Tag Archives: DLA

Esther McVey Lied – Only 10% of DLA Awards Are Based On Just Filling In A Form

government-lieFigures just released by the DWP show that new Employment Minister Esther Mcvey used bare-faced lies to justify changes to disability benefits in her previous role as Minister for Disabled People.

The figures record the evidence used to assess Disability Living Allowance claims (PDF), the benefit intended to meet the additional costs of living with a disability and which is available to those in or out of work.  Despite repeated claims from Ministers that all people have to do to qualify for DLA is fill in a form, the figures show that in almost all cases this is untrue.

Just 10% of DLA claims are based on the form only – a form which is 40 pages long – and even then further medical evidence, such as copies of prescriptions or medical reports will usually have been provided.  In 40% of claims a GP’s report is required for a successful claim and in a further 45% of cases further evidence is used, such as a information from a social worker or healthcare professional.  6% of claimants are called in for a face-to-face assessment.

This means it was a breath-taking lie when Esther Mcvey stated earlier in the year that“around 50 per cent of (DLA) decisions are made on the basis of the claim form alone – without any additional corroborating medical evidence.”

This vital benefit is now being renamed Personal Independence Payment (PIP) and a new Atos style assessment system will determine who qualifies for support.  The originally stated aim of this change – although ministers seem to have gone quiet on the fact – is to strip disability benefits from a fifth of adult claimants.  Almost everyone currently claiming DLA will eventually be re-assessed using crude tests similar to the notorious Work Capability Assessment which has seen hundreds of thousands of sick and disabled people wrongly judged ‘fit for work’.  In her role as Minister for Disabled People it was McVey’s job to justify this savage new regime which is likely to bring destitution and chaos to the lives of many disabled people.  That job is now being done by ex-army man Mike Penning.  A trained killer is finally in charge of the Office for Disability Issues.

McVey was promoted to Employment Minister in the recent reshuffle, replacing skiving Mark Hoban who after a year of barely being in the job was sacked to make way for someone with a more pro-active approach to bullshitting the public.  Previously Chris Grayling had occupied the role where he wove epic fictions about the social security system which were endlessly repeated by a fawning right wing press.

McVey seems determined to keep up that tradition and has got off to a flying start by cheering the recent fall in the number of people claiming Jobseeker’s Allowance.  The DWP are dragging their feet on providing the most recent statistics for sanctions and disallowances in the Jobseeker’s Allowance system.  It is likely this fall is down in part to people having benefits refused due to  stricter conditions for claiming the dole rather than people finding work.  But you’ll never hear that from the DWP,  especially now there is yet another lying bastard occupying the role of Employment Minister.

Follow me on twitter @johnnyvoid

Updated Information: Right to Ride Protest

From Disabled People Against Cuts (DAPC)

June 19th – DPAC –  RIGHT TO RIDE 

National Day of Action around lack of Accessible Transport 

In London DPAC and Transport for All will be holding a day of action around transport on 19th June.

We hope others will organise similar protests that day wherever they live as we’d like to highlight the problems nationally.

We will be trying to highlight the failings of the transport system as is and saying it wont be fit for purpose in the future when hundreds of thousands more people lose their benefits, and maybe also their right to passported services like motability cars, taxicards, blue badges etc and therefore are forced to use public transport.

Ian Duncan Smith is stripping people of their essential benefits and at the same time saying we should work. We want to highlight how difficult it is for disabled people to get to work using public transport. We want to show why DLA is still essential to disabled people.

We will be asking activists to attend a lobby at the House of Commons in the afternoon at 2pm in Committee Room 21, Upper corridor Houses of Parliament and then travel by bus to the Confederation of Passenger Transport, the umbrella body for all European bus companies in Covent Garden area.

As it takes a while to get through security and be taken to the committee rooms we suggest people should arrive around 1.30pm if possible.

To cause maximum but legal chaos we need as many wheelchair users, visually impaired, deaf and other disabled people to all need to use the same buses at the same time. We welcome support from non-disabled people for this as well. We will be starting to travel from a bus stop where we know bus ramps will not go down to let wheelchair users onto the buses.

We would like you to invite your MPs to the lobby and ask them to travel with us on the short ride to experience first hand the issues facing disabled passengers every day. The press will also be invited to attend with us.

However we also know many of you will not want to lobby your MP or go to House of Commons so if you prefer just to help us bring one of London’s bus routes to a grinding halt simply by getting on and off the buses along a specific route then please met us at 4pm either outside House of Parliament visitor entrance or at Abingdon Street bus stop, next to Victoria Tower and more or less opposite College Green.

