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Kuribo [old account]

DWP Sanctions Have Killed Thousands of People

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Kuribo [old account]

After years of delaying and trying to keep all of this under wraps, the Department for Work and Pensions has finally been forced to release the number of confirmed deaths arising from its brutal welfare sanctions. At least 2380 people with disabilities have died between 2011 and 2014 due to having been wrongfully declared "fit for work".

 

http://www.theguardian.com/society/2015/aug/27/thousands-died-after-fit-for-work-assessment-dwp-figures
 

More than 80 people a month are dying shortly after being declared “fit for work” according to new data, prompting campaigners to call for an overhaul of the government’s controversial welfare regime.
Statistics released by the Department for Work and Pensions on Thursday show that 2,380 people died between December 2011 and February 2014 shortly after a work capability assessment (WCA) found they were able to work.
 
The administration of the WCA by officials has been widely criticised as crude and inaccurate by campaigners. There have been hundreds of thousands of appeals of fit-for-work decisions over the last few years, about four in 10 of which have succeeded.
 
But there was widespread acceptance that the data should be treated with caution. Because the cause of death was not recorded, it is impossible to show whether a death was linked to an incorrect assessment.
The data, compiled in response to freedom of information requests, also revealed that between December 2011 and February 2014, 50,580 recipients of employment and support allowance benefit (ESA) had died within 14 days of their claim ending.
 
Of this number, 2,380 – or 4% – had received a decision that they were fit for work, meaning that they were at risk of losing their ESA benefit.
 
Of the 50,580, 7,200 claimants had died after being awarded ESA and being placed in the work-related activity group – a category which aims to identify claimants who are unfit to work but may be able to return to work in the future.
 
Tom Pollard, policy and campaigns manager at mental health charity Mind, said: “We’re not able to comment on these specific statistics as they only tell us the number of people who have died while on employment and support allowance [ESA], not the circumstances or details of these deaths.
“Nevertheless, we do have serious concerns about the benefit system, particularly for those with mental health problems currently being supported by ESA.
 
“The assessment used to decide who is eligible for ESA does not properly take account of the impact having a mental health problem can have on someone’s ability to work. As a result, many people don’t get the outcome that’s right for them, and have to go through a lengthy and stressful appeals process.
 
“We desperately need to see an overhaul of the system, with more tailored specialised support for people with mental health problems and less focus on pressuring people into work and stopping their benefits.”
 
The DWP defended the accuracy of the WCA. It said: “Any causal effect between benefits and mortality cannot be assumed from these statistics. Additionally, these isolated figures provide limited scope for analysis and nothing can be gained from this publication that would allow the reader to form any judgment as to the effects or impacts of the work capability assessment.”
 
It added: “DWP does not hold information on the reason for death, therefore no causal effect between the WCA decision and the number of people who died within a year of that decision should be assumed from these figures.”

 

See the video below for the testimony of the sister of Mark Wood, a 44 year old Aspie who starved to death after being declared "fit for work".

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Guest Chris

Pretty shocking stuff.

 

 

But there was widespread acceptance that the data should be treated with caution. Because the cause of death was not recorded, it is impossible to show whether a death was linked to an incorrect assessment.

 

The cause of death is pretty crucial to form a proper opinion of this article. Although the example of Mark Wood is pretty damning, without a lot more information, how do we know the deceased aren't all obese 60-somethings with a minor disability that happen to have suffered heart failure? Just saying. Limited statistics like this are widely open to interpretation.

 

If a single one of these was caused by improper assessment/processes, then it's definitely not okay (and I suppose it's not, given the Mark Wood example). At the same time, I wonder how many people are fit for work that are milking the system for all it's worth.

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Ben

Years ago when I used to sign on, there was this one member of the JobCentre staff who everyone (even members of her own staff) called the Wicked Witch of the West. She an absolute COW. Rude, patronising, condescending, spoke to all of her clients as if they were naughty school children, and dished out sanctions as if they were going out of fashion. 

