Is the Fight for Truth Important?

As reader are fully aware, Debbie Sayers and I presented our first petition to Parliament last year which helped get Iain Duncan Smith & Lord Freud called into the Work & Pensions Select to answer for their misuse of statistics.

At that time RosWynne Jones of the Mirror asked me if it had been worth the effort, I replied  We’ll keep up the fight and keep campaigning. It doesn’t end here” and it hasn’t. Since then Debbie and I have worked tirelessly on collating the data that demonstrates our claim and of course we published our 2nd petition demanding the House of Commons accept the Selects three recommendations on delivery and use of statistics.

Since the publication on 15 May, there have been numerous accounts of Politicians continuing to spin statistics and deny the reality of Welfare Reform issues, I’ve personally written about Evidence behind growth in food banks,  Rising ESA sanctions, the numbers dying every week as a result of being found fit for work after an assessment, the truth behind the Benefit Fraud Campaign, the extent of Poverty today in the UK, and how the Government attempts to catch people allegedly falsely claiming benefits, are using falsified data to justify it; and this in less than three weeks!

Curiously in about the same time as the above, our first petition had received 92,500 signatures; whilst our current one stands at just 1,478! We have been discussing the reasons for this and have come to a conclusion that generally people either haven’t connected our demands to the next step in our Campaign for the Truth and Statistics; it is viewed as unrealistic/untenable or, people have lost interest?  We are fully aware that people feel overloaded with petitions, but we have demonstrated that they can work;  if this petition is to succeed we must find a way to obtain 100,00+ signatures, which at the very least will be read out in Parliament and, I’m confident, will also receive media coverage

I put the question to you and ask for your feedback, How do we ensure the House of Commons accepts the below  guaranteeing –

19.  DWP  exercise care in the language used in accompanying press releases and ministerial comments in the media. 2013 saw heightened and quite widespread concern—including from the UK Statistics Authority and organisations representing disabled people—about the DWP commentary accompanying releases of benefits statistics. (Paragraph 141)

20.  The Government is doing a great deal to promote a positive image of disabled people, including in the principles behind its Disability Strategy and the Disability Confident campaign to help disabled people into employment. However, this positive action risks being undermined if the language used in DWP press releases and ministerial media comments accompanying releases of benefit statistics adopts a tone which feeds into negative preconceptions and prejudices about people on benefits, including disabled people. (Paragraph 142)

21.  We agree with our colleagues on the Public Administration Select Committee (PASC) that Government statistics should be presented in a way that is fair, accurate and “unspun” and that this is especially the case when they are being used to justify a particular policy or a particular allocation of resources. We reiterate our view that DWP should avoid feeding into negative public views about people who receive benefits, and that statistics should be used objectively to shed light on policy implementation, not to prop up established views and preconceptions. We recommend that, in response to this Report, DWP sets out the specific steps it has taken in response to the comments from PASC, the UK Statistics Authority, and this Committee, to ensure that statistics are released in a way which is accurate, and fair to benefit claimants. (Paragraph 143)

If Government won’t be held to scrutiny by the Select then We must scrutinise their actions. We need to know if you believe this is our campaign for the Truth and Statistics is worth fighting and ask for your suggestions??

 

 

 

 

Whose world is this?

Another Wonderful poem from Juli @juxtaposed –

Whose world is this?.

 

Whose world is this?
Who owns the Earth
And all its fruit?

The evil few in suits of stolen
Cloth for whom one planet is
Still not enough

They are
The architects of nightmares

Sound Familiar? Please Read On

MORE Reasons to Sign – STOP Ministers Spinning Stats (or LYING)

Over the weekend I’ve noticed three separate articles all linked to DWP actions that, we the public have been LIED TO about by Ids, McVey, Penning & even Consultants –

The Guardian wrote how – Frank Field MP has found Evidence behind growth in food banks and benefits claimants; Field as chair of the all-party group set up to investigate hunger and food poverty discovered “the disproportionately large increase (use of food banks) seen in the poorest households is due entirely to rising housing and fuel costs” . However this week McVey wrote to the Scottish Government this week stating there is “no robust evidence linking food bank usage to welfare reform”  

Fellow blogger Kitty Jones reported on – Rising ESA sanctions with a rise of “334% between December 2012 and December 2013″; it took a Freedom of Information request to release even these figures which are an ‘estimate. Debbie Abrahams MP asked McVey for an Independent investigation  into the growing number of sanctions last November, which she agreed to however ” the Government have now said they won’t set one up“; what could possibly be the reason for this, Abrahams believes “The last thing Iain Duncan Smith and Esther McVey want is for that uncomfortable truth to be uncovered by a focussed and independent investigation.”