We have invited Maria Miller and Iain Duncan-Smith to join us but so far they have not replied to our request.

Template letter for MPs available at: http://www.dpac.uk.net/2012/06/updated-information-right-to-ride-protest-plus-template-letter-to-mps/

Right To Ride Protest To Cause Maximum But Legal Chaos

Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC) and Transport For All will be holding a day of action on June 19th aimed at the lack of accessible public transport and the brutal upcoming cuts to disablity benefits.

The Government are planning to cut vital benefits from 20% of disabled people, leaving hundreds of thousands of people no longer able to afford care, specialist equipment or transportation costs.  The protest will highlight the lack of accessible transport and how these cuts will force disabled people out of the workplace and trap people in their homes.

Andy Greene, a member of DPAC’s steering group and one of the organisers of next month’s action, said: “People will be forced [by the DLA cuts] back onto a public transport system which doesn’t really cater for their needs.

“We will be exercising our right to use public transport, a system that we are told is accessible, so let’s put that to the test.”

DPAC will be asking activists to attend a lobby at the House of Commons in the afternoon (time tbc), and then travel by bus to the Confederation of Passenger Transport, the umbrella body for all European bus companies in Covent Garden area.

For those not wishing to attend the lobby meet at 4pm either outside House of Parliament visitor entrance or at Abingdon Street bus stop, next to Victoria Tower and more or less opposite College Green.

Keep an eye on the DPAC or Transport For All websites for the latest details of the protest.

Please help spread the word!

Week of Actions Against ATOS in Manchester

Manchester Coalition Against Cuts  and Manchester Against Benefit Cuts are organising a week of action against changes to disability living allowance and the role of ATOS in carrying out “evaluations” for fitness to work which have been linked to over 1000 deaths  (see press coverage). Please help spread the word!

Details of week of action
31 May, 12pm: Protest march from Albert Square to ATOS “assessment” centre at Albert Bridge House

6 June, 7pm: Public Meeting at Friends’ Meeting House on building resistance against ATOS

9 June, 11am: Petition and stall, Market Street

Manchester Against Benefit Cuts Facebook page

http://www.coalitionagainstcuts.org.uk/campaigning-against-cuts-to-disability-allowance-and-atos-assessments/

The Vicious Trap That’s Been Laid For Disabled Workers

Disabled workers could be forced into not just unemployment, but homelessness, extreme poverty, workfare or even face being stripped of both employment and benefits for up to three years due to the Government’s vicious welfare reforms.

A recent large scale survey carried out by Disability Rights UK (PDF)  found that 56% of disabled people say they will be forced to stop or reduce work should they be stripped of Disability Living Allowance (DLA).  The Government is replacing DLA with the new Personal independence Payment (PIP), a crude cost-cutting exercise which is openly intended to strip disability benefits from 20% of current claimants.  On top of this the Government is closing the Remploy factories in a move which will see around 1,500 disabled people forced into the benefits system.

DLA is a benefit which is available to those in and out of work alike and is intended to meet the additional costs of living with a disability.  Many people depend on this benefit to allow them to stay in work, using it to pay for extra transport needs, specialist equipment or personal care.

The new assessments for PIP are to be carried out by private companies, using the same discredited model that is currently inflicted on out of work sick and disabled people who depend on benefits to survive.  This practice, carried out by French IT firm Atos, has caused untold devastation, with claimants driven to suicide by the brutal and inhumane system which ignores the opinions of GPs and medical consultants in favour of a short computer based test.  It is too early to say exactly how the process will operate, but if the recent Atos experience is anything to go by, disabled people could face losing benefits because having a job is deemed to prove they are not disabled enough.

Whilst Iain Duncan Smith has claimed that Welfare Reform will make work pay, the truth is that changes to DLA will force tens, if not hundreds of thousands of disabled people out of the workplace.

Many disabled workers have questioned the logic of stripping people of an in work benefit only to make them dependent on out of work sickness or disability benefits.  As Disability Rights UK have pointed out, this measure appears to make little financial sense.

Unfortunately the situation is far bleaker than many people have realised.  Employment Support Allowance (ESA) is the benefit for those unable to work due to sickness or disability.  This was shamefully introduced by the last Labour Government in an attempt to change the parameters of what it means to be sick or disabled.  It introduced the previously mentioned Atos computer based test to determine eligibility for benefits.  The stated aim is not to test whether someone is unable to work due to sickness or disability, but to measure whether there is any work that they could possibly carry out.  Being able to watch an episode of Eastenders has been one notorious factor that has led to people being found ‘fit for work’.

