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Cut back on fags and booze to get DHPs, council says




Edinburgh Council is denying emergency hardship payments to tenants affected by the bedroom tax if they spend too much on non-essential items such as cigarettes and alcohol.


The council is advising tenants to first cut back on ‘luxuries’ such as television and phone packages and cigarettes and alcohol and use the money to cover their benefit shortfall rather than awarding them a discretionary housing payment.


Yet it is ok for MPs to claim on their expenses for a TV license in their second home......... :?

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GP Glyn Phillips replies to Dr Greg Woods article in the British Medical Journal which i posted earlier.


Re: I blew the whistle on the government’s disability assessments


Dr Wood deserves to be thanked for his publicising of what lies behind the seemingly dark and at times Kafkaesque outcomes of Atos WCAs. Over the past few years I (and many others) have seen a growing number of patients becoming victims of mind-boggingly cruel and unfair assessments which have led to stoppage of their ESA payments.


How can a patient with a quite profound depressive illness somehow manage to score zero points at an Atos WCA but 27 in a PHQ-9 assessment in the same week? In their defence they would cite that they do not actually make that final decision, it is made by an adjudication officer, a clerical worker, back at the DWP. Thus they can sanitise their tainted and increasingly cruel and unfair judgements. Atos and the DWP seem to deny the existence of a target driven culture. However, their methods and tactics cannot be explained by any other logical reason.


In 1996 I spent 6 months doing two sessions per week with the then Benefits Advisory Medical Service. The assessment tool was the All Work Test, not totally dissimilar to the WCA. Available to assessors were two exclusion clauses for those occasions where a ‘client’ clearly would not achieve the magic score of descriptor points to retain their benefit but equally clearly was not fit for work. This facility remains present in the WCA assessment. This option to apply exceptions, without restriction from management, was what allowed latitude for commonsense, experience, empathy and compassion.


The recent marked increase in grossly unfair decisions by Atos/DWP is, in my view, solely due into the fact that doctors and nurses performing the assessments have had those four safety valve qualities blocked in an over-bearing and bullying fashion by their employer Atos. The DWP, as the commissioning public body, carries equal responsibility for this.


Atos employed doctors and nurses (especially those in managerial roles) should be examining their consciences in these matters. They should be reminded that the decision will be based largely, if not entirely, on their assessment. They are answerable to their governing body. They are also answerable to their ‘client’ who is our patient and therefore answerable to us. When they see somebody who has not scored enough descriptor points, but who they must know is not fit, it is their duty to apply an exception clause. It is their duty not only to our patient but also to their governing body.


This past year I have been involved with supporting appeals for increasing numbers of patients who have had their ESA stopped. One example is a significantly unwell man with complex multiple medical conditions including SLE and ‘shrinking lung syndrome’. He walks very slowly with difficulty and is significantly short of breath after just a few metres. I am convinced that a child would have come up with a more appropriate decision regarding his fitness.


Working with a like-minded local lawyer our success rate is currently 100%. There are more to come. This is a frustrating waste of time for me as it is so unnecessary. What is more frustrating is the total lack of transparency following such a successful appeal. The appeal is successful, the ESA is restored but there appears to be no other outcome. No acknowledgement of accountability on the part of Atos or its employee. The misery and extra unwelcome stress put upon our patient seem not to matter. Apologies do not exist. The tremendous waste of public money expended in dealing with the dramatic increase in levels of appeals is a disgrace.


Making unwell patients more unwell is a disgrace too



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  • 4 weeks later...
  • 1 month later...

That is terrible news, as the article mentions, it will prolong the wait and increase the worry. Add to that the long long wait in appeals, more folk will be departing this life under hardship.

About 50% of those who access foodbanks have to do so because of a change in benefits, of course, you get the Tory spin that foodbank usage went up 10 fold under Labour to about 40,000 of course, it has only gone up a little over 3 times in the first two years of this ConDem pact, it is expected to hit 500,000.


The coldness of the Tory heart comes through when local Tory councillors vote for local cuts, then pose at the opening of Foodbanks calling them a good thing.

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  • 3 weeks later...

The Universal Credit programme, which will waste at least £140m of the taxpayers' money, is one of many Department for Work & Pensions (DWP) projects that are heading for disaster, according to a former employee.



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yes. The lady was on the radio end of last week.

I canna mind where all she said you can drop off stuff at, but Market House was mentioned.


I was very moved by the interview, and went round the house reddin' up spare, unopened packets/boxes/tins/bottles etc in readiness...

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This is from Australia where the Starvation Army are a fairly evil sounding bunch.  I just wish that someone else would pick up the gauntlet here.  I don't want to see anyone go hungry in what is one of the world's richest countries, but handing any vulnerable people to any religious organisation is never a good idea as there will always be a price to pay.


<insert your diety here> help you if you are gay.

Edited by BigMouth
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Fit-to-work tests: Atos quits contract


Atos is to quit its contract to assess whether benefits claimants are fit to work, the government has announced.


It follows government criticism over "significant quality failures".

Disabilities Minister Mike Penning said a new company would be appointed in early 2015, and Atos would not receive "a single penny of compensation".

Atos, whose contract had been due to end in August 2015, had previously said it would carry on with the tests until a new company could be put in place.

Claimants applying for employment and support allowance must take a work-capability assessment to see how their disability or illness affects their ability to work.

Disability campaigners have described the work tests as "ridiculously harsh and extremely unfair".

Last summer, the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) identified "significant quality failures" in the written reports Atos produced after tests and put a plan for improvement in place.

But in February, the DWP said standards had declined unacceptably.

Mr Penning said the government was looking for a provider to replace Atos "with the view to increasing the number of assessments and reducing waiting times".

He said: "I am pleased to confirm that Atos will not receive a single penny of compensation from the taxpayer for the early termination of their contract.

"Quite the contrary, Atos has made a substantial financial settlement to the department."


Over and Out


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The key sickness benefit is helping fewer people get jobs, while its rising cost is a big financial risk for the UK, internal government memos say.


The memos, obtained by the BBC, say the Department for Work and Pensions is struggling to deliver employment support allowance (ESA).


ESA was introduced in 2008 to replace incapacity benefit.


The government acknowledged there had been problems but said it was bringing in a new firm to do tests for ESA.



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