Benefits and Work newsletter Sept 2010

MPs returned to the commons today and, as a result, many of us will be bracing ourselves for the next round of misleading and vicious attacks on disabled claimants.

But, in reality, the hate campaign never really let up over the summer recess.  The most distressing example was undoubtedly the threat to unleash private sector bounty hunters on incapacity benefit claimants.

So, to mark the return of the disablist parliament , Benefits and Work looks at what actually happens when government agencies work with the private sector to uncover benefits fraud. 

We reveal:……

read full article here

Carer Watch would like to thank Benefits and Work for their continuing support.

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One Response to “Benefits and Work newsletter Sept 2010”

  1. Alan Wheatley, Green Party of England & Wales Spokesperson on Disability and Social Care Services Says:

    It struck me when Parliament went into recess and the war against ‘benefit cheats’ was ratcheted up by way of the bounty hunters story, that the ‘silly season’ was perhaps the most apt time for ratcheting up smear campaigns — not only poetically, but also in terms of media barons’ deployment of staff.

    Actually though, my experience as a successful ESA tribunal appellant has told me that ‘bounty hunters’ already existed, although they themselves should — in my view — be charged with benefit fraud. I’m talking about the Atos Healthcare ‘Approved Healthcare Practitioners’ who conduct Work Capability Assessments on behalf of the DWP.

    None of the physical tests recorded on the report by Dr Ratnam Ramayana [sic] of my Work Capability Assessment took place. Further, in the ‘Occupational History’ section of his report on my Work Capability Assessment, he failed to include reference to my more than two decades of jobseeker benefit claimant status before my last waged work. Further, he failed to record that that last waged employment had only been so part-time that I still claimed JSA while doing it. I had also told him that I only stuck it out for 11 months because I learned through experience in it that I was more likely to go destitute in doing six hours cover duties per week at £7.81 per hour — and only £5 per week ‘earnings disregard’ — than get adequate in-service training to get more than 16 hours per week.

    Due to DWP understaffing and the ridiculous and demeaning admin burden of such measly ‘earnings disregard’ for JSA claimants, though I had conscientiously completed and submitted part-time earnings forms, the DWP had erroneously reported to my local council that I was not eligible for JSA. Only when I gave up that paid work did I get time to get through to DWP to sort it out.

    Yet I was not the only one to suffer from DWP admin meltdown. In 2004-2005, JobCentre Plus failed to answer 21 million incoming calls to its helplines. Claimants affected sometimes experienced destitution as a result, reports Community Care magazine. (‘JobCentre Plus: Poor service continues’.) That is 44% of all incoming calls. Meanwhile, only 5% of calls to the DLA/Incapacity Benefit helpline were answered.

    Napoleon said: “Attack is the best form of defence.” Similarly, the moral of my tale is that criminally negligent government with a mass media that is constantly vigilant against the wrong targets finds that smear stories against those it has let down the most are its greatest self-defence.

    Alan Wheatley

    PS: Social workers and social care workers who defraud their service users face the risk of criminal prosecution. ATOS, meanwhile, gets more work at taxpayers’ — and especially vulnerable people’s — expense. (Even benefit claimants pay VAT, so we are all taxpayers.)

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