Iain Duncan Smith’s brutal and bungled welfare reforms could be set to the plunge the NHS into chaos as nurses and doctors are paid huge sums to carry out benefit-slashing assessments instead of working in our chronically understaffed hospitals.
Archive for the ‘ATOS’ Category
Work Capability Assessment Campaigners.
Earlier this year this happened,
Peers have backed down in their battle with MPs over cuts to disabled people’s benefits after ministers invoked special powers to push them through.
The government was twice defeated in the House of Lords over a £30 a week cut to Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) for certain claimants.
But it is set to go ahead after peers deferred to the elected Commons.
Ministers claimed “financial privilege” to assert the Commons’ right to have the final say on budgetary measures.
Ministers argue the changes will encourage people to get into work, but this is strongly disputed by opponents.
Then at the start of October this happened (BBC),
Tens of thousands of people claiming the main benefit for long-term sickness will no longer face repeated medical assessments to keep their payments.
Work and Pensions Secretary Damian Green said it was pointless to re-test recipients of Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) with severe conditions and no prospect of getting better.
More than two million people receive ESA, which is worth up to £109 a week.
The move has been welcomed by charities supporting those with severe illness.
Now this there is this:
The scheme that assesses claimants of disability benefits faces a major overhaul, following claims by a charity that it is “fundamentally flawed”.
A consultation on reforming the Work Capability Assessment will be announced on Monday.
Ministers want claimants to be assessed in a more “targeted and personalised” way to help more people find jobs.
The charity Scope, which had criticised the current assessment scheme, said it welcomed the planned changes.
It said disabled people needed “expert, tailored employment support”.
Both Employment Support Allowance, which is paid to more than two million people, and the assessment, were originally introduced by Labour and then expanded by the coalition government.
The consultation – to be launched by Work and Pensions Secretary Damian Green on Monday – follows the announcement that people with severe conditions will no longer face reassessments for their benefits.
It will examine how people receiving ESA can be helped back into employment without having their benefits put at risk while they search for a job.
Note this is already problematic since nobody has yet been able to show exactly what this ‘help’ is. and how it….helps.
Mr Green said: “A disability or health condition should not dictate the path a person is able to take in life.
“No one wants a system where people are written off and forced to spend long periods of time on benefits when, actually, with the right support they could be getting back into work.
“The proposed changes… will focus on improving opportunities and raising aspirations while making sure those people who most need support from the government receive it.”
Former work and pensions secretary Iain Duncan Smith, who spearheaded the government’s welfare reforms for six years before resigning in March, said: “ESA is a part of the benefits system left over from the last Labour government and is in real need of reform.
“These proposals are directly taken from a full plan for reform that we at the DWP were close to completing before I resigned.
“The purpose was to get rid of the binary choice that you were fit for work or not fit for work. My plan covered all the areas announced today and went further in proposing some other positive changes.”
Note: more bald faced lies from the man responsible for this:
In September 2013 leaked documents showed that Duncan Smith was looking at “how to make it harder for sick and disabled people to claim benefits”. Duncan Smith was advised that it would be illegal to introduce secondary legislation, which does not require parliament’s approval, in order to give job centre staff more powers to make those who were claiming Employment and Support Allowance undertake more tests to prove that they were making a serious effort to come off benefits and find a job. The powers being discussed also included “forcing sick and disabled people to take up offers of work.” DWP staff would also have the power to strip claimants with serious, but time-limited health conditions, of benefits if they refuse the offer of work
Is this true?
BBC political correspondent Eleanor Garnier said the move signalled a clear change of approach from that of David Cameron’s government, which tightened and reduced welfare spending.
This certainly is.
Shadow work and pensions secretary Debbie Abrahams called for the assessments to be scrapped, saying they caused “needless misery and stress” for thousands of sick and disabled people.
She said the government’s approach was “ideologically driven with the sole purpose of targeting the most vulnerable in our society to pay for their austerity plans, painting disabled people as scroungers and shirkers, whilst making no impact on the disability employment gap”.
