Tag Archives: ESA

Big Disability Rides To The Rescue With Too Little Much Too Late


In an unprecedented show of absolutely fuck all, members of the Disability Benefits Consortium – which includes some of the UK’s largest disability charities – have written a stern letter to Iain Duncan Smith asking him not to cut disabled people’s benefits.

In the Welfare Reform and Work Bill, due to be debated in the House of Lords next week, plans have been announced to slash some out of work sickness and disability benefits by almost a third.  New claimants in the so-called Work Related Activity Group, meaning people assessed as likely to be fit for work at some point in the future, will receive just over £70 a week – the same amount as those currently on the dole.  People in this group include those with degnerative or progressive diseases such as Multiple Schlerosis, Parkinson’s disease or cancer.  This vicious benefit cut is not being done to save money, but to ‘incentivise’ people to find a job.  It is about as vile as anything that Iain Duncan Smith has done so far, and he’s done a lot.

In response the Disability Benefits Consortium have written a letter, which only half of their members bothered to sign, and which was published in the Daily Mirror over the weekend.  Big fucking deal.

According to their website the Disability Benefits Consortium (DBC) is a “national coalition of over 60 different charities and other organisations committed to working towards a fair benefits system.”  They include Disability Rights UK, an organisation who have recently been handed a huge contract to work for Maximus – the shady US conglomerate who carry out the despised Work Capability Assessments which will be used to decide which disabled people face a benefit cut under the new rules.  Other charities involved in pretending to defend social security are MIND, RNIB, Leonard Chesire and Mencap – all of whom happily accepted lucrative sub-contracts to run Iain Duncan Smith’s  mandatory Work Programme which disabled people are forced to attend under the threat of vicious benefit sanctions.  Also on the list are the workfare supporting Papworth Trust, along with Age UK who in 2013 were accused of running a ‘workfare warehouse’ in East Sussex.  Citizen’s Advice, who welcomed the introduction of the Claimant Commitment under which unemployed people are forced into pointless jobsearch for 35 hours a week under threat of benefit sanctions, are also included in this fight for a fairer benefits system.

Despite the vast resources possessed by the 60 charities who make up the Disability Benefits Consortium (DBC), their website is hosted for free on wordpress.com.  It looks like someone knocked it up on a cheap smartphone during their fag break.  Last year this group of fearless campaigners made a total of 12 posts on their blog – and I thought I was getting slack.  According to the website they have not been arsed to contribute to a government consultation on welfare reform since 2012.

Compare this to the now defunct Disability Works campaign – launched with a glitzy House of Lords reception by many of the DBC charities and used to lobby the government to hand them juicy welfare-to-work contracts and you see the true priority of these organisations.  Money.

The very worst thing that could happen is big disability charities hijacking the fight against welfare reforms, although there is little danger of that.  The fucking awful Hardest Hit demonstration they organised in 2011 was little more then a march to protect disability charity funding, not disabled people’s benefits.  And it’s been downhill ever since.  For every statement released by charities condemning social security cuts a story emerges of them quietly sidling up to the DWP in the hope of lucrative contracts. Until disability charities form a united stance of complete non co-operation with this government then their words mean fuck all when their actions are complicit in destroying the lives of sick and disabled people.

This blog has no sources of funding so here’s a quick reminder that you can help ensure it continues by making a donation.

Follow me on twitter @johnnyvoid

Sue Ryder Admit They Will Force Sick and Disabled Claimants to Work Unpaid (and that workfare doesn’t work)

chain_gangBREAKING NEWS: Sue Ryder have said they will begin a ‘phased withdrawal’ from the Government’s mandatory workfare schemes.

In the second astonishing statement in a week, Sue Ryder have admitted their workfare scheme is useless at helping people find work and they will be possibly the only UK charity to force sickness benefit claimants to work unpaid.

In an effort to excuse their shameful use of forced unpaid workers they have released a Q&A document in an attempt to justify their appalling activities.   The first question asks:

“Why continue involvement when government statistics show that workfare schemes are not helping more people find paid jobs?”

Sue Ryder had already answered this in their earlier statement when they boasted that they make millions from unpaid workers in their shit charity shops.  According to their own “internal research” the charity claims that just 1 in 4 of their forced workers eventually find a real paid job,  This is a somewhat suspicious boast given that in their first statement, just a few days ago, the figure was one in five.  Even this merely suggests that 75% of people are so traumatised by their time at Sue Ryder that they never work again.

It is the third question in their statement however which is likely to shock even the most hardened benefit bashers.  Sue Ryder now have the horrific distinction of being the only charity so far in the UK to admit to being happy to force claimants on sickness and disability benefits to work unpaid.

The charity states:

“Since December 2012, people who have been assessed by the government and found unfit to work, but potentially able to work in the future with support, may be referred onto a work placement.

“Our volunteer recruitment process ensures we have honest and open conversations with individuals about any conditions they have that could impact on their ability to take on a volunteering role. We don’t put volunteers into roles they are not able to carry out, and we regularly review volunteers already in roles in case of changes in ability, physical or mental, as well as changes in their interests, availability and training needs.”

Note that in the first paragraph Sue Ryder admit that even Atos and the Government consider this group to be too unwell to work at present.  These claimants have also all been signed off work by their own GP.  This matters not to greedy Sue Ryder bosses, who after a quick chat – no doubt with a charity shop manager – will now force people with serious health conditions into unpaid physical labour.

This defiant statement, which praises forced labour even for those whose own doctors have said they should not work, comes after the charity’s twitter and facebook pages were bombarded with people demanding an end to their cruel and exploitative practices.

That Sue Ryder have chosen to come out fighting shows utter contempt for the hundreds of former customers and donors who have complained about their use of unpaid work.

It is clear that all this charity cares about is money so boycott them, keep up the pressure and tell them what you think on twitter @sue_ryder and facebook: http://www.facebook.com/SueRyderNational

Join the National Week of Action Against Workfare beginning on March 18th: http://www.boycottworkfare.org/?p=1996

Follow me on twitter @johnnyvoid

Iain Duncan Smith’s Licence To Kill

IDS-I-dont-care-whos-diedSick or disabled people could be worked to death under legislation tabled this week simply because the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions takes a dislike to them.

