Tuesday 20 November 2012

The Last Nail in PiP's Coffin?

With a sense of deja-vu, I just read Esther McVey’sassurances to Dame Anne Begg, chair of the work and pensions committee, that the government had consulted sick and disabled people over the design of PIP and taken their views into account.

Those of us who were involved in any way with the unprecedented success of the Spartacus Report know they are untrue as we comprehensively proved it nearly a year ago.

The government did not challenge any of the key claims we made in the report and so attacked it as “partial”. They claimed that as we had only analysed the group responses to the consultation, the findings were skewed. However, they refused to publish the other 5,000 individual responses to prove that they were telling the truth.

2,500 were template letters, most of which came from us, so we knew that they were all likely to be in some way critical of the policy. After months of raising awareness of the consultation online, we were fairly confident that most of the remaining 2,500 were sent in by our own supporters or would otherwise be critical of PIP.

This blog details the extraordinary events on the day before our own amendment calling for a pause to PiP went before the Lords. Lord Freud is forced to send a rebuttal of Spartacus Report to every peer. We almost immediately challenge the rebuttal publicly in a joint post on both my blog and Kaliya Franklin’s. 

Finally, the government had to promise to publish the remaining submissions to prove they weren’t lying.
They said that they would publish them in chunks over the coming year, as there were so many.

So, as I read Ms McVey tell the very same lies, I thought some of you might like to look into whether or not the DWP kept their promise, and if not, will they be doing so before 9th January next year?

Finally, if they haven’t released the responses or they have and they prove what we know they will – that the Department of Work and Pensions lied about them being less critical of PIP than the group responses – on which date would they like us to send the letter to every MP and Peer confirming that the entire case for PIP is dishonest?

Any of you who fancy doing a little investigating while I’m stuck in hospital why not use the comment thread to share what you find out with others and take the appropriate steps based on what you find out. Ie phoning DWP press office to ask why they haven’t been released or maybe FOIing the responses again with a link to the original FOI promising to release the 5000 responses.

I can’t find links very easily from hospital, so you’ll have to find the posts I’m referring to yourselves (they were January).

I think it’s worth doing though. This is one deadline we need to keep :
Date in Diary – The day we blow the case for PiP apart


  1. I'll have a look tomorrow. Which reminds me that I made an FoI request five weeks ago and haven't heard back yet.

  2. Sue, I don't see that any of the individual responses have been released, only a long ongoing saga, presumably the original FOI request you mentioned on the website 'what do they know?'. Lots of charitiable organisations have released their responses, but of course, these are the group responses you have already.

    I stumbled across a letter from Maria Miller to Dr Hywel Francis MP, Chair of the Joint Committee on Human Rights dated 29/3/2012. It's likely that you have seen it, and I apologise in that case, but I found it interesting because it states,

    "Even though there is no requirement to publish the individual responses we have decided in the interests of transparency, we will publish the reponses in tranches over the coming year."

    Just as you have said. Mrs Miller does admit, for various reasons, that there is no time precise timetable for this. The Responsible Reform Report is also mentioned in the letter.


  3. Ive written a template letter for people to send to thier MP asking for help to find the responses or ask why not been released. will include link to the maria Miller letter and the orgigional spartacus report.

  4. Great quote on the Information Commissioner's Office website, from the govt. white paper Your Right to Know:

    "Unnecessary secrecy in government leads to arrogance in governance and defective decision-making." - Your Right to Know

    Obviously successive govts have not actually read this paper...

  5. benefits are likely a highly addictive drug once on them you just cant get off them and when they are stopped u get all kinds of withdrawal symptoms pseudo ailments the back pain flares up the anxiety goes up etc etc amazing when u read my benefits stopped because of x the x is always something like anxiety or panic attacks or something u cant diagnose or disprove. u rarely see a substantive condition like cancer mentioned.

    if u put as much effort into getting benefit into getting a job then this country wouldnt be the lazy pit its turning out to be. amazing also how comments regarding lack of money no food in house etc but u still got a computer with internet connection etc so whats yr priorities then? presumably u got yr cigs aswell gotta get those first right? :)

    if u want a pitch battle between those that contribute and those that dont u got it and we are up for the fight to. there are millions that have never contributed anything but claimed benefit from day 1 so this idea i am getting back what i put in is bs when so many have never contributed anything so how do they get it? enlighten us pls.

    For all those that think support for cuts are waning these are the 2 top rated comments on a recent article talking about cutting welfare. Support IS rising exponentially.

    "£500 a week?!! That's £26K per year TAX FREE?!!! She is living in cloud cuckoo land! There are PLENTY of families that work and take home a lot less. I'm all for cutting that amount AND giving any benefits to be recieved by card / stamps. I don't care if it's humiliating to receive welfare benefits in that way - maybe then some people wouldn't think of it as a lifstyle choice as opposed to the 'support system' it was meant to be!
    Rating 3952 Report abuse"

    "This is offensive to hard working, poorly paid workers who have to survive on much, much less. You cut your coat according to your cloth and if you can't afford to live somewhere, you move to somewhere less expensive. That is what working people have to do so why should people on benefits - especially the dyed in the wool scroungers - be treated any differently? The LibDems are utterly out of touch with reality and this stupid woman illustrates this."

    1. ..And, do you have anything to actually say about the thread topic sir?

      We must be onto something if the opposite side are having to actually hire astro-turfing services to copy-paste talking points.

    2. This comment has been removed by the author.

    3. This comment has been removed by the author.

    4. Martin, don't feed the troll. It just gets fatter, uglier and hungrier whenever it's replied to. Ignore it, and it'll get ever more shrill and vile to elicit a response: then it'll bugger off back under the bridge when no "food" is available, and eat itself.


      It's not even a classy troll. 2/10 I'd rate it.

      Anyhoo... getting the mega-omnishambolic "democratic" Govt. to be honest is a bloody opium-pipe dream. Miller was a nightmare to deal with when she was at the DWP. This new lot since the (mostly) musical-chair reshuffle are equally as bad.


    5. Totally agreed with all your comments. Thanks JohnB.

    6. I'm gutted my troll is so low grade to be honest. He doesn't bring up a single point that even provides a little challenge.

