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 PROVEN LIES of IDS – NOW HE MUST ANSWER

Joe Halewood writing as @SpeyeJoe has reprinted a letter from the Tory Chief Whip informing IDS his #BenefitCap will actually cost money!

This is yet more evidence of IDS electing to continue his campaign to punish the poorest of us for the complete cock up by the banks and previous Governments, despite it costing the public purse?

Further nickd at http://ilegal.org.uk/ has spent this week posting more evidence that IDS has been Lying to both his own party and the public throughout the Coalitions Term in Government; this covers Lies about Incapacity benefit, ESA and the Work programme.

Isn’t is time for IDS to be held responsible for these Lies, the same lies that have seen hundreds of chronically sick, disabled and workless people Die under his watch;  irrespective of Who wins on May7, IDS will still remain responsible for the man who oversaw the deaths of so many

how-much-longer-will-the-dwp-get-away-with-this1

These are the reasons for the long running #TRUTH Campaign and whilst Debbie and I THANK all 6000+ signatories so far we need more; If YOU believe IDS deserve to answer for these LIES & DESTRUCTION please SIGN & SHARE  https://you.38degrees.org.uk/petitions/investigate-ids-for-lies.

Would be good to be able to take along a batch of 100,000s of names to the next Government showing

WE WILL NOT TOLERATE ANOTHER 5 YEARS OF SLAUGHTER

End Austerity Demo June 20

#TRUTHCampaign #IndictIDS #ImpeachDWP

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.

Tory Cuts KILL – perhaps it’s because they’re Psychologically disturbed?

Yesterdays news was full of the latest findings from Institute for Fiscal Studies demonstrating  the ConDems Changes to the Tax and Benefits system has cost households £1,127 a year on average, and even the Mail concedes this means “poor families have lost the most as a percentage of their income“; and yet despite this, the Government still maintained “UK income inequality is now lower than when this Government came into office“.

I doubt anyone will be remotely surprised at the Coalition disputing the data, this is another example of how this unelected Government has persistently and systematically Lied to the people.

There been countless claims on social and even occasionally in main stream media about the number of people dying as a result of Welfare Reform, and those of us involved in any of the campaigns to raise awareness, need no persuading this is an absolute truth. The situation where respected organisations produce solid date, which then gets refuted and spun by Politicians is the pro forma stance by the Condems.

Lucy Mangan in Today’s Guardian writes maybe the best answer I’ve read in the national media – “If you don’t understand how people fall into poverty, you’re probably a sociopath“, this is something many of us on social media have said on countless occasions, and it certainly seems to apply to Cameron, Ids and Co, but what does this mean in reality. A Sociopath is listed in the fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), as an Antisocial Personality Disorder, with a “propensity for violence, a remorseless mind, indifference to others’ rights and not caring about ethical behaviour or laws”; this suggests the cabinet at the very least is led by people who have a recognised psychiatric disorder.

If we accept this as an explanation as to why those in question behave the way they do it explains much, perhaps this is how IDS can laugh as fellow MPs relate tales of hunger and starvation from their constituencies, why vital cancer treatments can be denied because of a budget target, and precisely why The poorest were not hit hardest by tax and benefit changes by chance: it was by design. 

However explaining what is behind the behaviour of the Government doesn’t help us, what it can do is offer us another argument to demonstrate just how damaging the current Government is the the nation’s people. I expect I will now receive the popular refutation of Political parties all being the same, I do not concede with this . I do agree given the definitions above, all Parties do have certain members to whom this may be applied, but this is not reason to do nothing; we have an opportunity in May to rid ourselves of this dysfunctional group, and we Must, for the sake of the people take it.

If you accept any of the above argument, don’t sit on the proverbial fence of having no choice, reclaim your personal power and pass on the evidence – the unelected Party in power today are Unfit to Govern and MUST GO.

Join us in our campaign to hold #IDS to account and sign IDS – TIME TO STOP THE LIES and make at least one of the Sociopaths answer for his actions

The Tenacity of Us Working Class

If you’re wondering why I’ve been so quiet, I’ve been ill, just a regular virus that most people get in winter; the difference is its taken me a couple of month to get back to anywhere near normal, even for me. Due to my varying health issues, including an auto-immune disorder, regular colds and other usual ailments have a tendency to knock the proverbial stuffing out of me; and then, just as I begin to physically heal…Bang, the depression enters, demanding every ounce of attention and strength.

