Katy a journalist from BBC South Today, regional TV News for Hampshire, Dorset, West Sussex and a bit of Surrey is looking into what impact the change to Personal Independent Payments has had on disabled people in the South.
She is currently finding out how many people who’ve applied for PiP since it was rolled out have been successful and would like to hear from anyone who has unsuccessfully applied for PiP – or has had severe delays with their application.
She’s interested to kow how this has affected you whether it’s had a financial impact or just been more stressful than the old system.
If you are willing to talk to Katy she’ d be grateful if you could contact her on 02380 374540, 07732 986357 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
DPAC has removed our most recent piece on Anthony Kletzander from our website due to a ‘cease and desist’ letter from solicitors representing Nua Healthcare threatening legal action against us for raising awareness of the case. DPAC have published pieces on Anthony and his situation since late 2013. We firmly believe that Anthony’s desire for independent living, instead of institutionalisation should be upheld, as per Article 19 of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. We also believe that we have a duty to raise public awareness on Anthony’s experiences.
We will continue to campaign and to support Anthony, his parents: Linda and Sigi and his chosen advocate Joe Whittaker in any way we can. Anthony’s parents Linda and Sigi kindly agreed to an interview from their home in Ireland. We are grateful for their time and honesty.
Interview As you may know supportive web sites and grass root disability groups in the UK and Europe received a solicitors ‘cease and desist’ letter regarding talking about Anthony’s circumstances, we can not talk about that specifically, but as Anthony’s parents and his legal guardians-what are your thoughts on: a) the suggestion of the protection Anthony’s ‘confidentially’ :what has Anthony said to you on this, what is it that he wants to say about his circumstances? And as his parents what is it you would like to say?
Anthony repeatedly asks us to get him out of Nua and that he wants independent living in his own home near to his family. We fully support Anthony and take our lead from Anthony. He wants us to do whatever is necessary to help him to get back to independent living
b) We understand that Anthony’s chosen means of communication has been denied, can you tell us a bit about that?
Despite the fact that Nua were given Speech and Language reports from two Health Service Executive (HSE ) Senior Speech and Language Therapists, Speech and Language report from Central Remedial Clinic Speech Therapist and Marion Stanton communication expert in U.K no staff at Nua are trained up in his communication Marion offered to come to Ireland (in March 2014) to train Nua staff, but Nua did not invite her over in fact Noel Dunne said on the phone that they would get their own experts.
2.Anthony lived in his own flat with his own personal assistants for almost 3 years – why do you think it is proving so difficult for Anthony to exercise his right to independent living by living in a place of his own choosing now?
Having had independent living from 2010-2012 with Cheshire Ireland where Cheshire took a back seat, we recruited Anthony’s staff with Anthony, put together a schedule which Anthony helped in planning and we negotiated with Dublin City University (DCU) and Anthony attended DCU lectures which is something he always wanted to do. In 2013 Anthony service was given over to Áiseanna Tacaíochta Network (ATN) by HSE with no meaningful negotiations with Anthony or us, no explanation was given. Martin Naughton the Director of ATN carried out the negotiations with Geraldine Murphy HSE Disability Manager. Martin then imposed his staff on Anthony, none of which believed in Anthony’s communication and Anthony’s whole quality of life suffered a great deal under the service of ATN. Martin tried to dictate visiting hours for Anthony, restricted his movement. Basically we had to go to Anthony’s home every evening to take Anthony out as he was effectively under virtual house arrest. Martin also applied to the Dept of Social Protection to have Anthony’s personal disability allowance payment paid into the ATN company. Following Martin’s email we contacted the department objecting and it took about a year to sort out the stoppage of Anthony’s payment due to ATN’s actions.
3.What does Anthony say to people fighting the campaign to get him independent living?
Anthony continues to ask us to keep the campaign going. He also appeals to us to ask Nua to stop the forced medication on him. Anthony has know Joe (Whittaker) for about 11 years and always asks us to ask Joe to continue the campaign for him. We always reassure Anthony that Joe and we his parents are continually campaigning and won’t stop until Anthony is released to Independent living. We need to keep repeating this to Anthony to try to help him to survive his time with the Nua institution
4 What efforts have HSE made to discuss Anthony’s wishes for independent living with you and Anthony?
Possibilities Plus offered HSE their service to provide Independent Living. Geraldine Murphy has told them that as far as she is concerned the Nua arrangement is permanent. We continue to write to Sheila Marshall the other Disability Manager involved.
5.Who do you recognise outside the family as closest to Anthony and who has Anthony chosen as an advocate?
Anthony chose Joe Whittaker as his advocate and we keep Anthony informed about the campaign. We Anthony’s parents feel encouraged and very appreciative of Joe’s on going support. We are all grateful that many more people know what is going on and we really appreciate all the support that Anthony is being given by growing numbers of people.
6.Prior to Anthony being institutionalised did Anthony have a history of hospitalisation
No, prior to ATN taking over the management of Anthony service, Anthony was on a strict gluten and dairy free diet. He was not given ANY medication but took natural supplements. When ATN took over Anthony’s service ATN stopped Anthony’s special diet against the advice of the family doctor claiming that they found him to be “often hungry”. This caused Anthony pain and subsequently contributed to his virtual “house arrest”.
7.When did forced medication start for Anthony
Anthony was medication free when he entered Redwood ( a prior institution). However three days after he entered Redwood we got a phone call confirming that Anthony’s crucial special gluten and dairy free diet was not being adhered to by Redwood and that they were giving him medication.
