Post by nickd (Mylegal) on Apr 20, 2014 12:46:17 GMT
Daily Mail sinks to an all time low
As reporter thieves from food bank to make charities look bad.....
How utterly despicable....
The vile Daily Mail has used the Easter break to score a spectacular home goal, it's ended up a twitter storm with their reporter Ross James getting a well earned battering after setting up a local Citizens Advice Bureau where he falsely claimed to be unemployed before walking in to a local food bank where he walked off £38.35 worth of food claimed under what can only described as false circumstances.
The low life reporter set up the CAB and Food bank in a foolish attempt to negate the appalling truth that government's austerity cuts are seeing more people end up at food banks than ever before....
The Tory trumpeting Daily Mail claims "No ID, no checks... and vouchers for sob stories: The truth behind those shock food bank claims " Mail on Sunday undercover film exposes abuse of charity
Scroungers flout Trussell Trust's '9 visits' rule to stock up
Repeat visits undermine the Trust's claim of 913,000 users
Post by nickd (Mylegal) on Apr 20, 2014 12:13:38 GMT
My response to Labour's stance on the WCA.....
There is nothing about Labour's response (as it appeared in the Independent) which convinces me they are genuinely committed to ensuring the process surrounding the assessment of Employment & Support Allowance claimants would be any fairer under their administration than under that of the Coalition.
Their intended measures only go to show how they fail to understand that the only solution is to replace the WCA, they have suggested only token gestures of change and have expressed nothing new.
Their measures and my views:
"We'll starting by transforming the way the WCA is designed to make it more effective at helping disabled people into work. The current system is a crude assessment of people’s impairment, with little information about how this affects their ability to work. With Labour disabled people would receive a copy of the assessor's report of how their health condition may affect their ability to work, and information about the support that is available in their local area to help them. We think that’s a first vital step towards a more integrated system of support."
(1) It's a mere mirror of the current rhetoric aimed exclusively at getting people in to work. Unless claimants have been magically cured of all ills and disabilities, there has to be an acceptance that some claimants will be unable to work.
"The second change we'd make is to give disabled people a central role in monitoring the way the tests are run. This is absolutely vital. For the first time disabled people would get a real say in how the assessments are delivered."
(2) How would they guarantee a 'central role' - central to the assessment? or would it revolve around an unrepresentative 'party' which meets once every six months at Westminster and ticks all the right boxes and thus gives a false perception of participation in the decision -making process?
Labour have to be bold enough to say what they mean.
They and every MP in Westminster knows the WCA results are being used as a convenient political tool to vilify claimants as fakers and scroungers. The reality is millions have been tested, the numbers on the sick has hardly fallen and only a handful have been constructively helped in to work.
The real results are kept a secret, yet they reveal the truth - the claimant is in the vast majority of cases entirely trustworthy in providing an account of their limitations. Labour need to say they will place an importance on listening to what the claimant says. We need to return to the days of trust, it is only the media which has convinced the ignorant as to doubts over the integrity of the sick and disabled. Every ESA claimant is signed off sick by their doctor, are we saying they are liars as well?
"Finally a Labour government will go further in ensuring that the assessments get it right first time. Reporting on the WCA last year, the parliamentary Public Accounts Committee found that the targets set for the quality of the assessment weren’t challenging enough. "
(3) There is a complete lack of transparency over the inordinate number of decisions which the DWP are getting wrong, we've been hearing of the importance of 'getting it right first time' ever since the WCA was first introduced and yet today we continue to hear more and more horror stories of how badly Atos, Capita and the DWP goes about its assessment & decision making. over 1 million people have appealed the WCA and an undisclosed number have lodged internal requests with the DWP for reconsiderations. The starting point is to get to the bottom of the true number of incorrect first decisions, it is only once this has been established that you can start the process of assessing whether poor quality decision - making is in fact improving.
Labour should commit to assessing the extent of the damage right now so it has some real solutions should it find itself in power in May 2015.
A row erupted on Wednesday after figures from the Trussell Trust, Britain's biggest food bank provider, revealed that almost a million people have sought three days' emergency food supplies over the last year.
The Christian charity also reported that government use of sanctions against benefit recipients was "increasingly harsh" and that half of those who had been referred to food banks in 2013-14 had suffered benefit delays or changes.
One senior DWP source accused the charity of "misleading and emotionally manipulative publicity-seeking", while another official said the rise in food bank use was down to the Trussell Trust "aggressively marketing their services".
