Wednesday 27 March 2013

BREAKING : #BedroomTax faces legal challenge

Fantastic News!!!

Following literally months of work (particular thanks I believe to Jane Young and Sue McCafferty, they've just announced An "urgent" Legal Challenge (Judicial Review) has been successful granted over the #BedroomTax !!!!

The article explains how 
"Leigh Day are taking legal action on behalf of two disabled adults. They claim that new housing benefit regulations, due to come into force on 1 April 2013, are discriminatory, as they will have a far greater ‘devastating’ impact on disabled people than on non-disabled recipients of the benefit."
It goes on to say 
"The Court has ordered an urgent hearing at the beginning of May; we hope this will mean that the terrible anxiety our clients and many others are currently facing will be short-lived.”
You can read all about it here :

Huge congratulations to all involved. This is a really significant step forward. As the government's welfare reforms face new legal challenges by the day, campaigners everywhere are showing we will take our issues as far as necessary to see justice. 


  1. Fantastic news! I am fortunate enough to not be affected by this particular tax (thank goodness, I have my next WCA tomorrow as it is!)but it is truly shocking the number of attacks the sick/disabled community is facing right now.

  2. Great News!! does not affect me... but i know lots that are worried how they are going to make these ridiculous payments... surely it cant be legal! what next return of window tax?

  3. At least with window tax people were able to brick up their excess windows!

  4. I've read elsewhere that Nottingham Council are designating all tower block flats as one bedroom, even when they have two.

  5. Grr, I'm sorry, but it's not a tax!

    It's an unfair penalty for those who have to rely on "Social Housing".

    It's an unfair penalty for those who have a room that some people deem to be spare.

    It's an unfair penalty as it hits ONLY those who have to exist on the kindness of the state to pay their benefits.

    People who are working and do not claim housing benefit do not have to pay this, so therefore it's a PENALTY for being unemployed or disabled.

    That said, I agree, it's illegal and should be stopped!

    1. What a naive individual you are? Why should working people who go to the trouble of getting a mortgage have to pay this?!! They pay enough in tax as it is to keep a roof over YOUR head. Never forget that before you claim your handout isnt enough.

    2. If ur free hand outs are not enough to get by, then find a job that pays enough, like everyone else does, who WORKS for their living, which also pays for yours! What the hell do you give back-nothing, just take,take,take! If everyone thought and behaved like you, where would any money come from then? The Tree At The Bottom Of The Garden!? Some people really do need help and support, some don't, some can help themselves, some wont!

    3. Another brand new troll account huh?
      Since you seem to think that the 'free hand outs' we get for being too sick and disabled to work are so desirable, would you like to take the reason that I'm entitled to mine? I'll even teach you how to use my medication.

    4. Not a troll, far from it, if u read the thread again u will see that "some people need help and support" that's the people I want my taxes to help, people who lost their job through no fault of their own,people who have mental and physical disabilities and people who still work a crappy job,but were not blessed mentally do do anything better, in stead of taking the easy way out and do nothing! Ther'e still smart enough to know what the right thing is to do!

    5. I hope "work will set u free" [=Arbeit macht frei] knows that this slogan was hoisted above the gates to the Nazi concentration camps during the second world war? Or perhaps it is deliberate, and our society is now so rotten and morally corrupt that Nazis now have nothing to fear, and feel at last the exhilaration of being able to spout their immoral filth with all the depraved enthusiasm that until now they were only able to exercise in their insane and wildest dreams.

      Our Welfare State rightly operates on a system of entitlements, enjoyed by all, ready to provide what anyone may need AS OF RIGHT, when troubles come. The trolls in these comments seem to want to identify legitimately entitled sick and disabled people with those few criminals who indeed set out to milk the system.

      Why would a troll choose to take the part of the interloper who intrudes upon a gathering of sick, disabled and distressed people (we who support this blog site) if not for the purpose of hurting us? We are suffering enough at the hands of fate, and we remind the trolls that they are no more immune to fate's disasters than the rest of us, to the extent that, perhaps shamefully, I wish upon them the most awful of unwanted fate just so that they will learn a lesson and give up their immortality. Small hope I am sure. In my view they are no more than hateful bigots whose purpose in life is to cause suffering. "work will set u free", you have caused me to suffer today, and ask that you cease you actions.

    6. work will set u free: "What the hell do you give back-nothing, just take,take,take!"

      Please get it through your thick head that all of us are obliged to contribute through tax and NI when we are working, and all of us are entitled to Social Security when we cannot work (or in the Tax Credits system are entitled to payments to add to inadequately low wages). Please apologise for your false outburst. Please explain your condemnation of the person who "gives back nothing", after you have actually found someone who fits this description.

      (Clue. You might start with people who have been disabled from birth or from childhood, who clearly cannot "give back" anything. Presumably you would exterminate such people, would you?)

    7. troll with no name: "Why should working people who go to the trouble of getting a mortgage have to pay this?!!"

      I don't think Anthony, or anyone, thinks that people paying a mortgage should pay the bedroom tax. He is saying, along with many many others, that the bedroom tax, applying only to the most vulnerable people in society, is unjust and unwarranted.

      I have just worked out that a family of six, with four children of particular ages and gender, would have to move seven times in nine years to avoid the bedroom tax, which is just bonkers. It looks like willful sadism. The only good thing is that the children would never want to vote Tory. And that is quite encouraging...

