Oct 102015
The IDS Files - The Truth is Out There
Duncan Smith and his hench-ministers have repeatedly said that there are no targets for sanctioning people in Jobcentres.

But are they telling the truth?

Have a read of this testimony from a Jobcentre worker to the Work and Pensions Committee inquiry into sanctions and make up your own mind…….

[Name Removed] –Personal Adviser

A Statement on events witnessed by me at Salford Jobcentre Plus and Rochdale Jobcentre Plus between 2011 and 2013


1.0              Managers at both district level and in the local office created a culture which encouraged staff to view the customer (benefit claimant) as an obstacle to performance. The Jobcentre operations became wholly performance led. Sanctions of customers were encouraged by managers daily, with staff being told to look at every engagement with the customer as an opportunity to take sanction action. I was personally told by a manager to “agitate” and “Inconvenience” customers in order to get them to leave the register. The staff performance management system was used inappropriately in order to increase submissions to the Decision Maker and therefore to increase sanctions on customers. Senior HR managers condoned this behaviour by refusing to issue guidelines on appropriate time limits on performance, which encouraged managers to look at short-term targets above staff development, fairness to customers and appropriate behaviour as set out in the departments own values.


2.0              Managers at Salford Jobcentre, created an environment where every action with a customer could lead to loss of benefits. They made the decision to mandate customers to all job programmes regardless of their suitability. They did this by applying a benefit direction on the customer to make them attend. The purpose was to increase the opportunity to sanction a customer, should they fail any part of the direction. My line manager reporting back from the district managers meeting stated that the message from the District Manager with regard to customers was –“let’s set them up from day 1”. Managers’ actions and words didn’t reflect the values and behaviours set down by department, they set the wrong examples and acted without any accountability.

2.1              There was an unhealthy and unprofessional working environment for staff. Managers created and encouraged a confrontational approach towards the customer and the office manager at Salford set up “DMA hit squads” to target customers for sanction action. Customers dealt with by these squads had their job search scrutinised at an almost forensic level in order to get a suspension of benefit. The Office manager would call the customer record of a job applications a “micky Mouse” job search and customers would often break down and cry or argue because they felt that they were being treated unfairly.

2.2              The office manager and her management team asked advisers to set unreasonable targets for customers to find work as part of their jobseekers agreements. This included asking customers to apply for a minimum of 6 jobs per week, regardless of their skills or experience. The aim was to find an opportunity to make a referral to the decision maker with the possibility of getting the customer sanctioned. It was distressing to see so many customers treated in such a way. The actions of the managers put the safety of staff at risk with arguments and incidents by customers a daily occurrence. Security was called frequently to restore order as were the police. Staff were asked to double the number of daily interviews they conducted in order to achieve targets and inconvenience the customer. This put stress on staff well-being and health.

2.3              Challenging targets for individual performance were used to cover ghost targets for Decision Maker. This led to perverse behaviour, such as making customers attend the jobcentre daily in the hope they would miss an appointment or be late. This would result in benefit being suspended or the claim closed. This was setting customers up to fail in order to reach targets.  Changes in the Personal Development rules gave scope for managers to threaten disciplinary action on staff who failed to make sufficient referrals to Decision Maker, rather than address any real issues about training. The Cluster manager at Rochdale Jobcentre issued office wide Performance Improvement Plans (PiP) to all staff in order to improve monthly performance figures on DMA, Programme referrals and MFA (More Frequent Attendance). I was issued with one of these PiPs to get more MFA referrals despite myself being an excellent performer. In my 23 years I had never had any PiPs or questions about my performance. I felt let down and demoralised as this was an insult to my efforts.  I was required to hit the same level of referrals to a Decision Maker each week – regardless of circumstances, or i would be marked as a poor performer. As an experienced adviser I would expect my referrals to go down over time, not go up, or stay at the same level.

2.4              Staff was told not just to increase referrals to the Decision Maker but also to focus on particular conditionality questions –such as Actively Seeking Employment, and Fail to Attend Adviser appointments as this would cause the maximum discomfort to the customer. I noticed that my own and other adviser appointments that were being booked where the customer was not informed.  These interviews had been booked by the office manager [name deleted] and by her assistant under her instruction, with the intention of closing down the claim and claiming an off-flow performance target or in order to take DMA action against the client. She had indicated clearly in the conversation box that the interview had been booked and the customer notified in person with a letter by hand, even though this could not have been the case. These fake interviews were clearly illegal action and gross misconduct. There were many instances of this happening with other advisers. I informed my line manager, [name deleted] but was accused of lying – even though I presented him with the evidence. No action taken and the bookings continued.

2.5              Staff were threatened by the cluster manager that their jobs would be taken by other people if they didn’t do what they were told. Staff were regularly told by managers to “agitate” and “inconvenience” customers. I notified the Whistleblower of these activities on more than one occasion but nothing changed.

2.6              Customers were being deliberately treated inappropriately in order to achieve performance without regard for natural justice and their welfare.  Daily signing was introduced across the board initially to anyone claiming over 6 months but gradually to include new claimants. This was done to inconvenience the customer. One customer was made to attend daily for two months and eventually broke down and wept in the office. Staff were being asked to behave in a manner that was against the departments’ values of integrity and honesty.  An environment was created where staffs’ own safety was at risk, and their respect, and professionalism was diminished.

               A Timeline of some Events

3.0              Apr 2011 – summary of my personal development identified in my personal review states “John to apply DMA appropriately to attain 4% target on ASE, Availability, RE & MFA, to achieve minimum standard of 4% referral rate”.

3.1              06/05/11 – Team meeting was informed by [name deleted] (team Leader) that DMA referral target across the team was now to be 2.4% per month.

3.2              17/06/11 – Team Meeting was informed by [name deleted] that each adviser must do 2 Mandatory Work Activity referrals per month. Staff were asked to mandate customers to training by giving a direction. This was done to increase the prospect of sanctioning customers.

