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?

Government #Disablism Discrimination in Action

This week a woman not known for her timidity, admitted how a non-disabled man had used his presence and the environment to disempower her; I’m referring to Dame Anne Begg and the she interview gave to the BBC. In the Daily Record Dame Anne is quoted as saying “Iain Duncan Smith took to standing behind me during Prime Minister’s Questions. He stood at what’s called the Bar of the House and occasionally he would lean on my wheelchair…Our working relationship was slightly fraught anyway because I’d been critical of him a lot. I wanted to keep that criticism a professional criticism, not a criticism of him as a person so I never quite built up the courage to actually say: ‘Please don’t do that.’” Dame Anne also was recorded as having explaining how “she would normally reproach people who invaded her personal space but she let him off“.

This is an excellent example of how competent, intelligent, and independent disabled people not only experience prejudice – as people either knowingly or subconsciously, use their bodies, words or actions to oppress us; but how this actively exasperates and diminishes us.

It is no coincidence I use this example with IDS being the perpetrator, as it is again his department, the DWP, I am discussing today. In November last year I introduced you to Burt, who with our support at DEAEP was transferred from WRAG to the support group last December; since then Burt has received up to three letters a month plus texts reminding him of his “Back to Work” appointments! Each month Burt has responded to each letter with a phone call saying “but I’m in the Support Group”, he has received an apology and a promise to rectify this from each call; yet it has continued.

Burt is a former career soldier who fought in wars all over the world, until being retired out with a crushed spine and severe PTSD, amongst other conditions, all contracted during his service.  He isn’t a naturally timid man, he loved his Army life and willingly gave everything to “Queen & Country”, as his service record and the plethora of photographs and awards proudly displayed in his lounge demonstrate; and yet the persistent harassment he has experienced from the DWP in the past 2 years has left him joyless, feeling without purpose and literally unable to complain.

As Dame Anne alluded to regarding IDS, his actions which amount to bullying in my opinion, makes it difficult if not impossible to positively challenge the perpetrator(s); and this is the situation Burt is in. Personally I can totally relate to this, and would suggest many readers and other claimants can also. It is these dismissive attitudes and continuous intimidation by the DWP that creates the ‘Brown envelope Syndrome’, so well recognised by those of us unfortunate enough to claim benefits; it is also this oppression, and misuse of positions of power, that has contributed to the deaths of many us.

How much worse this is going to get following the closure of ILF and a budget, which I believe initiates the removal of WRAG? Being forced to deal with increasing poverty is physically and psychologically damaging enough without having to deal with this prejudice and discrimination from the DWP.

I find this particularly ironic that jobseekers (presumably including those who would have been placed in WRAG)  are being mandated to participate in Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT), which claims to Stop negative thought cycles; I can’t help but think IDS, his ministers and the staff at DWP would benefit far more from CBT than claimants?

The National Disability Union – A Way Forward?

Further to my blog last week on The Desperate Fight Within Disabled Campaigning, my #TRUTH Campaign colleague Debbie Sayers has offered us a forward :

Afternoon folks,

There’s seems to be some confusion, I get the impression that people think Sparticus or the Spartacus network was run by Sue Marsh, that wasn’t and isn’t true, Sue was one of many individuals that worked towards several goals, her main job was media and PR… It was her job to get the work and ideas out there… Which she did very well… The Spartacus network was started by Jane Young as was the Spartacus forum Sue was not involved with the net work other than helping with getting info out such as tweeting and emailing out the Reversing from Recovery Report, or Past Caring etc the Spartacus Network was a collection of individuals that sometimes worked together, it was never an organisation. The network was handed over by Jane to other people working with Sue nearly two years ago, I think Sue involvement would have been much the same at that point as she was very ill, I’m not sure you will have to ask those involved with the network now.

