Posts Tagged ‘Department for Work and Pensions’

Nov 252012

At DPAC we receive regular emails from people who have lost loved ones and attribute this to the process of the WCA, indeed with recent evidence of 73 deaths and suicides per week we are seeing these emails increasing.  December 3rd is being marked as a day of remembrance for all ATOS victims. Disability activist Samuel Miller from Canada is taking this outrage against human rights as far as he possibly can in an effort to secure justice.

Samuel has made many efforts at the United Nations level on behalf of disabled people in the UK and the constant attacks they face under the Tory regime. We all owe him a debt of gratitude. He is looking for evidence of linked Atos deaths. DPAC supports this and want to help in any way we can –below we repost the blog from Vox Political with permission from Mike from Wales.

Please help if you can by publicising and also subscribe to Vox Political at: http://mikesivier.wordpress.com/2012/11/25/ids-off-the-hook-with-icc-so-evidence-needed-of-atos-deaths/

IDS off the hook with ICC – so evidence needed of Atos deaths

Brian McArdle. On the BBC’s Question Time last Thursday, Iain Duncan Smith flew into a rage when Owen Jones challenged him about what happened to Mr McArdle, “57 years old, paralysed down one side, blind in one eye; he couldn’t speak. He died one day after being found ‘fit for work’ by Atos.”

People whose family members have died while going through the DWP/Atos work capability assessment are being urged to contact a disability specialist – who has been seeking international legal action against the austerity-enforced injustice.

Vox Political reported back in September that Samuel Miller had contacted the International Criminal Court in The Hague, intending to file a complaint against Iain Duncan Smith, Chris Grayling and Maria Miller, the ministers at the Department for Work and Pensions, considered most responsible for “draconian welfare reforms and the resultant deaths of their society’s most vulnerable”.

Mr Miller got in touch over the weekend, but said that the result had been disappointing: “They stated that the International Criminal Court has a very limited jurisdiction. The Court may only address the crimes of genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes as defined by Articles 6 to 8 of the Rome Statute.”

The Rome Statute is the document under which the ICC was established. Article 7, which covers crimes against humanity, states: “For the purpose of this Statute, “crime against humanity” means any of the following acts when committed as part of a widespread or systematic attack directed against any civilian population, with knowledge of the attack:

“(k) Inhumane acts … intentionally causing great suffering, or serious injury to body or to mental or physical health.”

I thought this – Article 7 (k) – was a perfect description of what the DWP and its ministers are trying to achieve, and Mr Miller agreed. But he said: “Clearly the ICC is striving to discourage the filing of austerity complaints.”

There is a way forward. He added: “On a welcome note, the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights recently acknowledged that austerity measures may violate human rights — which certainly is a step in the right direction.”

He’s right. The chair of the UN committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, Ariranga Govindasamy Pillay said on October 23 that, although member states face tough decisions when dealing with rising public deficits, austerity measures are potentially violations of their legal obligations to the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.

“All States Parties should avoid at all times taking decisions which lead to the denial or infringement of economic, social and cultural rights,” Pillay said, citing an open letter to States Parties from the committee earlier this year that clarified the committee’s position on austerity measures.

By ratifying the Covenant, member states like the UK have a legally binding obligation to progressively improve, without retrogression, universal access to goods and services such as healthcare, education, housing and social security and to ensure just and favourable conditions of work, without discrimination, in accordance with established international standards. These rights must be achieved by using the maximum of available resources.

Pillay pointed out that austerity measures are also a disincentive to economic growth and thereby hamper progressive realization of economic and social rights.

The committee had pointed out that social insecurity and political instability, as seen in parts of Europe today, were also potential effects of the denial or infringement of economic, social and cultural rights.

The poor, women, children, persons with disabilities, older persons, people with HIV/AIDS, indigenous peoples, ethnic minorities, migrants and refugees were particularly at risk, the committee had noted.

Having identified the possibility, we come to the burden of proof. Mr Miller said: “My best hope lies in procuring coroner’s reports where the cause of death is found to be destitution and/or suicide.”

Inevitably, there is a problem. The UK Coronial system does not involve the collating of such information, nor does it look for national trends. The role of the Coroner is case specific, so wider information is not available. This is because the system of inquests into deaths was never intended to investigate whether those deaths were being caused by insane decisions of the government itself.

The law in relation to death certification may be amended in 2014 to provide for Medical Examiners whose role will be to examine such matters – but that is two years from now, and the DWP/Atos system could pile up another 7,600 bodies in that time (using the generally-accepted average of 73 deaths per week).

Mr Miller has written to the DWP, seeking a change of coroners’ duties to allow proper and robust reporting of trends such as stress-related deaths, suicides and/or destitution deaths of welfare recipients and recipients who perished shortly after being stripped of their benefits can be reported to both the DWP and the Ministry of Justice.

But I think we all know there is little chance of success there. This government is hardly going to hand over the tools by which its own ministers might end up in an international court. They’re insane, but they’re not stupid!