  6. keep up the great work :)

  7. I do wish people would refrain from calling council/housing association properties as "social housing" as it implies that they are only for socially deprived members of society. They were and still are an alternative to the "Rachman" private landlords, charging reasonable rents and people make them into homes. Not everyone can afford or would wish to buy for many reasons but want to create a home.


    This is very sad to see. People on benefits behaving like complete thugs. Is it to much to expect civilized behavior? Maybe it is. Also not surprising to see the number of people that dont have jobs and have nothing better to do than congregate at these events outside.

    Its no wonder public attitude towards benefits has hardened more than ever before over the past 10 years as confirmed by the recent social studies survey highlighted recently on Newsnight.

    Who funds social housing? Yep mugs who work. Who benefits most from social housing? Definitely not mugs who work as most social housing goes to the unemployed (60% economically inactive). Who is funding this legal challenge? Probably mugs who work and have a mortgage too. I doubt people on benefits are digging into their wallets to fund it. Working people would love to be able to get a home for eye wateringly small rents which is what social housing is.

    There is a hardcore sector of the UK population who simply dont want to work. The sooner people accept that then something can be done about it. Only way to force them to work is stop the benefit otherwise where is the incentive to work?

    Working people who graft and have mortgages etc can only hope HMG uses their tax payers money to can this challenge once and for all and finally stand up for those that make a contribution and keep this country going. People become rich by working hard, grafting and sacrificing. The way people on benefits talk they presume they get their wealth by sitting at home watching Sky all day. Sorry you fit that role. If all taxpayers leave then where would you be? Who would fund your benefit then? Working taxpayers are leaving the UK faster than ever currently.

    1. Yeah, 'cos people with jobs NEVER beat anyone up or anything.

    2. Yes they probably do, and take back the money they gave u the day before!

    3. troll with no name: "most social housing goes to the unemployed (60% economically inactive)"

      Can you provide support for this claim? I recall hearing several times (Newsnight and such) that most social housing is occupied by people in work.

    4. I have seen this poster's name

      work will set u free

      several times now, and with its Nazi connotations, it is just too nasty to bear. Might I ask the moderators to permanently ban this poster?

      Goodness gracious. How would a Jewish person react to that? Do we have anyone here who could comment?

  9. The National Fraud Authority estimates that housing tenancy fraud, including unlawful sub-letting, costs £900 million a year. This lengthens waiting lists for legitimate housing applicants. Councils recovered nearly 1,800 homes in 2011, with a total replacement value of nearly £264 million. But this is pitiful if anything like 1.6 million social homes prove to be sublet - see below.

    Experian suggest that at least 160,000 social homes are unlawfully sublet in the UK, but as many as 160,000 social housing tenants in London alone may be subletting their properties. In Westminster a raid on one Paddington housing block revealed a massive 75% of housing benefit claimants were not living in their registered properties and were illegally subletting them for thousands of pounds a week. Another raid on the luxury 600-flat Park West development on Edgware Road found 61% of claimants were subletting their properties.


    Should be no problem funding the spare room subsidy should it when you are minting ££ from subletting the place in the first place huh?

    1. I do not believe for one moment that your nasty, suspicious mind believes that there are any "legitimate housing applicants". In your mean-minded heart of hearts, you suspect them all of wrong-doing.

    2. Ignore the idiot. Sooner people stop replying to this plonker the better.

    3. Nutty, they (he) will keep on whether anyone replies or not. Ultimately, the goal is to drive away all the people this blog is meant for and end up with mostly spammers and him (them).

      I find it strange that suddenly, after I pointed out that there is only one troll, with no one to support him, hey presto, out of the blue appears "Derek" and if you look at his Blogger profile, well, would you adam-and-eve it, has joined in March 2013!!! It's a miraculous coincidence!!

      The reason that the trolls name is a long string of random characters is that he signed up with an AIM ID (which is what I initially did with an aol address) and if you sign up this way, you do end up with a string of characters like this. As to invent another similar ID with an aol address would be far too obvious, he's signed up with a Blogger one.

      As I said, the troll will keep on with his inane, irrelevan crap whether anyone replies or not, in fact they (he) will probably post even more if no one replies.

      I am amazed that they (he's) not been dealt with.

  10. Well done guys. Will be letting my grandad know about this now. Hopefully this means he can rest a little easier since hes been worrying himself sick over this. It isnt fair to pull this kind of tax on anyone let alone an 80 year old man struggling to look after his wife of 60 years.

    1. Pensioners have always been exempt from the spare room subsidy so why did you scare him in the first place by giving false information???

    2. I didnt the news did. Clearly he didnt realise he was exempt from all this. And I only passed on information I knew of since Im no longer in the loop with all this stuff.

    3. Fuck off alphabetti spaghetti - you clearly have pasta for brains

  11. Isn't it amazing how many trolls choose names that look like a tin of alphabetti spaghetti?

    1. If they really believed that what they have to say is important they would use their name. Trolls are best ignored.

  12. Yahoo new article below. It's coming here soon. Not strictly related to this thread but related to the human issues associated with the general despair of many pushed to t he limit. Note the bit about Iceland. Make no mistake, austerity is anything but as they will be having to pay for the human cost of it. False economy. Shame that many will have to die, and no one will be accountable. From yahoo news:

    LONDON (Reuters) - Europe's financial crisis is costing lives, with suicides and infectious diseases on the rise, yet politicians are not addressing the problem, health experts said on Wednesday.

    Deep budget cuts and growing unemployment are tipping more people into depression, and falling incomes mean fewer people can see their doctors or afford to buy medicines.

