Dec 152012

14/12/2012 · by skwalker1964 · Bookmark the permalink. ·

This is a difficult post to write, but I think it has to be written. So please, don’t make the mistake of thinking what I’m about to say means my heart isn’t breaking at the tragic loss of lives in yet another US school shooting.

As I write, the news media are showing constant footage and updates about the terrible events in Newtown, Connecticut, where a gunman has entered a school armed with multiple weapons and killed, according to the latest report, at least 27 people, including 18 children, having already killed both of his parents and, so it’s reported, his brother.

It’s an awful, awful situation. I have three children, though now grown up, and one of them is a teacher, so my heart goes out to those affected. But at the same time as I’m appalled and shocked, I can’t help thinking ‘But what about…?’

You see, because of the things I write about, and the research I do for what I write, I’m aware that there are things which are just as bad – and on a much greater scale – going on constantly in this country. The news channels are devoting non-stop coverage of the events in Newtown, and it’s understandable. What isn’t understandable is why the events in this country – also horrific, and hurting far greater numbers of people – barely merit a mention in the news media, let alone saturation coverage.

Already, in the US, the pro-gun lobbies are mobilising to defend the ‘right’ to carry guns. Within minutes of the coverage beginning, I had already heard a commentator talk of how the ‘gun lobby’ was trotting out its well-worn claim: ‘Guns don’t kill people. People kill people‘, and is even trying to use the tragedy to call for more guns, arguing that fewer people would be killed by guns if more people had them ‘to defend themselves’, and that schoolteachers should carry guns to defend their pupils.

The mind boggles. But the thing is, they’re partly right. People do kill people – but guns allow them to kill others in far greater numbers than they could otherwise. Because people kill people, the more you can keep them away from guns, the more sense it makes. If you put guns in their hands, more people are going to die.

But we face a parallel situation here in the UK, and it’s what is causing those barely-mentioned and much larger tragedies I referred to above. Not because we put guns into people’s hands, but because we have power in the hands of people of ill will, stupidity, or both.

Power doesn’t kill people. People kill people. But power allows them to do so on a vast scale. Perhaps you think I’m crass to do anything but join in with the public show of horror and grief about the events in Connecticut – but let me tell you about some of those almost-hidden tragedies first, and then if you still think I’m crass, at least you’ll be making an informed judgment.

In Newtown, 29 people died in today’s shooting, plus the gunman, according to the latest news. It’s truly awful – but here are some other figures, which I hope will shock you commensurately. Because they should:


24,000 is the number of people who died in the UK last winter because of ‘fuel poverty’. That’s 24 thousand people who died because they couldn’t afford to heat their homes properly, and who died either of hypothermia, or of illnesses resulting from their inability to keep warm.

It’s truly a national scandal. And yet I can barely recall a mention of it on the news channels, and little more in the press. Certainly nothing like the coverage that we’re seeing now about the school shooting – or even the near-continuous coverage of the very sad death of Jacintha Saldanha. One royal-related death is big news, but 24,000 avoidable deaths, in a single winter and from a clearly identifiable, remediable cause, are apparently not. But then, the progress of the Olympic torch around the country was deemed worthy of mass coverage when the plan to privatise the NHS wasn’t, so maybe I shouldn’t be surprised.

Our government has the power to do something about fuel poverty, in order to prevent a repeat of this national shame. So what is it doing? In a time of steep rises in fuel costs that are expected to continue for the foreseeable future – it is capping benefit rises at 1%, well below the general rate of inflation and miles below the rate of increase in energy costs (13% up to October this year, and another 8% or so from January)

330,000 – or 1.9 million

I wrote a couple of months ago about the government’s planned change from Disability Living Allowance (DLA), which is currently paid (in varying amounts) to some 3.2 million people, to the Personal Independence Payment (PIP). Iain Duncan Smith’s Department of Work & Pensions devised the new payment with the specific goal of excluding at least 500,000 people from the new payment who currently qualify for DLA, as a cost-saving measure.

Basing my calculations on this figure, I showed that the change will push at least 85,000 people below the poverty line – but that figure is based on an extremely unlikely hypothetical scenario in which every single person excluded is single and has no dependents. On a more likely situation, the number of people pushed into poverty will number in the hundreds of thousands.

But it appears I was over-cautious. Yesterday, the Tory Minister for Disabled People, Esther McVey, told the House of Commons that, of the 560,000 people who will be assessed for the new benefit by 2015, 330,000 are expected to be excluded from the benefit. That’s an exclusion rate of 59%. 3.2 million people receive DLA, so if the same failure rate applies as they become due for reassessment, that means around 1.9 million disabled people who will lose crucial support. Using the same calculations as I applied to the 500,000 initially flagged to be excluded, it means almost a million people pushed below the poverty line.

Factor that into the death rate from energy poverty, and you’re looking at a situation where the 24,000 deaths last winter will look like nothing compared to what we’re going to see, let alone the 30 innocent deaths in Connecticut.

453 – and counting

That’s the number of additional suicides that happened last year, compared to before the financial crash. As growing numbers of people face financial catastrophe, more and more are seeing suicide as the only escape. The government’s response? To demonise the unemployed,  disabled people and low earners who are forced to claim benefits – and then to cut those benefits and deepen the despair, while the rich get richer.

73 – a week

This, according to the campaign group DPAC, is the number of deaths (including suicides) among disabled people as a result of the government’s programme of Work Capability Assessments (WCAs), which is categorising people as fit for work when they are plainly not. 70% are eventually overturned on appeal – but the stress of the process and the fear of losing essential support are killing some and causing others to commit suicide. And the government is responding by capping benefits even for those who do pass the test – and closing Remploy, which provides suitable work for disabled people, while Iain Duncan Smith sneers at them and tells them ‘this is better’.

24,000. 330,000. 1.9 million. 453. 73 a week. All numbers at least as deserving of mass media attention as the 30 killed in Connecticut – and all conspicuous by their absence from the BBC and other news media.

Power doesn’t kill people. People kill people. But people with power can kill a lot of people – and this government is wreaking havoc among ordinary and vulnerable people.

The deaths of the 30 (as of now) innocents in Newtown will, rightly, bring people out onto the streets in the US – for prayer vigils, to lay flowers, to protest in favour of (and, insanely, against) gun control.

If the people of the UK became as aware, en masse, of what is taking place under the coalition government as they surely are now of what has happened in Connecticut, the streets would be packed with people protesting – and streaming to the polls in 2015 or earlier to get rid of those in power, killing people.

Which is, probably, why we’re not seeing those other numbers and many like them on our television screens.

With many thanks to Steve for agreeing to repost- please support this excellent blog-see more at

Follow Steve on twitter : @skywalker 1964


Sep 022012

This list is work in progress; there are many more articles to add……

With thanks to @Blacktriangle1 @WelfareUnion @Dis_PPL_Protest who provided the links to many of these articles.