      I suppose I shall know I've truly arrived when I get a better one ;)

  6. Esther McVey said the process about draft orders was not followed. Is there a legal case here?
    Anita Bellows

    1. Dame Anne Begg has said the same
      did read the transcript of the meeting back in late October - and watched parliamentary debate on 13th Nov -preparation for pip

    2. This is very much from memory, but a couple of years back, the DWP Select Committee issued a report on some DWP shenanigans to which the *public* response was "We don't have to do what they say." To which I mentally added the implied sentence, "So they can just Sod Off."

      I rather thought that was pretty much what Ester McVey's response amounted to. "We didn't tell you because we'd decided not to take any notice of what anyone else said. So it wasn't worth my time coming to your irrelevant meeting just for you to be unpleasant to me personally without it making a blind bit of difference."

  7. as promised a template letter to send to MP's asking for help in chasing up the publication of the origional PIP consulations - bowwored a friends blog http://ramblingsofafibrofoggedmind.wordpress.com/2012/11/21/a-call-to-arms-pip-needs-you/

  8. I understand the emotions that PIP and its implementation is causing, but we are missing the point, which is that DLA expenditure has grown inexorably over the last decade. And this at a time when there has been no increase in disability, in fact the reverse. So it is not surprising that any government of any political colour will be seeking substantial reductions in the budget. How do they do it? They either toughen the existing process or they introduce a new process - and the latter is seen as preferable.
    So there is no point writing about the final nail in the coffin of PIP. This is wishful thinking in a country which cannot balance its books. And no matter what we as the disabled think about the rightness of our situation, the latest national statistics show that the majority of the British people think too much is being spent on welfare.
    So what to do? It seems to me that we do need to reappraise fundamentally the benefits system for disabled, and make sure that it is the truly needy who are properly supported; and the consequence is that the less needy will not be supported as they have in the past. (I speak as someone who has been living with the consequences of a brain haemorrhage for the over two years, and has had to make his own way forward in a very confusing and complicated society)

    1. "no increase in disability". Just what planet do you inhabit? Life expectancy has increased thanks to an improved (for how long?) NHS.
      One example: The huge reduction in deaths from circulatory disease means that much larger numbers of people are alive than would have been 20 yrs ago but many have to cope with the effects of their strokes and damaged hearts.

    2. Instead of celebrating man's ability to make improvements to health in the field of medical science,hence increased longevity and better management of illness, plus the doctor's endeavours to preserve life - which is their greatest humane motivation - governments penalise the chronically sick and disabled.

    3. Sorry but you must be very new here if you don't already know why DLA expenditure has risen and fill the gaps with evidence-free suppositions.

      What the public think only matters if it is true. We could work on changing their minds, but only for very short-term gains. What matters is what they think when the benefit of hindsight kicks in and hindsight looks at the evidence, not the talking points.

      Be sure to actually name some of the disabilities and illness which are represented in DLA claimant demographics that have been cured in the last decade. If you ever actually come back.

    4. How can there be "no increase in disability"? Is this actually possible? Any evidence to support this and the other claim that disability has been "reversed"?

      Sounds like you're another one who has fallen for government spin and right-wing dogma as propogated by thescandal-mongering media.

      If you hadn't noticed, there are many, many people suffering because of this government's cuts. People who, through no fault of their own, have or develop debilitating health issues. Were they the ones who created the financial mess the world economy finds itself in? Are they the ones sitting on vast amounts of personal wealth, bending the system to satisfy their own greed?

      If you believe "the British people think too much is being spent on welfare" you haven't grasped the full gist of the argument: it's about people suffering unduly because the government and their fawning media allies are on a crusade against supposed 'scroungers'. They don't care who is trampled on or thrown to the wolves in their quest to demonise and scapegoat; it obviously has the desired effect of taking blame away from the true culprits of our present economic situation.

    5. Hahaha. 1st almost everything you say is not true and 2nd, the gov announced 70% of DLA claims would not even go through PIP til after the election. I was right again! Yay

  9. the last minute of question time was brilliant as one of panel Owen Jones brought up the names of a couple of people who had been found fit for work and then died. IDS looked pretty sick at this point but regretfully the programme then run out of time

    well done Owen Jones you did well and are the first person on tv to take on IDS publicly in the uk on these welfare reform deaths it's just a pity the time run out as there were hundreds of other deaths for IDS to account for

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  10. Not just deaths and the WCA Nick - the effect of bedroom tax on the disabled which will be part of universal credit - affecting people whose life choices are already severely limited. Also, he sneakily said it won't affect people's DLA, neglecting the fact that DLA is not a means tested benefit in the first place, and is soon to become obsolete. Also,aside from DLA, disabled children's money will be cut by 50%. Regrettably much of the public do not understand what DLA is - the process of applying and the conditions of payment and what it is worth in real terms regarding the care and equipment a disabled person needs. They see it as an over generous top up of household income.
    It was great to see IDS lose his temper and exhibit his childish chimpanzee behaviour - once you do that - you lose all credibility in my view.

  11. yes kath i was very late to the program myself as i say IDS got away very lucky that the program run out of time but hopefully next time another member of the panel will be able to get all of the deaths across for IDS to answer

    One of the public in the audience should have got this question in much quicker

    (why have hundreds of benefit claimants died shortly after they have been told there fit for work)

    it's a very straight forward simple question ? and an answer should be forthcoming as we the public IE the sick and disabled are very frightened as to what's going on behind closed doors and in private

    In fact in my book it's the most serious question ever to be asked in politics the deaths of the most vulnerable.

