This IS The Killing STATE of #Tory Britain

Two month ago I wrote a post with this name which I’ve left below as a reminder.Today further evidence of the discriminatory way Governments of the past ten years have treated Sick & Disabled people has been published “Sick and disabled Brits killed by the state – crime without punishment Successive UK Governments have restricted access to vital long-term sickness and disability benefits” by Welfare Weekly

It is time the attitudes and actions by Politicians towards not only disabled people but ALL individuals and groups not of the Elite; the disgusting treatment people labelled as  the #Windrush generation, the record number relying on Foodbanks to survive, the list goes on.

As the evidence Grows the words of Martin Niemoller haunt me

First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Socialist……Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.

Surely it is time to Demand the Government STOPS this and does so NOW; and if nothing else, remember you can make sure your voice is heard at next month the local elections, Use you vote to Say NO MORE KILLING

More than 100 women in Yarl’s Wood Immigration Removal Centre have gone on hunger strike over “inhumane” conditions at the facility.” This is a situation beyond despair, the last time I could find multiple women forced into going on hunger strike was in Northern Ireland in 1980/81 with three Irish women starving themselves to death. Before then we have to return to a Century ago; what have the three times in common – Tory Governments.

I’m making no judgement as to why these women were incarcerated, although Asylum seekers and other migrants are imprisoned without committing crime; nor am I suggesting all of the women are innocent. But I am committed to the idea people do NOT enter the ‘Justice system’ to DIE.

Further It is not only women who are suffering in our jails, two men have hanged themselves just in the past two days, one teenager arrested for stealing sweets! On twitter  tells of watching a man be convicted of a series of shop thefts…what became clear was that his family were on the brink of starving & his children malnourished. Hence the thefts which were only of essential items.

In appears the ‘justice system’ is not fit for purpose, and as readers will know this is not the only Government Department desperately failing people of the UK; today a series of articles from @johnpringdns  show the DWP is subverting justice’ at appeal tribunals along with a council being forced to launch an inquiry into the death of a terminally-ill disabled woman who total package of  personal care had suddenly been withdrawn just a few days before she died. And New revelations how our old adversary Esther McVey, had LIED AGAIN to fellow MPs. Pop over to John’s site for more evidence of failure.

The continuing and ever increasing articles containing the evidence and details of vulnerable people DYING  as a result of systematic Government Failure disturbs me greatly. As a life long depressive I have seriously considered ending my life on many occasions in truth I FIGHT these thoughts DAILY, I’m not admitting this for sympathy, I really don’t need or want it, I’m stating this because I Loathe being subjected into survival mode due to an uncaring, dysfunctional and bigoted Establishment. I GET why the women in Yarl’s Wood are risking their lives, it becomes impossible to flourish as a vulnerable person in the UK today; but I HOPE none of them end up life their male counterparts above nor the woman dying because her essential care was removed.

No one deserves the struggles and despair the people above go and went through – None of us, including myself should be forced to fight daily to survive because our Politicians Lie about the dismal state of welfare and justice in the UK today.

I’ll keep on Fighting until I can no longer do so and I sincerely Hope you’ll all join with me to rid the UK of this vile Killing Government

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DWP again refuses to release data on disability benefits….

From The Independent –   Are the Media finally catching up?

The Department for Work and Pensions has again refused to release data about the impact of changes to the disability benefit system after a request under the Freedom of Information Act.

Last week the DWP was forced to reveal how many people had died shortly after being found fit to work by disability tests.

Ministers and officials had resisted the demand for months and only accepted it after a warning from the Information Commissioner and a campaign that went all the way to Parliament.

But on Tuesday DWP officials refused another request for basic information about disability benefits using the same “Section 22” exemption they had tried to use before.

The Department had been asked under the Freedom of Information Act to disclose how many Disability Living Allowance claimants had been made worse off after being moved onto the new Personal Independence Payment benefit.

The Department refused the request, made by a user of the WhatDoTheyKnow website, a tool which helps people scrutinise the Government’s record.

Some claimants have lost out from the move from DLA to PIP. The reason given for rejecting the request is the same as that given in the case of the death statistics – under section 22 of the Act, data which officials say is reserved for future publication can be blocked from release.

The Department also previously stalled on responding to the request based on the fact that the person who made it had initially used a pseudonym.

The civil servant who answered the reply ultimately said that thought there was a public interest in the data being released, they should be allowed to publish it “in a manner of form and at a time of their own choosing”.

