Category Archives: DWP

How The DWP Is Trying To Hide Even More #fakedwpstories

james-universalcredit

Click to enlarge.

Panic seems to have set in at the DWP after the department was caught out making up case histories to justify the use of benefit sanctions leading to the hashtag #fakedwpstories.  With Iain Duncan Smith promising heads will roll for the blunder – but not his own of course – the DWP now seems to be carrying out a purge of previously published propaganda.

One victim of that purge is a bloke called James, who had been drafted in to explain how Universal Credit will make work pay in a handy infographic.  Unfortunately James has now been disappeared with a notice saying ‘We are reviewing this publication.

The only reason James’ disappeareance has come to light is because evey time the DWP updates a document it is automatically republished as new on their website – which is a real pain in the arse just by the way.

Luckily, as can be seen above, the ghost of James lives on in google’s cache (be quick).

If only we could rewrite history to not include Iain Duncan Smith this easily.

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These Statistics Tell Us Fuck All But One Death Was Too Many

first-they-cameIf there’s one thing we can learn from the release of statistics examining the deaths of sickness benefit claimants it’s that most journalists writing about social security haven’t got a fucking clue what they are talking about.  Both The Guardian and The Daily Mail* reported this week that 2,380 people died within two weeks of being found Fit For Work by the DWP when in truth these people could have died anytime up to two years after their assessments.

The reason for this blunder – and that seems the wrong word given the subject matter, negligence might be better – is simply because they misunderstood the DWP’s garbled explanantion of how they collect data for statistical purposes.

Two statistical reports were reluctantly released by the government yesterday and both are equally confusing – and no doubt deliberately so.   The first is a report on the death rates of people on all out of work benefits and the second a response to the long-standing FOI by fellow blogger Mike Sivier asking about the deaths of claimants on Employment Support Allowance (ESA), the main out of work sickness and disability benefit.  Sadly neither of these documents tells us very much about the impact of the despised Work Capability Assessment, the crude benefit eligibility test which was introduced by the last Labour government, not Iain Duncan Smith.

The ESA statistics show the total number of people who have died whilst claiming the benefit, and of those how many had previously been found Fit For Work.  The key questions which are left unanswered are whether those judged ‘Fit For Work’ were more likely to die than the general population, and exactly what is meant by claimants who the report says were found Fit For Work but were also still on ESA at the time of their death.

According to the department, 2,380 people who had previously been found Fit For Work ended their claim for ESA because they had died.  Now this doesn’t seem to make any sense because they shouldn’t have had an ESA claim to end if they had been found Fit For Work.  However, as the DWP allude to in the report, those who appeal a Fit For Work decision may have their ESA claim re-instated whilst awaiting the outcome of that appeal – or at least they would have until Mandatory Reconsiderations were introduced in late 2013 but let’s ignore that because it only muddies the waters even more.

What this suggests is that those 2,380 deaths do not represent the total number of people who have died after being found Fit For Work , but only those who went on to appeal that decision and died before the appeal was heard.  Some people who didn’t appeal will have died as well, which means that the number of people who died after being found Fit For Work may be significantly higher than reported yesterday.  But without a clarification from the DWP on exactly who they are talking about we cannot be sure.

The statistics also report that there were 1,340 deaths amongst people who had completed an appeal against a Fit For Work decision.  The DWP do not tell us what the outcome of these appeals were, but given they were on ESA at the time of their death it seems reasonably certain they were successful.  This means that 1,340 people were found Fit For Work, subsequently appealed, won the appeal, got their benefits back, and then died.

These numbers sound shocking, but they still don’t tell us much.  As Ben Goldacre pointed out yesterday, without knowing the rate of deaths compared to the rest of the population – as in are people found Fit For Work at a benefit assessment more likely to die than a non-claimant – then we don’t really know much at all.  It is worth remembering that a large number of people claiming  ESA are nearing pensionable age.  There are many deaths amongst non-claimants in this age group as well.

Where Goldacre is wrong, despite his snide remarks about confused bloggers, is in assuming that we could establish the rate of deaths amongst those found Fit For Work by tracking them through other benefits they may be claiming.  DWP research shows that over half of those who lose ESA due to a Fit For Work decision disappear from the benefits system completely (pdf).  The DWP simply does not know what happens to them after that, including whether they are alive or not.