    VERY ALARMING and it's about time that question was asked by every mp/police force across the land

    if i was a mp there would have been no deaths whatsoever with this welfare reform process so it DOES matter that only mp's who have a high regards for others safty be allowed to be allowed in to the house of commons

    any policy that the government make irrespective of it's nature should have the safety of the public first and four most in mind and if mp's don't have the ability to do this then they can always go and work abroad in countries like Syria etc where the standard of politics doesn't matter much to the disgust of it's people

  12. Owen Jones is a left wing amateur who straight after spewing his nonsense would have gone straight to claridges to quoff champagne paid for by his media fatcat colleagues. the benefits crowd dont see unlike Dimbleby who kept pointing out to Owen answer the question i.e why should unemployed families who drain the system and contribute nothing be allowed to live in housing a working family could never afford? owen never bothered to answer that.

    the biggest cheer and clapping off the audience for the whole show was FOR benefit caps. also IDS was right why should 2 mill + be allowed to park themselves on benefits for 10 yrs. get off yr backside and contribute. times up for the gravy train.

    sorry folks the good times are over. no more cake and eating it. no more endless cigs and booze at other ppl expense. as someone in the audience pointed out why should someone on benefits get more than a working person? that is something the benefits crowd avoid answering. they just want to keep their cushy number.

    also why have the hypocritic morality of claiming benefit but still wanting the cheap stuff churned out by Primark made by a 5 yr old in a sweat shop in the far east. u dont care about them do u just a me me attitude with a snout in a trough filled by others.

    well finally the working crowd is winning the battle. the solution is cut welfare the billions saved give working ppl a tax cut of thousands. then u have an incentive to work. at the minute there is none when housing benefit tax credits this credit that credit child benefit this allowance ad infinitum gives u all a cushy number.

  13. Troll alert - don't feed it even out of pity. It's still a nasty hungry Troll!

    1. Yes, not one for mutual debate, just verbal diarrhoea.

    2. Declan was telling me the story of "the Jews poisoning all the wells" Nazis would ask "Why are the Jews poisoning all the wells" Respondent : "They aren't poisoning all the wells" Nazi : "But if the Jews WERE poisoning all the wells...." "Respondent : "No-ones poisoning any wells" Nazi : "But if the Jews ARE poisoning the wells, you wouldn't support it would you" .....

      And so on until ppl hear that the Jews are poisoning the wells so often, they come to believe it

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  15. The most cold hearted letter ever sent by a Tory Minister.

    The Daily Record are carrying one of the most harrowing stories I have read in some time. The letter above was sent by a Tory Minister to the family of a man who they say was killed by the strain of an ATOS "Back to Work" test. The sheer lack of humanity, compassion and empathy in the letter above will anger many readers. At Tory Party conference David Cameron said that the Conservatives had a heart but it just doesn't wear it on its sleeve. The latter part of that sentence is probably the most truthful thing David Cameron has ever said. Without any evidence at hand, I cannot confirm the truthfulness of the first part of Cameron's claim. To read the details of the McArdle family's harrowing story, please follow this link (here [Daily Record]).

    Stuffed shirt Iain Duncan Smith fails to show ounce of compassion
    24 Nov 2012 08:33

    KIERAN McARDLE deserved the respect of IDS - but all he got was a bland reply without any empathy or concern.


  16. if this country is being led by the likes of IDS then this will account for all of the troubles in the world today

    His style of writing to a young boy is mind blowing without any care or thought let alone concern and compassion

    His style is one of complete remoteness as if you have dog Pooh on your shoes such is his bad judgement with words and style

    If this is the type of person IDS and co trying to secure piece in the middle east or anywhere else for that matter or trying to fit into the EU then all i can say is forget it as it's never going to happen as your standard of government is as bad as many of the countries in the world who treat there people in a cold and heartless way

    All of the conservative front bench are cold and heartless and the above letter to this young man more them prove that point

  17. Message in two parts

    Part one

    I have already added this link to the previous blog entry but thought it might be an idea to include it again in this latest thread.

    In case anyone has not yet seen this letter here is the DWP’s PDF copy of the letter that many received on Friday.

    I agree with MW in the previous thread that this letter is extremely threatening. It has been timed to intimidate at a time of year when money worries are especially aggravated; whether for those with families facing an already bleak Christmas, or more simply worries about the greatly added expense of heating a cold and damp home over the winter.

    The letter concerns sanctions:

    Here are a couple of examples:

    “As long as you do what your adviser asks you to do to help you prepare for work, you need not worry about sanctions. “

    Even if this means being asked to participate in a workfare placement?

    Even if you are too sick or disabled to do so?

    “Advisers will only ask you to take part in activities that are reasonable for you to do and you can discuss and agree your personal needs with your adviser.”

    Are advisers qualified to determine activities that are reasonable for you to do? Considering that ATOS passes people who are severely disabled, or dying, as supposedly ’fit to work’, the judgement of both ATOS and the DWP is clearly untrustworthy and unreliable on this, and much else besides.

    Unless they have medical qualifications I rather doubt that these advisers are capable - and even then, considering the activities of ATOS personnel who supposedly do have healthcare qualifications. Only you know what you are capable of doing.

    This country is an uncaring place to live. I never thought that any UK government even the Conservatives would turn on sick and disabled people including children and even the terminally ill in such a vicious and callous way, or that so many people would believe the government‘s anti disability/benefit “scrounger” propaganda. But then should I be surprised on that point considering the way that much of the public has been drip-fed false and misleading anti-welfare propaganda for years, by the gutter press. However, I think that things are changing to some degree as people are gradually becoming aware of the government’s true agenda concerning welfare reforms. It is a frightening time for us all. I worry everyday about the future of my son and others like him, my own future and indeed the future of us all.

    When is someone going to make a stand for what is right in any civilised society, and that is the care of the sick and disabled and anyone else in need of support due to circumstances beyond their control such as the unemployed. There are two and a half million unemployed, there is little industry, all of it being sent to China and other countries to take advantage of low paid workers in order to make a huge profit for big corporations and the government allowed them to do so. Furthermore as a result of government public sector job cuts many more people have joined the ranks of the unemployed through no fault of their own. There are few jobs for the able let alone the disabled. Even the DWP fired a sick employee who had been stabbed 18 times and lost one eye:


  18. Part two

    And do not forget the low paid who often need to apply for in-work benefits. It is not right that people should slave away their precious existence for a pittance, for no other reason than to make big greedy corporations rich. More and more working people live in poverty:

    “The report ( by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation) highlights the growing incidence of well-educated people on the breadline because of a failure to find a job. The report charts the changes in recent decades in levels of poverty in Britain – and seeks to explain why, despite higher levels of employment and a more qualified workforce, there has not been more success in combating poverty. The Monitoring Poverty report calls for the government to "give up the belief that welfare reform" is the solution and focus instead on the phenomenon of in-work poverty.”

