In Memory of My Pop a WWI Soldier, who Fought for Honesty and Freedom

As a child of the Sixties I absorbed the new ‘freedoms’  of that era like a sponge; I watched the development of  the sexual revolution which, to me was everyday women finding a voice, previously before only accessible to the middle class and above.  I read about the Civil Rights movement, and became sickened by the Racial prejudice and discrimination; particularly as I was friends with many children whose families had come to the UK as refugees from Uganda. These struggles instilled me with a personal power, no longer did I have to defer to my ‘betters’, I could and should, question and challenge my elders.

Having said this, my strongest influence at home at this time was my granddad (Pop), he was born in 1899 and lied about his age to serve his country in WW,  only for him to be the victim of a rogue grenade. This resulted in him spending his life in and out of hospital undergoing surgery after surgery, as the countless pieces of shrapnel he carried in him moved towards his vital organs. I adored him, but he was a man of his time born when Victoria was still Queen, and we had endless discussions about right and wrong. I like to think he really heard me when I argued for Equality, but maybe he indulged me as his only grandchild, either way he listened, and even when we disagreed he never shot me down, he taught me to debate and for this, and everything else he was to me, I adored him .

With today being the Centenary of  WWI, these memories of my pop are more emotive than ever, his desire for honesty was I believe, born from his experience of soldiering, he was sold a story of  ‘Britain needing him’  how he was fighting for freedom and this would be “The War to end All wars”; in return he was damaged, physically and emotionally. He never spoke to me (or any other family members) about his experience, but we lived with its effects.  Today I’m convinced he would have been diagnosed with PTSD, he certainly suffered from brain damage, being blown up does that, and this revealed itself in his occasional outbursts of rage. However, despite the pain he lived with for the next 70 years, he always demanded Truth; whether this be because he lived with the fact he suffered as a result of the Lies sold by the ruling classes I can’t say, but knowing him I can’t help but think this is so.

These experiences laid the blueprint for who I am today, I remain committed to Equality, I fail to understand how prejudice and discrimination are anything but destructive, and I believe wholeheartedly in Truth. In this week as I especially remember Pop, I read that  Lord Freud  has been proven to have Lied AGAIN,  joining Mark Hoban, Esther McVey and Mike Penning  to become the Fourth DWP Minster to have Made the SAME LIE – Impact Assessment are Impossible.

This default position of Lying when proven incorrect is unacceptable, the reality is the Lies Politicians spew out today, are resulting in pain as those told 100 years did; and albeit in much lesser numbers, people are still Dying  as a result of the Policies they Lie about.

I can’t help but think it must be common knowledge that Politicians Lie, they’ve been doing it for at least a Century now, and maybe this is the reason people don’t feel the need to demand it should End and End Now?

I can’t and won’t accept this, to do so would not only dishonour my Pop, but I would feel  in collusion with these Lying Ministers, and this I will not do. For these reasons and because I feel if We don’t scrutinise this unelected Government No one will; I continue to urge you all to please share our petition demanding TRUTH from Parliament; the House of Commons has responded to the Recommendations of the Select by basically informing us the DWP is doing a great job!

If you share my belief , this response is yet another example of Government Spin – please Sign, Share and talk to everyone about the NEED for The TRUTH Campaign.

 

#NOWPetition #ImpeachDWP

Yet more DWP illegality – the DWP is built on Lies

Anyone who reads my blogs will be fully aware of the petition to hold IDS accountable for his Lies; Debbie Sayers & I are currently seeking a new date to formally submit this to Parliament.

This blog Yet more DWP illegality. from the excellent Skwawkbox, demonstrates how such Lies & Untruths seem to form the backbone of the DWP…

I’m tempted to call the DWP a maverick department. But that would be inaccurate. A maverick disregards the opinion and conventions of his/her peers, but the banditry of the DWP is entirely in line with the malevolence of the rest of the government toward any whom it considers lacking, or simply vulnerable to attack.

McVey ‘answers’ Politicians, even if she ignores us!

As many of you know I, along with Debbie Sayers have been engaged in a battle to try & get Esther McVey to answer an open letter signed by 866 others, that we sent in April. The letter challenged Ms McVey’s misuse of statistics regarding the introduction of PIP on 4 key areas   This letter was supported by several Labour MPs and Michael Meacher MP, was one who also asked Ms McVey for an answer; well he DID get a reply on August 5!

Unfortunately it is a wordy 3 1/2 pages but in order for you to decide if Esther McVey answered our letter, below is the body of her response: (Missing from the below are 3 tables, figures relate to the relevant docs linked)

DWP statistical release procedures

Throughout the development of Personal Independence Payment (PIP) we have published a wide range of information to keep claimants,disability organisations, and the media informed about exactly what is happening. This includes answers to frequently asked questions, a range of statistical and ad-hoc reports, impact assessments, and a suite of information products to provide support to organisations of and for disabled people.

