An amputee searching for a work says he was made to feel “deflated” when he was left stranded after being called to a meeting at a North East Jobcentre.
Graeme Moore, who lost his left leg to a nerve-damaging disease, was optimistic when he was invited to South Shields Jobcentre, for talks about a place on a course in sports development.
The 53-year-old has been out of work since having to give up his job as a swimming coach so he could adapt to his new life as an amputee.
But his optimism turned to despair after he arrived at the centre, in Chapter Row, South Shields, last month.
He was informed the meeting was on the first floor – and that there was no public lift.
Mr Moore managed to get up the stairs, but that left him in “excruciating pain”, he says.
He says it was only when he raised the problem with staff on the first floor that he was told there was a staff lift he could have used.
Read rest of story at:
This article was written by Patrick Wintour, political editor, for The Guardian on Thursday 8th January 2015
Pleas to the government to suspend its benefit sanctions regime pending a fundamental review of its impact – especially on the mentally ill and disabled – were made at the first session of a broad inquiry by the Department of Work and Pensions Select Committee.
In a two-and-half hour session involving academics, food banks administrators, disabled groups and employment service professionals, the select committee repeatedly heard the sanctions regime had changed over the last two years, creating a punitive culture of fear – especially amongst the disabled.
Mathew Oakley, the independent reviewer for sanctions appointed by the DWP did not join in their fiercest criticism of the system but said it would be wise for the government to undertake a general stock-take of the system in view of the extent to which it has changed over the past two parliaments.
> Matthew Oakley is the guy who in 2011 was behind a Policy Exchange thinktank report titled: Something For Nothing : Reinstating Conditionality For Jobseekers, which called for a new points based system for Jobseekers Allowance that recognises different ‘job-search’ activities that claimants are required to carry out each week.
‘Attending a job interview’, which is currently not a recognised job seeking activity, would earn a greater number of points than ‘putting together a CV’ or ‘seeking information about a job’.
Claimants would have to reach a specific number of points each week to receive their benefits. If they failed to reach the minimum target benefits would be withheld.
Or sanctioned in other words. So no prizes for guessing which side of the fence he’s on…
He was one of many witnesses that said the government lacked systematic information on what happened to jobseeker’s allowance claimants if they are sanctioned including whether they went into work, the black economy or instead disengaged, leading to the growing gap between the number unemployed and the numbers claiming JSA.
Dr David Webster, visiting professor of Glasgow University, claimed the system had a gradually parallel secret penal system – a view dismissed by one Tory committee member as ‘completely absurd and bizarre’. Webster said the DWP may now be saving as much as £275m a year due to claimants being stopped.
Tony Wilson, the Centre for Social and Economic Inclusion, said sanctions “are running so far ahead of what works we should suspend the applications of sanctions unless we have a much clearer idea of what works and the impact of sanctions”.
Paul Farmer, the chief executive officer of mental health charity Mind said sanctions amongst those on employment support allowance has risen from 1,700 a month to 4,800 a month, adding there had been a disproportionate impact on people on mental health.
He claimed 60% of those on ESA have a mental health problem, yet in only 8% of cases were GPs being contacted as required in guidance to seek their views on the pressing ahead with sanctions.
Chris Mould, the chairman of the Trussell Trust, one of the chief organisers of food banks in the UK, said there had been a radical change in the way very disproportionate decisions were being taken since the latter part of 2012 , adding it was clear some job centres were being more punitive than others. He said in too many cases it takes too long for a claimant to secure redress if they have had their benefit withdrawn.
Kirsty McHugh, the chief executive of Employment Related Services Association, the representative body for the employment support sector, also called for an overhaul including the introduction of an “early warning” system which could be used at first offence rather than imposing a sanction. She added frontline employment providers of the work programme should be given more discretion about when they should report jobseekers to Jobcentre Plus for potential sanctioning.
She also called for greater clarity across the system about which jobseekers are classed as “vulnerable” and should be exempt from sanctions.
McHugh said “For a minority of people, receiving a sanction can be the wake up call they need to help them move into work. However, for the vast majority of jobseekers, sanctions are more likely to hinder their journey into employment.”
> Yeah… that’s what we’ve been telling you for the past few years. So nice you’re catching up, but for some people its all too late.
Source – Welfare Weekly, 08 Jan 2015
A man has told of his outrage after being told he’d have to pay £60 to take his disabled wife to hospital by taxi.
