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MPs call for ESA death statistics to be published (Calum's List)

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MPs call for ESA death statistics to be published (Calum's List)

Post by Kitkat on Fri 31 Jul 2015, 15:20

14 July 2015 10:38

A small group of Labour MPS, including leadership candidate Jeremy Corbyn, yesterday lodged an early day motion calling on the government to publish the employment and support allowance (ESA) death statistics.

The statistics detail how many claimants have died within six weeks of, for example, being placed in the work-related activity group of ESA.

The information commissioner has ordered the DWP to release the figures.

In addition, a petition on the website calling for the publication of the figures has received over a quarter of a million signatures.

There are fears that the DWP now plan to release Age Standardised Mortality Rate (ASMR) figures that would not allow a direct comparison of deaths over time.

The early day motion cannot compel the government to do anything, but it does continue to keep the pressure on them.

The full motion reads:

That this House notes that on 30 April 2015 the Information Commission took a decision that the Government must disclose the number of incapacity benefit and employment and support allowance claimants who have died since November 2011 until May 2014 within 35 calendar days; acknowledges the petition signed by over 230,000 members of the public calling for this data to be released; further notes that even though the 35 day deadline has passed this data has not been released; has concerns that the data released may be a standardised figure rather than a full picture; and therefore calls on the Government to ensure the release of this data in full and without further delay.

So far it has been signed by just 5 MPs. You can contact your MP and ask them to sign it using the Write To Them website.
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Post by Kitkat on Fri 31 Jul 2015, 15:26

Calum's List was originally published on the Spiritlove Forum.

Luckily, I kept a copy of my own - and also an alternative link to the website is here:
(This website may not be here very long (for various reasons) so I am copying the full details of Calum's List up here (with full permission of the website founders):

Here are the first 15.  The rest will follow in a separate post when properly collated:


Calum’s List

Welfare Reform Deaths – Memorial Pages


1. Paul Reekie: Click Here For Report

Paul Reekie

Paul Reekie

A doctor has claimed that Paul Reekie, a well respected author, was driven to suicide by the Government’s welfare reforms. Dr Stephen Carty, a Leith GP, told the welfare reform committee yesterday that letters informing Paul Reekie, his incapacity and housing benefits would be stopped were used as the suicide note of the iconoclastic poet and author. Dr Carty said: “Paul Reekie took his life following a work capability assessment”.

“He didn’t leave a suicide note. He left on his desk two letters. One was a letter from the Department for Work and Pensions informing him his incapacity benefit had been stopped and the other was from the council informing him his housing benefits had stopped.”

2. Richard Sanderson: Click Here For Report

An unemployed dad stabbed himself twice through the heart when his family faced losing their home to housing benefit cuts, an inquest chaired by HM Coroner Fiona Wilcox heard. Desperate Richard Sanderson, 44, drew up meticulous suicide plans after learning he could no longer afford the flat he shared with his wife and nine-year-old son. The family had received a letter stating their housing benefit would be cut by £30 a month, leaving them with ‘nowhere to go’, and provided to Westminster Coroners Court.

3. Stephanie Bottrill: Click Here For Report

Stephanie Bottrill

Stephanie Bottrill Allegedly Died From Toxic DWP Welfare Reforms: 4th May 2013

Due to reasons of legal importance, we have changed the order of folk being remembered on Calum’s List as originally published in 2011. We have placed Stephanie Bottrill here because it irrevocably shows that there is evidence to substantiate alleged Department of Work & Pensions (DWP) lawbreaking:-

   In Parliament, on 23rd January 2012 Katy Clark M.P., Asked DWP Ministers Iain Duncan Smith & Chris Grayling:-

   “11 disabled people have committed suicide in circumstances in which the coroner said that it was as a result of assessments as part of the Work Capability Assessment. Is that figure right? Can the Minister advise whether he has looked into what legal liability the Government may have and, in particular, whether there is exposure under the Corporate Manslaughter legislation?”

Source: Hansard – Click Here & Go To Column 22

It is of material importance to note that the above question and DWP Welfare Reform systemic fatal flaws were made known to Iain Duncan Smith and Chris Grayling….

Iain Duncan Smith and Chris Grayling Being Questioned About Welfare Reform Corporate Manslaughter By Katy Clark MP In The House Of Commons

…sitting joint and severally side by side on the Government Front Bench in the House of Commons beyond any reasonable doubt on 23rd January 2012 (Hansard: Column 22).

Then, after almost 16 months of failure to make his reforms sufficiently safe,  Iain Duncan Smith and his Department of Work & Pensions negligently left the dangerous Welfare Reforms in a fatal and toxic state. The result? FACT – this appalling and avoidable tragedy happened over a year later on 4th May 2013 as evidenced by personal corroboration, and this public domain suicide note:-

Stephanie Bottrill Suicide Note DWP Alleged Culpability After The Fact

Legally this was almost 16 months AFTER “directing mind” Iain Duncan Smith and his deputy Chris Grayling were WARNED on camera, in the highest legal chamber in the country of the dangers of their Welfare Reforms, if left unsafe and unfit for purpose.

Click On Photograph Above To Hear The DWP’s OWN Assessor/Trainer ADMIT That The DWP Welfare Assessment System is TOXIC.

When Katy Clark M.P., questioned Iain Duncan Smith about DWP culpability in Welfare Reform Homicide on 23rd January 2012 the minister had well over a year to make his Welfare Reforms fit-for-purpose and safe PRIOR to Stephanie Bottrill committing suicide and leaving prima facie evidence in the form of Stephanie’s suicide note explicitly blaming the Government and by deductive logic, the responsible officials/ministers at the DWP. To be clear the legislation covering this alleged culpability is:

The Corporate Manslaughter and Corporate Homicide Act 2007.

CPS Guidelines: Click Here

Some further reading: Here and Here. This law specifically INCLUDES the DWP as being legally competent for interview by the police, and if the evidence supports a case then the DWP may be liable for caution, charge and criminal prosecution as well as civil court remedy.

Since the alleged culpability of the DWP in Stephanie Bottrill’s death, Calum’s List along with SIX subscribers and EIGHT families here HOPE that there will be NO MORE DWP Welfare Reform deaths. Especially, via the particularly toxic:
Brown Envelopes of Despair, Destitution &Death

Threatening destitution and homelessness, posted through taxpayers’ letterboxes. For the avoidance of doubt, EVERY man, woman and child in the UK is a taxpayer: Example: 20% VAT etc., etc.

However these families are preparing to refer their cases to the police if the tipping point is reached. In the meantime the new subscribers to Calum’s List are still trying to persuade the DWP to make Welfare Reform SAFE and fit for purpose.

Subsequently, from the point where Katy Clark phoned Calum to discuss the matter in further detail, the Welfare Reform Death Toll had gone from the figure quoted by the M.P., in the House of Commons of 11, to a new total of 30 DWP Welfare Reform Deaths. A few months later it was in excess of 42 DWP Deaths as detailed on Calum’s List at the point where one of the website subscribers died and the site went offline. In fact our current total being uploaded here on the new Calum’s List website as of March 2015 is 60.

4. Paul Willcoxson: Click Here For Report

Paul Willcoxson

A man with mental health problems who was worried about benefit cuts killed himself while he was searching for a job on the south coast, an inquest heard. A suicide letter and next of kin note were found in which Paul Willcoxson  expressed concerns about Government cuts Southampton Coroner’s Court heard – chaired by Deputy HM Coroner Gordon Denson.

5. Leanne Chambers: Click Here For Report

Leanne Chambers

Leanne Chambers, aged 30 from Sunderland, drowned herself after receiving a Department of Work & Pensions brown envelope of despair, destitution and death – stating that she was fit to return to work. She had battled depression and the symptoms of this illness for years.

6. Christelle Pardo: Click Here For Report

Unthinkable Torment And A Step To Death

HM Coroner Dr Andrew Reid said: ‘She was not in a position around the time her son was born to be actively seeking work, and was not in a position to claim Income Support, which eventually stopped her housing benefit. In lay terms it seems a very parlous situation. Ms Pardo twice appealed against the decision to refuse income support and was in the process of taking the Department of Work and Pensions to a tribunal. Her last phone call to DWP was made the day before she died

7. Kayjah Pardo: Click Here For FOI Details

HM Coroner Dr Andrew Reid recorded a verdict of suicide for Christelle Pardo and a verdict of unlawful killing for the death of her son Kayjah Pardo. In its serious case review, the City and Hackney Safeguarding Children Board acknowledged what it called a ‘fundamental perversity’. The panel felt that Christelle may have developed severe depression. There were no concerns for their physical health or mental well-being, although she was becoming increasingly frustrated and demoralised at the continuing denial of benefits, and the protracted process of appealing against this decision…. the stresses arising from being refused benefits would have been the most significant factor in precipitating the development of mental illness. The Panel considered that [Christelle], in a developing psychosis, may have quite quickly come to see herself as a worthless person in a hopeless position. The Panel discussed the fact that her actions had brought about the death of her son, whom she loved. It was suggested that [Christelle] may not have seen herself and [Kayjah] as being separate – that they were, in her mind, a single entity, so that the appropriate action for her was inescapably also right for her son.

The review also highlighted ‘inadequate customer care’ by the DWP and made a recommendation that they ‘review the apparent anomaly identified in this case, which meant that financial support to a family was reduced when their needs became greater.’

As it turned out, an appeal tribunal in September 2010 ruled that Christelle Pardo qualified for permanent right to reside and was in fact entitled to benefits.

8. Elaine Christian: Click Here For Report

Elaine Christian, 57 was found dead in a drain, had been worried about attending a medical appointment to assess disability benefits, an inquest heard. A post mortem revealed she had died from drowning, despite having more than ten self-inflicted cuts on her wrists. The Coroner’s Inquest in Hull was told Mrs Christian had been worrying about a meeting she was due to have to discuss her entitlement to disability benefits.

Her spiralling health problems meant she had to give up her job at Cooplands bakery in Greenwich Avenue, where she was described as a cheerful, hardworking and trusted staff member.

Mr Christian told the inquest he had woken up on February 7 to find his wife of 28 years missing.

He discovered a suicide note, empty packets of painkillers and pools of blood.

Asked by Hull and East Riding Coroner Geoffrey Saul if anything had been troubling his wife, Mr Christian said: “She was upset about going to a medical appointment the next day.”

Despite the presence of a suicide note, which was not read out to the court, HM Coroner Mr Saul said he was unable to say, with certainty, that Mrs Christian had intended to kill herself at the drain.

9. Robert Christian: Click Here For Report

DWP Collateral Damage – In May 2013, police were stationed outside the house in Staveley Road, Eeast Hull where widower Robert Christian lived. Robert suffered severe depressions, following the death of his wife Elaine Christian in 2011 where the Department of Work & Pensions were alleged to have some culpability. Elaine Christian drowned in Holderness. Police attended the home of Robert Christian, where an officer found a draft text message on his phone, saying “I am so sorry.”

10. David Clapson:  Click Here For Report 1

and also: Click Here For Report 2

David Clapson

David died in Stevenage, Hertfordshire with just £3.44 left in his account. In earlier employment as as a soldier, he faced death on a daily basis serving his country. when he left the British Army he went straight into the ­workplace with British Telecom before becoming a full-time carer for his sick mother.

After his mum went into a home, David turned to the state for help while he looked for work. But under the Coalition’s callous new benefits rules he had his £71.70 a week Jobseeker’s Allowance was “sanctioned”. Apparently because he missed an appointment with an adviser – the DWP have sanction targets in place. This can be proven, but the DWP deny it.

Stripped of his income, David Clapson could not afford food or electricity and died starving, ­penniless and alone at his home.

His death was from diabetic ­ketoacidosis – caused by not taking his insulin.

His distraught sister Gill Thompson believes he may have stopped injecting himself with the life-saving drug after becoming so desperate over his lack of cash and work, and not being able to afford electricity tokens to keep the fridge working. A vital thing as this kept his life preserving diabetetes medicine fit for purpose.

Diabetes sufferer David Clapson died from lack of insulin, 18 days after his Jobseeker’s Allowance was sanctioned in July 2014. His sister, Gill Thompson, said more than 211,000 people signed her petition calling for an inquiry.

As of March 2015 this petition by David’s sister had 211,822 signatories. Parliamentary etiquette provides that any petition with over 100,000 signatures is “eligible” for a debate in the House of Commons. It is considered bad form not to allow this. So when will the debate into David’s DWP death, and hopefully ways to stop more DWP deaths be held?

11. George From Chesterfield: Click Here For Report

George, from Chesterfield, Derbyshire, worked all his life, first as a miner and foundry worker, then as a communications engineer, until his first heart attack in 2006 when he was 53.

After marginal recovery George took a stint working self-employed. However after medical examination, his doctor told him to stop. George applied for ESA. This required an ATOS/DWP Work Capability Examination.

In George’s 39-minute exam by the DWP’s Work Capability assessors, ATOS, the “disability analyst” noted that George had angina, heart disease and chest pain, even when resting. But the assessor pontificated this wasn’t “uncontrollable or life-threatening” and George “should be able to walk at least 200 metres”.