Mike Sivier at Vox Political questioned How Prof Lichfield, the man assessing the suitability of WCA could claim he hadn’t “any information” and he hadn’t “seen numbers” on any people “dying every week as a result of being found fit for work after an assessment”; as Mike says “He could have, at least, looked up the government’s own statistical release‘Incapacity Benefits – Deaths of Recipients’ from July 2012“. Further it doesn’t take any mathematical experience to make an informed estimate as to the current figure, I did this this in February suggesting  the number could be as high as “38,564 deaths over the 3 years the Coalition has been in Government.”.

These are three different situations where Ministers and the DWP Press office lie to the public about the Reality of life as a benefit claimant in the UK today, and it is for these and numerous other incidents where the Truth is hidden and denied that Debbie & I have published our 2nd petition  demanding the House of Commons STOP Minsters spinning statistics.

We Deserve the Truth from our Politicians, particularly when their Polices result in Poverty, Abuse & Death, if you agree – Sign & Share the #NowPetition widely and help us #ImpeachDWP 

 

 

 

 

Lets Talk – Challenging Oppression through Positive Action

This series of Lets Talk has instigated a new campaign, I had no idea when I blogged about prejudice that a fellow warrior would pick up the mantle, taking it one step further with her analysis of challenging oppression through Law and Evidence.

But that’s the beauty of  communicating and working together, it sparks new ideas about challenge and this collaboration has opened up a proposal or a new way of working; social media has allowed a small group of women from Cornwall to the Scotland to join forces, sharing our experience and knowledge to make a stand.

Women2gether operate on the basis of  Inclusion, Collectivity, & Collaboration allowing  participants to dip in and out of the project, both to share and develop our understanding in a safe environment. This does not mean it isn’t challenging, the nature of the project requires confrontation, but only ideals are questioned, never the person; and in this spirit we hope not only to achieve our goal, but also demonstrate an improved way of working.

We intend to demonstrate and submit a case to the ICC that their recent ruling on the case submitted by Olga and Tanya Yeritsidou – “It is alleged that the austerity measures introduced by Greece’s government constitute peacetime genocide and crimes against humanity” – is unlawful. We believe this judgement is not lawful as it condones and enables national and international economic abuse of women by failing to give our perspective equal weight and gravitas in coming to judgement; and it is around this argument we are building a case for judicial review.

We accept this project is immense and we also expect a variety of  negative comments, therefore we are aware of the dangers of subconsciously adopting the apparent logic of dissenters; in order to manage this women2gether is open to all women, and men who believe in and support the rationale of  an equal balance between the genders, on a national or global scale, depending on their particular areas of interest.

The principles of particular area of interest is the key to this project as previously mentioned; allowing individuals focus on their own areas, be that idea sharing, research, collation, report writing, speaking with ‘experts’ etc., without fear of being overburdened.

If anyone is wondering what is the point of this, or think it is a waste of energy, I’d like to share why I’m doing this  – I’m Sick to death of being afraid to live and I’d far sooner die trying, than yield to the current levels of injustice being enforced upon me. If you can relate to this, let us know through commenting here, or tweet, direct message us via @JayneLinney/@Wildwalkerwoman/@DebbieSayers; we would love to hear from you.

Real Issues with Welfare reform – Part II

On April 8 I wrote my first official DEAEP Blog, regarding the support we offer, this week Alex & I attended his Tribunal. we arrived at the venue, in a central hotel, to find the tribunal receptionist was extremely chatty; he happily informed the room that there were people from all over the UK, booked to attend, he went on to state every one of the claimants had waited for well over a year to get a hearing! He also informed us that for the day the Tribunal service had paid for 6 meeting rooms –  for hearings, waiting rooms and a room for the court clerks; add the expense for this to the salaries of at least 6 panellists (possibly 8), 3 clerks and the receptionist; and I shudder to think how much this must have cost?!