    The result has been a reversal since 2007 of a long-term decline in suicide rates, coupled with worrying outbreaks of diseases including HIV - and even malaria - in Greece, according to an major analysis of European health in The Lancet journal.

    Countering these threats requires strong social protection schemes, researchers argue. But the austerity measures imposed after a string of crises in southern Europe - most recently in Cyprus - has shredded such safety nets.

    "There is a clear problem of denial of the health effects of the crisis, even though they are very apparent," said lead researcher Martin McKee of the European Observatory on Health Systems and Policies, a group backed by the World Health Organization.

    "The European Commission has a treaty obligation to look at the health effect of all of its policies but has not produced any impact assessment on the health effects of the austerity measures imposed by the troika."

    The so-called troika of the European Commission, European Central Bank and International Monetary Fund is the group of lenders responsible for a series of economic bail-outs.

    McKee said the failure of European governments and the European Commission to face up to the health consequences of their policies was reminiscent of the "obfuscation" of the tobacco industry over curbs on smoking.

    The case of Iceland, however, suggests there is an alternative.

    Despite a devastating financial crisis, Iceland rejected austerity, following a referendum, and instead continued to invest in its social welfare system. As a result, the researchers found there had been no discernible effects on health since the crisis.

    Iceland's economy has now returned to growth, but the recovery is patchy and inflation has remained stubbornly high.

    By contrast, McKee and colleagues reported that healthcare systems were now under strain in many European countries, including Spain, Portugal and Greece, with a series of negative consequences.

    In particular, there is a growing trend for patients to seek care at a later stage, even though this will mean worse outcomes for individuals and higher costs for the healthcare system in the long term.

    In Greece, meanwhile, hospitals are struggling to maintain basic standards, resulting in a rise in antibiotic resistant infections, and patients have suffered shortages of a number of medicines, including epilepsy treatments.

    End of article.

  13. Housing cuts Iain Duncan Smith gets his mansion free

    Posted on February 8, 2013 by Holmey
    Tory welfare secretary Iain Duncan Smith – the man slashing housing benefit for hard-up families – is living in a £2million Tudor country pile for FREE.

    Tory welfare secretary Iain Duncan Smith – the man slashing housing benefit for hard-up families – is living in a £2million Tudor country pile for FREE.

    Unlike worried Britons facing homelessness because of his savage cuts, the former Tory leader, 56, has the run of a palatial home which doesn’t cost him a single penny in rent or mortgage.

    The Grade II listed building, complete with swimming pool, tennis court and five acres of gardens, is the ancestral home of his wife Betsy’s multimillionaire aristocratic family.

    Not only does the house come free, he doesn’t have to worry about his four children paying inheritance tax on it because he and his wife are not technically the owners of the 16th Century home, in Swanbourne, Buckinghamshire.

    He was given use of the mansion by his father-in-law, Baron Cottesloe. It was traditionally the focal point of life in the village where the Cottesloes own 1,300 acres of prime farmland as well as the pub, post office, a private school and many of the houses.

    Until 2001 the mansion was home to Mrs Duncan Smith’s father, Commander John Tapling Fremantle, 87, the fifth Baron Cottesloe.

    The Baron and his wife then moved to another of their homes in the village and the Duncan Smiths moved in with their children Edward, Alicia, Harry and Rosanna.

    The Baron retained ownership of the house until 2005, when it was signed over to be owned jointly by Mrs Duncan Smith’s brother Thomas, her cousin Richard Brooks and Paul Knocker, a millionaire friend of the Baron.

    Mrs Duncan Smith’s brother is listed on the electoral roll as living at the house, but is understood to spend most of his time at a property 50 miles away in Hampstead, north London.

    Mr Brooks lives in a stately home in Wistow, Leicestershire, and Conservative activist Mr Knocker, 74, lives in a £650,000 country home near Salisbury, Wilts.

    According to land registry records, the three men “paid” £1million for the Duncan Smiths’ house in 2005, but it is unclear how the money changed hands.

    Mrs Duncan Smith is the Baron’s eldest child and could stand to inherit the lion’s share of the family wealth.

    She is already a major shareholder in the family property firm Thomas Tapling & Co, which has investment assets worth £1.1million and owns farms, shops and businesses across England worth £4.5million.

    A local said of Mr Duncan Smith, son of an Army officer: “He married himself into one of the most distinguished and wealthy aristocratic families in the UK.”

    Mr Duncan Smith met Betsy when she was working in Harrods after leaving her expensive boarding school.

    They lived in a townhouse in Fulham, south-west London, but sold it for £721,000 in 2002 after moving into the huge ancestral house in Swanbourne.

    Mr Duncan Smith commutes between Westminster, Swanbourne and his constituency of Chingford

    and Woodford Green on the wealthier fringes of east London, where he rents a flat in a converted house.

    1. ps - the article was entitled "Minister of Manslaughter"

    2. hmm how has is any public money being used up here? the property has been paid for!!! Yes this house has been paid for you know by working hard, getting a wage! Alien concept I know in modern society.

      Is that what you say to all hard working families with a mortgage who pay it off? They are living for free? Disgusting. Its no wonder public sentiment is hardening to the gross sense of entitlement people on benefits have.

    3. Most hard-working people with mortgages I know are outraged that there is one rule for them, one for us. I am a hard-working person with a mortgage! If you cannot see the total injustice of this situation you have surpassed even your own standards of stupidity!