The new workfare rules, rushed out in a panic after this weeks damning court verdict,  set out the details of the various forced labour schemes currently in operation.  This follows the High Court ruling that Iain Duncan Smith had been illegally sending people on workfare due to never fully explaining the schemes before Parliament as required by law.

Under the regulations it appears that almost anyone Iain Duncan Smith sees fit will be at risk of referral to the Work Programme, which is now vaguely aimed at any claimant “at risk of becoming long term unemployed”.

The DWP admit they don’t know how many people on the Work Programme are being sent on workfare as the private companies running the scheme are given free reign to behave as they like – something which flies in the face of this week’s court decision and may yet lead to another legal challenge on similar grounds.

Under the regulations, welfare to work companies, or the DWP, can mandate someone to up to two year’s full time unpaid work.  As was announced last December, on International Disabled People’s Day, even claimants on sickness or disability benefits can now be mandated to forced labour.

These are all claimants who have been signed off as unfit for work by their own GP.  Many more claimants, who have also been signed off work as sick by doctors, have had that decision over-ruled by the DWP and are now on mainstream unemployment benefits.  With such a rushed and no doubt bodged set of regulations, there doesn’t even appear to be anything stopping the Secretary of State singling out claimants he doesn’t like and condemning them to hard labour.

With jobs in desperately short supply, especially for those with a health condition or disability, the choice facing unwell claimants sentenced to unpaid work will be whether to be worked to death or starved to death.

Of course someone with a life threatening condition may appeal against a decision which forces them to carry out unpaid physical work at a Sue Ryder charity shop or The Conservation Volunteer’s latest chain gang.

But sadly many people don’t appeal – and legal support for appealing benefit decisions is being slashed.  And it is a truly chilling thought that the only thing protecting sick or disabled claimants from being sent to do work which may kill them is the whims of a DWP tribunal.

Iain Duncan Smith may not have introduced these laws as a way of working to death disabled activists, or anyone else on health related benefits who opposes his vicious and inept schemes.  But the power is now there to do so.

None of this has ever been adequately discussed by Parliament.  Even the Courts seem to be beneath the Secretary of State – today Iain Duncan Smith  dismissed the judgement of three High Court judges on a very technical point of law as ‘rubbish’.  Not even David Cameron seems to be able to control the power-drunk fool, whilst the Treasury willingly hands over billions of pounds to fund his whatever crazy old bollocks he cooks up next.  It is clear that Iain Duncan Smith regards himself as above the Prime Minister, above Parliament and above the very law itself.

Iain Duncan Smith is out of control and has the power to destroy millions of lives.  And that is exactly what the Secretary of State is doing.  If Parliament or the courts can’t put an end to the carnage, then it is down to everyone else with a shred of humanity to stop this vile monster.

Join the Week of Action Against Workfare

For the latest on this week’s workfare ruling visit: http://www.boycottworkfare.org/?p=2035

Above pic from: http://blacktrianglecampaign.org/

Follow me on twitter @johnnyvoid

Philip Hensher’s Crass Hypocrisy and Benefit Lies Exposed

hensher2hensher1The above two tweets are what happens when someone writes a less than flattering review of one of Philip Hensher’s shit books.

This is the same Philip Hensher who whinged in The Independent yesterday that: “I have a belief that nobody should be forced to endure being called a “cunt” or subjected to threats of physical violence as a condition of their work.”

Hensher has been widely condemned after writing a sub-Daily Mail rant about people on sickness or disability benefits – which got very close to libeling people who had taken part in a survey by campaign group After Atos by implying some of them were fraudulent claimants.

This led some people to challenge Hensher on twitter, sometimes using strong language, to which he replied in kind.  Guardian journalist Zoe Williams also questioned Hensher’s piece.  He responded by describing her as ‘an awful person’ to her colleague Deborah Orr.

As the obscure novelist began to lose his temper he resorted to lying about the ‘abuse’ he was receiving, furiously re-tweeting anything critical of him to his media chums.  Hensher claimed that people were calling him a cunt and accusing him of inciting the murder of ‘handicapped’ (his word) people.

In fact at this point no-one had called him a cunt, and the tweet he was referring to said the exact opposite:

Predictably after Hensher lied that people were calling him a cunt, some people then ended up calling him a cunt.

This led to Hensher stropping off twitter journalist-style and then spewing up the garbage that polluted the usually deserted comment section of The Independent website yesterday.

Using the genuinely unpleasant shit that was recently directed at Mary Beard and Suzanne Moore as cover, Hensher launched into a breath-takingly dishonest diatribe.

Hensher claims that no-one challenged his ‘facts’ when in fact several people calmly and without insults took his bullshit apart piece by piece.  In case there is any doubt about his wild claims, in yesterday’s piece Hensher said:  “The number of people asking the Government to support their ill-health, in addition, has risen in a way difficult to believe in recent years.”

So let’s dispute that particular piece of crap with a graph from a report published by the DWP themselves:


The number of people on out of work benefits due to sickness or disability has been falling steadily, since long before the brutal and notorious Atos assessments were introduced.  The huge leap in people claiming sickness benefits actually happened in the late 80s when claims jumped by almost a million people as Thatcher destroyed the UK’s industrial heartland.  This was almost 30 years ago and many of those people were approaching retirement age even back then.

Hensher then goes on to say that he expected “an explanation of why such claims have risen so sharply, and out of line with almost every comparable economy.”

Since claims have not risen sharply then it would be somewhat difficult to explain why they have.  But Hensher’s nonsense about claims being out of line with almost every comparable economy are easily demolished, with yet another graph (a fuller analysis of which was also tweeted to Hensher, which he ignored).


This graph comes from the OECD report that Hensher seems to be referencing.  As can be seen quite clearly, the UK’s rate of people on out of work sickness or disability benefits is only marginally higher than the OECD average and significantly less than Hungary,Sweden, Norway and Finland.  This graph also shows how claims have been more or less static in the UK, although they have risen sharply in France and the US, two of the countries Hensher mentioned as having no such rise in his first piece.

