BBC Sunday Politics South East is making a news piece about the closure of Jobcentres. From next March people in the Whitstable and Herne Bay areas will have to travel to Canterbury, which can take up to an hour on public transport and cost up to £6.70. The BBC are looking for an individual or family who will be affected by these changes who would be happy to appear on TV and are available for filming on WEDNESDAY NOVEMBER 1. Filming will take around an hour. If you can help please contact the South East team on 0207 407 9292. Many thanks.
We know that Universal credit is a mess, but what about HMRC’s Real Time Information system ? The following contribution from Stephen Timms based on a Freedom of Information request is very interesting. It seems that over 5% of payments to individuals by HMRC were reported being paid late. HMRC does not monitor the missing or incorrect payments, but we know that Universal Credit is being underpaid. So not only claimants have to contend with long waiting times, but when they are paid via RTI, over 5% are paid late, and an unknown number of claimants don’t receive anything, or an incorrect payment, mostly at their disadvantage. What experts are saying, is that 5,7% is an unacceptably high rate of late payments. The number of late, missing and incorrect payments should be well lower than 1% if UC is going to work
Stephen Timms’ contribution comes from yesterday debate on UC
“Under universal credit, everybody’s monthly pay is automatically sent to Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs through the pay-as-you-earn RTI—real-time information—system, and HMRC then sends that to the DWP so that it can do the universal credit calculation. There have been rumours for some time that the RTI system does not work very well. I have tabled questions about that, but the Minister has flatly denied that there is a problem.
It emerged last month, through a freedom of information request submitted by a member of the public, Mr John Slater, that there is a thing called the “Late, Missing and Incorrect RTI Project”. If RTI is late, missing or incorrect, we have a problem, because it is not possible to do the required universal credit calculation. I therefore tabled a question for the Minister:
“To ask…what the remit and activities of the Late, Missing and Incorrect RTI Project are.”
The Minister sent back an answer telling me that it did not exist and that there was no such thing. Fortunately, Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs was more forthcoming on this point. I got a written answer last week from the Treasury, dated 16 October, to my written question 107309, which stated that:
“The vast majority of Real Time Information submissions are accurate and on time. However, a very small number of data quality issues create discrepancies and these can have an effect on an individual’s tax and benefits position.”
Indeed they can, because if the information is wrong, people’s benefit calculations will also be wrong.
The following day, 17 October, also from the more helpful of these two departments, the Treasury answer to my question 107475 stated that:
“during the 2016/17 tax year approximately 590m payments to individuals were reported via RTI. 5.7% of these were reported late. HMRC does not hold the information in respect of missing and incorrect reports.”
If over 5% of them were just late, never mind the ones that were missing or incorrect, we do have a serious problem.
Looking through all the submissions we received, briefing us ahead of this debate, I was struck by the one from the Child Poverty Action Group, referring to,
“difficulty making claims for universal credit, with many online claims seeming to ‘disappear’.
Universal credit being underpaid because ‘real time information’ provided by HMRC regarding income is not always reliable or accurate.
Claimants being paid the wrong amount of universal credit for no apparent reason.”
What is happening is that the IT is not doing what it is supposed to do.
My hon. Friend the Member for Brentford and Isleworth (Ruth Cadbury) referred to the anonymous report in The Independent a couple of weeks ago by someone working in a jobcentre, who talked about the grim reality of administering universal credit, rather by contrast with the enthusiasm with which Tory Members have told us that people are working on this. That writer made the point that when there is a discrepancy between what people were paid and what HMRC says they were paid—in other words, an RTI problem—it takes ages to sort that problem out. Members representing constituencies where universal credit has been fully rolled out report endless mistakes, delays and errors, which take weeks and weeks to resolve.
Another reason why this project’s roll-out should be paused and then fixed is to stop these problems being inflicted on tens of thousands more.
The BBC is calling for Universal Credit claimants to share their stories. The contact details can be found on their website. If you are currently claiming (or have previously claimed) Universal Credit, please consider sharing your story. Please share this with friends and family; the more people speak out against this fiasco, and take a stand against these draconian reforms, the better.
