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.

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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.