    Chiding ministers for claiming that "poverty is about worklessness and welfare dependency", the report says that in fact "60% of children in low-income households have a working parent, the highest proportion in the history of these statistics".
    The rise in poverty rates is largely due to stagnating wages and benefit cuts which the foundation says will result in lower incomes for some of the most vulnerable people in society.
    "It is the poorest households that are the most at risk and even small changes to their benefits will dramatically reduce their income. As such these cuts to benefit spending cannot be seen as a good thing," says the report. "Large numbers of families are to be hit by a combination of different cuts. These overlapping effects are something to which government has paid little attention."

    Read the full story:

    Disturbingly right at the end of the article the DWP remain adamant as usual that welfare reforms are improving the lives of the poorest families despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary. No matter who comments and criticises: from welfare recipients, to the general public, academics, charities and other organisations; the DWP response is always the same tired, lazy, careless rhetoric.

    The quality of life is getting increasingly worse for the majority of us all except the very rich. Not only here of course but the world over. Things will only get worse while we set ourselves against each other, instead of unifying against this great social injustice and increasing poverty. Odd isn't it how so relatively few question the right for a tiny minority to control the worlds resources to feather their own nests with wealth that cannot be spent in a lifetime while millions live impoverished lives. While one child a minute dies of hunger in a so called developing country another person has millions in the bank all the time gathering interest for doing absolutely nothing.

    An example of this; Paul McCartney's salary in US dollars:


    While he brings a lot of pleasure to many people with his music, is it right that he has so much money at his deposal while others live in poverty?

    Here is a list of the UKs richest. How can anyone justify such outrageous wealth while others live their lives in poverty?


  19. Apologies Sue and everyone if my message is off the topic of your current entry. I just felt everyone should see this awful threatening letter and than could not resist a good ramble and venting my anger at what is happening to us all.

    1. Don't you dare apologise!

      It's a brilliant comment. Thanks for the time and effort you must have put into it.

      To all of you, thank you for debating here. I don't often get to say it, but I'm very grateful.

  20. I know where you are coming from...I start to hope things may come out fine and then read examples here of what is going on and then my mind races, I get the knotted feeling in my stomach and then the axiety and depression kicks in.

    I missed the DWP phoning me last week to send out the forms to migrate me to ESA so followed the directions and thought "It has to be done!" I'll phone them. I was given a different tale after numerous calls that failed to connect.

    The guy at the call centre when I did get through said they will eventually send the forms out anyhow and to ignore the letter so I await to see what happens. He said not everyone has a medical and yes I can send in evidence from my Dr with the forms...

    We shall see. I'm not holding my breath.

    Anyone hear the BBC Radio 4 special 10am-1pm today on the Welfare State 70th Anniversary?

    Someone suggesting more part time jobs but better paid(£9 an hour)and then others filling in the remainder of the week so everyone works.

    With a lack of jobs and employers paying low wages already can anyone see a employers willing to pay more? They pay less so employees have to still try and get help from the State to top the wage up.

    A big critcism of the programme was they have spent two hours talking to experts. Hardly anyone who has to claim from the State or use the system for whatever the reason were included.

    It would have meant so much more to hear from the Unemployed, the ill, the carers, the pensioners, those who cannot afford to eat or heat their homes. Those who actually are thankful for the help they receive.

    To hear about the obsticles that get in the way to supposedly help move people from State help.

    The schemes that are thought up to help the disadvantaged that often fail.

    It would have been nice to have those who use the system talk, argue and discuss with the MP's(especially IDS)who are bringing in the changes that are going to affect so many in the coming months...I did not hear any charities or CAB taking part unless I missed them.

    I thought the BBC programme would be slanted one way and I was not disappointed.

    It is available on the I-player for the next seven days.

    It did not surprise that some of the soundbites/talking heads used were the usual ones like Edwina Currie, Kelvin McKenzie etc...


    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  21. A very interesting blog.

    I have just started my own at www.disabilitybarrister.co.uk

    If anyone has any suggestions for aspects of disability law, they would like to see posted, please let me know.

  22. I have come across another worrying story regarding the ill and what is possibly planned even when you migrate to ESA and you are placed in the group that offers the most support.


  23. I think the Harrington report is a much-needed clarion call.
    The social media has been really useful in highlighting the injustices faced by many disabled people, but in many cases it has now turned into a moan-fest, and the constant whining is turning the general public away from the truly needy. Even the chairman of the PAC fell into the whining trap and was rightly taken to task by Robert Devereux.
    So Harrington's comments ('often fuelled by adverse media coverage, representative groups and political points scoring...') are timely. We should all take heed as we plan the next stage.

    1. Well the forms dropped through the letterbox this morning to fill for the WCA and my probable migration to ESA :o and they want them to arrive no later than just after Christmas so in other words as the mail will be all over the place I have approx 3 weeks at the latest to get everything filled in and I have thankfully been in contact with my Dr so hopefully my accompanying evidence will be ready in time...

      Of course I'll try not to worry but Christmas will be a bit of a downer and waiting for the outcome early in the New Year. I am one of so many.

  24. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/9683811/Prepare-for-work-or-lose-your-benefits-long-term-sick-are-told.html

    the type of language used by lord fraud is well off the mark and will upset thousands of sick and disabled people
    it's the most alarming thing I've ever come across in my life time and will cause the premature deaths of many people by the stress of Reading such an article

  25. Professor Harrington speaks on Radio 4's You and Yours today approx 10 mins into the programme for approx 10 mins and he's less than happy with the DWP, WCA and Atos though he says there is a slight improvement. Worth a listen.