The Atos report went to the Department for Work and Pensions, where George’s heart problems were ignored and he got six sick “points”, as he could only stand up for less than half an hour due to pain.

Short of the 15 points needed to get ESA, George was put on Jobseeker’s Allowance and told to find work. He appealed, waiting eight months for his case to go to an independent tribunal. There George got nine more points, as he could only walk 100 metres before stopping. He was put on the “work related activity” group where he got the lower rate of benefit and special help finding a suitable job.

After months of stress George collapsed and died of a heart attack, the day before another Atos medical. His widow is convinced the stress of claiming killed him.

Colin Hampton of the Derbyshire Unemployed Workers’ Centre says he’s had four identical cases.

12. Tuvalu Widow: Click Here For Discourse

Can anyone out there suggest a good solicitor so I can persue a criminal or civil prosecution against both Atos Healthcare and DWP.

My late husband died just before Christmas, although we were not together we were still legally married and still cared for each others welfare. I was in Australia when he died and returned immediately to sort this out. I have been through his paper work and firmly believe the DWP were negligent, Cruel, Inept and he also suffered discrimination. I have a small occupational pension and am not on benefits myself, so they cannot threaten me with fear.

My late husband was only on ESA for a few months, and had not claimed any benefit for over 30 years. I would like a criminal case if possible, Civil if I have to. I cant find any records of court cases on the web. I would be really grateful for all suggestions

Thank you in advance, Tuvalu Widow.

Dear Tuvalu Widow, please get in touch : Contact Page

13. David Groves: Click Here For Report

David Groves: Picture – Roland Leon SM

David Groves, 56, died of a massive heart ­attack the night before his DWP/ATOS medical as he scoured the internet for ways to raise cash in case he lost his entitlement.

He had claimed incapacity benefit for three years after doctors ordered him to stop ­working following a heart attack and ­several strokes. His widow Sandra, 57, said being lumped in with “dole scroungers” and the fear of ­financial hardship had a­ ­devastating effect.

David – who worked for 40 years as a miner and telecoms engineer – had ­already gone through a stressful eight-month appeal process to keep his £91-a-week ­benefits.

14. Elaine Lowe: Click Here For Report

Elaine Lowe was a seriously ill woman who died just two days after her suicide attempt following a DWP Brown Envelope of Destitution Despair & Death stopped her the incapacity benefit. This information was provided to HM Coroner at a formal inquest in Westminster.

The Coroner’s Court was told she had received a letter from the Department of Work and Pensions saying she should go back to work. The 53-year-old, who suffered life-limiting breathlessness because of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, was so distressed she took a cocktail of drugs. Dr Sana Hamid, who treated Ms Lowe at St George’s Hospital, Tooting, said: “She wasn’t depressed when I saw her but she added how distressed she had been about the decision by the Benefits Agency. She said that she saw the letter and decided to take her own life“. Witness Dr Hamid.

A suicide note had been left by Ms Lowe in a sealed envelope and some medication was around the floor, the court was told.


Please Note: This website was originally started in 2011 after a disabled person called Calum asked a simple question on a disability website support forum:-
“Was Paul Reekie the only one to commit suicide where Welfare Reforms had some culpability”.

One of Calum’s friends started an independent website called Calum’s List. Soon this list of disabled and vulnerable people who had tragically gone that way, or died in other ways at the hands of alleged DWP negligence had many more names added. However the list website ceased after the death of one of it’s subscribers and advancing disability of another.

The website is now being reinstated due to the continual carnage, distress, death and painful toll being exacted on those directly affected and their familles and friends that the current crooked Welfare Reform system is meant to protect. Universal Credit, the Bedroom Tax, PIP and punitive, gerrymandered Sanctions Targets are just some of the defective elements that still have not been made fit-for-any purpose, other than take billions from the most vulnerable in society.

This paragraph is where we are at the moment in rebuilding this website. Please check back again as time goes by to see the reinstated compilation of information and of course the Memorial List of folk who have gone, but whose families and friends are doing their utmost to stop more people dying at the hands of the DWP.

Also there is a way that Welfare Reform will be made safe and fit for purpose. As John Pring’s respected Disability News Service narrates stonewalling by the DWP only goes so far. We believe legal action against those allegedly committing malfeasance in public office and other infractions may be inevitable unless the DWP make their system SAFE and fit-for-purpose. In spite of stonewalling and denials that there has been any wrongdoing by the DWP, there is a relevant fact. For the “mere” act of THEFT after the MP Expenses Scandal, FIVE Members of Parliament were jailed and TWO Lords were also imprisoned. Prior to these MPs and Lords going to jail, ALL protested their innocence. So we have legal counsel preparing for that next DWP Brown Envelope of Death, Destitution & Despair to top what is currently a fairly large offsite box of evidence and files ready for the police start interviewing DWP officials and those legally responsible ministers at the DWP. More of that in due course.

15. Shaun Pilkington: Click Here For Report

There Are Many, Many More On This List…  (to be continued)

PETITION: Please Click Here To Consider Signing
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Re: MPs call for ESA death statistics to be published (Calum's List)

Post by Kitkat on Fri 31 Jul 2015, 17:26

Please note this list is compiled by either family or friends of the bereaved, or disabled people on the edge. Our main message for these pages is:-




Nicholas Peter Barker

Benefits withdrawal led to man’s suicide


Robert Barlow


David Barr

Heartbroken dad blames benefits axemen for driving his ill son to commit suicide


Cecilia Burns


Chris Cann


Steven Cawthra


David Coupe


Trevor Drakard


Miss D. E.


Jacqueline Harris

Sick nurse killed herself after disability benefits were cut and she was ruled by the DWP/ATOS as ‘fit to work’


Vicky Harrison


Peter Hodgson


Stephen Hill


Edward Jacques


Brian McArdle


Craig Monk


Terry McGarvey


Sandra Louise Moon


Mark Mullins


Helen Mullins


Larry Newman


Carl Payne


Lee Robinson


Martin Rust


Tim Salter 


Mark Scott


Elenore Tatton

Mum-of-three was told to find a job after an ATOS Welfare Capability Assessment. Weeks later she died of a brain tumour that she had had since she was a teenager.


Colin Traynor


Paul Turner


John Walker 


Julia Kelly

39 year old Julia Kelly from Northampton, who was unable to work due to chronic back pain killed herself after the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) threatened to cut off her disability benefits, an inquest heard.


Mark Wood

Mark Wood, from Bampton, Oxfordshire, had his income support stopped in 2013 after he was found fit to work despite having serious mental health issues.

In March 2013, the Department of Work & Pensions admitted its decision was wrong, following new GP evidence. “He was hounded” – Mr Wood’s family has called for a meeting with the disabilities minister Mark Harper, to “further pursue the issues and press for change so other very vulnerable people do not have to suffer in the way Mark did.”


Ben McDonald

Ben McDonald, 34, recently had his benefits cut by the Department for Work and Pensions due to austerity cuts. As a result of this, he found himself facing eviction.

Ben, a father of three children, was subsequently found dead, hanging in fields in Nelson, Lancashire.


Chris Smith 

Chris Smith lay in a hospital bed, dying of cancer. He should have been helped by the system, the welfare state which was established to help people like Chris. Instead the Department For Work and Pensions (DWP) the bombarded him with texts telling him he had to apply for jobs, and letters urging him to come to ‘job workshops. Chris had cancer; lung cancer, skin cancer and a cancer that spread to his spine. He was diagnosed in April. Although Chris refused to believe it, he was dying.

As he was dying, Chris, 59, and his partner, Maggie, were embroiled in an unnecessary row with the Department of Work and Pensions.

Chris, a qualified plumber, had been ill. A poorly knee had kept him off work and then he began to feel sick. He was called in by the DWP for for health tests. Government assessors told him he wasn’t ill enough. They deemed him fit for work. His benefits were stopped. Chris didn’t think it was right, but he didn’t complain, either. He started to look for work.

Chris didn’t know it, but he already had cancer. He was diagnosed with terminal lung cancer a few weeks later.

By rights, this is where the story should end. A man with terminal lung cancer should not be ordered to find work. He shouldn’t have his benefits stopped. This is what the Welfare State was created for, the safety net which cares for the sick and the poorly.


Michael Connolly

Father-of-one Michael Connolly, of Station Road, Hendon, took a fatal overdose of prescription medication after becoming increasingly worried about his finances when his benefits were cut by the Department of Work & Pensions, an inquest heard on 14th May 2014.


Martin Hadfield

Demonisation of the disabled and most vulnerable in society is working Mr Duncan-Smith. Your Department of Work & Pensions are doing a deadly job of getting people away from benefits.

Martin Hadfield killed himself out of frustration because he could not find a job, and the fault lies with politicans and employers who make people like Martin feel worthless.

Martin Hadfield, aged just 20 years, killed himself 24 hours after another no-hope interview at his local Jobcentre.

Don’t blame the civil servants who couldn’t offer him work. They don’t have jobs to hand out like bags of sweets. Indeed, many of them are being made redundant.

I blame the cruel, heartless politicians like Iain Duncan-Smith who paint the out-of-work as lazy good-for-nothings. I blame the exploitative employers who cut jobs and drive down wages to boost their profits.


Janet McCall 

Terminally ill Janet McCall was declared fit for work by ATOS and the Department of Work and Pensions – five months before she died.

Janet, 53, was assessed by ATOS after she applied for Disability Living Allowance (DLA) and Employment Support Allowance (ESA).

At the time, she had pulmonary fibrosis and scarring of the lungs and she was struggling to breathe. A doctor from French firm Atos was sent to Janet’s home in Dennistoun, Glasgow, to assess her fitness to work in the summer of last year.

He deemed her fit to work and her benefits application was declined.

Janet McCall died in January just 5 months after the DWP and ATOS declared her fit-for-work and left her without a basic subsistence allowance..

Janet’s husband Lawrie said: “I knew the seriousness of her condition and so did the doctor yet he reckoned she was fit enough to work. It was disgusting. “He (the ATOS Assessor) was very insensitive. It was plain to see she was unwell because her breathing was laboured.”

“I was very angry. She was in poor health at the time and she deteriorated after that. Subsequently, we appealed against the DLA decison and it was reversed. But the ESA decision was never reversed.”


Peter Duut

Peter Duut was left with 12p a day to live on whilst battling with cancer. His wife Laurel contacted Calum’s List, but there wasn’t much we could do. Peter died soon after. This is where those on our list become more than another searing story of DWP institutionalised depravity.

It was the death of Peter Duut that made us realise it wasn’t just folk committing suicide that was an issue in the Conservative/LibDem/New Labour world of demonising the disabled.

People were actually fighting for their lives – and wanting to live – during which times the DWP headed by Iain Duncan-Smith were finding ever more cruel ways to make death stressful and traumatic. Sick.

After long talks with Peter’s widow, we decided to also include on this list, the many folk who had simply the misfortune to become ill or disabled and die a bad death care of the Department of Work and Persecutions. Not just those who had committed suicide due to alleged culpability by the Department of Work & Pensions.


Michael “Mick” Moore

This is the last name we are placing on this part of Calum’s List for now. The reason is that Mick – known as Nelson to those he helped via his online disability support website – was one of the three who started Calum’s List. Mick was severely disabled, having had multiple operations on his spine. He was in a lot of pain.

Even so, Mick always had time to help others. We know for a fact that he prevented TWO disabled people from committing suicide.

Mick also helped thousands of people with disabilities through his website help forum.

All in spite of the fact he had pain every hour of every day of his adult life.

However it wasn’t the chronic pain that killed Mick. It was the Department of Work and Pensions at Washington in Tyne & Wear that killed him. We know this first hand. Several witnesses are still alive to testify to this.

Penine House DWP Jobcentre Washington Highway, Washington, Tyne and Wear, NE37 1LY

Washington DWP Jobcentre. Doesn’t look like a disability death factory.

The overwhelming amount of stress the DWP put Mick under contributed to a massive heart attack.

Those left here know very well what Mick Moore did for his fellow human beings. The embodiment of decency.

Thank you Mick for being a founder of this:


55. Name Redacted At This Time.

Whilst HM Court rules of sub judice do not yet apply, we are not going to risk any prospective court case by disclosing the last 6 on the current Calum’s List. Another case which is not, at this time, being put forward is that of Stephanie Bottrill. We mention that so as to give an idea of the evidence mounting up for criminal and civil proceedings against the DWP, ATOS, and possibly the new private company assessors acting for the DWP – Calum’s List – Case number “3”.


56. Name Redacted At This Time.

Same reasons as sub judice compromise. Should another DWP Brown Envelope of Destitution & Death arrive and harm another person, then the name behind Case 56 will form part of the prosecution submission. 


57. Name Redacted At This Time.

Whilst HM Court rules of sub judice do not yet apply, we are not going to risk any prospective court case by disclosing the last 6 on the current Calum’s List. Another case which is not, at this time, being put forward is that of Stephanie Bottrill. We mention that so as to give an idea of the evidence mounting up for criminal and civil proceedings against the DWP, ATOS, and possibly the new private company assessors acting for the DWP – Calum’s List – Case number “3”.


