    Soothsayer

    May 13, 2011 at 4:24 pm

  5. Bonuses in the City, but elsewhere in the UK foodbanks are booming

    The Trussell Trust provides food packages to those who are struggling and last year saw a 50% increase in demand

    Trussell Trust opened its first foodbank in St Michael’s community centre, Salisbury, in 1997; this week the 100th opened in Camden Town in London. The trust provides packages of food designed to feed a person, or a family, for three or four days.

    Its food sorting warehouse in Salisbury has the nostalgic feel of a 1980s harvest festival – you might find a crate of something unhelpful, such as piccalilli, next to a huge stash of longlife milk.

    The parcels themselves contain a very carefully thought-out, nutritionally balanced mix – but the sight of canned string beans definitely feels like a step back in time.

    More old-fashioned still is the fact there are so many people going hungry, and the problem is getting worse. Last year saw a 50% increase in the number of people helped by the trust’s foodbanks, from 41,000 to 61,468.

    More here.

    Crystal Balls

    May 14, 2011 at 8:44 am

  6. Even harsher new ESA medical approved

    13 April 2010

    Tens of thousands of claimants facing losing their benefit on review, or on being transferred from incapacity benefit, as plans to make the employment and support allowance (ESA) medical much harder to pass are approved by the secretary of state for work and pensions, Yvette Cooper.

    The shock plans for ‘simplifying’ the work capability assessment, drawn up by a DWP working group, include docking points from amputees who can lift and carry with their stumps. Claimants with speech problems who can write a sign saying, for example, ‘The office is on fire!’ will score no points for speech and deaf claimants who can read the sign will lose all their points for hearing.

    Meanwhile, for ‘health and safety reasons’ all points scored for problems with bending and kneeling are to be abolished and claimants who have difficulty walking can be assessed using imaginary wheelchairs.

    Claimants who have difficulty standing for any length of time will, under the plans, also have to show they have equal difficulty sitting, and vice versa, in order to score any points. And no matter how bad their problems with standing and sitting, they will not score enough points to be awarded ESA.

    In addition, almost half of the 41 mental health descriptors for which points can be scored are being removed from the new ‘simpler’ test, greatly reducing the chances of being found incapable of work due to such things as poor memory, confusion, depression and anxiety.

    There are some improvements to the test under the plans, including exemptions for people likely to be starting chemotherapy and more mental health grounds for being admitted to the support group. But the changes are overwhelmingly about pushing tens of thousands more people onto JSA.

    If all this sounds like a sick and rather belated April Fools joke to you, we’re not surprised. But the proposals are genuine and have already been officially agreed by Yvette Cooper, the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions. They have not yet been passed into law, but given that both Labour and the Conservatives seem intent on driving as many people as possible off incapacity related benefits, they are likely to be pursued by whichever party wins the election.

    We know that many people will find this news deeply upsetting and even frightening and we know that some people will condemn us for publicising the planned changes or for the language that we are using to do so. But we also believe that it’s not too late to stop these ugly plans in their tracks if claimants and the organisations that represent them act now.

    With 1.5 million incapacity benefit claimants waiting to be assessed using the work capability assessment in the next few years and tens of thousands of people already on ESA and set to be reviewed annually, these changes will be of great concern to many voters – if they find out about them before polling day.

    So, please spread the word in forums and blogs and to people you know who may be affected. Ask any disability charity you have a connection with to speak out now, before election day, against these plans. You might also want to contact local newspapers and radio to warn people about the proposals.

    And above all, contact not just your MP, but the other candidates in your constituency, and let them know you will not be voting for anyone who does not loudly condemn this shameful attack on sick and disabled claimants.

    These plans really are a potential seat loser, but only if enough people know about them.

    Limited capability for work
    The biggest changes and cuts are to take place in the limited capability for work assessment which decides whether you are eligible for the work-related activity group of ESA. Claimants need to score fifteen points to be placed in this group unless they are exempt or covered by the exceptional circumstances rules.

    Walking
    The activity of walking has been replaced by the activity of ‘mobilising’, with the fifteen points for ‘Cannot walk at all’ to be removed. Instead of looking at how far you can walk with a walking stick or other aid if such aid is normally used, the test is now ‘Mobilising with or without a walking stick, manual wheelchair or other aid if such aid can reasonably be used’

    In other words, even if you don’t use a wheelchair you can be assessed as if you did – an intention which is made clear in the body of the report. To score fifteen points you will need to show that you could neither walk nor wheel a wheelchair 50 metres without stopping in order to avoid significant discomfort or exhaustion. If you cannot do so repeatedly ‘within a reasonable timescale’ you will also score fifteen points.