In other news Mrs May has announced the premium-rate phone line for Universal Credit will be scrapped. MPs are currently debating a motion on pausing Universal Credit. Up to 25 Conservative MPs are expected to rebel and the DUP intend to abstain. Although the motion is purely symbolic, it will increase the pressure on the beleaguered Prime Minister.
This is the first in our series of articles about Cygnet Health Care owned by yet another abominable US corporation, US Universal Health Services. This blog by Finola Moss tells how this corporation has taken over the private ownership of a very large portion of our MH services and now rakes in profits from the abuse of its victims – oh sorry that should say patients.
You may want to tweet to Cygnet @cygnethealth
Payers of $8.4 million for false claims Universal Health Services take over Cygnet Health Care for £205 Million.
Cygnet Health Care is one of mainly three providers of mental health services in England.
Mental Health Services are paid over 21 billion of our 95 billion NHS budget.
In 2014 Cygnet was bought by USA’s Universal Health Services (UHS) for £205 million..
Simons Stevens, chief executive of the group’s global division for 10 years after advising Blair on NHS public investment, is chief executive of NHS England, responsible for all NHS services commissioning.
Cygnet Health Care then increased UHS’s UK mental health footprint by a £95 million acquisition of Alpha Hospitals .
In September 2012, UHS, and its subsidiaries, Keystone Education and Youth Services LLC and Keystone Marion LLC,Keystone Marion Youth Center, agreed to pay over $6.9 million to settle allegations that they had submitted false and fraudulent claims to Medicaid.
Between October 2004 and March 2010, these subsidiaries provided substandard psychiatric counselling and treatment to adolescents in breach of Medicaid requirements.
And, the United States alleged UHS had falsely represented Keystone Marion Youth Centre, as a residential treatment facility, providing inpatient psychiatric services to Medicaid enrolled children, when in fact, it was a juvenile detention facility.
It further alleged, that neither a medical director, nor, licensed psychiatrist provided the required direction for psychiatric services or for the development of initial or continuing treatment plans.
The settlement also settled allegations, that the service providers filed false records or statements to Medicaid, when they filed treatment plans, that falsely represented the level of services that would be provided to the patients.
See below under Other Medicaid Matters p33.
In July 2002, the New York State Insurance Department fined United Health Care $1.5 million for ‘cheating patients out of money’.
Is this the sort of ethos that should now control a quarter of public, enforced, secret unaccountable services to our most vulnerable and receive a tenth of our NHS budget ?
In 2011 Cygnet was warned by the Care Quality Commission that staffing levels at Cygnet Wing Blackheath were inadequate..
Improvements were still required at the CQC inspection in April 2014.
In 2013 the Care Quality Commission issued a warning to Cygnet Hospital Bierley because the service was failing to ensure that appropriate records were kept.
John Hughes, an American founded Cygnet in 1987 after turning the Priory around.
In 2004 Cygnet was valued at £120m in a deal with Barchester Healthcare, which earned Hughes a £19m cash windfall.
Barchester, is part-owned by John Magnier and JP McManus, the Irish racing tycoons who owned Winterbourne View’s Castlebeck,.
They bought a quarter of Cygnet’s business for £30m, and Hughes, and a fellow director took a £7m stake in Barchester.
Hughes completed a £340m buy-out in 2008, backed by Mr Wilson’s health care group Grove, which had bought a 25pc stake in Cygnet years earlier.
And would have received another windfall.
In 2014 Hughes’ sale to UHS earned him a £30 million windfall.
Tycoons have made millions from mental health services now 87% financed by public NHS money, whilst public trusts are cash strapped and in debt.
And, are set to make far more profit from the governments drive ‘to parity with physical health’, and now have nearly a quarter of the NHS budget.
Yet from CQC reports mental health services in the UK are getting worse not better.
And the physical health of mental patients and effect of enforced medication is ignored and a report in 2013 revealed 3 a day are dying needlessly.
Robert Kehoe , psychiatrist, advertises himself, as an ‘expert witness’, is now the medical director of Cygnet, and, has apparently, advertised some of their units as being for ‘resistant service users’.
Dr Kehoe was an NHS Consultant for nine years and Assistant Medical Director at Airedale NHS Trust and produces 80 to 100 psychiatric reports per year for Courts and Tribunals.
He is also responsible office for Cygnet Healthcare with national responsibilities for the regulation and revalidation of medical practitioners.
