Sep 242015
The IDS Files - The Truth is Out There

Here’s a claim you’ll find IDS making just about every time he does a speech or an interview – “People are Better Off In Work”.

And like all the best lies, it works because it has an element of truth in it. Some people, particularly those in good jobs, are better off in work.

But for others, work can be a crushing experience, and be the cause of physical or mental health conditions.

So lets examine this claim more closely.

A freedom of information request, made by “James” in 2012 reveals the source of this claim.

This is the DWP Response to that FOI Reqest:

Gordon Waddell & Kim Burton were commissioned by the DWP to conduct an independent review of the scientific evidence – Is work good for your health and well-being? 2006. The Stationery Office, London. This review contains findings on work for sick and disabled people, (pp20-21), mental health, including severe mental illness, common mental health problems and stress (pp21-24) and cardio-respiratory conditions (pp27-28). It can be found at the following link:…

The authors concluded that there is a strong evidence base showing that work is generally good for physical and mental health and well-being. Worklessness is associated with poorer physical and mental health and well-being. Work can be therapeutic and can reverse the adverse health effects of unemployment. That is true for healthy people of working age, for many disabled people, for most people with common health problems and for social security beneficiaries. The provisos are that account must be taken of the nature and quality of work and its social context and jobs should be safe and accommodating. Overall, the beneficial effects of work outweigh the risks of work, and are greater than the harmful effects of long-term unemployment or prolonged sickness absence. Work is generally good for health and well-being.

So already Duncan Smith’s lie begins to unravel, but looking into further into the report, there is more, as the FOI Request author “James”, states

1. The statement “work makes you better” is so general as to suggest that work is beneficial to health in all circumstances when in fact this is not the case, the claim is therefore misleading.

The only evidence to support this claim is a single review which “focused on adults of working age and the common health problems that account for two-thirds of sickness absence and long-term incapacity” [page viii of Is Work Good for your Health and Wellbeing] clearly this means that the remaining third of the relevant population were not considered in any detail.

2. The report itself acknowledges (on page ix) that “a minority of people may experience contrary health effects from work(lessness);” and that “Beneficial health effects depend on the nature and quality of work”. The statement “work makes you better” does not include any of the provisos contained in the report itself.

3. It is wrong to suggest there is a large body of evidence when the only supporting evidence the DWP has so far been able to provide is a single report from 2006 which only claims to have focussed on two thirds of the relevant population (see also point 1 above) and when there is no long term researched evidence of the claim.

4. On pg 22 it states the following

“There is limited evidence about the impact of (return to) work on (people with) mild/moderate mental health problems, despite their epidemiological and social importance. However, there is much more evidence on ‘stress’, which may be the best modern exemplar of common mental health problems.”

5. on pg 23 of the same report it states the following

“This review did not retrieve any direct evidence on the relative balance of beneficial vs. harmful effects of work (of whatever psychosocial characteristics) on mental health and psychological well-being.”

6. On pg 28 of the same report it states the following

“CR4 * There is limited evidence that rehabilitation and return to work for workers with cardio-respiratory conditions can be beneficial for general health and well-being and quality of life.”

7. On pg 30 of the same report it states the following

“Moving off benefits can have either positive or negative effects on health and well-being, depending mainly on how claimants leave benefits and whether or not they (re)-enter work. Of those claimants who leave benefits voluntarily, the majority (re)-enter work and have increased income, and many report that their health is completely recovered or much better”

It is evident there are a lot of cautions and caveats within the report themselves that appear to disprove the statement “Work makes you better” and I hope the DWP will remove such statements and references to large body of evidences when in fact it is using a report that actually states in detail otherwise when it comes to ill health and diseases as it is very false and misleading.

You could equally make a claim that “Work Makes You Ill” based on statistics from the Health and Safety Executive that say:

  • In 2013/14, 23.5 million days were lost due to work-related ill health and 4.7 million due to workplace injuries.

  • Stress, depression or anxiety and musculoskeletal disorders accounted for the majority of days lost due to work-related ill health, 11.3 and 8.3 million days respectively.