    Nine points are scored for 100 metres and 6 for 200 metres.

    This means that many people who get the higher rate of the mobility component of DLA may not be awarded ESA at all. Even the fifteen points for being unable to walk up and down two steps is to be cut to nine points.

    Standing and sitting
    Points for these activities have also been slashed.

    At the moment, you can score points if you can’t stand or if you can’t sit for given lengths of time. Under the revised test you will have to show that you can neither stand nor sit for more than 30 minutes at a ‘work station’ before having to ‘move away in order to avoid significant discomfort or exhaustion’. Even then you will only score 9 points, or 6 points if you can last for an hour, not enough to be awarded ESA.

    Fifteen points are only available from this activity if you can’t move from one seated position to an adjacent one without help.

    The chair has also been changed from an upright chair to an ‘adjustable chair’ even though the reality is that these are not readily provided in most workplaces, regardless of what the Disability Discrimination Act might say.

    Bending and kneeling
    The activity of ‘Bending and kneeling’, for which 30 points are currently available, is to be completely done away with. Bizarrely one of the reasons for doing so is ‘health and safety reasons’ as people should not ‘bend forward when lifting’.

    Reaching
    The fifteen point descriptor for not being able to put either arm behind your back is to be ditched.

    Picking up
    The panel have decided that the fact that you do not have two hands should not be a reason for scoring points for problems with moving a half litre or one litre carton or moving a light but bulky object. They argue that ‘an item may be transferred by wedging it against the body, or another limb’ and that many amputees who chose not to have a prosthetic limb ‘remain able to complete the task’. All references to using hands in this activity are therefore to be removed.

    Manual dexterity
    The nine scoring descriptors for manual dexterity are to be reduced to just four. Problems with just one hand and problems with pouring will no longer score points and references to a ‘conventional keyboard’ are to be changed to a ‘suitable keyboard’. Problems with pressing a button are to be added.

    Speech, hearing and vision
    The three activities speech, hearing and vision are to be replaced with three new activities.

    Speech now becomes ‘Making self understood through speaking, writing, typing or other means normally used; unaided by another person’.

    To score fifteen points a claimant will need either to show that they:

    ‘Cannot convey a simple message, such as the presence of a hazard.’ or that they have ‘significant difficulty conveying a simple message to strangers.’

    So, the fact that your speech cannot be understood by other people will no longer score points if, instead, you are able to write, type or communicate by ‘other means’.

    Hearing is replaced with: ‘Understanding communication by both verbal means (such as hearing or lip reading) and non-verbal means (such as reading 16 point print) using any aid if reasonably used; unaided by another person.’

    To score fifteen points a claimant will have to show that they ‘Cannot understand a simple message due to sensory impairment, such as the location of a fire escape’ or that they have ‘significant difficulty understanding a simple message from a stranger’.

    Being unable to hear someone talking will no longer score points.

    Problems with vision have been turned into ‘Navigation and maintaining safety, using a guide dog or other aid if normally used.’

    To score fifteen points you will need to be able to show that you are: ‘Unable to navigate around familiar surroundings, without being accompanied by another person, due to sensory impairment’ or that you cannot safely cross a road.

    Being unable to see well enough to read large print or to recognise people will no longer score points.

    Continence
    This is one area where the descriptors do seem to have been improved. Previously there were three separate and highly complex activities. These have been reduced to just one where the issue is whether the loss of bowel or bladder control or the leakage from a collecting device is ‘sufficient to require the individual to clean themselves and change clothing.’ If this happens at least once a month, fifteen points are scored.

    Consciousness
    Points for losing consciousness at least once a month are to be reduced from nine to six and a six point descriptor for losing consciousness twice in six months is to be axed.

    Mental, cognitive and intellectual function assessment
    The mental health and learning difficulties section of the WCA has been slashed from 41 point scoring descriptors to just 21.

    For example, one of the fifteen point and one of the nine point descriptors have been removed from the ‘Learning tasks’ activity, and a fifteen point descriptor has been removed from the ‘Getting about’ activity.

    The three activities relating to ‘Memory and concentration’, ‘Execution of tasks’ and ‘Initiating and sustaining personal action’ are all rolled into a single activity called ‘Initiating and completing personal action’.