      Gross sense of entitlement - you are so fucked up! lol

    4. Hey pasta-4-brains, you clearly have SO much time to keep tabs on this blog, your work must be suffering! Let's hope you get the sack so you have to sign on and you will see just what a luxurious life you can lead on benefits!

    5. If I am pasta then you must be bananas right??? You must be kicking yourself for getting a mortgage when you could have got a better and bigger house for subsidised rent courtesy of the taxpayer right??

    6. Peeps what is it? The house that IDS lives in has been paid for. Do you grasp that concept? He is not living in it for free as money has been paid for the property.

      Now those people whose rent is paid for them via housing benefit etc, they are living in the property for free as someone else i.e taxpayer is paying for them to stay there.


    7. Pastabrains you just don't get it do you? The problem is the age-old class system in this country and the uneven distribution of wealth. The landowners are still creaming it off the serfs. If wages paid enough, people would not need to claim benefits. This could be done quite easily, but the rich control wages. The poor have paid for that house, so don't talk to me about taxpayers paying for the poor's houses. That house has been paid for by poor taxpayers as well.

      and you seem to keep forgetting that housing benefit is claimed by many people who are working because wages are not enough.

      I hope you watched Breadline Britain last night.

      Now go back to work or as I said, you might get the sack and have to claim Jobseekers. Oh wait, you aren't even in the UK.

    8. <>

      Show us an example of someone who has the wherewithal to start on a mortgage, but all the same chose to claim what they could from the benefits system, and that in doing that they made themselves better off. And then show that this was breaking the rules. And then show that, if it wasn't breaking the rules, there was something wrong for this person to seek their own advantage.

      You seek your own advantage.

      You believe it is right for Iain Duncan Smith to seek his own advantage.

      But it does appear that your bigotry extends to deciding on the basis of class alone that some people are entitled to seek their own advantage, and others are not.

      ALMOST ALL THE INCOME IDS 'EARNS' COMES FROM THE TAXPAYER. £134,565, in fact.* A bit more than what I get on CA, for saving the state millions (yes, it is millions; I worked it out) in care costs.


    9. I was referring to a poster above, who wrote:

      "You must be kicking yourself for getting a mortgage when you could have got a better and bigger house for subsidised rent courtesy of the taxpayer right??"

    10. Paxman summed it up well recently. He said the reason socialists keep crowing about how the fraud rate is low in the welfare system is because the system is so generous in the first place that you dont need to defraud it! As he and others have highlighted it is not technically fraud to get so much in handouts but it sure may well be immoral.

      Others have mentioned that at a young age people can make a choice go to uni get massive debt and suffer. Or like millions do get pregnant get a free council house and benefits have more children then get a bigger house and continue the cycle. This may not be fraudulent but it damn well shirks people that work. That is where this incentive to do this must be cut asap. Someone with claimed back pain that claims everything welfare can offer but can work is not committing fraud in the eyes of the law. You cant prove he hasnt got back pain thats why so many bludge with it. A top spinal professor recently said that back pain and many other illness were social problems not medical problems. Quite right.

      People need to take responsibility for themselves. If you have four kids then its 'your' problem.

      If I watch breadline britain then you watch wider world of welfare that was presented by john humphries a while back. There you will see people on welfare managing to afford yachts and second homes in france with wineries and openly boasting about it on hidden camera. You cant have it both ways and think only genuine in need people use it. Far from it. You are much better off than a lot in work and thats where the balance needs to be addressed.

      P.S Danny check out where arch socialist Bob Crow lives with his 6 figure trade union salary. Yep plush social housing. If he had his way everyone would strike and noone would work!

    11. troll with no name: "People need to take responsibility for themselves. If you have four kids then its 'your' problem."

      But your solution is to make the children suffer, which says much more about you than it does about their parents.

    12. troll with no name: "There you will see people on welfare managing to afford yachts and second homes in france with wineries and openly boasting about it on hidden camera."

      But these people were defrauding the system.

      I had thought that the reason why you are so keen to lump legitimate sick and disabled claimants in with fraudsters was because in your cruel, evil heart, you really do hate and detest people who are suffering through no fault of their own, and whose entitlement to support is entirely legitimate.

      But I think I might be wrong. Your wish to do the lumping together comes from your deep stupidity in truly not understanding the difference between the sick person and the crook. So more than ever, I find myself earnestly hoping that YOU end up as a legitimate sick or disabled claimant, and then you will be on the receiving end of all the hatred and vitriol that you are your kind can't keep from vomiting up. Fate may have marked you for such a one. Don't think that it hasn't. Step carefully, my nasty friend, the next time you come to a flight of steps, or as you start across the road. One day, believe me, you WILL learn what vulnerability means.

    13. You have no idea of what the concept of being sick is Danny. Is having back pain an illness or an excuse? Why has fibromyalgia been nicknamed by doctors as the benefits catcher??

      You say 'no fault of their own' hmm no. If you had kids and cant afford them it is YOUR fault. If you smoked your way to breathlessness it is YOUR fault. If you drank your way to liver failure it is YOUR fault. Start taking responsibility for yourself Danny rather than expecting others to.

      Dont forget 2000 people claim DLA for acne. That just shows what a joke the system is.

    14. Likewise I hope one day the Govt. opens their eyes to the waste in welfare and just simply stops the generous handouts for people like you and cuts tax for people that work. Then you have choice, work or nothing.