So Hensher is bull shitting and his opinions seem to be based on little more than tabloid scare stories and his own nasty little prejudices.  At a time when disability hate crime is soaring, and an increasing number of tragic suicides have been linked to the Atos assessments Hensher was discussing, it is fucking irresponsible and downright unpleasant of The Independent to publish this kind of garbage.

But free speech is free speech and they can say what they like.  Unfortunately this doesn’t seem to apply to the rest of us normals who don’t have a newspaper column.  All of the comments on the piece originally written by Hensher have been removed by the newspaper who could have simply moderated out anything over the top – as anyone else who runs a site which accepts comments sometimes has to do.

And this is the thing.  The internet is a fucking bear pit and always has been.  Some of the misogyny is horrible, though more a reflection of society at large than anything to do with twitter and the internet.  Sometimes people say stupid and aggressive things when they are angry.  Some other people just say shit to wind people up.  This is the territory that anyone who writes on the web needs to navigate and is something that most bloggers have come to terms with.

This doesn’t mean  misogyny, homophobia, transphobia, disablist abuse and racism shouldn’t be challenged on the web, they absolutely should.  Strong language and debate however is a different matter.

The nasty background chatter of parts of the internet should not be used to drown out or fend off genuine criticism.  And if a writer swears at people, like Hensher does, then he should fucking expect people to swear back at him.  Whilst it’s impossible to know what Hensher and The Independent received in their inbox, there were no direct threats of violence aimed at Hensher on twitter – just a couple of vaguely menacing tweets, one from a disabled person saying ‘I bite’, and another quoting Rudyard Kipling.  Not very pleasant, but hardly a campaign of violence, abuse and intimidation.

Hensher on the other hand slandered thousands of people with his uninformed rant about benefit claimants.  It seems that Hensher can dish it out, but can’t take it himself, something he condemned in others when he was part of a twitter hate mob himself.


UPDATE: The writer of the comment that Henshaw claimed proved people “wanted him dead” and that someone hoped that he “fall over and be permanently crippled” has responded to his piece in the comments on The Independent:

“Oh, So I’m nameless? I was the one who wrote the “slip over and find out what it’s like” comment. What I actually wrote was: “get out in that snow you love, slip over and break your spine, you’ll soon change your tune. “It only takes a minute … to fall in love”, the song says, it only takes a millisecond to end up paralysed for the rest of your life!” My comment was NOT a wish that you would end up disabled, but that you and your readers would realise how simple it is to become disabled.”

Follow me on twitter @johnnyvoid

Jim’s Christmas: A Seasonal Tale of Tory Britain

xmas-treeJim looks down at the brown envelope lying on his doormat and feels something that is almost nausea as his mind spews out a panic that charges through his veins.

He can hear his thundering heart beat and feels a tight pain in his chest that he is sure is the onset of heart problems even if his doctor insists it’s just anxiety.  With just two days before Christmas, he had been hoping for a card or two, but no such luck.  Still he’ll be seeing his grandchildren tomorrow he thinks as, with some difficulty, he stoops to pick up the letter.

It is from the government alright, he can tell that easily enough.  No-one else sends out letters in those envelopes.  Stuffing it in his pocket he decides to carry on down to the shops.  Nothing is going to stop him getting those kids a Christmas present he thinks, and decides whatever horror the envelope contains can wait until after lunch.

Jim is 56 and lives alone in a small flat in a suburb of Leeds.  He has a grown up daughter, who lives and works in Newcastle, where she is married with two sons who Jim adores.  He doesn’t see them as often as he likes, but he will be travelling up tomorrow, Christmas Eve.  He reminds himself he still needs a coach ticket, but that should be okay.  He knows even just a couple of hours on the coach will mean agony tomorrow, but he just can’t afford the train.  His daughter had offered to pay but he wouldn’t hear of it.

Jim is also a fictional character.  Sadly his plight is all too true for many people this Christmas.

Like most of his friends, Jim left school at 15 with just a couple of CSEs.  He’d be the first to admit he wasn’t academic and school bored him senseless. He would far rather have been outside, or doing something with his hands then sitting in endless lessons.

On leaving school Jim quickly found work on a building site, where he began  as an apprenticeship. He soon  learned that he could make more money as a hod carrier, lugging bricks around the site and other heavy labouring tasks.  Jim was healthy, strong and worked hard.  He was well known and welcome on local sites where he had a reputation as a grafter.  The hours were long but he could often clear a good few hundred quid a week.

Jim married young, to his childhood sweetheart and first and only love.  She was also a hard worker and had always dreamed of owning a home of her own.  With lots of over-time and her doing nights, they were soon able to afford a mortgage on a small terraced house.  Jim was just 24 when his daughter was born, a day he still describes as the happiest of his life.

His daughter enjoyed a happy childhood.  They weren’t rich, but she never seemed to go without.  They even managed a few holidays in Spain, and whilst her Dad was often working, he always made time for her.  She never noticed the increasingly strained conversations between her parents.  It was a shock when, at the age of 15, they told her they would be getting a divorce.

There was no malice in the marriage break up.  No affairs or betrayals, they just simply grew apart.  Little quirks they once loved about each other became intense annoyances.  Both felt desperately guilty at separating whilst their daughter was in the middle of exams, but the strain just became too much.  Arguments once hidden behind closed doors were increasingly taking place in front of the young teenager.  The truth that whilst he knew somewhere in his heart he would always love her, Jim could barely stand to be in the same room as his wife anymore.  He was all too aware that she felt the same way about him.

With the mortgage not far from  paid off, Jim had agreed to move out, happy to leave the house as a base for his daughter.  He rented a small flat and threw himself into his work.  He knew his daughter wanted to go to University and he was determined to make sure she wouldn’t struggle too much for money.

Jim was 45, old in his trade, when his back first went.  A slipped disc or something the doctor had told him.  They didn’t really seem to know.  Jim was laid up for eight weeks, in searing pain and barely able to walk most days.  On returning to work, he quickly found he just couldn’t do his job anymore.  He’d lasted two days before the foreman had told him to go home.  He was in agony the whole time.

