Sunday 22 January 2012

To the Lords

(Written from hospital)

I think it's important to say "thank you" to all those peers who read and responded to our letters and emails. For months now, we've been sending them evidence, urging them to vote or abstain, trying to recruit them to support our causes and flooding them with last minute, urgent appeals.

I believe we should thank all peers, whether they voted the way we wanted them to or not. They all received thousands of letters and emails and at times, it may have been frustrating. I hope that most realised that it was our desperation to be heard that made us so prolific.

If template letters became irritating, I hope they will remember that many people we fight for simply cannot write their own. Those who are profoundly disabled or those with learning difficulties were still aware of what was being done in their name, but often had no way of expressing it. In our cause, template letters were not a lazy response, but often a vital expression of democracy unseen before.

If some appeals were too emotional or dark, then I hope they will remember that disabilities come in a million packages. Those who are mentally ill or desperate with pain and fear need to use their voices too.

So "Thank You" from me. We had no rule book, no guidance, we were just ordinary people trying to be heard. Thank you for listening, thank you for judging with an open mind, and thank you for giving us just a little hope that there is some way left to change things for the better.

Sue Marsh


  1. Well put Sue I think you have made some very valid important points here, I hope you are getting better from you latest bout of illness. You are an inspiration to many of the most vulnerable people in the uk. The fight is far from over never ever give up we are all Spartaci!

  2. Thanks indeed.
    There is an insidious and corrosive connectivity of tsunami proportions that engulfs us all.
    Welfare Reform NHS Legal Aid Bills cash squeezed local authorities, worklessness and ageing will be sending us deeper into the abyss if we do not act now and together. We will continue to wave and refuse to drown or have our voices swamped.

  3. Nick Clegg just said on Andrew Marr re NHS changes that they wanted to "give authority to the people who know the patients best" obviously this does not apply to ESA and DLA where GP, Consultant, etc reports are often rejected.

    1. heard something dismissive on radio 4 saturday night.

  4. Well said Sue.
    I am Spartacus & I did not cause the bank crash or leave the piggy bank empty when I left office, why are we the butt of the cuts?

    1. We have a Tory Government and this is what Tories do. I gave up looking any deeper than this long ago. Unfortunately,as Galbraith so eloquently put it "With Capitalism man exploits man and with communism it's the other way round".

    2. Because they think sick and disabled people are an easy target, they dont like what they see as non-productive "economic units", they're well clued-in to the fact that many of the general public (those not affected by disability themselves, or of loved ones)either don't give the issue a thought, or at worst, are those who are actually abusive.
      And of course with the help of UNUM's influence over the years, it can all be clever, so sick.

    3. Sue, amazing to even see a new post from you, given your circumstances..PLEASE don't overdo it. I hope some of the Lords and Ladies see this, your explanation of why sometimes a template letter is necessary is spot-on. Again, the fact that the likes of (Tory)Lord Newton were so irritated does demonstrate yet again the lack of
      awareness of the day-to-day problems experienced by sick and disabled people.

    4. am tempted to write letters to mps etc
      so they were "irritated"

  5. I am Spartacus - I am NOT a "patient", Mr Clegg.

  6. I heard on the radio the editor of the Sunday Times being interviewed about what is today's newspaper(in particular the editorial)it would appear(surprise, surprise)that its about the Bishop's being unhappy about the welfare changes and in this case the cap on what you are allowed.

    This week we have the discusion about housing benefit et...and IDS has of course had a go at the Bishop's for making a stand on this and both IDS and the Editorial in the Sunday Times is going on about how wrong the Bishop's are and how wrong it is for people to be idle and that low paid workers are unhappy that some are getting benefits and having a better life than those are in work.

    Of course some are not genuine who claim but most are found out and the fraud is small.
    But again IDS and the Sunday Times are spinning the story by always talking about certain areas of the country where rents are high(higher than most of the UK)housing stock that is social and affordable is small. These caps and the problems of housing benefit affect more than the unemployed. They affect the sick, the elderly, vulnerable and disadvantaged.

    By distracting the public's attention to the supposed idle and so called scrounger's, he manages to get the public's anger going and the real people who will suffer are not mentioned.

    Few are idle and those who work you could ask why the wages are so low that many people have to try and hold dwn more than one job. Or why even if you work you have to claim tax credits etc...from the State so you still need help from the Government.

    And many genuine people have the difficulty of staying in work. Jobs these days are not guarenteed for life.

    Sadly the unemployed are villified often just as much as the rest of us.

    1. Thing is the Local Housing Allowance cap(H/B has been abolished) is paid to hundreds of thousands of people in low waged jobs, its effectively subsidising poor employers and of course rich landlords. In other words it isn't causing idleness, etc, the whole welfare debate is full of such lies and misinformation and yes bigotry,

    2. what was the death camp door sign?
      am not trying to suggest our mod have something in the pipeline.
      no such thing as a job for life
      btw what is pms job
      is david cameron an anarchist?

  7. Thank you for mentioning learning disabled. My daughter is aware of what is happening in a simply way but like you say unable to express herself in writing. The subject being too complex and nothing in easy read and therefore not included. I hope you are getting better and glad to see your post.

  8. I agree with Findlow, wow, what a well written & truely humane piece, to say thank you is the right thing to do, we, Sparticas, are humane, understanding and companionate, we recognise and can empathise with all situations, even the Lords. By thanking them shows we are more than just disabled and ill. I know what I am trying to say but am struggling to express my words, I hope you understand my meaning.

    Most would not consider saying thank you, most probably wouldn't of seen why, not sure I would, though I'd like to think I do, I thank ppl for listening to my views when advocating, even if it has been passionate and I try to understand all opinions.