We await more comment from this quarter:
Citizens Advice said it dealt with 25,000 issues around Work Capability Assessments last year, saying the reforms should make the test “fair, consistent and right first time”.
MS Society chief executive Michelle Mitchell said: “We are keen to help create a system that makes more sense.
“However, it must be recognised that many people with long-term progressive conditions will simply be too unwell to work and no amount of extra employment support will change that.”
Phil Reynolds, from the charity Parkinson’s UK, told BBC Radio 5 live he “cautiously welcomed” the new move, but that his organisation had been trying to highlight the issue for a long time.
“We continue to hear examples of people with really serious conditions, like Parkinsons, who are put in that ‘back to work’ group because the assessment fails to recognise that a person’s condition will only get worse,” he said.
“It’s really important that anything that comes out of this leads to positive improvements and a more sensitive assessment.”
Ipswich Protest Last Year.
Somebody (okay, Martin from Disabled People Against Cuts, DPAC) spoilt Iain Duncan Smith’s Big Day Out (Friday) at Kesgrave, by Ipswich – a venue you can only get easily with your own transport.
Former minister launches Vote Leave campaign in East Anglia
Former minister and Conservative Party leader Iain Duncan Smith was the keynote speaker at the event at Kesgrave Hall – and was joined by business leaders and politicians from other parties.
Among those at the rally was UKIP MEP Patrick O’Flynn, a key backer of the Vote Leave campaign.
A protester in a wheelchair was removed from the meeting after heckling Mr Duncan Smith over his policies when he was Secretary of State for Work and Pensions.
On BBC Look East that evening their were pictures of the stewards roughly bundling Martin out of the Great Man’s meeting, shouting his opposition to the hate-ridden polices which Iain Duncan Smith has inflicted on millions.
Duncan Smith was not the only horror there.
UKIP is keeping quiet about it at the moment but in 2013 these were their policies about the unemployed:
UKIP don’t just loathe migrant workers.
They hate the unemployed here as well.
We are, UKIP says, “a parasitic underclass of scroungers”. (The Void)
They want this policy,
Require those on benefits – starting with Housing and Council Tax Benefit recipients in private rented homes – to take part in council-run local community projects called ‘Workfare’ schemes. The schemes will be in addition to council jobs.
The Void comments that it is now hard to find the policy document that says this.
But more evidence keeps coming in of their views,
We have this,
“Some long-term benefit claimants would be banned from using their benefit cash to buy cigarettes, alcohol or satellite TV subscriptions under proposals due to be presented at the UK Independence party’s spring conference on Saturday.
The proposed ban on paying for satellite TV comes only a fortnight after it was disclosed that Rupert Murdoch, the chairman and biggest shareholder of News Corp, had met the Ukip leader, Nigel Farage, for the first time, prompting speculation that the Sun may support the party.”
Which reminds us of this on Welfare Weekly’s site:
Would leaving the EU worsen or improve the lives of poor and disabled people?
Results so far: Worsen 59% Improve 21% Don’t know 20%
McDonnell: A Working Class Hero is something he is.
Jeremy Corbyn has unveiled what he called a “unifying” new shadow cabinet, naming his left-wing ally John McDonnell as shadow chancellor.
A short while ago….
Comrade McDonnell is simply the best.
Iain Duncan Smith: No ” Scaring and Frightening People” by Publishing Statistics on Deaths from Benefit Cuts
Iain Duncan Smith: “Scaring and Frightening People”.
Compare and Contrast.
Iain Duncan Smith claims 200,000-strong campaign to reveal Tory benefits deaths is ‘disgraceful’.
He’s fighting a legal battle to keep the figures secret – yet the Work and Pensions Secretary claims Labour MPs are just ‘frightening people’
The Work and Pensions Secretary lashed out after coming under fire over the figures – which his department is waging a legal battle to keep secret.
More than 200,000 people have signed an online petition by ex-welfare advisor Maggie Zolobajluk, 63, calling for the figures to be made public.
But instead of addressing it he’s replied with a furious attack on Labour, two of whose MPs rounded on him in the Commons yesterday.