So, one expert, now controls the appraisals and code of conduct of all psychiatrist services and opinions, in a multimillion pound conglomerate, serving a quarter of all mental health services.
Universal Health Services and Cygnets’ overriding ethos, is to make as much profit as possible for its directors, managers and investors.
Does this not conflict with the professional independence of the psychiatrists, psychologists, practitioners, who work for Cygnet, and are subject to Cygnet’s stringent codes of conduct and continual appraisal systems ?
All hospitals and medical directors and professionals are under strict regular appraisals and uniformity.
How does this promote, the diversity of opinion needed for best practice, particularly, in the uncertain arena of psychiatric medicine ?
National Disabled People’s Summit
Saturday 4 November 2017; 11am – 4.30pm
NUT headquarters, Hamilton House, Mabledon Place, Kings Cross, London WC1H 9BD
Since 2010 Disabled people have been subject to brutal attacks in every area of our lives caused by the disproportionate impact of austerity measures and the dismantling of the welfare system. In August the United Nations disability committee publicly declared that they are now more worried about the UK than any other country in the entire history of the committee and that UK Government “social cuts” have led to “human catastrophe”. This followed publication at the end of last year of the Committee’s investigation into the UK which found evidence of “grave and systematic violations” of Disabled people’s rights due to welfare reform.
Yet the Tory Government continues to deny there is a problem.
This summit will bring together Deaf and Disabled people from the trade union movement, Deaf and Disabled People’s Organisations and grassroots campaigns to explore how we can more effectively co-ordinate our resistance and organise joint campaigning in identified areas.
The event will be largely workshop based with the aim of each workshop to come up with and agree a campaigns plan that participants will go away and work together to put into action. The idea of the Summit is to inspire concrete activity that will lead to real change.
Workshops: (choose one per session)
Session 1 – Campaign priorities
- Independent Living
- Social security
- Accessible transport
- Inclusive education
- Mental health
Session 2 – Organising
- Protest and direct action
- Legal challenges/ using the law
- Art and protest
- Using the media
- Trade union organising
The venue is wheelchair accessible, BSL interpretation will be provided and there will be a quiet room. Lunch will be provided (with thanks to the National Education Union). Please book via: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/national-disabled-peoples-summit-tickets-38706991654
If you are unable to attend in person, we will be livestreaming the plenary. For more information or if you have any access queries please contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
Draft transport accessibility action plan consultation
Although there are many issues that need to be raised in this consultation one important aspect is the loss of guards on trains which will make travelling by rail even more arduous for disabled people than it already is.
As we well know, guards and station staff are absolutely crucial to ensuring safe, secure and accessible rail services for all. This message though is lost to the Rail Minister who has launched a consultation on what action Government, regulators, transport operators or providers can take to increase accessibility, at the same time as the axing of staff on the service.
With 13.3 million people reporting a disability in the UK in 2015/16 the importance of this government consultation cannot be ignored. It is 73 pages long and covers all transport forms. Everyone can respond in detail to its questions if they want to.
However I am writing because it is essential that everyone responds stating that they want more not less staff at stations and on trains. It is all the staff on the railway who provide invaluable information, help, assistance, advice, security, safety and re-assurance. They must be retained at stations and on trains if disabled, old and vulnerable passengers are not going to be discriminated against and are free to travel as and when they want, safe in the knowledge that help is close by.
The full document can be found here:
You can e-mail as an individual AAPConsultation@dft.gsi.gov.uk or write to
Accessibility Action Plan Consultation
Department for Transport
Great Minster House
33 Horseferry Road
London SW1P 4DR
You only need to provide your name and address and state you want your comment about the need for more staff at stations and on trains noted in respect of this Accessibility Action Plan consultation. You should state you are writing as a passenger or as a disabled person and do it by the 15th November.
It is vital that responses are returned to the government and if everyone sends a clear message they will have to listen. Please respond now and share this e-mail with friends and family asking them to do the same.
Many Local Authorities have now started to ask people to contribute part or most of their DLA or PIP towards the cost of their community care. We believe this may be illegal, especially if they are asking for all of higher rate DLA and PIP and need to hear from anyone in this situation.