After undergoing the assessment claimants are placed in one of three groups.  Most people are found ‘fit for work’ and are forced onto Job Seekers Allowance. A small minority are placed in the Support Group, meaning that it is accepted they are unable to do any kind of work.  The rest are placed in the Work Related Activity Group (WRAG) which means they are deemed to be able to do some kind of work at some point in the future.

Disabled workers forced out of work due to the changes to DLA will be forced back into the assessment process to determine their eligibility for sickness benefits.  And the sad truth is there can be only one outcome under present conditions.  Their recent employment will be used against them and they will be declared ‘fit for work’.

Sick or disabled people will not, as ministers and charities have claimed, be sent to specialist provision run by disability charities to help get them back to work under the Work Programme.  They will be placed in the mainstream JSA system where they will face workfare and benefit sanctions if they do not complete mandated activity.

Over-stretched Jobcentre staff are not trained in the barriers that sick or disabled people may face in the workplace.  Over zealous advisors, under pressure to meet targets from above, can force JSA claimants onto Mandatory Work Activity should they decide someone is not trying hard enough to secure work.  This means four weeks workfare, quite possibly carrying out demanding physical work.  Failure to complete Mandatory Work Activity means benefits will be sanctioned.

More importantly JSA claimants can be forced to take any job under threat of benefit sanctions.  It will not matter if disabled people can’t afford to take the job due to the costs of specialist equipment or transportation needed to get to work.  It will not even matter if the workplace they are to be sent is inaccessible for disabled people as so many are.  Under new rules claimants are to be expected to travel up to 90 minutes in either direction to get to work and back.  This will be impossible for some disabled claimants but it will matter not one bit.

Those who refuse work that is unsuitable, or even impossible, will soon face benefit sanctions lasting three years.

Part time work, under the changes coming when Universal Credit is brought in, will no longer be an option.  Everyone will be expected to work 30 hours a week – or possibly 35 if ministers get their way – and will have benefits sanctioned if they are not deemed to be doing enough to increase their hours.

It is still unclear whether benefit sanctions under Universal Credit will include Housing Benefits.  Disabled former workers, forced out of employment, could be forced into three years homelessness and dire poverty for reasons completely out of their control.

Whether by accident or design some disabled workers face a brutal future.  It is little wonder that so many are now questioning whether it is actually the intention of this toff Government to eradicate completely those that have been deemed unproductive by this cabinet of over-privileged millionaires.

Number of Disabled People Losing Benefits May Top One Million

Paralympian medal winners and war veterans may find themselves stripped of benefits and abandoned to lives of poverty and homelessness under the Government’s brutal disability benefit reforms.

Iain Duncan Smith’s comments in the Telegraph over the weekend should place every serving soldier on notice.  The social contract has changed.  If you get your limbs blown off fighting some rich man’s war then don’t expect the Government to support you when you return home.  IDS has made it clear, people who have had limbs amputated, or are wheelchair users, will no longer be guaranteed support.

IDS, who has previously stated that disabled people lead ‘wasted lives’ due to reliance on benefits, has gone one step further over the weekend, claiming that people on DLA have been left to ‘fester’.  After his recent outburst aimed at disabled workers facing the sack at Remploy factories, IDS’ language is increasingly revealing the nasty little prejudices at the heart of this Government.

It is little wonder that disability hate crime is soaring when senior Government ministers like Iain Duncan Smith are ever ready to launch into a tirade of vicious abuse, smears and lies aimed at disabled people.

The UK Paralympic Team may be surprised that the Government seems to think they have been ‘festering’ in the run up to the Olympics.  Far more concerning however will be the changes to DLA which may see many of them stripped of benefits after the tournament is over.  People claiming out of work benefits due to sickness or disability have been told that being able to watch an episode of Eastenders indicates that they might be fit for work and ineligible for benefits.  It is quite likely that Paralympians may find their sporting achievements used as evidence against them to cut benefit payments.

There is no reason why disabled war veterans or Paralympians should be given any special status above the hundreds of thousands of sick and disabled people who also face losing vital and life saving support.  But it is them who will make the headlines when people are forced into suicide, poverty and homelessness.

The Government claims that 500,000 people are to lose DLA when the new Personal Independence Payment (PIP) assessment begins next year.  As revealed over the weekend, there is no evidence that these people don’t need, or qualify, for the benefit.  Iain Duncan Smith’s pack of lies in the Telegraph, already demolished, shows he either doesn’t actually understand the DLA process, or more worryingly he doesn’t give a shit how many lives are destroyed by the changes.