He accused the opposition of ‘going out every day scaring and frightening people’ and ‘deliberately misrepresenting’ the government’s fit-for-work schemes.
And he attacked Labour because the party introduced the work capability assessment in 2007, before the Coalition expanded it.
MP Marie Rimmer asked him: “May I ask again why the Government are refusing to publish – even though the Information Commissioner has instructed them to do so – the up-to-date statistics relating to the number of people who have died, having been found fit for work at their face-to-face assessment?”
Mr Duncan Smith replied: “I find it absurd that Opposition Members deliberately try to misrepresent what happens under such schemes.
“I remind the honourable lady it was her Government who introduced the employment support allowance and the work capability assessment, and at no stage did they say that that led to people committing suicide.
“People in that situation are often in a very delicate and difficult position, and I find it disgraceful that she is going round making such allegations.”
That made MP Debbie Abrahams thunder: “Does the Secretary of State think that he and his Department are above the law?
“Why does he refuse to publish the details of the number of people who have died within six weeks of their claims for incapacity benefit and employment and support allowance, including those who have been found fit for work?”
But Mr Duncan Smith said: “I find it unbelievable that she, the honourable lady and others have spent all their time trying to make allegations about people going about their work.
“It is a crying shame that Labour members want to go out every day scaring and frightening people. It is no wonder they lost the election.”
He also claimed his department ‘doesn’t collate the numbers’ at all – appearing to fly in the face of his own officials’ advice.
Petition founder Ms Zolobajluk said: “I could see what was happening in the community. It was so predictable. These cuts came in and left people feeling helpless.”
The request to release the figures was made under the Freedom of Information Act by campaigner Mike Sivier.
He asked how many people who died between November 2011 and May 2014 had been found ‘fit for work’, or told they could move towards getting work.
DWP chiefs said they were preparing to publish the information in their own time, and it’d be unfair to rush them – but Information Commissioner Christopher Graham ruled they’d acted unreasonably.
Click here for the full petition.
You can hardly blame Iain Duncan Smith for occasionally exploding. The Left are extremely irritating when it comes to welfare cuts.
We will therefore forgive him becoming so batey yesterday during his departmental questions that he started sounding like the Mr Angry character who used to pop up on Steve Wright’s BBC radio shows.
Work and Pensions Secretary IDS has spent the last five years trying to wrestle with our nation’s vast and baffling welfare system, trying to reduce its costs and push more welfare claimants into jobs. He has achieved great things yet still the leviathan exists, pumping cash, de-energising, de-incentivising, de-moralising.
This is not just a British madness. Much of the European Union is in the grip of socialist welfarism, often wrecking the chances of the people it affects to help.
Mr Duncan Smith finds himself taking on a continental statist consensus, constructed over decades by pipe-sucking Jean-Paul Sartre intellectuals – and used by Left-wing politicians to create client voters from the millions whose bank accounts are injected with public money.
“….still the leviathan exists….”
I stop there to consult my copy of Sartre’s La Nausée (Nausea) and smoke my pipe.
I see the publisher has been kind enough to put a drawing of my good self on the front.
Labour has launched its Manifesto, Britain Can Be Better.
Relevant points for the Unemployed.
“An inclusive wealth-creating economy works when there is a shared sense of responsibility, so we will be a government that is both pro-business and pro-worker. We value all our businesses as organisations of innovation and wealth production, and we will work strategically with them to create wealth. We value our trade unions as an essential force for a decent society and as guarantors of skills and fair wages.”
“Britain’s route to prosperity and higher living standards is through more secure and better paid jobs. But Conservative policies are causing whole sectors of the economy to be dragged into a race to the bottom on wages and skills.
The Government has weakened employment rights and promoted a hire-and-fire culture. Labour believes our economy can only succeed in a race to the top – competing in the world with better work, better pay and better skills.Too many people do a hard day’s work but remain dependent on benefits.