58. Name Redacted At This Time.

Same reasons as sub judice compromise. Should another DWP Brown Envelope of Destitution & Death arrive and harm another person, then the name behind Case 58 will form part of the prosecution submission. 


59. Name Redacted At This Time.

Whilst HM Court rules of sub judice do not yet apply, we are not going to risk any prospective court case by disclosing the last 6 on the current Calum’s List. Another case which is not, at this time, being put forward is that of Stephanie Bottrill. We mention that so as to give an idea of the evidence mounting up for criminal and civil proceedings against the DWP, ATOS, and possibly the new private company assessors acting for the DWP – Calum’s List – Case number “3”.


60. Name Redacted At This Time.

Same reasons as sub judice compromise. Should another DWP Brown Envelope of Destitution & Death arrive and harm another person, then the name behind Case 60 will form part of the prosecution submission. 

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Post by Kitkat on Fri 31 Jul 2015, 17:40


Ministers visit to Pentonville prison

In The Line Of Legal Fire? – Chris Grayling MP:

On 23 January 2012 At the Dispatch Box in The House of Commons, this Conservative Welfare Minister was publicly warned of his & the DWP exposure to Corporate Manslaughter. Fellow Conservative Minister Iain Duncan-Smith was at his side to receive that precipitous warning. Mr Duncan-Smith receives prior written details of ALL questions that require a House of Commons Dispatch Box answer from him or those whom he delegates issues to, as part of parliamentary protocol. So we can prove he knew about this murderous mess. They both FAILED to act on that warning, along with three other ministers/MPs. FACT, people have died as a direct result. There is now ample evidence to prove this.

A Conservative Majority Government Becomes A Minority?

Just 4 MPs Going To Jail May Result In The Conservatives Losing Power

On 7th May 2015 the pro-austerity Conservatives were returned to government with a wafer thin majority. Whilst the anti-austerity SNP were given an unprecedented landslide majority.

After a robust discussion with families and subscribers to Calum’s List the received wisdom is now to encourage the anti-austerity MPs, MSPs, MLAs to work for a POLITICAL SOLUTION. We have trust and hope this will happen. Not least because an entire nation within the four that make up the United Kingdom have voted ANTI-AUSTERITY.

Be careful Mr Duncan-Smith. Blindly protesting your innocence and the outcome of a trial in Court can have very different results. Maybe get used to being close to the style of bars behind you.

Here is the message from the subscribers and families at Calum’s List – that if a POLITICAL SOLUTION is NOT brought about, then in order to stop further welfare reform deaths, there is little alternative to a LEGAL REMEDY. If you think this is not possible, just study the list of 13 JAIL SENTENCES the courts have PUNISHED CRIMINAL MPs & LORDS with…

*1. House of Parliament Ex-prisoner Lord Taylor…

*2. House of Parliament Ex-prisoner Lord Hanningfield…

*3. House of Parliament Ex-prisoner Lord Watson…

*4. House of Parliament Ex-prisoner Lord Archer jailed…

*5. House of Parliament Ex-prisoner Lord Nazir Ahmed…

*6. House of Parliament Ex-prisoner Cabinet Minister Jonathan Aitken MP…

*7. House of Parliament Ex-prisoner Minister John Stonehouse MP…

*8. House of Parliament Ex-prisoner David Chaytor MP…

*9. House of Parliament Ex-prisoner Minister Elliot Morley MP…

*10. House of Parliament Ex-prisoner Jim Devine MP…

*11. House of Parliament Ex-prisoner Eric Illsley MP…

*12. House of Parliament Ex-prisoner Devis McShane…

*13. House of Parliament Ex-prisoner Cabinet Minister Chris Huhne MP… 

This long list of dishonour and disgrace fairly emptied the Houses of Commons and Lords over the years.

The list above detailing disgraced, convicted politicians prove most were jailed for the relatively simple act of theft. What are the penalties for killing people?

The received wisdom at Calum’s List is NOT to commence LEGAL PROCEEDINGS against the DWP and 5 serving Conservative MPs that were warned about the lethal problems of their welfare reforms (in Parliament, on camera, on 23rd January 2012, in the formal Hansard minutes) and their liability to Corporate Manslaughter along with other criminal charges. At that time we recorded 11 people who had died where the DWP and government ministers had alleged culpability. After 23rd January 2012 EVERY death where the DWP have alleged culpability carries with it the fact that the DWP and relevantly 5 Conservative MPs had PRIOR KNOWLEDGE and warning that their conduct was lethal and their deadly reforms, if continued, would place vulnerable and disabled people in harms way. Now there are over 50 people who have died where Conservative welfare reforms are implicated.

The subscribers to this website and families directly affected do NOT want to follow a LEGAL remedy, but believe a POLITICAL solution to this welfare reform carnage is now mandated. Witness the 56 anti-austerity MPs from Scotland. Those who have kept Calum’s List ask the new anti-austerity politicians to help. PLEASE make welfare reform fair and SAFE. If you fail to remedy this deadly welfare reform, prepare to face the courts. Jointly and severally.

So far NONE of the pre-2015 Westminster Parliament convicts were jailed for manslaughter. In an effort to avois court proceedings and find a POLITICAL SOLUTION, we beg the new Members of Parliament, to repair the welfare reforms and make them safe and fit for purpose. Please STOP killing disabled people. If no political solution is found, then the next Department of Work & Pensions Brown Envelope of Destitution & Death that causes harm will result in a detailed and forensically assembled complaint of legal infraction concerning the deaths many disabled people being presented to the police.

We would of course rather have the kind of country most decent, right minded people like the sort who donated £330,000 to the disabled pensioner Alan Barnes truly want.

DWP – Click This Link To See What Decent People Think and Do


This part is for the Department of Work & Pensions; for New Labour who brought in ATOS and the discredited and deadly Work Capability Assessment; for the Conservatives who thrived on this workhouse policy; for the LibDems who sold their souls and principles for a ministerial limo and salary, think about this:-

People with disabilities are not what your preconceived demonisation of the disabled television programmes have falsely tried to brainwash people into thinking as scroungers, skivers and inhabitants of welfare demonisation propaganda: Benefits Street.

Unfortunately for you, people with disabilities have often been, or some still remain as:

Lawyers, CPS officials, procurators fiscal, judges, advocates/barristers, doctors, professors, nurses, documentary makers. Worse there are even former police officers and prison officers that are now in our ranks of people with disabilities.

So if it comes to the fight, and we have to take our focus off of getting past our disabilities and working, or even just staying alive, and STOPPING you politicians from killing more people that are ill or disabled, then so be it.

Justice At The Old Bailey

Some Politicians Do Not Pass Go. Instead Many Have Gone To Jail. Five Conservative MPs Still In Office After 7 May 2015 May Join Them *

Proof to the politicians and senior civil servants that the unthinkable can happen. When you take ALL from a disabled or dying person, don’t fall into the false sense of security that you are immune from prosecution. You are very likely to end up in the dock answering for your actions in relation to people who have died that are on Calum’s List and also the ones that have been temporarily redacted for sub judice reasons.


We disabled, here at Calum’s List, believe Tennyson said it best in Ulysses….

   “We are not now that strength which in old days
   Moved Earth and Heaven,
   That which we are, we are;
   One equal temper of heroic hearts,
   Made weak by time and fate,
   But strong in will
   To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.”

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Re: MPs call for ESA death statistics to be published (Calum's List)

Post by Kitkat on Thu 24 Sep 2015, 13:05

Latest news from the Work and Benefits newsletter:


For DLA claimants the fight to hold onto their benefit has already begun. In the first 10 postcodes where claimants with an ‘indefinite’ or ‘lifetime’ award of DLA are forced to claim PIP instead, the DWP began targeting claimants in July, rather than October as originally planned.

Then, at the end of last month the DWP announced that a further 29 postcodes would also begin the reassessment process early, starting on 1 September.

The complete transfer of claimants is expected to take over two years, with the DWP saying claimants can be contacted at any time up to 30 September 2017.

But this latest announcement suggests that the DWP is already in a rush to get up to the full rate of 1,800 assessments a day of lifetime DLA claimants.


It’s been a bad summer for the DWP.

They have faced huge criticism over the ESA death statistics, which they unsuccessfully tried to bury over the last bank holiday.

The figures released are unclear in many regards. But what is apparent is that thousands of claimants have died within weeks of being found fit for work, leading to calls in the national media for the resignation of IDS.

The DWP were also shamed by the revelation that they had invented bogus ESA claimants who praised their sanctions regime. Leaflets featuring the fake claimants have now had to be withdrawn. The issue created even more of a scandal in the media than the deaths of thousands of claimants.

Finally, there was the leaked news that the government’s long-term violation of the human rights of claimants - and in particular the multiple cuts to benefits – are being investigated by the United Nations.


What is particularly notable about these news items is that they were all brought about by tiny, private sector or unfunded groups or individuals.

The ESA death statistics campaign is the work of Vox Political blogger Mike Sivier.

The bogus sanction claimants were revealed by Welfare Weekly – a one-person online news aggregator.

And the UN investigation has come about due to the tireless work of activist group Disabled People Against Cuts.

Add to this the story of the 49 secret DWP investigations into claimant deaths, revealed earlier this year by John Pring’s Disability News Service, and a startling truth emerges.

The DWP is now largely being held to account not by opposition politicians, not by well-funded charities such as Disability Rights UK, but by activists with virtually no income.

One of the main weapons of these new campaigners is the Freedom of Information Act. But we know that the government is already taking steps to try to dramatically curtail the use of the Act.

How long before the government – or its multinational partners - also decide to take action against the campaigners themselves?

Support for ever more harsh benefits cuts depends on people accepting that claimants are bad and the DWP is good. These campaigners are inconveniently proving that the opposite is true.


The overall success rate for PIP claims is continuing to fall. Nationally it stands at 48% since PIP was introduced. But success rates have dropped over that time from 62% of new claims getting an award in March 2014, to just 42% getting an award in in July 2015.

The success rate at mandatory reconsideration stage for claimants moving from DLA to PIP has also plummeted. It has fallen from a high of 50% of mandatory reconsiderations being successful in late 2014 to just 22% by July 2015.

For fresh PIP claims, the mandatory reconsideration success rate has fallen from 17% to 14%.

One good bit of news for claimants, however, is that PIP appeals to a tribunal have a high chance of being upheld. The success rate for claimants taking a PIP decision to a tribunal has risen from 40% in 2013 to 56% in 2015. PIP appeals now outnumber ESA appeals.

So, the message is clear. If you are refused PIP you need to go all the way to a tribunal to get a fair decision.
which just goes to show how ridiculous the Atos and Capita so-called 'medical' assessments are in the first place!  angry

I am due myself to undergo the changeover to PIP (Personal Independence Payment) - and am fully expectant of having to hobble down the tribunal avenue again.  hairpull
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Re: MPs call for ESA death statistics to be published (Calum's List)

Post by Kitkat on Wed 09 Mar 2016, 19:32

Latest news from the excellent Work and Benefits site:  Newsletter for 9th March 2016

First item - David Clapson is one of those listed on Calum's List (details earlier in this thread)

Help get justice for sanctions victim
The sister of David Clapson, an ex-forces claimant who died after his benefits were sanctioned is asking for your help to get justice for him.

David died in 2013. An inquest found that he died with no food in his stomach and no money to pay for electricity to power his fridge and keep his insulin cool.

David’s JSA had been sanctioned for a month because he missed two meetings. He was a vulnerable man and unwell, but too private and proud to ask for help when his benefits were stopped.

His sister, Gill Thompson, has fought tirelessly to publicise his case and that of other claimants who have suffered and died because of benefits sanctions.

She has already managed to get over 200,000 signatures on a petition which led to an parliamentary select committee inquiry into sanctions.

Now she is trying to raise £10,000 to get legal help to hold an investigation/inquest into his death. After only a week she is just over £1,000 short of her target.

She is also supporting today’s day of action against benefits sanctions.

Appeal numbers drop, Atos costs rise

In other news, there has been an 80% drop in benefits appeals. But the DWP expect numbers to rise sharply as a result of the forced move from disability living allowance to personal independence payment.
And many claimants will be concerned by a new pilot scheme to put DWP funded job coaches in GPs surgeries and even give them the power to write entries in patients’ medical records.

On a cheerier note, lots of people will be delighted to learn that the a select committee is to launch an investigation into all the government accounts held by Atos, including the PIP assessment contract.