We aim to provide figures and statistics that are accurate and appropriate. Many of our statistics are produced from high quality sources that allow detailed analysis to be conducted. The majority of our statistics are also formally assessed by the UK Statistics Authority (UKSA) and designated as meeting the standards for National Statistics, meaning they are fully compliant with the Code of Practice for Official Statistics, and we invite UKSA to assess new statistics each year.

Reform of Disability Benefits
I turn to some of the specific points that have been raised. The 2004/05 DLA National Benefit Review estimated that levels of fraud in DLA were around 0.5 per cent. However, that review also found high levels of incorrectness in awards with an estimated £630 million (11.2 per cent of the case load) being overpaid and £190 million (6.3 per cent) being underpaid.

I can confirm that over half of claims are made without additional medical evidence. The report cited was our own ad hoc statistical report”DLA Award Values and Evidence Use for New Claims in 2010, in Great Britain”. This report clearly demonstrates that over half of all decisions are made without additional medical evidence; 16 per cent on the claim form only and 36 per cent using other additional evidence other than an independent medical. factual report or examination. (Table used page 8)

The following table from our ad hoc report “Analysis of DLA: DLA Awards” provides clear evidence that over 70 per cent of the current caseload continues to have an indefinite award while the remaining 29 per cent has a fixed term award. Although we are able to reassess the level of award, there is no systematic way of ensuring that awards remain correct unless claimants report a change of circumstances which leaves disabled people more vulnerable to incorrect claims. (Table 2 )

In relation to award lengths, additional guidance introduced around three years ago provides greater clarity for decision makers. The new guidance made it clear that indefinite awards can continue to be made where appropriate, including following an original fixed term award. Whilst this has driven down, for the time being, the numbers of indefinite awards, such awards continue to be made.

 Although we are implementing changes for the working age caseload first, we have always been clear that reform of OLA is reform of the benefit as a whole. For example, in our first consultation document, “OLA reform”, we said we would consider to what extent the new assessment could apply to children, recognising that their needs may have to be assessed by age. We have further clarified that, before we consider broader reform, we want to see how the assessment works for working age adults and that we would consult on any changes. Similar considerations will need to be taken for’ pensioners although reform for people of working” age “will clearly begin to impact pensioner benefit numbers as PIP recipients age. Our use of overall caseload increases is, therefore, entirely valid in the context of DLA reform. The analysis report, “OLA: Growth  in the Number of Claimants 200/2103 to 2010/11 “, provides evidence that around a third of the growth in the caseload can be attributed to demographic factors, with the remainder due to an increase in receipt per head. The report showed that between 2002/3 and 2010/11, growth in the whole caseload was 29 per cent. Of this, 21 per cent can be attributed to an increase in receipt per head, which is partly due to the maturing of DLA. The remaining 8 per cent is due to a growth in the population and a change in its age and gender structure. Specifically for those aged under 65, demographics account for about a third of the growth, which includes growth due to increases in the population and changes in its age structure due to the ageing of particular cohorts. The remaining two thirds of the growth is due to increases in the percentage of the population claiming DLA. We are absolutely committed to reform of DLA and getting the introduction of

PIP right. That is why we have decided to extend the reassessment timetable and take more time and learn from the initial stages of delivery. This will allow us allow us to consider findings’ from the first independent review of the assessment, which will report by the end of 2014, and “ensure the assessment is working correctly before we embark on higher volumes.  In the longer term, it will also help us evaluate how, and to what extent, reform of DLA can be extended to all claimants.

The Department has a strong record of producing and publishing a wide range of data and information. I am committed to this and we will continue to put all the facts into the public domain so that the public can make their own judgements. As a rule, all correspondence to Ministers from MPs is usually signed off at an appropriate Ministerial level. However, given the large volume of correspondence that is sent direct to Ministers by members of the public, it has long been the practice for officials to respond to these enquiries on the relevant Minister’s behalf.

I hope this reply is helpful. Thank you for taking the time to write to me.

Clearly this is a much more detailed response than the one we received from the ‘Head of the Correspondence Team’ on June 28 2013; however despite its wordiness, I don’t feel it answers the points raised in our original letter? Neither does it address the issue of the persistent manipulation and misuse of statistics

What has become even more revealing though is the content of this letter was not only sent to Michael Meacher; the body of the reply reproduced above, was also sent to Tim Loughton. MP after a signatory asked him if he could obtain a response from Ms McVey!

To me this clearly indicates two things; the contempt with which Esther McVey treats the people, who obviously aren’t worthy of a considered response and the lack of regard she has for her Honourable friends, who also don’t merit an individual and honest reply.

Intriguingly Ms McVey is not the only DWP Minister that believes it is acceptable to behave in this way; only 2 days ago Mark Hoban Minster for Employment, fellow blogger Skwawkbox demonstrated Mr Hoban acting in this exact manner!