DPAC thanks to Bob Ellard see for more great stuff 

Publishing this list does not represent acceptance of the content of any articles in the list by DPAC.

Articles from September 2012

  1. Socialist Worker ~ 09 ~ 2012 ~ ‘ATOS forced me to crawl on floor in tears’ ~
  2. Socialist Worker ~ 09 ~ 2012 ~ ‘Seven medals but now Tories want my benefits’ ~
  3. Irish Times ~ 09 ~ 2012 ~ Death of cancer patient who went public over benefit cuts ~
  4. Socialist Worker ~ 09 ~ 2012 ~ Hundreds protest outside ATOS headquarters then blockade DWP ~
  5. Independent ~ 09 ~ 2012 ~ Paralympics stars urged to denounce ATOS ~
  6. Google News ~ 09 ~ 2012 ~ Protest over ‘fit for work’ tests ~
  7. RT News ~ 09 ~ 2012 ~ Sponsorship scandal mars Paralympics ~
  8. Morning Star ~ 09 ~ 2012 ~ What game is ATOS playing? ~

Articles from August 2012

Morning Star ~ 08 ~ 2012 ~ ‘Is this country worth dying for?’ ~

  1. This is Hull and East Riding ~ 08 ~ 2012 ~ ‘Responsibility to treat disabled people fairly’ ~
  2. Sourcing Focus ~ 08 ~ 2012 ~ “Disability activists prepare to protest against ATOS” ~ Washington Post ~ 08 ~ 2012 ~ Activist Patrick Lynch sobs during a protest next to ATOS’s London headquarters ~
  3. Washington Post ~ 08 ~ 2012 ~ As Paralympics start, Britain’s disabled decry cuts ~
  4. Computer Weekly ~ 08 ~ 2012 ~ ATOS and Capita win £540m in controversial DWP disabilities testing contract ~
  5. Times of News ~ 08 ~ 2012 ~ ATOS benefit appeal woman dies ~
  6. Guardian ~ 08 ~ 2012 ~ ATOS doctors could be struck off ~
  7. Computer Weekly ~ 08 ~ 2012 ~ ATOS employees to be investigated over Facebook remarks about disability benefit applicants ~
  8. The Daily Shame ~ 08 ~ 2012 ~ ATOS parasites, sorry, employees have fun on Facebook ~
  9. BBC News London ~ 08 ~ 2012 ~ Atos protest: Disability rights groups target firm ~
  10. Guardian ~ 08 ~ 2012 ~ ATOS protests climax with ‘day of action’ against Paralympics sponsor ~
  11. Press TV ~ 08 ~ 2012 ~ ATOS protests climax with ‘day of action’ against Paralympics sponsors‎ ~
  12. Mirror ~ 08 ~ 2012 ~ ATOS protests: “Grand finale” to a week of action against ‘fit for work’ testing firm ~
  13. Blottr ~ 08 ~ 2012 ~ ATOS: Public criticism gains momentum after inspirational Paralympics Opening Ceremony ~
  14. Morning Star ~ 08 ~ 2012 ~ Beggaring the nation ~
  15. BBC News Northern Ireland ~ 08 ~ 2012 ~ Benefits appeal woman Cecilia Burns from Strabane has died ~
  16. Rocket News ~ 08 ~ 2012 ~ Benefits cut appeal woman dies ~
  17. This is Hull and East Riding ~ 08 ~ 2012 ~ Benefits protest at Hull branch of ATOS over Paralympic Games ‘hypocrisy’ ~
  18. Guardian ~ 08 ~ 2012 ~ British Paralympic team deny ‘anti-ATOS protest’ ~
  19. Morning Star ~ 08 ~ 2012 ~ Callousness beyond belief ~…/122249
  20. Huffington Post ~ 08 ~ 2012 ~ Cecilia Burns Dead: Benefits Campaigner, Who Appealed Against ‘Fit To Work’ Report By ATOS, Dies ~
  21. Guardian ~ 08 ~ 2012 ~ Celebrate Paralympians, but remember they needed state help to get there ~
  22. Morning Star ~ 08 ~ 2012 ~ Coalition told it must punish ATOS for mess ~
  23. Guardian ~ 08 ~ 2012 ~ Cuts to disability services threaten our Paralympian future – Sue Marsh ~
  24. Computer Weekly ~ 08 ~ 2012 ~ Disability activists hijack Paralympics for ATOS protest ~
  25. Sourcing Focus ~ 08 ~ 2012 ~ Disability activists prepare to protest against ATOS ~
  26. Morning Star ~ 08 ~ 2012 ~ Disability campaigners are set to descend on Paralympic sponsor ATOS yet again tomorrow ~
  27. BBC News London ~ 08 ~ 2012 ~ Disability protests at benefits contractor ATOS HQ ~
  28. Channel 4 News ~ 08 ~ 2012 ~ Disability rights protesters invade government building ~
  29. This is South Wales ~ 08 ~ 2012 ~ Disabled groups in sponsor protest ~
  30. Guardian ~ 08 ~ 2012 ~ Disabled people protest against ATOS role in Paralympics ~
  31. Womens Views on News ~ 08 ~ 2012 ~ Disabled people slam ‘hypocrisy’ of Paralympics sponsor ~
  32. Metro ~ 08 ~ 2012 ~ Disabled rights campaigners protest at ATOS and DWP ~
  33. Morning Star ~ 08 ~ 2012 ~ Disabled storm DWP in daring anti-ATOS raid ~
  34. This is Derbyshire ~ 08 ~ 2012 ~ Fury at Paralympic ‘hypocrisy’ of private firm ATOS behind fit-to-work tests ~
  35. Morning Star ~ 08 ~ 2012 ~ Home carer calls for hypocrite Cameron to be prosecuted ~
  36. Independent ~ 08 ~ 2012 ~ Hundreds protest against Paralympics sponsor ATOS as anger about its role in slashing benefits bill intensifies ~
  37. New Statesman ~ 08 ~ 2012 ~ Is benefit-bashing the next Osborne gamble to go wrong? ~
  38. New Statesman ~ 08 ~ 2012 ~ Labour must lead the way in restoring politics after its abuse by elites ~
  39. Independent ~ 08 ~ 2012 ~ Leading article: These Games are about ability and inspiration ~
  40. Guardian ~ 08 ~ 2012 ~ Letter: Paralympic paradox ~
  41. BBC News Kent ~ 08 ~ 2012 ~ Maidstone CAB ‘wins 95% of work test benefit appeals’ ~
  42. BBC News UK ~ 08 ~ 2012 ~ Minister for Disabled People: ‘We need to get changes right’ ~
  43. Sourcing Focus ~ 08 ~ 2012 ~ National Audit Office criticises ATOS ‘under-performance’ ~
  44. Morning Star ~ 08 ~ 2012 ~ New disability test will ’cause suicides’ ~
  45. Computer Weekly ~ 08 ~ 2012 ~ Paralympic protests against ATOS reaches Whitehall ~
  46. Independent ~ 08 ~ 2012 ~ Paralympic sponsor ATOS engulfed by disability tests row ~
  47. Brand Channel ~ 08 ~ 2012 ~ Paralympic Sponsor ATOS Getting Grief From Athletes ~
  48. Londonist ~ 08 ~ 2012 ~ Paralympic Sponsor ATOS Provokes Protests ~
  49. Guardian ~ 08 ~ 2012 ~ Paralympics 2012: crossing London can be an obstacle course for disabled fans ~
  50. Tech Week Europe ~ 08 ~ 2012 ~ Paralympics Sponsor ATOS Hits Back At Disability Protesters ~ 
  51. Socialist Party Magazine ~ 08 ~ 2012 ~ Paralympics, ATOS scandal, Remploy closures… Con-Dems win gold for hypocrisy! ~
  52. Huffington Post ~ 08 ~ 2012 ~ Paralympics: Government Accused Of ‘Hypocrisy’ Towards Disabled People ~
  53. New Statesman ~ 08 ~ 2012 ~ Perhaps Iain Duncan Smith will accuse me of peeing on the data ~
  54. Guardian ~ 08 ~ 2012 ~ Phil Disley on ATOS‘s involvement with the Paralympics – cartoon ~
  55. This is Derbyshire ~ 08 ~ 2012 ~ Pressure mounts against firm over assessments for sickness support ~
  56. ITV News Wales ~ 08 ~ 2012 ~ Protest in Cardiff over tests for incapacity benefit ~
  57. Yahoo! News ~ 08 ~ 2012 ~ Protest over ‘fit for work’ tests ~
  58. Metro ~ 08 ~ 2012 ~ Protesters show anger at Paralympic sponsor over disability benefit work ~
  59. Blottr ~ 08 ~ 2012 ~ Protesters stage ‘die-in’ against ATOS sponsorship of Paralympics ~
  60. Huffington Post ~ 08 ~ 2012 ~ Scuffles At Atos Paralympics Protest As Police And Disability Campaigners Clash (VIDEO) (PICTURES) ~
  61. Sheffield Telegraph ~ 08 ~ 2012 ~ Sheffield’s disabled join Paralympic protest ~
  62. BBC News UK ~ 08 ~ 2012 ~ Sickness benefit contractor ATOS Healthcare to review letters ~
  63. Independent ~ 08 ~ 2012 ~ The lasting legacy of the Paralympics should be to see disabled people as equal ~
  64. Mail ~ 08 ~ 2012 ~ The Paralympics celebrate the strength of disabled people – and so do all the protests that accompany them ~–protests-accompany-them.html#ixzz259Ao8YTb
  65. Morning Star ~ 08 ~ 2012 ~ Tycoonery ~
  66. Telegraph ~ 08 ~ 2012 ~ Video: Disability rights protesters clash with police outside Department for Work and Pensions ~
  67. BBC News UK ~ 08 ~ 2012 ~ Watchdog finds ‘weaknesses’ in sickness benefit system ~
  68. Morning Star ~ 08 ~ 2012 ~ Where the real greed lies ~