 

I was the one of only a few who stood up to her. After she had insulted me for my poor handwriting for the third time, I just stood up, threw my singing on book in her face, and told her to go and get fucked. The security guard on duty just stood rather nonchalantly against the wall, trying not to laugh. 

 

She was undoubtedly the most hated woman in town during the 00's. (And most likely still is.) 

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Kuribo [old account]

The cause of death is pretty crucial to form a proper opinion of this article. Although the example of Mark Wood is pretty damning, without a lot more information, how do we know the deceased aren't all obese 60-somethings with a minor disability that happen to have suffered heart failure? Just saying. Limited statistics like this are widely open to interpretation.

 

True, we don't currently have information on the cause of each and every death, but there are numerous documented cases of disabled people clearly in need of support dying as a result of being sanctioned, or even the fear of being sanctioned. You can research this for yourself, but a list of several known casualties related to the Conservatives' welfare reform was compiled almost a year ago, with links to articles detailing the events surrounding each of the deaths listed. While this doesn't conclusively prove that all of the deaths within today's statistics were a direct result of benefit sanctions, it does demonstrate that unjust sanctions are far from a rare occurrence.

 

UK Welfare Reform Deaths ~ Updated List ~ October 21st 2014

 

If a single one of these was caused by improper assessment/processes, then it's definitely not okay (and I suppose it's not, given the Mark Wood example). At the same time, I wonder how many people are fit for work that are milking the system for all it's worth.

 

I don't know what statistics are available regarding abuse of the disability welfare system; perhaps someone else can offer a more insightful response. However, the sheer absurdity of the numerous cases where people so clearly deserving of assistance have been sanctioned would suggest to me that this really isn't a system that's easy to manipulate. If people who are paralysed, or in need of constant support for chronic pain can find themselves judged unworthy of any assistance whatsoever, it doesn't seem likely that this same system could possibly be plagued by an epidemic of perfectly able people abusing it.

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Dingo

Last year or the year before I saw a documentary on Youtube about this, where people were being declared fit for work. 

 

I found it but didn't watch it again, so I'm not sure how good it is.

 

 

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King_oni

I don't think that's specifically just for the UK though; wouldn't surprise me that this is what goes on in most of the "western world". Granted, cutbacks have to be happen (but a thing can be said about priorities), but it's going in a wrong direction when we decide to cut on support for people who aren't really in a position to make it on their own.

 

From my own perspective (and not from the UK or US) I've talked to a lot of people who work for the job centre (because... well, without a job, one has to I suppose) as well as independent jobcoaches and therapists. It's interesting to see how there are 2 camps there. Job centres know nothing about disability, mental illness or disorder (or however you want to label it) and act like it can't be that big of a deal. Afterall, if you've managed to get dressed, you're still functional enough. It's just that society, and more specifically, employment does not work on the notion that you'd get paid for just showing up. The qualities that are required for employment are a lot more work (for lack of a better word) compared to being able to do some thing independently in life.

 

Coming back to job centre, and more specifically, politics... the only mantra I hear nowadays is "we don't have money for this". Well fine, but in that case don't expect me to make something out of nothing either. But they're essentially treating you like a criminal for not being functional enough by arbitrarily absurd standards which even people who are not diagnosed often can't make happen perfectly. 

 

And interestingly enough, therapists and independent jobcoaches are not particularly agreeing with what the government does. Funny how an independent jobcoach points out that there's only a very small gap for people like me (or us) to find a job, and numbers that state that around 80% on the spectrum is jobless; his response was "well, I'm surprised it's not higher". With that, I scratch my head how a job centre or any kind of service you have in a country similar to this, thinks that there are plenty of (realistic) opportunities. not to mention that even an independent jobcoach told me the ones at job centres sometimes just willingfully bully people... (I bet there's a special place in hell for those people)

 

While you see this happen in the UK where people are dying, another phenomenon is developing just across the canal. Over here, there has been a big influx over the past year or so of so-called "confused" people. And with that, you can think about people threatening to blow up their appartment by turning up the gas and lighting it up. That was nearly avoided 2 days ago... for a 2nd time by the same individual. Left and right there have been reports of cities unable to deal with what's almost been referred to as a plague, as there's been more than just random single incidents. Interestingly enough, those incidents are a lot higher where unemployment is on the rise, which I think isn't a coincidence. And since we don't have any laws to section people because... hey, privatised healthcare, rather than the government covering it...heck, people can't even afford to visit a therapist anymore anyway and in general waiting lists are way, way too long on top.