3.3              13/07/11 – attended culture workshop at Regional Office held by the Transformation Team. Issues raised by staff within the District were

•              Staff are expected to play the game and not rock the boat

•              Make sure all boxes are ticked rather than analyse the work we do

•              Good work is not recognised if it is not performance

•              No transparency or consistency in management behaviour

3.4              22/07/11 – managers at Salford office decide to withdraw flexi-credit for medical appointments for staff, in breach of well-being guidelines. Staff are told by Office manager [name deleted] that they are stealing money for time they are not working. This measure was confirmed by cluster manager [name deleted].

3.5              22/07/11 – spoke with my line manager [name deleted] about customer interviews that were being booked where the customer was not informed.  These interviews had been booked by the office manager [name deleted] for the intention of closing down the claim and claiming an off-flow performance target or to take DMA action against the client. She had indicated clearly in the conversation box that the interview had been booked and the customer notified in person with a letter by hand. This was clearly illegal action and gross misconduct. There were many instances of this happening with other advisers. [name deleted] accused me of lying – so showed him the evidence. No action taken and the bookings continued.

3.6              23/07/11 – I challenged the withdrawing of medical flexi-credit by raising the matter with the Senior HR Business Partner. She investigated it and found in my favour. Although she notified the district operations manager that the flexi-credit had to be restored, it was never notified to staff by any of the managers and I had to send an office communication to inform staff.

3.7              26/07/11 – Phoned the whistle-blower hotline to report the inappropriate booking of customer interviews. This action has now been assigned by [name deleted] to a member of staff whose purpose is to look at all adviser interviews across the office and rebook them at short notice for customers to attend on dates which may only be a couple of days after their last attendance – again with the intention of getting a Fail to Attend and closure of claim – to achieve high Off –Flow targets.

3.8              05/08/11 – team meeting [name deleted] reports back from the district managers meeting that DMA is falling behind the 2% target and in regard to our customers that we must “set them up from day one”.

3.9              24/08/11 – Office manager [name deleted] tells staff that any customer who attends late on their signing day is not to be signed but booked to come back in on the next day. This is to punish the customer –regardless of the reason for their late attendance- by delaying their payments sometimes by as much as 3 days

3.10              September 2011 – made aware by a member of staff that they have contacted the Whistle-blower hotline to report [name deleted] for asking staff in her team meeting to make customers sign daily so as to inconvenience them.

3.11              28/10/11 – rang RAD Whistle-blower Hotline to report that inappropriate booking of customer interviews was still continuing. Member of staff at RAD informed me that she didn’t feel that anything would be done about it, as the report went to the line manager of the person I was complaining about. They felt that this way things were able to be hushed up.

3.12              16/12/11- District Operations Manager – [name deleted] attends Salford Jobcentre. I attend a meeting with other staff in which we raised our concerns about being asked to set up customers to fail, the inappropriate booking of interviews and being asked to agitate customers. He got angry with us and said “you are hitting your targets but you don’t seem to care”. I asked how the district was planning on implementing the departments 7 cultural challenges.  [name deleted] said – “what are those?” when I explained them he said –“we do things differently in this district”. I asked him if he was aware of the way we were being told to behave to customers and he said –“I don’t see any complaints on my desk”. When I asked another question – he said “don’t get smart son”. It was one of the most dispiriting experiences I have encountered.

3.13              March 2012 – June 2012 Harassed by my line manager [name deleted] and physically threatened, which was over-heard by another member of staff.

3.14              27 June 2012 – Office Communications meeting attended by [name deleted] and [name deleted]. [name deleted] congratulates the office for their performance, he says “I live in Salford and I see the type of people you are dealing with, I see these people hanging around the precinct and shopping around town, lazy, drinking and taking drugs”. Such a bad example to set as a leader that he judges people by where they live and what they look like. [name deleted] then talks about the new sanction regime and says of the customers –“don’t forget these people are taking your money, you are civil servants, you are paid to do what you are told, if you don’t like it, someone else will take your job”.

3.15              05/07/2012 – new line manager [name deleted] tells me to stop phoning and emailing vacancies to customers and asks me to get them into the office. I ask why and she tells me that I need to “agitate” them. I ask her what she means by agitating and she says – we don’t want people to get comfortable claiming benefit, we want to inconvenience them so that they will sign off.

3.16              Sept 2012 – Start at new office Rochdale Jobcentre. Write a letter to [DWP Permanent Secretary] about the culture at Salford and how I was told to agitate customers.

3.17              Oct 2012 – Receive letter from [DWP Director of Work Services] stating that they are satisfied that there has been no inappropriate behaviour at Salford.

 3.18              Feb 2013 – All but a handful of staff at Rochdale Jobcentre are put on Pre Performance Improvement Plans as a preliminary to disciplinary action. The PiPs are issued in order to hit monthly performance targets on programme referrals, DMA and MFA. The evidence can be checked on RM system. The instruction was made to managers by [name deleted] the cluster manager.

3.19              March 2013 – team meeting in which staff are told to increase the amount of submissions               to the Decision Maker and in particular to do more ASE (Actively Seeking Referrals).

Previously on the IDS Files:

 Posted by at 17:13
Oct 082015

CommonSpace columnist James McEnaney pens a message to Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith

[Reblogged with permission]


You don’t know me, but I’ve taken a keen interest in your work over the years. I didn’t manage to catch your speech on Tuesday but the reaction on social media suggested that you made some characteristically callous comments about disabled people (presumably to rapturous applause).

I read your speech when I got home and, to be honest, the premise seemed fairly straightforward: you believe that it is not the role of the state to lift, or keep, people out of poverty; the only appropriate tool to ensure a good life is individual hard work.

With that in mind I’d like you to meet Michael, a 27-year-old man with severe autism.

Michael cannot read, write or speak and, although he is capable of communicating with those who know him (at least on a basic level), he spends a great deal of his time frustrated at his inability to express himself.

Michael lives in a residential care centre in Ayrshire, 40 miles away from his family. He has a bedroom with an ensuite, and shares a kitchen and lounge with other service users who also live in the unit (it would be an insult to call it a home).