8.Did Anthony have a history of being hospitalised prior to being institutionalised
No. Despite the fact that we gave Redwood Anthony’s GP letter and met with Management when we were told that Anthony was been given medication and that his diet was not adhered to. Anthony was hospitalised by emergency ambulance with seizures for the first time in his life. Tests showed no epilepsy.
9.Did Nua continue with the drugs regime
When Anthony started in Nua he was not drugged according to our information. However in March 2014 Anthony was admitted to hospital by emergency ambulance. Since Anthony started in Nua he has been admitted twice to hospital by emergency ambulance and continues to be medicated.
10.Did Nua give you the list of Anthony’s medication
No despite the fact that we repeatedly asked Nua for the list of Anthony’s medication they refused to give it to us. We finally got the list of medication when our solicitor requested the medication list from HSE when Sheila Marshall, Disability Manager issued the medication to our solicitor so we then had access to this crucial information.
11.How does Anthony spend his weekdays
When Anthony started at Nua we attended a conference explained the significance of training for staff of Anthony’s communication. We also told everyone who attended the meeting from HSE and Nua that Anthony hates farms. He attends the Nua farm daily where we recently witnessed Anthony shovelling manure into a wheelbarrow in a highly distressed state and being told “good boy keep going”. Anthony is a 26 year old man not a “boy”.
12.How did Anthony appear on your recent visit to him on the Nua farm
When we drove into the car park we could hear Anthony’s anguished sounds and rushed to find him. We were shocked to see him shovelling manure into a heaped wheelbarrow. Anthony’s anguished sounds increased significantly whilst bringing the heaped wheelbarrow down the very steep hill to the lower Nua gardens. We emailed Nua voicing our concerns but received a registered letter from Nua yesterday informing us that Anthony has been returned to the farm as of 8 September 2014 so we continue to worry significantly about Anthony’s health and safety in Nua.
13. What would you say to parents/people in a similar situation to that of Anthony?
We would say never give up. Everyone is entitled to be listened to, no one’s basic human rights should be abused. We would encourage people to speak up if they can.
14.What would you and Anthony say to the people supporting Anthony?
Anthony is continually thanking people for their support which he needs to stay strong. Anthony is particularly grateful to his and our friend Joe Whittaker
Video of Anthony typing thank you to supporters
If you can help please contact Anthony’s chosen advocate Joe: email@example.com
ATN Áiseanna Tacaíochta Network
DCU Dublin City University
DPAC Disabled People against Cuts
HSE Health Service Executive: responsible for the provision of healthcare providing health and personal social services for everyone living in Ireland, with public funds.
TTIP: The ‘harmonization’ of regulation for the benefit of corporations
Negotiated in secret and widely opposed by civil society and community groups, the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) calls for the ‘harmonisation’ of regulations between the United States and the E.U. Safety, Health and Environmental regulations in all areas are expected to be decimated if this anti-democratic re-write of common protections for workers, the environment, and the public is permitted. Corporate interests with privileged access to the negotiating process hope to achieve technocratic control of regulatory science. To learn more come to this public discussion event:
Linda Kaucher – Stop TTIP!
Wendy Grossman – Open Rights Group
plus tbc speaker on fracking/GMOs/chemical regulation
Monday October 6th, 7-9pm @ The Feminist Library, 5 Westminster Bridge Rd, London SE1 7XW
This is the Guide to the Oakley Report and the government’s response on JSA sanctions written by David Webster, Honorary Senior Research Fellow in Urban Studies at Glasgow University.
This guide explores the remit of the review, the areas covered or left untreated, the concerns raised or ignored, and the recommendations. It also looks at the government’s response and at the recommendations the government accepted for implementation. In spite of the positive spin the government put on its response, only 7 out of the 17 recommendations have been accepted and two do not have a fixed timescale.
The government defined very narrowly the terms of reference for the sanction review, which was only supposed to look at the communication issues with claimants and it chose to carry out this review an academic working for a right-wing think tank, who supports sanctions and had even been instrumental in promoting the rationale and the need for sanctions.
The government has also put a veil of secrecy over the contributors to this review, with a few exceptions.
In spite of this, the review is more critical than the government expected, but it does not take away the need for a wider independent inquiry into the sanctions system.
This briefing has been published on the DPAC website with the kind agreement of Dr David Webster .
Motion to be debated at full council on Tuesday 16th September
The ability to be able to live independently is a fundamental right for disabled people – it is enshrined in Article 19 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities . Over 18,000 disabled people in the UK, including over a hundred in Bristol, are only able to live independently by accessing the support they need through the Independent Living Fund (ILF).
Therefore, the Coalition Government’s decision to close the ILF will have seriously repercussions for many of our fellow citizens, denying them the right to choose to live in their own home, and to be active members of their local communities.
On Wednesday, the Bristol Green Party will ask the council to vote to ring-fence all funds transferred from the ILF, and to call upon the national leaders of the main political parties to reverse the closure of the ILF. If passed, it is believed that Bristol will become the first city to take an official position against the closure of the ILF.
“We are calling for the funds that will be transferred locally to be ring-fenced but we also need any future national government to commit to providing the necessary resources to enable disabled citizens to live independently.” said Tony Dyer, the Green Party candidate for Bristol South, “Welfare reform, including changes to incapacity benefit and the introduction of personal independence payments have badly affected many disabled people – they have too often borne the brunt of this government’s cuts.
“Changes to the ILF fund in particular are causing stress for many people who depend on the fund for their support needs and who fear that it will be cut” he continued; “Disability rights groups are also concerned that some people who will have been eligible for ILF support have not been able to apply to the fund since it was closed to new applicants and thus we are also calling for the Council to ensure that these people are not forgotten.”
What is the Independent Living Fund? 
