Jan 122015
 

Are you more or less likely to fight Maximus since it hired Sue Marsh?

This is a question that all disability activists need to ask themselves and need to answer.

But before that, let’s review the situation:

The WCA:

The WCA is in a state of virtual collapse and the last WCA review undertaken by Dr Lichfield raises more questions than it answers. Having access to all DWP statistics, Dr Lichfield is at loss to explain the huge increase in the number of claimants placed in the Support Group, which has now reached 70%. When the WCA was introduced in 2008 under Labour, this figure was 8% and nothing has been done in the meantime which could explain such an increase. Most recommendations from Dr Harrington and Lichfield dealt with the claimants’ journey, the quality of communications, the training of assessors, but they never addressed or attempted to modify the descriptors which have been failing so many claimants, especially those with mental health or fluctuating conditions. Moreover, some of the first recommendations made and accepted by DWP are still waiting to be implemented.

So what is happening? One clue can be found in the minutes of a meeting of Manchester Welfare Advisers in Manchester in July 2014 (salford-gmwrag-minutes-2014.docx), highlighting how the Decision Makers were overturning decisions at the stage of Mandatory Reconsiderations to ‘avoid appeals at all cost’. This does not mean claimants are not entitled to ESA or to be in the Support Group, but that the outcomes of MR are fed into the data system much earlier. Remember that there has always been an 8 month timelag in the publication of ESA statistics, but this timelag is 14 months for appeal outcomes, so the picture we are now getting is a more accurate one as confirmed by a recent DWP press release  boasting of a huge reduction in benefit dispute waiting times, from 6 months to under a fortnight on average (to be taken with a pinch of salt as coming from the DWP).  In the same meeting minutes, it is highlighted that DWP holds on to the appeal outcomes for 14 months, if found in favour of DWP. This confirms the suspicion that DWP has always been able to manipulate the ESA statistics by selectively releasing or withholding data. Faced today with a UN inquiry and a General Election, DWP wants to give the impression that the WCA is working well, that the number of appeals has drastically dropped (around 90% from the previous year), while not giving any information on the number of MR which have led to an overturned decision, and maintaining a backlog of around ½ million claimants in the assessment phase (a rough estimate as no figures have been published), which is also one way of keeping the number of JSA claimants artificially low.

Coming back to Dr Lichfield, he is challenging the notion that the WCA is the right instrument for determining benefit entitlement, but recommends sticking to it in the absence of any off-the-shelf alternative.

 

Maximus

Much has been said about Maximus, and even its new Head of Customer Experience said when the choice of Maximus for disability assessments was announced: It’s as though the DWP actively searched out the worst provider they could find. Many have commented that perhaps Maximus were the only company willing to take on such a poisoned chalice. Ultimately, changing work capability assessment provider will do nothing to address the very significant flaws of the employment and support allowance system itself – 700,000 people are now stuck in limbo waiting for an assessment. If this was another issue the public would be up in arms.”

This is a company which defrauded the US government in 2007 by creating documents for non existant state debt or medical expenses (for good examples of this, follow this link to open the pdf documents ), which got the contract in 2013 for the Independent Medical Review programme in California, leading to four out of every five cases reviewed by Maximus being denied treatment, which in British Columbia, Canada, under the name of Themis, is running the  Family Maintenance Enforcement Program, which manages the collection and enforcement of child support obligations under court orders. These enforcement actions range from  monetary penalties, credit reporting, passport revocation, drivers license suspensions, bank account seizures, wage garnishment and the threat of jail time and have caused hardship, emotional injury, instability and in some cases suicides.

Maximus is also contracted by the Australian government to provide independent observers for unaccompanied minors in the immigration detention centre where Serco guards used force on minors  while providing care and support services to unaccompanied minors in other immigration detention centres, but it is one of the major players in the Welfare for work programmes in Australia.

 

Which leads us to its membership of ALEC (American Legislative Exchange Council) until at least 1995.  After this date, the name of the corporate funders of ALEC are not known,  but ALEC has been instrumental and a major force in the privatisation of the most profitable aspects of government, in particular areas in which Maximus has direct interests.

But there is at least one story with an happy ending, in Illinois,: where Maximus’ contract was terminated in 2013 and returned to state employees because it was found that in assessing benefit eligibility, Maximus recommendations were rejected in 25 percent of cases where they found recipients ineligible; in cases where they recommended changes in benefit levels, fully 50 percent were found to be in error.”

This is the company hired by DWP to assess benefit eligibility of claimants in the UK.

 

Which brings us back to the initial question: Are you more or less likely to fight Maximus since it hired Sue Marsh?

If the response is less likely, it is fair to ask whether that was Maximus’ intention all along. Another question which needs to be asked is how long Sue Marsh will be given a chance to succeed where 5 independent WCA reviews and endless Parliamentary debates and public pressure have failed. What will be the success criteria and at which point will suffering and deaths of claimants become too much and too many for a conscience to bear?

I can already hear the argument of the monkey and the organ grinder about Maximus, which is a valid argument. But it is the withdrawal of Atos under the pressure of activists and direct action which led to the collapse of the WCA. Maximus identifies as one of its main corporate risks:

“Negative media coverage could adversely affect our reputation and our ability to bid for government contracts.”

So let’s go for Maximus and make its brand as toxic as that of Atos. Support the 2nd of March mobilisation of DPAC.