His doctor had warned him that his days on building sites were over.  Jim took this hard.  But he was not beaten.  He never even signed on.  The lads from the site had had a whip round, with even the foreman chucking in fifty notes.  With this, a small pay off from the building firm, and a couple of hundred pounds in savings, he was able to buy a second hand car.

Jim enjoyed mini-cabbing.  The money was a bit less than he was used to, but he liked working with people.  The other drivers were good lads as well, they often shared a few pints after a shift.  Sometimes he felt a little lonely, sitting around in an empty flat, but he had his daughter, his mates and there was always work available.  Truth is he was happier sitting round the cab office, even when it was quiet, then he was sitting in front of the television on his own at home.

When Jim was 52 he had a stroke and everything changed.  He hardly remembers what happened.  He’d just dropped off a fare, he knew that much, and then had felt everything just sort of go dead.  His car swerved and crashed into a bollard.  He couldn’t even lift his hand to the steering wheel to stop it.

Weeks of therapy followed.  Jim made a slow and steady recovery.  To his eternal shame, his daughter had helped him apply for sickness and housing benefits.  He never believed he would need it, but without that money he would have been out of a home.

Whilst some of the damage from the stroke slowly repaired itself, his age meant his body seemed to  deteriorate at the same speed.  As he started to get sensation back to his right hand and arm the numb feeling was replaced with arthritic pain.  It had been difficult to talk at first, but now, apart from a slight speech impediment he was desperately self-conscious of, he could at least communicate.

He could walk, although as he joked to his grand children, he could be a bit lop sided.  The vision in his right eye never recovered.  And his back would still give him gip and seemed to get worse every passing year.  On a bad day sometimes it took all his strength to hobble to the local shop for a paper and some milk.

Jim found sitting about the flat all day almost unbearable.  He tried applying for jobs, but he had no experience in retail and his speech made working on a telephone difficult.  All there seemed to be was call centre and supermarket jobs in Leeds these days – he must of applied to over a hundred of them and never even got an interview.  As his doctor told him regularly, the truth is that even that kind of work, on a bad day, would be impossible.  He needed to rest said his GP, who proscribed sleeping pills, and concerned about his increasingly withdrawn state, anti-depressants.

One day Jim got a letter from the government.  They had asked him to to attend a health assessment and warned him his benefits would be stopped if he didn’t turn up.  He wasn’t too worried, something similar had happened a year ago.  He’d had to go and see a doctor employed by the social to check him over.  Armed with reams of evidence from his own GP, they had quickly agreed that he wasn’t able to work.  Jim didn’t mind doing it again.  He was grateful for the support he received, although at just less than £100 a week, it was getting harder all the time to make ends meet.

It had been a difficult year, for everybody Jim supposed. He’d had to blink back tears a couple of times in the supermarket as his carefully budgeted weekly shopping trip had descended into chaos because all the prices had risen.  Jim was not a man who cried easily, not until recently anyway.

In truth he was desperately lonely and frustrated at his situation.  He rarely went out anymore.  When he’d first started to get a bit better he’d had a couple of nights out with the lads from the taxi rank, but the truth was he couldn’t really afford the pub these days.  Even the library had closed and with it the little caf’ where he’d always been able to find someone to have a chat with.

He lived a solitary life now, except for his daughter, who had no idea how much her Dad was struggling.  He lied to her that everything was fine.  She didn’t know that his local, where he’d always been a well known regular, had closed down two years ago.  She had no idea that he lived on economy beans, packet noodles and toast half the time.

Jim was placed in something called the Work Related Activity Group after his assessment, which seemed to be with a private company rather than the government.  He wasn’t sure what this really meant.  They told him he might have to go on some kind of training scheme or meet an advisor to help him get back to work.  Whilst they agreed he was unlikely to find work at the moment due to his health, they said there may be some jobs he could do and that his condition might improve.  Not bloody likely, Jim had thought bitterly.  His money didn’t seem to go down, although if he understood the news recently then it probably would soon, a thought which increasingly terrified him

That had been a couple of months ago.  Around the same time he’d received a letter telling him his housing benefit was being cut.  He wasn’t sure why exactly, he already paid £6 a week towards his rent out of his benefit, now he’d have to try find another fiver.  His landlord had laughed when he’d try to talk about decreasing his rent and warned him it would be going up again soon.  He had looked around for somewhere else, but the same message came back time and time again,no DSS.

Jim swore blind that he’d never received the letter asking him to attend a Work Programme interview, whatever that was.  He checked his post religiously.  The person on the end of the telephone, just a kid by the sound of it, patronisingly informed him that they were just trying to help him, but if he didn’t turn up to his appointments then his benefits might be affected.    They were just doing their job Jim decided, although it seemed strange that a big charity would be ringing him up and not some government department.  Still it re-assured him in a way.  A charity would have his best interests at heart after all.

He was duly given another appointment which he agreed to attend.  When the day came though it was a different matter.  Jim had already been ordered to bed by his doctor after he was struck down with Winter flu.  Then he awoke with scythes of pain rocketing up and down his back.  Coughing and spluttering, he could hardly even make it to the telephone.  He definitely had a fever, he could feel sweat covering his body despite shivering in the flat he could never seem to afford to get properly warm anymore.

They’d seemed nice on the telephone.  They had warned him that they would have to refer him to the Jobcentre and his benefits might be affected but they would recommend that that didn’t happen and they were sure everything would be fine.  Jim was glad to be dealing with a charity, who really did seem to care.

That had been a fortnight or so ago Jim muses as he nurses the hot cup of tea in the cafe in Asda.  He is treating himself to egg and bacon, it’s Christmas after all.  Proudly he looks at the gaudy plastic toys he has bought his two grandsons.  He’s never heard of Ben 10, but he recognises the Cyberman action figure he’s bought the eldest.  Funny he thinks, who’d have guessed back then we’d be buying Dr Who toys for our grand kids.  It had been difficult, but he was chuffed with himself for managing to save enough to make sure he didn’t arrive for Christmas Day empty handed.