So people are going to have to do it themselves. We know about high-profile cases in which deaths have been blamed on Atos. Information about the others needs to be available now.

This is why I want to appeal for anyone who has lost a loved one because of the DWP/Atos work capability assessment system to get in touch with Mr Miller. He needs to know the verdict that was reached at the inquests into their deaths.

His email address is disabilityinliterature@gmail.com

I would strongly urge that anyone writing to Mr Miller keeps their correspondence to the point. It is to be hoped that he will receive a strong response, but this entails a large amount of work. It is therefore important to make that work as easy as possible, perhaps by putting the deceased’s name, address and the verdict at the top of your email.

Follow mike on twitter :@MidWalesMike

– See more at: http://www.dpac.uk.net/2012/11/deaths-and-suicides-linked-to-wca-more-evidence-needed-for-justice/#sthash.za0c2VuT.dpuf

Please read the following link:

http://atosvictimsgroup.co.uk/2013/0…alympic-games/

With respect to the article that I linked above:-

Maybe if a large portion, if not all of England‘s Paralympian superstars had chosen to walk out of the games on day one of the paralympics; (especially as it was sponsored by ATOS) it would have been a great platform, a worldwide platform, to express all disabled people‘s grievances about the cuts to benefits. I think that they would have got a lot more respect for that, than by winning any medals for our country.

Did ATOS sponsor the paralympics on purpose as a political move to ensure that they also got the government contract to do the medical assessments for PIP? There are many huge global and British companies that could have been approached to sponsor this international event. ATOS purposefully pitted disabled people against disabled people, they exploited the paralympians to showcase to the media what (some) disabled people are capable of and then our government let the media run with it.

No-one, including  media personnel and their families are not immune to disabilities, what if (heaven forbid) they or their children are born or become disabled, and then they get called scroungers and benefit cheats, but just like the Paralympians who had no way of foreseeing how their achievements would be twisted and used against them and the non-paralympian disabled people, the media also have no way of foreseeing what the future holds for them; except, by what they choose to write next, as most of the population believe what is written in the news and the media are well aware of how they influence public opinion.

I know this is a big ask, but maybe, just maybe, if some, if not all paralympians give back their medals in front of a media spotlight, people might wake up and see how the paralympians were manipulated by ATOS to gain public support for disability benefit cuts? Or is it too late now to show their support? I was quite disgusted that ATOS were sponsors.

With regards to Dispatches Britain on Benefits; one of the things that stood out was that people kept saying the benefits bill needs to be cut, WHY? , shouldn’t we be proud of the fact that we support vunerable people who suffer, to have a decent standard of life. I think it’s abhorrent that a Government has chosen sick and disabled people to fund economic recovery, whilst turning a blind eye to tax evasion etc etc etc………….. I don’t think the programme did anything to change public understanding. A protest by paralympians would have made far more impact to public awareness. Although not on the same scale as the Olympics in regards to coverage but the disabled athletes could walk out or refuse to take part in the Commonwealth games in Scotland in 2014 where again ATOS are one of the sponsors. However, whom would that hurt the government, it would hurt those people who have worked hard to get into the games. What these people now have to work towards is getting the same payments as non disabled. Disabled athlete will get £6,000 a year to pay for his expenses, Non disabled athlete will get £130,000 . The battle is now to be treated the same.

However, if the disabled athletes threaten to walk out of the commonwealth games due to benefit cuts, the government may then offer them more than £6,000 a year to cover their expenses, thus buying them off…..However, one day they will get older and will eventually be unable to compete, and what then, there will be nothing for them……What will they be saying then???? Lessons have been learnt; we are being persecuted??? But they’ll be learnt by the normal non-athletic disabled first, we are already being persecuted by our government and the disabled athletes are supporting them to do so by not taking action now!!!!!  If they do not take action by 2014 commonwealth games then it will be too little, too late!!!!!! 

It is not just about ATOS being a sponsor (although that really is a knife in the back) even if ATOS’s sponsorship is taken out of the equation, it is the amazing achievements and incredible effort made by our ‘superhuman’ disabled athletes which is then blown out of proportion by the media who expect that all disabled people can achieve these levels so therefore must be scroungers and cheats, and Joe-public believes them!!!!

As I asked earlier:- “Did ATOS sponsor the paralympics on purpose as a political move to ensure that they also got the government contract to do the medical assessments for PIP? There are many huge global and British companies that could have been approached to sponsor this international event. ATOS purposefully pitted disabled people against disabled people, they exploited the paralympians to showcase to the media what (some) disabled people are capable of and then our government let the media run with it.

No-one, including  media personnel and their families are not immune to disabilities, what if (heaven forbid) they or their children are born or become disabled, and then they get called scroungers and benefit cheats, but just like the Paralympians who had no way of foreseeing how their achievements would be twisted and used against them and the non-paralympian disabled people, the media also have no way of foreseeing what the future holds for them; except, by what they choose to write next, as most of the population believe what is written in the news and the media are well aware of how they influence public opinion.