There are two interesting facts that can be gleaned from yesterday’s statistics however, one being that people in the Work Related Activity Group are over twice as likely to die as non-claimants.  These are those assessed as fit for some work, or being able to work at some point in the future, but who keep sickness benefits and cannot be forced to take a job.  The government has just announced that this group will soon be abolished with benefits slashed to the same rate as Jobseeker’s Allowance (the dole).  There is now clear statistical evidence that people in this group are significantly more likely to die than the general population.

The other surprising news is that people on Jobseekers Allowance are less likely to die than those not on benefits.  This is a consistent trend that is recorded as far back as 2003.  Care should be taken on how to interpret this, but it surely demands further research.  Sadly with the government, charities, think-tanks and the health establishment all currently obsessed with the flawed notion that work is good for your health, we are unlikely to see any.

Iain Duncan Smith is a fetid piece of shit but he didn’t invent death.  And we shouldn’t attempt to conjure up thousands of deaths to show why current social security policies are causing horrifying suffering.   The massive growth in the use of foodbanks, soaring malnutrition cases in hospitals, rocketing homelessness – these all tell their own story about what is going on in the lives of the poorest.  As do the ever-growing number of coronors reports and anguished stories from relatives about deaths that we know for sure are linked to failures of the benefits system.  There should be no assumption that just because tens of thousands of people have not been killed by Iain Duncan Smith’s welfare reforms then that makes everything okay.  Hundreds of thousands, if not millions, have had their lives turned into a miserable and daily battle for survival and that is an atrocity.  The Work Capability Assessment needs to be brought to an immediate end, one death was far too many.

UPDATE 29/08/15  Both The Guardian and The Daily Mail have added an amendment to these stories, with the Mail seeming to clarify that the Fit For Work deaths were people going through the appeals process.

For the sad list of those we know have died due to failures of the benefits system visit: http://blacktrianglecampaign.org/2014/10/21/uk-welfare-reform-deaths-updated-list-october-21st-2014/

Above pic from here

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#WEcan Expose The Wannabe Tory Councillor Behind The DWP’s Workfare Campaign

After failing to become a Tory Councillor Laura-Jane Rawlings decided she was the voice of youth employment instead

After failing to become a Tory Councillor Laura-Jane Rawlings decided she was the voice of youth employment instead

It’s been a humiliating week for the DWP on social media.  Yesterday hundreds of people used the hashtag #fakeDWPstories to take the piss out of the them after Welfare Weekly revealed that they were inventing case studies in support of benefit sanctions.

Whilst all this was taking place the DWP were desperately trying to rescue their #WEcan campaign which had also become a laughing stock on twitter.  This was a shabby attempt to promote unpaid work schemes, and came with a gushing press release promising that up to 12,000 young people would be posting ‘workies’ and sharing their stories of unpaid work experience.  Those 12,000 young people were supposed to come from their campaign partners Youth Employment UK (@YEUKYouth).  They never turned up.  Fucking kids eh.

At first glance Youth Employment UK appear to be exactly what they say, which is “The Voice for Youth Employment in the UK”.  On twitter yesterday they claimed that both the organisation, and the woman who runs it, are politically neutral and all they care about is helping young people get jobs.  They emphatically denied that their Chief Executive, Laura-Jane Rawlings, is a Tory.  That tweet has now been deleted.

In truth Laura-Jane Rawlings stood as a Conservative candidate in the 2011 Corby Council elections.  She lost and shortly afterwards set up Youth Employment UK.  And be in no doubt, Laura-Jane Rawlings is Youth Employment UK.  She is the sole director, the website is registered to her and even one of her claimed corporate patrons – plotr – is a company run by her.

Her qualification for this lofty position as The Voice for Youth Employment is that she’s a life coach.  In a nice little sideline business if you pay her £35 quid she will talk to you on the phone for 50 minutes.  Her coaching, according to her, is inspired by the discredited pseudo-science neuro-linguistic programming along with counselling and Cognitive Behavoir Therapy – neither of which she seems to be qualified in.  As she boasts on her website, she isn’t really qualified in anything at all.