July 2012

  1. Computer Weekly ~ 07 ~ 2012 ~ ATOS profits grow 2% in first half of 2012 to €102m ~
  2. Guardian ~ 07 ~ 2012 ~ Benefits assessment firm causing ‘fear and loathing’ among claimants, says MP ~
  3. Telegraph ~ 07 ~ 2012 ~ Disability tests ‘sending sick and disabled back to work’ ~
  4. Morning Star ~ 07 ~ 2012 ~ Disabled means-test to be challenged at High Court ~
  5. Guardian ~ 07 ~ 2012 ~ Fitness-for-work tests hit by technical chaos ~
  6. This is Derbyshire ~ 07 ~ 2012 ~ Hundreds in Derbyshire win victory in sickness benefits battle ~
  7. Sourcing Focus ~ 07 ~ 2012 ~ Olympic sponsor ATOS faces summer strikes ~
  8. This is Derbyshire ~ 07 ~ 2012 ~ Review into flawed benefits system assessment praised ~
  9. New Statesman ~ 07 ~ 2012 ~ Welfare reform suicides must not be overlooked ~
  10. New Statesman ~ 07 ~ 2012 ~ Withdrawing benefits when there are no jobs to find is just cruel ~
  11. New Statesman ~ 07 ~ 2012 ~ Work capability assessments: the fightback ~

June 2012

  1. This is Derbyshire ~ 06 ~ 2012 ~ ‘The whole system needs sorting out’ says patient after benefit claim saga ~
  2. Camden New Journal ~ 06 ~ 2012 ~ FORUM: ‘Don’t play games with lives – disabled people won’t be silenced during the Olympics’ ~
  3. New Statesman ~ 06 ~ 2012 ~ How many more disabled people will die … ~
  4. New Statesman ~ 06 ~ 2012 ~ Human cost of welfare reform ~
  5. Morning Star ~ 06 ~ 2012 ~ MP reveals fight against depression ~
  6. Morning Star ~ 06 ~ 2012 ~ Tory brushes off suicide warning ~

May 2012

  1. New Statesman ~ 05 ~ 2012 ~ 500,000 could lose their disability benefits ~
  2. This is Derbyshire ~ 05 ~ 2012 ~ Council’s cuts will have devastating impact on homeless, warns group ~
  3. Computer Weekly ~ 05 ~ 2012 ~ Department for Work and Pensions spent £24m with ATOS in 2011 ~
  4. Morning Star ~ 05 ~ 2012 ~ Living at the sharp end ~
  5. Morning Star ~ 05 ~ 2012 ~ Media is fuelling hate against disabled benefit claimants ~
  6. Morning Star ~ 05 ~ 2012 ~ Paralympians join calls to stop cuts ~

April 2012

  1. Morning Star ~ 04 ~ 2012 ~ Disabled activists target Olympics
  2. ~
  3. This is Derbyshire ~ 04 ~ 2012 ~ Half of those on incapacity in Derbyshire are deemed ‘fit for work’ ~
  4. New Statesman ~ 04 ~ 2012 ~ Raising the pension age will just turn 69-year-olds … ~

March 2012

  1. New Statesman ~ 03 ~ 2012 ~ Cameron’s desperate offer to voters: nastiness in the national interest ~
  2. Belfast Telegraph ~ 03 ~ 2012 ~ Cancer sufferer furious at being told she’s fit to work ~
  3. This is Derbyshire ~ 03 ~ 2012 ~ Parkinson’s patient faces having his benefit halved ~
  4. This is Derbyshire ~ 03 ~ 2012 ~ Robin Mitchell who sufferes from Parkinson’s faces fit-to-work test ~
  5. BBC News Northern Ireland ~ 03 ~ 2012 ~ Strabane cancer woman’s fury at benefit cut ~
  6. Telegraph ~ 03 ~ 2012 ~ Twice as many judges needed to handle benefits appeals ~