The ILF was originally set up in 1988 as a national resource dedicated to the financial support of disable people, enabling them to choose to live in their communities rather than being forced in to residential care.
The ILF is amongst the most efficient of all public sector organisations, with administration costs of just 2% compared to an average of 16% for local authorities. It also has a 98% satisfaction rating amongst its users. In addition, the average weekly ILF fund of £345 to allow disabled people to live at home should be compared with an average weekly cost to the taxpayer of £738 per week to provide residential care.
Despite this exemplar performance, the Coalition government announced in December 2012 it will close the scheme. This decision was subsequently overturned at the Court of Appeal where a judge found that the decision breached the government’s equality duty.
However, the Coalition Government has since repeated its intention to close the fund in June 2015 and transfer its funding responsibilities to local authorities but has only committed to funding local authorities for one year. Disabled groups have already stated their intention to also challenge this decision in the courts. Meanwhile, in August, the UK became the first country to be the subject of an investigation by a high level United Nations commission into “grave violations” of the rights of disabled people. 
“I am proud that the Green Party is raising this issue with the Council.”
said Rob Telford, Green Party councillor for Ashley. “The UN human rights investigation to find out if Coalition Government policies have led to ‘grave violations’ of the rights of disabled people comes in the wake of studies showing that those with disabilities have been impacted disproportionately by the cuts – almost 20 times as much. Here in Bristol we must aim to do everything we can to ensure disabled people can live independent, dignified lives and be allowed to contribute to our communities. Any effective future solution needs to directly involve disabled people themselves in the decision making process”
Many of the actions called for by the Greens are based on the concerns raised by Disability Rights UK following responses to Freedom of Information requests sent to all the relevant local authorities. Only 10 local authorities confirmed they were planning to ring-fence ILF transfer funding. 
After a lovely warm summer colder weather is on the way. As the weather gets colder we know many people’s thoughts will turn to their energy bills and to thinking about ways to stay warm over the winter. But we don’t have to struggle alone!
Fuel Poverty Action are ready with events and workshops and have resources that will support you or group to keep warm, fight the Big Six and to demand a energy system that works for all of us.
Invite us along to your meeting -we can speak about fuel poverty, just listen to you or we can do:
‘Energy Rights’ workshops. Think you’re getting ripped off? Being pushed onto an unwanted prepayment meter? Got debt you can’t pay? Not sure what your landlords are allowed to do regarding energy bills? Want to learn what your rights are when dealing with energy companies and what you’re entitled to?Invite us to put on our energy rights workshop- learn how to get the most, and pay the least, out of the current energy system and get together to think about ways we can help to protect each other from the brutality of the energy companies. We can do it in an hour, or less or more, and it can slot into your usual meeting or we can put on a special workshop. Interested? Email: firstname.lastname@example.org and/or a… ‘Keep Warm Cafe’ Want to find out ways to save money on your bills, how to insulate your home very cheaply or avoid a prepayment meter? Just want to chat about what’s wrong with the energy system over a cup of tea in a warm space? Invite us to the venue you use, give us a slot in your meeting or we can put on a special ‘Keep Warm Cafe’ at a time convenient to you. We can talk about ways to keep warm, ways to fight off the energy companies and we can discuss ideas about what we want to do about the unfair energy system. We’ll bring biscuits! Interested? Email: email@example.com
Come to the launch of our Energy Bill of Rights at the House of Commons on 27th October, 5pm! The government tells us that the energy system is broken and the best we can hope for is a few pounds off our rip-off bills but we think there needs to be an energy revolution where we all have access to affordable, sustainable energy that isn’t supplied by aggressive money-hungry companies. We’ve put together an Energy Bill of Rights that we hope will encourage all of us to stand up to the energy companies, from energy bill debt to the Big Six profiteers destroying our climate. We’re launching it at the House of Commons and we want you to be there. Interested?Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Please share our facebook event: https://www.facebook.com/events/361093010682602/?fref=ts
Sign up to and endorse our Energy Bill of Rights! We need individuals, groups and organisations to tell us why they think the Energy Bill of Rights is needed. Send us a couple of sentences about why you think the Bill is needed and why it’s relevant to you and your group. Email us: email@example.com
And check out our free online guide ‘In trouble with your energy company? A mini-guide to your rights’ , please print and share! http://www.fuelpovertyaction.org.uk/home-alternative/info-advice/
We’ll be printing copies in the coming month so if you would like a few (or more!) please do let us know!
We declared our Energy Bill of Rights in May 2014. Last winter 10,000 people died from fuel poverty whilst energy companies made billions of pounds off of expensive and dirty energy.
We want groups to sign up to and endorse these rights! Get in touch if you want to.
In less than 2 months time, a new occupational service calledHealth and Work Service will be introduced in the UK run by a private company, in order to ‘help employees on sick leave to return to work’. This will be done through an occupational health assessment when they reach or are expected to reach more than 4 weeks of sickness absence.
After four weeks, employees will be referred by their GP for an assessment by an occupational health professional, who will look at the all the issues preventing them from returning to work. Following this assessment, employees will receive a return to work plan containing recommendations to help them to return to work more quickly, and information on how to access appropriate interventions.
Given that the referral volumes anticipated are in the region of350,000 to 700,000 per annum , of which between 5 per cent and 10 per cent are expected to require a face-to-face assessment, it means that the majority of employees will be assessed by telephone. This assessment will not only look at health issues in the workplace but also at non health and non work issues. So the advice given will not just be health related.
There will also apparently be tailored support for the employees through case management. The package is supposed to be agreed between the employee and the private company and failure to cooperate with the service will mean the employee will lose their sick pay.