“I can confirm that the Department holds the information you are seeking. However, Section 22 of the Freedom of Information Act exempts this information from disclosure. This is because the information is intended for publication at a future date,” the Department said in its reply.

“This exemption requires the public interest for and against disclosure to be weighed in the balance. There is a public interest in information being released as soon as possible. However, I am satisfied that there is a strong public interest in permitting public authorities to publish information in a manner and form and at a time of their own choosing.”

Disabled people are being transitioned by the Government from the Disability Living Allowance benefit to its placement, the Personal Independence Payment. Some people lose out from this change because of the new way in which the PIP is calculated.

One person affected by a payment cut, Jane, wrote in her blog about the difficulties the changes had made for her and criticised the DWP’s lack of transparency.

“I have found myself so behind with bill payments, I now am past ‘robbing Peter to pay Paul’ and am at the bailiffs knocking on the door stage,” she said.

“Once again the DWP hide behind Section 22, but fail to indicate when these figures are to be produced; could this be because the data once revealed, will show another proven case of how the Welfare Reform Act is persistently failing disabled people?”

In the case of the benefit death figures, the Information Commissioner said the Government had no good reason to withhold the stats under Section 22

Mr Duncan Smith at one point caused confusion when he told Labour MP Debbie Abraham in Parliament that the stats did not exist.

“She knows very well that the department does not collate numbers on people in that circumstance,” he told her in Parliament.

The block comes after ministers announced a crackdown on the Freedom of Information Act, which Justice Secretary Michael Gove needed to be “revisited”.

Civil servants have long complained that disclosing information can be time-consuming and costly, and that ministers and officials should be allowed to discuss things in secret without the public knowing.

Campaigns say any attempt to water down the act would make it more difficult to hold the Government to account when things go wrong.

More disability benefit data refused for release by DWP.

Back in January I wrote about how my transition from DLA to PIP lost me £140 per month, and in March I posted about the saga I had with my Mandatory Reconsideration; both of these pieces demonstrated precisely what this loss meant to me in real terms. Since then I have found myself so behind with bill payments, I now am past ‘robbing Peter to pay Paul’ and am at the bailiffs knocking on the door stage.

The reason for raising this is, today a FOI request asking  ‘The percentage of current DLA claimants, who, on conversion to PiP, were reduced in their claims’…was answered by the DWP. Unsurprisingly their response was “I can confirm that the Department holds the information you are seeking. However, Section 22 of the Freedom of Information Act exempts this information from disclosure. This is because the information is intended for publication at a future date.

Once again the DWP hide behind Section 22, but fail to indicate WHEN these figures are to be produced; could this be because the data once revealed, will show another proven case of how the Welfare Reform Act is persistently failing disabled people?

The recent outcome of the 18 month long fight by Mike Sivier confirmed that “10,000 people lost their lives” after being determined they were well enough to be placed in the Work Related Activity Group! Will this latest refusal for information, demonstrate yet a further number of disabled people, who although surviving, being adversely affected by the decisions of civil servants

We were warned back in 2012, by the then Minister for disabled people Esther McVey that, “more than 300,000 disabled people will have their benefits cut” under the transition from DLA to PIP, are the DWP refusing to release this data, because this figure is already much higher?

The Cost of PIP – Decision Makers – A Law unto themselves

In November last year I reported I’d received my PIP award and disagreeing with it I’d contacted the DWP;  due to the closeness to Christmas, the Call Centre staff member had put in my request for the assessment report and noted  it was “my intention to ask for a Mandatory Consideration” (MR), this was so as I would not run out of time if post was caught up in the Mail.  I duly waited for my copy of the assessment report, which arrived on December 23rd and  submitted my formal request for a MR along with the evidence on January 10th.  Five days later I received a letter dated January 11th, it had clearly crossed with my own submission in the post, it informed me the DMs had already carried out a MR and had, of course, upheld the original decision!

I duly phoned, well actually my daughter phoned for me as I was screaming mad, the next working day;  Nicki clearly informed them, that when I had contacted them back in November, it was to request the assessment report, and on advice from the call centre staff member I was advising them I would be asking for a MR, to keep within the DWP time scale. She went on to quote a DWP response to a FOI that states:

“While a request can be made for a Mandatory Reconsideration by telephone or in
writing, under no circumstance should an approach for advice be treated as a
Mandatory Reconsideration request. However should this occur, any erroneous
request can be withdrawn once the error has been identified and any subsequent
requests would be dealt with on their own merit.” 