    But that it is you that has said thank you, from hospital, after being made poorly for it, to still be able to recognise how others have felt or been effected by our campaign just shows how strong of a character you are, shows the depths of your humanity and compassion. It emphersises that what you have said as the truth we know it is.

    I am also glad and thank you for explaining why we needed generic letters, not everyone would of intrinsicly understood, by explaining and thanking raises awareness of people's lives when living with a disability.

    Thank you to the lords but thank you Sue, and broken of Britain too. Please rest now and get well. My thoughts are also with bendygirl as she travels back Into London on our behalf even though she is not fully well

  9. Dear Sue

    I have never posted before but have watched this blog from last May, when i first heard of the cuts, and what it meant for myself a carer, and my huband who is chronically sick and disabled. This is my shining light of hope in an increasingly dark and shrinking world. I sat and cried when i read you was ill, and all you have suffered, and the other brave souls who have worked with you in the name of all of us who you dont know, but are fighting for..

    When you got the the lords to listen, at last i thought it was like the knights of old coming to save us, and yes i would like to thank them, but i dont know the email address or who to send it too. So i say thank god for them and for you too

  10. Sue - I am so glad to hear you are on the road to recovery. But please, take it easy? Worry is work too! :)

    We should indeed thank the House of Lords for their support (even though we were let down by the Lib Dems at the crucial moment!)

    Thank you House of Lords - but we still have a VERY long way to go!

    Healing Blessings!


  11. Today on the Sunday Politics, a journo and commentator from the Economist revealed that Camneron thought his welfare reforms ''would get a rought ride from the public'' and was surprised when at election meetings ''the public wanted him to go further''. No self awareness by the journo (and his lib dem sidekick or Andrew Neil) of the role the media has in creating that public mood.

    The onslaught against claimants in nearly all the print media and broadcasters, especially to their shame, the BBC, has been relentless: misinformation, innaccuracies, smears and lies. Of course, the 'public' is feeling angry looking for someone to kick, and yes, they will know of 'fiddlers'(although they are not doctors, they can't know for certain) but the role of the media is very significant indeed.

    a protest outside the BBC is long overdue, imo...

    1. rupert murdoch can kiss my grit

  12. I notice Sue and Bendy Girl will be attending the TUC Seminar on 'Disability and Employment but also that Professor Paul Gregg will be speaking: he is the academic responsible for designing the Employment Support Allowance and the sanctions regime with it, why have the TUC invited him?, its not just the problems with ATOS, the whole ESA regime is brutal and not fit for purpose.

    Sorry, but Gregg is no friend of disabled people

    1. Paul Gregg is a hero!!

      He spoke out against the WCAs when he saw it clearly was NOT what he designed. THEN when the government suggested a one year time limit on ESA, he said there was no basis at all in evidence as when the WRAG was designed it was expected that it would take between 2 and 5 years for people to find work.

      He's helped us enormously.

  13. Oh, i just realised Sue certainly won't be able to go, please forgive that error,

  14. Oh, the media really does dictate the public's opinions on many things. Often people think they are getting a straight news story but really it is often coloured by a particular correspondent's slant on the topic and just an odd word here and there can change the meaning.

    One of the worst stations for kicking those on benefits be they unemployed or ill is LBC in London which is mainly a station where well known talking heads supposedly cover news stories but really most of the time it is the views of the presenters being peddled and if its said often enough, the public forget its not straight news and take opinion often as fact.

    We often discuss this on Digital Spy and how unfair it is.

    Before the Radio 5 forum was closed by the BBC we often discussed how stories were treated by certain programmes, presenters and producers...they didn't like it.

    A throw away line can actually become quite important if someone isn't listening closely.

    On housing benefit...thanks Jan regarding what I said about the Sunday Times and IDS criticising the Bishops and concentrating on the Unemployed to distract the public.(even allowing for my typing errors)

    And yes...
    "AnonymousJan 22, 2012 05:35 AM
    Thing is the Local Housing Allowance cap(H/B has been abolished) is paid to hundreds of thousands of people in low waged jobs, its effectively subsidising poor employers and of course rich landlords. In other words it isn't causing idleness, etc, the whole welfare debate is full of such lies and misinformation and yes bigotry,."

    That is so very true too...

    1. Cameron s a master illusionst, he distracts the public from the real problems caused by bankers and instead focuses attenton on the diadvantaged, those he thnks cannot fight back. Its laughable , RBS the bank we own, is discussing its bonuses - bonuses for failure. Whilst real people are being villified and presented as scroungers and unworthy
      Hope you are feeeling better Sue

  15. Go look on labour list where a Ms Ussher has a written a bit on welfare, warning if you do I'm telling you now keep your calm.


  16. Oh blow here it is.....

    Liam Byrne was right to remind us a few weeks ago that Beveridge’s system was fundamentally one of insurance, where people make payments in order to be protected against events outside their control; he’d have been horrified at the thought that its very existence could distort work incentives.

    Regardless of whether you agree with that analysis, this is a good time to reconsider what our benefits system is actually for. As he develops his arguments, here are five things Liam Byrne should focus on:

    1. Like saving for retirement, unemployment insurance should be funded as much as possible through the private market. That would place less of a burden on taxpayers to fork out in a downturn and create a City of London that was more useful to us. It’d also incentivise a whole industry focused on providing the personalised help and support that individuals need to get them back to work faster.

    2. The experience of the last ten years is that those furthest from the labour market usually face a multitude of issues that cannot easily be sorted out by Jobcentre Plus advisors. We need to put far more effort and imagination into supporting such people to be able to take control of their lives including through work.