If you’re affected please email us at email@example.com with your contact details and how much you’re now being asked to contribute.
Also please take a few minutes to complete this consultation to try to stop yet another local authority – Hertfordshire doing this as well. They blatantly lie when they say DLA is paid to enable individuals to pay towards the cost of their care. You don’t need to live there to complete this and when we have done this previously with another council’s consultation they backed down.
Liberty’s Human Rights Awards
Liberty has today announced the shortlist for its 2017 Human Rights Awards – nominated by the public.
Comedian Jeremy Hardy will host this year’s event on 24 October at London’s Royal Court Theatre – and will introduce a new Courageous Voice award, honouring those who have taking bold action to stand up to those in power.
The 2017 nominees are:
• Disabled People Against Cuts – for their Summer of Discontent week of action, raising awareness of issues affecting the rights of disabled people.
• Callum Tulley – for his undercover work with Panorama, which exposed chaos, violence and abuse at Brook House immigration removal centre.
• Open Whisper Systems – for their pioneering end-to-end encryption technology that keeps over one billion people’s communications private via Signal and WhatsApp.
Urgent! Adjournment debate on 12th October on Upholding the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.
UNCRPD to be debated in Parliament this Thursday – ask your MP to attend
An adjournment debate has been secured by Deirdre Brock MP for Thursday 12 October in the main chamber on Upholding Disabled people’s rights under the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. Although this is only an adjournment debate, it is really important that MPs are encouraged to attend in order to show how important this issue is. This is the only Parliamentary time that has been secured to discuss the very serious findings of the UN disability committee concerning regression of Disabled people’s rights in the UK. It has been scheduled for last thing on a Thursday which is a time when many MPs will have already left to get to their constituencies. We therefore need to actively write to and encourage our MPs to stay and take part and to hold the Government to account for dismissal of the UN findings last year of “grave and systematic” abuses of Disabled people’s rights due to welfare reform. Please take just a few minutes to email your MP.
Template Letter for MPs. Find you MP’s contact details at www.parliament.uk
I am writing to let you know how important the adjournment debate on 12th October on Upholding the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons (CRPD) with Disabilities is to me and to encourage you to attend on behalf of all your Disabled constituents to urge the Government to explain how and when it plans to implement the recommendations of the UN disability committee.
At the end of August 2017 the UN disability committee published the Concluding Observations from their routine examination of the UK under the CRPD. In November 2016 the disability committee published the findings from an unprecedented investigation of the UK triggered by the CRPD Optional Protocol.
In both cases the committee raised concerns of the upmost seriousness about the regression of Disabled people’s rights in the UK, the harm caused by welfare reform policies and the disproportionate impact of austerity measures.
Their findings were based on thorough examination and an exhaustive process, going through all the evidence (over 2000 pages of documents) that was submitted to them. Deaf and Disabled people were fully involved in the process and ourselves submitted extensive evidence but much of the evidence also included findings from Parliamentary committees and reports and statistics from Government departments.
Their recommendations therefore provide an excellent basis from which to make immediate and much needed improvements that will restore Disabled people’s rights.
In August disability committee members remarked that they hope that the UK will be able to come back and retake our former position as world leaders in Disabled people’s rights. There is much to do to get there but I hope that with your help we can get there again.
What is Universal Credit (UC) transitional protection?
Transitional Protection is an extra ‘transitional’ amount which tops up your Universal Credit award so that you are not worse off when you move onto Universal Credit.
Transitional Protection is only for some people and it is not available to anybody yet.
People who are claiming Universal Credit at the moment are people who have had a change which meant they had to make a new benefit claim. These people are called ‘natural migrants’. Transitional Protection is not available to them.
Transitional Protection will only be available to people who are moved over to Universal Credit even though nothing has happened which makes them start a new benefit claim. These people are called ‘managed migrants’. There will not be any managed migrants until the Universal Credit full digital service is available in all areas. The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) is planning to start ‘managed migration’ in July 2019.
How much Universal Credit transitional protection you will get will depend on what your income is from the benefits being replaced by Universal Credit.
Your transitional protection amount will top your Universal Credit up so that it matches your previous benefit income to ensure you are not worse off due to the move to Universal Credit.
How long will I get Universal Credit (UC) transitional protection for?