But of course none of that matters if you know the right people in the Conservative Party and are prepared to say the right things.  Yesterday she gave a cautious welcome to the announcement that young unemployed people are to be sent on bootcamps or face benefit sanctions.  She sounds far more like the voice of the Conservative Party pretending to be neutral than she does the voice of youth employment.  And she has been well rewarded for it.  Whilst Youth Employment UK say they have not been paid by the DWP for the #WEcan campaign, they have received a huge of amount of free advertising including national media coverage.

Youth Employment UK claim to be led by their young members and youth ambassadors rather than just a Tory spiv with a big mouth.  If this is the case then those young people need to know they are ripping off themselves and millions of their fellow young people by endorsing workfare and benefit sanctions.  There is no evidence that Work Experience schemes help people get jobs.  A recent DWP evaluation found that young people who refused workfare were more likely to find work than those who went on the scheme.   Demand a wage and join the fight to destroy workfare.

Visit Boycott Workfare’s website for more info on the fight against unpaid work.

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#WEcan and We Did Fuck Up The DWP’s Online Campaign To Promote Workfare

Once again the DWP have been reduced to a laughing stock on social media after their online campaign to promote unpaid work became dominated with comments from those opposed to workfare.

The #WEcan campaign aimed to enourage employers to provide unpaid work experience placements for young people.  The DWP had also hoped that young people would post up ‘workies’ – apparently the work version of a selfie – on social media alongside their experiences of unpaid work placements.  It turns out though that the young were too lazy and feckless even to bother doing that.  Minister for Employment Priti Patel must be furious.  It wasn’t like this when she worked for the tobacco industry encouraging kids to take up smoking.

Instead what happened is that the hashtag was dominated by people furious at a government that seems obsessed with forcing young people to work for no wages.  Alongside this many people used the hashtag to pledge to boycott some of the companies named as being involved in workfare, such as @marksandspencer, and @Halfords_uk.

Amusingly the DWP also invited people to laugh at them on facebook, where unfortunately for the department the #WEcan hashtag is already in use by the Wellness Education Cannabis Advocates of Nevada. The DWP’s social media team get paid real money – our money – for this bungling shit.

In what seems like an attempt by the DWP to muddy the waters the #WEcan campaign promotes all forms of work experience, including short placements for schoolchildren or paid internships as well as workfare schemes.  This led to some of the organisations backing the campaign complaining that they only do nice work experience and they don’t support the nasty stuff.  These organisations should be at the forefront of challenging the government about ever more exploitative Jobcentre enforced workfare which can now involve 780 hours of forced, unpaid work.  Instead they are quite happily helping the DWP rehabilitate workfare with gushing tweets about how wonderful unpaid work can be.  So fuck them, they are on the wrong side.

The DWP have now resorted to drafting in Jobcentres to tweet furiously and try to rescue the campaign. Make sure it doesn’t work and tell @WEcan what you think of workfare using the hashtag #WECan.  Please spread the word.

Here’s what some people have said so far:

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#WEcan Fuck Up The DWP’s Online Campaign To Promote Mass Workfare

workfare-stick-upA whole host of corporate vultures have teamed up with the DWP to launch an online campaign celebrating young people being coerced into working for no pay for some of the richest companies in the UK.

Marks & Spencer, Whitbread, Halfords and shamefully the BBC have all signed up to the #WEcan campaign which aims to encourage even more businesses to provide unpaid work experience positions instead of employing young people properly.  The new initiative comes as the Government draws up plans to force all unemployed young people into permanent unpaid work if they are unable to find a job within six months of becoming unemployed.  This means they have to find enough grubby companies and so-called charities who are prepared to take part in this shocking exploitation.  The #WEcan campaign is part of an attempt to achieve this, so let’s fuck it up.

Already parasites from the welfare-to-work industry are tweeting using the hashtag #WEcan whilst a tumblr page has been set up calling for young people to share their experiences of workfare.  The DWP have also posted a host of youtube videos (comments currently enabled) such as this one which says that “whatever you are doing, any experience is good experience”.  Gone is any pretence at providing placements which involve real training or a chance of a job at the end.  Instead they want young people to mop floors and stack shelves for two months and have the fucking gall to claim they are doing them a favour.