Though he used to enjoy a range of educational activities which improved his quality of life these have been discontinued due to funding problems rooted in your government’s austerity agenda.

Michael cannot read, write or speak and, although he is capable of communicating with those who know him (at least on a basic level), he spends a great deal of his time frustrated at his inability to express himself.

Sometimes, depending on a range of largely uncontrollable factors, this frustration manifests itself in violent outbursts during which Michael may injure himself or his staff.

In addition to his autism, Michael also suffers from a number of health problems including epilepsy – as a consequence he has little, if any, privacy.

To be clear, no amount of ‘support’ will ever change these simple facts.

Having read your speech on Tuesday I spent much of the evening trying to imagine the sort of job that Michael could do in order to deserve a life free from poverty and its associated consequences (such as an earlier death).

Reduced to a statistic, Michael is simply a problem; to you, it would be better if he didn’t exist at all.

Eventually, just when I was about to give up, it hit me – there is something that Michael could do, a role perfectly suited to both his abilities and his situation.

Michael, it turns out, would make an excellent scapegoat.

In this role Michael could help you to convince the people of Britain that their problems are caused by people who are disabled, low-paid, young or foreign, thus allowing your government to go about its business of protecting those who are actually to blame.

It’s perfect really, and wouldn’t even involve any expensive training or set-up costs – just a bit of casual demonisation from a failing minister looking to build a legacy on a pile of shattered lives.

The thing is, Iain, I get it: in a world – your world – where humans are separated into black and white, scroungers and strivers, Michael is the former. He is a burden on society, an unproductive unit, a red mark on the balance sheet.

Reduced to a statistic, Michael is simply a problem; to you, it would be better if he didn’t exist at all.

But he is not just a statistic, and he does exist.

Michael is my brother.

But he is not just a statistic, and he does exist. Michael is my brother.

So while you have spent the last 23 years ‘serving’ as an MP, enjoying an outrageous salary and taxpayer-funded breakfasts (at £39 a go), I’ve seen my brother’s physical and mental health decline.

While you have been living like a Lord in your father-in-law’s countryside mansion my brother has been trapped in a care setting which – despite the best efforts of his fantastic staff – fails to meet his needs.

While your government has ensured that the richest in society continue to get richer, Michael’s quality of life has steadily declined.

If there is a silver lining it is this: at least Michael does not understand that those running the country simply don’t care about him.

Of course, you will say that your reforms are not intended for people like Michael, that only those who can work but choose not to will be caught up in the maelstrom of shame, bureaucracy, contempt and incompetence which has defined the last five years for vulnerable people up and down this country.

In reality – as you must surely know – the decisions you have made in recent years have brought misery to people who benefitted the least from the pre-recession boom years and who bear no responsibility for the economic crash of 2008.

Disabled people have, for example, been worst affected by the bedroom tax, while the introduction of Universal Credit could end up costing families with disabled children £1,400 a year.

On top of this, research by Inclusion Scotland has shown that disabled people and their families are suffering “stress, fear and isolation” as a result of your welfare reforms.

None of this matters to you because disabled people like my brother are the easiest of targets and you are never likely to come face-to-face with the human cost of your political choices.

But, of course, none of this matters to you because disabled people like my brother are the easiest of targets and, in the splendid isolation of your privileged life, you are never likely to come face-to-face with the human cost of your political choices.

So, again, I’d like you to meet Michael. I’d like you to spend a whole day with him, to at least try to understand what life is like for someone in his situation and to see just how hollow the ‘all in it together’ rhetoric really is.

Finally, I’d like you to look me in the eye and tell me that it is not the role of the state to ensure that my brother has a life worth living.

A normal, compassionate human being would never be able to do it; I suspect that you just might.

 Posted by at 22:28
Oct 072015

That’s why we’ve earned the right to call you #ToryScum

You took Labour’s WCA and you made it worse,
You called us fit for work while all knew we weren’t
Put us on your JSA, said we were better off in work
Put us on your work programme then sanctioned those who failed it

And you took the money and you gave it to your mates
Called us scroungers and sneered in our face
While some of us died, some starved, some suicide
That’s why we’ve earned the right to call you #ToryScum

You shut the Remploy factories, that gave our people work
We wrote to your MPs in vain, protested, fought the closures
But you threw our people out of work, in spite of their pleas
You said they would find other jobs, lies tripping out with ease

And you took the money and you gave it to your mates
Called us scroungers and sneered in our face
While more of us died, some starved, some suicide
That’s why we’ve earned the right to call you #ToryScum

You gave us Bedroom Tax, said we should all move
Where to we said?, where shall we go?, there is no where to move
Then pay you said, we’ll take our pound of flesh
Then Stephanie Bottril died, 1st of many Bedroom tax suicides
Others were evicted, after building up arrears, still others when to loansharks, you were oblivious to their tears

And you took the money and you gave it to your mates
Called us scroungers and sneered in our face
While more of us died, some starved, some suicide
That’s why we’ve earned the right to call you #ToryScum

Then you closed our ILF so we took you into court
We won the case, the judge agreed, you appealed, we won again
So you waited a while, then just closed it all again
You said “It’ll be all right, councils will make do”
We knew it was a blatant lie, and now your evil has come true

And you took the money and you gave it to your mates
Called us scroungers and sneered in our face
While more of us died, some starved, some suicide
That’s why we’ve earned the right to call you #ToryScum

You took our DLA away replacing it with PIP
Our people wait a year in queue, some die while waiting too
When finally people are assessed, they find they don’t qualify
Where once DLA paid our extra costs, PIP hangs us out to dry

And you took the money and you gave it to your mates
Called us scroungers and sneered in our face
While more of us died, some starved, some suicide
That’s why we’ve earned the right to call you #ToryScum

Then you try your universal credit, but that’s one saving grace
It doesn’t fucking work you prats, we’ll laugh right in your face
Jobcentre staff working out the numbers by hand, cos your IT is shit, but still you won’t admit it
This time you are up shit creek, your shame for all to see, you carry on wasting money on yet more shit IT

And you took the money and you gave it to your mates
Called us scroungers and sneered in our face
While more of us died, some starved, some suicide
That’s why we’ve earned the right to call you #ToryScum

You cut our Access to Work fund, that pays our extra costs,
You took our Motability fund while grinning all the time
We need these things to get to work, without them we’re at home
Years of hard won rights you take, we’re imprisoned all alone

And you took the money and you gave it to your mates
Called us scroungers and sneered in our face
While more of us died, some starved, some suicide
That’s why we’ve earned the right to call you #ToryScum

You took away our legal aid, you shut our CAB’s
Our lines of defence that we used to appeal
Now you want our human rights, our union rights, our protest rights
You want us with nothing left, what next? You want our lives?