    Currently claimants have 5 opportunities to score fifteen points outright from the three activities and many more opportunities to score fifteen points or more from a combination of points from the three activities.

    Under the new test, however, there will be just one opportunity to score fifteen points. This is likely to greatly reduce the chances of being found incapable of work due to such things as poor memory, confusion and depression.

    The three activities ‘Coping with social situations’, ‘Propriety of behaviour with other people’ and ‘Dealing with other people’ are to be reduced to two activities; ‘Coping with social engagement’ and ‘Appropriateness of behaviour with other people’. Again, the opportunities for scoring points have been considerably reduced.

    Limited capability for work-related activity
    The limited capability for work-related activity assessment decides who is eligible for the support group, based on any one of a range of descriptors applying to the claimant. These descriptors have largely been altered in line with changes to the work-related activity group.

    However, there are some notable changes and even some improvements. For example, distance for being unable to what we must now call ‘mobilise’ has been increased from the original 30 metres to 50 metres.

    In addition, there are now more ways to qualify for the support group on mental health and learning difficulties grounds. These include: ‘Awareness of hazard’, ‘Coping with change’, ‘Coping with social engagement’ and ‘Appropriateness of behaviour with other people’.

    However, descriptors relating to ‘Maintaining personal hygiene’ and ‘Eating and drinking’ have been removed.

    The exemptions relating to the support group are also to be widened to cover not just people who are receiving certain types of chemotherapy, but also people who ‘are likely to receive chemotherapy within the next six months’.

    It could have been worse
    In spite of some improvements in relation to the support group, overall the changes to the work capability assessment are likely to lead to many thousands more sick and disabled people being forced onto jobseekers allowance.

    And yet, it could have been even worse. The original changes proposed by the working group were even harsher. It was only after their proposals were looked at by the Chief Medical Adviser at the DWP, following complaints by disability group representatives, that some were toned down and additional points attached to some descriptors. It was this final review, contained in the Addendum, that was approved by the secretary of state.

    Participants
    The participants in the review are listed at Annex B of the Internal Review as:

    Individual Attendees:
    Brigid Campbell, Social Security Advisory Committee
    Dr Angela Graham, Atos Origin Medical Services
    Dr David Henderson Slater, Consultant in Neurological Disability/Rehabilitation Medicine, Oxford Centre for Enablement
    Dr Ed McDermott, Atos Origin Medical Services
    Dr Gordon Parker, Consultant Occupational Physician
    Professor Tom Sensky, Professor of Psychological Medicine at Imperial College, London

    Represented organisations:
    Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development
    Citizens Advice Bureau
    Disability Benefits Consortium – I understand NAT is a member
    Disability Employment Advisory Council
    Mencap
    MIND
    National Autistic Society
    Parkinson’s Disease Society
    Royal College of Psychiatrists
    RNIB
    RNID
    RSI Action

    Two issues about this list may be of concern.

    The first is that two of the individual attendees are employed by Atos Origin Medical Services. Atos is the company that carries out benefits medicals on behalf of the DWP in return for hundreds of millions of pounds of taxpayers money. Some observers may be troubled that employees of a company which might gain a commercial advantage from the medicals becoming simpler and quicker to carry out should be involved in the process of reviewing how points are scored.

    The second is the wide range of disability organisations whom the DWP has been able to name as having participated in this review. We have no doubt that most of them were against many of the changes proposed and that they even won concessions from the DWP. But the fact remains that, with the exception of MIND, we are not aware of any agencies speaking out against these proposals with the kind of outrage their clients might reasonably have expected.

    If claimants manage to make their voices heard on this issue, it will only be with the genuine and vocal support of the disability charities listed above.

    http://benefits.tcell.org.uk/forums/even-harsher-new-esa-medical-approved-benefits-work-13th-april-2010

    Benefits TCell

    May 19, 2011 at 7:58 pm

  7. More Daily-Heilesque-style anti-benefits propaganda from the hard-working taxpayer funded parasitical good-for-nothing BBC.

    Bizarre benefits fraud excuses revealed by government

    Ministers have tried to highlight the impact of benefit fraud by publishing some of the more unusual excuses used by people found guilty of cheating.

    Reasons include carrying ladders as therapy rather than for cleaning windows, and claiming an identical twin had been doing work rather than them.

    About £1.6bn is lost through benefit and tax credit fraud each year.