The investigation was prompted by the spiralling costs of a contract to develop an IT system to extract and sell data from GP practices. The committee said that Atos: “appears to have acted solely with its own short-term best interests in mind”


ESA cuts passed by House of Lords today
The House of Lords this afternoon gave its assent to a cut of £30 per week for new claimants in the work-related activity group (WRAG) of employment and support allowance (ESA) yesterday.
Help get justice for a claimant killed by sanctions
The sister of an ex-forces claimant who died after his benefits were sanctioned is asking for your help to get justice for him.
Maximus accused of unreasonable ESA targets by former assessor
A doctor who trained in psychiatry and then worked for Maximus as an employment and support allowance (ESA) assessor has claimed that the company set unrealistic targets for the speed at which assessments had to be carried out.
Government to review all Atos contracts
The Cabinet is to review Atos’ performance in every one of its government contracts worth more than £10 million, the Guardian has reported. This will include the personal independence payment (PIP) assessment contracts won by Atos.
ESA cuts to go ahead as Lords back down
The BBC is reporting that the House of Lords is to back down from its opposition to government plans to cut £30 per week from the benefit of new claimants in the work-related activity group (WRAG) of employment and support allowance (ESA).
Claimants to march on GP surgery that is giving space to the DWP
Angry claimants are to march on one of six GP surgeries in Islington that is to embed DWP funded Remploy job coaches in its practice, the Guardian is reporting.
ESA permitted work time limit to be abolished
Lord Freud has announced that employment and support allowance (ESA) claimants in the work-related activity group (WRAG) will be able to do higher limit permitted work for an unlimited period, instead of stopping after 52 weeks.
Lords block ESA cuts again
The government was once again heavily defeated in the House of Lords over plans to cut £30 per week from the benefit of new claimants in the work-related activity group (WRAG) of employment and support allowance (ESA) yesterday.
80% fall in social security appeals
The latest annual report from the Senior President of Tribunals, released last week, reveals that there has been a dramatic 80% fall in the number of social security and child support (SSCS) appeal tribunals.
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Extract from the latest Work and Benefits Newsletter

Post by Kitkat on Wed 20 Apr 2016, 20:50

From the Work and Benefits Newsletter
20 April 2016

We now know that a PIP assessor can complete your entire assessment – and score you nothing - days before you even turn up for your medical. Or he can ignore your evidence completely and base his entire report on secret observations he claims to have made.

And allegedly rake in £20,000 a month for doing so.

We also know now that there is absolutely no question of universal credit being scrapped by Stephen Crabb, as many had hoped. He has, however, discovered lots of ‘interesting ideas’ for getting sick and disabled people into work.

And we’ve also come a good deal closer to discovering if the DWP have been ignoring the findings of their own secret death reviews - and costing more claimants their lives as a result.


Channel 4’s Dispatches sent an undercover reporter to train as a Capita PIP assessor. The resulting documentary makes grim viewing.

There was the Capita trainer who described the mental state examination as “a very, very shallow assessment”.

And Capita’s Chief Medical Officer, who explained that “we obviously need to get you to be doing as many assessments in a day as you can possibly manage”.

But star of the show by far was Alan, a Capita assessor who mocked a claimant as having a “Disability known as being fat”.

He went on to describe how he had completed an assessment on a claimant with only one leg days before the claimant actually had his medical, finding that “he does everything really don’t he?”.

He also revealed that he relied on “informal observations” rather than anything the claimant told him in order to assess them.

Informal observations are ones that are carried out in secret – the claimant is not told about them and they are not given a chance to challenge the assessor’s assumptions at the time. They include things like:

  • Your appearance- whether you are tidy and clean.
  • Your skin tone.
  • Your manner.
  • Your hearing ability.
  • Your walking ability.
  • Your mood.
  • Your ability to concentrate.
  • Your ability to stand, sit, move around and use your hands.
  • Your ability to bend down to retrieve objects such as a handbag on the floor beside you, or reaching out for an object such as your medication.
  • How you stand up.
  • How you move to the examination couch and/or get on and off the couch.
  • How you use your walking aids.
  • How you remove your coat or hat.
  • What you are carrying and if it appears light or heavy.
  • Whether you show and understand the letters you have with you.
  • If you smile and appear relaxed.
  • If your breathing is laboured.

Informal observations are extremely simplistic and often deeply misleading. For example, you may be clean and tidy because someone else helped you wash and dress. You may be able to walk, but suffer extreme fatigue for days afterwards as a result.

But because informal observations do not have to be put to the claimant, they are a very easy way to deny you points.

And for carrying out these utterly fraudulent assessments, Alan claimed he could earn £20,000 a month.

Alan was dismissed by Capita who claimed that they were “appalled by and sincerely apologise for this individual’s disrespectful comments and actions”.

But many claimants will be left wondering, how many more ‘Alans’ are carrying out PIP assessments but haven’t been caught on camera?


The new secretary of state for work and pensions, Stephen Crabb, has made it crystal clear in his first major speech that he is a big fan of universal credit and that it will not be scrapped. With the treasury now dependent on UC to deliver big cuts in benefits spending, that shouldn’t come as any surprise.

However, benefits specialist Joe Halewood has come up with a very interesting theory that the benefits bill will actually rise hugely due to the introduction of UC. He suggests that because UC rolls so many benefits into one, there will be a great deal less underclaimed benefit in the future. The result could be as much as £24 billion a year added to the benefits bill.

Meanwhile, Crabb’s enthusiasm for “supporting good health” by getting sick and disabled claimants into work will alarm some victims of previous return-to-work schemes. Especially as Crabb explains that “there are lots of interesting ideas emerging”.

Interesting ideas are seldom good news for claimants.


Campaigning journalist John Pring has persuaded an information tribunal to order the DWP to reveal important aspects of their 49 secret reviews into claimants deaths.

Information that will be released will allow campaigners to look at whether the DWP followed the recommendations made in the reports in order to reduce future deaths. If the DWP ignored the findings and further deaths occurred, there is a possibility of legal action against the department.

The DWP can still, if they choose, appeal the decision further in order to try to prevent the truth emerging.

But surely, under a new secretary of state who has already allowed the release of previously unpublished UC documents, that wouldn’t happen, would it?
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Re: MPs call for ESA death statistics to be published (Calum's List)

Post by Whiskers on Thu 21 Apr 2016, 13:04

These so called assessors are now even more hated than the traffic wardens! And rightly so.  Is there no end to the dirty tricks this government will resort to. scratch
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Re: MPs call for ESA death statistics to be published (Calum's List)

Post by Kitkat on Thu 21 Apr 2016, 22:24

This latest report is just the tip of the iceberg.
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Re: MPs call for ESA death statistics to be published (Calum's List)

Post by Kitkat on Thu 05 May 2016, 14:33

Thanks to forum member bimbow for drawing attention to this related article published today:

Police Scotland assessing possible investigation into IDS and Grayling


By John Pring Disability News Service
Thursday 5th May 2016

Scottish police are assessing whether to launch a criminal investigation into the failure of two government ministers to address a coroner’s concerns about the safety of the “fitness for work” test, a failure which may have caused “countless deaths”. 

Disabled activist John McArdle, co-founder of the user-led campaign network Black Triangle, lodged a complaint with police in Edinburgh last month about the actions of former work and pensions secretary Iain Duncan Smith and former employment minister Chris Grayling.

McArdle believes the two Conservative politicians are guilty of the Scottish criminal offence of wilful neglect of duty by a public official, because they failed to take steps to improve the work capability assessment (WCA) in 2010 after being warned by a coroner that its flaws risked causing future deaths.

A Police Scotland spokeswoman said: “Police in Edinburgh received a report of misconduct in public office on 23 March 2016.

“The individual who made the complaint has been spoken to and we are awaiting further information to assess this matter and establish what actions are required.”

McArdle’s MP, the SNP’s Tommy Sheppard, has written to the chief constable of Police Scotland, Phil Gormley, asking to be “kept informed of progress”.

Both Duncan Smith and Grayling have refused to comment.

The claims concern their refusal to act on concerns raised by a coroner following the suicide of Stephen Carré in January 2010.

When they were appointed in May 2010, Duncan Smith and Grayling assumed responsibility for responding to a letter written by coroner Tom Osborne, who carried out the inquest into Carré’s death, and had serious concerns about the safety of the WCA.

Osborne had asked the Labour work and pensions secretary Yvette Cooper – who never saw the letter, as the general election was called just days after it arrived – to review the policy not to seek medical evidence from a GP or psychiatrist if someone applying for out-of-work disability benefits had a mental health condition.

But Duncan Smith and Grayling appear to have dismissed the letter, and failed to show it to Professor Malcolm Harrington, the independent expert they appointed to review the WCA, while also deciding to roll out the test to hundreds of thousands of long-term claimants of incapacity benefit, many of whom had mental health conditions.

Many campaigners, including Black Triangle, believe that the decision of Duncan Smith and Grayling to ignore Osborne’s letter led to countless other deaths.

McArdle has handed Police Scotland details of three people who died in the years after Osborne sent his letter to the Department for Work and Pensions, deaths he believes could have been prevented if the two ministers had acted on the coroner’s warning.

In December 2011, a long-term incapacity benefit claimant – Ms D E – killed herself after being told she was not eligible for ESA; her case was linked by the Mental Welfare Commission for Scotland to the failure to obtain further medical evidence.

Another alleged victim of the failure to act on Osborne’s warning was David Barr, who died in August 2012 after being found fit for work and having his ESA withdrawn.
An Atos assessor had concluded that although Barr had attempted to take his own life six weeks before his WCA, he was still “not at substantial risk”.

The third case concerns the death of Paul Donnachie, who took his own life late last year after his ESA was mistakenly stopped when he failed to attend a WCA.

The call for a criminal investigation into the actions of Duncan Smith and Grayling has been backed by many of the country’s leading disabled activists and disabled people’s organisations, including Inclusion London, Disabled People Against Cuts, Equal Lives, WOWcampaign, Professor Peter Beresford, the Mental Health Resistance Network, Pat’s Petition, and the Cross Border Alliance.

Meanwhile, a disabled constituent of Labour’s shadow minister for disabled people, Debbie Abrahams, has heavily criticised her for failing to speak out about Duncan Smith’s failure to act on the coroner’s letter.
Shaun McGrath, from Oldham, wrote to Abrahams after Disability News Service (DNS) reported how she had refused to criticise – or even comment on – the failure of Duncan Smith to respond to the letter, despite being shown clear evidence that he had failed to do so.

DNS first asked Abrahams to comment on Duncan Smith’s failings last November, but apart from expressing sympathy with “Stephen Carré’s family and friends” and calling for improvements to the WCA, she refused to say anything about Duncan Smith’s role in the scandal.

Abrahams told McGrath that she had responded to DNS but that her comments were not used, but omitted to mention that she had refused to answer the question that had been put to her about Iain Duncan Smith.
When McGrath complained about her response, she told him she had “nothing further to add”, other than calling again for the WCA and other assessment to be “completely overhauled”.

McGrath said: “There was no sense of my complaint being taken seriously or that Debbie Abrahams understood and appreciated or even cared about what I was asking her to respond to.
“Her refusal to answer any of the questions I put to her has destroyed what faith I had in Debbie Abrahams as my constituency MP.

“I honestly don’t think I could ever contact her again, such is the negative impression she’s left me with.”
Abrahams has now told DNS that she will be asking DWP to investigate how the coroner’s letter “could have slipped through the department’s net”.
But she refused yet again this week to comment on Duncan Smith’s failure to act or the calls for him to face a criminal investigation.

Abrahams said: “I have concerns about the Stephen Carré case, which is why I raised the issue face to face with Priti Patel in a Westminster Hall debate, on 9 February, asking her to look into the case.
“This resulted in a response from her confirming that a draft letter to the coroner, Tom Osborne, due to be sent in September 2010, had been found but the DWP could not confirm that it had ever been sent.
“In the light of this I will be asking for an investigation into how the correspondence could have slipped through the department’s net.

“As I have done for many years now, both as a member of the work and pensions select committee and as shadow minister for disabled people, I will continue to hold the government to account for the shortcomings of the work capability assessment and PIP processes and keep campaigning for ministers to implement a new, fairer system.”