And you took the money and you gave it to your mates
Called us scroungers and sneered in our face
While some of us died, some starved, some suicide
That’s why we’ve earned the right to call you #ToryScum

We’ve organised ourselves, to fight, our cause now well known
You still say you’ll protect us, lies we’ve clearly shown
We’ve called in the UN to investigate your crimes
We’ve taken you to court and won and we will do it again

But you took our money and you gave it to your mates
Called us scroungers and sneered in our face
While more of us died, some starved, some suicide
That’s why we’ve earned the right to call you #ToryScum

We’ve fought you in the streets, online, blockaded your roads
We’ve stormed Parliament’s doors, we’ve occupied the Abbey grounds
We’ve been a right thorn in your arse, and we’ve not finished with you yet
We’ll swear, we’ll scream, we’ll shout, we’ll spit, we’ll do what it takes

And you took our money and you gave it to your mates
Called us scroungers and sneered in our face
While more of us died, some starved, some suicide
That’s why we’ve earned the right to call you #ToryScum

We’ll fight you all the way you turds, we’ll call you what we want
We give not a shit about the offence we cause, we’re fighting for our lives
We’ve had enough of you, we want to see you gone
Till you’re a nasty smear on history, we will carry the fight on

Because you took our money and you gave it to your mates
Called us scroungers and sneered in our face
While more of us died, some starved, some suicide
That’s why disabled people call you #ToryScum

 Posted by at 12:01
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: https://www.dwp.gov.uk/docs/hwwb-is-work-…

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) www.ocap.ca Twitter: @OCAPtoronto Facebook: facebook.com/OcapToronto


 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: https://dpac.uk.net/2015/07/the-labour-party-needs-a-leader-not-a-jobsworth-thats-why-dpac-are-supporting-jeremy-corbyn/ )

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 mail@dpac.uk.net, 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 mail@dpac.uk.net

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
Aug 312015

Press Release

For Immediate Release

DPAC triggers UN inquiry into grave and systematic violations of disabled people’s rights

The UN Inquiry and UN visit to UK to examine the grave and systematic violations of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD) was initiated by DPAC.

This inquiry is the first of its kind-it has great historic importance. It means the UN will examine the vicious and punitive attacks on disabled people’s independent living as well as the cuts which have seen so many placed in inhuman circumstances and has led to unnecessary deaths.

In May 2013, after 3 years of onslaught against disabled people by the Condem government, DPAC made a formal submission under the CRPD Optional Protocol which establishes an individual complaints mechanism for the Convention.

There was less information and statistics than now on the impact of the Welfare Reform and loss of a right to independent living on disabled people. However the evidence DPAC presented to the CRPD Committee was extremely strong

DPAC’s evidence presented the regression of disabled people’s convention rights and the grave and systematic violations of disabled people’s rights under the UNCRPD. It was accepted by the UNCRPD Committee.

After an initial response from the government responding point by point to the DPAC submission, DPAC made a second submission, supported by further evidence of the disproportionate impact of all cuts on disabled people.

This submission, as the first one, included but was not restricted to:

  • the failings of the Work Capability Assessment,

  • the bedroom tax,

  • the closure of the Independent Living Fund

  • the unwillingness of the government to make an assessment of the cumulative impact of the Welfare Reform on disabled people

  • its reluctance to monitor what was happening to disabled people who were found fit for work after an assessment and who lost their only means of support (see complete list)i,.

This submission was partly based on firmly sourced statistical and other factual evidence, and also on the hundreds of personal testimonies that DPAC has received from individuals who have been affected adversely by the governments’ welfare reforms.

The UK government sent a second response to the UN about DPAC’s submission but by then the CRPD Committee had decided that there was enough evidence to open an inquiry into the violations of disabled people’s rights by the UK government.

The Committee also told DPAC that the inquiry was totally confidential and could be jeopardised and called off if any news of an UN inquiry was leaked.

It was the indiscretion of an ex-member of the CRPD Committee which brought the inquiry into the open, but DPAC kept its side of the non-disclosure agreement. The further leak in newspapers on Sunday 30th August convinced us that disabled people needed to know the full extent of the process

This inquiry is an unprecedented move and unchartered territory for the UNCRPD Committee.

It is also another route of hope for disabled people who have been abused by the UK government, ignored by most of the opposition and betrayed by the big Disability Charities.


Editors Notes:

About Disabled People against Cuts (DPAC)

DPAC is a grass roots campaign body. It was formed by a group of disabled people after the first mass protest against the austerity cuts and their impact on disabled people held on the 3rd October in Birmingham 2010, England. It was led by disabled people under the name of The Disabled Peoples’ Protest. DPAC has over 20,000 members & supporters and an outreach of over 45,000 disabled people. DPAC works with many anti-cuts groups, Universities, Disabled Peoples’ Organizations, and Unions www.dpac.uk.net twitter: @Dis_PPL_Protest

contacts: mail@dpac.uk.net


1) the UNCRPD Optional Protocol

2) the indicative issues sent to the UNCRPD Committee as part of the complaint by DPAC:

  • Scrapping of Incapacity Benefit

  • 1% cap on benefit rises

  • Time limitation of WRAG

  • Bedroom tax

  • Freezing child benefit

  • Overall benefit Cap:

  • Introduction of Personal Independent Payment

  • Universal Credit

  • Abolition of Independent living Fund

  • Change to Local Housing Allowance

  • Uprating and cuts to Tax Credits

  • Localisation and 10% cut for Council Tax Benefit

  • 1% cap on various benefits and tax credits

  • Work programme and disabled people

  • Benefit cap

  • Benefit cap in London

  • Spare room surplus

  • Other changes to Housing Benefits

  • Discretionary Housing Payments

  • Abolition of Council Tax Benefit

  • Universal Credit

  • Sanctions and workfare

  • Hardship Payments, Budgeting

  • Hardship Payments, Budgeting Loans and Short Term advances

  • Change from Disability Living Allowance

  • Benefit Delay

  • Employment Support Allowance

  • Tribunal support for appeals for ESA , DLA and PIP

  • Loss of right to appeal and Mandatory Re-considerations

  • Legal Aid Cuts

  • Social care crisis

  • Abuse in care

  • Mental health

  • Food Banks

  • Workfare and benefit sanctions

  • National Rail Services

  • Crossrail

  • Buses and coaches

  • Tube network 

  • University disability access

  • Changes to Special Educational Needs (SEN) services


 Posted by at 15:20
Aug 302015
The IDS Files - The Truth is Out There
In his latest announcement about “helping” 1 million disabled people move into work, which is a repeat of what he said in 2010 but miserably failed to achieve by putting over 4 million disabled people through the treadmill of repeat assessments, one paragraph is worth highlighting:

‘Let’s take the Work Programme.

The Work Programme is, I believe, the most successful back to work programme we’ve ever seen.

By March this year:

over 1 million people – or 70% of all referrals – had spent some time off benefit;
and over 430,000 people had moved into lasting employment’.

It is not very different from what DWP’s annual report says:

‘’By March 2015 the Work Programme had helped over 430,000 people find sustained employment – that’s over a quarter of everyone who’d been on the Work Programme long enough to benefit from it.

Let’s look at that claim a little more closely. On page 20, under the heading “Reducing long-term unemployment”:

‘By March 2015 our providers had helped 432,610 participants find at least 6 months of sustained work (or 3 months for those who were the hardest to help). That’s over a quarter of everyone who’s been on the Work Programme long enough to find work. It also beats our minimum performance level, which was approximately 410,000’.

I don’t know what your definition of ‘sustained work’ or ‘lasting employment’ is, but mine is not a 3 or 6 month spell of work.

And look who repeats the lie: Priti Patel, Minister for Employment

If the Work Programme was so successful, Duncan Smith would not have to massage the figures, or the figures about disabled people on disability benefit supposedly fit for work or every single figure DWP has been producing. The rot starts at the top and he has to go.

by Anita Bellows

 Posted by at 21:37
Aug 302015
The IDS Files - The Truth is Out There

Dangerous, Murderous and Wrong: his links with Extremist Far Right Groups

Duncan Smith claimed he didn’t know the difference between right wing and left wing when evidence proved he was working with some far right wing groups and individuals. He knew perfectly well, of course.So if we think of Jeremy Corbyn as left wing, or the recent media accusation of ‘hard left’ -a man for social justice, redistribution, equality, human rights, and anti-austerity-we get the idea that the opposite of this: social injustice, greater wealth for the elite, inequality, removal of human rights, and punitive austerity would be right wing or ‘hard right’ even-but extremist far right is different again.

We can be forgiven for any confusion caused by the supposed left wing Labour Party’s apparent right wing purge on left wing Corbyn voters in the Labour leadership election. This is apparently named ‘operation ice-pick’-because an ice pick was used to murder left wing Trotsky in Mexico by left wing Stalinists (there are also different unhelpful shades and fractions of this left and right wing thing).

If we add misinformation and misdirection by media and politicians we can also be forgiven for moving on to something else like thinking the multinationals and global bankers do inhuman things and own nation states along with IMF and the World Bank anyway.

And speaking of those who do inhuman things let’s get back to IDS and his activities. We’ve seen them in the past few days as it has risen to start preaching its vile lies once more. These issues are well documented on the DPAC website and elsewhere.

We now need to add DWP policies that instruct DWP call centre workers to hold up a coloured card if they’re on the phone with someone who they suspect might be suicidal because of murderous DWP policies, removal of one third of Employment and Support Allowance from those in the Work Related Activity group from April 2017, increase in ESA sanctions by 30%, continuous harassment of those on ESA by Job Centres, deaths of x number of innocent people due to DWP policies, unexplained hysterical laughter and reactions in debates on the punitive bedroom tax and increases in homelessness, growth of foodbanks and increases in starvation levels, and most recently the bizarre behaviour in Osbourne’s emergency budget-the list goes on and on.

We thought it was time to reproduce another list-an evidence list of IDS’ far right extremist affiliations –this does go back to a time when he clearly had less control of the media, but given his murderous actions over the past years who can doubt that he has done anything but got worse?

With thanks to The Klaxon

In 1995,  Duncan Smith was one of a few Tory MPs who met with senior figures of the racist and anti-semitic French National Front in Westminster. Le Pen’s deputy, Bruno Gollnisch MEP, later said Duncan Smith and other Tory MPs they met were “sympathetic” to their views:

“I came to meet members of the Conservative Party sympathetic to our views… I met Duncan Smith and others in their offices and later we got together for less formal talks in a bar somewhere in the Parliament building.“

The vice-president of Duncan Smith’s leadership campaign team in Wales was Edgar Griffin – the father of then BNP leader Nick Griffin. Edgar later said the reason he was not a member of the BNP was because it was “too moderate” for him – unlike the Tory Party. And unlike Duncan Smith too presumably.

A Tory Party far-right wing fringe organisation called the Swinton Circle also supported Duncan Smith in his successful bid to lead the Tory Party. The Swinton Circle is led by former National Front activist Alan Harvey and has close ties to pro-apartheid far-right South African groups such as the Springbok Club.

