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!!

 

 

 

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?

The Scandal of DWP Silence

We know from  the official DWP report that between January & November 2011 10,600 disabled people either in receipt of or awaiting benefits died.

Since then the DWP have, despite numerous requests refused to release further updates; we can only speculate their reason why, as we can only surmise just how many more disabled people have since lost their lives?

It is well documented how the ‘Scrounger‘ rhetoric have adversely affected disabled people  and those who are chronically ill, and even Esther McVey – Minister of State for DWP stated she “would not disagree” when it was put to her in October 2013 that “ hundreds or even thousands of people who had died sooner than they should have done, or had a much lower quality of life over their last few weeks or months because of their experience of the WCA.”.

From this we believe it is safe to presume there has been an increase in the number of annual deaths of disabled people in 2012 & 2013; given the loss of life in 2011 was 10,600, even a 2% increase per annum would result in  12,720 in 2012 and a startling 15,264 in 2013. That would give a overall figure of 38,564 deaths over the 3 years the Coalition has been in Government.

Is this shocking statistic what the DWP don’t want us to know?

DEAEP ONLINE NEWSLETTER

deep logo1 (2)

Disability Enabling & Empowerment Project (DEAEP) Newsletter.

Issue 1:

Welcome to the 1st Quarterly newsletter from DEAEP; as this is our inaugural edition we thought we’d say a BIG Hello from the team:

Jayne Linney – Director & Training Officer: I’m a (long) time served Community Worker/Adult Tutor, who became disabled through developing a range of health conditions over the past 15 years. Interests are Equality issues across the board.

Nicki Linney – Director & Care & Support Officer: I’m a qualified carer with a back ground in Peer Support and Mental Health Support. I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia and a borderline personality disorder in 2012.

Tony Hamon – Director & Training Officer: I am a qualified TEFL tutor who also holds the City & Guilds Adult Education Award. With my Internal/External Assessor Awards this gives me with a broad knowledge base and understanding of teaching and assessing adults.

Wayne Naylor – Director & Treasurer: I have 18 years experience of volunteering and working in a number of Community Projects. Supporting people is vital in making the securing futures for people living with disabilities.

Peer Support Course:

Our first course will be starting the week of 03/03/2014 to 07/03/2014, time and venue to be arranged and will run for one half day a week for 10 weeks.

The course consists of 5 modules which will cover:

Module 1: Effective Communication & Active Listening.

Module 2: Understanding Disabilities.

Module 3: Understanding Self.

Module 4: Role of the Personal Advocate.

Module 5: Working with Service Users.

If you are interested in enrolling on this course please let us know A.S.A.P.

Email us @ deaepleicester@talktalk.net or call 0116 2624902.

Finally we will be attending the ATOS National Demo in Leicester. We hope to see you there.

https://www.facebook.com/events/237874276386917/?ref_dashboard_filter=calendar

Attending ATOS? WE Can Help:

Disability Enabling and Empowerment Project (Leic’s) (DEAEP) was set up in 2013 in response to identified needs; disabled, chronically sick and vulnerable people are increasingly required to demonstrate their need for the financially support necessary to survive, both often in employment, as well as not.

DEAEP is a social not for profit business that offers accredited training to  sick and disabled people, unemployed, and other vulnerable individuals. The training experience enables participants to, knowledgeably and confidently, actively support others during times of extreme stress; this could be attending ATOS assessments and, or to participate in social and community engagement.

So far we have a 100% success rate with people we’ve represented

The rationale behind DEAEP:

Anyone who’s disabled or chronically ill in the UK 2013, is only to well aware of the devastating effects of The Welfare Reform Bill, whether it be someone on Incapacity Benefit (IB) waiting for the dreaded assessment onto Employment Support Allowance (ESA); a new claimant for ESA after losing their job, or a current ESA recipient  who’s almost at the one year cut off time. It might be a Disability Living Allowance (DLA) recipient waiting for the claim form to apply for the new  Personal Independence Payment (PiP)

These are just some of the ways that Welfare Reform is affecting those of us too ill to work or live with the ever increasing costs of being disabled.

What these changes all have in common is the growing number of ‘assessments’ we’re all forced to undergo.

Many of us who have already experienced the cold, inhumane and in some cases, downright dangerous process of being assessed by ATOS,  know the associated costs these visits have on our health; from waiting for that now dreaded brown envelope, the energy it takes to complete the overly long complex claim form, the stress caused by actual ‘assessment’, through to the wait for the decision made at the DWP by a low level civil servant who might have had two days training in disability!