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Re: MPs call for ESA death statistics to be published (Calum's List)

Post by Kitkat on Mon 16 May 2016, 17:35

Here are just a few reasons behind the recent, sudden, conveniently timely resignation of Iain Duncan Smith:

Monday, 21 March 2016

Iain Duncan Smith Legacy

The following is a list of policies and damning court decisions and findings undertaken under the watch of Iain Duncan Smith (emphasis on those affecting disabled people):


  • April 2011: LHA (Local Housing Allowance) is reduced to 30th percentile of local housing market instead of 50th with immediate effect.  Affects 775,000 households.
  • April 2011: Uprating of benefits is changed from RPI to CPI (a cut expected to save £6 billion).
  • January 2012: LHA single room rate is extended to under 35s instead of under 25s. Disproportionately affects disabled people who cannot flat share due to disability but do not meet the stringent criteria for exemption (mid rate care DLA).
  • April 2012: Contribution based ESA WRAG is time limited to 1 year (out of work benefit for those too sick/disabled to work), affecting 700,000 disabled people.
  • April 2012: The "Youth Provision" is abolished. This allowed young disabled people to access contributory benefits. It results in loss of income for 80% of those benefitting from it and total loss of income for 12.5% of those.
  • May 2012: LHA regulations are found to discriminate against disabled people for failing to allow an extra bedroom for overnight carers or children who cannot share due to disability.
  • December 2012: New Sanctions rules are introduced, allowing sanctions to start sooner and for longer.
  • 2012-2013: Remploy factories are closed down. Iain Duncan Smith famously says workers sit around making cups of coffee. 3 years on less than half have found employment.
  • January 2013: ESA regulations are amended, making it harder to qualify. Assessors may make a decision based on therapy or aids a claimant *could* have whether or not they do or whether it is in fact available, possible or (in the case of treatment) they have given consent. Physical impairments may no longer award points in the mental health and cognitive section and vice versa. Eg a physical injury causing cognitive impairment would have all such symptoms ignored.
  • April 2013: Legal aid is abolished for welfare cases.
  • April 2013: DLA is begun to be replaced with PIP to make 20% savings (benefit to cover extra costs of disability). 500,000 disabled people are expected to lose their benefit. By 2016 14,000 disabled people have had their motability car repossessed. This is just the start as most people have not yet been assessed due to errors and delays.
  • April 2013: The Social size criteria more commonly known as the Bedroom tax is introduced. This removes housing benefit for "spare" rooms for social housing tenants. 660,000 households are affected, two thirds of which include a disabled member.
  • April 2013: All benefits are capped to a 1% uprating until 2015, bar Carer's allowance, DLA/PIP and disability premiums. Ministers lie by claiming disabled benefits are unaffected, even though ESA is included (even the support group to some extent).
  • April 2013: Council tax benefit is abolished and replaced by council tax reduction scheme, administered locally. This leads to a postcode lottery with many disabled people, including those in the ESA support group, liable for up to 25% of their council tax.
  • May 2013: UK Statistics Authority finds ministers from the DWP repeatedly used false disability statistics to justify benefits cuts.
  • May 2013: In a legal court case the WCA is found to discriminate against claimants with mental health illnesses. As yet the recommendations to remedy this have not been implemented.
  • October 2013: Non time limited unpaid mandatory reconsiderations are introduced as an extra step before being allowed to appeal benefit decisions.
  • March 2014: The Work and Pensions Committee warns the DWP "to exercise care in the language used in accompanying press releases and ministerial comments in the media, to ensure it avoids the risk of feeding into negative public views about benefit recipients."
  • June 2014: The implementation of PIP is called a "fiasco" by the Public Accounts Committee after a "failure to implement a pilot scheme resulted in significant delays, a backlog of claims and unnecessary distress for claimants who have been unable to access the support they need to live, and in some cases work, independently."
  • July 2014: A court case against the restriction of high rate mobility from 50m to 20m in PIP fails. However the DWP admits (para 80) "we were aware that the vast majority of recipients of DLA were individuals with genuine health conditions and disabilities and genuine need, and that removing or reducing that benefit may affect their daily lives".
  • August 2014: Figures reveal a 580% increase in ESA sanctions.
  • November 2014: The Government Work Programme is branded a failure by the Public Accounts Committee. 90% of ESA claimants have not been found jobs and providers are spending less than half than promised on these hard to place groups.
  • March 2015: A new study (Cheshire Hunger) shows that problems with benefits account for nearly half (47%) of all referrals to food banks, with sanctions accounting for 11% and ESA claimants 4%. A significant number remained dependent far longer than the initial crisis.
  • April 2015: A second study published in the BMJ finds that the unprecedented rise in foodbanks (soaring from 29 Trussell Trust banks in 2009-2010 to 251 in 2013-2014) is linked to higher unemployment, sanctions and cuts in welfare spending.
  • June 2015: The delays to PIP are ruled unlawful in the High Court.
  • June 2015: The ILF is abolished. 17,000 people lose funding to pay for their personal care. Some funding is given to councils for the first 2 years and then agreed for a further 4 years, but it is not ringfenced. Most disabled people affected see huge cuts to their hours and loss of independence.
  • August 2015: Following FOI requests, figures are released showing thousands of people died after being found "fit for work." However the statistics released are confusing, omit key data and make it hard to draw accurate conclusions.
  • August 2015: The DWP admits to using fake claimants in leaflets praising the use of sanctions.
  • September 2015: Coroner rules that the death of disabled man Michael O'Sullivan in 2013 was a direct result of  his failed WCA.
  • September 2015: The UN confirms it is investigating the UK for "grave and systematic violations of the human rights of disabled individuals", the first time such an investigation has taken place in a first world country.
  • October 2015: A Cap to Access to Work, is introduced, limiting or eliminating entirely work options for those with higher support requirements.
  • November 2015: Independent research is published suggesting 590 suicides and 279,000 cases of reported mental health illness can be directly linked to controversial WCA.
  • December 2015: Latest figures show that PIP appeals now account for 38% of all appeals and carry a 60% success rate. ESA and DLA success rates are 58% and 55% respectively. In contrast, appeal success rates for tax credits or income support run at between 25 to 40%.
  • January 2016: The Bedroom tax is found unlawful and discriminatory at the court of appeal in the case of disabled children requiring overnight care and people requiring panic rooms.
  • February 2016: Figures show half of those reassessed for PIP are losing their motability vehicle. There are 650,000 disabled people on the scheme and only 31,200 have been reassessed so far. Of these 14,000 have lost their car or wheelchair.
  • January 2016: Conservative Disability Group launches inquiry into abolition of ILF following widespread concern about its impact.
  • March 2016: Evidence has emerged that a "prevention of deaths" letter was received by the DWP from a coroner in 2010, following the suicide of a disabled man who failed his WCA. [url=http://graying and iain duncan smith failed to act or respond/]Graying and Iain Duncan Smith failed to act or respond[/url] despite a legal obligation to do so, and the  WCA was rolled out with no change to millions of Incapacity Benefit claimants. The letter was also not shown to Professor Harrington, later in charge of reviewing the WCA to make it better and safer.

About to be introduced:

  • 2016-2018: £22 million is to be spent on the DWP to recruit presenting officers to support the department in PIP and ESA tribunals. (Recall that in contrast, claimants do not have recourse to legal aid, axed in April 2013).
  • April 2016: All benefits will be frozen for the next 4 years bar DLA/PIP and disability premiums. Ministers lie again about disability benefits being unaffected as once more ESA is included, including the Support Group to some extent.
  • April 2016: Disability benefits, premiums and carers allowance are frozen for 1 year due to a negative CPI in September 2015.
  • April 2016, Universal credit: Recent cuts to tax credits which were dropped due to fierce opposition will be included as part and parcel of this benefit
  • Universal credit (law passed in 2012): There will be no equivalent to the disabled working tax credit. Help will only be available to those who have "limited capability for work or work related activity". This will affect up to 116,000 working disabled people at around £40 per week (however the timetable for this is unclear, as the UC system can currently only cope with simple cases).
  • September 2016: DSA (Disabled Student Allowance) will be cut. Government is withdrawing funding entirely for some types of support and hoping universities will pick up the cost. This will affect 70,000 disabled students.
  • 2017: ESA WRAG rate is to be cut by a third by £30 per week to align it with JSA. This will affect new claimants and those with a 12 week break in their claim.
  • April 2018: Social housing rents are to be capped at LHA rates. This will see large numbers of evictions of single people under the age of 35 suddenly only eligible for shared rate (see above). It will also devastate the supported housing sector whose rents are naturally higher, affecting disabled people, elderly people, women's refuges and more.
  • By 2020: Social care is facing a £3 billion funding gap

  • Universal Credit (law passed in 2012): Disabled people face the abolition of the Severe Disability Premium (SDP) at a cost of £62 per week. This will affect new claimants and those with a "change of circumstances". 230,000 disabled people currently receive this premium and will see their benefit frozen and/or eventually cut.
  • Universal Credit (law passed in 2012): The disabled child premium is to be halved, affecting an estimated 100,000 disabled children.

 March 2016: The budget sees further extensive proposed cuts to PIP: Iain Duncan Smith finds his conscience and resigns...??! 
Source:  Rolling with the Punches blog:

And a related article published in The Guardian:

- Thanks, bimbow.   :thanks:
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Re: MPs call for ESA death statistics to be published (Calum's List)

Post by Kitkat on Wed 23 Nov 2016, 13:11

Extract from the Work and Benefits most recent Newsletter:

The longer PIP is around, the less sense it makes.

This is especially true if you have a very serious physical health condition that can only get worse.

Because if you have, under PIP, not only are you up to two thirds less likely to get an enhanced mobility award than you were under DLA. . . but, you might even miraculously get better.

The BBC’s Victoria Derbyshire show has obtained some startling figures using the Freedom of Information Act.

These show that for multiple sclerosis (MS), 93% of DLA claimants got the higher rate of the mobility component, but under PIP this has dropped hugely to 50%.

For Parkinson’s, 82% of DLA claimants got the higher rate of the mobility component, but under PIP this has more than halved to 40%.

For rheumatoid arthritis, 83% of DLA claimants got the higher rate of the mobility component, but under PIP this has plummeted by more than two thirds to 24%.

Not only that, but some claimants, such as Wendy who has early onset Alzheimer’s, get an award of PIP and then eighteen months later are found to have improved to the extent that they no longer qualify for anything.

It was clear from the outset that PIP’s main purpose was to cut costs. It is now equally clear that the DWP don’t care who has to pay the price for those cuts.

“We are sorry but all our customer service agents are busy at the moment. Please hold.”

These are the words that callers to DWP helplines dread. And for some of those on the lowest incomes, with access only to a pay as you go mobile, they come at a serious cost.

Mobile providers charge up to 45p a minute to call an 0345 number – like the PIP enquiry line.

And the average wait before you speak to someone about your PIP claim, according to a government minister last week, is six minutes and 25 seconds.

So that’s getting on for three quid before you’ve said a word. And many people spend a great deal longer than six and a half minutes on hold.

The Social Security Advisory Committee have urged the DWP to provide free 0800 numbers for lines used by vulnerable and low-income claimants. But the DWP, in a response published last week, have refused on the grounds that it would cost them £7 million to do so.

But there’s another reason that they also let slip in their reply to SSAC. In relation to universal credit, their policy is to “redirect people to digital channels through cost incentives”.

In other words, they want claimants to manage their claim online and they will punish those who are unable to do so by making them pay a small fortune for phone calls.

In other news, ESA sanctions are on the rise again. They have almost doubled in the course of this year, up from 900 in January to 1,749 in June.

Staying with ESA, 127 MPs - including 5 Tories - voted unanimously in favour of a motion calling on the government not to introduce cuts to ESA scheduled to be introduced in April 2017. But the vote has no legal force and it looks unlikely, at the time of writing, that the Autumn budget statement will offer a reprieve.

The percentage of claimants with degenerative physical conditions who get awards of enhanced rate personal independence payment (PIP) mobility has fallen by up to two thirds when compared with disability living allowance (DLA), the BBC has revealed.
The BBC’s Victoria Derbyshire show has obtained the startling figures using the Freedom of Information act.
These show that there have been dramatic falls in the percentage of claimants with degenerative physical health conditions who get the enhanced rate of PIP mobility, compared to the percentage who were awarded DLA higher rate mobility for the same condition.
According to the BBC, the figures for dementia show that more claimants are getting enhanced PIP mobility. This may reflect the fact that PIP mobility takes more account of mental health issues than DLA does.
But for primarily physical conditions, it’s a very different picture.
For MS, 93% of DLA claimants got the higher rate of the mobility component, under PIP this has dropped hugely to 50%.
For Parkinson’s, 82% of DLA claimants got the higher rate of the mobility component, under PIP this has more than halved to 40%.
For rheumatoid arthritis, 83% of DLA claimants got the higher rate of the mobility component, under PIP this plummeted by more than two thirds to 24%.
Claimants with degenerative conditions are having their awards reduced from higher rate mobility to no mobility component at all, when they are moved onto PIP.
The programme interviews Diane, a claimant with Parkinson’s who lost her mobility award - and her Motability car - when she was moved from DLA to PIP. It took six months and an appeal tribunal to get her award reinstated.
Some claimants with degenerative conditions are also discovering that when an existing PIP award is reassessed it can be reduced, even though there is no possibility that their condition has improved.
Wendy, a claimant with Alzheimer’s interviewed by the programme, had been getting the standard rates of PIP mobility and care. When the award was reassessed after 18 months, however, it was taken away altogether. A mandatory reconsideration reached the same decision and Wendy doesn’t feel that she can cope with a full appeal.
For Wendy, it’s a disaster that will severely limit how she lives. For the DWP, it’s another good result.
You can read the full story on the BBC website.
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Re: MPs call for ESA death statistics to be published (Calum's List)

Post by Kitkat on Wed 26 Apr 2017, 17:37

And so the evil DWP/Atow/Capita conspiratorial campaign continues. angry   I wonder if there will be any change in sight resulting from the forthcoming General Election .........