Shockingly the number of people who may lose benefit may turn out to be far higher if the experiences faced by sick and disabled benefit claimants who have undergone the notorious Work Capability assessment are anything to go by.

People currently claiming Disability Living Allowance are to be forced to undergo the same kind of intrusive and demeaning checks currently being inflicted on those on out of work health related benefits.  French IT firm Atos have the contract to carry out assessments on benefit claimants and the system has already caused untold suffering with an ever growing number of people taking their own lives due to the process.

The Atos assessment has been designed to declare as many people ‘fit for work’ as possible, despite many of them having serious, and often life threatening conditions.  Although claimants who have been judged unable to work by their own doctor, and in most cases an independent DWP doctor, the magical healing Atos Assessment has judged 37% of people ‘fit for work’ after just a short 20 minute chat.  A further 34% have been judged as fit for work at some point in the future, meaning if they are on contribution based benefits they will lose them after 12 months whatever happens to their health.  A recent investigation by the Daily Mirror found that 32 people a week are dying after being placed in this group.

Whilst huge numbers of Atos’ decisions are overturned on appeal, the Government is quite happy with the Atos system, which is finding far more people ‘fit for work’ than ever expected.  It is clear that there will be pressure on whichever private sector poverty pimps are employed to carry out the new assessment for PIP to replicate these results.  So impressed are this Government with Atos’ performance that they have been placed on a list of preferred bidders for the new PIP Assessment contract.

If the experience of the Work Capability Assessment is replicated in the new PIP system then the number of sick and disabled people losing benefits is quite likely to top one million.  This will be seen as just as much a success as the Work Capability Assessment and will be used to demonstrate that people on disability benefits are largely frauds, or faking their conditions.

This is not idle scare-mongering.  It is happening to sick and disabled claimants on out of work benefits right now.

That Iain Duncan Smith thinks he’s being brave by destroying disabled people’s lives reveals everything we need to know about the toff Government.  The Tory party haven’t changed in the slightest despite Cameron’s oily spin.  They are as nasty and out of touch as ever.  But no Government in living memory has been so brutal as to strip vital support from disabled citizens to fund tax cuts for the super rich.

Iain Duncan Smith’s father was a war hero who fought against a fascist government that believed disabled people were a drain on society to be eradicated.  How ashamed he would feel were he alive to see his own son taking yet one more step down that contemptible  path.

Atos Occupied!

Activists from Occupy Newcastle invaded the Atos Assessment Centre in the city yesterday in protest at the brutal disability and health assessments carried out by the company.

French IT firm Atos have the contract to carry out the Government’s Work Capability Assessment, a short computer based test which is used to establish eligibility for the sickness and disability benefit Employment Support Allowance.  Hundreds of thousands of sick and disabled people have been stripped of benefits, or placed in the Work Related Activity Group (WRAG).  A recent investigation found 32 people a week are dying after being placed in this group.  People in the WRAG group can face benefit sanctions should they not carry out pointless back to work activities inflicted on them by poverty pimps like A4e, or the money grabbing charities who are sub-contractors for the Government’s failing Work Programme scheme.

Atos are one of the companies bidding for the Personal Independence Payment (PIP) contract.  This is a similar testing regime to the one currently run by Atos and is being designed to strip Disability Living Allowance from a fifth of disabled people.

Atos have seen protests outside their offices across the UK with regular demonstrations also staged outside their gleaming London Headquarters.

These protests show no sign of dying down as yesterday’s actions prove.  Campaigners occupied the waiting area of Atos’ Arden House where they performed street theatre.  According to indymedia, they met the usual contempt for claimants from Atos staff, with one of the occupiers saying:

“ATOS security and staff were quick to show their complete contempt for people out of work with the management telling activists to ‘stop being lazy and get a job’. They attempted to stop the protest from being filmed, confiscated the table being used as a prop (injuring someone in the process) and called the police. Despite these attacks the demonstration was successful.”

Meanwhile the Nottingham Defence Campaign has published a pamphlet highlighting both Atos’ treatment of sick and disabled benefit claimants, as well as the increased use of political policing in the city.

Last year two people were arrested and charged with Aggravated Trespass after a peaceful protest outside Atos’ Nottingham offices.  A solidarity campaign drew support from around the UK, with more demonstrations held in Nottingham in support of those charged, who were dubbed the ‘Atos Two’.