It is just as much a sweeping generalisation as the claim that “people are better off in work” and it is no more true.

The real truth is more complex, some people are better off in some types of work, while some other work makes people ill, is much closer to reality.

But that doesn’t go down well in a Daily Mail headline, or in a sound-byte in a speech to the Tory Conference.

Duncan Smith is well aware that the statement “People are better off in work” is a lie, just like he is well aware of all his other lies. But he continues to be quite prepared to use it to justify his persecution of disabled people.

In this case it isn’t just Duncan Smith who has used this lie – the shame must also be shared by the Labour Party. The Waddell and Burton report dates from 2006 and was one of the foundation blocks of the Work Capability Assessment, which was introduced by Labour in 2008.

Iain Duncan Smith and a host of other politicians (for both Tory and Labour) prefer to base a whole policy agenda on a lie.

Never mind the misery that causes, never mind the endless harm or the casualties from tragic deaths that a result from a policy that has grown out of a lie.

You can read more about that here : Gordon Waddell’s biopsychosocial attack on disabled people

and here: A Tale of two Models: Disabled People vs Unum, Atos, Government and Disability Charities

Previously on the IDS Files:

 Posted by at 17:40
Sep 232015

Caution: this article deals with suicide

A Senior Coroner has written to Newham Borough Council to send them a REGULATION 28: REPORT TO PREVENT FUTURE DEATHS

The case was extensively covered by The Independent  and concerns the suicide of a 66 year old pensioner caught in the nightmarish UK benefit system. Mr Burge worked all his life, but had to give up work to look after his father who had developped Parkinsons. A situation not dissimilar to David Clapson, who also had to give up work to become a carer, and had to rely on Jobseeker Allowance after his mother’s death.

Due to an administrative mistake from Newham Borough Council, Mr Burge received £800 in housing benefit overpayments.  Newham sought resolution by at first deducting a weekly sum from his meagre income before eventually resorting to legal action. Mr Burge received confirmation that he was the subject of a court action from his local authority on the day of his death

This followed Mr Burge’s many attempts to resolve the matter with the Council, while expressing his distress at the situation and especially in his final letter to the council that he was ‘ more stressed, depressed and suicidal than any of my previous letters’. Mr Burge’s attempt to resolve the matters were frustrated by the Kafkaesque telephone system which kept him on hold until an automated voice told him to consult a website. Mr Burge did not have a computer and did not know how to use one. He used to write letters by hand and carbon paper to make copies.  He was also somebody said to have a ‘traditional attitude to debt’. For somebody who had at times battled depression in his life, the situation would have been overwhelming.

Finally, he decided to drive to Cheddar Gorge and set himself on fire. He died after suffering 100% second degree burns.


The coroner’s report highlights the Council’s failure and established a clear link between the action of the council and Mr Burge’s suicide: The Court understand that the deceased had never before owed money or been in debt but due to a number of factors in particular his age, lack of mental awareness, inability to both understand and use the internet and modern telephone procedures communicate his problems to the Council and as a result took the drastic action that brought about his death.

And recommends  that the Council, before initiating any proceeding to recover money, checks whether the person understand the proceedings and what is involved.


It seems to be a reasonable recommendation, but one which does not stand scrutiny. What is striking in Mr Burge’s case, and also in David Clapson’s case, which is why he was mentioned earlier, is that these 2 men were able to function properly before being caught in the benefit system. They both held a job for a long time, both became carer for their ageing parents, and both died because the system devised to deal with people who need support at some stage in their lives has become robotic, heartless and hostile.  It may be one occasion when the word ‘vulnerable’ needs to be used. The current benefit system makes people vulnerable and creates vulnerabilities where none existed, for which people are paying with their lives.