We were called in on time and given that the DWP had already agreed that Alex should be in the Support group in February 2013, we were expecting this to be a open & shut case but…NO. Firstly the DWP had failed to inform the panel they had AGREED they’d made a mistake, luckily the accepted the letter we had as full evidence; however instead of recognising that the DWP had already accepted Alex was too ill to work, and therefore he had every right to receive the back pay, the judge of the panel grilled Alex for 45 minutes on his inability to work in November 2012. We were made to explain, against each of the ESA qualifying points, that how for a whole 3 months, before the DWP agreed Alex’s health made him unable to work, this was the case. The Dr on the panel on at least four occasions referred to how, in his medical opinion, Alex’s handwriting on the appeal letter clearly indicated Parkinsons, as did his observation of Alex’s body; but the judge persisted in her questions, reducing Alex to tears on one occasion! Why was this – for MONEY – and for a far less amount than the 2 panellists earned in hour we were in there, never mind the the costs of the day’s Tribunal as outlined above; but for an amount that means Alex can afford to live a little more comfortably.

The good news is Alex WON his tribunal but…surely as the DWP had already conceded, wouldn’t it have been far more cost effective, never mind humane, for them to have merely paid him the money he was owed? According to Channel 4 Employment and support allowance (ESA) tribunals cost the taxpayer £66m in 2012/13, and this fails to consider the hidden costs of anxiety and stress to the claimant, both personally and in terms of the Health/support services, consider all of this and what a ludicrous situation this proves to be.

I don’t presume Alex’s case to be unique and given the number of successful tribunals by sick and, or disabled people, this is yet more evidence the current ESA/WCA process is severely flawed.

 

 

 

Real issues with Welfare Reform

Wearing my DEAEP Company hat, last week I met with a lovely man, I’ll call him Adam; Adam is in his 60s and worked all his life until last year, when his health deteriorated to such a point he could no longer physically manage. At this time he completed his claim for ESA, he heard nothing and then, out of the blue last month, Adam was called for an appointment with ATOS. He initially asked about home visit as he loves 12 miles outside the City centre but was told he needed a letter from his Dr to support his request; as this was not possible, Adam informed them he was happy to attend but he wanted the assessment recorded, ATOS assured him this was fine and he arranged a date.

He contacted me wanting support for the assessment and, after Adam struggling to make his way into town for 10.30 we met prior to the assessment to discuss his requirements. We sat at a coffee shop 3 doors away from the assessment centre, and in the time it took us to finish our drinks Adam received 2 phone calls, both from the same Nottingham number and each time he answered his phone the line went dead. We both recognised the area code and knowing the regional ATOS office is based here, Adam returned the second call, only to find the call could not be completed at the receiving end.

Experience called us both to speculate if ATOS actually had organised for the recording equipment to be there, and chatting about this we entered the building ATOS use to carry out the ESA assessments for Leicestershire. ATOS are based on the first floor of a sixties office building which has no access/egress for wheelchair users in an emergency; knowing this we were both on sticks. Using the lift we emerged on the first floor to be met by a door with no automatic functions, causing us to engage into some form of strange dance to pull open the door when neither of us have full use of our arms/hands; achieving access we were then met with a second, this time fire retardant door, again with no automatic function. Having recreating our dance anew we proceeded through into a small space with a third non automatic door, thus we repeated our caper finally emanating in the reception area for ATOS.

Noting how extremely quiet the waiting area was, with only one other person in the room, we made our way to the desk, where we were met by a very friendly woman who after taking Adam’s details said he was “more than welcome to have the assessment but…”; yes, the recording equipment wasn’t there! She apologised and said they had tried to call him to which we both explained what had happened at our end. She went on to say as Adam didn’t want the assessment without it being recorded, he would receive another phone call in the next 2/3 weeks to rearrange it.

By this time we were both exhausted and in pain, so much that before we left Adam was forced to resort to his default position for managing extreme pain on his hands and knees; when Adam’s pain had returned to its regular level, we made our way our of the building, this time going backwards through the three doors, our backsides providing the impetus required to push them open.

The real irony of all of this is Adam retires in July, that’s correct, he has to go through all this again just to receive ESA for three months!