In a major victory for the campaign, the charges were eventually dropped as the complainant (Atos) no longer supported the prosecution.  This is not the first time the company has backed down.  After their attempts to censor the internet last year by issuing a wave of legal threats and take down notices to those critical of them, scores of websites defied their legal bullying.  Atos appear to have retreated, with no action taken against the websites which published material that Atos considered ‘tasteless’.

The pamphlet, which can be downloaded here (PDF) contains the story of the Atos Two, as well as many other resources including advice for those facing the Atos testing regime.  It also includes a copy of the joint letter signed by countless campaign groups, as well as health and social care professionals, which was sent to the British Medical Journal (BMJ) and the Royal College of Nursing (RCN).

A print version of the pamphlet can be ordered for a quid, for more info contact: nottsdefence [at] riseup.net

This will not be the end of action directed at Atos and should provide a taster of what’s to come for the rest of the poverty pimp scum bidding to take on the Personal Independence Payment assessments.

Are Landlords Breaking The Law When They Demand No DSS?

Trying to find a place to live when you are on benefits can be near impossible.  Landlords already demand huge deposits, which few benefit claimants can afford.  Even then, claimants have to find a landlord who will accept Housing Benefit or  face being forced to lie about their financial circumstances.

This is one of the main drivers of homelessness. If you are unemployed, or on a low wage, and have no savings, it is near impossible to secure private rented accommodation.  Don’t expect the Council to help.  Unless you have children or can jump through the ever increasing number of hoops which means your Local Authority deems you ‘vulnerable’, then they are under no obligation to offer any help at all with housing..

The ubiquitous phrase No DSS is displayed in the windows of many Estate Agents and refers to their refusal to house benefit claimants.  Foxtons, one of London’s largest estate agents, on a quick phone call to their main number, say they will only accept benefit claimants in Guildford, Woking or Stratford, but not their swanky central London pads.  This includes, according to the person on the end of the phone at least, people claiming Disability Living Allowance (DLA), a non means tested disability benefit available to those in and out of work alike.  A call to a local Foxtons Office in Dulwich asking the same question brings the same answer.  They will not accept any tenants on benefits of any kind.

The refusal to accept DLA may simply be down to a mistake by their agents on the end of the phone.  Or it may mean that Foxtons will not accept disabled tenants in Central London.  It seems clear that anyone on an out of work health related benefit, such as Employment Support Allowance (ESA), would be wasting their time ringing Foxtons in the hope of securing a roof over their heads.

The phrase ‘No DSS’ is somewhat ludicrous since the DSS, the old Department of Social Security, doesn’t even exist anymore.  It is generally used as a euphemism to mean no-one on benefits at all.  This can be interpreted to mean someone on a low wage who qualifies for a Housing Benefit top up, as well as anyone on DLA, ESA, Income Support, Pension Credit or the unemployment benefit Job Seekers Allowance.

Indirect discrimination, in reference to disability, is defined in the Equalities Act as:

(1)A person (A) discriminates against a disabled person (B) if—
(a)A treats B unfavourably because of something arising in consequence of B’s disability, and
(b)A cannot show that the treatment is a proportionate means of achieving a legitimate aim.

It is unlikely that the Courts would consider preventing disabled people from accessing housing as a legitimate aim.  This begs the question of whether the phrase ‘No DSS’ is a legal demand for landlords to make.

Private sector tenants have been so worn down by the erosion of tenants rights that this is not a matter which has drawn much scrutiny.  A blog on The Guardian last year posed the question:  Do ‘No DSS’ and ‘No students’ notices fall foul of the Equality Act?

On the question of students, and most people on Job Seekers Allowance, it seems that landlords are acting legally, if immorally, when they discriminate against them.  However for those on disability benefit the situation is not quite so clear.  According to The Guardian (which is checked by lawyers and stuff):

“As I have said, I am assuming that placebobutton considers that refusing to let premises to benefit claimants will be indirectly discriminatory on the grounds of disability because disabled people are more likely to be out of or unable to work and therefore in receipt of social security benefits. I don’t know whether this is indeed the case, but statistics to this effect will be necessary if someone is going to show that disabled people are put at a particular disadvantage by this criterion. If statistics can be produced which show that disabled people are significantly more likely to be on benefits than people who are not disabled, then unless a landlord or estate agent can show that refusing to let to benefit claimants is a proportionate means of achieving a legitimate aim – and it is hard to see what such a legitimate aim might be – he/she will fall foul of the Equality Act.”