Iain Duncan Smith’s historic links to the far-right”, by Tom Pride,  13 June 2014


Duncan Smith denies ‘right wing’ tag”,  BBC News, 30 August 2001


Iain Duncan Smith campaign aide Edgar Griffin lifted the phone – and damned himself in five brief words.

“British National Party,” he told The Mirror. “Good afternoon.”

It was confirmation that the man listed as a vice president in hardliner Mr Duncan Smith’s campaign for the Tory leadership was an activist for the extreme group.

Even worse, he is father of BNP leader and convicted racist Nick Griffin. His wife, Jean, is a BNP secretary and stood for the group in the general election.

In his talk with The Mirror Mr Griffin agreed that Mr Duncan Smith was an “extreme right winger” and claimed Tories were ready to join the BNP “in droves” if rival Ken Clarke won the leadership contest.

Above is from a record of a Mirror article which is no longer available on the Mirror website – “Duncan Smith and the Far Right: British National Party.. Good afternoon“, Oonagh Blackman, 24 August 2001

At the following link the far-right South African Springbok group backs IDS’s leadership bid: Springbok Cyber Newsletter, August 2001 edition, 12 August 2001

And if anyone thinks the Tories now manage their affiliations better, or the media better see: ‘senior Conservatives in spotlight over speeches to vile right wing fringe group’ from last year

For IDS the continuing loss of innocent lives due to his punitive policies and tougher standards in the WCA speak for themselves: IDS is Dangerous, Murderous and Wrong!

by Debbie Jolly

 Posted by at 21:37
Aug 282015

This post marks the commencement of a series of posts, The IDS FIles.  These posts will present the material that DPAC have collected on Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith, the Department for Work and Pensions, for which he is supposedly responsible, and contractors Atos, Capita and Maximus and a multitude of Work Programme providers who are paid vast sums of money to do Iain Duncan Smith’s bidding.

Some of the articles will be new, others with be reposts of material we have shown before and others will contain the work of other bloggers (reproduced with permission).

Put together they will form something we call……

The IDS Files.

The IDS Files - The Truth is Out There

Iain Duncan Smith



While Tory Leader, Iain Duncan Smith’s biography on the Conservative Party website, his entry in Who’s Who, and various other places, stated that he went to the Universita di Perugia in Italy.

BBC Newsnight:

This is not true: his office now admit that he went to the Universita per Stranieri, which is also in Perugia.

Mr Duncan Smith’s office has now admitted to Newsnight that he didn’t get any qualifications in Perugia or even finish his exams.

Source: BBC Newsnight

Again, while Tory Leader, the first line of Iain Duncan Smith’s biography, on the Conservative Party website, claimed he was “educated at Dunchurch College of Management”.

Mr Duncan Smith’s office has now confirmed to Newsnight that he did not get any qualifications there either, but that he completed six separate courses lasting a few days each, adding up to about a month in total.

Source: BBC Newsnight

When IDS was Tory Party Leader, his Conservative Party Biography claimed he had been a Director at GEC Marconi.

This was not true, he was a junior marketing executive.

Source: The Independent 

[With thanks to The Klaxon for this one]

Debbie Abrahams MP: “Why does he [IDS] refuse to publish the details of the number of people who have died within six weeks of their claims for incapacity benefit and employment and support allowance, including those who have been found fit for work?”

Iain Duncan Smith: She knows very well that the Department does not collate numbers on people in that circumstance.”

Work and Pensions Questions, House of Commons 22nd June 2015 Hansard

On August 28th 2015, just over one month after IDS claimed they didn’t exist, the DWP released into the public domain the statistics on deaths of ESA claimants.

Source: The Department For Work and Pensions

“Britain has the highest rate of jobless households in Europe.” Iain Duncan Smith, House of Commons

Daily Telegraph

Britain did not have the highest number of jobless households in Europe.

IDS later admitted the ‘error’ and has corrected the Commons Record

Source: Fullfact.org

The Centre for Social Justice estimates, the cost of family breakdown is £20-24 billion. And the Relationships Foundation puts the figure at nearer £40 billion.

……… The costs to society as a whole …. are very difficult to quantify – but research suggests they could be up to £100 billion.” Iain Duncan Smith

Daily Mail

…….. we can see no reason to accept the claim now in circulation that “broken homes” cost Britain £100 billion.

….the very CSJ report from which the lower estimate is extracted warns against certainty in this area: “it is impossible to quantify with any accuracy the cost of family breakdown to the Exchequer”.

Source: FullFact.Org

in 13 years of Labour rule, 70 per cent of the four million jobs created were taken by people from overseas” Iain Duncan Smith, reported in The Sun and the Daily Mail

there are no figures to back up any claim regarding the number of ‘jobs created’ that were taken by workers of any nationality.

Source: FullFact.Org

In a parliamentary debate, Iain Duncan Smith claimed that the Office for National Statistics (ONS) found that private sector rents had fallen by 5 per cent last year.

The private sector rent figures came from the website FindaProperty.com, not the Office for National Statistics as originally claimed in the House of Commons by Iain Duncan Smith. Source: Inside Housing

What the EU is now trying to do is get us to provide benefits for those who come to this country with no intention to work and no other means of supporting themselves, with the sole purpose of accessing a more generous benefit system.” Iain Duncan Smith


Channel 4 FactCheck asked the government for estimates of how big the problem of benefit tourism actually is, and whether it had got better or worse since the introduction of “right to reside” in 2004.

A DWP spokesman said the department had “no information available”.

Source: Channel 4 FactCheck

The public thinks that homelessness is about not having any reasonable accommodation to go to, that’s not what the definition is. The definition inside government and places like Shelter is that children have to share rooms… Nobody, and I can guarantee this, nobody will be made homeless in the sense of the public’s view of it – without a home to go to – as a result of this.” Iain Duncan Smith

Shelter’s chief executive Campbell Robb said: “The Secretary of State said that, according to Shelter, families where children share a bedroom would be defined as homeless. This is simply not true. Shelter uses the same definition of homelessness as the government, as set out in the Housing Act 1996, passed by the last Conservative government.” Source: Channel 4 FactCheck

We are creating a new benefit, because the last benefit [Disability Living Allowance] grew by something like 30 per cent in the past few years. It’s been rising well ahead of any other gauge you might make about illness, sickness, disability or, for that matter, general trends in society.”