NB: Newham Borough Council has acknowledged “delays and deficiencies” in its communications with Mr Burge and apologised “if this contributed to his death in any way”. But it should be noted that the Council is receiving a very high number of complaints: 145 in 2013 for its dealing with benefit claimants, much much higher than the average number of complaints received by other councils


 Posted by at 13:12
Sep 182015

We wish to give a welcome to Debbie Abrahams as the new Labour Shadow Minister for Disabled People.

She has a thorough knowledge of the issues facing disabled people, having previously been a member of the Work and Pensions Committee.

This is a committee comprised of backbench MPs who have the task of holding the Department of Work and Pensions to account.

Debbie has been outstanding in her role on the committee, doing more than any other MP to hold slippery Iain Duncan Smith, his hench-ministers and civil servants to account over their miss-treatment of disabled people. She has done this with intelligence and tenacity, skills that will serve her, and disabled people, well in her new role.

Below are some video clips of Debbie at work.



 Posted by at 22:20
Sep 182015

This is a press release today from our friends and allies in Canada, Ontario Coalition Against Poverty.

They have taken direct action against closure of essential homeless shelters by occupying the roof of one of the closed shelters.

In Toronto temperatures get down to minus 16 degrees in the winter, and homeless people are found dead in the streets. These shelters are essential for the protection of human life, and yet the authorities are closing them, in a drive for social cleansing in the city. Winter is coming and yet the authorities continue to fail to make even the most basic provision.

We at DPAC support and applaud the action taken by OCAP. We condemn the Toronto civic authorities who can waste disgusting sums of money on the Pan Am Games but plead poverty when it comes to their own citizens.

Shame on them.

We invite DPAC Supporters and Allies to send messages of support to OCAP on twitter (@OCAPtoronto) or via their facebook page.

And we invite our supporters and Allies to send messages of condemnation to the Toronto city authorities, on email, or twitter @TorontoComms and Mayor John Tory (yes he really is called Tory) via email or twitter  @JohnTory.

You might like to let them know that their shame is being spread on the internet for all the world to see.



Today, OCAP activists occupied the roof of the former Hope Shelter at the corner of College and McCaul Street to protest the City of Toronto’s callous indifference to the crisis unfolding in the City shelter system.

Every night in our city, the shelter system is full to bursting, with women, families and people with health and addiction issues hit the hardest.

In April 2013, City Council, under tremendous community pressure, voted to enforce a 90% occupancy rate cap for the shelter system, ensuring that beds would be available to meet the unprecedented need for shelter services. However, the City has done precious little to make new shelter space available and every night of the year, the entire shelter system is full to well over 90% capacity. Indeed, not only has the City not opened new shelter spaces, but it seems content to stand by and let existing shelters close.

The Hope Shelter, which was closed on April 15 of this year, was a 124 bed facility that was a vital shelter in the underserved West End of the city. It consistently operated at or near full capacity, an indication of how crucial those 124 beds were to homeless people in the western part of downtown. The City promised that it would locate a suitable alternative space in the immediate area but more than 5 months later, we still haven’t seen those beds replaced.

The situation around the Hope Shelter is a microcosm of everything that is wrong with the current shelter system in the City of Toronto: a City government that is either indifferent to or actively participating in the erosion of necessary shelter services, all while developers and landlords scoop up buildings that have been or could be shelters.

We are in the midst of a profound crisis of homelessness in our city, with 4 homeless people having frozen to death on city streets in the winter months of this year. And even so, municipal government refuses to take any substantive action to prevent or at least stop the rapid disappearance of shelter beds. We are occupying the roof of the Hope Shelter today to draw attention to this ongoing crisis and to demand that the City honor its commitments to replace the beds lost by the closing of Hope and, more broadly, to enforce its own 90% occupancy guidelines, which means opening new shelter space immediately.

Today’s action is just the first in a series that OCAP has planned for the fall and winter of this year, to demand movement from the City to address the nightmare that the shelter system has become.

On Monday, September 21 at noon, OCAP will head to City Hall to confront the architects of this disaster directly and demand that Council take action to fix the shelter system. We have reached a point where empty dialogue and pointless concessions merely ensure that more people will die preventable deaths on city streets.