Joe Charman and his wife Lyndsay have regularly used North East Ambulance Service’s patient transport to get to and from hospital appointments.
But, following changes to the system by the Department of Health, the couple, of Ingleside, South Shields, have been told they no longer qualify.
Mrs Charman, 50, suffers from myotonic dystrophy, a type of muscular dystrophy that relaxes the muscles, and is unable to travel on the bus or Metro.
Mr Charman, 58, asked for an ambulance to take her to Newcastle’s Freeman Hospital next week for a heart check and clinic visit, and says their only option now is to get a wheelchair taxi.
But – with a bill of £30 each way – Mr Charman, who is a registered carer for his wife, says they simply cannot afford to go.
“My wife had to have a pacemaker fitted last year because of her condition.
“She fell at home and broke her ankle in April and was in South Tyneside District Hospital for a while because she had a blood clot in her arm that they said had been because of the operation.
“She was sent home 14 weeks ago and ever since then, she has been in a hospital bed at our home.
“We have to go to the Freeman once a year for her heart check and muscular dystrophy clinic. We live in Marsden and have always got an ambulance.”
“I used to ring the GP and they would organise one for us, but this time was told I had to ring a different number.
“The man I spoke to wasn’t very nice and he said he had to ask a series of questions before he could book us an ambulance.
“He asked about my wife’s disability and how I would get her to hospital in an emergency. I said, if I had no other choice, I would get a wheelchair taxi and he said that’s what I’d have to do this time.
“It would cost £30 there and the same back and we just can’t afford it. My wife is on incapacity benefits and I get a small carer’s allowance.
“We can’t afford £60 to get to a hospital appointment, and she can’t get on the Metro or the bus.”
“I’ve had to ring the Freeman and tell them we can’t make it. We’ve always been given an ambulance in the past and I don’t understand why it’s different now.
“We’re hoping the Freeman might be able to help us out but we’re waiting to hear back from them.”
A spokesman for the Clinical Commissioning Groups in the North East said:
“We’re sorry to hear about Mr Charman and his wife’s situation and the inconvenience this may cause.
“From October 20, we implemented the Department of Health’s national policy, where all new patient transport bookings are subject to a short assessment.
“The assessment includes asking a few questions about how you would normally travel for day-to-day activities and if friends or family normally take you to your appointments.
“The purpose of this assessment is to make sure that the people who require ambulance services are prioritised and that the NHS is making the best use of the funding it has available.
“We understand that this can be a frustrating experience and some people who have previously used this service may find that they are no longer entitled to patient transport.
“If this is the case, then the booking service is offering information and advice on alternative forms of transport.
“If patients have any concerns, queries, or are unhappy with a decision, they can contact the North of Tyne Patient Advice and Liaison Service (PALS) via Freephone 0800 0320202, by text to 01670 511098 or by e-mailing email@example.com”
> Welcome to the wonderful world of the privatised NHS… it’s only going to get worse.
Source – Shields Gazette, 03 Nov 2014
> No money for welfare, but always money for weapons of war…
Watch the video before reading the article. It’s from the Thatcher/Reagan era, but although the faces may change, the song remains the same.
Britain should renew its nuclear weapons programme, according to a cross-party group of MPs and experts, although it should consider whether to abandon continuous patrols.
The Trident Commission, which includes Sir Malcolm Rifkind, the former Conservative foreign secretary, Sir Menzies Campbell, the former Liberal Democrat leader, and Lord Browne, the former Labour defence secretary, published its final report on Tuesday.
The group concluded the Trident nuclear system should be renewed, even though to do so could cost up to £20bn, to provide an effective deterrent to other states who might wish to threaten the UK with their own nuclear weapons.
> And these states are… who, exactly ? How are you going to nuke a terrorist organization that operates across national borders ?
But the commission also called on the government to consider relaxing its rules on providing round-the-clock deterrence, though it was split on whether the UK should do this unilaterally or in conjunction with partners.
The report said: “If there is more than a negligible chance that the possession of nuclear weapons might play a decisive future role in the defence of the United Kingdom and its allies, in preventing nuclear blackmail, or in affecting the wider security context within which the UK sits, then they should be retained.”
> This, of course, is all from the viewpoint of those who believe they have a place reserved in the bunker.
For the vast majority of us, in the event of a nuclear action we’ll all fry anyway – the idea that we might do so more happily if we knew our counterparts in the other country were also frying is horrendous, but that’s how its sold to us.
And all too often, bought by us.