I met with a second DEAEP customer today, who I’ll call Alex; Alex is going to Tribunal next week, the reason being having fought for two years to be placed in the support group due to the progression of Parkinsons, the DWP decreed the were wrong and have done precisely that; but they insist he must continue with his appeal and attend the hearing. It seems the purpose of the Tribunal, which is being held at a local hotel instead of at the Tribunal centre, is for 17 months worth of Back pay, the difference between basic rate and the enhanced rate Alex is now receiving in the support group! I’ll report back on this next week.

What the DWP and the Politicians who have devised the immoral and unjust Polices ignore is the anxiety and stress both of these men are going through, as they are forced to fight their way through the broken Welfare Reform process; and what really sickens me is the total amount of money involved in these two cases is far less than the pathetic amount Ms Maria Miller has been instructed to return following her fraudulent expense claims!!

 

 

 

Stop MPs Voting on Welfare – when they receive Housing Benefit!

The National Housing Benefit budget has been cut drastically in the past 3 years, particularly via the Bedroom Tax & the Benefit Cap and the Government persist in telling the Country it is the fault of those claiming.

Yet yesterday The Mirror reported, Richard Benyon, apparently the UKs wealthiest MP  receiving £625K a year from the State in Housing Benefit, this is “despite blasting the ‘something for nothing’ welfare state; he’s not alone either fellow Tories, Earl Cadogan, Sir Richard Drax and Lord Cavendish between them picked up a total of £227,170 last yearn and Andrew Charalambous UKIPs housing spokesman pocketed a healthy £745,351

These MPs then go into Parliament  justifying and voting  for yet more Cuts, all the while spouting the rhetoric of ‘lazy’ skiving, benefit recipients!

I believe this hypocrisy is wrong and they have prejudicial pecuniary interests; given this, Standards Committee must remind them. To this end I’ve set up a petition on Change org  to

STOP MPs who receive Housing Benefit via property they own, speaking/voting on Welfare topics, due to a prejudicial pecuniary interest.!

Please Sign and Share if you agree with me

National ATOS Demo – A personal Account

Yesterday I was spokesperson for ATOS DEMO, the day started with a home interview on local radio at 8.00 am, which in my world meant getting up at 5.00, to allow my drugs enough time to work for me to coherent; I then had 2 hours to recover to attend my local demo at Leicester.

Arriving slightly early to meet up with my fellow organisers, we were immediately approached by a police officer with a community support officer, asking who the organiser was; we informed them there was no one person locally, we were a group of ATOS survivors protesting about the companies role in Welfare Reform. This really surprised them, I really don’t think they’d come across a protest that wasn’t organised by a Party or group before; on refection the age of both officers might have something to do with this, they were too young to remember what genuine community activism is – the coming together of individuals against/for a common cause, without a Political agenda. Later during the Demo, my carer was speaking with them about the day and reasons behind it; he says the were actually interested and not only sympathised with us, but were impressed by our campaign, I believe this showed in the way they remained at a discreet distance through the programme.

The Demo started promptly at 11 am, and was reasonably well attended with approximately 50 people all with a story of ATOS treatment to tell; Nick, another of our organisers had put together a great 2 + hour programme of speakers, poets and singers, if you’re interested the whole thing was captured by Down Not Out, an amazing local homeless project; and made the local press. It was also fantastic to meet up with people from different groups in the City who came out to support us – Unite, Left Unity, TUC, and others I admit I’ve forgotten the names of.  But what doesn’t make even this fantastic coverage were many of the horror stories I heard when speaking to people there, personal tales of humiliation, sanctions, suicide and more; what makes it even more tragic (if this is possible) is the Fact, we’ve all heard it all before, not once but over and over.

I passed out about an hour after I got home, the price I pay for less than 3 hours out; and today I feel I’ve wrestled with the Olympic Judo team; In truth the day has seriously cost me in terms of energy and pain but…was it worth it YES YES YES!!!

The fact that 2 young police officers learnt something from what we did says to me that this type of collective peaceful protest has a positive empowering effect not only on those involved but others around, and I remain convinced this is THE way forward. The video and press coverage we achieved will forever remain in the ether of the internet, and can be utilised to maintain the spirit of the day. We will, as DEAEP  and through Down Not Out, be able to offer appropriate support to those people with personal issues with ATOS and DWP; and the organising group of the Leicester Demo has already booked a venue for a follow up meeting to continue the campaign for justice and equality with vulnerable people locally.