Today and on September 21, OCAP and our allies will begin the next phase in the battle to defend and expand the city shelter system. As the fall turns to winter, join us in resisting the neoliberal, developer-friendly agenda being pushed by City Hall and demand accessible, safe and decent #shelterforall!

OCAP activists and community members directly impacted by the closing of the Hope Shelter will be available to speak with the media at 10am at College and McCaul. — Ontario Coalition Against Poverty 157 Carlton St #201 Toronto, ON M5A 2K3 Phone: 416 925 6939 Fax: 1 855 714 0566 (toll free) Twitter: @OCAPtoronto Facebook:


 Posted by at 15:37
Sep 122015

Below is a response to Tomlison’s piece in Able magazine published earlier this week

The Minister for the Disabled People says:

“We should do everything we can to give people the dignity of a job, the opportunity to achieve their career aspirations and the security of a pay cheque. The focus should always be on what a person can do, giving them every opportunity to fulfil their potential. No-one should be written off to a life on disability benefits and it should always pay to work.”

The ‘help’ I have received to get work has been pitiful. I was on Incapacity Benefit due to degenerative disc disease and osteoarthritis – there is no cure, I won’t get better. I am in constant pain and have mobility problems. However, I was found ‘Fit For Work’ and now receive Job Seekers’ Allowance. I am £30 per week less well off, I can no longer afford taxis when I need them, can no longer afford better quality food, can no longer afford to pay my heating bills so spent the early (cold) part of this year with the heating off. This new-found poverty has impacted directly on my physical and mental health. 

I now have to attend the Work Programme five days per week to ‘Job Search’. I am constantly exhausted, constantly in pain. After eight months on the Work Programme I have had no practical help in finding employment, unskilled and ignorant ‘advisers’ have in fact hindered my efforts. Their suggestions on how to get back to work have been risible and amateur. They have ignored my qualifications and experience and attempted to force me into unpaid work in completely inappropriate fields. Being subject to a hostile sanctions regime has had an impact on my blood pressure and I now suffer from stress and insomnia. Despite many hours of searching for work in the areas I have been mandated to search by the Job Centre, I have had no replies to my letters and CV – in EIGHT MONTHS. 

Clearly, your definitions of ‘dignity’ ‘opportunity’ and ‘security’ come from a different dictionary than mine. I cannot afford new clothing, new shoes and I cannot even afford to put credit on my phone. My household is sliding into debt fast. I am dreading the winter. On the Work Programme I am in the company of many, many others in exactly my situation. They, too, are still disabled and unemployed months or even years after being declared ‘Fit For Work’. The only dignity we have is in our shared experience and defiance of your government’s attacks on us. 

Minister, in short, disabled people can well do without your ‘help’ in finding us work. 

Samantha Shelley



 Posted by at 16:59
Sep 122015

We at DPAC want to offer our very warmest and heartfelt congratulations to Jeremy Corbyn on winning the vote by a landslide to be the new Labour Party Leader.

We know that Jeremy is a decent, honest man who will stand by his principles of fairness and decency for all.Jeremy Corbyn is the ONLY labour leadership candidate to have consistently supported the Save The ILF Campaign throughout

We think he will make not just a good, but a great Labour Party Leader and we look forward to him becoming the Prime Minister who will return this country to being a nation of decency and tolerance with the proceeds prosperity shared by all.

DPAC have supported Jeremy in the leadership contest, which was a once-only break from our usual position not being supporters of any party or political grouping.

(You can read more about our reasons for that here: )

At that time we made a promise to our members and supporters that at the end of the Labour leadership elections, DPAC would go back to supporting no political party.

So now the election is over, and we will keep that promise, and restate that DPAC is aligned to no political party. This means that we will consider ourselves free to criticise any political party that does not work for the best interests of disabled people.

Of course it also means that where political parties do work for the interests of disabled people, we are equally free to praise that.

We are hopeful that a Labour Party led by Jeremy Corbyn will earn more of our praise, and less of the scorn that we have given Labour in the past, but we will not hesitate to scorn Labour, whoever it is led by, if we feel that is what we need to do.