FM

Charity adds to fears that ill and

disabled people

are being forced into work in order to retain benefits

Michelle Mitchell, head of Age UK

Michelle Mitchell, director general of Age UK, which has stopped providing mandatory work activity placements. Photograph: Sarah Lee for the Guardian

A high street charity has stopped providing mandatory work placements because of concerns that jobseekers are forced to work in its stores as a condition of their benefits.

Age UK has become the third large charity in three weeks to pull out of the multimillion-pound Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) scheme.

It said it would also pull out of other government-run schemes in order to ensure its volunteers were making the “appropriate choice” to work for the organisation.

The charity said that although it did not have a policy to provide four-week mandatory work activity placements, some of its 450 nationally run stores had developed local links with private companies administering such schemes. It added that a further 169 independent Age UK stores would still make their own decisions on the policy.

Following last month’s decisions by the British Heart Foundation and Cancer Research to drop out of the scheme, Age UK said it was now advising its stores to wind up their association with government employment programmes.

The latest charity departure comes days after the DWP handed new powers to job centre managers and back-to-work providers to force sick and disabled benefit claimants into unpaid work placements.

Former Labour communications director Alastair Campbell said the new regulations, which mean the 340,000 people on employment support allowance who’d been placed into the work-related activity group (WRAG) could have 70% of their allowance withheld if they fail to work, were “beyond any sense of decency”.

Campbell, who has written about his own issues with depression, said, “It is frankly beyond belief, and beyond any sense of decency, that patients with severe mental health problems, and serious physical illnesses, are being told they can work and that their benefits will be affected if they don’t.”

“I am all in favour of people who are ill being given hope of getting back into the labour market, but this is not about work for those who can, it is about work for those who can’t so that the government can cut the costs and try to help Osborne’s sums add up.”

Paul Farmer, the chief executive of mental health charity Mind, said that within the disability and mental health sector there was confusion as to why the government had introduced the policy of mandating sick and disabled people into work when there was “very little evidence” that it worked.

He said: “I think there is a growing sense of anger and frustration that across the disability sector that this is heading in the wrong direction and it does bemuse people because I think we all know that there are [other] ways of enabling people of getting into work.”

Farmer said people in the WRAG weren’t “scroungers”, adding: “These are people who have been through the work capability assessment and that’s clearly [found] these people aren’t fit for work.

“That doesn’t mean you should be forgetting about them and leaving them on the scrapheap, but it doesn’t seem to make a lot of sense to be forcing people into activities when there’s very little evidence that it works.”

The DWP said only a small number of claimants were expected to be mandated into work placements. Where “appropriate”, most would be offered voluntary placements, it said, adding that such placements would be flexible, with full consideration given to a claimant’s health problem or disability.

A spokesperson from the DWP said: “For people on ESA who are expected to go back to work when they’re well enough, a period of work experience is an excellent way to increase skills and confidence. Work experience is completely voluntary. In some circumstances, only where people refuse to take reasonable steps to address a barrier to work, it may be that a short, appropriate mandatory work placement – which must take the claimant’s health into account – would be helpful.

“Mandatory work activity placements benefit local communities while giving jobseekers valuable skills. We are grateful for the continued support of the wider charitable sector in helping unemployed people re-engage with the system and move closer to work.

“Age UK’s decision is entirely a matter for them.”

One claimant, who only wanted to be named as Annie, said the thought she could be forced into work was “terrifying”.

The 34-year-old, who has a teenage daughter, said she had previously worked in administration but now suffered from fibromyalgia, attention deficit disorder, anxiety and depression.

“I was working until April 2010, but after getting increasingly ill and even after my employer reduced my hours, and simplified my role as much as possible, I just wasn’t well enough to keep going in, even just getting to work was exhausting and painful.”

“My main symptom of fibromyalgia is constant, severe fatigue and exhaustion. I am currently finding it hard to get out of the house to go to the supermarket and having a lot of trouble doing basic things like cooking, bathing etcetera.

“I am not well enough to do work that would actually pay me real money and potentially improve my situation; I’m certainly not well enough to do unpaid work,” she said.

Age UK’s director of people and performance, Caroline Bendelow, said it was a large organisation with 7,000 volunteers: “We are committed to giving all individuals who volunteer with us an enjoyable and fruitful experience, with some finding it a useful way to move closer to the labour market,” she said.

Asked why Age UK was leaving the government scheme, Bendelow said: “Age UK strives to give all its volunteers the best experience possible and we want volunteering with us to be the appropriate choice for each individual’s circumstances.”

She said there was no head office involvement in government schemes and Age UK was now “working with our shops to end any local links that previously existed to such programmes in isolated areas”.

However, she added that this national policy would not apply to independently run stores using the Age UK name as they made their own decisions.

“There are also 169 local Age UKs across the country who are independent charities making their own decisions based on the needs of their local communities.”