      You have this mistaken belief that the support is legitimate. If that was the case it wouldnt be spent on sky, booze, holidays etc etc and housing associations wouldnt be telling residents to downgrade their Sky package to afford the spare room subsidy. That is what welfare is - rampant gluttony.

    15. troll with no name: "Danny check out where arch socialist Bob Crow lives with his 6 figure trade union salary. Yep plush social housing."

      What has that got to do with me and the people on this blog comment page?

      You keep casting around for someone to attack like a demented fool flinging their arms about in all directions trying to fend off attacking wasps, when there aren't any wasps. Nothing you say has any relevance for the people here. All you can do is abuse us, and we keep pointing out that this sort of nastiness is unwanted, but since you keep coming back jerking about as frantically as ever, you prove that your motive is precisely to abuse people. That's why I persist in calling a spade and spade, and calling you a nasty piece of work. At odd moments, I fear for you, because one day the truth will dawn, and you won't be prepared, and your despair and hopelessness will outdo everyone on this forum, and in my crueller moments I think that you will jolly well deserve it, and cannot but think that you have earned that response. Still, here you are and here you stay, advertising yourself as one of the nastiest creatures we have ever had the misfortune to put our foot in.

  14. Published in Jan 2013 - note the bit about the right wing press and the complete lies it tells and how these lies manage to deflect the hatred away from the bankers and projects it onto the most vulnerable in society.

    Government Assault on Our Welfare System Is Based on Myth and Prejudice, Not Evidence

    Posted on January 6, 2013 by Holmey
    huff-post-logoFrances O'GradyWith the government’s poll rating faring almost as badly as its economic strategy, the Chancellor has hatched a cunning plan to win the next election. No, not bold new initiatives to promote jobs and growth, that would mean admitting that plan A has failed.

    Instead, the government is planning a nasty tabloid assault on our welfare system, which will be ratcheted up next week with the government’s Benefits Uprating Bill.

    Having already frozen child benefit for three years, reduced various tax credits in real terms and changed the measure by which benefits are uprated every year to a lower measure of inflation, the government now wants to restrict annual rises in working age benefits to 1% until 2016.

    In total, these measures could reduce the incomes of many low-paid working families by thousands of pounds a year. And yet the government believes it has public support for its plan. Why? Because as new TUC polling published today finds, public attitudes to welfare and benefits are largely based on ignorance and prejudice.

    People vastly over-estimate the generosity of benefits, do not know who receives them and have largely swallowed the dependency myth that fuels so much hostility to welfare claimants. And, of course, this also serves to deflect public anger away from the big money scroungers in society – tax dodgers at the top.

    Take attitudes to unemployed people. On average, people thought around two fifths of the welfare budget goes on benefits to unemployed people. In fact, Jobseeker’s Allowance – the main unemployment benefit – represents just 3% of total spending. If 41% of welfare spending really did go on JSA it would be worth £1,000 a week – not the £71 that most people actually get.

    And eight in ten people believe an unemployed couple with two school-age children would be no better off if one of them got a full-time job on the minimum wage, even though they’d receive £138 a week more.

    Of course it’s right that we should debate social security spending. After all it constitutes nearly 30% of all government spending – over £200 billion a year. But the arguments should be based on evidence, not myths. And arguments should address the root causes of the growing welfare bill – not least the lack of affordable housing and the need for a living wage.

    It’s bad enough that right-wing tabloids peddle lies about benefit fraud and ‘fake’ disabled people on the sick. It’s downright immoral that ministers encourage these lies – deliberately misleading the public with one hand and cutting their entitlements with the other.

    The good news is that it’s possible to change public attitudes once then facts are known. Public support for capping the increase in benefits collapses from overall support (+16) to outright opposition (-10) when people are told the cap affects low-paid workers. We just need more people to know that 60% of the benefit uprating cap will fall on working households, or ‘strivers’ to use the government’s own language.

    The TUC faces a tough challenge in defending a decent welfare system in the face of constant onslaught from right-wing newspapers, government ministers, and their advisors and spinners. But we know have the evidence on our side – and that knowledge has the power to change people’s minds.

  15. ‘This brutal new system’: a GP’s take on Atos and work capability assessments
    I see work capability assessments damaging patients struggling with mental health issues and serious illness
    I had not seen Eileen for some time, until a few months ago when I was asked to phone her. She sounded distressed, confused and frightened and did not understand what was happening to her. She has been a patient of mine for 10 years and over time, I’ve tried to help her cope with her mental illness. A few years ago her mental health had deteriorated so much that she needed to be in hospital.

    All her benefits had been stopped, Eileen explained, and she was in arrears with her rent. She was assessed by Atos, a private company employed by the government to carry out what it calls the “work capability assessment” to decide whether people receiving incapacity benefits should be sent back to work. Eileen found the form she was asked to fill extremely long and bewildering. The assessment is a tick-box exercise, with points scored depending on the patient’s replies. The assessors do not ask GPs like me to provide any medical information about patients to help them make their decisions, even though someone may have received incapacity benefits for many years.

    Later, Eileen was sent a letter. She was fit for work, she was told, and so she would no longer be receiving benefits. Instead, she would need to go out seeking work. She had no money and soon fell behind with her rent and bills. She told me she didn’t understand why all this was happening to her, but having no money, she decided to leave London to look for work elsewhere. But she had nowhere to stay, and ended up sleeping on the streets. Nor could she find work, despite the government’s mandate that she do so. She eventually returned to London to seek help. She has no insight into her mental illness and doesn’t believe she is unwell.