    Some disability groups have warned the government against exaggerating the scale of the problem to justify cuts.

    Farm work

    One excuse revealed by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) was: “I wasn’t aware my wife was working because her hours of work coincided with the times I spent in the garden shed.”

    Another false claimant said: “We don’t live together, he just comes each morning to fill up his flask.”

    In a case highlighted by the DWP, a man from Yorkshire claimed nearly £17,500 to look after his sick father – but had to admit to lying when his father revealed he had not seen his son for years.

    In another instance, a man claimed more than £55,000 in disability benefits while he was working on a dairy farm.

    Welfare Reform Minister Lord Freud said benefit fraud was serious, yet investigators were “routinely dealing with bare-faced cheek and ridiculous excuses for stealing money from the taxpayer”.

    ‘Negative impact’

    “It’s bad for the system because it drives it into disrepute. We want to spend the money on people who genuinely need it,” he said.

    “People stealing it for themselves means there is less money to go to where it is really needed to reduce poverty in this country.”

    Lord Freud said the introduction of Universal Credit would simplify and automate the benefits system, and make it much easier to catch people who made false claims.

    But Richard Hawkes, chief executive of disability charity Scope, said: “The government really has to stop over-simplifying the debate on welfare and using unusual fraud cases to support changes which could have a serious and negative impact on the lives of hundreds of thousands of disabled people.

    “We’d like to see the government put as much effort in to finding disabled people long-term sustainable employment.”

    [A Government spokesperson said:
    “It started in America”
    “This is temporary liquidity issue, not one of solvency
    and there will be martial law on the streets, if the bailout doesn’t take place.”]

    £1.6bn which will be easily surpassed by the amount unclaimed in benefits is frankly chicken feed when contrasted with the fraud conducted by the City of London and other banks.

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-13587434

    Mikhailia Liebenstein

    May 29, 2011 at 10:39 am

    • “Benefits fraud excuses” – “Reasons include carrying ladders as therapy rather than for cleaning windows, and claiming an identical twin had been doing work rather than them.”

      Sounds like the way teachers talk about excuses for not doing homework.

      Personally if I was ever five minutes for signing on I’d say I’d been detained in Hell Dimension where it was too expensive to take the bus, tins of sweet corn cost nearly a quid, bread went up tuppance a day, and people wandered round drinking 9 % white cider to forget where they were.

      Er, now was that me having a nightmare or what?

      Andrew Coates

      May 29, 2011 at 11:02 am

      • These excuses for benefit fraud have about as much credibility as the ones given out by TVL/Crapita/BBC for “TV licence evasion”. They are probably “extrapolated from a simulated model running in a parallel universe in another dimension.” i.e. MADE UP!

        Can't Believe its not BS

        May 29, 2011 at 11:41 am

      • Oh, and tractor production is up in Eastern Siberia.

        Can't Believe its not BS

        May 29, 2011 at 11:44 am

      • Yup, like “We only watch the BBC”, “Its not a TV, its a microwave oven”. Heard them all before.

        TVL Goon

        May 29, 2011 at 7:17 pm

      • I was only claiming £950 per month as an MP which I was paying to my boyfriend because I didn’t want my parents to know about my sexuality 🙂

        David Laws

        May 30, 2011 at 10:04 am

      • Yes, Mr Coates, the UK is a very expensive country, where we have first world prices and third world wages. You talk about price increases, I can give you another example, Mr Tesco has just increased the price of my favourite dal and beans from £2.69 to £3.99 – an increase of 50%!! And this is only one example. And yet you have that silly CPI index that tells you that “inflation” is only 3% – maybe it is in Hell Dimension. Your Government must think that you are all stupid!

        Ravid

        May 31, 2011 at 7:58 pm

    • “We don’t live together he just comes each morning to fill up his flask”.

      “I wasn’t using the ladders to clean windows, I carried them for therapy for my bad back.”

      “My wallet was stolen so someone must have been using my identity, I haven’t been working”.
      :: “I didn’t know I was still on benefit.”

      “I didn’t declare my savings because I didn’t save them, they were given to me.”

      “He lives in a caravan in the drive, we’re not together.”

      “He does come here every night and leave in the morning and although he has no other address I don’t regard him as living here.”

      “It wasn’t me working, it was my identical twin.

      “I wasn’t aware my wife was working because her hours of work coincided with the times I spent in the garden shed.”

      “I had no idea my wife was working! I never noticed her leaving the house twice a day in a fluorescent jacket and a Stop Children sign.” – someone is having a laff!