So what now?

While it is cause for celebration that Jeremy has won this election and we do believe it will lead to very welcome positive changes in British politics, some things are not going to change, at least not for a while:

  • The Tory party are still in power, and they are still inflicting great misery and harm on disabled people.

  • The WCA is still in existence, and people are still losing their DLA, after waiting for unacceptably long times in the PIP queue.

  • Thousands of Disabled People have still lost the ILF funding and are looking at a loss of independence and an uncertain future

  • Disabled people and non-disabled people alike are still being sanctioned and living in fear of being sanctioned for contrived reasons, to satisfy the misery lust of Iain Duncan Smith

  • We still have the threat to face of the next stage of Welfare “Reforms” which bring ever greater misty and harm.

So just because we are celebrating that Jeremy Corbyn is the new Labour Leader, this isn’t time to let off campaigning, this is the time to STEP UP the pressure, campaign harder and bring all the pressure to bear that we can to bring down this vile, evil Tory government.

And on top of that, we think that Jeremy would agree, that positive social change has never been caused by Westminster.

Certainly the laws that enact that change are voted through in Westminster, but MPs didn’t just wake up one morning and decide to vote for Women’s rights or LGBT rights, or workers rights.

MPs only voted for those rights after pressure from society made that change an imperative that MPs and Parties responded to.

All the change for good that has happened in this country, in fact anywhere in the world, has happened because people, ordinary people, not leaders or politicians but just people, had stood up and demanded their rights.

DPAC is part of that fight for rights, for disabled people’s civil rights, we are one of the many grass roots led, disabled people led groups and organisations that are fighting, and fighting hard for those rights.

Now is not the time to step back from the fight, lets celebrate Jeremy Corbyn’s win and then take that encouragement and move on to step up that fight.

Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world

The battle we fight isn’t fought in Westminster, its fought in places like Nuneaton, Cardiff, Liverpool, Derry, Glasgow, Swansea, Belfast, York, Exeter, Nottingham, Bournemouth, Dover, and in towns and cities all over the UK and its a battle for hearts and minds and its a fight that everyone can take part in.

The next phase of disabled people’s fight for their rights, will be in Manchester in early October when DPAC join with many other groups to protest at the Tory Party conference, why not join us or if you can’t get there protest in person, you might want to donate to sponsor another protester to go instead (but only if you can afford it)

And of course we will be having a parallel protest on social media, throughout the Tory conference, watch this blog for more details of that to come.

 Posted by at 13:10
Sep 112015

We now have a second report of a massive cut to the care package of former ILF users in the area covered by Waltham Forest Council.

Following a protest at the council offices about savage cuts to Gabriel Pepper’s care package by the council, we see another report that a former ILF recipient’s weekly care package has been cut by 63%

Needless to say, we are seriously concerned about what is happening, and we will be pressing the council for answers, but to do this we first need as much information as possible.

If you are a former ILF recipient, living in the Waltham Forest Council area can you please email us at, or if you know someone who is, could you please ask them to contact us.

Also, if you live in any council area and you have been notified of a severe cut to your care package, please also get in contact with us at

We treat all information in the strictest confidence and will never disclose any information without asking your permission first.


 Posted by at 21:17
Sep 082015

We have received lots of emails from the UK, Europe and internationally asking us about the UNCRPD inquiry what it really means and what DPAC actually did. We set out the main questions and answers below:

What is the UNCRPD?

UNCRPD stands for the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. The Convention includes a set of Articles or points on the rights of disabled people.  You can see the full text HERE

The Westminster Parliament signed up to respect those rights included in the convention, they also ratified the Optional Protocol 8th June 2009. The Optional Protocol is a very important route for people to challenge any violation of rights by governments or authorities against the UNCRPD


What does the UK ratifying the UNCRPD Optional Protocol mean?