Please help spread the word about this and tweet using the hashtag #WEcan.  And let’s make sure everybody knows which companies are using workfare, starting with @marksandspencer, @premierinn, @Halfords_uk, @WhitbreadPLC, @Barclays and @BBC.

For the latest news on fighting back against forced unpaid work visit: http://www.boycottworkfare.org/

I’m still on a break.  Back properly in a week or so.

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DWP Hires Miracle Lifestyle Guru Who Claims 95% Success Rate In Curing Mental Health Conditions!

definition-isanityFears that the psychological treatments to be introduced in Jobcentres will amount to little more than unscientific quackery look well founded with the appointment of a so-called stress and anxiety management company to provide service for claimants with a mental health condition.

Earlier in the month ITV reported that a company called Start Smiling Again would soon be working across several Jobcentres in South Wales.  According to Minister for Murdering Disabled People, Justin Tomlinson, this is part of a package of support that shows that supporting people with a mental health condition is a priority for the current Government.

Start Smiling Again are run by David Rahman, who calls himself a Coach & Blueprint Therapist.  It is unclear whether anyone else is currently involved in the company as their website contains no company information, landline phone number or address.  Instead potential customers are invited to call Dave on his mobile.  Classy fuckers.

David Rahman claims to be a bit of a miracle worker.  Not only can he cure stress, depression and anxiety, but even ME, CFS and Fibromyalgia – all previously thought incurable by real doctors.  According to Rahman 95% of his patients have made a full recovery based on his magical techniques.  It’s all in the mind he seems to suggest, and as soon as you find the root cause of your anxiety, depression or Chronic Fatigue Syndrome then your condition will disappear.  He calls this Blueprint Therapy.  He invented it.

Rahman boasts gaining Diplomas in Hynotherapay, Coaching and Neural Linguistic Programming (NLP) along with being a trained practitioner in ‘Time Line Therapy‘ and ‘The Chrysalis Effect’ (don’t ask).  Most of these diplomas were gained at the esteemed NLP training centre Inspire 360 where some courses last as long as a week!

If Rahman has any real qualifications in mental health or psychology he makes no mention of them – his background is as an optometrist. Proper psychologists don’t generally spend their days posting endless self-help messages on social media like the one above claiming that insanity means being unhappy and not being prepared to change the way you think.  He also runs a sideline in writing ebooks such as this one on how to attract women and his misogynist streak shows in his recent facebook posting.

The DWP's new provider of mental health services shares some insightful advice.

And he thinks he’s a lion.

rahman-lion

Rahman should fit right in at the Jobcentre which is riddled with this glassy-eyed nonsense but the appointment of his company is a new low even for the DWP.  Ever since plans were announced to introduce Improving Access to Psychological Therapies (IAPT)  into 350 Jobcentres serious concerns have been raised not just about the quality of this coerced ‘support’ for claimants with a mental health condition, but also the ideology that lies behind it.  Iain Duncan Smith seems to think that all someone with a mental illness needs to do to get better is cheer up and start applying for jobs in Tesco. And if that doesn’t sort their life out he’ll stop their benefits to teach them a lesson.  And now he’s got a lifestyle guru to force people to start smiling again.  Or else.

It is genuinely horrifying that unscientific drivel like this is soon to be inflicted on some of the most marginalised people in the UK.  People who have often lived through desperately traumatic events, or have serious and complex mental health conditions and could have their lives demolished by this kind of horseshit.  The DWP is now at risk of actively harming the mental health of all those unlucky enough to be forced to depend on Jobcentres.  It is time for  mental health workers, from psychiatrists to charity workers, to get behind those they support and find ways to bring down and discredit the current DWP regime.  Anything else now is collaboration.

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Striving For Revolution, Let’s Bring The Bastards Down

striveIf you take a step back for a while then the view is grotesque.  Next week a Government led by people born into vast wealth will introduce new laws that will plunge many of the UK’s poorest children into desperate poverty and imminent risk of homelessness.  Other legislation will mean that those who are assessed as currently too sick to work, but might have the possibility of working in the future, will now be abandoned to survive on just a few pounds a day.  Not only that, but they will be forced to cope with endless Jobcentre harassment intended to bully them into constantly looking for and applying for jobs that even the Jobcentre themselves admit they are not well enough to do.  And this is being called help.