February 2012

  1. Morning Star ~ 02 ~ 2012 ~ ATOS protesters brave bitter chill to picket firm’s HQ ~
  2. BBC News UK ~ 02 ~ 2012 ~ Ministers admit to sickness benefits backlog ~
  3. New Statesman ~ 02 ~ 2012 ~ The revolt against workfare spreads ~

January 2012

  1. Independent ~ 01 ~ 2012 ~ The big questions: Should ATOS be sponsoring the Paralympics? ~
  2. Morning Star ~ 01 ~ 2012 ~ Trespass charges dropped ~
  3. New Statesman ~ 01 ~ 2012 ~ Why British journalists are taught to be dishonest ~ 


  1. Morning Star ~ 12 ~ 2011 ~ ‘Victorian picnic’ picket hits ATOS ~
  2. BBC News Scotland ~ 11 ~ 2011 ~ Disabled ‘suicidal’ over Welfare Reform Bill ~
  3. Morning Star ~ 10 ~ 2011 ~ Hardest hit fight back against cuts
  4. ~
  5. New Statesman ~ 10 ~ 2011 ~ How Osborne could squeeze benefits again ~
  6. New Statesman ~ 10 ~ 2011 ~ Let’s help Dave get his facts straight ~
  7. This is Hull and East Riding ~ 09 ~ 2011 ~ Bridlington soldier Aron Shelton, who lost leg in Afghanistan bomb blast, wins benefits battle ~ ttp://
  8. Morning Star ~ 09 ~ 2011 ~ CarerWatch forum up after ATOS libel threat ~
  9. Morning Star ~ 09 ~ 2011 ~ Claimants on streets over ATOS national protests ~
  10. This is Hull and East Riding ~ 09 ~ 2011 ~ Heartache of Bridlington soldier Aron Shelton, who lost leg in Afghanistan bomb blast, only to face benefits battle ~
  11. Morning Star ~ 08 ~ 2011 ~ Activist sings the benefit blues
  12. ~
  13. Sourcing Focus ~ 08 ~ 2011 ~ ATOS Healthcare Employees Investigated ~
  14. Morning Star ~ 08 ~ 2011 ~ Care firm silences its critics ~
  15. Morning Star ~ 08 ~ 2011 ~ Firm to negotiate over closure of disabled forum ~
  16. This is Derbyshire ~ 08 ~ 2011 ~ Why is Government using private firm for checks? ~
  17. Guardian ~ 07 ~ 2011 ~ A contract to terrify 1.5m people on incapacity benefit ~
  18. Guardian ~ 07 ~ 2011 ~ Disability benefit reform: is the government hiding behind ATOS errors? ~
  19. Camden New Journal ~ 07 ~ 2011 ~ Disabled protest over ‘fit for work’ tests at ATOS in Holloway ~
  20. Camden New Journal ~ 07 ~ 2011 ~ Ex-soldier who served in Afghanistan and Iraq is refused benefits under assessment system ~
  21. New Statesman ~ 06 ~ 2011 ~ Archbishop of Canterbury: “no one voted” for the coalition’s policies ~
  22. New Statesman ~ 06 ~ 2011 ~ Dignity in life, dignity in death ~
  23. New Statesman ~ 06 ~ 2011 ~ How Labour got welfare wrong – and how it can put it right ~
  24. New Statesman ~ 06 ~ 2011 ~ The government needs to know how afraid people are ~
  25. New Statesman ~ 06 ~ 2011 ~ The poorest deserve a change from our broken benefits system ~
  26. Morning Star ~ 05 ~ 2011 ~ Disabled activists claim new testing system ignores advice of medical ~
  27. Channel 4 News ~ 05 ~ 2011 ~ Disabled people protest against cuts ~
  28. Camden New Journal ~ 05 ~ 2011 ~ MP Emily Thornberry intervenes to win benefits for ex-housing worker put through ‘humiliating’ assessment ~
  29. Camden New Journal ~ 04 ~ 2011 ~ ATOS Healthcare’s fit-to-work testing ‘demeans’ disabled ~
  30. Camden New Journal ~ 04 ~ 2011 ~ Claimants lose out ~
  31. New Statesman ~ 04 ~ 2011 ~ The shame is all theirs ~
  32. New Statesman ~ 04 ~ 2011 ~ The war on welfare scroungers, part 94 ~
  33. This is Derbyshire ~ 02 ~ 2011 ~ PROTESTERS who gathered outside a city job centre to demonstrate against cuts in benefits have vowed to help people when they are made redundant. ~
  34. New Statesman ~ 02 ~ 2011 ~ Tory welfare reforms are misguided ~
  35. BBC News UK ~ 01 ~ 2011 ~ Campaigners warn over incapacity benefit changes ~
  36. New Statesman ~ 01 ~ 2011 ~ Tales from the front line: public-sector workers speak out ~


  2. Sourcing Focus ~ 11 ~ 2010 ~ ATOS Origin’s healthcare division awarded £300 million contract extension ~
  3. New Statesman ~ 11 ~ 2010 ~ James Purnell: I could have been Iain Duncan Smith ~
  4. New Statesman ~ 10 ~ 2010 ~ 500,000 people could lose sick pay ~
  5. New Statesman ~ 10 ~ 2010 ~ ATOS is “black and white” on fitness and disability ~
  6. This is Hull and East Riding ~ 10 ~ 2010 ~ East Riding councillors have backed injured ex-soldier Aron Shelton’s fight to keep his disability benefit. ~
  7. New Statesman ~ 10 ~ 2010 ~ Judged fit to work? You could lose your benefits if you appeal ~
  8. Morning Star ~ 10 ~ 2010 ~ On the shoulders of the vulnerable ~
  9. New Statesman ~ 10 ~ 2010 ~ The war on welfare scroungers, part 77 ~
  10. New Statesman ~ 09 ~ 2010 ~ The cuts will destroy lives ~
  11. New Statesman ~ 08 ~ 2010 ~ Cameron’s war on benefit fraud: the unanswered questions ~
  12. New Statesman ~ 08 ~ 2010 ~ Reducing the number on sickness benefits must be fair ~
  13. New Statesman ~ 06 ~ 2010 ~ Pre-Budget briefings: huge cuts to welfare ~
  14. New Statesman ~ 06 ~ 2010 ~ The mass unemployment Budget ~
  15. This is Derbyshire ~ 05 ~ 2010 ~ Medical details sent in error ~
  16. This is Hull and East Riding ~ 05 ~ 2010 ~ Mum of Hull soldier killed on frontline praises resigning officer for taking a stand ~
  17. New Statesman ~ 05 ~ 2010 ~ The truth about those cuts . . . ~
  18. New Statesman ~ 01 ~ 2010 ~ The battle against benefit cuts and “poverty pimps” ~


