Last week John Pring highlighted a case showing not only that the system dealing with unemployed and disabled people has not improved, but is reminiscent of the worst days under Atos
But this time, it is Maximus which is the henchman. It is Maximus which had been informed by Mandy McGuire, project manager of the charity Slough Homeless Our Concern (SHOC), that Alan McArdle, whom she had supported for 16 years, was too unwell to contact Maximus as he had just left hospital, and it is Maximus which referred him to the DWP for sanction. One hour after reading the DWP letter telling him he was at risk of losing his benefits because he failed to contact Maximus, Mr McArdle collapsed and died of a heart attack.
His case embodies the long catalogue of failures associated with the WCA and DWP that we have become accustomed to seeing.
To start with, he was wrongly placed in the Work Related Activity Group, and with a prognosis short enough that he had to attend the the Work Programme. Suffering from diabetes, he had no feeling in his arms and legs, and also suffered from other medical conditions, in addition to being alcoholic. It was his lack of feeling which caused his fall, leading to his hospitalisation. He was so unwell before his fall that Maximus had agreed to keep in touch by telephone as Mandy McGuire found it impossible to transport him to the meetings because his mobility was so poor.
Once in the Work Programme, he had to keep in touch with the Work Programme private contractor Maximus in order to receive his benefits. When he failed to do so, he was referred to the DWP for sanction. The likely response of Maximus to any criticism is that private contractors don’t legally have the discretion to review good cause. This is true, but it does not take away the fact that Maximus is now in charge of administering 2 lethal schemes, the WCA and the Work Programme, both of them fundamentally flawed. Obviously Maximus has no interest in seeing their ‘clients’ dying, as it makes a huge amount of money out of their misery.
In other news, Maximus share prices have floundered as it is not processing the required number of ESA assessments. The explanation given by Maximus is the recruitment, training and retention issues the company faces. Which explains why it is offering such attractive salaries.
But it takes a certain kind of person to knowingly deprive some very disabled people of benefits because they did not tick the right boxes. Although the salaries are attractive, are they big enough to buy a conscience?
The last words are left to people by Trinity who cared of Alan McArdle: http://wearetrinity.org.uk/who-matters/
“One of the people we work with, from our day centre in Slough, died recently. He wasn’t living on the streets – he had found housing. He had multiple health problems and had recently been in hospital. The private company who had been tasked with deciding who was fit for work – no longer the job of the civil servants employed by the jobcentre – had put him on the work programme. This meant he had to keep a number of appointments, apply for jobs and was expected to work. He missed an appointment. He had just left hospital and one of our people had written letters and made calls on his behalf to ensure that the people from the work programme knew why the appointment was missed. He was too poorly to leave the house.
He received a letter telling him his benefits had been stopped – he was being sanctioned for not attending his appointment. His ill-health was irrelevant. He died after opening this letter. He collapsed and was gone. They say your life flashes before your eyes before you die, I would hazard a guess that it was his future that flashed before his: losing his home, returning to the streets, perhaps dying there.
Does his life matter?
It matters to us”
It also matters to us. You were a precious, unique human being. Rest in peace, Alan