Readers, today, I’m going on a Christmas holiday.
I’d like to thank you all sincerely, because 2014 has been a great year for Same Difference. I never imagined that the site would be where it is today.
I still appreciate every hit. I still read every comment. And I promise that no matter how big the site gets, these two things will continue always.
The site will return in the New Year, so your usual New Year review poem may be a little late.
I leave you with a promise that in 2015, I’ll do everything I can to make the site even bigger and better.
A commenter on yesterday’s article about the death of a claimant at Ashton-Under-Lyne Job Centre raised an important point.
The comment was intended to harshly criticise the piece by misrepresenting it as saying Job Centre staff are responsible for forming government policies. Of course they aren’t – but as human beings with responsibility for their own actions, they may certainly choose whether to carry out those policies. They have personal responsibility for what they do. This means they must also take responsibility for the consequences of their actions.
The response to the commenter was that there is an advisor at Ashton-Under-Lyne Job Centre Plus whose decision led to the death of a claimant and that person must live with the fact for the rest of their life. It is possible they may have to pay a penalty for it (along with those who gave the orders), if some of us get what we want from a future government. If and when that happens, resigning may seem like a much better option.
But that won’t happen at all, if nobody investigates what happens.
Here’s a letter to Dame Anne Begg, chair of the Commons Work and Pensions Committee, asking for that investigation. Perhaps readers of this article may wish to write to their own MP, asking them to support the request.
It is striking that this article from The Poor Side of Life reaches us so soon after Vox Political was told that “likening David Cameron to the Nazi party is absolutely incredible and down-right disgusting”. The article’s author writes:
I was stopped by a homeless chap who wanted to congratulate us on our hard work. He said that he hated this Job Centre. His friend who lived on the streets with him had been sanctioned after being taken off the sickness benefits that he was on and was put on Job seekers Allowance. He had severe mental health and addiction problems. He was sanctioned, and without warm clothes and very little food he fell asleep on the streets and never woke up. He died of hypothermia. People had passed him and thought that he was asleep. He didn’t stand a chance. And what do the Job Centre staff say? “We are only following orders.” Most don’t feel any guilt or remorse. And we know that this government doesn’t either.
“We are only following orders.” Isn’t that what the German soldiers at the extermination camps told the war crimes judges at Nuremberg?
Let us await the trial of Ashton-Under-Lyne Job Centre Plus staff with eagerness. In the meantime, there are other stories in the article, so please give it a visit.
ESA statistics released by the DWP today show that only 20% of people who claimed employment and support allowance (ESA) in January to March of this year have had an assessment. The figures also show a continuing rise in the proportion of claimants found incapable of work and the percentage placed in the support group.
The latest quarterly work capability assessment (WCA) statistics show that, of those people who submitted a claim between January and March 2014:
20% have had an assessment
40% are still waiting
41% are no longer claiming, largely because they got better or died.
(The figures are rounded).
Of those who made a claim in this period and who have had a decision:
24% were found fit for work
76% were found to be entitled to ESA, of whom:
14% were placed in the work-related activity group
62% were placed in the support group
The figures represent another big increase in both the percentage of claimants being found eligible for ESA and the percentage being placed in the support group.
It is likely that these totals will alter once all claims, reconsiderations and appeals for the period have been dealt with. But what is not in doubt is that many tens of thousands of claimants who should be in the support group are currently forced to remain in the assessment phase for periods of a year or more.
VOLUNTEER WARNING! VOLUNTEER WARNING! VOLUNTEER WARNING!
May I remind volunteers,carers and the disabled especially, those usually on the lowest income bar being homeless, that the coalition is checking on volunteers for fraud in case they are working.
The government is sending mandatory job centre interview appointments to account for their voluntary work and any ‘payments’ attached in the form of a fee and expenses. The threat is if that volunteer does not attend,any benefit they maybe on will be stopped.
Please be aware that the kind generosity which induces a willing eagerness to participate in time spent helping others and ticking boxes for organisations such as local councils,universities and colleges etc.is now under close scrutiny by government under a presumption that the volunteer is guilty until proven innocent.
The hostile tone of these letters and the assumptions being made by government
is sufficient to warrant a risk assessment by volunteers for their own safety before embarking on volunteering.
Until this is stopped,many volunteers will be lost.
If anyone has received such a letter, please let me know- I would like to publish it.
As readers of this site will know, I’ve been chasing the DWP for details of the useless “work skills” and “employability skills” courses that JSA claimants must attend on the threat of sanctions… people report being forced to attend courses where they have to build towers out of drinking straws, roll marbles down tubes and tear up pieces of paper to reassemble in the interests of accquiring teamwork skills… Some people I’ve spoken to even said they were threatened when they dared to complain to providers about the courses they were sent on. This all goes on because ritual humiliation of and aggression towards people who are out of work is thought to be absolutely fine in our day and age….
The DWP press office ignored my questions about this, of course, so I sent the department an FOI. I asked for lists of providers of these courses, how funding streams work, how much providers like Reed and A4e charge for attendance on these courses, what sort of quality control is in place, what standards (if any) course providers must meet to provide these courses and if the courses are indeed compulsory – ie, why are people threatened with sanctions if they refuse to attend, or say a course does not match their skill set? Surely the DWP can share its own rules re: whether people are threatened with sanctions if they refuse to attend these so-called skills courses.
Needless to say, the DWP responded with a section 12 – cost of information extraction exceeding the £600 limit, etc. The DWP said it does hold some of the requested information, though, so I’ll be redrawing the request. I’m particularly interested in the costs of these courses. People have sent me some intriguing possible cost figures – the sort of money that would suggest these course providers are on course to have a very merry Christmas.
Originally posted on jaynelinney:
Anyone dealing with an incorrect mobility award for PIP – Take Note:
A FOI request has revealed the DWP admit the One Metre Rule is unfounded and agree ” it is time to review this figure” .
Read the full response below:
In your DLA1A Adult January 2014 form, titled Disability Living Allowance Notes, on page 10
question, 26 titled: Getting around outdoors:
You state: ‘the average adult step is just under one meter.’
I would like to be provided with the source of this statement.
Thank you for contacting us and bringing this to our attention.
Information published online quotes: ‘The average person’s stride length is approximately 2.5
feet long, although this is dependent on age and health. It’s difficult to find a source of this
information which is typically quoted without reference.’
Investigations show that we have used this figure for many years and it has not been reviewed
recently. Discussions with a DWP Medical Policy Advisor have resulted in an agreement that it
is time to review this figure.
Thank you once again. It is feedback such as this which helps us improve the service we
provide to our customers.