    I have watched with mounting horror as my patient, an extremely vulnerable woman, has been put at risk of homelessness and deteriorating illness as a result of government policy. I am very aware of the importance of work, and as a GP will always encourage people to look for a suitable job if I think they can. But I also know my patients, and I am outraged that some are being put through the punishing stress this assessment causes. Many of my patients have gone through the Atos assessment to be told that they are fit for work with all their benefits stopped without notice. The financial impact is extreme. Several of my patients have shown worsening symptoms of depression, and some have become suicidal. Because we were so concerned about a patient’s mental health – which worsened as a result of the stress caused by these assessments – we have had to involve a psychiatric crisis team.

    The government will say that there is an appeal process built into the system for those who have been passed capable of work and disagree with the outcome. True, but it is very expensive. In my experience, patients whom I consider unable to work or even look for work usually win their appeal. In a recent appeal hearing, the tribunal judge read my medical report and concluded on the back of it that, contrary to the Atos assessment, my patient was indeed incapable of working.

    1. (continued from above) I have witnessed a woman in her 20s who has a condition that means she is slowly dementing, and will eventually die at a young age. She is unable to walk, and now even unable to talk. She is looked after round the clock by her family. Her family has been forced to endure great stress from the work capability assessment. I believe that this could have been avoided had I been asked to provide a medical report explaining her disability, prior to the assessment process.

      In another case, a man in his 40s had been homeless for many years. He has learning difficulties, alcohol problems and also has insulin-dependent diabetes. He is unable to read and write. A charity worked closely with him and managed to find accommodation and medical care for him, and they encouraged him to engage with the local drug services. In our GP clinic, we were working closely with him to help him to manage his diabetes better, in the hope of avoiding acute emergency admissions had his diabetes remained uncontrolled. Despite all this intensive help, Atos bulldozed their way in and found him capable of work. All his benefits were stopped immediately, and he is now in arrears. He has appealed and is waiting a tribunal hearing – a process that can take up to six months. Meanwhile, all that precious rehabilitation work we were offering him has also stopped as he has become so stressed, depressed and at times suicidal.

      I am fearful that more of my patients will be put at risk of homelessness and suicide by this brutal new system. From my perspective, the most disadvantaged in our society are being punished. Work is good for all of us, if we are lucky enough to be in employment. But not all of us have the skills to work and some of us are so unwell or damaged by past experiences that they cannot do a job. We should accept that some people, for many different reasons, need supporting.

      Instead of forcing vulnerable people onto the streets, why not concentrate on helping young people find worthwhile, fulfilling jobs? Leave patients like Eileen alone. She does not deserve the punishment that is currently being wrought upon her. For her safety and well-being, and for the sake of a humane society, I hope she wins her appeal.

      • The name of the patient, and details of her case, have been changed to ensure confidentiality

  16. Usual tory deviousness.

    1st link - from one month ago. A 15 minute radio interview - basically IDS is endorsing the subsidising of large profitable companies with cheap labour. Instead of getting companies to pay a living wage (by adding to their jobseekers allowance to top up to a poverty-level wage but that's another issue) the companies are profiting off people desperate to get job experience. IDS claims that 2.5 million unemployed is good news, because let's face it, news which is not as bad as the previous news, means it's good news.

    2nd link - Tories lose legal case around workfare and don't want to pay money back. This is more about the workfare scheme and benefit sanctions, and the underhanded way the Toerags have shifted goalposts deviously so they don't have to pay back money (after losing a court case) illegally taken off jobseekers whose benefits were sanctioned. An average of £550. 231,000 people were affected.

    1. Saw a good quote -

      "Rich people, paying other rich people, to tell middle class people, to blame poor people".

  17. Can't see any contact e-mail (and sure that there is a very good reason for this) but wonder what Sue's opinion is of this radio programme on the massive expansion of disability benefits in the US:

    While the tone is rather horrible and as mere liberals they have no actual solution to offer at least there is a recognition that there is an underlying social and demographic catastrophe unfolding in that the jobs that once kept much of the population gainfully employed have increasingly disappeared and that where they haven't more and more of us are just not physically capable of doing them.

    It's also fascinating that the peculiar dynamics of American politics lead all those ultra-conservative red states to do the exact opposite to what their ideological confreres are doing here and to bend every rule to get their unemployed onto disability - as thanks to Bill Clinton unemployment benefits are paid for and administered by the states while disability is a federal program.

  18. One in three pounds is spent on welfare in the UK, that is truly a cause alarm. This is 2x what the US spends and yet they are a far more wealthy country than us. How does that work then?

    As Paxman pointed out work is optional in the UK. In the US it isnt. In the US you cant go on welfare straight from school. Here you can and millions choose to just in the tradition of their parents.

    He also pointed out that shockingly there is a mass surge now to get onto DLA before the rules change and you actually have to prove you meet the D criteria of it. How pitiful is that? Just fill a form and benefit for life is it?

    Welfare reform is showing what millions knew already. People have abused it like never before and are better off on it like never before. The amounts given are so generous only the completely greedy need defraud it. Thought of losing it sends people into a cold sweat. I have to work?!! How?? I've never worked.

    Listening to media pundits people on benefits peddle this myth they want to work. They want to work on the following conditions

    1. The set the pay and it must be way more than benefit to make it worth their while getting up from the couch.
    2. They can take holiday whenever they like, be off sick unlimited etc

    Which employer can survive with people like that?