    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

    2. well he would do as he is trying to distance himself from all of the many that have died in the process of the welfare reform bill. His overall view from the very start did not allow for any unforeseen circumstances in which any policy maker should have taken account off so he is in part responsible for those that have died. He should have as a caveat in his report outlined at the end of all of reports that it would be most likely that people will die through negligence while the sick and disabled were being reassessed for welfare payments

      He did not take into account at any point any form of negligence by the assessors /ATOS/DWP be it accidental or criminal so in my eyes he failed.

      It doesn't matter what profession your in you must always in any contract include wording to the effect of any downside if a part of a policy /contract should fail especially where vulnerable people lives were at risk if things went wrong in which sad to say have and as a result many have died in the process

  26. ATOS Head Gets £1M Bonus
    The fatcat boss of a firm hired to help slash the benefits bill has won a bonus of nearly £1million.

    Thierry Breton’s bumper payout means he pocketed more than £1.9million last year.

    Details of the obscene sum paid to the head of French firm Atos come as David Cameron draws up draconian new welfare cuts.

    Atos was brought in to reassess 2.5 million people on ­incapacity benefit to help the ­Department for Work and Pensions decide whether they are fit to work.

    Mr Breton received his massive pay out despite mounting numbers of successful appeals by people ordered to get a job after being tested by the firm.

    Heart attack and lung disease victims are among those judged to be well enough to work.

    Some 3,100 claimants had appeals upheld in May 2011, up from 900 in the same month in 2010, the latest figures show.

    On average almost two in five, 38%, challenged decisions are overturned at tribunal, nearly one in 10 of all those made.

    And the appeals system costs taxpayers tens of millions of pounds to administer.

    Labour MP Tom Greatrex says Mr Breton’s bonus will “sicken” those put through the reassessment ordeal.

    The Atos chief’s latest payment comes on top of wages and perks totalling £1.83million in 2010.

    It was revealed in its recent annual report in which it boasts about its “excellent service”.

    Mr Greatrex said: “People will find it hard to believe that he sees fit to reward himself with millions, while thousands here suffer.

    “It will sicken those who have been through the Atos process to hear the company crow about its expertise.”

    He called on the DWP to get a grip on Atos and make the firm improve its performance.

    “Thousands suffered because time and again incorrect decisions have been made on the back of Atos assessments,” he said.

    An Atos source said decisions on fitness to work were not based solely on its ­assessments but also on information from ­claimants and their doctors.

    A spokesman for the company said the bonus was unrelated to the firm’s Government contract, insisting: “No bonus payments are made as part of the Department for Work and Pensions contract.”
    http://samedifference1.com/2012/12/01/a ... -1m-bonus/

  27. And now this has been discussed on the paper review on Nolan's show BBC Radio 5.


  28. The special radio show from last week is rebroadcast on radio 4 tonight at 8pm...

    Meantime this has happened in Spain today...


  29. I presume you have all seen the story in today's Independent about how caring Atos are



  30. As a recently retired GP I have seen many changes in the benefits system over the past 30 years and its a far cry from whatever Beveridge intended it to be thats for sure.

    The genuinely sick are suffering from the changes but I think the blame has to lie at those that have been screwing the system for years and are now finally being found out.

    I know a few patients that knew the game was up and didnt bother attending their medicals and went and got a job instead. I think the reforms are designed to affect those ppl but the genuinely sick get lumped in with them too.

    I also have no idea how the system can be misused too. I would see families who were hardworking and struggling to make ends meet but wanted to set an example for their children. However their neighbours who never worked would have more disposable income, a better car, go on 2 holidays a year etc This is not what Beveridge intended he wanted a system for times of need not to live off indefinitely.

    I was humbled to see patients with stomas who worked, those who had undergone heart and lung surgery continue to work after their surgery and recovery. However I was dismayed to see pts with things like minimal asthma who would pull every stunt and feign to avoid working. These are the ppl who the system shouldnt reward with benefits.

    Also I would have patients on disability that had a place in Spain and would go and spend every winter there!! They had never worked. Just how does the system work for them and not those genuinely ill?

    Also there are those pts. whose issues e.g drugs alcohol are totally self inflicted. SHould they be given benefits that they use just to drink more? My other patients thought not and strongly so.

    The system is failing those in need and rewarding the feckless. The idea of being able to produce children indiscriminately and then expect others to pay for them seems self defeating and people are taking advantage of it.

    Also I would have several patients say 'yeah i know there are lots of others who are gaming the system' they would never think they could be one of them. Patients are far too ready to talk about what they cant do rather than what they can. That is the idea of the reforms I thought. They would come with a list of problems e.g fibromyalgia (no blood tests to prove it, no imaging to prove it either) then add a bit of OA add a bit of anxiety , back pain etc and you have a recipe for complete disaster where you simply look for reasons not to work rather than reasons to. I was humbled to see those that had gone through a lot work and those that simply dont want to or avoid the issue should look at them and think what they can contribute rather than take from society.

    Dr D Johnson

    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

    2. very true martin the genuine sick and disabled people have and are paying the very highest of prices with their lives with many that have died.

      And without so much as a couple of words spoken by a mp to bring about any respite from their anguish and pain

      Anne begg mp Chair of Work and Pensions Select Committee has done a very bad job in protecting the sick and disabled as their death toll is still increasing

      hopefully she will get a grip on the situation and get the deaths stopped via a plan of support and contact for those that are slipping through the net so that when people are told that their fit for work and their not that they still get their benefits while their appealing and that they be given full legal help so that their appeal case is kept lawful at all times

    3. People, it's the troll again, don't feed it!

      Now it's a pretend doctor. Not only that but one that reads the Daily Fail and Tory Express!