  1. This is Derbyshire ~ 11 ~ 2008 ~ Centre approved ~
  2. This is Derbyshire ~ 10 ~ 2008 ~ Medics to move in at restaurant? ~
  3. New Statesman ~ 05 ~ 2008 ~ Is Labour abolishing illness? ~
  4. New Statesman ~ 11 ~ 2007 ~ Labour and the sick note ~

Most recent articles to be added:

  1. When are you going to stand up for our sick and disabled, Mr. Miliband? | Mail Online
  2. Paralympics buzz will not drown out chorus of disapproval of Atos – Personal Finance –
  3. Right to Work | Atos Shamed And DWP Occupied
  4. Paralympics propaganda for welfare cuts, claim disabled – News –
  5. Analysis: Are Paralympians being used as tools in the propaganda war against disability benefits? – Comment –
  6. Politics and the Paralympics: Voters are against cuts to disability benefits – Paralympics – Olympics – The Independent
  7. Dogged and decent, Chris Grayling shows how to get reform right – Telegraph
  8. Francesca Martinez: Empty words don't fund a full life for disabled people – Commentators – Opinion – The Independent
  9. PressTV – ‘Paralympics welfare cuts propaganda’
  10. Il paradosso delle Paralimpiadi – Salute per tutti – ComUnità – l'Unità
  11. As low as you can get / Comment / Home – Morning Star
  12. Huddersfield protestors campaign against Paralympic sponsor Atos – Local West Yorkshire News – News – Huddersfield Examiner
  13. BBC News – Thalidomide apology insulting, campaigners say
  14. Paralympics stars urged to denounce Atos – UK Politics – UK – The Independent
  15. Olympic sponsor targeted by angry disability groups over links to London 2012 Paralympics | Sponsor News |
  16. Death of cancer patient who went public over benefit cuts – The Irish Times – Sat, Sep 01, 2012
  17. Joyce McMillan: Cynically demonising the disabled – News –
  18. Bristol MP backs protest against Paralympics sponsor
  19. Protests against Paralympics partner get senior support – Public Service
  20. Crowd voices Atos anger – Northern Ireland, Local & National –
  21. David Cameron wins gold medal for hypocrisy for his treatment of disabled people – Kevin Maguire – Mirror Online
  22. Atos holds £3bn of government contracts | Society |
  23. Video: Disability rights protesters clash with police outside Department for Work and Pensions – Telegraph
  24. The Press Association: Protest over 'fit for work' tests
  25. ITN News » Disability protesters clash with police
  26. Behind the Paralympics, the reality for disabled people in Britain 2012 | Society | The Guardian
  27. Disability campaigners stage central London protest against welfare reforms | Society |
  28. Disability rights protesters bring Trafalgar Square traffic to a standstill | Society |
  29. British people are committing suicide to escape poverty. Is this what the State wants? – Mail Online – Sonia Poulton's blog
  30. Remploy workers strike over planned closures – video | Society |
  31. Statement on social care plans of Worcestershire County Council
  32. SEN reforms: Government pushes ahead with anti-inclusion plans – DisabledGo News Blog
  33. Flaws exposed in fit for work test | UK news | The Guardian
  34. Access to Work figures are ‘disgraceful’, says shadow minister
  35. EMERGENCY BUDGET: DLA reforms will ‘hit disabled people hard’ – DisabledGo News Blog
  36. Dispatches – Britain on the Sick – Channel 4
  37. BBC iPlayer – Panorama: Disabled or Faking It?
  38. 32 die a week after failing test for new incapacity benefit – Investigations
  39. – Atos, Capita scoop £500 million in UK DWP disability award.
  40. Atos sponsors the Paralympics? It’s enough to make you scream | Red Pepper

Further articles to be added:

  1. Judge considers judicial review of Work Capability Assessment | Society |
  2. BBC News – Benefit cheats 'colour attitudes to disabled people'
  3. New Statesman – Work capability assessments: the fightback
  4. UK is breaching human rights of disabled, UN told | Herald Scotland
  5. The Paralympics celebrate the strength of disabled people – and so do all the protests that accompany them – Mail Online – Sonia Poulton's blog
  6. Fury over £1m bonus for chief exec of controversial Sickness benefit test company – Daily Record
  7. Oh, dear Dave. Now GPs have turned on you. Time for an exit strategy on the disabled, perhaps? … | Atos Victims Group News
  8. New Statesman – How many more disabled people will die frightened that their benefits will be taken away?
  9. Atos and Capita named as preferred bidders for PIP disability assessments | Guardian Government Computing | Guardian Professional
  10. Did GB Paralympians choose to hide Atos branding? – Channel 4 News
  11. Campaigners threaten Paralympics boycott – Channel 4 News
  12. Benefits reform: disabled people 'terrified' by changes – Channel 4 News
  13. Paralympic Games open with a message of inspiration – Channel 4 News
  14. Atos | Atos Victims Group News Mail Online – Sonia Poulton's blog
  15. When Are You Going To Stand Up For Our Sick And Disabled, Mr. Miliband? – Mail Online – Sonia Poulton's blog
  16. Wheelchair users banned from using lift at assessment centre for disability benefits | Mail Online
  17. British people are committing suicide to escape poverty. Is this what the State wants? | Mail Online
  18. Out… Boss of incapacity benefit crackdown who called for more humanity | Mail Online
  19. Widow awaiting cancer surgery told to get back to work by benefits inspectors following Government welfare reforms | Mail Online
  20. Triple amputee warned he will lose his benefits unless he can prove he is disabled | Mail Online
  21. Flawed disability tests 'send those who are genuinely sick and unable back to work' | Mail Online
  22. The Coalition want people with mental health issues to get working. And what work would that be then? | Mail Online
  23. Suicide training in Job Centres? Cancer patients scrubbing floors? Welcome to Cameron¿s Brave New World | Mail Online
  24. This is not wartime Nazi Germany and Cameron's attacks on the vulnerable and needy must be stopped | Mail Online
  25. Why does David Cameron insist on disability cuts that even sickened his own party? | Mail Online
  26. Welfare Reform Bill: Where is our national conscience? | Mail Online
  27. David Cameron's Welfare Reform Bill: Hiding the truth is not the way to achieve it | Mail Online
  28. Hundreds protest against Paralympics sponsor Atos as anger about its role in slashing benefits bill intensifies – Home News – UK – The Independent
  29. Leading article: A fantastic show – but it wasn't the whole story – Leading Articles – Opinion – The Independent
  30. Mark Steel: Odd choice for a Paralympics sponsor – hei-fi-views – hei-fi – The Independent
  31. Paralympic sponsor engulfed by disability tests row – Paralympics – Olympics – The Independent
  32. Owen Jones: David Cameron praises Paralympians, but his policies will crush them – Commentators – Opinion – The Independent
  33. Atos contract does not offer value for money, says National Audit Office – UK Politics – UK – The Independent
  34. Jim Armitage: Gold for UK plc, but no podium for sponsors – Business Comment – Business – The Independent
  35. Letters: A bitter blow for disabled people – Letters – Opinion – The Independent
  36. Half a million disabled people may lose benefits under reforms – Health News – Health & Families – The Independent
  37. Deaf and disabled artists take centre stage – Features – Theatre & Dance – The Independent
  38. Sponsors urged to waive Olympic tax breaks worth tens of millions – Other events – Olympics – The Independent
  39. Tanni Grey-Thompson: Paragon of the Paralympics – Paralympics – Olympics – The Independent
  40. MP calls for Atos contract review | UK News | – Home of the Daily and Sunday Express
  41. Steven Bick: Doctor claims Government has issued targets for 7 out of 8 to be reclassified as eligible for work – Mirror Online
  42. 32 disability benefit claimants die after being forced into jobs – Mirror Online
  43. David Cameron wins gold medal for hypocrisy for his treatment of disabled people – Kevin Maguire – Mirror Online
  44. Atos fatcat lands £1m bonus for helping to slash disability benefits bill – Mirror Online
  45. Tories' savage disability benefit reform in chaos as two in five appeals – Mirror Online
  46. Terminally ill face being forced to do work experience or lose their benefits – Mirror Online
  47. Grandad declared capable of work by testing firm died one month later – Mirror Online
  48. Outrage as firm accused of 'smearing' disabled is named Paralympics sponsor – Mirror Online
  49. Atos complaint suspends carerwatch website – Mirror Online
  50. ATOS worker sneers at “down and outs” – Mirror Online
  51. Only 7% of people on sickness benefit are unable to work – Mirror Online
  52. Atos, company paid to drive people off disability benefits, slammed by MPs after blunders – Mirror Online
  53. Steve Cram runs into conflict – mirror Administrator – Mirror Online
  54. Stress of Tory benefits tests killed our dad, family claims – Mirror Online
  55. No answers to our Atos Origin questions – Mirror Online
  56. Another sick attack on the ill – Mirror Online
  57. Spinning the sick note myth – Mirror Online
  58. Sick? Computer says no. – Mirror Online
  59. Tories hold £25k champagne party before announcing huge benefits cuts – Mirror Online
  60. Council tell teenager she's too unfit to work for job, but is then refused benefits for being too healthy – Mirror Online
  61. Pressure piles up on sick profiteers Atos / Britain / Britain/World / Home – Morning Star
  62. Anti-cuts demo targets Atos HQ / Britain / Britain/World / Home – Morning Star
  63. Atos workers to vote on Olympic strikes / Britain / Britain/World / Home – Morning Star
  64. Campaigners take Atos fight to firm's HQ / Britain / Britain/World / Home – Morning Star
  65. Exclusive: Atos threatens legal action against disabled man / Britain / Britain/World / Home – Morning Star
  66. Paralympic hero joins Atos protest / Britain / Britain/World / Home – Morning Star
  67. The company that doesn't give Atos about disability / Features / Home – Morning Star
  68. Paralympians join action against Atos / Britain / Britain/World / Home – Morning Star
  69. Disabled target Atos on eve of Paralympics / Britain / Britain/World / Home – Morning Star
  70. Campaigners target Games sponsor Atos / Britain / Britain/World / Home – Morning Star
  71. Coalition told it must punish Atos for mess / Britain / Britain/World / Home – Morning Star
  72. What game is Atos playing? / Letters / Home – Morning Star
  73. Tough love or tough luck: assessing disability benefits: TBIJ
  74. NAO finds faults in disability assessments contract | Public Finance — official CIPFA magazine
  75. A desperate embrace | The Economist Business and the Olympics: Victors and spoils | The Economist
  76. 32 die a week after failing test for new incapacity benefit – Investigations
  77. The Paralympics celebrate the strength of disabled people – and so do all the protests that accompany them | Mail Online
  78. Atos holds £3bn of government contracts | Society |
  79. Public critical as Paralympics sponsor wins £400m disability testing contract – UK news – Blottr
  81. Disabled groups in sponsor protest | This is South Wales
  82. Review finds a third on benefits are fit to work | This is South Wales
  83. Tory plans could see 3,000 lose £25 per week in benefits | This is South Wales
  84. A PORT Talbot mum has travelled to London to lobby against new benefit rules that might lead to her son losing his independence. | This is South Wales
  85. Week Of Action For Disability Rights | Londonist
  86. Paralympics: Government Accused Of 'Hypocrisy' Towards Disabled People
  87. Kit Marsters: Government's Use of Atos to Combat Benefit Fraud is Flawed, Costly and Counterproductive
  88. Hugh Salmon: Disability Living Allowance Disgrace
  89. Paralympic Organisers Accused Of Discriminating Against Wheelchair Users
  90. Matt Carr: Disabled people: heroes or scapegoats?
  91. Welfare Payment Cuts: Chris Grayling Refused To Hear Case Of Breast Cancer Sufferer
  92. Richard Miller: Legal aid reveals government test for incapacity benefit is inaccurate
  93. Paralympics 2012 Could Improve Public Attitudes To Disability, Scope Research Shows
  94. Natalie Bennett: Could We Have a Corporate-Free Olympics? Yes We Could!
  95. Protest over 'fit for work' tests – National – Sheffield Telegraph
  96. MP calls for Atos contract review – National – Sheffield Telegraph
  97. Sheffield’s disabled join Paralympic protest – Local – Sheffield Telegraph
  98. Disabled rights campaigners protest at Atos and DWP |
  99. Anorexic deemed unfit to work |
  100. Disabled protest over ‘fit for work’ tests at Atos in Holloway | Camden New Journal
  101. Judge considers judicial review of Work Capability Assessment | Society |
  102. MP calls for Atos contract review – National – Northamptonshire Telegraph



May 252012

 Deadline for signatures: 30th May 5pm-releasing to press day after

Posted on Social Welfare Union

 Dear Sir/Madam,

 We the undersigned are deeply angered and concerned with the way sick and disabled people are being portrayed by the press and wider media as well as the distinct lack of fair and accurate reporting in relation to disability benefits.

The use of defamatory language is being used in a totally irresponsible and callous manner by a steadily increasing number of newspapers and other media providers.

We believe that the press and the wider media are blatantly using this language as a means of labelling all disabled benefit claimants as ‘cheats’ and ‘scroungers’, yet most are genuine sick and disabled people who are in many instances unable to work and are asking for only the very basic levels of support.