If you can get it, you may receive Universal Credit transitional protection until your Universal Credit award increases to reach the same amount you were receiving from the benefits it replaced, or until your Universal Credit entitlement decreases to nothing, or until you have a significant change of circumstance.
Your Universal Credit entitlement increases
If you have an increase in your Universal Credit entitlement, perhaps due to a fall in income, the birth of a child, or because of an annual increase in the rates for Universal Credit, the increase in your Universal Credit entitlement will be offset by a reduction in your transitional protection amount. This will continue until your transitional protection amount is reduced to nothing.
Jane and Dave currently receive £1100 per month from the benefits to be replaced by Universal Credit but their Universal Credit entitlement is only £1000 per month.
They are part of the managed migration onto Universal Credit so they receive a transitional protection amount of £100 per month to top up their Universal Credit so they are not worse off.
The following April the Universal Credit rates are increased so their Universal Credit entitlement goes up to £1020 per month.
They only need a transitional protection amount of £80 now to top them up to their previous benefit income of £1100 per month.
Although their Universal Credit entitlement has gone up £20, their transitional protection amount is reduced by £20 so they still receive £1100 per month.
They won’t see a rise in their income from Universal Credit until their Universal Credit entitlement becomes more than £1100 per month and their transitional protection amount reduces to nothing.
Your Universal Credit entitlement decreases
If you have a decrease in your Universal Credit entitlement, for example because of an increase in your earnings, your transitional protection amount will not be reduced straight away. This is to make sure that work incentives are protected.
Your transitional amount won’t be reduced until your Universal Credit entitlement falls to £0. Even then you won’t lose all your transitional protection amount at once, it will be removed at the set taper rate, currently 65%. This means you will lose 65p of your transitional protection amount for every £1 you earn.
Significant change of circumstance
If you have a significant change of circumstance which affects your Universal Credit claim you will lose your transitional protection amount immediately.
These significant changes are:
- a partner leaves/joins your household
- your earnings drop beneath the level expected of you in your claimant commitment (for three months in a row)
- your Universal Credit award ends
- you or your partner stop work
The DWP has published the long awaited guidance on Reassessments for claimants with the most severe and lifelong conditions, with the applicable criteria. This will only apply to claimants in the Support Group or under UC who have been found to have Limited Work Related Activity capability. As with any decision which is discretionary, there will be no right of appeal. Developed in conjunction with some disability charities such as DRUK, the criteria are not related to specific conditions, but to broader categories which will apply to specific conditions but will also encompass others, when all the criteria are met.
As with everything related to DWP, the implementation will be key, but there are already some questions:
Will it be a limit within a range to the number of people found to meet the criteria? A FOI request has already been made about this: https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/wca_management_information_sever
What if a disability assessor and a claimant’s GP or consultant disagree about the realistic prospect of recovery? Could a disability assessor who is neither a GP nor a consultant overrule a GP or a consultant in that regard?
There will be more questions. Meanwhile the guidance and the criteria are here:
David Gauke the latest in a long line of ministers of state for DWP this week refused to halt the roll out of Universal Credit despite warnings from many credible sources including his own backbenchers that it was a disaster in waiting.
As the roll out of Universal Credit proceeds more and more disabled people are likely to find that they miss out on any transitional protections and in the worst case scenario that their claim is treated as a new one they face the loss of £78.35 a week from their social security payments.
This is because in Universal credit there are no Severe Disability Premiums or Enhanced Disability Premium paid. They simply vanish into thin air.
Research has shown that the additional cost of being disabled is £550 per month extra but the nasty party are stripping claimants of most of the money they need to meet those additional costs.
We’re planning something for International Day of Disabled People with more details about this to follow but in the meantime we’re asking people to contact their MPs and ask them to justify taking £78.35 pw away from those who have the highest support needs/ are most severely disabled.
Maybe they’ll say how they manage to sleep at nights.
Please then send us a copy of your letter and their response to you. firstname.lastname@example.org
You can find your MP’s contact details at https://www.parliament.uk/mps-lords-and-offices/mps/
This recent case might be helpful to people to challenge any cuts
The Mirror are calling for people to share their experiences of Universal Credit. The government intends to increase the amount of job centres administering the benefit despite the numerous problems; an inbuilt delay of 42 days for the first payment, rising rent arrears and soaring food bank usage. No fewer than 15 conservative MPs have called for the benefit to be paused, but their pleas were ignored.