This report in The Guardian today:

Sharp rise in rejected claims for disability benefit
Labour raises alarm over number of people being turned down for personal independence payments

People protest against disability benefit cuts at a rally outside the Houses of Parliament in March. Photograph: Kirsty Wigglesworth/AP

About 200,000 people face seeing their claims for a disability benefit to help with daily living and mobility refused this year, new figures obtained by Labour suggest.
Senior MPs have called on the government to explain an apparent spike in people being turned down for personal independence payment (PIP), which is a top-up benefit with two components related to the extra costs of daily living and limited mobility for disabled people.
Figures obtained by Angela Eagle, the former work and pensions minister, showed that 83,000 people assessed for their eligibility had been given zero scores for both components in the six months between April and October. That compares with 93,000 given a zero score for both components in the previous 12 months.

Overall, 134,000 people were awarded zero scores for one or both components in the six-month period to October, suggesting the total figure for 2016-17 will pass 200,000.

An analysis by Press Association suggested the rate of zero scores would increase to 14% this year from 13% last year and 8% the year before.

“It’s a trend we’ve noticed about people, from usually passing the PIP criteria or disability living allowance [DLA, its predecessor benefit] criteria to getting fewer points even though they’ve got chronic conditions that are worsening,” Eagle said.

“In the last few weeks, there’s definitely been a spike of people getting zero. The only way that this makes sense is if a whole load of people got DLA without deserving it, but that’s never been my experience of DLA.”

Debbie Abrahams, the shadow work and pensions secretary, said: “The increasing numbers of zero points assessments raise real concerns about the accuracy of the assessment process, as do the thousands upon thousands of wrong decisions that are overturned at mandatory reconsideration and in the courts.”

It comes at at time when ministers are under pressure over the number of PIP decisions that are overturned on appeal, with about 65% of rulings reversed at an independent tribunal.

This compares with 18% of those being overturned at mandatory reconsideration, a system run by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) that claimants must go through before appealing to a tribunal. More than 160,000 people initially denied PIP have had the decision overturned since the benefit launched in 2013, according to Department for Work and Pensions figures.

The DWP said it was “completely unfounded” to suggest there was any crackdown that was leading more people to be awarded zero scores at their assessments. It said there were more people being given higher awards of the PIP than under the old system.

“In fact, 27% of claimants are now receiving the highest rate of support under PIP, compared with just 15% under the outdated DLA,” a spokeswoman said.

“Assessments are carried out by qualified health professionals and decisions are made based on information provided by the claimant and their GP.”

The assessments for PIP are carried out by the private companies Capita and Atos.

A Capita spokeswoman said: “Our assessors are healthcare professionals and are equipped with the knowledge, skills and training to understand how both physical and mental health challenges impact a claimant’s daily function. All assessments are carried out in line with the latest DWP guidelines, and the decision to award a benefit is made by DWP.”
A spokesman for Atos said: “All decisions on awarding benefits are made by the DWP.”
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Re: MPs call for ESA death statistics to be published (Calum's List)

Post by Kitkat on Wed 10 May 2017, 15:44

From the latest Newsletter of the Work and Benefits site:

Dear Reader,

It isn’t easy to go on fighting.

Sometimes the odds seem so stacked against you that admitting defeat seems the only rational thing to do.
So we want to salute all those people who somehow manage not to give up.

Not even when a despicably poor PIP assessment by Atos or Capita is rubber stamped by an equally dreadful DWP decision maker, leaving them with zero points.

Because figures released by Penny Mordaunt last week show that no fewer than one in four claimants who win their PIP appeal do so after being awarded no points at all at their original assessment.

Not one single point.

And that’s in addition to the 15% of PIP mandatory reconsiderations where the claimant won an award after getting zero points originally.

Figures like this should be an immediate call to action. They should prompt a complete overhaul - if not the utter abandonment - of the PIP assessment system.

Because our readers know what enormous stress and misery a zero points decision involves. And how exhausting it is for people to have to fight against such odds, frequently at a great cost to their already poor health.

But, of course, these statistics will have no effect whatsoever on the way that PIP is administered.

Instead, the figures that are likely to have an effect are the ones also released last week, which show that PIP is failing to make anything like the 20% savings that the DWP predicted it would.

The government was aiming to spend £13.6bn on disability benefits in 2018-19. The forecast is that it will actually spend £18bn.

It is these figures, we suspect, which will prompt major changes in the way PIP is administered.

But clearly not in a way that is favourable to claimants.


Back in January 2015 we wrote an article entitled ‘Could claimants choose the next government?’.

In it, we published tables which showed that working age claimants held the balance of power in enough marginal seats to potentially decide who governed Britain.

But an air of deep disaffection and distrust hung over the last election. Many people told us that it would make no difference who they voted for, because one party was a bad as any other as far as claimants were concerned.

In fact, UKIP was the only party that seemed to be viewed by its followers with any real enthusiasm. Support for Labour tended to be grudging at best.

This time, the response to our very brief article ‘General election: is there anyone for claimants to vote for?’ has been very different.

UKIP is virtually unmentioned. On the other hand, there is actually some positive regard for Labour under Jeremy Corbyn, along with some utter despair.

But most of all, there is a very clear horror about the effect that five more years of majority Conservative government might have on the lives of sick and disabled claimants.

Few people seem to think it makes no difference who wins in 2017.

Sadly, the truth is that, unlike 2015 when the race seemed very close, the chance of the Labour party winning this election is probably tiny.

Yet, like the PIP claimants who go from zero to enhanced rates for both components, there are people who are prepared to fight for that chance, however small it might be.

Good luck,

Steve Donnison
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Re: MPs call for ESA death statistics to be published (Calum's List)

Post by Kitkat on Wed 24 May 2017, 10:53

From the May 2017 Work and Benefits Newsletter:

DWP staff expected to turn down 80% of mandatory reconsiderations

In today’s newsletter we reveal the DWP’s unlawful targets for turning down mandatory reconsiderations, look at what the election manifestos offer to claimants and ask for your help in challenging the recent change to the law relating to personal independence payment (PIP).


The DWP have as good as admitted that mandatory reconsiderations are a sham

In response to a recent Freedom of Information query, the DWP revealed that they have a target of upholding the original decision in 80% of all mandatory reconsideration requests.

Worse still, they managed to exceed that target in the year to March 2017 by turning down 87.5% of all applications.

The DWP have since claimed that PIP is not included in the 80% target.

However, it remains the case that over 80% of PIP mandatory reconsideration requests also fail to get the decision changed – however coincidental the DWP might claim that figure is.

Having a target for the percentage of requests that should fail almost certainly renders the mandatory reconsideration process unlawful.

In legal terms, the DWP is fettering the discretion of decision makers, who should be free to decide every case on its merits, rather than worrying about being disciplined if they fail to hit their targets

Just how rigged mandatory reconsideration decisions are is made absolutely clear by one other statistic.

63% of claimants who have their mandatory reconsideration request turned down and who then go on to appeal to an independent tribunal, win their case.

DWP staff who fail to meet targets are likely find themselves undergoing performance management, the first step towards disciplinary proceedings and, ultimately, dismissal if they continue to overturn too many decisions.
It is the clearest evidence yet that mandatory reconsiderations have no purpose other than to try to discourage claimants from challenging an unfair decision.

You can read the full Freedom of Information response here.

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Re: MPs call for ESA death statistics to be published (Calum's List)

Post by Kitkat on Wed 21 Jun 2017, 10:02

June 2017 Newsletter:

21 June 2017 Update: Huge Fall In DLA To PIP Moves Plus Atos Reborn As IAS Plus IDS To Replace Jeremy Vine  scared

It’s hard to believe how much has changed since our last newsletter, which went out the day before the election.
There have been terrible events, mostly outside the scope of this newsletter.
Although the depths of the DWP’s inhumanity were graphically revealed when JSA claimants who lost their homes in the Grenfell Tower fire were warned that they might be sanctioned if they failed to sign on as normal. Only after the media got hold of the story did the DWP promise payments would be made without the need to meet usual job seeking requirements.
But many readers will have been cheered by the Conservatives losing their majority.
At the time of writing, we don’t even know for sure whether they will be able to come to an arrangement with the DUP in order to cling to power.
What is certain, however, is that the Tories don’t need a big majority to cause more misery. Their freeze on benefits has already begun and, with inflation on the rise, it will create increasing hardship.
In addition, more unfair changes to PIP and ESA regulations can be made by ministers without any need to put them to a vote.
So, unwelcome though yet another election might be, it is the only way that change for the better can happen.
The number of people being summoned to go through their DLA to PIP reassessments has plummeted in recent months.

The combined number of PIP new claims and reassessments has plunged from 104,333 in January of this year to 49,409 in April. Most of the fall is due to a huge reduction in DLA to PIP reassessments.
The DWP have offered no explanation for the fall, saying only that “reassessment registrations have decreased due to DWP managing capacity within the system.”
Anecdotal evidence from our members suggests that waiting times for assessments have risen in recent months. So the reason may simply be that a large backlog has once again built up and the DWP are doing their best to cover up the truth.
We’d be very interested to hear from you about how long you waited for your face-to-face assessment.
Atos Healthcare has changed its name.

The company has now become Independent Assessment Services
Atos – sorry - IAS is very clear that the reason for the change is that their new name “better represents the work we do and explains that our role is to independently assess and process Personal Independence Payment (PIP) cases passed to us from the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP).”
Clearly it has nothing to do with trying to shake off the dreadful associations that the name Atos has amongst so many members of the public.
And it most definitely isn’t connected with the fact that photographs of people bearing placards saying ‘Atos Kills’ invariably feature alongside any article about the company.
No, this is just an innocent attempt to clarify what the company does.
Continuing with the subject of leopards and spots, many readers will be outraged to learn that Iain Duncan Smith (IDS), is to spend next week standing in for Jeremy Vine on BBC Radio 2.

Ed Miliband is standing in this week, in the interests of impartiality.
However, there is an enormous difference between Miliband, who simply failed in his attempt to lead Labour to an election win and IDS, who has caused so much misery and hardship to so many people.
IDS was feared and despised by many sick and disabled claimants, not just because of his role in introducing Universal Credit and Personal Independence Payment.
It was also the rhetoric which IDS used, and allowed the DWP to use, which inspired ever greater hatred of claimants. The increasing dehumanisation of sick and disabled people helped to ensure that the vicious ramping up of sanctions against claimants under IDS met with public approval.
There was also his misuse of statistics to try to imply that many DLA claimants might not be entitled to their benefits.
And his desperate avoidance of the sister of David Clapson, the diabetic former soldier who died after his benefits were cut.
We’ve included contact details for the show in our article, if you want to share your thoughts on this issue with the BBC.
David Gauke, the new Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, is a former solicitor at a City tax avoidance law firm.

Yet, as a Treasury minister, he was happy to tell people it was “morally wrong” for householders to pay tradesman cash-in-hand, because it allowed working people to avoid paying tax.
He argued that “ . . . if people do that they have to do so with the recognition that means taxes will be higher for the rest."
Gauke has been criticised in the past for claiming £10,000 in expenses to cover stamp duty on a second home in London, even though his own home was less than an hour’s travelling time from Westminster.
He was also reported to HM Revenue and Customs, after advertising an unpaid six-month “training” post at his constituency office. At the time HMRC had launched a crackdown on employers not paying the minimum wage.
Claimants will be reassured to know that a man of such high principles has taken over at the DWP.
Good luck,
Steve Donnison
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Calum's List

Post by Kitkat on Sat 30 Sep 2017, 13:56

A reminder that this issue is still at large, and the Petition is still active.

You can still sign the Petition here:   arrow right  PETITION: Stop The Welfare Reform Death Scandal!

A reminder of what it is all about:

Calum’s List

 Welfare Reform Deaths – Memorial Pages


We know of these 60 people from their friends and/or family contacting this website. The UK figure is nearer 4,000 but could be as high as 81,140 welfare reform deaths click here for evidence and official statistics.

The flawed Work Capability Assessment is causing 32 unnecessary deaths a week by forcing the long term sick and disabled into work or work-related activity. It is also causing untold misery and fear for the country's most vulnerable. We call for its cessation now and to be replaced by a more holistic and humane system.

Why is this important?

We want justice for all those who've died as a result of harsh Welfare Reforms and who are listed on Calum's List and Peter's List, each with their own heart-breaking story. Human beings who had disabling and life-threatening conditions and had to live their last days or weeks in fear and harassment of having their entitlements withdrawn. Yes, entitlements, because every human being in a civilized society is entitled to financial security and having their needs met.

Calum's list:
Peter's List:
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Re: MPs call for ESA death statistics to be published (Calum's List)

Post by Whiskers on Sat 30 Sep 2017, 17:53

This is a different petition then kk?  The petition 2 years ago was apparently a victory.

Victory - This petition made change with 248,889 supporters!

I see the 38 degrees campaign was created by 'Moggy Millitant'.  Not you by any chance is it?  Wink
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Re: MPs call for ESA death statistics to be published (Calum's List)

Post by Kitkat on Sat 30 Sep 2017, 18:23

Whiskers wrote:This is a different petition then kk?  The petition 2 years ago was apparently a victory.