    3. This is not cheap, which is why, particularly when there isn’t enough money and resource to go around, it is a cardinal error to be wedded to the idea of universality in benefit payments. It makes me weep that we are taking from the average to give winter fuel allowances and free bus passes who many whose lives would not change if they were removed. And let’s face it, if you were designing from scratch in the 21st century a policy to ensure all children had sufficient food and clothing, would you really re-introduce a blanket child benefit system for everyone?

    4. While the state should always provide some kind of backstop, the contributory principle should be at the forefront of any reform. At the very least, feeling that your hard work is rewarded, as the recent literature on wellbeing shows, bestows a greater sense of control, dignity and empowerment.

    5. We are paying private landlords too much in housing benefit, particularly in areas with high property prices. In parts of London people are fearful of earning more money in case they have to pay more rent. This has to stop. The solution is to licence landlords with strict quality and rent controls, and if they won’t play ball, find a way in the government accounting system to purchase the properties, lower the rents and reap a financial reward over time through a lower housing benefit bill that supports more people into work.

    Faced with today’s circumstances, I’d be interested to know which parts of this Beveridge would have disagreed with.

    Kitty Ussher is a former Economic Secretary to the Treasury.

    Robert.....when I spoke to Tony Blair at Conference in 2001 he said to me that employers have a social concencious to employ the disabled.

  17. You are such an inspiring person Sue and the world is lucky to have you. Please rest and get yourself better.

    I thank the Lords who took time to read our pleas of desperation and those who have responded in a humane and caring way, I thank the rest of you also, but most of all I feel sorry for you!

  18. As long as we remember we are all in this together then it will all work out in the end.

  19. Here is a comment I wrote on the above article by Kitty Ussher on Labour List which appears not to have appeared!


    Readers might like to read this article in conjuction with Kitty Ussher's (and the previous and present governments) connections to UNUM.

    This giant American personal income protection insurer has been behind much of the Welfare Reform plans. It has been sued and fined in the US for being "disability deniers" and labelled an "outlaw company". Its Chairman has boasted of the "opportunities" coming up in the UK and has already started its media advertising campaign - initially in the ad break for Downton Abbey.

    Its advertsing spiel is that Incapacity Benefits (now the dramatically failing ESA)will not be enough to protect you if you become ill - they have helped MAKE SURE of it. So you had better take out Private Income Insurance.(Which they will then refuse to pay out on)

    Ms Ussher was a guest speaker at the launch of a report "Of Mutual Benefit" at Portcullis House,last March. The report argues for radical reforms to Incapacity Benefits (paid for by National Insurance Contributions) in order to "incentivise" greater take-up of private welfare solutions.

    Other speakers included Lord Fraud, Frank Field and oh, yes Jack McGarry, CEO of UNUM UK.

    "Faced with today's circumstances" I would be interested to know which part of politicians denying people sufficient income to live on, by using a spurious medical assessment, carried out by another private company ATOS, in order to encourage the uptake of private insurance from a company discredited in the US Law Courts Beveridge would have agreed with.

    It is no coincidence that the previous Chief Medical Officer of UNUM is now Chief Medical Officer for ATOS.

    One thing Liam Byrne should focus on is that the public are waking up to all the planted benefit scrounger stories by vested interests, to turn them against the welfare state. And the public don't like being misled.

    If you care to consult with those who DO have private income protection, , you will find they have the amount of ESA automatically deducted from any insurance payout they receive, whether they are actually eligible to receive it or not. Failure to be classed as unfit for work in the ESA process, which happens to most, even the terminally ill, is being used by insurers to withdraw their payments too. They also subject policy holders to yearly medicals, where any excuse will be used to stop payments.

    That is the reality. That is what is happening NOW. And as every day goes by, more members of the public who fall ill are finding that out for themselves.

  20. Especially to lord Patel and Baroness tanni. Well done Spartacus!

  21. I've been following all this from Canada, and I'm trying to gain a better understanding of what's happening so that I can make Canadians more aware. I think that the work that you're doing is amazing.

    I hope that you're feeling better soon...


  22. We're certainly in this together and many more will be...I'd rather be our group than the crowd that Sunny Dave sees as being the Big Society. We're more in tune with the idea of what the "Big Society" means. We already look after our own and probably have the values that meant so much in years gone by.

    Also, in reality the money we receive is small.

    If we all gave up our responsiblities and really made the State get involved in our care and the care that we give to our loved ones, if we are carers, they might then know the true cost financially(They probably would not be able to afford it)but they'll never know the true value of Human compassion.

  23. Get better (ish as you're never really better) soon.

    I had a look at the Decision Maker's ammended guidelines issued in October last year, the most recent update, and I found some things quite shocking in it.

    I know we've all been aware that anyone receiving benefits could not accept a regular cash payment from anyone, which is fair enough. Many of us however who have really suffered financially before being granted disability benefits will have had help from relatives occasionally to help with a big utility bill, or to replace a needed item such as cookers and washers etc.

    In the October DM guide, NO help is to be given to anyone claiming ESA or any other benefit. Relatives cannot buy food, pay an electric/gas/coal bill, buy clothing or any other utility bill for you, even if they pay them direct and you receive no actual cash. If they do, the DM has to divide the amount by 52 and deduct this directly from benefit income. At one time, anyone on benefit was allowed to receive a cash present from a relative up to a certain amount; it seems now that this is illegal too, unless of course you inform the DM, who will, yes you've guessed it, divide it by 52 and deduct the amount from your weekly benefits.

    You might not think this matters, but it is a massive change. For example, friends and family have said that they would pay the 'fine' and make up any other shortfall in HB that I will have to pay to stay in my social housing home; others have said that they will help me in other ways. If I do however, I would be obliged to inform the DM and my benefit would be deducted accordingly.