There are around 6 million disabled people in the UK.  Over half are claiming DLA.  Around a third are likely to be on ESA, the benefit which is for people unable to work because of sickness or disability.  A significant number of disabled people will also now be on Job Seekers Allowance, particularly after the Atos holocaust which has seen hundreds of thousands of disabled people stripped of health benefits.

No-one who is not disabled is claiming DLA (despite what this Government may pretend).  It seems pretty clear that discriminating against someone on the grounds they are claiming DLA is therefore illegal.  If it is really Foxtons’ policy not to accept anyone on any disability benefits then they are probably breaking the law.  This is no real surprise.  Foxtons are scum.

The definition of disability given in the Equalities Act may not apply exactly to everyone on DLA or ESA, and obviously many people on Job Seekers Allowance are not disabled.  But the evidence suggests that of the 6 million disabled people in the UK, most are on some form of benefit, and around a third are on an out of work benefit.

As a third of the non-disabled workforce aren’t on benefits, it is therefore easy to show that yes, disabled people are more likely to be on benefits than non-disabled people.  If The Guardian is correct then  it does seem that the phrase ‘No DSS’ is illegal.

Perhaps it is time to turn our attention to the unpleasant practices of money grabbing landlords as the housing crisis bites?

You can call Foxtons to question them in detail about their policies towards disabled people on benefits on: 0800 369 8667.

Follow me on twitter @johnnyvoid

Personal Independence Payment – The Next Great Welfare Train Crash

Brutality combined with incompetence are becoming the hallmark of the current Tory administration and the plans to abolish Disability Living Allowance (DLA) are riddled with both.  The Government is driving ahead with their plans to replace DLA with the new Personal Independent Payment (PIP).  The aim of this is to strip benefits from a fifth of disabled people.

This will be achieved by using an independent medical assessment as the key part of the decision making process when considering a claim for the new  benefit.  That assessment will be carried out by a private company.

We already have an effective model of how the new scheme might operate.  The Work Capability Assessment (WCA) is a short computer test carried out by French IT firm Atos which is used to determine eligibility for the out of work sickness and disability benefit Employment Support Allowance.  For everyone other the Government and Atos themselves, it has been an unmitigated disaster.  The constant assessment and re-assessment regime has driven an increasing number of people to take their own lives.  A recent Daily Mirror investigation found that 32 people a week die after being declared ‘fit for work’ by Atos.  Around 40% of appeals against Atos’ decisions are successful and the appeals system is in meltdown due to the number of cases being brought.

Despite some tampering around the edges due to a recent review of the process, there are no plans to abolish or significantly reform the WCA.  This should serve as a stark warning to people facing the new PIP testing regime.  The Government are happy with Atos the way things are.  Lots of people are losing their benefits.  That was always all they wanted.

The stated agenda of PIP is to remove benefits from 20% of disabled people.  All other mealy mouthed attempts at reform are secondary to this.  It will be down to the private sector to carry out this cull.  In many ways the PIP process will be identical to the WCA.  It may yet even be Atos who carry out the assessments.

This will not only prove traumatic for the people forced to undergo demeaning health tests, but will bring devastating social costs.  The Government’s plan that “entitlement will depend on the person’s circumstances and the impact of their health condition or disability on their everyday lives” is vague and open to all kinds of interpretation.

How it will be measured in practice is anyone’s guess.  Given it’s the private sector who will be carrying out the bulk of the work the answer is likely to be the cheapest way possible.  It will be difficult to imagine how, for example, being in full time work can be ignored by any assessment.  Under the WCA claimants who have admitted to watching Eastenders have had it used against them as evidence of being ‘fit to work’.  It is therefore very likely that having a job will come to be seen as a disqualifying criteria for claiming PIP, if not formally but as a reality of people’s experiences.  This may not be the Government’s intention, but in practice it seems unavoidable.

Atos, as well as human rights abusers G4s and private sector sharks Serco, are some of the companies believed to be bidding for the PIP contract.  They should be warned it is a thoroughly poisoned chalice.  Atos have already seen their reputation destroyed by the WCA, with the name of their company becoming a dirty word.   This will seem trivial should they take on the PIP Assessments.

DLA is a non means tested benefit designed to help people meet the additional costs of disability or ill health.  In many ways it should be seen as an adjunct to the NHS rather than a benefit comparable to those paid to people unable to work.  DLA is used for things like additional transportation costs, specialist equipment or personal care.  For many working disabled people these things are essential to help them remain in work.  As Disability Rights UK have recently pointed out (PDF), the removal of DLA from over half a million people may drive many into unemployment.