Victory - This petition made change with 248,889 supporters!

I see the 38 degrees campaign was created by 'Moggy Millitant'.  Not you by any chance is it?  Wink

lol Whiskers giggle  No, it's not me, though obviously a feline creature very much after my own heart! giggle

Yes, the disclosure and airing of The List was a huge victory, but the issue is still ongoing and very much a priority under discussion, with promises and positive-looking hints bobbing around from various governmental quarters.  A lot of words being bandied around - but something has to be DONE, and soon.
The pressure is definitely ON.
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Re: MPs call for ESA death statistics to be published (Calum's List)

Post by Kitkat on Wed 28 Feb 2018, 16:17

You think things just can't get any more depressing than they already are?  Think again ......

Latest Work and Benefits Newsletter (Feb 2018):
In this newsletter we ask whether you were intimidated into giving a PIP or ESA assessor good feedback.
We discover that presenting officers for the DWP are being used to prevent awards of enhanced PIP and ESA support group.
We learn that disabled claimants forced onto JSA are much more likely to be sanctioned than claimants who are not disabled.
We also reveal that the DWP have broken pretty much all the promises they made to an influential government committee about sanctions. This includes a promise to introduce a system of issuing a warning instead of a sanction for a first ‘offence’.
And we learn that another influential government committee can’t believe that the DWP still haven’t introduced audio recording of all PIP and ESA assessments.
Are private sector assessment providers scaring people into giving good feedback?

The Commons Work and Pensions committee have been very scathing of PIP and ESA assessments.
However, they do believe that the system functions ‘satisfactorily for the majority of claimants’.
This belief is based on statistics provided by the DWP which show that Atos, Capita and Maximus “consistently exceed” their customer satisfaction targets of 90% for PIP and 91% for ESA.
But one member contacted us to describe how they had been asked to complete a feedback form by the face-to-face assessor in a way that we can only describe as intimidatory:
“She leaned over the front of my buggy so that she could see what I was writing and my signature. She hadn't yet processed my report so I was a very good girl and gave the nice lady the top score!”
Benefits and Work would very much like to know whether you were asked for feedback after your PIP or ESA assessment – we suspect most people aren’t.
And, if you were, was it done in such a way that you were fearful that your assessor might exact revenge if you wrote anything critical?
The DWP is aiming to have presenting officers appear at half of all PIP appeal tribunals.

They are supposed to work as ‘friends of the court’, helping the panel to reach an informed and fair decision.
They are paid for out of our taxes.
So, it is particularly disturbing that Disability News Service have uncovered proof that presenting officers are actually expected by their DWP bosses to prevent as many awards as possible of enhanced rates of PIP or the support group of ESA.
So, if you do attend an appeal tribunal at which a presenting officer turns up, have no doubt about whose side they are on or what they hope to achieve.
Something else that can hardly be in doubt is the fact that the DWP are particularly targeting sick and disabled claimants in their efforts to cut the benefits bill

The Demos think tank has produced a report in which it reveals that disabled claimants have been hit with over a million benefits sanctions since 2010.
The majority of these have been against disabled people on JSA.
Demos has calculated that disabled JSA claimants are up to 53% more likely to be sanctioned than JSA claimants who are not disabled.
Meanwhile the DWP have proved once again their utter contempt for any government body which tries to prevent them attacking claimants with the blunt instrument of benefit sanctions.

Last year the DWP made a number of promises to the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) about how they would improve the sanctions regime and at last start doing some research into how sanctions affect claimants.
Now, however, the PAC has revealed that the DWP have broken virtually every promise they made.
The most important was the undertaking they gave that they would try out issuing a warning instead of a sanction for a first offence.
The DWP have subsequently refused to do this.
Their excuse:
“Competing priorities in the Parliamentary timetable mean that the legislative change that would be necessary to introduce a trial of this type cannot be secured within reasonable timescales.”
In other words, parliament is clogged up with Brexit and there’s no room for anything else.
Contrast this with the incredible speed with which they rushed through legislation last March to snatch PIP mobility from hundreds of thousands of claimants with mental health conditions and you can immediately see just how big a lie this is.
In reality, the DWP could undoubtedly introduce a warning system without the need for any legislation at all.
But as long as MPs let the DWP walk away from their promises, why would they bother?
Another commons committee, this time the work and pensions committee, has expressed in blunt terms its astonishment that PIP and ESA assessments aren’t recorded.

In a report this month looking at claimants’ complete lack of trust in assessment providers, the committee says that:
“Recording the face-to-face assessment would go so far toward increasing transparency and restoring trust it beggars belief that this is not already a routine element of the process.”
Unfortunately, with the degree of copying and pasting from one report to another that appears to be taking place, with sometimes bizarre results, the last thing the DWP will want is for claimants to be able to prove in large numbers that they never said what was attributed to them.
Expect more untruths and broken promises from the DWP in response to this report.
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Re: MPs call for ESA death statistics to be published (Calum's List)

Post by Kitkat on Wed 28 Feb 2018, 17:06

I just wouldn't believe it - if I didn't already know from bitter experience just how factually true these reports are ...

   "When did they catch Down’s syndrome?" Seven shocking examples of assessors' questions during PIP tests

   Trust has collapsed in the system of assessments for people claiming Employment and Support Allowance and Personal Independence Payments

   Mistakes during controversial “assessments” of people with disabilities and long-term illnesses have destroyed confidence in the system, MPs have concluded.

   They urged the Government to consider dismissing private firms hired to carry out the assessments, which help determine whether or not claimants get benefits such as Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) and Personal Independence Payments (PIP).

   The Commons Work and Pensions Committee, including Birmingham MP Steve McCabe (Lab Selly Oak), said it had an “unprecedented” response when it asked members of the public to get in touch with their experiences of being assessed.

   Some people said reports of their assessments included the results of physical examinations that hadn’t happened. Some reports left out crucial information provided during the interview, and some seemed to refer to entirely different people.

   Publishing their findings, the MPs said the number of mistakes taking place, and the number of decisions eventually overturned on appeal, had created “a lack of trust in both benefits” and led to fears the system is deliberately rigged against claimants.

   They said: “At worst, there is an unsubstantiated belief among some claimants and their advisers that assessors are encouraged to misrepresent assessments deliberately in a way that leads to claimants being denied benefits.”

   Responding to the findings, the Department of Work and Pensions said it aimed to ensure every person feels they are treated fairly, with respect and dignity, and was looking at ways of making sure assessments were more transparent.

   MPs published the conclusions in a 66-page report following a lengthy investigation, which included interviews with Government Ministers, assessors and claimants.

   The MPs received more than 3,500 written submissions from members of the public, many of whom had been through assessments, as well as almost 200 from organisations

   It follows long-standing concern that firms such as Capita, Atos Independent Assessment Services and Maximus Centre for Health and Disability Assessments, who are employed by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), are not doing a good job.

   Campaign groups and some backbench MPs have claimed that assessments are riddled with mistakes, and claimants are humiliated or asked irrelevant questions

   Evidence presented to the inquiry appeared to back this up. The Down’s Syndrome Association reported parents of children with the genetic condition being asked how long they’ve had it and how they caught it.

   One person with serious mental health problems read in the report of their assessment that their mental health clearly wasn’t an issue because they had smiled.

   The Work and Pensions Committee pointed out that since 2013, 290,000 claimants of PIP and ESA - 6% of all those assessed - only received the correct award after challenging DWP’s initial decision.

   But even for people whose claims are dealt with properly, a belief that the system can’t be trusted leads to “distress and confusion” and encourages more appeals, driving up costs, the MPs said.

   They said assessments should be recorded, to increase transparency and improve trist in the process.

   And the MPs said that the DWP should consider whether to replace the current private assessors.

   “The Department will need to consider whether the market is capable of delivering assessments at the required level and of rebuilding claimant trust. If it cannot - as already floundering market interest may suggest - the Department may well conclude assessments are better delivered in house.”

   Mr McCabe said: “The evidence was pretty damning.

   “It seems that we had two entirely different accounts. We had the civil service account of what they thought was happening, and we had the reality account of what was actually happening, and they didn’t match up at all.

   “The evidence shows that all of the contractors were failing to meet their contractual obligations.

   “The taxpayer is paying for a service which, against the DWP’s own targets, isn’t being delivered.

   “So the question is whether it would be cheaper and better value for the taxpayer to do this on an in-house basis.”

   A Department for Work and Pensions spokesperson said: "As the Work and Pensions Committee highlights, assessments work for the majority of people, with 83% of ESA claimants and 76% of PIP claimants telling us that they’re happy with their overall experience.

   "However, our aim has to be that every person feels they are treated fairly, with respect and dignity.

   “We are committed to continuously improving the experience of our claimants, that is why we’ve commissioned five independent reviews of the Work Capability Assessment – accepting over 100 recommendations – and two independent reviews of PIP assessments.

   "We continue to work closely with our providers to ensure people receive high quality assessments, and are exploring options around recordings to promote greater transparency and trust.”

  Seven of  the most shocking mistakes

   Thousands of people wrote to MPs to reveal what it’s like going through assessments for benefits designed to help those with disabilities or a long-term illness.

   They set out a series of shocking mistakes by staff working for private firms employed by the Department for Work and Pensions.

   The Commons Work and Pensions Committee has warned that even if most assessments are carried out correctly, the number of errors has destroyed confidence in the system.

   Here are some of the mistakes:

   Amazing ignorance

   The Down’s Syndrome Association reports parents of children with the condition were asked questions including: “How long have they had Down’s syndrome for? When did they catch Down’s syndrome? When were you diagnosed with Down’s syndrome?”

   Why aren’t you dead?

   A claimant who was suicidal was asked: “And why didn’t you succeed? Why did you fail?”

   Name withheld

   Likes to talk to people in the street

   “I was attacked with a deadly weapon only a short time before my assessment. The man threatened my life, on a walk with my dog. So the assessor wrote that I like to talk to people on my walk.”


   The mysterious dog

(This is not an isolated case either - the exact same situation happened to my cousin!)

   “Apparently I walk my dog daily, which was baffling because I can barely walk and I do not have a dog!”


   Can’t travel alone, and that’s fine.

   “The report was full of inconsistencies. For example, the assessor correctly wrote that I cannot use public transport alone, I cannot visit unfamiliar places alone, and I require prompting to visit familiar places alone. However, they then proceeded to state that I therefore needed no assistance with mobility, and scored me zero points. This doesn’t even make logical sense!”


   Just not true

   “The assessor claimed in the report to have completed an extensive examination of me during the assessment. She listed a breakdown of her observations regarding the movement of all my limbs and joints. In reality though my assessment was only fifteen minutes long and the assessor didn’t examine me at all.”


   Assessor thinks they understand mental illness when they don’t

   One claimant suffered from obsessive–compulsive disorder (OCD). In some cases, this can mean people wash their hands obsessively - but anyone with expert knowledge would know the condition can manifest itself in all sorts of ways that have nothing to do with washing.

   “We reached a point where we were discussing my personal care and I pointed out that I hadn’t taken a shower in months. The nurse reacted strongly to this and said, ‘So how does your OCD affect you then?’. She gave me a look as if to suggest I had been caught out lying, claiming to have OCD while making statements to the contrary.”

   “. . . to have OCD you don’t have to be washing your hands a thousand times a day and cleaning lampshades with a wet wipe. My OCD takes the form of a ritual where I have to hold my fingertips together at many points throughout the day in the belief that this will prevent a nuclear war. These type of rituals and compulsive thoughts are fairly standard with OCD.”

   Name withheld

Some more on the same story:

   It emerged earlier this year that government officials are given targets to reject four out of five initial appeals – known as mandatory reconsiderations – for some disability benefits.

   Further data obtained by The Independent under Freedom of Information law shows the Government then spent a further £17m fighting cases in the courts that were not settled at the initial appeal stage, bringing the total appeals process cost to £39m last year.
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Re: MPs call for ESA death statistics to be published (Calum's List)

Post by Kitkat on Tue 24 Apr 2018, 20:26

From the spoof site 'The Rochdale Herald'

(and plenty more where that came from  cheesy  ) -  

'Monty Python Parrot cleared fit for work by ATOS'

The famous Monty Python Parrot was cleared for work this morning following a work capability assessment interview.

Polly the dead Norwegian Blue ex-parrot was assessed for work at Rochdale job centre and was declared fit despite being bereft of life.

“We’re pretty sure Polly is merely resting or just stunned. Probably just tired and shagged out after a long squawk.

Norwegian Blues famously sleep on their backs when they’re pining for the fjords. The lazy sods.” Jack Soffalot, work capability assessor at Rochdale Jobcentre told The Rochdale Herald.

“We can get it back to work if we nail it to the perch. Being dead shouldn’t be a bar to being a productive, tax paying member of society.”