None of this is news to many of us, and many more disabled and sick people will soon be au-fait with this ever rotating process.

Many people on social networks like Facebook & Twitter have expressed the view that when  having someone to help them through this experience,  be it form filling, support at ‘assessments’ or at appeal it has helped them; and it is this what we at DEAEP aims to do.

We  offer free accredited training for people to skill them up, to then act as peer supporters for others going through this process.

We also can help with support at hospital/GP visits or in fact anywhere sick and disabled people feel having someone at their side to prompt them tell their story and get the truth across.

The training programme will also help participants in other areas, and can open doors to further education or even employment.

So if you are interested or require our help please contact us athttp://www.deaepleicester.moonfruit.com.

All personal and medical data disclosed is destroyed on conclusion of case

 

THE CORE OF THE UK

Below is a poem well worth reading by Chris Wayne

THE CORE OF THE UK.

Services in the UK  

Are slowly being cut 

But Cameron and his chums                

 Just don’t give a f*ck…

Don’t wait until it’s too late                        

As once the government is through                        

 When you need vital assistance                          

  Who’ll be there to turn to?

Check out his blog and find him at

Chris The Eclectic

@ChrisWayne9 

The REAL Agenda behind Benefit Fraud Campaigns?

Today January 3 2014 is the official start of the latest Divide & Rule Strategy from the boys at DWP; Freud is the spokesman of this new ‘softer’ approach to the proven futile Benefit Fraud Campaign.

So how is the latest ‘reinvention going to differ – there are 6 pilot areas with “posters, newspaper adverts, Facebook adverts and letters to claimants – urging people to report suspected benefit fraud or changes to their circumstances”; it seems at a quick glance this campaign is aimed at ensuring claimants understand what they need to report to DWP and when – not much wrong with that then? Until you look at the second example which is the same old rhetoric – report anyone you don’t like/is on benefits/you don’t ‘believe is disabled etc to DWP and all for FREE – yes one of the few 0800 Numbers the DWP still has is… to enable any vigilante wannabe!!

Before anyone decides I’m arguing we live in a perfect world where nobody ever tries to cheat I ask you to investigate the ‘Facts‘ (as we have them) around this –

  • 0.7%, or £1.2 billion, of total benefit expenditure is overpaid due to fraud
  • 0.9%, or £1.6 billion, of total benefit expenditure is overpaid due to claimant error
  • 0.4%, or £0.7 billion, of total benefit expenditure is overpaid due to official error

Interestingly these are ALL ‘estimates’ for 2012/14, it also must be noted these ‘estimates’ have remained relatively static since 2005!

Even 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??

Isn’t it just as likely that All governments consider the level of concern and worry ‘fraud’, and other associated anti-social, or even illegal behaviours people are often coerced into create amongst the public, a small price to pay from the overall national budget? The anxiety and anger such actions create, offers Politicians another ‘reason’ to continue utilising psychological coercion as a way to manage us, the people. While the Government can cause individuals to mistrust their neighbours. colleagues, friends, or even family, repeatedly using the same message year on year –  how so many others ‘cheating’ the system are the real reasons our Taxes, bills, mortgages are so high; surely they’ll continue to do so? It’s so much easier to continue manipulating the system to benefit those who have the most power, and therefore £; when the majority believe their personal resources are limited, because their peers are deceitful.

Given all of the above I couldn’t help but wonder how much the DWP had spent on these campaigns over the past 3+ years, and how much the budget for this latest reinvention is; to this end I posted a FOI request this morning – I’ll keep you posted. Until then, when you read in the press or the on internet, hear on the radio or watch on TV how around £1 billion has been ‘lost’ in the past year because other people are ‘cheating’; stop and think is this the is the same £1 billion that’s been lost for the past 8 years or more??

IDS at W&P Select Committee – Was it worth it??

By now you’ll have all read many accounts of how IDS performed at the Work & Pensions Select on Monday; how ‘he got way with it’, his choice use of language, his need for bodyguards etc.

It’s taken me until today to write my account, this is due in part to initial feelings of fury and outrage at his behaviour and the seeming inability of the Select members to nail him down; also the trip itself – a 220 mile round day trip to London with complimentary train tickets courtesy of The Mirror, which in regular circumstances is relatively easy and enjoyable, has left me feeling as if I’ve physically and mentally wrestled with dinosaurs!

