Monday, 30 July 2012

Who benefits?

The focus is on sickness and disability benefits today, as Channel 4 and the BBC both screen programmes on the assessment system (Channel 4 at 8.00 and Panorama on BBC at 8.30).  Panorama has questioned the "government appointed adviser on testing welfare claimants", Prof Malcolm Harrington.  According to a preview in the Telegraph, the professor admits that there are flaws in the system.  The programme highlights a particular case, a man who suffered from heart failure and "died 39 days after being declared fit for work". However, the familiar loathing of anyone on benefits is on show in a particularly nasty way in the Express this morning.  "New war on sick benefits" it shrieks.  The language in this article would make a fine case study in right-wing propaganda.  Note the verbs.  Taxpayers "shelled out"; families are "mired" in dependency; claimants are "raking in" money.  And the statistics are absurd.  But they have a quote from the disgusting Taxpayers' Alliance, so that must validate it.

No doubt they would approve of the plan which is about to be rolled out across the country, according to the Guardian; to make people who have been unemployed for 3 years do "community work" for 6 months. The paper has the views of the Centre for Economic and Social Inclusion, which says that it could result in 1.06 million people being forced onto the scheme because the Work Programme will not work.  The article also says that the decision in the Jamie Wilson case is expected before 10 August.  He's the chap who took the DWP to court along with Cait Reilly.

The Guardian also has revelations about how donors to the Tory party are making millions from welfare companies.  A firm called Sovereign Capital owns ESG which has £73m worth of government contracts, including for the WP in the Midlands.  The article details all the donations and connections.  There's a rather half-hearted quote from Labour's Liam Byrne.  He's in a difficult position, of course.  David Blunkett and A4e?


  1. "No doubt they would approve of the plan which is about to be rolled out across the country, according to the Guardian; to make people who have been unemployed for 3 years do "community work" for 6 months."

    Seriously? A4E have just told me to stop doing my voluntary work because it hasn't found me a job. I never expected it to actually, it was something to put on my CV so that prospective employers could see I didn't sit around in front of a TV all day, and as I had committee posts, in my opinion that was a further way of showing I was responsible and employable instead of someone who just did the voluntary work because a WP provider told me to.

    Anyway, now when they say to me "Why did you stop doing voluntary work?" I shall say because A4E told me to stop.

  2. Where is this community work? what about the people who actually work and get paid to do this work. If there is work, there should be a wage, if there's a wage then hire someone. Essentially its blaming the unemployed and punishing them for being unemployed. If employers don't want to hire you how can you force them too.. You can't. So you are stuck in the underclass of unemployed, if you are doing this community work for 6 months how can you apply for the many jobs they want you too. If everyone has the same community work programme, what actual value has it.

  3. Over Christmas 2011 I heard a government minister on the Radio. He said that British companies that out sourced their manufacturing to China and India should be encouraged to move their factories back to Britain.

    The interesting thing was where he was suggesting these factories be opened. In the North of England? The Midlands? South Wales? The Scottish Highlands? Well not really. The suggestion was that these new centres of industry should be opened in prisons!

    So the future has good and bad news. The bad news is that more and more people will be sanctioned for longer and longer periods and not have enough to eat if the charity food banks run out of food. The good news is that if they steal, get caught, and go to prison, they'll have a job!

    If the Tories weren't so disorganised, with a double dip recessions and all, you would almost think there was a plan...................

  4. I think more and more will "sit around all day" if useful* green* jobs* aren't introduced as a matter of urgency,end the wage slavery that forces people to work for greedy capitalist's and make work a worthwhile cause that one can enjoy.

    1. It's a nice thought, but it's never been the case in human history.

  5. Having watched Dispatches and Panorama, I now understand how Atos' assessment process works, when I had not understood it before. I agree with Prof Harrington - it is not right that genuinely vulnerable people are being forced to suffer in this way. Apparently the DWP admit that the process was not "altogether fit for purpose" to start with - was it "slighly pregnant," then? As for Grayling, he gets more like Genghis Khan every day.

    I am not claiming any sickness benefits but a friend of mine is. She appealed against Atos' initial assessment of her condition and the DWP's own Decision Maker (DM) agreed that my friend's Atos assessment was unfair. The DM altered some of the "points" awarded (or not awarded) by Atos but this was not enough to alter the Atos assessment materially. The DWP stopped paying my friend's ESA at the end of May 2012 and told her to claim JSA instead.

    My friend then learned that it would take two months to process her claim for JSA (apparently there is a huge backlog of new claims for JSA.) Meanwhile, the Govt DWP/JCP refuse to give my friend any money at all until her JSA claim has been processed. She is relying on being able to borrow money from her adult daughter.

    When I last saw my friend about three weeks ago, she said that the situation was going from bad to worse. The CAB had helped her to lodge a formal Appeal to the relevant tribunal but apparently it will take about 16 months before the tribunal can hear her Appeal because there is another huge backlog of Appeal applications. My friend says that the local CAB Advisers are rushed off their feet because they are bearing the lion's share of the brunt of helping people to lodge these Appeals.

    According to my friend, she is probably entitled to Legal Aid and she plans to try to find a local solicitor who knows how to do these Appeals. The solicitor would have to be paid via Legal Aid, so I wonder whether the Appeals process is actually costing the Govt more like £100 million instead of the £50 million they admit to?