It means that the UK (state party) accepted the competence of the UNCRPD committee to conduct inquiries into the violation of the articles of the UNCRPD. So while anyone in any country can challenge governments through the UNCRPD –an inquiry by the UNCRPD committee can only be conducted under the Optional Protocol and only if that country (or state party) has ratified it. DPAC used the Optional Protocol to initiate the current inquiry into the UK because we saw violations of the rights enshrined in the UNCRPD and that disabled peoples’ rights were going backwards (retrogression of rights)


How was the inquiry initiated?

DPAC initiated the UNCRPD Inquiry using Article 6 of the Optional Protocol meaning that a formal process was carried out by DPAC to submit complaints and submissions. This process meant that documents needed to be written in a particular way with attention to specific Articles within the UNCRPD and that strong evidence needed to be framed accordingly. The use of the UNCRPD Optional Protocol is always a formal process with strict guidelines. It’s not something that people can do by accident or by sending through lists of media articles.


Is the UK inquiry really the first of its kind ever?

Yes, it is the first of its kind against a state party through Article 6 of the Optional Protocol, although inquiries have been conducted for individual complaints previously in other countries this is the first to be against a state party for grave and systematic violations. Also it’s useful to note that individual complaints to the UNCRPD must have first exhausted all domestic channels. That is they need to have exhausted the countries court mechanisms before making a complaint to the UNCRPD.


When did DPAC start doing this?

DPAC first contacted the UNCRPD in 2012. DPAC made it first submission to the UNCRPD committee in 2013 to attempt to initiate the process of inquiry, since then we have been providing further reports and submissions. We had to prove to the committee that there were grave (severe) and systematic (continuous and built into system of welfare ‘reform’ policies) violations (breaking) of rights enshrined in the UNCRPD. We also had to provide strong evidence of retrogression for the inquiry process to happen.


Does the government know about the inquiry?

Yes, they were given official notice of the inquiry in January 2014. They had also made their own submissions to the inquiry process attacking evidence that DPAC had put forward from 2013. However, the UNCRPD committee accepted DPAC’s evidence which is why the inquiry is happening. The devolved governments of Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales are also aware. However the most punitive policies come from Westminster and the Westminster government. The UK as a whole is treated as a state party under the UNCRPD


Who wrote the submissions and produced the evidence for the inquiry?

Three of us wrote the submissions: Debbie Jolly, Linda Burnip and Anita Bellows. We are grateful for the additional input and guidance of Nick Dilworth, Louise Whitfield, Dr David Webster and a person who wishes to remain anonymous who provided excellent admin and other support throughout.


Why didn’t DPAC tell people about the UNCRPD inquiry sooner?

We were told we must keep everything confidential or the inquiry would be halted. We didn’t want that to happen because we knew the inquiry was needed. It was only after the Scottish Herald produced the full details that we decided we needed to step in to stop some of the misconceptions and misunderstandings that were starting around the inquiry.


Early Press stories said that it was the Just Fair report that started the inquiry…

DPAC had also submitted evidence to the 2014 Just Fair report. But this report dealt with a different convention which was the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR) People that submit reports under other conventions do not automatically somehow initiate an inquiry-it was quoted in early press pieces that the Just Fair report had somehow kick started an Inquiry by the UNCRPD. But this kind of thing just does not happen if you write a report on one convention ( there are several), it doesn’t suddenly set off a process on another Convention such as the CRPD or any other, despite its wealth of evidence or importance-formal processes need to be followed to initiate an inquiry, as we said earlier.

The Daily Mail has been attacking the inquiry process and says the UNCRPD people are meddling…

What else can we expect from the Mail? As we said the government have been aware of this process since 2013 so the inquiry is no surprise to them. The UK signed up to the UNCRPD and is therefore bound by its contents. There are processes and procedures that the UNCRPD committee must follow and that the government must follow which result in official procedural cooperation between the two. We also saw with the 2013 visit from Raquel Rolink (on the ‘bedroom tax’) that the Mail quoted MPs who said she had come uninvited to ‘interfere’ along with some more colourful accusations against her- again because of international procedures and protocols no person from any UN committee can come to the UK without government knowledge or acceptance first-again the Mail lied and inflamed the proper process of accountability.