 

I've watched the top video (have yet to watch the other ones) and there's a striking statement which I've been talking about with my therapist. The woman states that in this society there's just less and less room for people like that guy she's talking about. Increasingly I feel the same way, especially when it comes to meaningful employment and future perspectives. Add that I'm also noticing how among the groups that are being affected by cutbacks are elderly and disabled first... it's really not rocket science so to speak for this to happen.

 

What I find interesting though; Plenty of people die...and presumably a fair amount by suicide. Yeah... imagine there's someone who isn't going to take it and has his way with others first. I bet that's when it becomes a national crisis; but as long as everyone just takes his/her life in the comfort of their homes, it's all fine as it seems, as the problem will fix itself.

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Scott

And Iain Duncan Smith still would prefer us in work. A lot of us fucking CAN'T work!

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Kuribo [old account]

And Iain Duncan Smith still would prefer us in work.

Scrapping the Independent Living Fund and crippling the Access to Work scheme just a few weeks after being elected was a funny way of showing it.

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Scott

That's the mindset of the people who for some reason are still in government, even though they wrecked the country over the past 5 years before.

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Dr-David-Banner

Basically, I have zero tolerance of any claimant being patronised by the bureaucrats you describe in your encounter. The same thing has happened to me and, for some reason, it seems to make me see red. I mean, I get very angry (as you did at the time). I also dislike seeing anyone get treated like garbage no matter who it is.

There is more to say:

My experience has been the whole set-up is maybe some sort of a joke, There appear to be no rules that even the civil servants fully understand. If you ever get curious about the Cait Reilley workfare case which went to court some months ago, this becomes evident. It turned out neither the job-centre staff or even the government seemed to fully understand the legal complexities of what was a rushed-out scheme to appease irate voters (who felt the system was a push-over for the so-called "workshy".)

Anyway, last night I was helping out some friends in a big shop. I don't work there but I've been known to help out friends for the last 20 minutes so they can all go home. So, a customer comes up and tells my friend two people have just left the shop with loads of stolen meat from the shelves. One of the female shop assistants starts to get a bit anxious so I tell her not to worry as it wasn't her fault. Neither is it her job to do security as well as the cash till. Anyway, this is about 40 pounds of meat in value. And it happens all the time. Some days they have security but it's almost impossible to stop the shop-lifting. My point is, I really don't think it's correct for the public to dismiss all of this as simple theft. I really do think the sanctions and increased poverty has triggered an epidemic of shop-lifting. Sure, some people may do it simply out of criminal motives but I do think a lot of the incidents are connected to the decline of the Welfare State. My friends tell me the Police really show no interest so they rarely contact them with the CCTV footage. I think there must be so many shop thefts in all the stores the Police may well have gotten used to it. Also, the shop where my friends work regularly sends food to food banks and the other day I bumped into a guy who was on his way there for a free meal (he did seem genuine).

So, what is the point in this Tory Government's so called crackdown on benefit scroungers? How much is it costing in crime and police or security measures?

My view has always been the most logical way to settle all of this benefit scrounging propaganda is simply to allow people on benefits to do a few hours work a week on minimum wage so they earn their JSA or whatever and then nobody can complain. The alternative of having a vague sanctions regime to bully and upset the jobless or disabled is really a disgrace. It also allows nasty vindictive civil servants to intimidate anyone who's vulnerable.

At any rare where we're heading now is possible social unrest. I mean, how long till the shop-lifting spirals into something far bigger?

 

Edited by Dr-David-Banner

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