Me and Gail started a new forum to work on the idea of a national organisation… Many years ago we tried to get groups to work together to no avail… After the election I wrote a blog post called one voice by which I meant a collective voice, Gail and I agreed to write an open letter to see if a national group like a union was wanted or viable even… We agreed to send it to people who campaign that we knew… I sent mine to a list of my friends partly from the old Spartacus network days (I wasn’t around for the Responsible Reform Report sadly) and partly from campaigning I have done since leaving over two years ago. I invited Sarah Campbell who wrote the RRR, Kailya Francklin who was involved with RRR, Jayne Linney who I’ve been working with on the truth campaign to get Mr Smith for his use of Statistics and his lies. And a few others that I’ve got to know who campaign in their own right… Gail invited those she knew, DPAC members, BT members, Mo Stewart, Susan Archibald etc, we asked them if they thought it was a good idea some said yes, some said no and refused to be involved. We put the open letter with a list of those who said they thought it was a good idea up on google docs to get a feel for how people felt about it, the response for the most part was good. In the mean time Sarah Campbell came to me and said did you read Sams blog about forming a union, I hadn’t but having read it we all felt he should be involved, a few didn’t like his connections to the new sparticus network, but his desiar to help form this organisation was the most important element so we asked him to be involved, he’s not keen on forums but he was facilitating open chats about the idea and was getting some good ideas together… This is when I found out about Sarah Campbells blog about forming a national organisation that she had written before the election.

 Gail and I, well Gail mostly set up a forum, at that point some people who didn’t want to be involved started spreading stories about how this was a Sue Marsh project saying the ‘Cult of Marsh’ (If there is one I’m not privy to it) had taken over the project, this was a lie everyone involved had been invited by me or Gail because of their expertise, track record or interest… I was told more than once that I should remove the ‘Spartacus element’ if I wanted this to succeed but how do you remove yourself from yourself? I am an ex spartaci, I can’t change that nor would I want to… I’m still very proud to have worked with the author of the Responsable Reform Report, Sarah Campbell, and worked with her and others on the Revising from Recovery Report and Past Careing Report… but does it mean everything I’ve been involved in since or in the future is some how insidiously linked to Sue Marsh? Of course not… She has said herself she’s not involved, she’s not involved in campaigning anymore… You may not like what she’s chosen to do but it has no bearing on this project, she is not involved… I hope she achieves her stated goals with her new job, but it’s nothing to do with me, I’m sure the flack she’s endured for her decision has been awful if my recent experiences have been anything to go by…

The National Disability Organisation, was to be designed by disabled people for disabled people with a voted for steering group to help keep it ticking over, someone has to do the day to day jobs that keep these things going. Even DPAC has a streering group. At this point someone asked if Sue Marsh could join this organisation if and when it became a reality… Some said no, some said if we want an inclusive organisation then yes she is disabled… It all fell apart at that point… Some of the people that used to work in the Spartacus network began to be personally attacked and bullied, Sarah Campbell was so badly treated she has left campaigning, that is tragic, a very clever lady with lots of expertise lost to us… Gail also took a great deal of crap of of folks for being involved… That is why she chose to close the forum she had made and leave the project, she felt that she couldn’t be involved in a project that would start a national organisation that one day might let Sue Marsh be a member… I respect her decision but…

 I think, that not doing something because of a possible future outcome would be sad and seems a bit daft… A million things have to happen before it’s even an issue…

Even though we’ve all had enough abuse… A few of us decided that although we are less inclined to be involved we still want the community to have a place to organise this national group, so I have made a new forum for this to take place. If you are still interested, please come join the new forum by following the link…if your only interested in spreading lies please don’t bother I don’t want to spend hours busting up fights on the forum as admin, if your interested in what you all have to say and or have ideas to share please come along and try to help create this national organisation… Dxxx  http://ndorg.freeforums.net/

Please go and have a look at the forum, and if you feel this is a way you support, or even if you don’t but have some constructive ideas, let us have them….REMEMBER

ONLY TOGETHER CAN WE FIGHT FOR OUR SURVIVAL

The Desperate Fight Within Disabled Campaigning

This is my first post in a few months, there’s been several reasons for this including an horrendous bout of depression, an operation and masses of work for DEAEP, our new course starts next week. There also been one issue that has taken over what little energy I’ve had left after this; a month ago I was asked if I’d be interested in working on the setting up of a unifying group for disabled people to fight the Government.