Something like 70 per cent [of DLA claimants] had lifetime awards, [which] meant that once they got it you never looked at them again.” Iain Duncan Smith,

While there has been a 30 per cent growth in the raw number of claimants, this is significantly lower once demographic changes are accounted for.

Similarly, while it is true that over 70 per cent of DLA claimants are on indefinite awards, it isn’t necessarily true that these people are ‘never looked at again’.  Source: FullFact.Org

On average, every week there are about half a million new jobs coming through at the Jobcentre” Iain Duncan Smith on LBC Radio

After contacting the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), they could not verify what Mr Duncan-Smith may have said this morning. However, they did confirm:

On average Jobcentre Plus continues to add 10,000 jobs to its books every working day.”

10,000 jobs per working day is certainly not half a million per week.” Source: FullFact.Org

These figures show the benefit cap is already a success and is actively encouraging people back to work.” Iain Duncan Smith

With the information Mr Duncan Smith has put before us, his figures don’t show the benefits cap is already successful at getting people back into work.

A spokesman for the Department for Work and Pensions said: “The Secretary of State believes that the benefits cap is having an effect.”  Source: Channel 4 FactCheck

Of those who are looking for full-time jobs, 4/5 of them are finding them, so about 1/5 of those looking for full-time work are not finding full-time work and settling for part time work.” Iain Duncan Smith

...there does not appear to be any data by which the Work and Pensions Secretary can substantiate his claim. ” Source: FullFact.Org

Where you see the clustering of the large families is really down at the very lowest incomes, with those on significant numbers of welfare…and those at the very top level of incomes.”

We have paid rents on houses in London in some cases of over £100,000 to families are too large to house anywhere else.” Iain Duncan Smith

DWP figures show that some 160 claimants out of more than 3 million were getting the equivalent of £50,000 a year or more in 2010. That’s 0.0004 per cent of cases.

The Daily Telegraph researched how many families were getting over £100,000 in 2010 and found only three, all in the London borough of Westminster. Source: Channel4 FactCheck

Tax credit payments rose by some 58 per cent ahead of the 2005 general election, and in the two years prior to the 2010 election, spending increased by about 20 per cent.” Iain Duncan Smith. Daily Telegraph

[[HMRC] said that in 2003-04, £16.4bn was paid, and the following year £17.7bn.

That’s an increase of 8%, not 58%.

And in 2008-9, HMRC said, some £25.1bn was paid. In the following year, it was £27.3bn. Which means that in the two years prior to the 2010 general election, spending on tax credits increased by 8.8 per cent, not 20.
Source: Channel 4 FactCheck

It will come as no surprise therefore that fraudsters from around the world targeted this [tax credit] benefit for personal gain. Iain Duncan Smith. Daily Telegraph

when we asked HMRC how many non-UK nationals were responsible for tax credit fraud, it said: “The tax credit system doesn’t record nationalities of claimants, so we don’t have those figures.” Source: Channel 4 FactCheck

A radical welfare reform programme designed to tackle entrenched poverty and end the curse of intergenerational worklessness is set out today by new Secretary of State for Work and Pensions Iain Duncan Smith.

DWP Press Release: Reforms will tacklepoverty and get Britain working again


Department for Work and Pensions – European Social Fund in England

“Researchers in deprived neighbourhoods in Glasgow and Middlesbrough found that worklessness was not the result of a culture of worklessness, held in families and passed down the generations…..

There was no evidence of ‘a culture of worklessness’

Despite strenuous efforts, the researchers were unable to locate any such families.

Even two generations of complete worklessness in the same family was a very rare phenomenon, which is consistent with recent quantitative surveys of this issue.”

Source: Joseph Rowntree Foundation: Are ‘cultures of worklessness’ passed down the generations?

The Image at the top of this page was created by the awesome Mr Brian Hilton.Further reading:



 Posted by at 23:33
Aug 282015

Since the publication of the Sayce Report (2011), employment support for Deaf and Disabled people and in particular, Access to Work, has been under attack. The last coalition government and the current Tory government, seem determined to change Access to Work from being one of this countries “best kept secret”, to a scheme that no longer meets need, is discriminatory to those with high support needs and causes misery to Deaf and disabled people’s lives. Our lives. Rather than support us into work, the scheme has become a barrier and has resulted in both job losses and demotion.


Iain Duncan Smith recently announced that he wants to “get disabled people back into work”, yet the support that we need is being cut.


Just last week yet another person was forced out of work by the changes to the Access to Work programme: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sxtYrCB7OJc


We’ve had enough!


Join us on Saturday the 26th September and march for Access to Work. We will be meeting at Old Palace Yard at 12pm and marching to Number 10 Downing Street, where we will deliver our petition. Please help us by signing and sharing this as widely as possible.




For more information about the march see: https://stopchanges2atw.com/march-with-us/


 Posted by at 18:03
Aug 272015

DWP has at last published the mortality statistics for the ESA group. It will take time to analyse them, but what they show is that the WCA is not fit for purpose.  2500 people have died after being found fit for work. Another 7,200 people died after being placed in the WRAG, the group for disabled people who can do ‘some work’, another 7540 died waiting to be assessed

But these figures do not tell the whole story. They ignore the suffering of disabled people who survived, being found fit for work but unable to claim JSA because they cannot meet the conditionality of the benefit. The suffering of 3000 disabled people sanctioned every month, and who cannot compensate for their loss of income, because they were found unfit to work, and they are.

The suffering and the humiliation of disabled people who have to prove their impairment/long term health issues over and over again to DWP staff who don’t believe them. The suffering of disabled people being portrayed as scroungers by the media. This suffering cannot be captured by statistics.