    4. Gordon, why do you classify as a troll anyone who doesn't agree with your views? Have you considered that this person may actually be a GP with more experience of the problems than you, and therefore has a more valid input? No wonder social media like this was criticised by Harrington in his latest report

  31. Doctor Johnson. Your comments are ingorant and fuelling prejudice. If you lived on sickness/disability benefits you
    would soon realise you couldn't bloody well afford a house in Spain!. Don't believe everything you hear. Perhaps a
    holiday in the sun in Spain would do a sick person a lot of good. Maybe a kind relative or friend invited them for a nice little break - some people can be kind, believe it or not. Plenty of dentists have lovely holiday homes abroad;
    thousands of doctors send their kids to private schools(most
    do);plenty of doctors have holiday homes in Florida, Barbados et al and go sailing in Antigua. One summer, all the doctors in my surgery were on holiday abroad at the
    same time; an elderly locum was filling in alone for weeks,
    with a full surgery while the practice manager covered up
    for the absentee doctors if anyone dared complain.
    Plenty of doctors are obstructive and unhelpful when genuine
    patients need medical evidence for necessary sickness/disability benefits. (Some are helful). As a highly paid professional, you are privileged. A sick person
    in receipt of meagre and increasingly shrinking benefits
    is not. You have choices; they rarely have. Please stop trying to kick already vulnerable people further down the
    ladder. Write for the Dail Mail instead. Your unfair commdnts are not wanted here.

  32. Peter H

    I disagreed wholeheartedly with one of your contributions without calling you a troll.

    The above contributor uses a similad ID all the time and has morphed from disabled person, disgruntled with Sue Marsh to a barely literate reactionary to this latest incarnation. It's easy to spot: trolls take on persona that will get a reaction.

    My doubts on it's veracity as a doctor come from the language it employs and the fact that a real doctor, or ex-doctor, would be pretty hot on patient confidentiality; although it doen't name patients it does treat ex patients with a degree of contempt.

    Another giveaway is the use of abbreviations. Our resident troll loves to use them, and the language of the disdainful, 'taxpaying' right-winger: "feckless" for instance. There's also the obsession with having children and foreign holidays, car ownership and the supposed anecdotal evidence you always get from these types.

    What better way to voice your petty, hateful comments than take on the guise of doctor or ex-doctor.

    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  33. it's unlikely the poster was a Doctor. we need help from a lawyer but then again that's unlikely as they would wont a high fee.
    the budget didn't help but we expected that

    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

    2. This comment has been removed by the author.

  34. I second that. Pray for his nasty, slow death, soon. They used to hang, draw and quarter better people. I think the tide is turning a chink - some elements of the media
    are beginning to write about him and this government as the
    amoral obscenities they are; Matthew Norman in the Independent, 4th Dec - have a look, brilliant article.
    Alisdair Campbell has described Atos testing and the now
    mandatory work (for nothing) for ESA Work Activity Group
    as an 'obscenity'. But I think be's only saying it online -
    on his own blog. Why don't you say it loudly when you're
    on tv Alisdair? Next time you're on Question Time, bring it up, slip it in. This could be the time to move the debate.

  35. well whoever is going to follow this up is just to make sure that Liam Byrne/Alisdair Campbell is aware of how many people have died so far from the welfare reform bill in which people are told their fit for work and then die .Liam Byrne can be very forgetful at time's especially where so many deaths have taken place

    The bbc will not be broadcasting these deaths for the record so it's important this doesn't get hushed up and buried and that the families of those that have died get justice at some point in the courts

    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

    2. martin the bbc have told me in no uncertain terms in that they will in future not be following up on how many people die in going through the welfare reform process
      looks like they've been silenced

    3. This comment has been removed by the author.

    4. indeed martin it's sad but they say it's very complexed as the death toll is very high and the resources needed to get to the bottom of just how many have died in going through the welfare reform process would take years

      the newspapers also will not be commenting either so in so far as any long term justice for the families and relatives of the deceased go it looks very bleak

      It looks like only the viewers to this blog know the full picture of what is happening which is a terrible burden on us in which we alone will have to bear

  36. Sorry I take offence at the above. I never had kids or holiday home. I dont know any that do (holiday homes). Medical graduates have debts now of £60k+. Highly paid not really. A junior doc gets £25k a year much less than a banker!

    If you go and ask a lawyer for a letter they will charge you for it hence so will a doctors surgery. Why not?

    Dr J

    1. Because the people who are currently struggling don't have the money for a doctor's letter, let alone for a lawyer. The latter is why legal aid existed (and also why the government tried very hard to cut it so the poor cannot defend themselves). In theory, also, the NHS is supposed to still be free, and yet charges keep sneaking into the equation. To ask someone £25 for a letter of all of one or two sentences when £25 may very well be their entire budget of food for a week is shocking - more so when without that letter, the poor won't have any proof at all against sanctions.

      I worked as a PA and secretary for years - so I'd really like to know why a dictated letter, not even signed by a GP, is running £25 pounds. Even a solicitor doesn't charge that much for such a short letter when they're billing for time. So it doesn't quite wash, really.

    2. oya your so right if only all the mp's that read this blog and it's quite a few would just admit it and join in with the debates and in general give out reassurances that they are fully behind us and pledge to do all they can to fight for us that would be wonderful

      all we have is one of complete denial by mp's and lords that this blog even exists just so that at crunch time when those that have died in going through the welfare reform bill are discussed in an enquiry down the line they will be able to say to a judge (dairy of a benefit scrounger )never heard of it but you and i will know that's a complete lie

      i can just see in years to come all the guilty standing trial before a court saying (no one ever told me that people were dying going through the welfare reform process i hadn't a clue and i sincerely apologise to all of the many hundreds of families who have lost their loved one's through our incompetence ) i can just see it now and am certain that is how will be played out at a later date

    3. This comment has been removed by the author.

  37. @oya why stop there? why not ask the power companies for free power and tesco for free food and see how far you get??

    solicitors charge £250 per hr so for a letter to be dictated and typed I say 10 mins which equates to approx £40 so £25 is cheap

    there are plenty of things you pay GP surgeries for e.g private sicknotes, HGV medicals, signing a passport, medicals for adoptions etc so this idea charges sneaking in is hogwash. if you dont want to pay dont ask for it simple as.

    1. Read the bit where it says I was a PA, and also a paralegal in a lawfirm. Solicitors do not charge £250 an hour cross the board, I think you just let it slip there. And again, there's such a thing as legal aid so that everyone can have access to the same services. That's rather the point of the NHS so that those who can't pay can still have health care - and a letter which isn't even drafted by a doctor (which, I must stress, people HAVE to have in order to secure housing they need, it isn't optional) does not need to be what for some would amount to half their month's earnings.