The consensus from all group members, including Sir Menzies, whose party has traditionally been most hostile to renewing the UK’s nuclear deterrent, is a sign of the similar conclusions reached by all three parties on the issue in the last year.
While the Conservatives have always favoured replacing the entire weapons system, along with all four submarines, the Lib Dems prevented them from making the final decision to do so during this coalition.
But following a Cabinet Office investigation into alternative options, the Lib Dems now back replacing the Trident system, albeit arguing for a reduction from four to three boats. Though this could mean abandoning uninterrupted patrols, the party argues that this would be worth doing as it would save up to £5bn in capital costs and show the UK’s commitment to disarmament.
> Lib Dems go back on profoundly held views shock ! And justify it on the grounds that spending slightly less on weapons of mass destruction amounts to showing the UK’s commitment to disarmament.
Labour has taken a position somewhere between the two, arguing that continuous deterrence must be maintained, but that it might be possible to do so with three boats rather than four if the design is sufficiently advanced.
All three parties accept that any other form of nuclear weapons system, whether based on the land, air or in less powerful submarines, would actually be more expensive than simply replacing the Trident boats. The commission endorsed that conclusion, saying: “We are opposed to proposals to develop alternative platforms and delivery systems, with new warheads, simply on the basis of possible but speculative cost savings.”
The final decision to replace Trident will be taken by 2016, barring any last-minute changes of heart by the three main parties.
> So if you’re hungry, homeless, disabled, living under threat of benefit sanctions, just be grateful that in the case of a nuclear war, you might die horribly and pointlessly, but so will your counterparts in the “enemy” state.
You’d rather that £20 billion was spent to ensure death rather than to sustain life, surely ?
Source – Financial Times 01 July 2014
Trade Union Congress (TUC) Press Release:
Young people not in full-time education are now less likely to be in work than people of other ages and their prospects are declining, despite the recent recovery in the jobs market, the TUC warns today (Sunday) ahead of a new report on full employment to be published tomorrow.
But this improvement is not being felt by young people who aren’t in full-time education, or who have basic or no qualifications. Their prospects have deteriorated rapidly over the same period.
The job situation facing young people outside full-time education is particularly alarming, says the TUC. Back in 1998, three-quarters of young people who weren’t studying were in work – higher than the employment rate for all workers at the time (71 per cent). However, these youngsters’ job prospects fell behind that of other workers in mid-2005 and have continued to decline ever since.
The job chances of young people not in full-time education converged with workers aged 50-64 last summer – a remarkable turnaround given that they were 25 per cent more likely to be in work than older workers back in 1998.
The TUC report also shows that fewer than half of those who have no qualifications are in work, while the employment rate for those who only have basic (level 1) qualifications has fallen to around 63 per cent.
Unless action is taken, the prospects for low-skilled youngsters and unqualified people of all ages will continue to deteriorate, warns the TUC. This will make it impossible for any government to achieve full employment, despite all mainstream political parties now being committed to it.
> Are they ? They say they are, but unemployment keeps wages down and generates opportunities for eroding worker’s rights – which is what the big businesses who ultimately call the shots really want.
Maybe we all should start getting our heads around the idea that full employment is impossible, and use that as our starting point ?
The reduction in the ‘jobs disadvantage’ facing lone parents, disabled, black, Asian and older workers in the last two decades shows that strong growth and targeted government support can make a huge difference, says the TUC. It would like to see the government increase investment in schemes to unemployed and poorly qualified youngsters so that their fortunes can be turned around too.
> Oh no, not another unemployed course ! The only winners there are the poverty pimp organizations who make a mint running them.
The report makes a number of recommendations to help raise employment rates for young people not in full-time education, including:
- Offering targeted employment support programmes, such as a job guarantee for any young person out of work for at least six months
- Identifying low skills as a reason to provide more intensive employment support
- Establishing bodies in each industrial sector so that government, unions and employers could work together to identify skills gaps, promote decent workplace standards and fair pay.
TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady said:
“All the mainstream political parties now support unions’ long-held commitment to full employment.
“But with job prospects for many young people, and poorly qualified people of all ages, deteriorating it will be impossible for any government to achieve this goal unless radical action is taken.
“Over the last two decades, we’ve learnt that strong growth and proper investment in employment programmes can make a huge difference to people’s job chances. But ministers seem keener on kicking struggling youngsters when they’re down and removing the safety net they need to learn new skills and find work.