Feeling happier than he has in sometime, Jim decides to face the inevitable and takes the crumpled brown envelope from his pocket.  Carefully using a knife to slide it open he begins to read.  Phrases jump out of the cold, and all too familiar language.  Repeated failure to attend, new incentives to find employment, lack of engagement, and finally, sanctions, benefit payments suspended,  period of four weeks, running from 20th December.

Immediately Jim begins to shake.  Dropping the letter his hands fall to the table.  At first he thinks he is having another stroke, as his whole body seems to go numb.  A jolt of pain shoots up his spine as he stand up too fast, as if to prove to himself he still can.  Gathering up his bags, his palms slippy with sweat he looks around desperately.  He can see a cash point through the windows.  A tight knot in his stomach means he doesn’t want his eggs and bacon anymore.  He rushes, as fast as he can, out of the cafe.

Waiting behind someone in the queue at the cashpoint is unbearable.  What on earth is making them take so long.   He keeps telling himself it will be fine, as he starts to try and calculate just how bad things are.  When his turn comes he almost drops the card, his fingers hurting as he keys in the numbers in the December cold.  Hitting the button to check his balance, he prays, to anyone who might listen, that the almost £200 benefit payment he is expecting to be in his account has arrived.

His balance is in single figures.  He has no money.  As he fishes in his pockets for change, pulling out a handful of coppers and just a single pound coin, he realises he has no money at all.

Jim tries to calm himself down as he starts walking faster than his body would usually allow him, fear and adrenalin temporarily blocking out the pain.  He marches in the direction of the Post Office, his first thought is to stand in line to at least take out his last few pounds.  He’d been expecting to jump on a bus into the city and get a coach and he curses himself for not booking in advance. He needs to ring his daughter, to explain why he won’t be coming, but he must not tell her the truth, he knows that.

As he fidgets in the Post Office queue he makes a plan, and after several attempts manages to call his daughter on the mobile phone she had insisted on buying him last Christmas.

“so sorry love.  Old Bob, on his own since his wife died, can’t leave him alone pet, not at Christmas, not my oldest pal, tell grandkids  I’m right sorry and I’ll make it up to ’em in New Year”

In reality old Bob was having a whale of a time at his son’s house in New Zealand, but Jim can’t tell his daughter that.  He’s a proud old sod, and isn’t having anyone feeling sorry for him.

Jim collapses into his armchair when he arrives back at his flat and sobs in a way he never knew he could.  Banging his fist again and again on the cushion he swears, loudly, loudly enough for the neighbours to hear.  But no-one comes.

He is that way for some time.  Just sitting in the empty, cold flat.  All the loneliness, all the pain, all the fretting about money, and scrimping and saving, and it has all come to this.  Nothing left, nothing to offer.  Perhaps the newspapers are right Jim thinks, perhaps he is one of those scroungers.  A freeloader, that’s what they call people like him.  A parasite who can’t even get it together to get to see his bloody kid, and his grand kids, on Christmas day.

They’re better off without me anyway Jim realises suddenly.  His daughter certainly had been,  Soon as she left university she prospered, they’ve got a lovely house up in Newcastle.  Aye she’ll be fine Jim thinks, she’ll get by whatever happens to me.  I only make everyone else as miserable.

He thinks of his ex-wife, and her new husband.  Couldn’t even bloody get that right he says to himself, and I’m still in love with the old bag after all these years despite everything.  And he thinks of his aching body, that gets worse everyday, and his mind, that just seems to forget things recently, and that at only 56 this is it.  All there is left it seems is to wait to die.

At that moment he knows he just can’t cope anymore.  Can’t face another cut to his money, can’t face another appointment, or assessment, or letter in a fucking brown envelope.  Doesn’t want to think about the debt he is already in, or the rent going up.  Doesn’t want to feel the cold anymore.  Doesn’t want to feel guilty and desperate and ashamed of the bare minimum that benefits equip his life with.  He just doesn’t want it anymore.  Any of it.

Jim scrapes together every last penny in the flat to take with him as he ventures out into the cold Christmas Eve.  It’s late.  He’s spent the whole day, and much of the evening, just sitting, and crying, and thinking.  And then a final clarity emerges from the grief.  So here he is heading to the only shop he knows will be open at this time of night.

Back at the flat Jim stares at the television with gaudily dressed youngsters making some kind of shocking noise that he thinks they call music these days.  Won’t miss that, Jim almost laughs to himself as he cracks the seal on the cheap bottle of vodka he just about managed to afford.  He takes a heavy glug, it burns a little, but he forces himself.  Feeling a little sick he pauses a while and then pours a full tumbler and quickly drinks down as much as he can.  He was never really a spirit drinker.

He takes the first tablet off the little pile he has made on the table next to his glass.  Taking a deep breath he puts it down again.  Not like this he thinks.

Walking across the room he takes the grand kid’s Christmas presents out of their bags and leaves them in a prominent place.  Then, with hands trembling despite the drink, he scrawls a note to his daughter, “I’m so sorry my love, I just can’t”.  He’s not sure it makes sense, but it’s all he can think of to say.

Setting himself back down he notices most of the usual nagging pain is gone.  Must be the strong drink he thinks, should have taken it up years ago.  He fills his glass again and takes a large mouthful.  The next drink washes down a handful of pills.  Then another.  Then another.

Jim takes one last drink noticing the bottle is over half empty.  He leans back in his chair and closes his eyes.  As his mind starts to fog, the world slips delicately away.

Don’t cry for Jim.  Avenge him.

(Jim’s fine by the way.  The daft old bugger drank too much and threw the pills up  all over himself a few hours later.  Took him ages to clean up the mess.  After a fitful nights sleep he was awoken by his doorbell buzzing.  His daughter hadn’t believed a word he said and was here, with the grand kids in the back, to drive him up to Newcastle)

Atos in the Dock

Patrick LynchFrom Public Interest lawyers via Disabled people Against Cuts

A disabled man who was wrongly found fit for work under the government’s disability benefit assessment scheme is launching legal action to try and stop more disabled people being wrongly kicked off the social safety net.

Patrick Lynch, a former social care worker who was forced to quit work because of his impairments, is seeking a judicial review of the controversial disability benefit assessment scheme run by Atos.