      Haley & Pacey

      May 29, 2011 at 1:38 pm

    • Interesting, I was expecting several examples of approx £342, £890 and £1,632… seems they are picking the higher rate frauds misleading the stupid taxpayer that everyone out their who is breaking the law is defrauding tens of thousands…

      The reality is, as with my random examples above, many people are caught for fraud with much less amounts and typically is about simple changes of circumstances which was due to poor advice given by the Jobcentre.

      Let me give an example…

      https://intensiveactivity.wordpress.com/2011/05/27/ipswich-jobcentre-shaun-sadler-encourages-benefit-fraud/

      Other than that, yes a lot of dishonest stealing greedy pigs out there, not only talking about MPs…

      Work Programme

      May 29, 2011 at 4:58 pm

  8. On this quiet bank holiday weekend, Iain Duncan Smith’s department deposited a dirty little non-story on the doormat of his favourite newspapers. Headlined “No More Excuses”, the press release lists “the 10 top worst excuses used by benefit cheats”. They include “I wasn’t using the ladder to clean windows, I carried it for my bad back”, and “It wasn’t me working, it was my identical twin”.

    There are no figures to say how many people put up the sort of ludicrous pleas heard daily in any magistrate court. Department for Work and Pensions figures are anyway wobbly. Last year David Cameron declared war on benefit fraudsters, calling in special agents to deal with £5.2bn fraud and error in the benefits bill – worth, he said, 200 secondary schools and 150,000 nurses. Cathy Newman’s excellent Channel 4 FactCheck found £1.5bn of that was fraud and the rest error.

    This latest DWP press release says fraud is now £1.6bn. That’s a walloping sum – but let’s put it in proportion. It’s still only 0.7% of the benefits bill. Many a company would be proud of such a low loss from theft. The attorney general’s National Fraud Authority found £38.4bn lost to fraud last year. Most fraud is in the finance industry – £3.6bn – though it’s only 9% of the economy. That’s more than is stolen in retail – a larger sector. Meanwhile, £15bn was officially caught in tax fraud, while estimated tax avoidance is £70bn.

    But never mind, benefit stories are eye-catching and they do the job intended: they make us mean and ungenerous, stifling protest at Duncan Smith’s monumental £18bn benefits cut. Such tales spread a wider loathing of a whole perceived class, of anyone on benefits. With most of the poor in work, that includes battalions of the low paid whose miserable pay is topped up by tax credits to stop them starving. But a few choice anecdotes are worth a ton of statistics. That ladder! Ha!

    Polly Toynbee

    May 31, 2011 at 10:02 am

    • Hi Polly

      It’s great that you can take time out from your busy schedule to comment on Ipswich Unemployed Action. I am sure that Comrade Coates will be honoured. I was just going to say that your book Hard Work: Life in Low-pay Britain is a cracking good read. Everyone should ask their library to order in some copies.

      Great to hear from you, Polly

      Bookworm

      May 31, 2011 at 11:08 am

    • Hard work : life in low pay Britain

      Britain has the lowest social spending and the highest poverty in Europe. As the income gap between top and bottom has widened, social mobility has shuddered to a halt. Is this the end of social progress? Toynbee shows that unless we acknowledge the poor and radically improve their prospects, it will be.

      ‘A passionately reasoned and compelling account of the avoidable cruelties still embedded in the underside of British life – by a writer who has literally worn the clothes, lived in the flats and done the jobs of the poor. Every member of the cabinet should be required to read it, apologise and then act’ Will Hutton A frank and breathtaking book, this is journalist and broadcaster Polly Toynbee’s account of her courageous intention to live and work on the minimum wage. The ‘decent living’ wage set by the Council of Europe is set at 7.39. The minimum wage in Britain is currently 4.10 per hour. And often, people are working for less, their voices unheard, their faces unnoticed. The low-paid are caught in an economic double bind that victimises them and shames the rest of us. Toynbee took whatever jobs she could find, often offered for less than the official minimum wage. Living on an estate in Clapham, she started from scratch and found that if she were truly unemployed, she would not even be able to afford a new job, and that faced with starvation, it’s impossible not to sink into debt. In this powerful and compelling book, Polly Toynbee journeys to the inside of Britain today and uncovers that world which is invisible to most. This is a damning portrait of social justice in Britain.

      Polly's Other Minion

      May 31, 2011 at 11:41 am


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