There are many issues with this scheme which have already been debated in the House of Commons, notably the removal of the percentage threshold scheme, and others which are likely to emerge once it is implemented, but one which did not receive as much publicity as it should have is the tender winner, Health Management Ltd which is a subsidiary of the American multinational Maximus.
Maximus operates in many countries, and it shares the particular distinction with UNUM (the architect of the Welfare reform in the UK, which has close contact with 2 of the authors of a report on which this new Health and Work Service is based, namelyDame Black and Kim Burton)of ‘improper benefit denial’ (in addition to insufficiently trained contractor staff, delays in application processing, etc.). But what looks like a repeat of the Atos disaster is much more sinister. It seems that Maximus not only denies sickness benefits to people who are entitled to them, but also worker compensation and treatment. The following letter is addressed by Maximus to an US employee who made a compensation claim against her employer. Not only was her claim dismissed, but all the medication she took to manage the pain were deemed ‘not medically necessary and appropriate’, meaning she could no longer get her medication on prescription.
Will Maximus behave or be allowed to behave in the same way in the UK?
By Anita Bellows, with thanks to assistance of George Berger
Poundland have seen dozens of protests outside their stores over their use of unpaid workers.
In a bizarre move, several companies known to use unpaid staff on workfare schemes have teamed up to write a letter to The Guardian singing the praises of the disastrous Work Programe.
The list of employers – which includes Homebase who are known to have used workfare is the past, and Poundland, who were at the heart of the successful legal challenge against workfare – say that the government’s support for schemes like the Work Programme ‘must continue’. Otherwise they might have to start actually paying their staff instead of exploiting unemployed people coerced into unpaid work by sanction-happy Jobcentre busy-bodies.
It is not known whether all the companies on the list, which include Ocado and Gap, are involved in unpaid work, although it is difficult to see why they have signed otherwise. In fact it seems a strange thing for these businesses to be bothered to do at all.
The last signatory on the list may reveal one explanation for how this strange initiative came about. Kirsty McHugh is the Chief Executive of the Employment Related Services Assocation, or ERSA for short. This is the trade body established to lie on behalf of the welfare-to-work parasites like A4e and G4S who run the Work Programme. Just last week they published a breath-takingly dishonest report making wild claims that no-one believed about how much money the Work Programme is saving the country. It seems likely that this letter was co-ordinated by ERSA as part of a shabby PR campaign designed to convince the DWP to keep giving welfare-to-work firms billions of pounds of our money.
Labour have hinted that they might bring in local councils to run forced work schemes. The Lib Dems are caling for a policy change and may yet hold the balance of power again come the next election. More importantly, no-one know better than the welfare-to-work sector that the latest ‘Help to Work’ scheme is set to be a disaster and that they will be the ones that get the blame when it all goes wrong. The future does not look so assured for ERSA and their welfare-to-work cronies who have made hundreds of millions out of bullying and exploiting unemployed people. They will fight as dirty if they have to keep Brtain’s biggest benefit scam alive.
Expect more bollocks like this.
join the Week of Action Against Workfare beginning on October 4th. Please spread the word.
This blog has no sources of funding so here’s a quick reminder that you can help ensure it continues by making a donation.
Forcing people to work for free through the threat of removing people’s benefits (sanctions) is unfair, unjust and wrong. In the week of action, tell the companies and charities who are profiting from this exploitative regime what you think of their involvement! Email, Tweet, use Facebook, phone them, protest, organise a flashmob: for a week of piling the pressure on workfare exploiters.
Resistance is paying off: the launch of the CWP scheme was massively delayed. Instead of using ‘big name’ national charities, the DWP has had to resort to small local charities and businesses to provide these Workfare placements. So local actions are all the more important! See Boycott Workfare’s list of Workfare users to find one near you.
All this means it is getting harder and harder for the government to find new employers willing to risk taking on Workfare placements. In fact the government is desperately doing all it can to avoid revealing the organisations using Workfare out of fear the schemes will collapse!
Workfare undermines real paid jobs and wages; results in sanctions for thousands; does nothing to improve the chances of finding a job; and exploits those forced to take up these placements. Our actions can stop companies, charities and councils from exploiting this forced unpaid work. Wherever you are, however you can contribute, take action on 4-12 October.
Whatever you’re planning – let us know and we’ll help spread the word!
(1) The Work Capability Assessment is a much more rigid test & cannot be compared with former Personal Capability Assessments. It is inconceivable that a conclusion can be reached that the more rigid Work Capability Assessment has become easier to negotiate than the previous Personal Capability Assessment which had a lower threshold.
It is not accepted that there has been any form of significant improvement in the claims process surrounding the Work Capability Assessment.
Never before has one benefit assessment process attracted so much adverse publicity and negativity as the Work Capability Assessment.
It stands to reason that if the test is set as high bar as the Work Capability Assessment is, it logically follows that qualifying for entitlement will be far more difficult than qualifying for the previous Incapacity Benefit via the Personal Capability Assessment process used to determine eligibility for Incapacity Benefit & Income Support on the grounds of incapacity for work.
It is not accepted that any accurate comparison with Incapacity Benefit can be drawn without full regard to analysing similar cohort factors such as the ages, ICD coding, duration of claim, gender, and regions of the claimants being taken in to consideration.
(2) No comparisons can be drawn between Incapacity Benefit & Employment & Support Allowance without a proper scrutiny of a more complete set of statistics
Before drawing any analysis between Incapacity Benefit and ESA, the numbers of claimants used in the comparison including on and off flows would need to be carefully scrutinised. This is especially important where the flow rate is mixed with ib/ESA migration cases and where it can no longer be safely concluded that new ESA claimants are not in fact older claimants who have since submitted a fresh claim.