But at a recent Downing Street event for Christian organisations, the prime minister praised the "provision of food banks". He said: "Whether it's providing services for children at risk of exclusion, whether it's teaching prisoners to read, whether it's dealing with breakdown, whether it's provision of food banks, there are some extraordinary organisations run by faith groups and Christians in our country and I want to see the possibilities for that to expand.
Chris Mould, chairman of the Trussell Trust, told the Observer Cameron also had a constructive half-hour meeting with the charity in February. Duncan Smith earlier refused to deal with the charity, accusing it of "scaremongering" and advancing a political agenda.
Post by nickd (Mylegal) on Apr 18, 2014 21:04:59 GMT
The real reason IDS is damping down the figures
The truth would reveal something no one would believe
Nice one IDS......
Now have a careful think about this. Why would Iain Duncan Smith, a man who has relentlessly vilified the sick and disabled, not take full advantage of his most successful claim to date?
By which I mean the real number of claimants on the sick who have been 'exposed' as able to look for or find work....
The latest DWP figures for Employment & Support Allowance show that in total the number of claimants who , according to IDS, are ready for the world of work is one almighty.....
4.2 million claimants
To be precise it's actually 4,215,800 claimants according to DWP figures.
Not according to IDS, helped by the right wing media, who between them have consistently made out:
All claimants found 'fit for work' are skivers who should be off the sick and hard at work
All claimants who have 'closed their claims before the dreaded assessment by Atos' are work shy fakers who know they are going to get caught out and realise the sickness game is up.
All claimants who have been placed in the ESA 'Work Related Activity Group' are capable of some work and therefore should be doing all they can to find it, according to IDS this group of claimants isn't different that different to those who claim Jobseeker's Allowance because they are unemployed.
These are the ideological claims of IDS, isn't it strange how he doesn't use these figures to justify his wild and substantiated claims?
Let's see how they are worked out (all according to DWP figures from October 2008 to June 2013).....
(1) The total numbers found fit for work (including those added at repeated assessments) is 1,733,400
(2) The total number of claimants who ended their claims before assessment (for whatever reason) is 1,550,300 including those who are added in the repeat assessment of claimants
(3) The total number of claimants placed in the Work Related Activity Group is 933,100 which is arrived at taking the total number of 1,375,000 placed in the group and then deducting 442,900 for those who had the finding confirmed at repeat assessment to eliminate duplication.
A figure of 4.2 million who are (in the deluded eyes of IDS) 'work ready' is absolutely massive, indeed so massive that he dare not use such a figure for sheer fear that the great unsuspecting British public will ask one simple question; how could such a huge figure be absorbed in to a labour market based workforce which is finally picking up (according to Chancellor Osborne any way).
Remember though that not all of the 4.2 million who IDS would have you believe are ready for, looking for or are actually in work are in fact in any of those categories. Those in the Work Related Activity Group for instance will only move in to work if the claimant is able to find someone able to take them on. The Work Programme figures are far from encouraging when it comes to getting anyone off ESA and in to Work.
Let's take a look at the numbers of claimants in total who have actually come off Employment & Support Allowance between October 2008 and May 2013 (the data does not align with the June 2013 used in the assessment statistics) but none the less it gives us a pretty good idea. Here's the DWP figures.....
Employment and Support Allowance Off Flows (thousands) : Time Series by Gender of claimant
Gender of claimant
Off Flows (thousands)
Off Flows (thousands)
Off Flows (thousands)
Off Flows (thousands)
The total comes to 2,125,830 (2.1 million) up to May 2013 showing us that only around half of all the claimants who IDS believes are ready for work actually end up coming off Employment & Support Allowance.
Even if we exclude all claimants in the Work Related Activity Group (on the assumption hardly any of them are moving in to work) we are still left with 3,283,700 (3.2 million) claimants who are fit for work or who have closed their claims before being assessed - it's a heck of a lot more than the 2.1 million who have actually come off the allowance - a staggering difference of 1.1 million in fact.
You can rest assured IDS will never want to let the cat out of the bag when it comes the truly awful Work Programme figures....
The WCA is the kiss of death for anyone looking for work via the Work Programme....