If you (or anyone you know) has been affected by this benefit, please consider sharing your experiences (you can request anonymity) For more information click here: (you need to scroll to the bottom of the screen).
Disabled activist ‘violently dragged out of Rees-Mogg talk’
Tuesday 3rd Oct 2017
ANTI-AUSTERITY protesters were violently evicted from a public meeting attended by Tory MP Jacob Rees-Mogg yesterday.
One of the activists, who is disabled, alleged to the Star he was “slapped in the face” by a Tory activist and bundled out by security who stamped on his leg before dragging him down a corridor.
Alex Knox was at the front of the meeting and said he was “peacefully protesting” when a group of Tories tried to grab his banner and “became increasingly aggressive.”
He and Mr Rees-Mogg had been debating the impact of austerity on disabled people.
Mr Knox said: “Six burly security guards came in and jumped on me, my leg was getting injured and I’ve suffered bruising on my leg, which is in a brace.
“About eight of them took me out into a corridor and were really aggressive. I told them they were hurting me. I was in agony as they dragged me down the stairs and some of them stamped on my leg.”
Mr Knox said the police told the security guards to let him go and officers are now investigating the assault complaint.
The Star contacted the Conservative Campaign Headquarters (CCHQ) for comment but did not receive a reply before going to print.
The small protest group attended the meeting to express “disgust” at Tory austerity policies and views on abortion that are espoused by Mr Rees-Mogg, who many see as a future leader of the party.
Hundreds of Mr Rees-Mogg’s supporters attended the meeting organised by the Bruges Group for a panel discussion on Brexit.
People’s Assembly activist Shabbir Lakha spoke to him before he took to the stage. He told the MP that he was a liar for saying Tory policies have lifted people out of poverty.
Mr Lakha asked: “Really? Depending on foodbanks is making people’s lives better?”
Mr Rees-Mogg claimed that the Tories had the highest number of people in employment since the 1970s, which Mr Lakha pointed out was based on precarious employment and poverty pay.
The conversation continued until Mr Lakha was “aggressively bundled out” of the building by security.
People’s Assembly national organiser Ramona McCartney said she felt “violated” at the Manchester Town Hall event.
People’s Assembly national secretary Sam Fairbairn told the Star: “When faced with true public opinion, they bundle people out of the meeting by security because they can’t face it.”
You can tweet these pictures during the Tory conference. The conference hashtag is included and you can add your own text. The burning issue right now is Universal Credit, but we all know the problems encountered with the Work Capability Assessment, PIP, sanctions, social care, the bedroom tax etc. The list is too long to list them all. You may want to mention the UN inquiry and the UN report, but ultimately, what you want to say to the Tory party, is that their welfare reforms did not save any money, did not simplify the benefit system, did not make work pay, but that they have hurt people, they made them poorer, even destitute and that they drove some people to an early death. That will be the legacy of the past seven years for the Tory party.
At the People’s Assembly march in Manchester having allowed people into the official protest area at the Tory party Conference yesterday the police then proceeded to kettle them. DPAC activists then blocked a tram line in protest at what they saw as an unfair move by the scores of extra police who had been drafted into Manchester to protect the Tories.
Sadly the police in Manchester reacted rather aggressively to this and 2 disabled people were arrested and a veteran activist in his 80s was left badly bruised by being man-handled by them.
Rick burgess of Manchester DPAC said “DAN (Direct Action Network) veteran & MDPAC member Dennis Queen has been charged with Public Nuisance after their arrest yesterday. We reject utterly the heavy handed policing and targeting of disabled people, all to protect a government found guilty of Grave & Systemic human rights abuses. If there are any arrests to be made it is of the Conservative party government over their democide of disabled people. Whatever costs Dennis incurs we pledge to meet with a crowdfunding drive. Our community shall not be victimised like this.”
Another member Sharon Hooley has been cautioned by police for protesting yesterday. Rick said “Full respect and support for her brave stand in defiance of quisling security forces protecting an unlawful government.” At one stage Sharon another wheelchair user was surrounded by 13 police officers.