The Work Capability Assessment (WCA), which determines eligibility for Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) for people whose health or impairment stops them from working, is at present hugely unreliable, with many people wrongly found fit for work despite severely debilitating and in some cases life-threatening conditions.

The legal action is seeking a ruling that would require Atos, the private firm that runs the WCA process on behalf of the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP), to grant all ESA claimants the unequivocal right to have their assessment recorded and to receive their WCA report before a decision on their eligibility is made – both key safeguards against people’s health conditions being misreported or ignored altogether.

DWP research and a survey conducted by Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC) both show widespread demand from claimants to have their WCA assessments recorded, to ensure their medical conditions are not misrepresented in order to wrongly strip them of benefits. But while the DWP granted the right to request a recording earlier this year, there are considerable bureaucratic obstacles to both securing a recording and then using it in an appeal, with Atos recently introducing a restrictive ‘consent form’ for those wanting a recording of their assessment.

The case is being brought by Public Interest Lawyers, and draws on research by Disabled People Against Cuts and the TUC-backed campaign group False Economy.

Mr Lynch wants the DWP and Atos to adopt the following safeguards:

a)    Universal recording to ensure that all claimants undergoing a WCA or an assessment under the new PIP benefit system will have the right to have their assessment recorded;

b)    Claimants will get a copy of the WCA report before a decision is made on their eligibility for ESA, and will have the chance to raise any concerns with the DWP decision maker;

c)    The DWP/Atos will be responsible for obtaining medical evidence from the medical professional named by the claimant;

d)    The DWP ensures that all assessment centres are fully accessible.

Taken together, these measures would address some of the inaccuracy inherent in the disability benefits system. Disability campaigners have raised repeated concerns over how the WCA process causes huge stress for ESA recipients, with many disabled people’s lives ruined after wrongly having their benefits removed.

Mr Lynch, now a campaigner with DPAC, was found fit for work following a flawed WCA report in 2010, before the DWP reconsidered and reversed the decision. His most recent WCA this year upheld his benefit entitlement, but even then Atos’ report of his assessment contained inaccuracies.

In bringing the action Mr Lynch notes

Disabled people and the poor in this Country have always struggled to get what they are duly entitled to. The fight must go on to address the injustice caused by this out of touch Government.

A DPAC spokesperson said:

The evidence is clear – more than 98 percent of those responding to our survey said they wanted their assessment recorded and that they believed it would provide a better account. However, many reported a whole host of barriers in getting a recording in place.”

Blogging will be lighter than usual probably until the New Year.

£60,000 A Job – The Shocking Cost of the Work Programme For Sickness Benefit Claimants

a4e-poverty-pimpsDespite the alleged ‘payment by results’ model much hyped by Iain Duncan Smith, tax payers could have paid out up to £60,000 for every job gained by sickness or disability claimants on the Work Programme.

Whilst much of the attention this week has been focused on the appalling job entry rates for those on mainstream unemployment benefits, the performance figures for those on sickness or disability benefits has received less scrutiny.

Under the Work Programme, claimants on the Work Related Activity Group (WRAG), are now forced to attend job search sessions or face losing benefits.  This group represent those who have been assessed as being able to work at some point in the future and therefore not eligible for full sickness or disability benefits.

In a damning admission the DWP this week showed that just 1000 people in this group had gained work out of a total of 79,000 people referred to the scheme.  Most of these claimants will have be sent to carry out job search with charities who are sub-contracted to deliver the Work Programme.

Charities share lucrative Work Programme pay outs with the prime contractors, the welfare-to-work parasites such as A4e and G4S who run the scheme.  Each referral to the programme for WRAG claimants comes with a £600 ‘attachment fee’ meaning that around £47.4 million pounds has been paid out so far.

On top of this the providers are paid a job entry fee after the participant has been in work for six months.  They are then paid further fees for up to two years as long as the job lasts.  The maximum that can be paid out for someone who stays in work for two years is £13,720 – the minimum for a job that lasts just six months is £1,200.

This means that between somewhere between £48.6 and £60 million pounds has been handed over to charities and their poverty pimp bosses.  With only 1000 people finding work this works out at a cost of a staggering job outcome cost of between £48,000 and £60,000 pounds each.

The total spend on Work Programme for sickness and disability benefits is around the same as the money saved by the Remploy closures.  Since a small amount of WRAG claimants would have been expected to find work without any help from the Work Programme, it seems this money has simply been flushed down the toilet.

Perhaps most galling of all, some of the money spent has been handed to the very same charities who supported the closure of Remploy such as Mencap.

Under ordinary circumstances this amount of money being spent on providing access to work for those who are disabled or unwell might be seen as a positive step.  Yet all of those in the WRAG group have been signed off work by their own GPs.  With long term unemployment soaring, all the Work Programme has represented is a programme of harassment and benefit sanctions for people unable to work due to illness or disability.  Money that could have Saved Remploy, or the Independent Living Fund, has been squandered by charities and private companies  involved in the Work Programme.

Work Programme charity Scope have been quick to condemn the dreadful Work Programme performance figures.  Yet they themselves are one of the largest charities to profit from the scheme.  Scope claim disabled people need more “tailored and targeted support to find a job and the Work Programme just doesn’t offer them this.”

If Scope haven’t been offering this support then it begs the question of what exactly have these tens of millions of pounds been spent on?  The Government has responded by giving charities the powers to force disabled people to attend full time unpaid workfare.  The very strategy which has been so disastrous for non-disabled unemployed people is now to be inflicted upon people who are unable to work due to sickness or disability.

Whilst some charities, including MIND, and Addaction have announced they will not co-operate with workfare for disabled people, the silence from @scope so far has been deafening.

On December 8th a National Week of Action Against Workfare Charities will take place with protests, pickets and actions already expected in Glasgow, Leeds, Birmingham, Brighton, London, Edinburgh and Liverpool.

Service users and supporters are waking up the true motivations of these organisations who have so willingly profited from the most inept and brutal welfare-to-work programme ever devised.  It’s time to hold so called charities to account for their involvement in a scheme that seems to do little more than punish claimants with workfare and benefit sanctions simply for being sick or disabled .

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.