“We need to increase funding for employment programmes, for example by guaranteeing a job or training to any young person who’s been out of work for six months or more. Spending more money on jobs support now will save money in the long run by getting more people in work and paying taxes.”
Source – Welfare News Service, 22 June 2014
A mum whose disabled daughter was the victim of bullying has backed a new film launched to encourage people to report hate crimes.
Cleveland’s Police and Crime Commissioner Barry Coppinger launched the 15-minute film as a training tool to show the true impact of crimes against disabled people, which aims to address the levels of under-reporting across Teesside.
Kay Demoily, of Acklam, Middlesbrough, helped her daughter Katy, who has Down’s syndrome, through her difficulties with bullying at school and college and welcomes the efforts of police.
“It is very important that people are made aware of the amount of bullying that goes on. Young people especially are vulnerable and might not be able to stand up for themselves, so it is vital that others look out for bullying, which is so much more common than people think.”
Last year there were only 23 reports of disability hate crime incidents – but police and support charities believe victims are not coming forward, due to fear or because they are unaware that bullying is classed as a hate crime.
Kay says that Katy, now 32, who enjoys photography as a hobby, has managed to move on since the bullying with support from family, friends and the local community.
She said: “Everyone who lives close by is very helpful, and would keep an eye out while Katy is around here but you can’t always know what goes on.
“Katy became very introverted and upset. I thought that I would have seen the signs but I didn’t. The film that the police have produced is hard hitting, and I think it should be shown in schools so that young people understand the issues.”
Mr Coppinger said: “Cleveland is not unique in the fact that disability hate crime is under-reported but as a force we are dealing with it head-on by raising awareness of ways in which to report the crime and enhance our training to officers and staff. Incidents can take the form of name calling in the street, serious assaults, and deliberate deception of vulnerable people with disabilities. These are completely unacceptable and it’s important that officers can identify where a crime has a disability hate element and how to raise awareness of reporting with victims, carers and families.”
The short film has taken months of planning and features real life stories brought to life by IMPACT Drama Group, part of Middlesbrough Community Inclusion Service, who directed the film and featured in the case studies.
Source – Middlesbrough Evening Gazette, 17 May 2014
It is easy to get caught up in headlines and forget that the Coalition’s benefit reforms mean people you know will lose their homes.
You know what happens then? PEOPLE YOU KNOW START LOSING THEIR HOMES.
Vox Political was warning the world about this back in 2012 – nearly two years ago – saying the bedroom tax would put people on the streets while homes go empty and warning about the ‘Poll Tax revival plan to take away your home’. It gives me no pleasure at all to report that I was right.
This week I heard about two cases in my Mid Wales town. You may think that isn’t many, but this is a town with a population of less than 5,000 – and I haven’t heard about every case.
The first involves a family that has been living in the same council house for more than 30 years…
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“In case they’ve grown back” (picture at top of post) may be meant as humour, but something very similar has actually happened with Atos. See – https://unemployedtynewear.wordpress.com/2013/12/11/atos-expecting-miracles/
The government wouldn’t do it – so an influential Parliamentary committee has decided to launch its own inquiry into Employment and Support Allowance and the Work Capability Assessment that determines eligibility for it.
I will be submitting evidence to this inquiry and I strongly suggest that, if you have a story to tell, then you should provide evidence as well.
According to the Parliament.uk website, the decision to undertake an inquiry from today (February 6) was made in light of recent developments including the publication of several reviews of the WCA, expressions of concern from DWP regarding Atos’s performance in delivering the WCA, and the introduction of mandatory reconsideration.
Submissions of no more than 3,000 words are invited from interested organisations and individuals.
The Committee is particularly interested to hear views on:
- Delivery of the WCA by Atos, including steps taken to improve the claimant experience
- The effectiveness of…
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Vulnerable children and adults with disabilities or high support needs may be forced to pay the Bedroom Tax, despite protestations to the contrary by Lord Freud, after it was revealed that creating more protections would cause ‘political embarrassment’.
Current rules mean some supported housing is protected from the Bedroom Tax, benefit cap and the effects of Universal Credit (if a working version ever arrives) – but this accommodation is not exempted if the landlord is not the care provider or when the landlord is a local authority.
This means that, for example, supported housing provider Habinteg has 1,200 wheelchair-accessible properties for the disabled – but only 516 of them are exempt from the benefit changes.
Lord Freud, who is minister for social security reform, said last April that the DWP was working to ensure all supported accommodation would be protected from what he called the “unintended consequences” of the government’s…
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