    Now, you probably think that the best thing would be for me to say nothing at all, but that's not going to work. When my neighbours are kicked out of their homes, or are going hungry and I'm not, eventually the DWP will latch on, and my benefits will be reduced or probably removed altogether for committing fraud.

    For the first time, people will really be in a poverty trap. The trap is a catch 22 scenario. Year on year benefits won't be uprated in line with inflation (in 20 years time they will be worthless), so you won't have enough cash to even have a basic standard of living, and certainly not enough to pay utility bills; no one will be allowed to help you: a perfect trap.

    The DM guidance states that the only people allowed to help you are food banks and charities. The only way to keep a roof over your head then is to find a charity or person who will pay the rent for you, apply to all the utility charities (most utility companies have their own charities) to pay your bills (however, most of them will only allow you to apply every 2 years), and obtain your food from the food bank. As for washing powder, loo rolls and the like, you'll have to do without, unless you can find another charity who will buy these directly for you. Telephones are considered a luxury item, so you won't get that paid. Also, since someone is paying your rent, you'll only be able to take this route if you give up all benefits.

    This is where we are headed folks, and if you think that this cannot happen, it has happening in the U.S. for years now. Seen in this light, the different concessions we are fighting for, though important, are nothing compared to the gradual reductions in the value of benefits over time. So, the government will throw a few bones our way because they know that.

    It doesn't mean that we should stop fighting; all the more so, and the work of people like Sue and many others is admirable.

    You thank the Lords Sue, but had it not been for people like you they would never have known our plight, so, thank you Sue.


    1. OMG that is appalling! As If things weren't hard enough already. I don't know how anyone who is ill long term is going to survive from now on.

      Have any any of the disability groups been made aware of this? God is anyone aware of this outside this journal? :(

    2. I am appalled at this, does ths apply to ALL benefts Clarebelz

  24. Bloody Hell!!! Is that right?? Do they not realise none of us could survive on UK benefits without the kindness of parents or friends or family???

    My Mum and Mother-In-Law are ALWAYS helping us out!! Why would they do that why? It's horrific?

    Have you got a link???

  25. I have a social worker and others saying "Oh you'll be fine" "You've your name on the tennants agreement and have had for almost 30 years" and so on...

    That doesn't wash with me.

    Mum is ill, I am caring and so far have yet to get any financial help but I manage because we are both alive. When Mum goes my income drops so low I don't know how I'll manage and if the DLA is taken away, well who knows where I'll be. I don't want to think about it!

    Of course DLA will be taken away even if you just give it a change of name(as it becomes ESA)and the conditions for obtaining it change.

    Its frightening. Especially, as I don't have any relatives help me out.

    The future doesn't seem very exciting to me, more something to fear...

  26. If they want to go the way of the US then they need to increase what they pay out as Disability benefits are a lot higher than here and increase every year. They have food stamps, Medicaid and housing. If the UK want to go the USA way the better take a good hard look at the system. We need to stop them from making the 98% turn against one another, it's the 1% who are responsible for this mess, if they paid a living wage to begin with the average worker wouldn't be struggling to make ends meet. Unum is a big problem right now as the average Jo wouldn't be able to afford insurance and if it's like in the US if you have any problems they charge you more than you can afford or usually refuse to insure you. We need to get back to the basics of what our Country stands for, including the Welfare State.

  27. The decision makers guide is quite a read:

    ESA is covered in volumes 8 and 9. But you can see the specific amendments for each year listed. For our purposes class, we should focus on Amendment 9 for each volume, dated October 2011. Oh good, Amendment 9 for volume 8 is only 188 pages long, so you shouldn't have too much trouble if I make this your homework assignment I expect in by Monday.

    Glad to see the Coalition are doing their bit to simplify the benefits system. But the reason why it has so many pages is that it must include every part of the guidelines that it changes. The volume 8 of the guidelines in full is 656 pages. I've had a look and I'm afraid you need to be a lawyer to understand what they mean for sure.

  28. Had a read through - you certainly need a lawyer-type to help navigate through it all. Volume 9 is actually more helpful, especially chapter 51.


    1. i did phone the law society for the name of a lawyer to help me understand certain points and was told that none of the lawyers listed in the uk were DWP Qualified

      And that was what i expected to be told i myself have studied IB/DLA over the past 30/15 odd years and would say that to understand it would be one thing to explain to say your mp like i have done is another matter

      All you would get is a blank look to be honest my tory mp was lost and as for myself i still have a hell of way to go before i could go before a judge and talk about the DWP rules and regulations

  29. Um. That is quite terrifying.

    At some point in my life (albeit not quite yet) we predict that I will have used up all my savings on electric wheelchairs (as they don't after all last forever).

    So assuming I don't die before my electric wheelchairs do (fingers crossed!), we had always thought that family would chip in since the NHS are unlikely to be any more helpful than they are now (ooh you can stand up, how dare you want an electric wheelchair?!)

    But this means that they wouldn't be able to??!

    Is Santa allowed to give Electric Wheelchairs out at Christmas? It would never fit in my stocking!

  30. This comment has been removed by the author.

  31. I wish you Peace, Wisdom, and Health. You are a genuine person of Integrity, Dignity and Courage - God Bless You, and Keep You. Adrian.

  32. A headline Justice longs for…

    “MP’s Expenses and Wage Reform plans are not designed to "punish"…

    "I simply make the point to them that the purpose of this is not to punish people but it is to give fairness to people who are paying tax, who are commuting large distances
    because they can only afford to live on their Salary of a mere £72,000 and the EXPENSES that they have chosen,"

    “But the basic principle that the cap the expenses at £500 so that you can’t on MPs Expenses earn more than you would if you actually went out and worked - I think that’s got to be a simple principle that most people would subscribe to.”