Such support is in no way over generous as some newspapers are claiming with administrative error and miscalculations at 0.5%. In fact disability benefits like Disability Living Allowance have some of the lowest levels of fraud of all forms of social security benefits and it is estimated that billions remain unclaimed in benefits every year. A significant fact that news provider’s and even the coalition government are neglecting to inform the public.

We also believe that whilst many claimants are now being found fit for work through the use of new assessment processes, most often the press and wider media are shirking in their responsibility to report from both sides and about the large number of sick and disabled people who are being wrongfully found fit for work and who are later having those decisions overturned in their favour by a social security tribunal. They also fail to report on people found ‘fit for work’ by Atos Healthcare, the private health firm contracted to carry out work capability assessments on behalf of the Department for Work and Pensions. Those people then find that they cannot claim Job Seekers Allowance (JSA) because they are ‘unfit for work’ as deemed by the JSA qualifying criteria. These people often have to rely upon handouts and food parcels and become lost statistics unseen by the public.

The signatories of this letter are greatly concerned that the way the press and wider media are portraying sick and disabled people will continue to fuel a growing hatred and discrimination, adding to increasing reports of hate crime towards disabled people and the potential for suicides already being reported by some news providers.

Whilst we support the democratic idea of a free and open press we feel that they have a moral and social duty. We ask that they refrain from the use of language and/or defamatory terms which is fuelling the growing and unjust public hate and disdain of sick and disabled people and benefit claimants. We also ask that they honour and obligate to report all stories related to disability and disability benefits in a manner that best informs their readers and viewers which is balanced, accurate and fair.

To add your signatures go to: Social Welfare Union

Dec 142011

In March 2011 I wrote about the ways media portrayed disabled people at a time of punitive cuts to disabled peoples’ social and financial supports.

….a range of false accusations against disabled people and those with long term health conditions are visible in the media. Rather than offering support to disabled people, certain sections of the media prefer to label disabled people as unsustainable, unproductive or immoral members of their communities. The major accusation, however, is that disabled people are not disabled at all, but profiting from fraudulent benefit claims

Eight months on there is a clear escalation of the negative portrayal of disabled people in the UK media. These attacks are no longer confined to screaming newspaper headlines in the Daily Mail and Daily Express declaring that the majority of people on disability benefits are frauds, but a whole host of television programs setting out the Saints and Sinners, even programs with usually good credentials such as Panorama have jumped on to the band wagon of who’s responsible for ‘Broken Britain’. Since March 2011 negative and unbalanced reporting has become worse.

Social and Economic facts versus ideological messages

At the same time unemployment has increased to the highest rates ever recorded for youth and women, and the highest since 1992. On average vacancies have decreased from an average of 2/1 (2005) vacancy rate to a 6/1 (2011) with six people chasing one job according to the Office of National Statistics (ONS). Figures on averages hide local variations which are often much higher.

Yet, still unemployment or any need for state support is consistently identified as a personal failing regardless of personal circumstances or societal limitations: it’s this ideological message, rather than economic and statistical facts that gathers pace and shouts out loud and clear from some sectors of the media, with disabled people most often identified as the group needing to leave welfare and get jobs because they are ‘faking it’.

How the Newspapers are reporting Disability

A recent report commissioned by the organisation Inclusion London and carried out by the Strathclyde Disability Research Group and Glasgow Media Studies group at the University of Glasgow: Bad News for Disabled People: How the Newspapers are reporting Disability, found significant changes in media reporting of disabled people which show a clearly defined increase in stories and views identifying disabled people as ‘undeserving’.

The report identified changes in reporting through comparative content analysis of tabloid newspapers in 2005/6 and 2010/11and through focus groups. The researchers found that incidents of negative language regarding disabled people in print media had more than doubled over the time period, while what they termed ‘sympathetic’ stories had more or less disappeared in the tabloid press. Terms such as ‘burden’, ‘scrounger’, and ‘cheat’ were used repeatedly in 2011with a rapidly decreasing use of articles on disability discrimination. In addition stories outlining the political and economic context were rare. When the focus groups were asked to describe a typical disability story in the newspapers: disability benefit fraud was the top theme.

 The media examined were the Mirror, the Sun, the Daily Mail, the Daily Express, and for balance the Guardian. The researchers also carried out a number of focus groups asking what each group thought the level of disability benefit fraud was, there were variations from rates of 50% to 70% of perceived disability fraud from focus groups.

The reality in terms of incapacity benefit it is just 0.03% according to the ONS the report states. The Department of Work and Pensions own figures on Disability Living Allowance are 0.05% both stats also include administrative errors within their figures. The media strategy appears to be working when focus groups state perceived incidents of fraud of up to 70% which is more in line with Daily Mail and Daily Express headlines, than any statistical realities.

The report’s timely commission by Inclusion London, a London wide Deaf and Disabled Peoples’ organisation provides more evidence for further campaigns and for those who doubted that the print media in particular were objective. In addition, there have been several examples of stories usefully backed by a quote or two from Iain Duncan Smith MP welfare and pensions’ secretary. The most stunning in the Sun newspaper in 2011 when he happily implied that disabled people were responsible for the UK deficit, the most recent quoting him as ‘enraged’ and ‘shocked’ based a story that carried false figures regarding mobility cars. He wasn’t shocked by the inaccuracies but by the figures which weren’t checked before publication, but false figures are par for the course, as are false accusations.

The Cuts, Media and ‘real life’ Implications

Sheffield Hallam University have also produced a report outlining the impact of the cuts in incapacity benefit, claiming that almost half of those now receiving incapacity benefits will lose them, not because of fraud, but because of a tightening of the qualifying criteria for the replacement of lower income benefit Employment Support Allowance. The report by the Centre for Regional Economic and Social Research at Sheffield Hallam University, estimates that the reforms will cut the number of disabled people on out-of-work disability benefits by nearly one million in just three years. Add to this other reforms set to take away any support from disabled people and those already carried out removing over 9 billion pounds worth of support and we see a very different story from one of fraud. We see a story of ‘cuts’ to a group that the UK public had consistently agreed to be deserving of support in national surveys such as the British Attitudes Survey.

Professor Fothergill author of the report on Incapacity Benefit changes said

The large numbers that will pushed off incapacity benefits over the next two to three years are entirely the result of changes in the benefit rules” and added that this ..’would impoverish vast numbers of households and cause untold distress to countless more. The incapacity numbers need to be brought down, but this is not the way’

He is also clear that this is not about fraud, but about ‘changes in the benefit rules’ see Jolly . He adds: “Incapacity claimants often face multiple obstacles to working again and their concentration in the weakest local economies and most disadvantaged communities means they usually have little chance of finding work.”