Work Programme: Cumulative figures Job Outcomes (Thousands) : Payment Group by Mandatory/Voluntary
Data (in thousands) up to and including=SEP13
Job Outcomes (Thousands)
Job Outcomes (Thousands)
Job Outcomes (Thousands)
Job Outcomes (Thousands)
JSA 18 to 24
JSA 25 and over
JSA Early Entrants
JSA Ex-Incapacity Benefit
New ESA claimants
ESA Ex-Incapacity Benefit
JSA Prison Leavers
The figures are far worse than anyone cares to realise. Government bolsters up their abysmal results by adding in other claimants sets including those who have previously claimed the older incapacity benefits. If however, you home in to those who have claimed Employment & Support Allowance, the results are worse than useless....
New ESA claimants
ESA Ex-Incapacity Benefit
What these figures show is how voluntary participation is more successful as 6,700 claimants end up with a 'job outcome', whereas mandatory schemes only helps 2,050 in to work (of which 230 come from a voluntary group! - what they don't realise is that after volunteering to take part in the scheme, their continued participation can become mandatory). The total, mostly made up of voluntary participants, is nothing short of diabolical when considered against the huge numbers assessed.
We read with interest the piece in the Independent by Rachel Reeves and Kate Green regarding Labour’s response to the Work Capability Assessment 
Labour should realise that disabled people are deeply distrustful of any Labour reform of a Work Capability Assessment system, which Labour introduced in the Welfare Act of 2007 with the stated aim of removing 1 million claimants from the benefit system .
Our position has been and will be that the Work Capability Assessment is deeply flawed in its basic concept, not just in terms of the details of its delivery, and inclusion in the workplace for disabled people cannot simply be achieved by a ‘back to work’ test.
In the Reclaiming Our Futures, Disabled People’s Manifesto , we state that a priority demand from government is that:
A comprehensive and strategic plan of action is developed with disabled people and our organisations to tackle the discrimination and exclusion disabled people face in work and employment including: increasing quality and range of personalised support available to disabled people, strengthening disabled employees rights and tackling employer discrimination and poor practice
Other key demands include that:
Economic productivity must not be the only measure of people’s worth and value, volunteering offers as much value to society as paid employment. While we recognise that volunteering can offer additional skills, it should not be the default option for disabled people because of our exclusion from paid work
There must be policy and media recognition that there will always be disabled people who are unable or too ill to work. These individuals must be supported by a publically funded system. They should not be penalised or demonised as they are currently.
For true inclusion in the workplace for disabled people a wider approach is necessary including but not limited to:
• Will Labour commit to the restoration of Disabled Student’s Allowance, • Will Labour commit to the restoration of the Independent Living Fund, • Will Labour commit to the extension of Access to Work (AtW) to include unpaid voluntary positions, • Will Labour commit to the reversal of the reduction of people who currently receive DLA, but will not receive PIP and also lose their Motability access, • Will Labour commit to the reinstatement of the requirement for councils to produce equality schemes on employment and access • Will Labour commit to the provision of accessible transport. • Will Labour commit to the reinstatement of “day one” protection from unfair dismissal in employment law • Will Labour commit to the provision of Employment Tribunals enforcing mandatory organisation-wide measures on preventing disability discrimination • Will Labour commit to the provision that all government contracts, at a national, regional and local level, are only awarded to companies that are fulfilling measurable equality targets for the employment of disabled people
(for further points see reference 2)
These currently are some of the barriers to inclusion in the workplace for disabled people, and they will not be fixed by simply amending the WCA. The issue must be seen within the context of the wider interconnected system of barriers in place. It must be seen in terms of what a large majority of disabled people have already identified as key problems.
In terms of inclusion we also need from Labour, a recognition that for many disabled people to be able to work there has to be a nationally transportable social care system with a guarantee that people would keep the same levels of funding wherever they needed to move to work.
We need recognition that there is an onus on government and employers to fully accept the spirit of the Equality Act 2010  with its requirement to the opening of work opportunity to disabled people. Without this, no “fit for work test” aimed at cutting disability benefits will make any impact whatsoever on the numbers of disabled people who can attain and sustain employment.
We also need from Labour a stronger recognition that there are many disabled people who cannot enter the work place and should not have to live in fear of being pressured into doing so.
There is much that the article leaves out and that leaves us with a number of serious concerns and questions.