Depression is a strange thing it means different things to each of us who know it; for me He is like a jealous spouse, He wants me all to himself, and should I try to make contact with others – He raves, stamping, shouting, reminding me of all my faults and shortcomings until I yield, and agree I’m only complete with Him alone. This circle continues, wearing me down, until something or someone gets through the fugue; this happened for me today.

Getting up as usual, I began browsing the online press and in The Guardian I came across the words “how working class people became the ‘problem” and I felt a vestige of life. I’m not going into the details of the piece you can read that for yourself, but the author Lisa McKenzie’s description of her life in Nottingham in the 80’s resonated with me, this could have been my life she was writing about. I found the piece evocative, it rekindled memories of the energy and companionship I felt then, as a part of the campaigns against the Tories, and Ms McKenzie’s anger at the Class prejudice of successive Governments, aroused my own rage at injustice; allowing me enough energy to shut Him up, at least for now.

My experience as the working class girl ‘done good’ is one I treasure, in so much as despite not sitting my O levels as I was preparing to become a (very) young mum, I was still able to access local quality community projects; therein finding the support to develop the knowledge, skills and experience to run my own projects, and to enter university as a mature student. This is only dampened by the facts that similar opportunities are gone, victims of Local Government Cuts, themselves a response to current Austerity Agenda and that my own ill health has forced me to return to poverty. Having said that without my working class background and ethics, I’m not sure He could be quietened.

There is a major incongruity in all of  this, We “working classes” so despised by the ruling elite, are the very people who carry out the tasks and provide the labour essential to maintaining the lifestyles and status of those who denounce us through their media. We are essential for the wealth of the nation, and unless We can work, pay taxes and invest our earnings the elite will ultimately pay the greatest price.

As David Cameron in his most hypocritical speech yet said:

‘When we say ‘we are all in this together’ that is not a cry for help, but a call to arms. Society is not a spectator sport.’ This is your country. It’s time to believe it. It’s time to step up and own it. So mine is not just a vision of a more powerful country. It is a vision of a more powerful people. The knowledge in the heart of everyone – everyone – that they are not captive to the circumstances of their birth, they are not flotsam and jetsam in the great currents of wealth and power, they are not small people but big citizens.’

Cameron, 2010, describing the Big Society

I can’t help but wonder, when reading this did Cameron dare for one moment to consider what might occur should people actually believe it; imagine a nation where everyone felt they had a role? Disabled people were adequately supported financially for them to participate as full citizens, poverty didn’t exist, the rich invested their money in the nation and not overseas tax havens, every adult had a home of their own and a purpose, children were taught to expect their Rights in return for them being responsible; and Everyone respected another as a human, irrespective of skin colour culture, lifestyle or belief.

That is My idea of Society, how about you?

The cost of PIP? £35 less per week, Thanks #DWP! – This is A CALL OUT for Info

Well I’ve received my PIP award and hooray I’ve ‘scored’ more points than on my DLA and yet, despite this I’ve  been awarded ‘Standard’ rates for both Daily Living & Mobility Elements, to explain how this makes a real difference to me read on.

To get PIP at all, you must score between 8 – 11 points in both daily living / Mobility and to get the Enhanced rate it’s 12 points; the 2 elements are valued differently with

the Daily Living standard rate being £54,45 and the enhanced rate £81.30 per week,

for  Mobility, the standard rate is £21.55 and the enhanced rate is £56.75 per week.

This differs greatly from the old DLA which had three levels of award, the rates which are/were worth  for care

lowest rate – £21.55

middle rate – £54.45

highest rate – £81.30

and for the mobility component

lower rate – £21.55
higher rate – £56.75

I believe these changes clearly demonstrate how the government have reduced PIP spending by a total o£2.2bn?

Personally under DLA I received Mid Care & High Mobility, however under PIP I scraped in at a bare 8 in daily living and 10 for mobility costing me almost £140 per month!! I have reported my intention to ask for a Mandatory Consideration and will keep you posted; in the meanwhile…

…I’m trying to collect evidence of PIP being no more than another Government attempt to cut even more money from disabled people, further driving us into poverty; therefore I ask all of you to please share with me Your examples of PIP, have you received an award, was it worth more/less than before etc.

If you would prefer to share this info anonymously that’s fine and if you want to do so privately, please contact me at ratea62@gmail.com

THANK YOU in advance for your input Jxx

 

Footnote* From truthmeister – ”

As for saving money, the bungling incompetence of IDS has meant that a proposed saving of £1.2bn pa has actually turned into an increase in spending of £1.6bn pa to date, as per the IFS: http://www.ifs.org.uk/publications/7447” Thanks