A great program and guest explaining how jobseekers are used to make private companies profit and complaint procedures are bogus.
A MAN with cancer has been told by the Job Centre he is not doing enough to find work.
Michael Ward, 59, had been told by doctors he is too ill to work, but Job Centre officials have said he is not sick enough to claim Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) and cannot claim Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA) because he is not actively seeking work.
Michael, from Southowram, Halifax, has suffered from chronic leukaemia for 18 months, as well as being diagnosed with severe arthritis in his left knee in 2012.
He said: “’I’m getting fed up of the Job Centre rejecting me all the time because of what I’ve got.
“I can’t cope with getting a job and they say I’m fit for work – which I’m not.”
Michael, who has previously worked in warehouses, said Job Centre staff had kept trying to apply for warehouse work despite him no longer being physically capable.
He said: “I keep trying to explain to them, but it keeps going over their heads – they’re trying to push me into warehouse work, but that’s something I can’t do.
“I feel really shocked and down – it’s getting to the ridiculous now. It’s taking a lot out of me mentally – there are a lot of things that I used to do that I can’t do any more.”
Michael’s case has been taken up by Halifax MP Holly Lynch, who was promised to raise the issue in Parliament.
Ms Lynch said: “The Job Centre are telling me that Mr Ward is falling between two different benefits, but is eligible for neither.
“The Government needs to take a more compassionate approach – the DWP are making a real mess of this.”
The above article is from Yorkshire Post.
The UN is set to challenge the UK government over Department for Work & Pensions (DWP) boss Iain Duncan Smith’s controversial welfare reforms to gauge whether they have caused “grave or systematic” violations to the human rights of disabled individuals. Costa Rican human rights lawyer Catalina Devandas Aguilar will visit the UK in the next few months to investigate claims that rights are being violated putting the government on the ropes over new laws including the bedroom tax.
A UN special investigation on housing has already raised concerns over the welfare reforms and called upon the UK government to scrap the bedroom tax, which financially penalises disabled people for having a “spare” room within their house. Commentators and disabled charities have pointed out that many disabled people need the extra room to store equipment that is essential to their disability.
Speaking to the Sunday Herald Inclusion Scotland, a consortium of disability charities in Scotland, said that it had already been contacted by the UN Committee on the Rights of Persons. Director of policy Bill Scott told the paper: “The UN have notified us they will be visiting Britain to investigate… sometime in the next few months.”
The DWP has fought to keep the numbers of deaths linked to welfare reforms out of the public domain. However, last week it was forced to reveal that 2,380 people had died as a result of the changes in the way the government measures benefits. The number refers to the number of people who had died within six weeks of being declared “fit to work” by the government between 2011 and 2014.
In July this year the much-challenged Welfare Reform and Work Bill passed through the House of Commons on its second reading by 308 votes to 124. Despite 48 out of 216 Labour MPs going against the whip that had been encouraged by the acting leader of the party Harriet Harman and voting against the bill, the majority abstained, letting the bill pass with a large majority. Abstainers included current contenders for the Labour leadership Andy Burnham. Yvette Cooper and Liz Kendall.
The Scottish National Party (SNP) has criticised the DWP over recent instructions issued to its staff on how to handle suicidal benefits claimants.
The above article is from Yahoo News.
FOR nearly five years the public has seemingly accepted the mantra that austerity is needed.
After gaining a majority in May’s General election, the Conservative Government has a clear democratic mandate to carry on cutting back on public spending – so we can expect another five years of cuts to the frontline services and the safety net we, as tax payers, provide for ourselves and others. But these cuts come at a cost – and, at times it seems that cost can be calculated in human lives.
It would, however, be unfair and wrong to say that the 2,400 people who died within two weeks of being declared ‘fit for work’ (see Page 11) died as a result of the Department of Work and Pensions’ decision to withdraw or slash their benefits.
The vast majority of them didn’t. They died because they were sick, infirm and dying – and, therefore, were manifestly not ‘fit for work’ by any standard acceptable in the modern world.
The DWP says that: “The mortality rate for people who have died while claiming an out-of-work benefit has fallen over a ten-year period.”
This weak, mealy mouthed response to a shocking statistic completely misses the point and tells us nothing.
People will die while they claim benefits, just as they will while working, or crossing the road, or trying to do The Times crossword. The mortality rate is irrelevant.
What is relevant is how often Atos – the private French company the Government and DWP had paid to do their dirty work – apparently got it so badly wrong.
Between April 2011 and April 2012 Atos declared 203,000 were fit for work. That’s approximately 400,000 over the two year period that those 2,400 people died. In those terms, statistically, the deaths rate seems low. However, 10,600 people died within six weeks of being declared fit to work.
And how many were not dying, but genuinely were unfit for work?
Statistics suggest 30% to 40% of people who appealed their Atos assessment won their case. Shockingly, this figure rose to 70% to 80% for people with adequate legal representation.
What seems clear is that Atos clearly got it so wrong, so much of the time – a fact the Government acknowledged by changing provider and hiring Maximus to do the job.
We can only hope that they do this job far better than Atos.
For the true cost of austerity is often not human lives. It is sacrificing compassion and empathy – and if we sacrifice those attributes in the name of austerity, then we risk being dragged back to the dark days of Dickensian workhouses, and of slaves being quite literally worked to death.
A MOTHER was called the day after her son’s funeral to ask why he hadn’t attended a meeting about his Jobseekers’ Allowance.
The Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) has apologised to Jacqueline Brown, who says she was appalled to receive the phone call on Tuesday, despite filling out all the necessary forms to tell them what had happened.
Jacqueline’s son, 31-year-old James, was first taken to hospital with meningitis several weeks earlier.
“I think it’s disgraceful what they have done,” she said.
“Less than 24 hours after I buried my son I was taking calls demanding to know where he was.
“I did everything they asked and they have lied to me and continued to keep contacting me.”
James was found unconscious in his Toothill home by police in June and was first taken to the Great Western Hospital before being transferred to the John Radcliffe in Oxford to treat an infection in his brain.
Despite the treatment, he did not regain consciousness and remained in a coma for several weeks. Before he died on July 24, Jacqueline remained hopeful he would recover and was concerned he would lose his Jobseekers Allowance while in hospital, leaving him unable to pay rent.
“I went into the Jobcentre and the person I spoke to told me I would need to get legal advice first,” said Jacqueline.
“I asked if there was a form. He went away and came back with the form I had to fill in.
“I came back a week later with all the documents, including one from the hospital to say James was there.
“This time the man was really helpful and stamped everything to say it was in order.”
But the money was stopped and Jacqueline was told it was because James had not attended meetings.
She was given power of attorney of her son’s affairs but still the DWP were not convinced,.When her son died Jacqueline was advised to fill out an online form which should have notified every department.
But the devastated mother continued to be contacted, culminating in Tuesday’s call about the missed meeting. A DWP spokesman said: “Our thoughts are with the family of Mr Brown. We are sorry for what has happened and have been in touch with Mrs Brown to apologise.”
A LEADING Scottish academic has accused the UK Government of distorting benefit sanctions statistics to hide a rise in the number of penalties being imposed.
Dr David Webster, an honorary senior research fellow in urban studies at Glasgow University, said there was a “consistent pattern” of the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) misrepresenting the number of people being sanctioned.
His comments come after he made a successful complaint to the UK’s official statistics watchdog over how the DWP is presenting benefits statistics.
The UK Statistics Authority has now issued a series of recommendations to the DWP, including that it should ensure official statistics are “objective and impartial”.
Webster said the DWP announcements on the issue of sanctions – which can see claimants stripped of their money for up to three years for alleged breaches of Jobcentre rules – focused on the idea that there has not been a major increase in sanctions and only a small number of hardcore persistent offenders were impacted.
Official sanction rates published by the DWP are usually around five cent, based on the proportion of jobseekers who are sanctioned each month.
But annual figures, obtained under obtained under freedom of information, tell a different story. In 2013-14, a total of 18% of JSA claimants received at least one sanction – just over 568,000 individuals. In 2009-10 – just before the coalition government came to power – the equivalent figure was 10% or 256,000 individuals.
Webster, one of the UK’s leading experts on sanctions, said he believed the DWP was driving up the use of sanctions to save money – but did not want the issue to come to public attention.
In his letter of complaint to the UK Statistics Authority (UKSA) he said: “I believe that ministers and officials are taking advantage of the fact that benefit claimants, and especially those who are accused of not meeting their obligations, are a stigmatised group who have relatively few defenders.”
One example he cited is a press release issued by the DWP in May, in which employment minister Priti Patel said a 300,000 drop in the number of sanctions between January and December 2014 was evidence more jobseekers were taking up “tailored employment support” and moving into work.
It also claimed that sanctions are “only used as a last resort in a small percentage of cases, with over 94% of jobseekers allowance (JSA) claimants…not being sanctioned.”
However in his complaint Webster said only using numbers – rather than overall rate – had exaggerated the fall and could not be used to support the claim that sanctions had induced claimants to change their behaviour.
He said another key issue was that figures published by the DWP fail to include sanctions which are cancelled after an appeal by a claimant.
“If someone appeals successfully then the sanction is treated as not having ever existed (in the figures),” he said.
“But the claimants only get the chance to appeal afterwards – they lose the money and if they are successful they get it back later.
“So they still go through the experience of being sanctioned and very often they will undergo the ill effects.”
Webster said he had heard from one JSA claimant who suffered a severe bout of depression after being sanctioned on “totally unreasonable grounds” – and later got the decision overturned.
He added: “An appeal may reverse the sanction and repay the money, but it doesn’t reverse the consequences.”
Webster argued the use of the phrase “actively seeking work” by the DWP in relation to people being sanctioned was also misleading.
“It is intentionally feeding a public perception that there is a lot of unemployed people out there who are not bothering to look for work,” he said.
“They should say people are being disqualified for not meeting the DWP’s job seeking requirements – that would be accurate.”
In July Jonathan Portes, the director of the National Institute of Economic and Social Research, also complained to the UKSA over the DWP’s presentation of statistics breaching the code of practice for official statistics.
Sir Andrew Dilnot, chair of the UKSA, has written a letter with five recommendations to the DWP including providing users with benefit sanction statistics “based on the actual number of sanctions applied, making clear the numbers of reviews, reconsiderations and appeals”.
It also said the DWP should ensure all statements made using official statistics are “objective and impartial”.
A spokesman for the UKSA said: “We have a statutory responsibility to monitor the production and publication of official statistics and to report publicly on our findings. Where issues or concerns have been raised with us, we look at those and make a public report.
“The letter sets out our findings – it will be for the DWP to consider and respond to if they wish.”
Article from- http://www.heraldscotland.com/news/13599870.display/