    The fiscal argument here – that the Expenses bill is climbing further beyond affordability – is not even the strongest part of the case. It is a simple moral point, grasped by the vast bulk of the population: paying people expenses who earn more than three times the average wage is insidious. It is unfair to taxpayers, who would (once the effects of income tax and National Insurance are taken into account) have to work far, far harder in order to take home just One Third of the same sum. Expenses encourage a dependency as a lifestyle; and it condemns countless thousands of people to life among the Feral Elite class.

    Source: The Daily Truth.
    “All in IT Together?”

    The current annual salary for an MP is £65,738.

    MPs’ salaries should be boosted with flat-rate
    allowances worth tens of thousands of pounds a year to
    fund second homes and travel, a MPs’ committee has suggested.

    MPs can currently claim up to £19,900 a year for renting second homes
    in London and paying household bills.

    Those with constituencies in the capital - or who opt to use their own property - get
    a flat-rate supplement of £3,760, or £5,090 for inner London.

    Many whose seats are a significant distance from Westminster
    spend more than £10,000 annually on travel.

    Adrian - I am Spartacus...

  33. This is war. I will go in with my guns blazing and go down in blazing glory of brainless brazenness. For all of you – remember, laughter is the best medicine. Stick it to the man I say, by jove! Please click the link – (or cut and paste)
    and be prepared to choke on your tea.

  34. Today the Department for Work and Pensions have published their impact assessment for the household benefit cap (pdf). Our story about it is the second lead on our website. If you read the document, you will see there's a blank space after the second sentence in the "other key non-monetised costs by 'main affected groups'" section on page two.

    Shelter have just sent me an extract from the orginal impact assessment originally published last year. (It's not on the web any more, I'm afraid.) And it illustrates how the impact assessment has been gutted.

    The new version says:

    The cap is likely to affect where different family types will be able to live. It is not possible to quantify these costs because they are based on behavioural changes which are difficult to assess robustly.

    And this is what the old version said, in the same space.

    The cap is likely to affect where different family types will be able to live. Housing benefit may no longer cover housing costs and some households may go into rent arrears. This will require expense and effort by landlords and the courts to evict and seek to recoup rent arrears. Some households are likely to present as homeless, and may as a result need to move into more expensive temporary accommodation, at a cost to the local authority. It is not possible to quantify these costs because they are based on behavioural changes which are difficult to assess robustly.

    The three embarrassing sentences (in the middle) have just been deleted from the new version.

    1. That's their approach all over, isn't it, just delete what they want to disappear or deny. Use words to construct their bloody Brave New World - at a stroke "Incapacity" is banished because "clients" are "Supported" into "Employment" (ok ok, may be stacking shelves in Poundland for nothing on Christmas Eve, but we can't have the scroungers getting above themselves, can we). Lo! Disability is deleted by Personally Independent PIP!
      Incidentally, of course PIP is also the name of the French faulty breast implant company. Just thought you'd like to know that...Doesn't bode well does it...

  35. Heya just read your previous post - I would like to offer any way I can help... I suffer from severe depression but am fired up to help with this campaign, I can't do much but can type/edit if that's any use.

  36. ''Illness as ‘Deviance’, Work as Glittering Salvation and the ‘Psyching-up’ of the Medical Model: Strategies for Getting The Sick ‘Back To Work’.'

    Excellent new article deconstructing the welfare reforms, the role of Unum and the Biopsychosocial model of illness underpinning it, along with the Spartacus Report this is giving campaigners more intellectual ammunition to challenge the reforms.

    Just seen this elsewhere, as he says, more, along with the Spartacus Report intellectual ammo to take on the reforms..

    1. Blimey, that article would completely blow the wretched "Reforms " out of the water if the public knew about certainly needs to be spread like a virus. Pity about the format as it stands, v. difficult to read - eye and brain boggling. But extraordinarily scary content. Good decent doctors who think for themselves need to know about this propaganda machine.

  37. Sunny Dave says that "most people in the country would think it is rght that there should be a cap of £26,000 on the benefits a household can have" and that equates to an earned income of £35,000 before tax.

    Of course if you put it that way, many probably would agree but it doesn't take into account that each case is different. Also it depends how you ask the question and who you concentrate on as your example to put out there in the media to distract the general public.

    And again he says that "Most" agree with him but he has no figures to back that statement up.
    But if heard on the news as a soundbite and the person lsitening isn't paying attention that could be taken as fact.

    They keep talking about the high rents that some claimants pay in London and equate that to the rest of the country.

    Even if you move into a smaller property the rent you pay will increase and you can only keep moving for so long.

    And if we assume by moving into areas less desirable it will be harder to claw your way to the decent lifestyle you once had and you'll be moving further away from work and amenities and so it will probably cost more to travel to/from work and take even longer timewise.

    Where possible isn't the idea to try and improve your lot not go back over.

    1. I agree with him though, my husband and I work and we're not rich and have to think twice even about buying mcDonalds while we see single mums who look like chavs with 3 kids (we can't afford even one) eating there regularly. How is this fair? I hope they get kicked out of their comfortable house and reduce my tax! I don't mind supporting disabled people though, but the lazies and irresponsible need to fend for themselves.

    2. How do you know they are single mums and even if they are whats it got to do with you .You should not steroetype people so easily.

  38. Iain Duncan Smith says he is determined that his reforms will get through - and says MPs will overturn any defeats from the Lords, when the Bill returns to the Commons.