Lots of people have written, blogged and raised the issues facing disabled people don’t they deserve credit?

Of course, lots of people have been fighting in lots of different ways and everyone deserves credit for raising the issues consistently-it’s something we must all keep doing

What does DPAC think will be gained through the inquiry?

Because it’s the first of its kind we can’t say –unfortunately we don’t think that things will suddenly return to the way they were in 2009. We don’t want people to think that the inquiry will solve everything because that would be creating false hope. We need to be realistic but also positive-what is happening is that the Conservatives are finally being held to account for their actions

We also hope that the publication and knowledge of the inquiry will aid other countries affected by austerity/ low levels of support to disabled people and the widespread disproportionate impacts on disabled people’s human rights.

We hope it will be of use in bringing other Governments (State Parties) to account through the use of the UNCRPD Optional Protocol. We would like it to provide hope and assistance to active grassroots organisations, where traditional disability organisations and big disability charities fail to act for fear of Government reprisals and/or funding cuts.

DPAC refuses any funds that limit our independence and we always will-we will also fight this and any other government where they destroy disabled peoples’ rights through punitive cuts, policies or actions





 Posted by at 21:26
Sep 072015
The IDS Files - The Truth is Out There

Daily Mail Article - Thousands in rush to avoid the new benefit testDM Article 75% if benefit claimants fit for workDaily Mail Article - Disabled Benefit - just fill in a form

Remember these? Time and time again, the Daily Mail has published stories about disability benefit claimants who supposedly did not deserve their benefits because they were either fit for work, or because it was too easy to claim benefits.

Time and time again, the Work and Pensions Committee and/or the UK Statistics Authority which has investigated complaints about the media treatment of disability benefit claimants, have found DWP guilty of giving ‘direct quotations from Ministers [which] can give undue credence to inaccurate or misleading reports’ and they recommended that DWP ‘ensure that significant statistical releases are accompanied by a press release setting out the context and providing background explanatory notes’.

To which DWP responded that it ‘takes great care’ when publishing statistics to ensure that the information is used in an appropriate manner but it also stated that ‘The Committee and Government need to be mindful of the widespread public unease about the number of people claiming incapacity benefits and it is therefore unsurprising that this is reflected in the media. […] However, it is important to stress that it is not the Department’s role to dictate what can appear in stories in the media’. [Underlined by the author]

Not only have DWP or Iain Duncan Smith been found guilty of providing to some media selective information which were not supported by statistics or were not evidence based, but also that ‘the statistics do not comply fully with the principles of the Code of Practice… and that they were shared with the media in advance of their publication’.

Added to this, Iain Duncan Smith had ‘the belief’ that the benefit cap is driving benefit claimants into work, although no causal link has ever been established. The latest DWP press release on the benefit cap titled People are moving into work as a result of the benefit cap and the supporting document show that there is an increase in the percentage of capped claimants moving into work compared with the percentage of uncapped claimants, although the number is very small, but do not take into consideration the fact that potential capped claimants were also receiving additional support from Job Centres. Which means it is impossible to disaggregate the impact from the benefit cap from the impact of this additional support or to know whether the benefit cap has any impact at all.

In August 2014, the Daily Mail published the following article:

Daily Mail - Benefit Fruadster Excuses

This gave rise to a very interesting Freedom of Information request (for which S.Banks deserves credit) which DWP took over 2 months to respond to:
After getting the clarification he was looking for on whether there was a DWP press release about the Worst excuses used by benefit fraudsters, he asked the question:
Dear DWP CAXTON HOUSE Communications,
Thank you. In regards to your last point; to answer my query specifically can you please confirm that the dwp initiated contact with the Mail in this particular instance?
To which DWP responded:

Dear S Banks
The answer to your query below is yes, DWP initiated contact with the Mail in this particular instance.
Kind regards
Communications FOI Focal Point

Remembering what was quoted above: ‘However, it is important to stress that it is not the Department’s role to dictate what can appear in stories in the media’, it seems that DWP knows that it can rely on the Daily Mail to publish stories which are derogatory to disability benefit claimants, paving the way for more cuts. The Daily Mail did not publish the latest statistics showing that 90% of reassessed Incapacity Benefit claimants were entitled to their benefits or any article to re-establish some kind of balance in its treatment of disability benefit claimants.