We will raise the National Minimum Wage to more than £8 an hour by October 2019, bringing it closer to average earnings. We will give local authorities a role in strengthening enforcement against those paying less than the legal amount. And we will support employers to pay more by using government procurement to promote the Living Wage, alongside wider social impact considerations. Our Make Work Pay contracts will give tax rebates to businesses who sign up to paying the Living Wage in the first year of a Labour Government. Publicly listed companies will be required to report on whether or not they pay the Living Wage.”
It is hard for Britain to succeed when employees feel insecure and employers are undercut by those using exploitative working practices. Labour will ban exploitative zero-hours contracts.
Those who work regular hours for more than12 weeks will have a right to a regular contract. We will abolish the loophole that allows firms to undercut permanent staff by using agency workers on lower pay.
The Conservatives have introduced fees of up to £1,200 for employment tribunal claimants, creating a significant barrier to workplace justice. We will abolish the Government’s employment tribunal fee system as part of wider reforms to make sure that affordability is not a barrier to workers having proper access to justice,employers get a quicker resolution, and the costs to the tax payer do not rise.
This raises a lot of questions,
We will introduce a Compulsory Jobs Guarantee, paid for by a bank bonus tax. It will provide a paid starter job for every young person unemployed for over a year, a job which they will have to take or lose benefits.
Labour believes in rewarding work and in restoring contribution to the heart of our system. So we will not cut tax credits. We want everyone who can to have the chance to contribute through paid work, so we will create a more tailored back-to-work system that helps people secure and keep jobs.We will do more to help unemployed people get the skills they need for work, testing jobseekers’ Maths, English and IT skills within six weeks of them claiming benefits. They will be required to take up training where this will improve their chances of getting a job. We support the principle behind Universal Credit – that there should be a smooth transition into work – but it must be affordable and fit for purpose,so we will pause and review the programme.
There will be a guaranteed, paid job for all young people who have been out of work for one year, and for all those over 25 years old and out of work for two years. It will be a job that they have to take, or lose their benefits.And we will commission a replacement for the Work Programme at a more local level, working with local authorities to join up support for the long-term unemployed. We will introduce a higher rate of Job Seekers Allowance for those who have contributed over years. It will be funded by extending the length of time people need to have worked to qualify.
Alongside strong and responsive public services, the social security system plays an important role in supporting many disabled people to live independently,and must always treat sick and disabled people with dignity.Half a million families have been hit by the Bedroom Tax, and two thirds of those affected are disabled, or have a disabled family member. It is cruel, and we will abolish it.We will reform the Work Capability Assessment and focus it on the support disabled people need to get into work. We will give an independent scrutiny group of disabled people a central role in monitoring it. And we will introduce a specialist support programme to ensure that disabled people who can work get more tailored help.
- No Bedroom Tax.
- A Promise to ‘review’ Universal Credit.
- Yet another scheme to ‘replace’ the Work programme. This time with lots of fluffy words about being ‘tailored’ and involving local councils and the rest of the ‘local’ crew (aka, the Unemployment Bizniz under new names) no doubt eager to jump in as well.
- Monitoring/Review of the back to work process for the disabled.
- A wholly ill-thought ‘guaranteed job’ promise.
We will examine this job guarantee in more detail later but for the moment we ask:
- What choice will we have about the work we take up?
- Will it be at the Living Wage?
- What happens if we lose this job?
What we do not have:
- Abolition of the sanctions regime.
- An end to the ‘unemployment industry’ doing little but fill their own pockets,
- A raise in benefits to the ‘Living Benefit’ level that Ipswich Unemployment Action will set.
- Stop to to claimants paying Council Tax.
- Independent Medical Experts involved in assessing the disabled.
- Clear Abolition of ALL FORMS OF WORKFARE.
This is advance notice.
But I notice that Johnny Void has just carried an excellent post on this particular scandal in the benefits system:
A national day of action has been called on March 2nd 2015 against Maximus, the company set to take over from Atos running the despised Work Capability Assessments (WCAs) for sickness and disability benefits.
These crude and callous assessments have been used to strip benefits from hundreds of thousands of sick and disabled people after a quick computer based test ruled them ‘fit for work’. A growing number of suicides have been directly linked to this stressful regime, whilst charities, medical staff and claimants themselves have warned of the desperate consequences for those left with no money at all by the system.