    As i said from day one and he wont change as his background wont let him it's do or die situation

    His background is shady like most conservatives but he is a millionaire through after dinner speaking

    he cant do any work and prefers to talk

  39. live

  40. The thought of listening to an after dinner speech by IDS(How desperate must you be?)

    Well, theye are winning the debate in the Lords...The cap has been seemingly passed by 28 votes and as IDS says he'd still get them through The Commons...

    And we have no party that offers to overturn any of these changes.

    Those working(No, I should say "some")have a go at the disadvantaged but never ask why their own wages are so low and their working conditions are so lacking. And as always they fall for the spin...until they find themselves in a similar situation.

  41. Yet another defeat for the Govt, the WRB is slowly being eviscerated: its good news, anyone who was involved in earlier campaigns will know they basically went through on the nod. Having said that the Condems will use public opinion which for many reasons(though subject to a media barrage of lies, misinformation, etc) supports the Cap. There is now a window for more challenges to the reforms and help shape the mood: tomorrow, disabled/sick claimants and UK uncut join forces to protest the Bill, i suspect there will be more...

  42. "AnonymousJan 23, 2012 11:32 AM
    Yet another defeat for the Govt, the WRB is slowly being eviscerated: its good news, anyone who was involved in earlier campaigns will know they basically went through on the nod. Having said that the Condems will use public opinion which for many reasons(though subject to a media barrage of lies, misinformation, etc) supports the Cap. There is now a window for more challenges to the reforms and help shape the mood: tomorrow, disabled/sick claimants and UK uncut join forces to protest the Bill, i suspect there will be more..."

    I don't know what all that means but if something has not gone the way that Sunny Dave wishes that's ok by me. Its not that I am specifically anti Government, I would say that whoever was trying to introduce the changes.

    As ill as Mum is and to some extent she has never been into politics but she still knows enough to keep saying how worrying the future is for many and how wrong it seems that "One Man" is able to push through such proposals and "Get away With It!"

    Well of course it is more than one man but they are speaking as one. Few if any of them have any experience of life on benefits through illness or the working conditions and wages most jobs pay.

    I think its wrong as an example, that the carers who help Mum have to pay for their own uniforms which could get damaged by the very work they have to do and also act as an advert for the company. They should be supplied. Its not a well paid profession.

    Its typical of so many companies though.

  43. The lords difficulty is that none of them have any idea about benefits across the board

    If a lord or lady was sick they have reserves of money to fall back on the same with bringing up there family the family had what was needed there and then their children did not go without

    They do not have any idea about working families and even less so of families of sick and disabled people

    It's not their fault that they grew up on a different side of the fence

    The above applies to all of the government front benches all of which sit very comfortably in life

    What the government and the lords are trying to say is that the average benefit money wise paid out to families is around £10000 per year plus housing costs for those with savings less then £16000 and because the likes of myself can manage on £10000 they are expecting everyone else on benefits to do the same

    I myself am ill and dont go out so yes my family with my wife in part time work earning £4000 per year can and do get by but the government say if i can do it why cant everyone else ?

    And i keep telling them i am ill and dont go out and they say so is everyone ill but there wonting more to which i say but those that are ill are you sure aren't you getting them mixed with disable people who do and can go out their costs will be higher where as a sick person cant go out or have very ltd outside access as they are sick

    Sickness means many things but invariably means pain / vomiting/ nausea/ fainting/extreme tiredness

    As they are the reasons on why you cant go out because your illness irrespective of what it is is producing the above

    Some may only suffer with one of the side effects from illness above and there will be others who will be suffering from all of the above as all illnesses produce the above side effects inn varing degrees

    And any medication that you may be on wont help those symptoms

    As a small example you may have long term arthritis which is painful and the drugs that you have to take for it make you sick they may not but the bottom line is that your in pain so need to take medication for that pain and in doing so you suffer some or all of the side effects of the drug your taking

    It is these types of long term illnesses where inflammation has got a hold on your body and it wont let up hence you cant work

    It is most bizarre that the government do not understand illness as I'm certain they do but by them playing the devils advocate they have left some very sick people like sue in hospital and they should hold their heads in shame

    1. In only a very few cases "they should hold their heads in shame" may occur. We are talking about peole who have climbed the greasy pole by whatever means necessary, including treading on others on their way up.

      They depise disabled people. They don't ever want to be near one. The whole 'benefits' trick is to keep them as far away as possible. Yes the odd photoshoot with 'one' is okay and maybe handing out a medal at the paraolympics will provide good PR but in general these people are NOT INTERESTED in you and me.

      The benfits system in 2012 is about keeping us out and away from everyday life so that 'our betters' may have a pleasant one.

  44. Well said Fourbanks...

    I am looking after Mum and I am the only close living relative(what I am saving them by not having Mum in care you can only imagine)

    And I am not well myself...I had a scare this very week when it looked as though my bloods were all wrong(I think it is a blip...thank heavens)but it shows how things can change suddenly.

    It was actually something I had never heard of that gave me the biggest shock and its all do with how much inflamation is going on inside of my body and the reading was very high.

    But it shows that over the tears my condition is/will get worse not better.

    Also the idea of Universal benefit is not true...the carry on over the cap that has been introduced is being talked about of being £26,000 annually(£5,000 weekly)but if you are single it still costs the same amount of money to put your lights or heating on etc...and it appears they've said single people will be getting only £350 per week.

    And these are very broad figures being bandied about as many whatever the situation are not getting such amounts.

    And if you are spending more time at home and are ill you'll need to put the heating on more often...

    It stinks...


    1. The above link is a report on the back to work programme and the BBC would like to hear from anyone who has had experience of this. It states that the government has overestimated the number of people it is helping back to work.