Between October 2008 and September 2013 the ESA regime has involved a total departmental case-load (across all cohorts) of 6,440,000 cases involving 4,396,400 Work Capability Assessments of which 1,198,700 were a repeat. A case load of this magnitude requires considerable analysis across all cohorts before any accurate comparisons can be drawn between the older incapacity benefits and ESA. The former was far less complex in cohort terms.
Between October 2008 and September 2013, 1,407,400 claimants have been placed in the Work Related Activity Group (453,300 at repeat assessment) and 1,437,300 in the Support Group (479,800 at repeat assessment). These figures are considerably higher than those relating to the new ESA claim group in which 484,900 have been placed in the Work Related Activity Group and 445,400 have been placed in the Support Group. Far more information is required as to not only the numbers allocated to the groups but also what happens to the claimants after they have been assessed in to a placement.
(3) The DWP needs to produce statistics on appeals & reconsiderations before any reliance be can be placed on the Work Capability Assessment statistics. Well over a million claimants have disputed the findings of Work Capability Assessments and the full dispute outcomes are as yet still unknown.
From April 2009 to December 2013, HMCTS figures confirm 1,054,541 ESA appeals have been lodged with Tribunals of which an average of 40 + % of those already heard have been overturned in the claimant’s favour. These figures are far in excess of any related to the previous Incapacity Benefit and are an obvious indicator of significant numbers of claimants having a lack of confidence in the decision reached at initial assessment.
The DWP’s WCA statistics are inherently unreliable and cannot be read in the context of isolated quotations from quarterly releases without proper reference being made to the more specific and overall totals available. The overall (cumulative) ‘qualifying’ rates for claimants are (up to September 2013):
-New ESA claimants 47%
-New ESA claimants at repeat assessment 78%
-IB/ESA migrated claimants 80%
Whilst it may be helpful to look at quarterly shifts in the figures, it is the overall cumulative rate which needs to change before it can be safely concluded that any material change has taken place.
The DWP’s WCA statistics are rendered inaccurate by way of the DWP’s inherently slow update of information from the inputting of the number of formal appeals lodged with HMCTS together with a total lack of explanation as to the number of initial decisions overturned informally following DWP reconsideration. This is particularly important in respect of monitoring the effects of mandatory reconsideration since October 2013.
(4) Employment & Support Allowance is an entirely different regime to that of Incapacity Benefit making any comparison unreliable. Delays with the DWP & Atos Healthcare have resulted in a chronic backlog of 750,000 cases awaiting assessments from which no conclusions can be drawn. The WCA statistics are made additionally complex by the influx of a case load of 1,354,800 claimants assessed from the Incapacity Benefit migration programme.
The claims process involving ESA is entirely different to that of Incapacity Benefit. ESA involves the claimant initially being subjected to what should be a 13 week assessment phase before the Work Capability Assessment decision is decided upon by the DWP. It is only once the assessment phase has been completed that a proper decision can be made as to whether the claimant can move in to the main WRAG/Support Group phases of ESA entitlement. Chronic delays have built up to a point where the backlog awaiting assessment had recently reached over 750,000 claimants. It is a clear sign that the DWP was earlier ‘over reassessing’ claimants leading to a substantial lack of residual data on outcomes and the possibility that the Department is now making less rigid placement decisions in order to get though its chronically stretched backlog.
Claimants who have undergone ib to ESA migration do not in any event claim ESA, their claim is merely converted (providing they qualify at the point of WCA conversion) and thus no comparison can be drawn between this cohort and those making a new ESA claim from scratch.
(5) Statistical manipulation
Between October 2008 and September 2013, the Work Capability Assessment statistics record that 1,551,500 claimants have been found fit for work and 1,500,900 claimants have ended their claims without completing their Work Capability Assessment. In total the overall number of claimants who seemingly should have exited Employment & Support Allowance is therefore in excess of 3 million claimants. However the DWP off flow figures for the period October 2008 to August 2013 show the numbers exiting from Employment & Support Allowance to be 2,288,980.
The number of claimants leaving Employment & Support Allowance who closed their claims is a fixed statistic, whereas the number found fit for work is reversible if the claimant appeals or requests a reconsideration.
It is hard to understand how an apparent ‘exodus’ of some 3 million plus Employment & Support Allowance claimants as shown in the assessment statistics is not matched by statistics showing a rise in the numbers claiming Jobseeker’s Allowance.
In addition to the exodus related to assessment, there are also claimants who will have died, transferred to other benefits or ended their claim through time limiting imposed upon contributory claimants in the Work Related Activity Group who cease claiming where there are no grounds upon which to continue claiming income based Employment & Support Allowance.
DWP figures, related to on-flows, show that of October 2008 to August 2013, 636,410 Employment & Support Allowance claimants made a second or more claim for Employment & Support Allowance. This will add substantially to the number of on flows and may therefore give a distorted perception over more claimants claiming as well as ‘clouding’ the influx of what may appear to be new Employment & Support Allowance claimants who are in fact previous claimants who have simply made another claim.
Media articles including those relating to the deaths of ESA claimants such as Graham Shawcross (63), Mark Wood (44), Neil Groves (46), Lee Robinson (39), Elenore Tatton (39), Linda Wootton (49), Brian McCardle (57), Karen Sherlock (44), Trevor Drakard (50), David Groves (56) and others have created a massive mistrust in the Work Capability Assessment as a valid measure of a claimant’s ability to work. The DWP has failed to produce any up to date statistics upon which any reliable conclusions can be drawn as to the number of deaths & whether they can be ruled out as being directly or indirectly related to the Work Capability Assessment process.