While we are not yet prepared to endorse in any way Labour’s new approach to the Work Capability Assessment, we do see the article by Rachel Reeves and Kate Green as a helpful starting point for discussions on the future of inclusion of disabled people, who want and are able to work, in the workplace and we would welcome an opportunity to meet with them and discuss this further. We would like meet with Kate Green and Rachel Reeves to ask the following questions:
1. Will Labour commit to stop spending public money on private contractors and return any assessments of disabled people back to GPs with medical evidence taken into account as well as give a commitment to look at the barriers to work for disabled people who can and want to work (in line with the social model of disability)?
2. Will Labour commit to a time and date to talk with DPAC, My Legal, the Mental Health Resistance Network, Black Triangle, Deaf activists, those with learning difficulties ( with an outreach of ½ a million disabled people) to listen to the views of the largest network of grass roots disabled people on the WCA and ESA?
3. If Labour are committed to scrapping the WCA when will Deaf and disabled people, and those with mental health issues have sight of the detail of any alternative Labour is proposing?
4. If Labour accepts the harm, devastation and premature deaths that have been an outcome of the WCA why have they chosen to suspend their prospective parliamentary candidate for St Austell and Newquay, Deborah Hopkins for speaking out in public about the harm caused by the WCA.
5. Will Labour address the disproportionate harm that the WCA and sanctions on ESA and JSA are causing to all disabled people, in particular those with mental health issues and learning difficulties?
6. We along with many others insisted that a centralised Independent Living Fund for Scotland be established and it has been done. They have also promised to re-open ILF to new users, with a commitment of additional funds and recognition of its importance to independent living and obligations to article 19 of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. Why has the Labour Party not promised to re-establish it south of the border?
Post by nickd (Mylegal) on Apr 18, 2014 18:02:25 GMT
At last, Labour has a plan for getting disabled people into employment
Rachel Reeves and Kate Green are moving Labour away from defining the problem as one of 'shirkers' who can work but don't By Sue Marsh 18th April 2014
'We actually have a plan for true co-production with sick and disabled people, a reformed test that looks at the real world of work.' Photograph: Image Source/Rex Features
The Labour shadow work and pensions team of Rachel Reeves and Kate Green have this week taken their first steps in defining how employment and support allowance (ESA) and the now infamous Atos "fit for work" tests might be reformed under a Labour government.
It has been a long and torturous process to get to this point. For far too long, policymakers from all parties refused to see the inherent flaws in a tick-box system designed to generalise, punish and restrict. Despite overwhelming evidence that the tests were failing, the very issue of welfare reforms is so politically charged that no one had any desire to admit it was wrong.
But as I read the article by Reeves and Green in the Independent, I was tremendously disappointed. Having waited so long, campaigners like me could be forgiven for expecting a detailed plan, packed full of recommendations and suggestions. Instead, as is so often the case, Labour seem wary of their own message, neither saying one thing nor another in a bid to placate that ever dominant middle ground.
However, if we forget about the message for a moment and actually look at the content, things don't look nearly as bad. Lurking beneath the caution is a whole range of suggestions that sick and disabled people have been calling for. For instance:
• Labour says it would transform the way the work capability assessment is designed to make it more effective at helping disabled people into employment. The current system is a crude assessment of people's impairment, with little information about how this affects their ability to work.
• Labour would redesign the test, which is currently based on a computerised points system, to include a detailed analysis of jobs that individuals could actually carry out.
• Under new plans, disabled people would receive a copy of the assessor's report of how their health condition may affect their ability to work, and information about the support available in their local area to help them.
• Sick and disabled people would be given a central role in monitoring the way the tests are run, giving them a statutory role in monitoring the operation of the tests and drawing up suggestions for improvements.
• New contracts to run the fitness-to-work tests would be much more closely tied to the accuracy of assessments, measured by the number of times that decisions are overturned, with clear penalties for poor performance.
So we actually have a plan for true co-production with sick and disabled people, a reformed test that looks at the real world of work, punishments for failing contractors and involvement in the assessment itself.
Post by nickd (Mylegal) on Apr 17, 2014 22:12:12 GMT
How Labour would reform the Work Capability Assessment
We will go further in ensuring that the assessments get it right first time
Rachel Reeves & Kate Green 16th April 2014
The resignation of the Conservative Mayor of Swindon following his appalling comments about disabled people was a reminder of the discrimination that far too many of our fellow citizens face every day.