Anyone that’s read my blogs is well aware I’m committed to collective working and collaboration, most of my posts end with some form of plea for Unity or Togetherness, so of course I said yes. To my horror, in this very short period of time several of those willing to do the backroom work have been bullied and verbally assaulted by the same people who purport to believe in campaigning and challenging for our rights. So much so, that a number of the individuals willing to use their spare energy have said they can no longer continue; I simply do not understand this!

What the Fuck is going on, when those of us Fighting for our lives under this Tory regime of Austerity and Cuts, are attacked by our peers; isn’t it enough that people are dying through the bullying of JobCentre & other DWP staff, without resorting to this behaviour ourselves?

When #homelessness is soaring and people are being evicted from their homes due to the costs of the #BedroomTax, or the #BenefitCap; when the loss of ESA or PIP, through flawed and biased ‘assessments is causing people to choose to stay warm or fed; what will happen to those on #ILF that lose their Care packages in 3 weeks? Isn’t all of this this enough to make people angry enough to challenge the Government and to work WITH their peers and not attack them?

I totally agree that different opinions are essential for any project to get off the ground, and this means different beliefs being aired and people feeling frustrated their thoughts aren’t being taken into account; I’m aware not everyone feels a unifying organisation is the way forward and that’s fine. I recognise the pressure we are ALL under and realise that sometimes we say things we might not mean, I also acknowledge that on social media, the words we write can often come across as something different to what we actually meant but…this is NOT what happened here; this was selective Bullying. People were reading derogatory comments and joining in, it was made Personal, through targeted attacks on individuals; all who have been involving in online campaigning for the past 4 years at least. If this behaviour had happened on the street and from a group of non-disabled people, many of us would be, (rightly in my book) shouting about Hate Crime; this is how serious I take what has has occurred.

The outcome is not only, have the abused individuals felt the need to leave the unifying group, several have left the world of disability activism completely; and what a loss! All that knowledge and experience held by these individuals, lost from campaigning and no longer available to work on the real Fight.

To close, I want to state some of us are continuing to work on developing a unifying project for disabled people, a group that can challenge the Government with authority; but it is with great sadness that not only will the work be much more difficult without the lost expertise, but that we’ve lost true campaigners to bullying from within.

I hope that those involved in these abusive attacks realise the damage they’ve caused, not only to the individual victims of their abuse but to the disabled movement; remember when our enemies see this behaviour it only serves to further their cause.

ONLY TOGETHER CAN WE FIGHT FOR OUR SURVIVAL

What NOW? #TogetherWeCan

There’s seemingly no end of blogs about WHY the Tories ended up back in Government; there also many many posts on social media discussing how disabled people are going to survive when the next round of Welfare Cuts come in; here’s my view…

At the time of writing we don’t yet know Who will be the Work & Pensions Minister, we do now that #McVey, in maybe the only good news of the election, being deselected won’t be there, and Mark Harper has gone as the Minister for disabled people but as for the others, we’ll have to wait?  What I believe is no matter WHO fills their seats (and that of #IDS of course) things will not get any better.

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.

I believe it is time to TALK, for disabled organisations, social media groups, local projects etc, to communicate and work collaboratively; I’m not suggesting we all have to use the same approaches or methods but…we DO have to ensure we support the campaigns of others. Imagine if every Demo was coordinated across the UK – just as we did with ATOS? We KNOW this works and this is why I’m pleading with ALL groups leaders to do this; think -TOGETHER  a petition with ELEVEN MILLION signatures could Not be Ignored?