    Meanwhile, apparently, the DWP stopped my friend's JSA claim as soon as she lodged her formal Appeal. The Appeal says she is too sick to work, which is inconsistent with being eligible for JSA. That seems to have been a pathetic excuse by the DWP because the CAB stepped in again and a new claim for JSA has been made, which the DWP have accepted, so why did they stop the original claim for JSA?

    The DWP's conduct and that of their Ministers is a disgrace, in my opinion. One can only be grateful for the CAB and the first-rate help that they always provide.

    1. Got this info from it may be useful to your friend.

      What happens to your ESA claim whilst you are challenging
      a decision?
      What happens to your claim will depend on which decision you are challenging.
      Awarded ESA
      If you have been awarded ESA, but only put in the work-related activity group, whereas
      you believe you should be in the support group, you will continue to receive your ESA with
      a work-related activity component as normal whilst you appeal.
      Component sanctioned
      If you are challenging a decision to sanction your ESA then you will continue to receive
      your ESA minus the sanctioned amount whilst you appeal.
      Not awarded ESA at all
      If you have not been awarded ESA at all, then you have two choices:
      1. Claim ESA at the assessment phase rate until a decision is made. If you choose to
      do this you will have to continue submitting sick notes until the matter is finally
      settled. In addition, you need to get your GL24 appeal form in as quickly as
      possible, because payments are likely to stop until you do so. You will only get the
      assessment phase rate of ESA, so you will be on a reduced rate if you are under
      25 and there will be no additional work-related activity or support component. If
      your appeal is successful you will be repaid any amounts that you have missed out
      2. Claim JSA whilst you appeal. You should be able to restrict the work you are
      available for based on your health conditions. In addition, the fact that you have
      been claiming JSA should not be used against you in the appeal process.
      However, some claimants have had difficulties with getting the additional
      component backdated after they have won their ESA appeal.

    2. @Anonymous 31 July 2012 13:48

      Thanks very much for the information you have provided. I had been wondering why it was apparently necessary to make a second claim for JSA - in the light of the information you have now kindly provided, I suspect that when my friend made the first JSA claim by herself, she probably didn't include whatever wording would ensure back-payment of the additional ESA component if she wins her Appeal.

      The CAB would not have let her fall into any traps, so when they helped with a new JSA claim there must have been a sensible reason for making a new JSA claim instead of just insisting on reinstatement of the original JSA claim.

      I'm not convinced that my friend understands the legal ins & outs of the whole thing. (Few people would, imho.) Hence, on my friend's behalf, I am reassured to hear that the CAB have been closely involved. They will not get it wrong and they will protect my friend. I am 100% confident about that.

  6. So now it seems Greyman is indulging in censorship. From the Guardian:

    "Minister 'tried to censor' video aimed at helping disability claimants to appeal"

    "The employment minister Chris Grayling has been accused of trying to censor a Ministry of Justice courts service information video that helps people appealing against decisions to remove their disability and sickness benefit...."

    The rest at below link:

    1. I read the stuff in the Guardian yesterday. They also published a link to the "controversial video" so I watched that as well.

      The person in front of the camera was a lady who is the senior doctor to the relevant tribunal. She went above & beyond to try to persuade people not to be frightened of the tribunal and to make every effort to attend their Appeal hearings in person.

      There is nothing controversial about that, so Grayling has been imagining gremlins where none exist, it seems to me. If I were Ken Clarke QC, I'd tell Grayling to shove off and shut up.

  7. Im to attend a "job willing session"! on the work programme. anybody know what consits of?

    1. No idea! Sounds like more newspeak to me.
      Probably a prolonged pep talk given by some recently graduated pimply youth with zero work or real life experience.
      Just watch out for the NLP idiots (think they may have been consigned to the dustbin of history but you never can tell).
      Come back and tell us all about it.

    2. I think it's the NLP people, but they've renamed it - perhaps you all sit in a room visualising yourself having a job and keeping it. Perhaps mantras for reciting in front of a mirror at home "I am employable", "I will get a job"

      And lo and behold - you've got a job. And if you haven't, well, you just didn't try hard enough so you'll have to do the session again. Until you're employed.

      I'm only half joking with this as I'm sure it's the kind of thing they'd come up with. But I do want to know what it is, preferably without having to do it myself!

    3. Try and record this job" wlling session". Or, better still, ask if it can be recorded for future reference. They will invariably say "no", without any hesitation. Suggest you ask why not.

    4. I will be very interested to hear more about the contents of a "job willing session."

      My guess is that "job willing" is probably a new buzz-phrase in the W2W industry. It is pointless to get someone "job ready" unless the customer is also "job willing."

      I'd expect one of these "job willing sessions" to be nothiing more than a crude attempt to manipulate the minds of the attendees. That idea probably wouldn't work. Most people will not permit themselves to be brainwashed.

      However, doubtless financial desperation is leading the providers to try every daft idea they can think of in the hope that something might work to save the provider's financial bacon.

    5. Well the "job willing session" was just jobsearch, i atteneded today at interserve in leeds. even though ive a computer at home, ive to go in once a week to look through their computers for jobs. even though they are slow, and people were waiting to use them what few were atually there! having written down down jobs ive already applied for at home. i left. the whole concept of the work programme is ridiculous.

    6. I did record it. i said "i do this at home already, the response, you have to do this. ive kept copys of every interaction ive had with the work programme. so if its ever found to be illegal i will have a case.


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