 

 

For more information about Maximus, see DPAC previous post: ’The private provider which not only denies benefits but also treatment

 

 

 

 

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[suffusion-the-author display='description']
 Posted by at 10:47

  15 Responses to “Are you more or less likely to fight Maximus since it hired Sue Marsh?”

  1. Many people who thought that Marsh was someone who they identified and shared very personal stories/real names/ etc with her quite legitimately feel that they will be at risk of being targeted by Maximus if they attend marches/protests and rallies. Clearly there will be a ‘hit list’ of activists and they will filch personal info from Marsh if she knows them.

    Personally feel she had this lined up for a long time. She was a trojan horse in this movement and the very fact she has suddenly healed so well and was suddenly, despite a work gap of years, worthy of such an amazing salary.

    It was a set-up I’m certain, and some will be disinclined to fight because of the spy in their camp

  2. I never trusted Sue Marsh, she was too fond of the limelight. Along with DRUK, she’s been bought by MAXIMUS, & will be used by them for publicity purposes. Questions aught to be asked about how a person in the ESA Support Group was able to go directly into employment. What saddens me is that people believed in this scumbag – & still support her.

  3. The very fact that maximus have hired sue marsh means you need to keep them under even closer scrutiny than ever? And where was this job advertised? never saw it anywhere so they just like that hired Sue? its all very suspect and under the radar, I sincerely hope that Sue will be ok don’t trust that company who already have a very very bad and tarnished reputation, and top tip sadly working from the inside changes nothing, because too close to it you cannot see the blatant truth? hope they are ready for a record number of Appeals.

    Poppy

  4. She’s betrayed her followers, her supporters and abandoned all our hopes and wishes, just for a lucrative salary; how very New Labour of her.

  5. I really hope this works for sue. It seems to me that this is surely a one way street for her and no way back if she is wrong. I think she is a token gesture / fig leaf for maximus. They think they cut the head off the hydra but of course there are many. In the the corporate culture of U.S. MULTI NATIONALS she will be accorded the all the same welcomes as a conformity geek.

  6. It doesn’t alter my attitude to Maximus at all. Maximus are Maximus. They are ruthless profiteers, their ackers come from terrible human suffering. Having been in the brutal hands of ATOS, I do not trust Maximus either, not a millimetre of trust in them at all.
    I have the utmost contempt and disgust for Maximus, regardless of who they hire for window dressing.

  7. this one can go on and on but sm willnot change nothing at maximus nothing will change one bit on this monster will roll gobbling up those who takes it blood monies but sm well taking this monies will hurt her but then we hurt anyways so marching against this company is the only way forward but not like atos it wont care much about its publicity has its here to make a quick buck jeff3

  8. It doesn’t matter either way to me she’s joined the dark side to be used as a pawn before destroying any credibility she had left then dumping her on the scrapheap.

  9. This is a an accurate and well composed article.
    1. Whilst I can admit to my personal disappointment in Sue Marsh accepting this appointment at Maximus I am more concerned about the morality & reason of their Chief Executive.

    Question 2 . Shall I continue to reject Maximus’s values, principles & ethics and all it stands for and how it works YES,YES,YES . I hope & trust that DPAC arrives at the same conclusion.

    Maximus’s record is well known and well represented & their is evidence of their existstance on all that is totally abhorrent to any compassionate company and human being .

    I HOPE & TRUST THAT MYSELF & DPAC SHALL NEVER BETRAY OUR FELLOW HUMAN BEINGS WHOM ARE DISABLED PHYSICALLY OR MENTALLY INCAPICITATED.

  10. I would not care who takes over the contract, I would fight them every time if they did something even remotely unfair and I am in two cases, I have absoulutely no qualms about doing this, especially when I was supposed to be assessed for my misuse issues and mental state by a clown who’s only answer to my question stated 4 times what are your qualifications to assess my mental state and his reply I am qualified, sadly for them as they are going to find out very shortly I am qualified, my main qualifications are helping people like him loose there right to work by getting them either suspended or struck off and then suing them so bad that they will wish they listened to my freindly advice given right at the end of the assessment.

  11. Well, since I have the highest expectations of Sue after following her blog all these years, I shall be demanding from MAXIMUS the most exacting standards I can dream of. To me, it’s war. I wish Sue the best, but if she took on the job, she must expect, herself and the corporation she now represents and in whose payroll she is, to be held to strict account for her effectiveness (or lack thereof) in bringing change from within.

    I’m old and cynical. When I was young, the expression for this ‘occurrence’ was “selling out”, rather than allowing oneself to ‘being co-opted’. I’ll expect Sue to find out how impossible it is to fight from within in Corporateville, and to exit pronto when she does. Failure to do so will gage how applicable the old expression still is, and exactly how much she lets us all down.

    Unfortunately, I shall no longer expect much from her blog from now on…

  12. MAXIMUS where handed a lucrative contract by the government. In order to keep their contract, get it renewed etc, they need to bow and scrape to the Government. The only way anyone can change things from the inside is to become the Secretary of State for Works and Pensions. I imagine Sue’s contract will have plenty of gagging clauses – they are simply buying her silence.

  13. I’m a little torn with this, when I joined Capita in June 2013, my late best friend who used to be very high up in the Civil Service told me that “It’s easier to invoke change on the inside rather than the outside” unfortunately I found that in a private company,it’s all about profit and adhering to the client, so I left and now use their training to challenge HB and bedroom tax decisions, I say that despite Sue being in there still go for Maximus with everything we have

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