Under the last Labour government, the aim was to force 1 million disabled people out of benefits and into work. Almost 10 years later, the aim is the same, while in a meantime a Coalition minister recognised that people on disability benefits were ‘sicker’ than they thought.

And those in the middle group, who would expect before too long to be mandated to the Work Programme, have proved to be sicker and further from the workplace than we expected. So it will take far more time than we predicted for them to be ready to make a return to work

This has not changed. Some people will never get better and need long term support. To pretend that they can do ‘some work’ is disingenuous, as no employer is prepared to offer ‘some work’ to disabled people.

People died because of the welfare reforms, but others suffered and still suffer. Let’s not forget any of them

The figures released by the DWP will need to be looked at carefully before any further conclusions can be drawn from them, and we will be doing just that, and will report back when we have done that. You can see the release of data for yourself here: https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/mortality-statistics-esa-ib-and-sda-claimants

 Posted by at 10:49
Aug 262015

EasyFundraising LogoAs an easy way to make money for DPAC I signed up to easyfundraising.org.uk  so that when people shop on-line if they go via easyfundraiser website then we get money donated to us when they shop. You can also recycle old mobiles and laptops etc and get money donated to us.

You can sign up quickly at this link and please ask others you know to do this as well.


RECRUIT SUPPORTERS – The more supporters you get, the more you’ll raise so make sure to share your unique link with all your friends, family and other supporters. It will only take them a minute to sign up and they can start using it straight away.


 Posted by at 20:12
Aug 262015

DPAC are going to Manchester and the Tory Party Conference 

Our main action will be on Monday October 5th at noon. Meet at Central Library opposite the Midland Hotel, just off St. Peter’s Square 


The theme of this event will be

IDS Wanted for Crimes Against Disabled People

A second action together with others will be held on Wednesday October 7th from 9am.  Public meeting point is Albert square outside the Town Hall


As usual we need donations, but only from those of you who can really afford them, to help pay for people to get to these actions. We have already set aside an amount of £2,000 to help fund our members to get to these events. However with train fares and the need for accessible accommodation that disabled people need this is likely to just be enough to fund 10- 12 people to attend.

If anyone can donate or are union members and could ask their union branch to donate you can pay through paypal or email us at mail@dpac.uk.net for BACS details or details of where to send cheques.

If any DPAC members want to apply for financial support also email us at mail@dpac.uk.net

This will be on a first come first served basis




 Posted by at 19:25
Aug 252015

Re-posted from johnny void with thanks

Incapacity Benefit for new claimants will go, replaced by Employment and Support Allowance with the emphasis on what a person with a physical or mental health condition can do, rather than what they can’t.


Peter Hain, Labour Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, 2007


We need a system focussed on what a claimant can do and the support they’ll need – and not just on what they can’t do.


Iain Duncan Smith, Conservative Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, 2015


It’s just the same old shit, over and over again, whichever bunch of bastards is in charge.  The above two comments were made almost a decade apart and in that period the number of people claiming out of work sickness benefits has barely changed.  And why would it?  In any society there will be some people who cannot work due to illness or disability and as the pension age gets ever higher then that number as a percentage of the workforce will grow.


There is nothing unusual or unexpected about this.  Whoever you are reading this, one day you will get sick and then you will die.  If you are lucky this will not happen until you have reached retirement.  If not then you will be helped on your way to an early grave by politicians desperate to cover up for their failure to provide enough jobs by blaming unemployed, sick and disabled people for unemployment.


Iain Duncan Smith’s speech yesterday was a masterclass in this deception, but everything he said has been said before.  So out of ideas is the Secretary of State that he is now misrepresenting the entire process for claiming sickness benefits – pretending it is a binary system which “decides that you are either capable of work or you are not”.  This is simply an outright lie and he knows it.  Currently claimants are assessed as being fit for work, unable to work, or placed in the Work Related Activity Group which means capable of some work, or of being able to work in the future.  In the recent budget George Osborne declared that this group is to be scrapped, creating precisely the binary system that Iain Duncan Smith says he opposes.  Perhaps he hopes we won’t notice.  Perhaps even he hasn’t noticed.


The UK does not spend significantly more on out of work sickness and disability benefits than other comparable economies.  According to the OECD we spend a fraction more than Poland as a percentage of GDP on ‘incapacity’ – and less than Australia, New Zealand, Spain, Israel, Belgium. Luxembourg, Iceland, Finland, Sweden, Denmark, Norway, Switzerland and the Netherlands.  It is true as Iain Duncan Smith said yesterday that the UK spends more than France, Germany and Japan.  In humane society this would be a source of pride.  Or at least it would be until you found out that Germany spends over three times as much on unemployment benefits whilst France and Japan – where the retirement age is lower – both spend almost double what the UK spends on pensions.  And the incapacity spending figures by the way come from 2011, before most of Iain Duncan Smith’s benefit cuts had been implemented.


Only an astonishing degree of self-delusion could explain Iain Duncan Smith’s latest belief that more workfare, more assessments, and more benefit cuts will magically cure those unable to work because of illness.  But then he is deluded.  That’s why he could claim yesterday that  “The Work Programme is … the most successful back to work programme we’ve ever seen.”  That’s the Work Programme that has seen less sick and disabled people enter employment than it was estimated would have done if the scheme hadn’t existed.  Hundreds of millions of pounds spent on making things worse.  This is what Iain Duncan Smith calls a success.


Rarely, if ever, has such a fucking idiot been given so much power over so many people’s futures.   If the human cost were not so great then the best response would be to point and laugh.  But we can’t do that, not as millions of lives are destroyed.  If society means anything at all it means looking after each other and that means driving Iain Duncan Smith back into the sewer he crawled from before he can do anymore damage.  No-one should stand idly by now.  We need to be relentless as he is, to wake up every day with one thought on our minds – to destroy Iain Duncan Smith’s welfare reforms before they destroy us.


Follow JV on twitter @johnnyvoid

See more at: https://johnnyvoid.wordpress.com/



 Posted by at 16:55