    2. Of course it has everything to do with me as long as my tax money is used to fund their living. If I want to give, I'll give to charity, I don't want to be robbed to feed and house unkempt moms with loud chav mouths. You must be one of the scroungers to say things like what does it have to do with you haha.

    3. its got everything to do with me to, I am a taxpayer and have been for the past 40 years, so don't be so quick to judge. A very shallow comment methinks!

    4. I suggest Anonymous at 04.12 AM reads "Chavs, the Demonisation of the Working Class" by Owen Jones. Chavs is an ugly, prejudiced and divisive word which is bandied around freely when someone wants to look down on somebody else. For God's sake, this country's sleepwalking into Nazism it seems. This wretched, evil government is doing everything in its power to sow division between people and scapegoat groups it sees as undesirable or not economically "useful", like the sick and disabled. I hate it, I hate it and I'm becoming increasingly ashamed of my country.

  46. Oh I am sure that the success rates are overestimated. And long before I took ill and went on many, many courses that were supposed to give qualifications or result in work. We were treated like idiots and talked to as though we were in infants school.

    It was cheap labour for many companies and you were farmed out not really because it would help you but because the companies that took you on had to pay the work programme provider for your services.

    One firm after I left was closed down because they had somehow been managing to fiddle their results and the qualifications the people attending the course were getting.

    If anyone has seen The League Of Gentlemen comedy series and how these courses were parodied, it was too close to the real thing and I suspect somebody who wrote that series had attended such a course and when a documentary is shown now about the new courses and private companies that run them(as shown on the Humphries documentary a few weeks ago...its just the same. Its not improved.

  47. I'm on the damn thing (Work Programme) It has done nothng for me, at our induction 2/3 rds of us there had at least degree levle qualifications and more. Many of us had worked before in quite well paid jobs (£30k +)
    NOT idiots, NOT scoungers, NOT workshy. Just pawns making profit for huge companies. Angela

    1. I know it may sound big headed but most of those who teach or run these courses know no more or know better than many of the people that are "Forced" to attend them.

      I used to be told "That I lacked confidence" by one person(and nothing could be further from the truth)

      And I even ran into some who run such courses who found themselves out of work when the programmes were closed down for whatever the reason and what they were supposedly telling others to do to find work did not help them.

      The programme You and Yours on Radio 4 is talking about the cap on benefits and housing benefit at this minute(should be available on Listen Again later)

      Of course I am biased but a lot of people phoning in are mis informed. Obviously, just taking the cuts at face value as reported and the presenter seems to be biased as she interupts anyone who phones in on benefits and doesn't let anyone finish their point where others are allowed to speak.

  48. If you want some more ammo in the fight against using the 'biopsychosocial model' of disability or whatever it is, I would urge you to read this: '' People with M.E have been at the mercy of a similar thing for years. I can't tell you how many doctors have told me that if I don't work I'm choosing to label myself disabled and that if I do work my pain and symptoms will go away, because afterall, I'm fine.
    Really hope you'll have time to read and retweet it.


    1. The Sun attacked "meddling bishops" in its Sun Says leader column, adding:

      Part of the coalition government's courageous plan to cap benefits to fair levels is scuppered by posturing Church of England clerics in the Lords and their Labour chums.

      All we ever hear from the bishops is how unfair the government is being to welfare claimants. Never a peep about how unfair it is to workers who slog all day to keep layabouts in beer and pizza.

  50. "AnonymousJan 23, 2012 10:11 AM
    I agree with him though, my husband and I work and we're not rich and have to think twice even about buying mcDonalds while we see single mums who look like chavs with 3 kids (we can't afford even one) eating there regularly. How is this fair? I hope they get kicked out of their comfortable house and reduce my tax! I don't mind supporting disabled people though, but the lazies and irresponsible need to fend for themselves."

    "AnonymousJan 23, 2012 03:54 PM
    How do you know they are single mums and even if they are whats it got to do with you .You should not steroetype people so easily."

    You can assume what you say but unless you live with or know the people you have decided are lazies etc...and see what money is coming in and from where how can you be so sure?

    And it would be interesting to see who actually gets £26,000 annually? And as I said earlier few are actually getting £26,000 and single people will be getting less as their cap is being set at a lower rate £18,500 and it still costs the same to put the heating on if you are single but will have less income.

    Instead of working people having a go at those who need help maybe they should ask why if the amount given in benefits is seen as the right amount for a decent life the companies they work for are not paying them a better wage and keeping wages so low.

    Many who work still have to ask for help from the Government so they are still claiming. And though it won't happen rents should be lower than they are so more people can afford a roof over their head.

    1. Susan....Her father left when she was three years old. At the age of five her mother started full time work and Susan started school. Susan cried and screamed when her mother left her at school, in her little mind she had lost her father and now it seemed her mother was leaving her to in the hands of total strangers. Already feeling insecure through the loss of her father and break up of her family she timidly trod through her first school day, and the next and the next.

      Her mother, unqualified was forced to take low paid, repetitive work. She began to suffer depression. Susan had brother, two years older than her, their mother struggled on a low income to clothe and feed them; she struggled on with her depression. Susan and her brother began to compete for what little of their mother’s attention and affection they could get causing jealousy and rivalry between them.

      Susan was bullied and excluded at school and had no friends, she felt her brother hated her and her mother had no time for so she told no one. She became increasingly isolated and depressed from the age of seven. She tried to feign illness so that she would not have to go to school and stand alone in the playground, but she still had to go because her mother had to work. Susan often had thoughts of suicide brought on by the treatment of her by the piers at school. They picked on her because she was ‘different’ and they sensed her weaknesses, it was fun for them.