The Work Capability Assessment remains condemned by disability groups, the BMA, National Charities, senior judges and Parliamentary Select Committees. The process has been identified as unfit for purpose and of such toxicity that major re-work is required. There clearly remains widespread concern that the WCA has not improved, customers have no confidence in it in, employers are clearly not convinced by it as an accurate measure of fitness to work as evidenced by the appalling Work Programme Job Outcomes valid to March 2014:
In the New ESA claimant group, out of 484,900 in the ‘Work Related Activity Group’, just 10,760 ended up with a Job Outcome (2.2%)
In the Incapacity Benefit to ESA conversion group, out of 469,200 claimants placed in the ‘Work Related Activity Group’ just 980 ended up with a job outcome (0.2%)
In the Incapacity Benefit to ESA conversion group, out of 249,300 claimants found ‘fit for work’ just 3,160 (1.4%) ended up with a job outcome. Whilst this appalling result is shocking in itself, it should be remembered that the DWP’s figures only point to people on JSA who have been on incapacity benefits. These figures may therefore relate to claimants who have ended their older incapacity claims and taken up a JSA claim voluntarily without being tested for ESA.
In the overall ‘voluntary participation group’ where there is no mandatory requirement to take part (unless a claimant has agreed to participate) out of 957,500 claimants placed in the Support Group (from both new ESA and incapacity to ESA claim groups) 3,350 claimants (0.4%) ended up with a job via the Work Programme. This group does better than the mandatory groups in incapacity to ESA conversion cases.
It is unsafe to draw any conclusion that it is any easier for a claimant to make a claim for Employment & Support Allowance than it was for previous range of incapacity benefits. It is not possible to make a valid comparison on the basis of comparing numbers/success. A full explanation as to how claimants made their claims and how they were assessed is required before an accurate comparison can be made. There is simply not enough information currently available to conclude that the Harrington reviews have led to any identifiable improvement.
A rise in the numbers being placed within the Support Group and Work Related Activity Groups may be more related to the greater number of claimants involved, the appeal/reconsideration results beginning to filter through after data lag, more claimants re-applying after being turned down, less capacity within the Work Programme to handle the larger numbers involved and a reduction in the number of repeat & ib/ESA migration assessments following the announcement that Atos Healthcare were withdrawing from the contract to conduct assessments for the DWP.
For these reasons any claim that it is easier to make a claim for Employment & Support Allowance than it was for Incapacity Benefit is strongly refuted.
By Nick Dilworth.
For and on behalf of New Approach.
New Approach are committed to working with other individuals & groups, please add your signature to this statement by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or in comments.
Tory welfare reform is in crisis. Last week 70 Conservative MPs ignored a three line whip and stayed away from Westminster for the vote on Andrew George’s bedroom tax bill. Protests have beaten back government attacks on benefits but we need to keep fighting to see off the hated bedroom tax once and for all and to stand up against sanctions, which remain a vicious plank in the government’s punitive policies, whose use is rocketing and which are still supported by Labour in Parliament.
12 – 2pm: Street meeting on benefits and sanctions: Briggate, LS1 6JX (near the Body Shop). email@example.com
11am Old Palace Yard Westminster SW1P 3JY
and 1pm DWP HQ Tothill St SW1
(Southwark Benefit Justice Campaign will be meeting 10.30am outside Metropolitan Tabernacle opposite Elephant and Castle tube station to go up to Parliament)
Anti-Bedroom Tax and Benefit Justice Gig: Starring: THE WICKED VENETIANS + PARVA HINTON + SEBASTIAN MELMOTH + MYLAS: New Cross Inn, 323 New Cross Road London SE14 6AS: http://newcrossinn.com/?p=1&m=09&y=2014
Paupers Picnic outside David Cameron’s Witney Conservatives event at Witney Lakes with tax-dodging, expenses-grabbing MP Nadim Zahawi. Coaches leave Oxford at 5.30pm. For more info contact: mail:dpac.uk.net
“£18bn of value will be delivered to the economy…”
…..In reality it’s another far fetched claim that the economy will benefit to the tune of £18 billion pounds over the next 50 years with the government getting back £7 billion, employers receiving £4 billion ££££’s in handouts and employees seemingly benefiting by up to £7 billion pounds…..
This latest claim has Iain Duncan Smith’s name written all over it…..
It follows in the wake of Monday’s Parliamentary Pantomime which saw Smith, flanked by fellow spin masters & mistress, Mike Harper, Steve Webb, and Esther McVey taking it in turns to head off fierce opposition over the chronic state of chaos which continues to bog down the DWP, making IDS’s promises to turn around the welfare state even more unbelievable.
This latest and perhaps most absurd announcement to date also comes after yet another Parliamentary probe in to employment support and access to work schemes for disabled people which was held on Wednesday. The inquiry is in its early stages but has already revealed that the access to work scheme is one which is being ‘hidden’ from those who need the most help. One witness described access to work as being ‘90% bad’ with rude and intimidatory letters as well as abrupt staff handling disabled people’s pleas for help with people not being phoned back after frustrated efforts being made to get support.
She went on to say the ‘whole culture of the scheme was against supporting disabled people’. The video footage of the evidence session is one which I’d encourage you to watch – it very effectively highlights the difficulties which disabled people are facing, it brings shame on the government for incessantly drawing so many parallels with top class paralympians as the measure of what can be achieved.
On Monday, Smith left all the technical stuff to fellow statistical partners in crime with McVey up and down as though she was tightly suspended on elasticated string spouting continual reminders that ’employment was up, up, up, up’. Webb told us all of his wondrous pension reforms and Harper proudly announced how the number of Employment & Support Allowance claimants awaiting assessment had reduced by 75,000 to a still very chaotic 637,000.