Prior to gong into the Select Committee I met with Kate Green MP to get her views on the persistent misuse of statistics by IDS and his junior ministers; I was impressed by her clear understanding of the complexity of issues around misusing statistics, and how this has resulted in a press witch hunt against disabled people and the clear links to an increase in hate crime; she also spoke of her desire ensure this behaviour does not go unchallenged in the future. We went on to talk about the issues we as disabled people have experienced under the Coalition and I left her hopeful that we have a shadow minister who not only understands how we have been treated but who is determined to listen to and learn from us when writing her part of the Labour manifesto for 2015.

Leaving Kate my long suffering carer & I went to the 1st floor to the Wilson room where the Select was due to start; as we came out of the lift I had to hobble past IDS, Fraeud, the 2 Civil Servants due to give evidence, and a further 10 bodyguards and junior aides, none of whom moved or even acknowledged my existence, to join with fellow campaigners and journalists queueing to access the meeting. As we patiently waited, IDS refused to look in our general direction, he stood amid the huddle of bodies as if trying to seek shelter, in total contrast Fraud persistently shot looks across the top of our heads as if he wanted his glances to be bullets.

Inside the room IDS demeanour changed, he was on his turf, the playground of Politics, ready to hit back at all and any claims he was in any way wrong; begrudgingly I have to admit that he knows and can play what he clearly sees as his game; I can only liken it to a sporting match with the opponents knowing they have the ability to win but…fail to believe it.

The worse thing with this is whilst the opposition continue to act in this way IDS will continue being the bully boy and WE will keep paying the price; having watched this spectacle unfold I’m convinced there is only one thing we can do, we must make the opposition fear us more than they fear him. This requires all of US suffering and dying under the Policies and Cuts of IDS & Co to unite; to cause these peacocks realise just WHO is in it together and that WE have had enough. The reality is we’re Dying because of their game playing, so WHAT do we have to lose?

The Petition we, Debbie Sayers & I started, asked for the “Work & Pensions Select Committee to Hold IDS to account for his use of statistics“; well they tried but, as I ask in the title of this piece, was it worth it? I think it’s time for us to decide; today’s Mirror contains Ros Wynne Jones account of Monday and closes with something I said to her outside the Select “We haven’t got 18 months to wait for an election. I don’t want to think what the figures will be by then of how people are living, and even how many of us will be left. We’ll keep up the fight and keep campaigning. It doesn’t end here“; I am absolutely convinced this is true but now it’s over to you – Was It??

 

The battle is over…let the War Begin

Well I’m back home in one piece although parts of me don’t feel as if they belong. It was a wonderful day on Monday meeting the valiant  Debbie Sayers, the super people from change.org  Ros from the Mirror and other campaigners Paula Peters & Chris Ball who both came with Cameras.

Aside from the day challenging my photo-phobia, it was fantastic that both Liz Kendall,Shadow Minister for Care and Older People & my MP and Kate Green Shadow Spokesperson for Disabled People took the time out to meet with us, receive the final 105,069 signatures on our petition & more importantly; both women actively listened to what we had to say.

The only thing that took a slight shine off the experience was whilst  we were in the gallery of the House of Commons there was IDS & McVey both up to their old tricks – spinning the truth or Lying as I prefer to call it. This desire for straight talking did lead to a slight change in the wording of the petition but I believe it made it stronger; the exact wording that was formally placed into the green bag on Tuesday afternoon read –

To the House of Commons.

The Petition of residents of the UK,

Declares that the Petitioners believe that Mr Iain Duncan Smith, the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, has used incorrect facts and statistics relating to the Disability Living Allowance; and further declares that an online petition demanding that the Work and Pensions Select Committee holds Mr Duncan Smith to account for his use of statistics has gathered more than 105,000 signatures.

The Petitioners therefore request that the House of Commons urges the Work and Pensions Select Committee to question Mr Duncan Smith at their earliest convenience to hold him to account on his use of statistics and further requests that the House requires Mr Duncan Smith to retract any incorrect statistics that may have been circulated in the public domain by his department.

And the petitioners remain, etc.

This now means that on December 9th when IDS goes in front of the Work & Pensions select Committee to answer to his misuse of statistics, 105,069 people request he not only is held to account but that he also RETRACTS his own lies and those of his junior minsters!

The day without doubt was a enormous success which I am extremely proud to have been a part of; now the question is What Next????

WATCH THIS SPACE…..