Yet, it is the benefit fraud stories that abound despite the 0.03% figure; people believe the figure is much higher. A rise in disability hate crime has been linked to the media strategy on the demonising of disabled people. One example was reported on 4th December, one day after the International Day of People with Disabilities. It tells of Peter Greener’s constant barrage of abuse from his neighbour.

Sometimes, it was eggs thrown at his house, stones thrown at his windows or paint thrown at his fence; more often, it was words hurled in his face: spastic, cripple, scum, scrounger. These assaults went on for months, leaving the former Nissan car-sprayer in floods of tears, feeling suicidal and on antidepressants. He was scared to leave his home in Hebburn in South Tyneside and blamed himself for the upset it caused his wife and two children. “It made our lives hell,” he said.

Like many people with conditions such as multiple sclerosis, Greener’s regressive condition fluctuates. One day, it affects his memory, the next his speech. Sometimes, he uses a wheelchair; at other times, he can haul himself around on crutches. But this only led to more abuse, with angry shouts he was faking his disabilities and exaggerating his problems to get benefits

This is just one story; but the climate of fear is clearly working, there are disabled people who are frightened to leave their homes because of verbal and physical abuse, and accusations of being scroungers and frauds. There are those who refuse to claim their entitlement to support in spite of previously paying years of national insurance when they were in work, because they do not want to be labelled as benefit cheats. In total 16 million pounds worth of entitlements goes unclaimed. There are also those denied entitlement to support through the tougher regimes for claiming any benefit such as the replacement for incapacity benefit through the work capability assessment, carried out by the private company Atos who are being paid 100 million pounds per year by the government. The sums do not add up, but the strategy seems to:

A further report carried out by BT showed that a third of those questioned demonstrated increasingly negative attitudes towards disabled people. Reasons cited for this ranged from disabled people being seen as a burden on society (38%), ill feeling around the perceived extra support given to disabled people (28%), and the personal worries and sensitivities which rise to the fore during a recession (79%).

European Media Strategies

The media attacks on disabled people are not just happening in the UK. In Holland up to 90% is being cut from support for disabled people, similar media demonization is taking place in the popular press identifying perceived ‘undeserving’ cases. In Sweden cuts are being made to assistance to support disabled people with tougher qualifying criteria being put in place, they too have a focus on those who defraud the system highlighting such stories while record numbers of people loose entitlement to support.

The figures for fraud are just 0.05% in Holland. Yet, the magazine Vrij Nederland, a major quality magazine in Holland reproduces outrageous comments from the Secretary of State, responsible for the drastic 90% cuts:

The State Secretary of Health, Marlies van Zanten Veldhuijzen finds it unacceptable that some thirty percent of people with a personal budget (PGB) wrongly receive it. She said in an interview this week: “It can have you on the internet looking for the name of a disease, and then think: look, I can get 2000 Euros per month. With PGB we need to sort the wheat from the chaff.

 She states that 30% receive a budget without having the right to receive it, as if it is a fact. Yet, here is no existing evidence or research confirming or even indicating this. Before receiving a PGB, as in most countries, a strict assessment is carried out. However, here we have a government minister saying that individuals can simply choose a disease at random by searching the internet to gain these funds.

Stories used by media to usher in cuts to disability support appear to converge into strategies by particular populist media to create a media panic around the extra perceived support given to disabled people for the extra costs of disability. This is proving effective , especially when there are examples of ‘undeserving’ cases being presented to shift the traditional view of disabled people as ‘tragic victims of circumstance’ –the  claim of ‘tragic victims’ has always been rejected by many in the disabled peoples’ movement –maybe this will change as the 21st century welfare reform policies and the media strategies in the UK and Europe reinvent millions of disabled people as the tragic victims of the circumstance of recession and easy targets for savings from the state budget.

The political use of media to promote demonization of disabled people is aiding the work of governments’ intent on cutting the support and the human rights of disabled people.  There are rising cases of verbal abuse against disabled people such as that endured by Peter Greener and rising cases of suicide amongst disabled people with one couple entering a suicide pact after surviving for a year by walking 10 miles to receive food parcels which they made last all week.

The Challenges

Ann McGuire Westminster Shadow minister for work and pensions wrote recently:

Disabled people say they are fed up with being labelled as scroungers in the media – and are beginning to point the finger in the direction of the Government. Yesterday at Work and Pensions questions I asked the Minister for Disabled People to assure the House, and disabled people up and down the country, that Ministers are not behind the stories knocking disabled people that seem to be emerging with alarming regularity…

 McGuire called on the minister for disabled people to quell the insidious media attacks, a challenge that was also made directly to Miller at a recent disability conference in London: McGuire said:

The Minister for Disabled People has a responsibility as the champion of disabled people inside government to challenge some of the more outrageous and outlandish comments by some of her senior colleagues and others associated with her government…And I call on her to do so.

UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities

Article 8(2c) of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities states:

‘Encouraging all organs of the media to portray persons with disabilities in a manner consistent with the purpose of the present Convention’.

This would include any change in reporting over time: it seems that there has been a change in reporting which is clearly not in line with the convention’s principles of promoting, protecting and ensuring the full and equal enjoyment of all human rights and fundamental freedoms nor with promoting respect for disabled peoples’ inherent dignity. In fact the opposite seems to be occurring.

UK Responses

Inclusion London, the pan Deaf and Disabled Peoples’ organisation that commissioned the Glasgow University research into the media have led a response on the Leveson Inquiry. The response: titled ‘Open Season on Disabled People?’ supported by Disabled People against Cuts and others states:

  • The Government must issue a clear and public rebuttal every time the media release inaccurate information citing Government / Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) statistics.
  • That the Government commit to full transparency in their dealings with the press including  keeping a publically available record of all communications between Government officials, Ministers, their aides and special advisors and the media.
  • That there needs to be an independent review of how the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) releases and provides commentary on its statistics to assess how fair and balanced this data is presented and communicated.
  • That the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) must carry out further research on the impact of media coverage on disabled people and the implications this has for disability hate crime, disabled people’s protection under The Equalities Act and the UN Convention on the rights of disabled people.

We call on the Leveson inquiry, Press Complaints Commission, and OFCOM to:

  • Carry out an independent investigation into the media reporting of disabled people. This investigation needs to include the impact this coverage is having on disabled people and the implications this biased and inaccurate reporting has for the culture, practices, ethics and standards of the press. It must also examine the opportunities disabled people should have for effective redress.

 Debbie Jolly

Debbie Jolly is on twitter: @redjolly1


An edited version of this paper is published on British Politics and Policy London School of Economics,  entitled: ‘As the government moves to cut the number of disabled people on benefits, the media is increasingly portraying them as ‘undeserving fraudsters’.

 Acknowledgements: I would like to acknowledge the assistance and kind support of Jamie Bolling Executive Director of the European Network for Independent Living (ENIL) and Peter Lambreghts of ENIL and the Expertise Centre Independent Living

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