But ultimately, the responsibility lies with DWP, the largest employer in the Civil Service, which has forgotten its duty of impartiality and have been using selected media and especially the Daily Mail to demonise disabled people, to turn the general public against them and make cuts to disability benefits more acceptable, also leading to an increase in hate crimes against them. DWP employees should hang their heads in shame.


 Posted by at 11:45
Sep 012015

[Reblogged from Greater Manchester Coalition of Disabled People, Opinion, author Brian Hilton]

SCOPE’s End the awkward campaign advert

SCOPE’s End the awkward campaign advert

Oh give me a break. You rattle your tins for this? Disabled people deserve better!

#‎EndTheWasteOfMoney‬  #‎EndTheAwkward‬

Watching the breakfast news this morning I saw that SCOPE are continuing with their “End The Awkward” campaign, this time by teaming up with Channel 4 and disabled comedian Alex Brooker.

My problem with it is twofold. Firstly, is awkwardness really the burning issues for most disabled people? Secondly, the message seems confused as I’m not sure if they are saying it’s wrong to ask inappropriate questions or speak/act differently around disabled people; or are they saying that disabled people should put up with stares and questions about our missing bits?

Regardless, I am staggered that SCOPE are continuing to run this campaign for a second year and can only wonder how they settled on this as the issue they want to plough their time and resources into.

With disability hate crime on the increase, the closure of the Independent Living Fund, the bedroom tax, the Assisted Dying Bill, the cumulative effects of cuts on disabled people and the vilification of disabled people in the right wing press; why is SCOPE Still banging on about “end the awkward”?

Looking on the SCOPE website, the top of the home page highlights the campaign and the bottom of the page asks people to pledge £12.00 a month to help run their helpline. I wonder, are disabled people and their families phoning the helpline with concerns about awkwardness? I think not!

It shocks me that Scope, with all their funds, resources and media profile, that this the burning issue they are pursuing.

For what it’s worth I think SCOPE are wasting their money, money they make off the backs of disabled people, supposedly on our behalf, but in reality not!

They may say “End The Awkward”. I say “End The Waste Of Money”.

Brian Hilton

Further information on this piece at Disability News Service here


 Posted by at 17:50
Sep 012015

[Reblogged and amended from Kate Belgrave’s blog, with thanks]

Support Gabriel Pepper: protest for former ILF recipient facing a massive cut to care support

Disabled campaigners and supporters held a protest today at Waltham Forest Town Hall in support of former Independent Living Fund recipient Gabriel Pepper, who is facing a substantial cut to his care package now that the ILF is closed. The ILF used to pay for some of Gabriel’s care. Now, Gabriel must rely entirely on Waltham Forest council to pay for his care package – a package that will be cut by about 48%.

So much for government claims that councils could and would meet disabled people’s care needs when the Independent Living Fund closed. “All disabled people, including those transferring from the ILF, will continue to be protected by a safety net that guarantees disabled people get the support they need,” Cameron’s last government waffled in 2014 when then-Minister for Disabled People Mike Penning announced again that the ILF would close. (I say “again” because the courts had recently thrown out a previous government decision to close the ILF. Undeterred, that government returned in March 2014 to say again that it would close the fund).

Obviously, Penning was talking rot. We all knew that, but still.
Here’s Gabriel discussing his disability and the reasons why he needed the ILF to pay for extra carer hours:

Tweets from Penny Pepper at the protest at Waltham Forest Council today:


Shame on you Waltham Forest Council, we will be watching you and every other council in the land.

 Posted by at 17:39