      In any event, I do hope you've retired "Doctor" because your patient compassion is slipping a bit.

    2. Housing letters are NOT mandatory plenty (most) get housing without one. Our local office said they carried no weight also. £25 for a letter does not equate to half a months earnings!!

      Check out ganfyd.org a website dedicated to bizarre doctor note reasons. If you want a housing letter to get a bigger house for your family pay for it, DH have said its not an NHS service, its links to health are tenuous at best.

      Legal aid was one of the most abused things by lawyers to line their own pockets with baseless lawsuits at the expense of the taxpayer. About time it was controlled tbh.

  38. Does anyone know how Sue is? My wife and i would like to wish her well in all aspects of her life at this moment in time.

    1. martin she is in hospital i believe judging by her twitter account

      like martin i as always sue am wishing you all the very best and hope things are improving for you?


  39. This is what you guys are up against below if you dont think this issue below e.g should be tackled asap then the public will have little/no sympathy for your cause/plight either.
    Unemployed single mother on benefits who spends £2,000 on Christmas with 20 presents for each of her children
    Leanna Broderick plans to give children designer outfits, iPads and jewellery
    The 20-year-old has never worked and claims nearly £15,500 a year
    Claims she is better off on benefits and last year saved £2,500
    Said there was 'no point' getting minimum wage job and paying for childcare

    While many families are worrying about how to afford Christmas this year, one jobless single mother has revealed she receives so much in benefits she has £2,000 to spend on designer gifts, clothes and partying.
    Mother-of-two Leanna Broderick plans to buy 20 presents for each of her children, including Burberry and Ralph Lauren outfits, iPads and gold jewellery.
    The 20-year-old, who has never worked, claims nearly £15,500 a year in state handouts.

    Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2246104/Unemployed-single-mother-benefits-spends-2-000-Christmas-20-presents-children.html#ixzz2EhplJA6u
    Follow us: @MailOnline on Twitter | DailyMail on Facebook

  40. Thanks Nick,it's nice to know Sue is getting on well. Obviously i don't know her personally, but i am a great follower of her posts. I have read the comments on this site for a long time and was recently compelled to write here, as i feel the need to support Sparticus causes more than ever. I understand how important sue is to many disabled people who need a voice to their concerns about being treated so poorly by the very unfair welfare reforms. Sue gives so much hope and brings people together so they may challenge the oppressive agenda of |government in Great Britain today. I hope Sue is rewarded for her bravery, diligence and kindness with an award of the State from Her Majesty the Queen.

  41. Wow! I've just been a right wing reactionary for a couple of moments and it was great to feel self-righteous, indignant and full of hate-filled bile! Then the rational side of my brain kicked in and I realised I was being daft and falling for one of the oldest tricks in the book and here's how and why.

    I read that Daily Mail scrounger-living-the-life-of-Riley story.

    At first I gave in to that part of me that the story was meant to affect: someone else living it up at my expense or some such nonsense. Then the curious, analytical, deconstructive part of me kicked in and suddenly the story took on a new light.

    Firstly, we are presented with a person who claims to be lavishing all sorts of gifts on her children even though she's on benefits. There's no evidence to back this up other than a list of her benefits but again no proof this is what she receives. When I was a young 'un I used to boast that I had a highly paid job and loads of other stuff, like a flash motor and smart pad, in order to charm the ladies. I never got into the Daily Mail though, I wonder how this person did?

    Secondly, how come there's no other voices heard in this piece of journalistic brilliance? Then I noticed it's a bit of what's called Churnalism, taken from that widely acclaimed magazine Closer no less!

    Now I'm no Doctor or General Practitioner* but I do possess half a brain and realise this is after all the Daily Mail website. A place that's notorious for non-stories, salacious gossip and celebrity items, all put together to attract internet traffic in order to satisfy advertisers.

    It's also very strange that the Mail never seem to run stories about the more numerous cases of people struggling on benefits, the deaths of people being hounded by the DWP and the many horror stories regarding Atos. Could it be that these don't rile their readership as much as scrounger stories or could it be that the Fail is a Tory rag and wants to show support for the Government's pernicious actions. I wonder?

    *For the benefit of the Troll.

  42. to right Gordon
    i gave a mail journalist a list of people who had died in going through the welfare reform process and asked them to help me with compiling a structured a to z of all of those that have died and to visit over time the bereaved families and to publish their stories and would he be willing to take this on

    and you guessed it he said no way would he ever involve himself with getting justice for the sick and disabled

    so their you have it

    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  43. New announcement on PIP in Parliament today. Everyone to be reassessed by ATOS more frequently, descriptors increased. Only mentioned on BBC Radio 4's You and Your's so far. So not much chance of many even knowing what is happening unless you heard the programme.

  44. 13 December 2012

    Esther McVey MP

    Minister for Disabled People

    Oral statement on Personal Independence Payment

    House of Commons


    The Government is committed to enabling disabled people to fulfil their potential and play a full role in society.

    Crucial to this is the reform of Disability Living Allowance – a lifeline for many, but which is simply not working in its current form.

    In the last 10 years the number of people claiming rose by over a third, from around 2.4 million to 3.2 million.

    And expenditure is now far in excess of initial estimated costs.

    This year DWP expects to spend over £13 billion on DLA

    As a percentage of GDP, we spend a fifth more than the EU average on disability benefits.

    ... and expect to spend more in real terms in 2015/16 than we did in 2009/10.


    Today we are publishing the Government’s consultation responses –, on the draft assessment criteria... and on the detailed design of PIP.

    Alongside this, I will be laying in draft in Parliament the main PIP regulations, setting out the PIP entitlement conditions, assessment criteria and payment rates. And we will also publish in draft what the transitional arrangements might look like.

    The main scheme regulations are subject to the affirmative procedure and I look forward to debating them in full early next year.

    Personal Independence Payment will be, easier to understand and administer, financially sustainable, and more objective.

    Throughout the whole development, we have consulted widely with disabled people. We have used their views to inform policy design and implementation plans. As a result of hearing these views, we have made several key changes to the final assessment criteria.