Sadly, in 21st century Britain, disabled people continue to be set huge challenges. Just 42 per cent of those with a disability are in employment, compared to 78 per cent of those without. Disabled people are twice as likely, meanwhile to live in poverty as non-disabled people. We’re a long way from achieving equality.
Those are some of the key findings of an independent report by a taskforce chaired by the distinguished campaigner Sir Bert Massie into breaking the link between disability and poverty. Today Labour is setting out its approach to one of the big issues Sir Bert considers, and one of the issues we hear most about from disabled people - the Work Capability Assessment.
Labour has always been clear that for many disabled people, the best way to tackle poverty is for the Government to help them to fulfil their own ambitions to enter paid work. That’s also the best way to control the costs of social security within an overall cap on spending, and to make sure there is a system that supports those who need it, including those who may never be able to take up jobs.
When we introduced the Work Capability Assessment we wanted it to be part of a system that helped support more disabled people into work. We’ve always said that a test will always be necessary, but it’s abundantly clear that at the moment the WCA isn’t working.
First, the test is not integrated with employment support, which may help explain why the Work Programme is performing so miserably for disabled people, with just five per cent helped into sustained jobs. Second, the test lacks credibility with disabled people, causing anxiety and stress. That’s in part because of the third failure – a system that has been riven with poor decision making, causing hardship for disabled people, and huge costs to the public purse. Last year, a staggering 45 per cent of appeals against the test were upheld.
So a Labour government would make three crucial changes to the way that the test works.
We'll starting by transforming the way the WCA is designed to make it more effective at helping disabled people into work. The current system is a crude assessment of people’s impairment, with little information about how this affects their ability to work. With Labour disabled people would receive a copy of the assessor's report of how their health condition may affect their ability to work, and information about the support that is available in their local area to help them. We think that’s a first vital step towards a more integrated system of support.
The second change we'd make is to give disabled people a central role in monitoring the way the tests are run. This is absolutely vital. For the first time disabled people would get a real say in how the assessments are delivered. We would continue to produce an independent review of the WCA, and ask the Office for Disability Issues to support an independent scrutiny group of disabled people to work together with the independent reviewer to assess whether the test is being conducted in a fair and transparent way. We'll commit to responding to the recommendations of this report.
Finally a Labour government will go further in ensuring that the assessments get it right first time. Reporting on the WCA last year, the parliamentary Public Accounts Committee found that the targets set for the quality of the assessment weren’t challenging enough. So we’d make sure that in the new system there would be clear penalties for poor performance, measured both on the number of times decisions are overturned by DWP decision makers, and the number of times they are overturned on appeal. That will put the right incentives in place to ensure that assessors collect the medical evidence they need to make a decision, ensure they listen to what the claimant is telling them, and make a decision based on the full facts of the case. Failure to get it right first time will result in financial penalties.
Disabled people have suffered for too long in a system that has too often been unfair, ineffective, and non-transparent. Labour aims to put that right.
Rachel Reeves MP is shadow Secretary of State for Work and Pensions. Kate Green MP is shadow minister for Disabled People
One of our advisers had a client who has learning difficulties, memory problems and difficulties expressing herself. The caseworker felt that it was therefore in the interests of justice that she attend with WB Tribunal so she could provide the client with assistance.
The adviser has just passed the file to me for closure as an Escape Fee. I noticed that she had claimed the time representing the client as a McKenzie Friend. Now, as I understood it, a McKenzie Friend provides moral support and does not speak on behalf of the client but gives quiet advice in the background. I also understood that you had to get the Court's permission prior to the Tribunal to attend as a MF but that it wasn't something you could get paid for.
So, I have a couple of queries.
1. Does an MF ever get paid by the LAA? 2. If not, can we claim the attendance at the Tribunal for the reason that our client could not have properly represented herself?
Post by nickd (Mylegal) on Apr 15, 2014 21:33:13 GMT
Good question posed by Daily Mirror....
At a time when the House of Commons sits by and sips more and more champagne
As revealed by the Huffington Post, "the House of Commons' MPs' appetite for champagne has not been affected by the coalition's austerity programme, as parliamentary officials bought in increasingly larger numbers of bottles each year to replenish the House of Commons' stock.
House of Commons officials revealed that they have spent £275,221 buying in more than 25,000 bottles of champagne since the coalition took over in May 2010, which MPs and their staff can enjoy in Parliament's bars and restaurants.
The details were revealed in response to a Freedom of Information request from the Huffington Post UK"