Sick and disabled people in this group can even be sent on workfare, usually for a so-called charity.  If they fail to attend, or miss a meeting, then their benefits will be sanctioned – cut to a government loan of just over £40 a week – and then only if they meet the stringent means test for Hardship Payments.  For those paying the full Bedroom Tax – around £25 a week -this will mean surviving on just £2 a day, and out of that they will probably have to pay some Council Tax.  There is no way out for these people.  It is not a choice.  Even if jobs were abundant, and they are anything but, they are too ill to take them.  The sickness benefits regime could not be better designed to demolish the health and lives of those who depend on it, it is unspeakable cruelty in one of the most prosperous countries in the world.

Next week Tory MPs will cheer and applaud even further attacks on those least able to fight back as the latest welfare reforms are laid out in Parliament.  Larger families now face a third benefit cap being imposed in just five years.  A tiny percentage of families, trivial in cost to the tax payer, have been singled out again and again.  Just as they find somewhere new to live the government strikes with new laws and forces them to move again.  Many are already likely to be living in B&Bs, sharing just one room with their children in Dickensian conditions.  The number of families living this way rose by a third in just the last year, a fact that went barely reported.  It is the children in these families who are suffering the most, their lives and futures vanishing with every new stroke of legislation.

Five years of welfare reforms have turned the social security system into a nightmarish experience inflicted on those often already struggling to stay healthy, sane and alive.  These people strive everyday – just to feed themselves, raise their children and keep a roof above their heads.  Sometimes they are working, sometimes even on workfare for no pay, yet they are still smeared as lazy and feckless by politicians and the press.  Young people on poverty paid Apprenticeships, unpaid internships or work experience are told they need yet more ‘help’ to teach them how to get out of bed in the mornings.  These lies have been told over and over agan yet they fall apart the second you walk into Tesco and see dozens of people, many of them in-work benefit claimants, doing some of the hardest work in society.  It is these people, along with those desperately looking for work, or coping with illness, who have born the brunt of austerity – and they had nothing to begin with.  This was never about saving money, but turning the most marginalised, the bottom 1%, into a scapegoat to be endlessly tormented to distract from the crimes of the rich.

And yet so unempathic has society become, so casually indifferent to suffering, that almost everybody involved in this horror story feels perfectly happy and justified in what they are doing.  The true banality of evil is Harriet Harman saying it would not be right for the opposition to quibble with yet more atrocities heaped on the poor in case it upsets the tiny handful of swing voters who chose Tory over Labour.  It is Iain Duncan Smith on a religious crusade to save the poor from themselves and barely even noticing the trail of dead bodies he leaves in his wake.  It is the welfare-to-work company bosses who have justified this abuse by telling themselves if it wasn’t them getting rich out of poverty it would just be someone else – the same reasoning used by every gangster and war profiteer in history.

This casual approach to abuse trickles down the system.  Happy-clappy Jobcentre managers so wrapped up in themselves they can barely understand why they have become a grim laughing stock delude themselves that benefit sanctions are helping people.  Slithering tabloid hacks manufacture stories designed to inspire hatred of the poor and are so isolated from the impact of their behaviour that they seem to think it’s all a big laugh.  As do the television production companies who hunt down ever more genuinely vulnerable people so they can edit and splice their lives to present them as scroungers or layabouts.  And half the country – and it is only half – shouts ‘get a fucking job’ in unison despite living in a society where mass unemplyment is an economic fact of life and even Tory think tanks say reducing unemployment to zero is neither feasible or desirable.

It is not true, yet, that tens of thousands of people have died due to welfare reforms, although the number of deaths is growing.  But the lives of hundreds of thousands have been reduced to  a daily battle for survival and soon the number will turn into millions.  This suffering is a deliberate attempt to create a society based on an ideology that serves only a handful of people at the very top.  It is only in the interests of the rich that we spend our lives striving, suffering or both, rather than creating a world that works in the interests of everybody.  If we have to strive for anything then it should be to topple these bastards once and for all.

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