Polly is expected to begin work next week or face sanctions.
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Re: MPs call for ESA death statistics to be published (Calum's List)

Post by Kitkat on Wed 03 Oct 2018, 10:40

From the September 2018 Work and Benefits Newsletter:

Secret DWP death reviews have doubled in two years and now include UC

John Pring’s Disability News Service (DNS) has revealed that the numbers of secret reviews into benefits deaths appears to have doubled in the last two years. The investigations now include deaths related to universal credit (UC).
Figures obtained from the DWP by DNS show that, from April 2016 to June 2018, DWP panels carried out 50 reviews, including 33 involving the death of a benefit claimant, or roughly 1.27 death-related reviews a month.
DWP figures previously obtained by DNS show that, between October 2014 and January 2016, there were nine reviews involving a death, or about 0.6 a month.
The new figures also show that 19 of the deaths in the last two years involved a claimant viewed as “vulnerable”, while six of the reviews (and four deaths) related to a claimant of UC.
In one case of a death linked to UC, the panel of reviewers criticised the fact that the claimant commitment included an “excessive” eight references to sanctions and how much money a claimant would lose if they breached their commitment.
The panel suggested that: “…a better balance could be struck in reminding a client of the consequences of not meeting their obligations and not appearing to be overtly threatening, especially to individuals who are vulnerable.”
The DWP have so far refused to say if they have made any alteration to their communications as a result of the panel’s findings.
You can read the full story on the Disability News Service website.

Other news in September 2018's Newsletter:

Atos and Capita to be sacked in Scotland
Atos and Capita will lose their contracts for carrying out PIP and DLA assessments in Scotland when Social Security Scotland (SSS) takes over the administration of these benefits.
Maximus make ‘jaw-dropping’ profits from ESA assessments
The Times is reporting that the Centre for Health and Disability Assessments, better known as Maximus, has doubled its profits from carrying out ESA assessments.
DWP to pay Citizens Advice £51 million to help with universal credit
From April 2019 Citizens Advice (CA) and Citizens Advice Scotland (CAS) will receive a total of £51 million to help claimants with universal credit claims, the DWP has announced today.
Help Unite fight universal credit
Unite the Union is running a campaign to stop the rollout of universal credit (UC) and would like to hear from you if you are a UC claimant.
PIP video recording preparations have begun
Contrary to the belief of the Work and Pensions Committee, it appears that preparations are being made for the introduction of video recording of PIP assessments, though with no clear evidence that this is what claimants want.
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One man's story - simply the tip of the iceberg:

Post by Kitkat on Sun 14 Oct 2018, 15:36

You're on the verge of losing everything - but you don’t understand why
By Jon Kelly BBC Stories

A run of bad luck leaves one man struggling to make sense of the UK benefits system. Very soon he is left with no income and at risk of losing the roof over his head. Can he find his way through a bafflingly complex maze of rules? Put yourself in his shoes.

Your name is Tony Rice. You're the sort of bloke who gets along with everyone. Always making people laugh. Ever since you left school you've been in and out of all sorts of jobs. Manual labour, mostly - builder, dustman, crane driver, painter and decorator. Hawker Siddeley, the aerospace company - you like it there, until the factory shuts.

You split up with your girlfriend so you ask your mum to put you up until you can sort out a flat. Save a few quid. You're very close to your mum and dad. They're your best friends, really. Your dad has lung cancer and needs a bit of looking after. You take him for a drive most days because he doesn't like staying in all the time. He's like you, not a man to sit about. At one time he worked three jobs, all at once. Still does half an hour each morning in the garden.

So you're back in the council house in Chingford, north-east London, that you've called home since you were eight years old - even after you left. Your sisters have moved out and had kids of their own but you want to take care of your mum and dad, same as they took care of you.

And then you get a big shock. Suddenly, unexpectedly, your mum dies in hospital, two weeks after she has a replacement heart valve fitted. It's the day before she's supposed to get out.

Her death is hard for you to accept. You don't know how to process your grief. All through your 43 years on Earth so far you've always tried to be tough. You don't cry at the funeral. You want to be strong for your sisters. You want to just get on with it. But the depression creeps up and up on you.

It's just you and your dad in the house now. You've become his full-time carer - there's no-one else left to look after him now mum is gone. Anything he needs, you do it for him. His cancer spreads from his lungs to his other organs until, inevitably, it kills him.

Two parents gone within two years. And now you're alone in the house.

The council says you have to move to a flat, so you pack up and go. You like it. Decent size, first floor, communal gardens, nice neighbours. It needs doing up but you aren't afraid of putting a bit of work in.

You want to go back to work again so you go door-to-door selling Avon products. You start to notice your neck feels stiff. Your back, too. Must be from all that physical labour over the years. Plus a couple of road accidents you had when you were younger. Once a driver did a U-turn in front of you when you were on your motorbike. Your knees hit the car first then you went over the roof and landed on your head. Years ago, this was.

There's this bloke you get to know. Friend of a friend. You fetch his paper every morning. Sometimes he cooks for you in return. One day he invites you in for a drink. You go indoors and take a seat. There's another fella there. You accept a drink from the friend of a friend. He's been drinking already. Then he starts getting a bit loud, so you ask him to keep it down.

He doesn't like that. Comes over and hits you. You're still in your chair. You get up and have a pop in retaliation, then the other fella separates you. There's an unopened packet of knives in the room. You see it happening in slow motion. The friend of a friend selects a knife from the packet. You don't think he's going to use it, but then he does. He stabs you in the thigh. You try to grab the knife to defend yourself. You get cut again in your arm and around your eye.

Right, you say. I'm getting out of here. You turn to leg it. "Don't tell anyone about this," he says, and then he sticks the knife in your shoulder blade. That's the worst one. You thought this bloke was all right. You thought he was your mate. You got that wrong.

You go to hospital. They fix you up and send you home but the pain is still bad. Your back and your neck. What's worse, you can't stop thinking about the attack. Reliving it over and over. Lying awake.

The friend of a friend is jailed for the stabbing but that doesn't stop your paranoia. You walk down the road looking at every single car that passes, every motorbike. They might be coming for you. You see a pizza delivery bloke. He's looking for an address. You think he might be a hitman coming after you. He stops and looks at you. You think you're going to be attacked again. You don't trust anyone.

You used to be really fit. Cycled all the time. Now you can't. And you love your cycling. All your muscles lock up. Every time you wake up in the morning, you're aching.

You go to your GP. He examines you and signs you off work for six months. He says you have post-traumatic stress disorder and depression. There's no way you can work. You're also diagnosed with muscular arthritis. That, plus the scars from the knife attack, means it's painful to turn your neck or lift your arms above shoulder height.

You're on something called Employment Support Allowance. ESA. Minimum-level state benefits, that means. It's for people who can't work because of ill health or disability. You get housing benefit as well, which goes straight to the council to pay for the flat.

Then a few weeks later the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) calls you in.

It's a work capability assessment, they say. There's a form to fill in first about what you can and can't do. Can you pick up a £1 coin? Can you raise a hand to your head? Well, just about, though it's painful. You go along and the person assessing you says you're fit for work. You say you're not. Your GP agrees that you're not. But the assessor's opinion outweighs any other. Your benefits are stopped - both the ESA and the housing benefit.

You've got no money coming in. Nothing. You're falling in arrears with your rent. Friends are feeding you. You go to your local food bank. It's embarrassing. You don't like it. But the one round the corner isn't too bad. They don't ask any questions. You just go there and get your stuff. You push your bike, the bike you can't ride any more. They give you pasta, potatoes, tins of soup, couscous - you don't like the couscous much but you take it anyway, it's not like you can afford to be choosy. Then you hang the shopping bags on the bike and push it home in the rain.

You're losing weight because of the lack of food. You're still in pain. You're still depressed. You used to be really outgoing. You liked talking to people and going out and doing stuff but now you're just not in the mood.
The council apply for a possession order of your flat. They go to court and get one, suspended. They won't take the flat off you if you can make payments towards the arrears - £300 a month.

You keep going back to the Job Centre and asking if they can do anything for you. And finally - after seven months with no money coming in whatsoever, the DWP tells you that you can go on a new benefit called Universal Credit - the part of it that replaces Jobseeker's Allowance. They told you before you weren't eligible, but apparently now you are. You don't understand what's changed. There's no explanation. It seems as though there's been a mistake somewhere.

Now you get £414.33 for your rent and £317.82 for living costs. It's different from the benefits you were on before. Before, the Housing Benefit was paid direct to the council for your rent. Now, you get the housing costs and the living costs paid directly to you in one lump sum - one of the features of Universal Credit introduced by your local MP, Iain Duncan Smith.

Except you don't realise this - that the money is no longer going direct to the council and you need to sort it out yourself. No-one explained it to you, not in a way you understood, at least. You end up going even further into arrears with the rent.

Universal credit

  • A new benefit for working-age people that replaces six benefits - including Jobseeker's Allowance and Housing Benefit - and merges them into one payment
  • It was designed to make claiming benefits simpler, and to ensure no-one is better off claiming benefits than working
  • But it has proved controversial from the beginning, with reports of IT issues, massive overspends and administrative problems

What is Universal Credit - and what's the problem?

Because you've been assessed fit for work, you're supposed to spend 35 hours a week looking for a job. But when the DWP summon you to a jobseeker's meeting to ask what you're doing to find work, you don't get the message. No-one tells you. There's no letter - not one that reaches you, anyway. It could be that they've sent you the message electronically - but you're no good with computers. You don't have one at home and the sole time you tried to use one down the Job Centre you didn't know what half the keys did.

So because you don't turn up to the jobseeker's meeting, you get what is called a sanction - that means they stop the £317.82 for monthly living costs.

You know nothing about this. You don't actually work out that you've been sanctioned for 212 days. You just know there is less money coming in.

All you have to live on is the £414.33 that's supposed to be for housing costs. But you're still paying the council £300 a month for the earlier rent arrears - which means you are left with £114.33 a month to subsist on. That's £26.38 a week.

You can't survive on that. And, once again, you can't pay the rent.

You're back to relying on food banks and donations from friends. You take the bracelet you wear around your wrist to the pawnbroker.

It's still not enough.

It seems that every time you go to the Job Centre, someone gives you a different story about what you should be doing. You try to phone the DWP to sort things out, but no-one seems able to help you there, either. Each phone call costs you something like £8 - the claimant helpline is premium rate from mobiles and you haven't got a landline.

Your rent arrears are now in excess of £10,000.

The council seeks a court order for your eviction. You're looking at spending Christmas on the streets.

You go to see a legal adviser. You haven't been able to see a lawyer until now, because benefits law isn't covered by legal aid any more, but some housing law is.

Your lawyer and a Citizens Advice caseworker can't make head nor tail of what's going on at first. Eventually, they work out that you've been sanctioned. They write to the Universal Credit department repeatedly to ask for an explanation - it takes a long time for them to figure out why you have been sanctioned and what you could do to get the sanction lifted.

But first you have to go to court to try and avoid eviction.

Your legal adviser is a man called Simon Mullings. He tells you how serious the situation is. He's not going to sugar-coat it for you. The council are trying to be reasonable, he says, but they have a statutory duty to recover the lost rent. If you lose this case you'll be homeless.

You sit through three very scary hearings as your legal team argues your case.

You have a barrister, Mary-Rachel McCabe. She tells your whole Kafkaesque story to the judge.

"Tony has been failed by a malfunctioning system," she says. "From the moment Tony claimed Universal Credit last year, he suffered the consequences of its arbitrary rules and procedures, and so was immediately plunged into further rent arrears and other debt."

The judge is visibly shocked. The system is "appalling", she says.

McCabe tells the court that the sanction and the finding that you are fit for work are now being challenged with the help of a benefits adviser from Citizens Advice.

If that's successful it will give you an extra £317.82 a month and allow you to pay your rent. A new court hearing is set for May. That's a reprieve. If you can show a pattern of payment by then, maybe you won't be evicted.

Mullings, your legal advisor, tells you it might not feel like it, but you're one of the lucky ones. At least because this was a housing case you had legal representation. If you hadn't, you would have been steamrollered.

The court you've been going to, Edmonton County Court, has seen lots of similar Universal Credit cases, Mullings says. Other courts that he works in nearby - Stratford, Romford - they're not seeing these cases yet, because Universal Credit hasn't been rolled out into those areas. "But they're coming down the line," says Mullings. "So this is the vanguard of a tsunami of Universal Credit problems. Unless the government radically changes tack."
For you, though, things are looking up. It's still a struggle but it's getting a bit better. You feel like you can't move on while this is hanging over you. You want to get stronger. Like you used to be. Nothing ever used to get you down.

"I've always tried my best, even though my body really hurts," you say. "I just keep going, I'm like that. But the pressure - I can't think straight, I can't concentrate on one thing any more. I think about nothing but my problems."

A friend asks if you've seen a film called I, Daniel Blake. It's about a man caught up in the nightmare bureaucracy of the benefits system. You haven't had time to watch it. But you say you should play the lead in the sequel.

Your name is Tony Rice, and you're not going to let this break you.

Follow Jon Kelly on Twitter @mrjonkelly

readmore  at
for the DWP's response - plus video story of a man sanctioned for going to a funeral.

    Current date/time is Sun 16 Dec 2018, 16:15