Smith put the icing on the cake with his insistence that his beloved but much beleaguered Universal Credit was still going to happen with a less than convincing assurance that his much slated scheme was a step nearer towards getting business case approval – “The final stage in Treasury approvals is sign-off of the full business case, which covers the full lifetime of the programme.”
He added: “I genuinely believe, from my discussions, that it will be signed off very shortly.”
Very few people looked or sounded convinced. Even David Cameron could be seen looking skywards as IDS mentioned claimants being left in limbo.
“The figure of £18bn refers to the value to the economy provided over the lifetime of the workers on the programme who would not have otherwise found work. Of the £18bn total:
• £7bn will be delivered to workers
• £7bn will be delivered to the government
• £4bn will be delivered to employers
Around 300,000 workers have found lasting work while on the Work Programme. Europe Economics estimates that around 100,000 jobs for the long term unemployed would not have taken place without the programme.”
Work Programme providers have echoed the apparent success of the Work Programme with various releases repeating the £18 billion pound boost to the economy.
The glitzy promotion
One time TV presenter, Esther McVey may be the smiling face of the DWP, but no – one be fooled, she’s been well and truly conditioned in to promoting IDS’s failing welfare reforms at every opportunity….
She’s ‘proud to work’ and even seems convinced the Work Programme is….working:
“The Work Programme is helping more people than any previous employment programme and we are committed to keep driving up performance to get the best deal for jobseekers and taxpayers.
“It is transforming how we help claimants who have been unemployed for a long time whereas before many would have been written off to a life on benefits. As part of the Government’s long term economic plan, it has helped people to turn their lives around and build a career – from catering to construction and care work to hairdressing – contributing to the biggest annual fall in long term unemployment since 1998.”
There’s a few token video’s of people supporting the DWP in their efforts to get people back to work….
Well Brian, you’ve really sold it to me, not quite sure whether you ended up with a job or not but there you are ….
For all of Iain Duncan Smith’s talk, here’s the deplorable reality of the Work Programme when it comes to actual Job Outcome results:
In the New ESA claimant group, out of 484,900 in the ‘Work Related Activity Group’, just 10,760 ended up with a Job Outcome (2.2%)
In the Incapacity Benefit to ESA conversion group, out of 469,200 in the ‘Work Related Activity Group’ just 980 ended up with a job outcome (0.2%) – this is the group which IDS claims to be tackling the most effectively!
In the Incapacity Benefit to ESA conversion group, out of 249,300 found ‘fit for work’ just 3,160 (1.4%) ended up with a job outcome. Whilst this appalling result is shocking in itself, it should be remembered that the DWP’s figures only point to people on JSA who have been on incapacity benefits. This may therefore relate to someone who has ended their older incapacity claim and taken up a JSA claim voluntarily without being tested for ESA.
In the overall ‘voluntary participation group’ where there is no mandatory requirement to take part (until you’ve signed up) out of 957,500 claimants placed in the Support Group (from both new ESA and incapacity to ESA claim groups) 3,350 claimants (0.4%) ended up with a job via the Work Programme. This group does better than the mandatory groups in incapacity to ESA conversion cases.
And IDS has the raw nerve to call this
programme a success?
Awoken by Brody (one of my cocker spaniels puppies) kissing my face swiftly followed by Eben and Suzie Brodys mother. Thought I better get up and greet the day so pressed the buzzer for my PA had a quick wee then waited for my first cuppa in bed, don’t get up too early these days.
Had breakfast (in bed) and decided to have strip wash rather than a shower. Asked PA to check for pressure sores as I can easily get them can result in stay in hospital. P A assisted me to get dressed and went into bathroom for teeth hygiene all facilitated by PA. Had BIG mug of coffee and felt ready for day.
Went with PA to get vegetables for dinner and took Eben with me. Had long conversation with my choirmaster’s husband about our new season. Without ILF I would not be able follow my love of singing. Arrived home and asked PA to unlock office and fire up computer. Answered some emails then had lunch prepared by PA. Made sure my fluid levels were up as had nasty scare last week because I failed to drink enough I couldn’t go for nine hours. It is crucial to drink on the hour failure to do this will damage my kidneys. This of course does result in many trips to the toilet facilitated by PA and also the odd accident which means I have to have another shower and change of clothes. In the bad old days before ILF I remember having to dry my clothes (I had on) with a hair dryer. I also was forced into having a hysterectomy because I had very heavy periods and could not keep clean because of having only “pop ins” a few times a day. My ex husband was infertile and we were refused AID or adoption. I was still young enough to have children and this has always been a sadness. Had lunch mushrooms on toast prepared by my PA.
Need to stop now as am going to exercise three dogs up the recreation ground with my PA who will assist me and pick up the pooh!
Had pork roast cooked by PA.
Had bad night owing to pain needed turning six times. Failure to do this results in pressure sore with can lead to skin graft.
23rd August 2014
Took dogs with PA walk on canal – got wet which necessitated PA changing me – find this tiring. Decided to have a shower and hair wash etc. Remember the days when I had to rely on bath nurse once a week my day was Monday and of course every Bank Holiday falls on a Monday so that meant waiting three weeks.
In the evening I had dinner but as it was freezing decided to go to bed at 8.00 pm and play bridge on my ipad. No more not knowing when the community nurse would come at any time to suit her. This is 28 years ago and I was much younger then, even though I was the youngest on her list she often came at 7.00 pm. I am sure it was more about “power and control” rather than putting me to bed at a reasonable time. Had cup of tea and chat with PA had drugs (prescription) and settled down to good book. Another very disturbed night – having to wake my PA five times to reposition me.