People currently claiming DLA include doctors, lawyers, journalists and MPs. Whilst those claiming out of work benefits are by their very nature economically disempowered (in that they don’t have jobs and are forced into the poverty of the benefits system) many DLA claimants are highly skilled professionals.  We could face the unedifying spectacle of Doctors having their  health and disability needs assessed by the two bit NHS rejects at Atos.  Disabled legal professionals may yet be forced into the appeals system and are likely to prove ferocious.  Any company which takes on the PIP contract will face unprecedented resistance at grass roots level, from people in some cases far more qualified than their own assessors.  It will be doctors, lawyers and journalists lining up alongside benefit claimants to take action against the companies concerned.

Imagine becoming public enemy number for not just the three million plus DLA claimants, but their friends, families and carers.  People with many more skills and resources to fight than those on out of work benefits.  Every mistake, appeal or careless remark by an assessor will be scrutinised.  Assessment centres and other business sites could find themselves thronged with disabled protesters.  An avalanche of legal challenges seems almost inevitable.

It is possible that on the ground a two tier process will develop.  Disabled doctors and lawyers may be informally waved through the process in the hope they won’t make too much fuss.  Can we honestly believe that David Blunkett or a Paralympian Gold Medal winner will face the same kind of scrutiny as an out of work disabled single mum living on a Council Estate?

The alternative is that the PIP assessment will become an unofficial ‘means test’.  Those in work, or able to lead more active lives, may find themselves punished as any sign of independence is used against them.  However the upcoming farce plays out it will prove catastrophic not just for disabled people themselves but for the wider credibility of the system.

As we have seen under the WCA regime, there will be more suicides, more appeals and more people having conditions made worse by the stress of endless testing.  The Government says that only in very few cases will PIP be awarded for life.  This will mean for example, that people who may have lost a limb will be forced back to continual re-assessments, presumably to check it hasn’t sneakily grown back.

Despite lurid headlines DLA is not an easy benefit to qualify for.  A wealth of medical information is required, from GPs, consultants and other health professionals.  As with the WCA, this is likely to become secondary to the short assessments carried out by private companies.  As more disabled people are forced into poverty it will be down to Local Authorities and the NHS to pick up the slack.  Just like so much of this Government’s Welfare Reform, it may yet cost more money to go down this road than simply leaving things as they are.

The Government are currently consulting on the changes and you can make your feelings heard here.  If past consultations are anything to go by then don’t expect them to listen.  The over privileged tory toffs have made their intentions well and truly clear.  Don’t think that this scum will shed any tears for those driven into poverty or even suicide by these changes.  As Maria Miller, the Minister for Disabled People has already said, the cost of disabled people is simply ‘unsustainable’.  That tells us everything we need to know about this Government’s attitudes towards sickness and disability.

Join the growing protests against Welfare Reform including action called in Central London by Disabled People Against Cuts on the 18th April (tomorrow!).

National Day of Protest Against Benefit Cuts – Day 3

The 3rd National Day of Protest Against Benefit Cuts has been called for April 14th 2011.

Millions are set to be affected by savage cuts to housing, disability, sickness and welfare benefits. People with disabilities, illness, the unemployed, single parents, carers the low waged, part time students, volunteers, homeless people and college students are all likely to see a devastating drop in disposable income with many slipping even further below the poverty line.

The poorest and most vulnerable are being asked to pay for the mistakes and extravagances of the richest. Meanwhile poverty pimps like Atos Origin and A4e are set to rake in hundreds of millions on government contracts to bully and intimidate people from claiming the pittance handed out in benefit payments. Many disabled people have threatened suicide if these cuts are allowed to continue. Some have tragically already carried out that threat.

The first two days of protest against benefit cuts have seen demonstrations, meetings, unemployed discos, public pantomimes and occupations in cities across the UK. Atos Origin have been forced to close offices, protesters have gathered inside and outside workfare sharks A4e and demonstrations have taken place from Downing Street to local town centres such as Lydney and Crawley.

We are fighting for our homes, our livelihoods, our very survival. It’s time to show these public school parasites and their poverty pimp collaborators we mean business.

Actions/events organised so far:

Brighton

Thursday April 14th 2-5pm

Churchill Square Brighton

http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=210782635605158

Bristol

Thursday April 14 · 12:00pm – 5:00pm

Benefit Cuts Hurt Protest – 3rd National Day of Protest

Government Buildings, Flowers Hill, Bristol, BS4 5LA

http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=199413500079998

Burnley

Thursday April 14 – 12.30
Protest 14/4 at the bandstand in Burnley town centre from 12.30 onwards, everyone welcome, bring homemade placards and banners. Called by East Lancs Right to Work.