This behaviour increasingly appears to be the regular modus operandi for the Tory Party, as they blatantly rampage across the Policies and Laws of our land, pillaging & cutting our Rights to Freedom, Equity, Justice, Protest & Welfare, justifying their actions with manipulated statistics and blatant Lies.

If this wan’t awful enough, to me what’s even more disconcerting is, the majority of people losing the way of life their parents/grandparents fought for, appear to be indifferent to exploits of this Government?

I know as we grow older and look back, it can often be with ‘rose coloured glasses‘, where life appears to have been happier, fairer and friendlier but, in the case of life in Britain 2013, this is not so. Life WAS better pre the Coalition Government, not perfect but certainly better; disabled and other vulnerable people weren’t hounded by the media as scroungers and fakers on a daily basis; most workers were employed on contracts that meant they know what they would be paid each week/month for X hours; Food Banks were not growing expediently to try and ensure people don’t starve. These are only a minute number of examples of how life WAS better 4+ year ago, to find more try browsing any social media site for a few minutes.

This is the life we get when we allow Politicians to treat us & their contemporaries with the scorn outlined above, I believe they need to be reminded that it is us, the People they answer to; We elect them & We can get rid of them. For the sake of our children & grandchildren We have a duty to not ignore this behaviour any longer.

If you’re angry about what you’ve read say so, but, more importantly tell Ms McVey & Co

Has the DWP let you know that you can ask for your ESA Atos face-to-face assessment to be recorded?

Last month (12 June), Mark Hoban said this during a debate on people’s right to ask for a recording of their employment and support allowance face-to-face assessments:

“The Department and Atos are in the process of amending written communications to claimants by updating the WCA AL1C form. The document is sent to claimants when they need to arrange a face-to-face assessment and will provide more information on how to arrange an audio-recorded assessment. We expect the revised form to be sent out to claimants by the end of next month, once the necessary changes have been made and the form has been cleared for use.”

In other words – the DWP was finally going to change the documents it sends to ESA claimants to let them know that they can ask to have their Atos face-to-face assessments recorded. It’s vital that people know they have that right, because with a recording, they are able to demonstrate beyond doubt what was said and what happened at their assessments.

By “the end of next month,” Hoban surely meant the end of July – and we’ve just gone past that deadline.

I along with Kate Belgrave, DPAC, Black Triangle, False Economy and Public Interest Lawyers (who, with disabled man Patrick Lynch, took a legal action against the DWP last year on people’s right to record their assessments  are publishing this blog and asking you to reblog and share it to find out if the DWP has changed the documents it sends out to ESA claimants and if people have noted that.

Earlier this month, the DWP sent Public Interest Lawyers a document as an example of the leaflet that claimants should receive about their face-to-face assessments. This document includes information which advises people of their right to ask for a recording. We want to know whether people are getting that document and if word is spreading that people can make that request.

This is important for a number of reasons. The first is, of course, that people need to know they have this right and that they can request a recording when they are called to an Atos ESA face-to-face assessment. The second is that Hoban claims that he is evaluating the demand for recordings and that he’ll be doing so until the end of summer 2013. (It will be important for people to respond to these blogs as soon as possible – by the end of August 2013 at the very latest – that being the case).  Hoban continues to argue that the demand for recordings is not high. Campaigners have argued, rightly, that their surveys and calls for information show that people do want recordings – and that demand may well increase if people actually know that they can ask for a recording.

Unfortunately – or intentionally – Hoban says that the evaluation of demand will finish at the end of summer. That isn’t far away and doesn’t give anybody much time to find out if the amended documentation (presuming that people are receiving it) is having an effect. The third reason that this is important is that the DWP says it has based its decision NOT to offer recordings for Personal Independence Payment assessments on the ESA experience: “the DWP has not seen evidence from other disability assessments that this would improve the quality of assessments,” Esther McVey told parliament this year.

So evidence of the demand for ESA recordings is very relevant to the PIP debate. The department’s whole approach to recording PIP assessments is a mess – Capita, which has a contract to carry out some of the PIP assessments, originally said it would offer recordings. McVey put a stop to that and said that it wouldn’t. Meanwhile, the DWP was telling journalists that recordings would be offered for PIP assessments.  They’re making it up as they go along, so pressure needs to be applied.

The aim should be to get rid of the work capability assessment altogether – but while it’s there, safeguards like recordings of assessments need to be in place. Claimants and campaigners have fought hard for the right to record their face-to-face assessments. As we’ve said, people need to be able to demonstrate beyond doubt what is said at assessments. Atos is notorious for returning fit-for-work reports which ignore a claimant’s true circumstances and the details shared in face-to-face assessments. The ever-increasing number of ESA appeals prove Atos’ problems with accuracy.

Campaigners have won some concessions through their hard work. These include a commitment from the DWP to offer ESA assessment recordings (on “official” dual-CD recording equipment – people still can’t bring their own recording equipment unless it can dual-produce a CD or cassette). The changed paperwork was another concession.

Let’s see if they’ve done it and if people are aware of it.

Tweet at #atosrecording