The DWP call centre operator took down the details and said she would sent an email to the decision makers (DM), this is apparently the only way call centre staff can communicate with the DMs, the email requested they call me back and asked they review my initial phone call asking for my assessment report.

I waited to no avail until yesterday, when I received another letter stating, the DWP decision makers had determined my submission of evidence was a request to Appeal to Tribunal; this is despite the information in my reconsideration letter, the information taken during the phone call and their failure to phone me back!!

I immediately called them and spoke with a lovely woman at the call centre, she read the notes made, during the call with my daughter, and stated there were no further actions noted against it; she then whilst still on the phone with me, emailed the DMs explaining the situation and requesting another call back. More importantly she advised me. I now must initiate the Tribunal process within the next 4 weeks or lose my option to do in future!!

So I had to find the energy to complete a Notice of Appeal, and explain why a) it is out of time – it should have been completed within one calendar month of their MR (Jan 11) and b) I am actually asking FOR a MR?! I’ve also discovered I’m not alone in losing almost HALF my benefit inthe transfer from DLA to PIP

I was SICK of the whole Carbuncle of Welfare Reform before May 7 – now we await with trepidation the announcements of the next round of proposed £12Million of Cuts; we’ve already read of the possible taxation of disabled benefits and making it harder for sick people to claim state aid by introducing “stricter” fit-for-work tests and/or tighter limits on eligibility, what’s next remains as yet unknown.

What I am convinced of is it is time now for ALL of us affected by the discriminatory actions of the Tories, to come together and Fight Back in Unity; we must ensure that whatever campaigns, petitions, demos etc work collectively to complement each other in the Battle for Survival under a Tory Government

Tories Only tell you what to Spend if you’re Poor

Mark Harper the Minister of State at the Department for Work and Pensions was on Radio4 Today this morning, talking about Cameron’s promise to protect pensions; in his discussion he stated “we can’t tell people how to spend their money“!

Where then does this leave the vow from IDS that he is “testing prepaid cards, onto which we will make benefit payments, so that the money they receive is spent on the needs of the family”? ‘Given the total contrast between Ministers statements, who can we believe, Harper’s – we trust the public or Ids – the poorest must be told where to shop and what to buy’?

Maybe the Tories believe that only people who have retired can manage a budget? Or is it, much more likely in my opinion, the pensioner promise is more about the Conservatives feeling worried they might lose their traditional voting base, by means testing the additional support such as the winter fuel allowance?

Either way this is yet another example of how the Tories are actually expanding the gap between the bottom and the the middle of the financial pyramid, with One rule for those with the least need and completely the Opposite for those the most vulnerable’ regardless it is Real Tory Hypocrisy in Action .

IDS plan to kill social housing in 4 years

Before anyone dismisses this as just another of #IDS ‘fag-packet’ ideas, read Joe Halewood’s take below: and to quote his closing point “ please stop calling this the ‘daftest policy’ you have ever heard. Stop saying you are speechless at this etc, and grow a set of balls and tell IDS and this government (and the next government and the one after that) to go f**k themselves and to start dealing on your terms.”

The Times and Daily Telegraph have a story today – the latest hare-brained idea of the tyrannical despot called Iain Duncan Smith.

If you have worked for a year you get your council or housing association property given to you for nothing!!

Yes seriously!

The plan is outlined here in an article in 24Dash:

Iain Duncan Smith is keen for the party to include a pledge in its election manifesto to give people who have managed to stay in work for a year a free council or housing association home. As part of the deal, the recipient would no longer be allowed to claim housing benefit, and would have to pay out 35% of the proceeds if the house was sold within three years of the handover.

The rationale it then says is this:

According to Tory thinkers, money generated by the policy would be used to build new homes, while the cash saved on housing benefit would outweigh any other concerns.

Ok, leaving aside ‘according to Tory Thinkers’ – if ever an oxymoron in itself – what would this mean?

Take the Smiths, Wayne and Waynetta Smith who live with their 4 children in a council house in London.  They pay rent of £130 per week and the property is worth £500,000. They get £500 per week in benefits and housing benefit because of the cap and that is shortly to reduce to £440 per week should the Tories not be voted out in May

Wayne and Waynetta approach a bank to say advance us £25,000 and in year one they sign off completely and receive not a penny in benefits.  They then ask for £7k per year for each of the next 3 years to cover the HB they have lost but they sign back on to receive welfare benefits.  They put up the property as collateral.