    I would like to thank the individuals and organisations who contributed.

    Starting with the rates. I am pleased to confirm the rates for PIP will be set at the same rates as DLA.

    The daily living enhanced rate of PIP will be the same as the higher rate care component of DLA

    And the standard rate of the daily living component will be set at middle rate DLA care component

    The mobility rates of PIP will be the same as the DLA rates

    Furthermore, following the Autumn Statement, these disability benefits will be protected within our uprating measures.

    PIP, like DLA and Carer’s Allowance, will continue to be uprated by inflation.


    The most important thing I want to announce today is that we have listened and acted on the huge amount of consultation we have had with disabled people and disability groups

    We have made specific, key changes as a result of our engagement.

    Outlined in full in our consultation responses, these include...
    broadening our approach to aids and appliances, assessing ability to read and taking account of specialist orientation aids that help mobility
    mirroring the linking rules for DLA – helping ensure continuity for people with fluctuating conditions
    and new plans for contacting young people when they reach the age of 16 or their appointees to help a smooth transition to PIP

    All the changes we have made address the genuine concerns of disabled people and the organisations representing them.

    Overall, their effect is to make PIP more transparent, objective, and fair...

    Reassessment Strategy

    We also listened carefully to concerns about the speed of reassessment.

    To that end we will now undertake a significantly slower reassessment timetable to ensure we get this right.

    It will be phased in starting with new claims only in a controlled start area in the North West and parts of the North East of England from April 2013.

    We will then take new claims nationally from June 2013.

    From October 2013 we will start reassessing people whose DLA award is due to end, people who report a change in condition and young people who reach the age of 16.

    But now the peak period of reassessments will not start until October 2015.


    1. continued

      This means we can learn from the early introduction of PIP – testing our process, and making sure the assessment is working correctly before we embark on higher volumes.

      We will then consider the findings of our first independent review planned for 2014 and act on its findings.

      Importantly, unless they report a change in their condition, those with a lifetime or indefinite DLA award will not be reassessed until October 2015 at the earliest.


      We can now publish caseload assumptions about the impact of PIP.

      These figures clearly show that PIP will deliver its key objective – focussing support on those with the greatest needs.

      By October 2015 we estimate we will have reassessed 560,000 claimants.

      Of these 160,000 will get a reduced award and 170,000 will get no award. However 230,000 will get the same support or more support.

      Under the new criteria, almost a quarter of PIP recipients will get both of the highest rates – worth £134.40 each week – compared to only 16% on DLA.

      But by reforming the system, ensuring it is fit for the 21st century... we can use the money we spend on disabled people more efficiently and effectively, to help those most in need.

    2. Any talk at this time with regards the above in being a clime down is false. There have been many deaths associated with the welfare reform process so far and i believe if the above is true is because of that fact and that fact alone

      The Conservatives hopefully will be out of power in 2015 but those deaths that have occurred on their watch will however not have disappeared and that justice for the families involved will as I've always stated be delivered in a court at a later date for the negligence that has occurred but at this time has not be publicly talked about or debated in the news

      Justice for those that have died and their families who were told they were fit for work but weren't and subsequently died needs addressing in a court of law and those responsible whoever they are irrespective of their position need to be charged at best with negligence so that this dreadful atrocity can never happen again

  45. Now isn't interesting that DLA/PIP was supposedly a benefit to help with daily life and the extra costs being disabled can cause but they emphesise that usually it is given to help some continue in work(sound familiar?)but really more of us need it to pay for daily bills that do affect our conditions such as trying to heat our homes and have a reasonable diet and with changes coming in trying to keep a roof over our heads.

    But if their statement could be believed as delivered today on PIP the same criteria should exist for ESA which we know is not the case so why would we believe what we are being told regarding PIP?

    I never rated Esther McVey as a TV presenter so it is kind of amazing to see her in Parliament and representing the party that she is...then again perhaps not when you see many of those who are in the house of commons.

    Thank you for the posts Nick.

    1. your welcome

      As for trusting the conservatives to deliver anything remotely honorable to the sick and disabled is extremely unlikely whatever they or anyone has to say on the matter

      Their history is very poor on these subjects as are all of their policies

      i for the life of me cant remember a single honorable thing they have done over the past 40 years for the public. They have however done a hell of a lot talking across all aspects of polices and upset a whole load of professional people along the way and severely damaged many families along the way it's no wonder the people of the uk are so disengaged with politics

      They are a party not only of continuous bad error of judgment but also show a complete disregard of everyone in the uk around them especially the young and the vulnerable

      The recession was caused by very clever educated people from many walks of low life to create a situation to bring slavery back right in to the very heart of Europe so that it's living standards are aligned with china and they have succeeded

      As for this country ever going forward again that is very unlikely and certainly not over the next ten years

  46. Here hopefully is some good news concerning Pat’s petition if you have not already seen it . There is to be an opposition Day debate in the Commons based around Pat’s Petition. Your support is needed.

    Read more about this in the blog entry :

    Pat’s Debate – your support needed more than ever


  47. PLEASE NOTE: Well over 100,000 to lose Motability vehicles under draconian new rules published yesterday (Thursday 13 December)


  48. hopefully their will be a full inquest ordered by a judge as to why so many hundreds of people have died since 2008 in the welfare reform process and that those found guilty are brought before the courts and are tried on negligence grounds and of the causing of the premature deaths of the sick and disabled

    This i am told will be the likely outcome but may take like the Hillsborough disaster many years to accomplish

    Most of those involved in the negligent deaths of the sick and disabled are young enough to stand trial at a later date so that is something i guess but there are obliviously a few that will have died so will escape justice but the main thing is that justice will be served on all those living in which they have caused the death of a sick or disabled person by their negligent approach which has led to their untimely premature death

  49. Hello all,i know this is not the current subject but i really need to know what to do regarding claiming benefits whilst being homeless. Am in central london.no job or residence,am uk national,52age and just dont know best way to do it,any info gratefully appreciated. Colin 07908147666, map8map8@gmail.com

    1. no replie...after 12 years !!! - thanjs for nothing

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