The Lying, Cheating, Fake-Healing Hands of Chris Grayling and the DWP

What a difference a year makes.  Last year the right wing tabloids were emblazoned with headlines accusing 75% of people on sickness or disability benefits of being scroungers.  Yesterday the DWP released the first set of figures for those on Incapacity Benefit who have been re-assessed by poverty pimps Atos.  In less than 12 months the number deemed ‘Fit For Work and therefore scrounging has dropped to only 37%. Another 34% are deemed able to work at some point in the future or with support.  So they are only scrounging a bit now.

There are two reasons for the huge drop in the number of people accused of abusing the benefits system and neither has to do with the Government’s welfare policy.  The first is that soaring unemployment and some very hard campaigning, mostly by benefit claimants themselves, has helped to change, if only slightly, public opinion towards sick and disabled claimants.  The second is that (as pointed out in the comments by @luckylove) the Government’s recent report on tackling hate crime included an action point that the DWP would work to address negative media stereotypes of disabled people.

How exactly Chris Grayling was doing this when he yesterday accused disabled people on benefits as living ‘wasted lives’ is somewhat unclear.  But it does mean that he can’t fib quite as much as he used to about sick and disabled people.

Of course this hasn’t stopped him fibbing entirely.  Chris Grayling is well known as a lying bastard after all.  He’s conveniently ignored the huge numbers of people who successfully appeal against sickness benefit decisions in these figures.  And the DWP conveniently forgets to mention that most of the people stripped of sickness benefits are not ‘fit as a fiddle’ as the Sun today claims.  In fact many of them have serious health problems including Multiple Sclerosis, Parkinson’s Disease or enduring and debilitating mental health conditions. So it appears the DWP’s efforts to address negative media stereotypes of disabled people by not lying quite as much as they used to, are failing as miserably as the welfare policies they are pursuing.

The current testing system, carried out by private company Atos, is not really designed to assess people’s health, but to strip benefits from as many people as possible.  It is therefore of little surprise that figures should reveal so many people are ‘fit for work’ when the goal posts have been shifted so significantly.  It should be not forgotten that those on Incapacity Benefit have not just been deemed unable to work by their own doctors, but also by a DWP doctor, often several times.  Long term claimants were regularly re-assessed by Doctors long before Atos and their short computer based test came along and attempted to redefine sickness and disability.

An international comparison is perhaps useful when discussing rates of disability and ill health in the population.  The UK does not have significantly more people on sickness and disability benefits than other comparable economies.  In fact a higher percentage of disabled people in the UK are estimated to work than in Germany, Australia, Canada and the United States.

Different country’s welfare systems and policies towards disability and sickness vary enormously so it is difficult to make precise comparisons.  An example of this is Japan, which has relatively low numbers of people on disability benefits, but many people retire at 55 and the state pension age is 60.

However some figures are available which give an indication of rates of sickness and disability around the world.  A Parliamentary Briefing  released last June (PDF) shows that around 6.6% of people of working age in the UK currently receive an out of work health related benefit such as Incapacity Benefit.  How this compares to other countries is shown in the graph reproduced below of sickness and disability benefit rates in OECD countries in 2007.  The UK’s current rate of claimants is indeed  slightly higher than the average amongst OECD countries which is around 6%.  It should be remembered however that this includes countries like Korea and Mexico who are not famous for their welfare provision.  The UK has significantly less people on disability benefits than Sweden, Denmark and Holland and a only slighter higher number than the United States.

If the Atos holocaust continues at the same pace then only 4% of the UK’s population will remain on sickness benefits, far less than almost all the countries in the OECD.  Whilst Spain has a similar percentage on health related benefits, tens of thousands of disabled people are employed in Remploy style schemes, which is the very type of employment support that the Government is closing down here.  It has also been estimated that 90% of disabled people in Spain are in moderate or extreme poverty.  Is this the type of future that Grayling plans for disabled people in the UK?

Even more staggering is that if those placed in the Work Related Activity Group also find work, as Chris Grayling claims they could (and should),  then the UK would only have 1.9% of sick and disabled people deemed unable to work.  That’s not an efficient welfare policy, it’s a fucking medical miracle.   Britain could well overtake Lourdes as a tourist destination as millions flock here to bathe in the healing waters of the Humber estuary or sample the magical cure-all elixirs of lager, fags and chips.

Perhaps the most revealing indicator of whether the UK truly has the lowest levels of sickness and disability in the world could be determined by looking at how many people deemed fit for work by Atos are actually finding jobs.

The answer, unsurprisingly, is virtually none of them.  A study released at the end of 2010 (PDF) interviewed 3,650 people who had made a claim for the new Employment Support Allowance (ESA) which has replaced Incapacity Benefit for new claimants.  As previously discussed, many of these people had stopped their claim during the assessment process because they found jobs.  Only 10% were placed in the Support Group, meaning that they are deemed as being unfit for any kind of work, a trend which if it continues could mean only 0.65% of people in the UK are unable to work due to sickness or disability.  God bless Chris Grayling and his magic healing hands.  Neither Jesus nor antibiotics have had such an impressive record at healing the sick as Atos and the Tory party.

Of those who were found Fit For Work a less than impressive 13% had actually found work six months later.  It is important to note that those surveyed were all new claimants.  Over half of these people went back to work with the same employers they had been forced to leave due to sickness or injury.  Many people only claim sickness benefits for a short period, so a Fit For Work outcome may have confirmed what they already knew and they were about to end claims and return to work anyway.

Of the 87% who were still out of work,  over half claimed they were still too ill to be able to work.  Only 28% believed they had a chance in the employment market and were actively seeking work and just 19% said they did not have a health problem, disability or illness which limited daily activities or work activities.  57% of the group judged Fit For Work said that their health was the biggest barrier to finding employment, whilst a lack of local jobs was given as a factor by just 31%.

The report also well demonstrates that of the meagre amount who found work, those who were older, looking after children or had recognisable disadvantages to employment such as low literacy, were far less likely to have found employment.

For those placed in the Work Related Activity Group (WRAG) the results are even more stark.  Whilst  4% were in some form of work at the time of the survey, half of these were in Permitted Work.  This is part time work which does not effect Employment Support Allowance, and must not last for over a year.