      This went on through her school life. By the age of thirteen her brother had attempted to rape her, and her mother had attempted suicide. Susan was desperate for love and became promiscuous, she was in fact being used sexually but at least this was better than no attention and was a form of love to her. She became pregnant and joined the group of single mothers and ‘chavs’ ‘scrounging’ of the state.

  51. "AnonymousJan 24, 2012 10:40 AM
    The Sun attacked "meddling bishops" in its Sun Says leader column, adding:

    Part of the coalition government's courageous plan to cap benefits to fair levels is scuppered by posturing Church of England clerics in the Lords and their Labour chums.

    All we ever hear from the bishops is how unfair the government is being to welfare claimants. Never a peep about how unfair it is to workers who slog all day to keep layabouts in beer and pizza."

    Are all those who shop or around during the day time claimants? We may think they are but where's the proof. You could argue perversly that the people you criticise are helping to keep the workers in their jobs by spending their money in the places you suggest and the money is going back into the economy.

    This is a trap many fall into, fitting people into a stereotypical image.

    Someone on the radio today called into a programmes and said something similar about all the people that are claiming benefits but do nothing for it but no one challenged where she had got that opinion from and how she knows that what she says is corrrect.

    Was it from anecdotal experiences of family and friends or what she has been told or heard via the media and Government spin so she has taken it as fact.

    I could make a general statement about a section of society and without evidence to back it up it would be wrong to do so just as the original statement is here.

  52. Government plans to abolish the social fund and transfer the responsibilty for crisis loans and grants to local councils (re Shredding the ultimate safety net, editorial, 23 January) are not the only example of regressive and damaging changes to what has been a national benefit system.

    Council tax benefit is also being localised and cut by 10% for all claimants except pensioners, with councils having to decide who will receive, and in what proportions, what remains. In the year of the Dickens bicentenary we are witnessing the revival of 19th-century poor law with a patchwork quilt of key benefits varying according to where people live.

    Jeremy Beecham, House of Lords

    1. Lord Beecham - I can only conclude that these policies, and of course the attacks on the sick and disabled, ultimately stem from a visceral hatred for the poor or weak on the part of the Tories and LibDems (at least the LibDems in government, who ignore the wishes of their membership). They know wholesale euthanasia is probably a bit beyond the pale even by their standards, but seem to have evolved measures that will ultimately serve that purpose in many cases, as we will see a steady rise in mortality rates in the sections of society affected by these cuts.
      Jeremy - please keep speaking out. This country is fast becoming a nightmare.

  53. Eight out of ten people tested for new incapacity benefits were found to be fit for work, official figures revealed yesterday.

    The Department for Work and Pensions decided that 57 per cent of claimants were no longer eligible for the hand-outs.

    A further 21 per cent could carry out some sort of work with the right support.

    Read more:

    1. Anonymous Jan 25 01.19 AM - You know damn well by now that the farce that is the Work Capability Assessment (it's NOT a medical) is in melt-down, has been found totally unfit for purpose, and is leading to unnecessary deaths. I can only assume you are some policy wonk from the government who has posted the above in its efforts to mislead the general public and demonise the disabled.
      What I'd really like to see is the Daily Mail exposing the scandal that the whole sick benefit "reforms" are based on, namely the probably illegal links between the government, ATOS and US health insurance company UNUM, which was outlawed in several US states for sharp practice, yet has been "advising" successive governments here since the 1990', on cutting benefit numbers. Of course, now, they are widely advertising in this country as people begin to realise that there won't be any safety net if they become sick and unable to work. Oh, but funnily enough, even people who have taken out a private policy with UNUM find it incredibly difficult to make a claim when they need to, because the whole system is now based on an extremely dubious form of testing people which is set up to fail people and deny that they are ill, ignoring evidence and reports from the claimant's doctors. Take what the Daily Mail wishes to parrot from the government if you like, but don't complain if you or one of your own family ends up suffering like thousands of others are right now, sick, disabled and facing increased poverty and possibly destitution.

    2. Doctors have always been to keen to sign people who are faking onto incapacity, because they can't be bothered arguing and just want the quiet life.

  54. very few benefit claimants families receive payments above £13000 per year and that would be with 4 children
    so i still unsure or reports of who would get more

    and i am an expert with figures and on benefit entitlements

    Of course these families get there rent paid which on average in a council house or social house would be around £400 to £600 per month in the south of england

    the same houses in the private sector would be around £1000 for a 3 bed semi to £1400 per month in a four bed detached

    As for putting people in the private sector was just madness in the first place as to build a new home is dirt cheap it is only the land that can be expensive

    my house for example a 3 bed semi when new 3 years ago was £275000 for the private buyer but the housing association only paid £100000 for it so you can see that putting people in the private sector is just folly.

    and that is why in the vast majority of countries in the world that does not happen and for good reason it's just madness

  55. a song of (ultimately) hope in the darkness

    BBC Folk Award (2012) nominee, Lucy Wards' d├ębut single

    "For The Dead Men".

    new video

    official video

  56. It is frightening how easy it is to get one part of the nation to hate another part.

    At the moment there is a concerted effort to whip up hatred of people on welfare benefits - just as those numbers are set to increase.

    I saw two things on the news recently. One was that Cameron (I think) was saying that all the amendments made by the Lords would be "considered" and then reversed in the Commons. The second was that an opinion poll taken shortly afterwards showed a resurgence of support for the Conservatives. Depressing.

    But is it really the best answer to talk about how much we hate all Conservatives? Does the extra hate sloshing around improve our chances of making changes?

    One of the most impressive things about the Spartacus Report was that it met an attack based on self-interest and fuelled with popular prejudice with good research and careful analysis of facts and figures. Not matching hate with hate.