    Danny cant explain why we still have unemployed brits here, millions of them despite having the same number of migrant workers here. Not once do you broach the subject. Simply spit it out Brits on welfare dont want to work period.

    According to the theorems of Danny if you go private for your operation the state should pay you for the money you saved the NHS. If you send kids to private school the state should pay for the money you saved the state etc World doesnt like that though does it. Sadly in this country you can choose welfare as the default option given it is generous.

    Paxman summed it up well in saying that the only thing growing beyond all recognition in this country is the benefit bill and the level of payments together with the sense of entitlement the millions of members of the benefit party have here.

  19. troll with no name: "One in three pounds is spent on welfare in the UK, that is truly a cause alarm."

    It certainly is! It's not nearly enough!

    It is spent so that you, and me, and my poor wife, and everyone can have a National Health Service, and DLA and CA and Tax Credits, and State Pensions, and Child Allowance -- and all the other things that make this a proper civilisation and not a wreck of something barbaric that you would seem to prefer. Well, go then, go away and find your nasty bit of barbaric society, and enjoy it while your health and your revolting personality hold out. And when they fail, I suppose you will have to come creeping back, pleading for help.

    Though I doubt that you have the intelligence to realise that as a healthy, able-bodied person you are just a disabled person waiting to happen.

    And when the worst happens to you, I for one will find it easy to withhold my sympathy. I will reluctantly have to agree that your entitlement is exactly the same as everyone else's, because we here are civilised, even if you as an individual are not.

  20. This comment has been removed by the author.

    1. troll with no name [you know, like I've been through the desert on a troll with no name, It felt good to be yanking his chain...]: "Simply spit it out Brits on welfare dont want to work period."

      You will have to show your evidence. This question interests me personally no more than other topics in the news. This blog is for people with sickness and disability and how they are affected by changes to the benefits system.

      That has no connection to the issue of healthy people abusing the system -- your pet topic.

      It appears that you are not able to understand the difference between a workshy fraudster and those legitimately claiming their entitlements from the Welfare State. Several of us have tried to explain the distinction to you, but you don't seem to understand it. I have asked a few times, I think, whether you believe that the people on this comment thread are legitimately claiming their entitlements, and the closest we get to an answer is your ranting that no one is so ill or disabled that they cannot work.

      I won't bother to ask you again.

      But if that is what you do believe then, oddly I would say, you seem to have a very limited and confined experience of this world, and perhaps even had the good fortune never to be ill yourself, and perhaps when you see your friends and relatives so ill that they cannot work, you actually think they could.

      There is nowhere to go with this. I give up replying to you, but respond instead to your bigotry. For error and misconception, and abuse of statistics and facts can be responded to. My answers will do nothing to relieve you of your unfortunate errors, but may help others who read these comments.

      It is important that we should not let your presence here disrupt the forum, but make sure that your presence actively promotes our efforts to understand the evils being perpetrated again the most vulnerable people in society, and find ways to support each other and stand again our foes.

    2. Re the troll with no name

      Just to point out that his recent post again includes several anomalies that jointly suggest strongly that he is American.

      These anomalies are striking, but overall also quite frequent and diverse. If he is not American, we need an explanation that is something more than an occasional conversation with Americans. His centre of thought, the place he is at, where he thinks from, is America.

      He has no reason to deny the truth, or not explain away my concerns on this question -- except if he is some kind of agent or operative working for the UK or US governments, being paid to disrupt and interrupt legitimate democratic activity. That makes him the biggest scrounger here (wish I was on his salary, or getting his paycheck in his terms).

  21. Danny you still dont get it do you? You are naive enough to think there is a clear cut line between healthy fraudsters of the welfare system and those that are legitimate claimants that claim to be sick. I'm sure you know which one of the groups tries to impersonate the other.

    The experience of ESA medicals should blow that myth out of the water that there is a clear distinction. Many thousands dont even bother to turn up at their medicals. The sickness magically gone has it? Also those that do are found wanting for any shred of genuine illness. These people claim to be sick and legitimate as you say but are from either. This wouldnt be classed as fraud though it should be.

    So 1 in 3 pounds on welfare isnt enough is it despite being the most generous welfare system in Europe? For your info. the NHS is not paid from the welfare budget either. So you want to leech more money from workers pay packets that are already stretched? What for? Need to upgrade the Sky package? Not had enough holidays this year?

    Various studies have conclusively proved the more you throw at welfare the effects are minimal as people just spend it on more booze/fags/holidays and produce more children indiscriminately. The experiment of giving people their housing benefit direct to the tenant than the landlord and them spending it on fags and running up £££ of rent arrears should tell you the kind of people we are dealing with here. If you dangle the carrot of free cash naturally people want more and more and more. So no its no wonder support for welfare cuts have never been higher so I dont think you are in luck there.

    Again Danny you cant explain why we still have unemployed Brits here, millions of them despite having the same number of migrant workers here. What evidence do you want? You think that idle Brits dont have the skill to clean an office or work in a factory? Or simply they cant be bothered? Go to any London hotel will you find a Brit working there? Nope. Again there shouldnt be one migrant worker in this country until all the jobs have been filled by unemployed Brits first. If you can justify the current status quo where Brits stay at home while migrants do those jobs and convince the public that is right or correct then go to Whitehall. They need you to pull the wool over peoples eyes.

    Sadly am not American but the fact they spend only 75p in every £3 on welfare and are far more prosperous as a result should tell you that throwing money at welfare doesnt work. There the ethos is simple work hard and you will be rewarded. However if you dont want to work with back pain blah blah and other non-descript ailments then a choice of storm drain awaits you. Its only a matter of time one hopes before people wake up and realise a similar ethos is needed here.