The survey points out that for the 2%  who “report they are in work
but that this is not Permitted Work. It may simply be that they are not aware of the term Permitted Work; another possibility is that they may be in informal employment.”

Another possibility not mentioned is that they may be undertaking voluntary work.  It is quite possible that virtually nobody in the WRAG group had actually come off benefits and gone into full time paid work.

The Government is dragging their feet on telling us how many of the 20,000 people in the WRAG group who were bullied onto the Work Programme last year have actually found jobs.  That they know and don’t want to say would suggest it ain’t many.

It’s therefore increasingly reasonable to assume that Chris Grayling is not actually the all healing Messiah, he’s a dirty fucking snake oil salesman.  Sickness and disability rates in the UK are pretty much the same as everywhere else, and no-one is finding work due to the Welfare reforms.  This Government can now proudly proclaim to have the most vicious regime for people with terminal illnesses or severe disabilities in any developed economy, yet any financial savings gained are trivial.

Claimants are dumped from one benefit onto another.  Whilst the loss of income will force the most vulnerable people in the country into desperate poverty, the savings to the tax payer are negligible.  With billions of pounds currently being handed out to poverty pimps like Atos and A4e it’s quite possible that this cruel onslaught is actually costing more money than just leaving people the fuck alone.

Most sick and disabled people would love to get back to work, but not by being coerced or forced onto workfare.  There is little or no provision for genuinely high quality training and education, and just as importantly there are no jobs.  Whilst the business community laps up benefit bashing they are hardly going out of their way to provide decent paid work for sick and disabled people.

The benefits holocaust isn’t helping anyone and is forcing millions into poverty, homelessness and even greater ill health.  The recent outrage at forced labour under the various workfare schemes shows that the public have had enough.  It may have seemed an attractive idea to blame the unemployed, sick and disabled for unemployment, but attitudes are starting the change.  Even the Daily Mail now has one popular columnist regularly lambasting the Government over the inhumane welfare reforms.  The UK is still one of the richest countries in the world.  That the most vulnerable and poorest members of this society have come under such unrelenting and brutal attack should shame every Tory, Lib Dem or Labour Party member who have all connived in this atrocity.

Every suicide that has happened due to Welfare Reform is blood on their hands and will be avenged.  The businesses and charities profiting from this sick farce should remember the call of the recent workfare protests.  If you exploit us, we will shut you down.

DWP Are Lying Bastards Claim DWP

Last year the DWP released figures which claimed that 75% of people who had  applied for Employment Support Allowance (ESA) were in fact fit for work.  This led to lurid headlines in the Daily Express which declared that 75% of people on sickness benefits are ‘skiving’.

The minster Chris Grayling was quoted at the time as saying:  ” We now know very clearly that the vast majority of new claimants for sickness benefits are in fact able to return to work. “

If not an outright lie, this was a very deliberate attempt to mislead the public.  Which is lying really.  And he hasn’t stopped lying since.  One Tory MP, Philip Davies went even further claiming: “These figures lay bare the extent of the abuse that was going on under the previous regime”.

36% of this abuse was carried out by people who’s claim was withdrawn before a decision on entitlement was reached.  This was seen as evidence of fraudulent behaviour.  In fact, the DWP’s own research indicates that it was the precise opposite.

A DWP report quietly published last month (PDF) interviewed people who made a claim for ESA and had either been unsuccessful or had withdrawn their claim.  This report explicitly states that: “Most of the interviewees in this research whose claim had been closed or withdrawn before it was fully assessed said they had ended their ESA claim as their health condition had improved.”

In other words they did the honest thing and stopped claiming sickness benefits because they no longer needed it.

This is not something that should have surprised the DWP because back in 2010 a report revealed (PDF)  that 41% of ESA claimants who ended their claim did so because they got better and went back to work.  A further 30% went onto JSA and only 3% claimed that their health was still so bad they were still unable to work.

So both the DWP and the Tories knew this when they attempted to portray people who had ended their ESA claims as skivers.

The recent report also reveals that many claimants are staggeringly honest, something that’s unlikely to feature on the front page of the Express any time soon.  One claimant who ended their claim before their assessment said:

“I was feeling better and I really wanted to get back into normal society and get a job. So I signed myself off. I went into the Jobcentre and told them that I was fit to go back to work.”

The latest report also reveals one of the key reasons people make a claim for ESA is because the Jobcentre told them to: “The ESA claim was often initiated on the advice of, or with the assistance of, a Jobcentre Plus adviser; often following a referral from the individual’s General Practitioner (GP)”

So the abuse claimed by the Tory MP and the Daily Express appears to have been carried out with the direct connivance of the DWP themselves.  It seems that there is an increasingly no man’s land for claimants, whereby one DWP official says they are too sick to work, but another DWP department says they aren’t sick enough to claim ESA.

This group are often the most vulnerable to benefit sanctions as they may be unable to complete the jobseeking activity demanded of all Job Seekers Allowance claimants due to health reasons.  This is likely to be further compounded should they be referred to the Work Programme where they could face six months workfare or face losing their benefits.

The report found: “Very few customers remembered Jobcentre Plus advisers asking about their health and very few had their health conditions taken into account on their Jobseekers Agreement.”

With more and more people being denied sickness benefits due to the brutal health testing regime overseen by Atos ‘Healthcare’, the number of sick and disabled people facing sanctions is likely to soar.

Whether by accident or design the system punishes the most vulnerable.  Those who are intimidated by the thought of appealing decisions, or too sick, too isolated, or just too beaten down by poverty and ill health to make a fuss are the ones likely to face sanctions or lose vital benefits.  The pretence is that the constant health testing and sanctions regime is designed to give people the push they need to get them back on track and working to increase the profits of the rich like good little subjects.  The sad truth is that all these little pushes are causing many people to fall off the cliff.

More and more benefit claimants are ending their own lives under the pressure of poverty and the endless attacks on welfare.  Perhaps it’s time the DWP was honest about their intentions and included suicide as a successful outcome for the poverty pimp bastards like Atos and A4e who carry out the department’s dirty work.