In a huge embarrassment for the DWP, the previous contractor Atos were chased out of the Work Capability Assessments after a sustained and militant campaign carried out by disabled people, benefit claimants and supporters. In a panicky effort to save these vicious assessments Iain Duncan Smith hired US private healthcare company Maximus to take over from Atos this coming April.
This is not the only lucrative contract the Tories have awarded this company. Maximus are also involved in helping to privatise the NHS, running the Fit for Work occupational health service designed to bully and harass people on sick leave into going back to work. Maximus also run the notorious Work Programme in some parts of the UK, meaning that disabled people found fit for work by Maximus may then find themselves sent on workfare by Maximus. There is no greater enemy to the lives of sick and disabled people in the UK today than this multi-national poverty profiteer who even are prepared to run welfare-to-work style schemes for the brutal Saudi Arabian government.
Maximus have boasted they will not face protests due to their involvement in the Work Capability Asessments and have even stooped as low as hiring one prominent former disability campaigner on a huge salary in an effort to quell protests against their activities. We urgently need to show them how wrong they are and call for all disabled people, benefit claimants and supporters to organise against this vicious bunch of profiteering thugs.
Please organise in your local area and spread the word.
Actions will be planned in our region.
In 2012 this story came out,
Unemployed people suspected of suffering from alcoholism or drug addiction will have their benefits cut if they refuse treatment for their condition, the work and pensions secretary, Iain Duncan Smith, will signal on Wednesday.
Anybody who’s done a new Jobseeker’s Agreement will now that there’s question on this subject – and one on if you have a criminal background.
Then we learnt about the DWP dabbling in psychology:
This year we heard – very recently – of them prescribing Online Cognitive Behaviour Therapy.
Most people would think the last people on earth to act as competent psychologists would be the DWP, Atos with the parasites and chancers running the Work Programme, Mandatory Work schemes and all the rest of the Workfare industry. Or that Atos’s successor, Maximus, “A company with a “chilling” record of incompetence, discrimination and alleged fraud” will do any better.
Well here’s the kind of larks this lot have got up not long ago.
Tobanem points the story out:
An ESA claimant has explained how an Atos work capability assessor asked her why she had not yet killed herself, after she admitted suffering with depression.
Abi Fallows described the interview on the I bet I can find a million people who DON’T want David Cameron as our PMFacebook group after reading Vox Political‘s article on the hidden cost of the Coalition Government’s benefits policy.
“At my last Atos ‘assessment’, when mentioning depression, the ‘assessor’ asked me why I hadn’t killed myself yet,” she told astonished members of the Facebook group.
She said the assessors’ attitude seemed to be that she couldn’t be depressed if she had not already killed herself: “I’ve noticed a few people, over the last year or so, going to Atos with depression are being asked that same question.
“I tried signing on for Jobseekers [Allowance], but thanks to the wonderful ‘Y’, who I saw, she said I was no way fit to work under any circumstances because I’d always be set up to fail.
“I had a doctor’s appointment this morning (December 4) and I told my doc. It’s the first time I’ve ever heard a doctor swear like that. The doctor swearing in response – a rather softly spoken voice – said, and I quote: ‘Holy shiiiiiiiit!’”
But it seems the scandalised claimant is set to have the last word because – unknown to her assessor – she recorded the entire incident.
Vox Political December the 6th.
Follow the story on the highly recommended Vox Political Blog – and weep.
Skwawkbox makes the same connections as us
The SKWAWKBOX has published extensively on the sinister and abusive use of techniques devised by the same ‘torture guru’ who created the now-infamous CIA ‘enhanced interrogation’ techniques on UK benefit-claimants. Search ‘psychometric’ on this blog to find those articles.
The excellent ‘Vox Political’ blog picked up on the latest of these articles this week – and links this phenomenon to apparent DWP attempts to use similar ‘nudge’ techniques to encourage disabled claimants to commit suicide.