25th August collect my friend from her home to go to the cinema, My PA drives for me and I can recall the days before ILF when I was imprisoned in my own home. I had absolutely no social life at all. When we got home me and my PA took my two dogs to the local recreation park. This was only possible because my PA was able to pick up the dog pooh.
26th August had to get up early to be ready for my student who I am teaching to update our website. The beauty of having ILF to fund PAs is that if I need to get up early or fancy a lie in I am able to do this. Before the ILF I was at the mercy of the home help service and had no choice or control in my life. Going back to the mid 80s when I was entirely dependent on statuary services I was controlled by whoever determined the home carers hours. I remember raging about the fact that it was impossible to visit friends or have relationships because I never knew the time people would turn up. There was a particular occasion when I met a man and invited home to stay overnight with me. I rang the social services department to ask them to cancel my visit. But they told me that was impossible so I locked the back door and stuck a notice on the door which read “NO HELP NEEDED MAN IN HOUSE”. During the afternoon I was visited by the person who operates the volunteer centre. She came to give me feedback on the IT support I had been giving to an elderly lady in my district. I had only been able to do this because my PA was able to take and collect me.
27th August Had to be up early for PA training as I am recruiting a new PA this went on until 11.00 am then I collected my friend and took her to Leicester to choose a new outfit for a wedding. Ate lunch in town then came home all with the support of my PA.
28th August Went down town with PA grocery shopping. Then made orange and chocolate cake with PA looks and tastes yummy!
30th August Had leisurely breakfast made by PA then had lunch after which my PA drove me to cinema film was mediocre. Had lovely roast cooked by PA. Both dogs up the rec with my PA – dogs had lovely time. Watched some TV then decided to have an early night, perhaps readers might think nothing unusual about this but in the old days before ILF I had no choice as to when I went to bed.
31st August Trip to Aldi to purchase the food for our holiday in two weeks. Came home PA put shopping away and we both had lunch. Mark Williams-My ILF Photo Diary
This diary aims to show how the ILF helps me to lead an independent life in the community. Without the ILF I would be trapped in my own home with no life.
Saturday 23rd August 2014
Today I met up with two friends, one of whom I knew at school and had lunch with them in a café. This is how the ILF helps with my social life.
Thursday 28th August 2014
Today I went to an accessible climbing event where I sat on the Bristol Disability Equality Forum Stall in order to publicise the group and get more members.
Keep up with our new ILF Diaries page coming soon
join the facebook group or find other ways to support the campaign at the link
Norwich deaf man says that the government initiative ‘Access to work’ is making it impossible for him to do his job.
Matt Talbot, a deaf man from Norwich says that his job (to run a Youth Forum for young disabled people in Norfolk) has become almost impossible in the last 6 months. Access to Work, a government initiative introduced to support disabled people into employment, has actually become a barrier to Matt doing his job effectively.
Matt said ‘Access to Work promised me lots of help and support – like providing funding so I can pay for the interpreters I need to do my job successfully. Much of my time in the last 6 months has been spent in correspondence with Access to Work, responding to cuts in the funding I receive and endless requests for detailed information on what I do each minute of the day or information about project users which I am not at liberty to share.
Matt continued ‘Its ben a real challenge to deal with the workload of all this – let alone the work I’m expected to do with disabled young people in my day job. I’ve had more than 4 different advisors on my case in 6 months – it’s become impossible to make any progress.
Matt is also very concerned that Access to Work have withheld payments. As a result Ensign Interpreting, the Kings Lynn based agency that Matt uses for interpreters, is owed more than £10,000 from Access to Work.
Matt said ‘I rely on my interpreting service to do my job well. It’s very important to me that I’m not seen as a ‘bad debt’ to the local agencies I ask for support. It feels unfair on a small agency to ask them to keep delivering my services when they have not been paid.’
Mark Harrison, the Chief Executive of Equal Lives, said ‘We’ve kept a record of the endless correspondence that Matt has endured with Access to Work – it’s become a farce. Access to Work are imposing cuts on disabled peoples funding by stealth with no evidence. The way that Matt has been treated is tantamount to bullying – the unnecessary stress this has caused Matt is particularly disappointing’.
“The Government justified closing down Remploy by saying they would invest the savings in Access to Work. They have spent the last two years cutting this support and moving the goalposts.”
Peter Weston, Director at Ensign Interpreting in Kings Lynn said “Due to the way that Access to Work are currently handling claims for support, agencies are left waiting for payments for months. This jeopardises the support that is being provided leaving disabled people unable to focus on their job roles. Access to Work fail to communicate these issues with agencies and clients leaving them uncertain as to whether they can continue to provide support.
He continued “Despite laws being in place to protect small businesses, government agencies like Access to Work fail to acknowledge late payment charges even when accounts are eventually settled. It is especially disappointing that this particular client was informed by Access to Work that he was underspent on his budget and yet we are still awaiting payment.”
About Equal Lives
Equal Lives is a user-led human rights organisation supporting all disabled people in Norfolk. It was formed in 1996 by groups of disabled people in Norfolk. The organisation is led by a Board of Trustees all of whom are disabled people and elected by and from its membership. The organisation undertakes a wide range of services including:
• Comprehensive advice that covers all Department of Work and Pensions benefits relating to illness and disability. We offer support, advice and information to families and carers of disabled people
• Providing advice and support to people considering or using Personal Budgets or Direct payments in Norfolk
• Support for vulnerable adults and juveniles detained in police custody
• Advocacy support for users of mental health services to make sure that their views and concerns are heard by others
• Advice and support to people considering or using Direct Payments in Suffolk with our Suffolk Independent Living service
• Projects and activities with our membership and others to work towards achieving Equal Lives