Then consider what would happen if WE worked with all other discriminated Groups – We’d be Unstoppable

What do you think??        #TogetherWeCan

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

#UKIP ally believes we disabled are contagious

The content of Tom Pride’s excellent post has enraged me enough to actually write; I’ve been away from the computer after a nasty fall which left me virtually unable to use the keyboard for almost a month. This in turn aggravated my Depression; ergo I’ve been quiet, but reading that a friend and ally of the vile little excuse for a man Farage, thinks “disability an “epidemic” infuriated me enough to blog.

Epidemic is defined by Collins as:

adjective

  1. (esp of a disease) attacking or affecting many persons simultaneously in a community or area

noun

  1. a widespread occurrence of a disease   ⇒ an influenza epidemic
  2. a rapid development, spread, or growth of something, esp something unpleasant;

This clearly suggests the leader of the Polish “New Right” Party Janusz Korwin-Mikke, views us disabled people as being contagious, and that we are all out to spread our various “impairment of normal physiological functions” like a plague; infecting the regular ‘normal’ people , we come into contact with.

These comments occurred after the paralympics in 2012, along with further equally noxious opinions such as the lack of African teams indicated our “epidemic” hadn’t yet reached this continent resulting in “the blacks will soon conquer the world and slaughter us“; ‘us’ presumably being the Rich White Man.

Given this I propose we pestilent disabled, unite with our black comrades to remove these psychotic Fascists, and rather than slaughter them, remove them to some safe place where they can undergo the psychiatric therapies they desperately need.

Read Tom’s piece to here for more justification of my suggestion.

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.

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

Hope, whilst IDS Lies continue to Persecute the Poor

In this my last post before the festivities kick in I want to take a look at a quick overview of the Truth Campaign and our reasons for pursuing it.

It all began on April 14 2013, when Debbie Sayers and I wrote an open letter, to Esther McVey regarding her persistent misuse of facts and statistics, we sent this with over 800 signatures, including 4 MPs, a month later. On the back of this, we started our first petition (27/5/13) to the Work & Pensions Committee demanding they :Hold IDS to account for his use of statistics.

We eventually received a response from the DWP correspondence team to our letter, which failed to even acknowledge the questions we had asked, but she did reply to Michael Meacher  and Tim Loughton MPs, who had supported our letter with the same reply.

By June 12 our first petition had hit the magic 100,000 signatures, and between then and November, we played tag with IDS as he kept hiding from the Select Committee, missing him when we submitted our petition in November to Liz Kendall & Kate Green MPs; but eventually on December 11 2013 he ran out of excuses to attend.

After a long break,  it was in May this year Debbie & I decided to start stage 2 of our campaign, particularly in response to the Governments response to the recommendations of 3rd report from Work & Pensions select committee – use of DWP statistics; and this determined our next steps.

As today sees the nights slowly begin to shorten again, and the festive season is here, with its expectations of happiness and hope; it seems an optimum time to revisit our journey so far. It is especially pertinent as these feelings are irreconcilable with the ever growing tales of horror, resulting from the DWP’s and indeed Governments false Austerity Agenda, and the ongoing persecution of the poorest, most vulnerable people in our society.

Debbie and I are both committed to what we see as a marathon and not a sprint, we have cruised past the first check point and now feel we have ‘hit the wall’ as athletes call it, that time when you wonder if you can continue. But we will, because we as JRF said “our current Welfare system doesn’t work; we refuse to become ‘victims’ of  the Lies IDS tell to Parliament , as do the supporters of our Thunderclap and the signatures so far on our petition.

If you share our outrage at the injustices forced upon disabled, unemployed, vulnerable people, please sign, support  and SHARE the story of the TRUTH Campaign and together in 2015 the people will Demand IDS is Investigated for his Lies and for the Damage done by them.

This is OUR Wish for Christmas, Yuletide and most importantly for Justice & TRUTH.

#ImpeachDWP #TRUTHCampaign #IDSTimeForTRUTH #NOWPetition