The bank says ok we will give you £50k – £4k more than they asked for on day 1 and charge you 25% interest per year.  After 4 years the bank are owed £122k by Wayne and Waynetta and the house is now worth £600k.  So the bank force the sale of the house and get their money and Wayne and Waynetta are still left with nearly £400k in their pocket

OK I now that is a bit far-fetched as the bank would charge more than 25% being totally greedy bastards!

Note too the same principle works in depressed low rent areas ‘oop North.’

Result is NO SOCIAL HOUSING IN THE UK AT ALL WITHIN FOUR YEARS – IDS HAS KILLED IT OFF

But where are the old the sick the disabled and the supported going to live?  Well it just so happens the banks and their friends have bought a lot of ex social housing properties which they lease back to councils en masse at 5 times the rent they were charging four years before and the Housing Benefit bill goes from today’s £24 billion per year to about £100 billion per year

AND of course the private sector gets their hands on and now owns a further 4 million plus properties and can charge what they like for them and can do whatever the hell they like to their tenants as they have no security and there is no regulation of the Private Sector landlord at all.

READ the rest at : IDS plan to kill social housing in 4 years.

Who can help Benefit claimants when Charities are no longer Impartial?

There was a spate of example towards the end of last year where Charities were warned they were at risk of closure, or at least sanctions, for acting ‘Politically

  • the chair of the Trussell Trust was told “he must think more carefully otherwise “the government might try to shut you down”.
  • The Global Warming Policy Foundation were advised ‘concerns were raised that the charity was promoting views that were of a political rather than an educational nature’.
  • Oxfam was been rapped by the charity watchdog for not taking sufficient steps to avoid appearing politically biassed in a social media campaign which criticised the Government’s austerity programme earlier this year.

These are only examples, of how a breadth of Charities are experiencing this, what I feel is bullying.

This behaviour by the powers that be, is despite Government guidance which states:

Can a charity carry out campaigning and political activity?

The short answer Yes – any charity can become involved in campaigning and in political activity which further or support its charitable purposes, unless its governing document prohibits it.”

Although since then the Government’s introduction of the Lobbying Act has resulted in a report by the Commission on Civil Society and Democratic Engagement (CCSDE) stating “The law makes it almost impossible for charities and campaign groups to work together and speak out on politically contested issues in joint coalitions”.

Given the above, how does this affect the people needing help from the very organisations established to meet their needs? I have received today an example of precisely this; the situation is a benefit claimant who is also a disability activist, at tribunal

“I ended up saying all the things in the tribunal that I was warned by the CAB not to say. They kept saying they were not allowed to have a political opinion. I replied that I didn’t think it could be seen in other than a political light. I ended by telling them that if it goes against me I will be likely seeing them again shortly as my six months is up and I will reapply right away and that’s how ridiculous the system is. I was sent outside while they deliberated. When I was called back in I was asked if I was likely to top myself if the decision was negative. I replied that that was always an option but I would be much more likely to kill one of the oppressors. I was actually quite surprised to have won as I figured I may have gone too far”

So, here the Citizens Advice Bureau is advising people not to have an opinion about the Welfare Reform regime and how it affects them! Our experience at DEAEP is the Tribunal panels ASK questions that require such a response, they usually understand it is the process established by Welfare Reform that has created the problem; and they recognise that Welfare and Disability issues are by their very nature political, something CAB don’t appear to understand.

This reluctance by CAB to appear Political might be as a result to ensure they maintain their funding, and this is a real issue when it comes down to giving appropriate support to individuals, further I believe this is eludes to a greater problem -the morality of the voluntary/3rd sector in general. When community organisations begin they usually are in response to need but…as they grow to be successful, there is a shift from the ‘need’ to a want. The project then spends much of its time searching and bidding for money to allow it expand and employ people; thus begins a vicious circle where workers in fear of their employment, are forced to focus their energy on justifying and gaining financial support for their existence. Hence the original purpose becomes skewed if not lost.

This is an issue I’ve witnessed hundreds of times in my professional life, and it lies at the very problem of the ‘voluntary/community sector’, whose very ethos should be, to work itself out of existence; and it becomes an even greater issue when Government interferes with the actions of these vital projects.

It is an issue we directors of DEAEP are experiencing now, how can we finance the necessary expansion of our service, when any ‘funding we might access, comes with such boundaries? Our response was to set up as a social enterprise, aiming to sell bespoke training the other companies in order to continue to fund our peer support element; this prevents us accessing many funding streams and means we are growing very slowly, but at least we are able to offer truly impartial support  to those we work with.