    1. @ troll with no name:

      That such a heartbreakingly high number of people have died of their illnesses within days or weeks of being found ‘fit for work’, along with the fact that 40% of those who challenge that decision succeed with their appeals, shows that looking at ATOS and WCA decisions is about the worst possible way to find out about fraud.

      I have pointed out again and again -- God, how can I get through to a fool who won’t see that I actually agree with him? -- that of course there is dishonesty at work in the social security system, as there is in all areas of human activity.

      Bankers are dishonest (some of them); secondhand car salesmen are dishonest (some of them); police officers, cleaners, solicitors, and all other professions and walks of life have at one time or another been shown to harbour dishonest people.

      But I ask again, what has that got to do with people on this blog comment?

      If I were pressed to put words in your mouth, I would say that you think possibly everyone here, Sue, me, Tesria, Nick and everyone else are fraudsters, or at least that if not most of us, then at least some of us are.

      But you will never declare your hand. Do you or do you not think we are lying cheats?

      If you are not American, then what is your explanation for using so many American turns of phrase, and talking about ‘Brits’ as if you yourself are not one of us, like we would talk of, say, the French? Maybe you live the scrounger’s life behind your closed curtains, watching American DVDs all day, and have lost the ability to talk like a British person. The biggest scrounger of all is laughing at all the honest, sick and disabled people, and calling us scroungers to satisfy his hatred.

      I too, alas, am learning about hatred. I despise you to the depth of my being. Which is a shame, because it means that you have won this nasty, sordid game, and your sorry mean existence has brought to this world more hatred than it should have done. But I just can’t help myself.

  22. I'm curious where you get your information from, Troll With No Name. Nowhere in reality from what I can tell.

    I was raised to work. I loved my job. I worked as long as I could assisting disabled children until the fact that I could no longer stand, kneel, look at a computer screen, or focus without fainting sent me home sick. Only for a little while, I told myself.

    Six years later, after several attempts to return to even part time work, I'm still "off sick". My illness has the delightful effect of making me sicker the more I do. I miss friends' birthdays and weddings. I don't go out... Anywhere that's "out" really. Occasionally my friend who cares for me (I'm estranged from my abusive family) will take me to another friend's house for a meal. I've lost most of my friends since getting sick anyway.

    I live exhausted and in pain. And *bored*. I live with the weight everyday that I'm not living up to what I was raised for, that I'm a burden. It's led to depression and many nights crying.

    Atos just declared me totally fit for work. The report included outright lies, notes on questions they never asked me, and glaring misunderstandings of what my illness is.

    My GP was horrified and immediately offered to write letters. The physiological effects of the stress of listing over and over to strangers everything I was ashamed of about myself (everything I can't do) exhausted me to the point I spent two weeks completely bedridden. Everything is currently being appealed.

    I had little enough money before on your generous benefits. Now, my carer (who isn't paid for helping me) is lending me money to pay rent. I don't live in social housing because around here most council/association property is moldy (which often causes further health problems with my condition), drafty (increases pain and energy bill) and in areas where drugs and anti social behaviour are huge problems. As a woman living alone and incapable of defending myself, I instead chose the cheapest habitable place I could find, which costs about £5 more than I get in housing benefit and is totally unsuitable for disabled living. But it's the closest I could get to appropriate for my health.

    Tell me again how good I have it and how I should go on one of those holidays I haven't been able to afford (financially or health-wise, since it would be too hard to plan and travel) for 8 years to chill out and laugh at people who work as mugs.

    My life is hell. I have skills, knowledge and abilities that were an asset while working. I have a degree I worked hard to get while dealing with family abuse. It's the last thing I did that I'm proud of. I feel like a waste of a person.

    You say my life's too easy and everyone aspires to it? You must be a truly disturbed individual to want this.

  23. i think it's pretty clear by now to anyone with any intelligence in that the government wont to kill off as many people as they can by whatever any means they can and to cause as much stress as possible within the family home as possible
    that is plain to see and that is all to see at a later date with more death and destruction under this government then in the previous 2 governments

    you'll see that I'm right this government will be responsible for more uk deaths in their 5 year rein since 1997 when labour came to power a fact of this I'm certain

  24. I hope the legal challenge to the reduction of Housing Benefit fails. It might instil a little social responsibility if some who have so far paid nothing have to pay a little towards rent & Council Tax.

  25. bedroom tax and dialysis rooms.

    as someone who used to have renal failure and may yet have to return to a kidney machine i am making enquries about a possible legal challenge.

    my understanding is that if it is not exempt it could be cos

    costs nhs over a £1k to install at a your home

    the costly plumbing for a mains water supply to run a machine means it cannot be a "bedroom"- more like a second bathroom.

    it cannot be "spare" cos every other day the patient has to be connected up to it for at least 5 hours each session

    so it can never be used by anyone to use as a bedroom

    social landlords may well allow the machine's installation as tenant has some security of tenure.

    private landlords would be very unlikey to allow- tenant has usually only 6 months security of tenure- this is what the government expects the tenant to do- move to private sector.

    this would mean dialysis sessions would have to be held at more expensive hospital units.

  26. There is of course ways to do it social websites without having to save hundreds of thousands of dollars but one in particular makes absolute sense.

  27. it is one of the most difficult stuff to find some good Suppliers of beds and mattresses