Edinburgh

Thursday April 14th – 11am – 1pm
ATOS, York Place (near top of Broughton St)
Edinburgh protest against ATOS

http://www.edinburghagainstpoverty.org.uk/

Glasgow

Thursday, April 14 · 1:30pm – 2:30pm
ATOS ‘Health Care’ Corunna House 29 Cadogan Street, Glasgow
Glasgow Anti-Benefit Cuts Leafleting outside Atos

http://www.facebook.com/pages/event.php?eid=159094307482975

Leeds

Thursday, April 14 · 10:30am – 2:00pm

Meeting @ Leeds Train Station 10am before moving to picket ATOS from 10:30 for an hour then move onto A4e/BEST for a couple of hours. The last picket was a great success and we hope to have another good day. Bring banners, flags etc.

http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=155593464493862

Livingston
Thursday, April 14 · 12:00pm – 3:00pm
Atos Origin ‘Healthcare’ Ltd, Scotland HQ Livingston, Appleton Parkway – Eliburn
Please contact: blacktrianglecampaign@hotmail.com for details of travel and transport if you are attending this event.
http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=200668179965448

London

Thursday, April 14 · 8:30am – 9:30am
Islington Protests Against Benefit Cuts

There will be a protest at 8.30am to 9.30am outside the Atos Healthcare assessment centre at 1 Elthorne Road, just off Holloway Road, 2 minutes walk south from Archway tube.

https://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=208099605885448

Thursday, April 14 – 2pm
Protest Outside The Daily Mail – Stop the Defamation – Stop the Lies

Daily Mail Headquarters, Young Street (off Kensington High Street), London W8 5TT

http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=161556473898500&

Protest Outside Westminster City Hall & Mass Food Give Away!

Thursday, April 14 · 5:00pm – 9:00pm

Westminster City Hall, 64 Victoria Street, London, SW1E 6QP

http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=186039361439862

Poole

Outside the Jobcentre at noon. Everyone welcome!

http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=161332900587762

Truro

Thursday, April 14 · 11:00am – 4:00pm
Lemon Quay Truro

In line with the third National Day of Action against benefits cuts Cornwall Anti Cuts Alliance will be staging an awareness demo in Truro.

http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=183889834991317

Everywhere

National Troll A Tory Day 3 and Rat On A Rat!

http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=173026406078054

Armchair Army

http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=183300865049055&

and then Cardiff on Monday 18th April – 2:00pm – 8:00pm

Cardiff Unemployed Daytime Disco
The Rockin Chair, Lower Cathedral Road, Cardiff

https://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=105823702832091

We call on all claimants, as groups or individuals, to organise and take action around the country on April 14th.

If you are planning an event in your town or city please add details in the comments here to be added to the website and the facebook page at: http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=164277070288955

You can also send details to notowelfarecuts@yahoo.co.uk

If you would like to see action locally, set up a group, event page or ask below. We will do out best to promote and co-ordinate all activity.

Supported by:

o Anti-Benefit Cuts Glasgow
o Armchair Army
o Black Triangle Anti-Defamation Campaign
o Brighton Benefits Campaign
o Cardiff’s Unemployed Daytime Disco
o Carer Watch
o Carer Watch fb page
o Crippen – Disabled Cartoonist
o Diary of a Benefit Scrounger
o Disabled People Against Cuts
o Dundee Unemployed Workers
o East Lancs Right to Work
o Edinburgh Coalition Against Poverty (ECAP)
o Free London Listings
o Goldsmiths in Occupation
o Haringey Solidarity Group
o Ipswich Unemployed Action
o Islington Hands Off Our Public Services (IHOOPS)
o Islington Poverty Action
o Kilburn Unemployed Workers Group
o Lancaster and Morecambe Against the Cuts
o London Coalition Against Poverty (LCAP)
o London Foodbank
o Mad Pride
o Medway Against Cuts
o Mental Health Resistance Network
o Norfolk Community Action Group
o Nottingham Claimants’ Union
o Nuneaton Against Benefit Cuts
o Oxford Save Our Services
o Squattastic
o Tyneside Claimants Union
o Welfare Action Hackney
o Welfare Rights 4 u (UK)
o Work Programme & Flexible New Deal Scandal
o World Homeless Day