The only other thing I want to say is THANK YOU – to Tom Smith, who had the idea and called for this day, to Each of the Host organisers at the Leicester Event, to ALL involved in covering the day & most importantly to EVERY SINGLE PERSON who attended, including those who stopped to listen,even for a while – YOU made MY Day xx

Will there ever be poetic justice in this world?

This is a joint post with Chris Wayne; who like myself, as  I’ve previously disclosed  suffers from a range of illnesses, including depression and other mental health disorders; this results in our moods being erratic (at least).

And …

Some days I feel like sunshine
Some days I feel like dirt
Some days I live life to the max
Some days my head just hurts

I also have a range of physical disorders and these seriously impact on my mental health, which is summed up wonderfully…

Some days I feel I’m floating
Some days I feel I’ve crashed
Some days my mind feels very free
Some days my mind feels trapped

Add the above to the reality that as mental health sufferers, living in the UK today with an unelected Coalition Government who have decimated our Welfare State, we are very concerned that …

Services in the UK 

Are slowly being cut

But Cameron and his chums

Just don’t give a f*ck

Although they provide the public

With a vital need

They’re being sacrificed

For the government’s own greed

They give the country

A much needed stable core

They help those who struggle

Like the vulnerable and poor

So it’s no wonder we and thousands of others are feeling

Anger’s an explosive emotion

That’s the physical embodiment of wrath

If unable to be controlled

It destroys everything in its path.

Having said this, we recognise the power of such feelings and..

 if harnessed in the right way

We can use its energy

To bring positive changes to all

In this squalid society

This acknowledgement doesn’t however stop the frustration that

Yet while it’s now so obvious

How government policies have caused hurt

Most people still ignore it

And deny that it’s occurred.

This is despite the vast amount of information and hard evidence this Government is repeatedly lying, cheating and basically using this short time in Power to rob the Country and its people of all resources possible; therefore we both feel…

Though more people are becoming ‘awake

It still isn’t enough

When will people stop sleeping

and bloody well wake up

Anyone know the answer??

The REAL Agenda behind Benefit Fraud Campaigns – With Spending -UPDATE

In my original post on the topic I argued that given the DWP admit “It is only a small minority who commit fraud“ Freud 03/01/2014; so surely these campaigns, which given the fairly constant level of estimated fraud don’t work, seem to be a case of overkill? That is unless you take a slightly more cynical view of the whole situation – If the Government was truly concerned with fraud,  wouldn’t a different, more efficiently way of managing it, have been designed by now; and, wouldn’t we have actual statistics, rather than than over 8 years of  ’around £1 billion’  estimates??

I also discussed how much the DWP had spent on these campaigns over the past 3+ years, and how much the budget for this latest reinvention is; I’ve now received a reply to my FOI request :

Expenditure for campaigns                                       Year Campaign Total amount

2010/11 Targeting Benefit Thieves                                                     £26,118
2011/12 Targeting Benefit Thieves                                                     £82, 605
2012/13 none                                                                                      Nil
2013/14 Benefits. Are you doing the right thing?                                £188,003  (forecast only)

So from the FOI we presume in the past 3 years the coalition have spent £296,726?

Well No! The February edition of Touchbase the DWP Newsletter for ‘advisers, intermediaries and other professionals’ has this announcement “The Government has announced the launch of a single fraud investigation service (SFIS), to tackle all welfare benefit fraud…  investing an extra £140 million to deliver savings of over £2.3 billion by cutting the amount of money that is loss through fraud, error and debt”.

This is on top of the current forecast of £188,003, as the DWP was expressly clear this amount was for the “Are you doing the right thing” campaign only! Which, in REAL terms means an extra £140,000 over 18 months (Oct 16 -Mar 16)

This is a huge amount of money from a Government who persistently tell us, we as a nation are broke; so remember when you read in the press or the  internet, hear on the radio or watch on TV how this is to SAVE £1 billion ‘lost’ in the past year because other people are ‘cheating Stop & Think –  might this the is the same £1 billion that’s been lost for the past 8 years or more??

CHECK OUT the latest Data from ilegal.org  ‘Fit for work or fit to drop’, Over quarter of a million deaths relating to sickness benefit claims?