Tagged: Mark Harper

New minister for disabled strongly against disability benefits and human rights

The prime minister has announced that the new minister for disabled people is Justin Tomlinson, Conservative MP for North Swindon. Tomlinson has a strong anti-benefits and anti-human rights background.

Tomlinson has replaced Mark Harper, who is now the Conservative chief whip.

Tomlinson is a former national chairman of Conservative Future, the youth wing of the Conservative party and has been an MP since 2010.

He is a party loyalist, with a strong record of voting against the interests of sick and disabled claimants.

According to They work For You, Tomlinson:

  • Voted strongly for of the bedroom tax
  • Voted very strongly against raising welfare benefits at least in line with prices
  • Voted very strongly against paying higher benefits over longer periods for those unable to work due to illness or disability
  • Voted very strongly for making local councils responsible for helping those in financial need afford their council tax and reducing the amount spent on such support
  • Voted very strongly for a reduction in spending on welfare benefits
  • Voted very strongly against spending public money to create guaranteed jobs for young people who have spent a long time unemployed.

Tomlinson also voted in favour of repealing the Human Rights Act.

His responsibilities a minister for disabled people include:

  • cross-government disability issues and strategy
  • Employment and Support Allowance, Work Capability Assessment and Incapacity Benefit Reassessment Programme
  • disability benefits (Disability Living Allowance, Personal Independence Payment and Attendance Allowance)
  • carers
  • appeals reform
  • fraud and error (including debt management)

Tomlinson has some interest in health issues, but does not seem to have shown any great interest in disability issues during his time as an MP.

Source – Benefits & Work,  12 May 2015

http://www.benefitsandwork.co.uk/news/3093-new-minister-for-disabled-strongly-against-disability-benefits-and-human-rights

ELECTION 2015: Harper suggests backing for mental health treatment sanctions

The lovely wibbly wobbly old lady

Reposted from Disability News Service

The Tory minister for disabled people appears to have accidentally admitted what many disabled activists feared: that a Conservative government would cut the out-of-work benefits of people with mental health conditions if they refused treatment.

In a debate broadcast on local radio, Mark Harper strongly suggested that people with mental health problems would be among the group with “long-term yet treatable” conditions who could be sanctioned if they refused treatment.

The pledge to review whether such sanctions should be introduced is included in the Tory manifesto, under a promise to “review how best to support those suffering from long-term yet treatable conditions, such as drug or alcohol addiction, or obesity, back into work”.

It adds: “People who might benefit from treatment should get the medical help they need so they can return to work.

“If they refuse a recommended treatment, we will review whether…

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Need cheering up? This latest update on Universal Credit should do it!

The lovely wibbly wobbly old lady

Reposted from ComputerWorldUK

Universal Credit digital staff up from just three to 160 during 2014

There are now 160 people working on the Universal Credit digital service, according to minister for disabled people Mark Harper.

It is a dramatic increase in manpower compared with last January, when just three members of DWP IT staff were working on the digital system, which will be the eventual platform for all benefit claimants.

The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) plans to recruit a further 50 staff members between now and April to work on the beleaguered benefit reform project, Harper said in a written answer to shadow work and pensions minister Stephen Timms.

Harper said: “The number of people working on the Universal Credit digital service is tracking very close to recruitment plans.”

The DWP has adopted a ‘twin track’ development model for the new benefit, with existing systems for national implementation developed alongside the new digital solution. The government eventually plans…

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Labour Blame Low Wages For Soaring Housing Benefit Bill

The Housing Benefit bill is set to spiral out of control due to low wages and rising rents, official figures suggest.

Between 2010/11 to 2018/19 the amount spent on helping struggling households to keep roofs over their heads is set to rocket to a staggering £12.9 billion, or £488 for every household in the UK.

 Labour’s Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary will blame the soaring Housing Benefit bill on the tory-led coalition government for failing to tackle the scandal of low wages and poor working conditions.

The figures obtained from the Commons Library also show that Housing Benefit paid to people in work is set to more than double, from £2.4 billion in 2010/11 to £5.5 billion in 2018/19.

Stagnating wages will also have a knock on effect on how much is spent supporting low-income households with tax credits. Currently the UK spends £21.2 billion on tax credits, but this is forecast to rise to £23.7 billion by 2018/19.

Speaking in Pudsey, West Yorkshire, Rachel Reeves is expected to say:

The number of working people claiming housing benefit is set to double because the Tory Government has failed to tackle low pay, insecure work and the cost-of-living crisis.

“Labour will raise the minimum wage, introduce living wage contracts and get 200,000 homes built a year by 2020 to tackle the bill and ensure working people can make ends meet.

She will also say that Labour may withdraw its support for Iain Duncan Smith’s flagship Universal Credit scheme, unless “urgent action” is immediately taken to prevent “more money being wasted” on the crisis hit programme.

Ms Reeves will say: “Today I want to make a direct appeal to David Cameron and Iain Duncan Smith.

“Labour wants Universal Credit to work. But we won’t accept more taxpayers’ money being wasted. It is in crisis and needs urgent action.”

> Yes, Rachel, but what you need to understand is that the problem with Universal Credit is not just that it’s a money pit. Its also the way in which it makes life so much more difficult for people who  already have more than enough problems to be going on with.

Are Labour going to deal with those aspects ? Nothing seen so far suggests that they would  anything except continue with more of the same.

Earlier this year, Welfare Reform Minister Lord Freud described the write-off of a failed £40 million IT system for Universal Credit as “deeply regrettable”.

He insisted that the programme would be delivered on time and within its £2.5 billion budget and that the scheme would benefit taxpayers to the tune of £35 billion.

Minister for Disabled People, Mark Harper MP, told the Daily Mirror that the government had “inherited an out-of-control housing benefit system from Labour”.

He added that the government were working to “build a welfare system that provides a safety net for those in need, while rewarding the willingness to work”.

Source – Welfare News Service,  05 Aug 2014

http://welfarenewsservice.com/labour-blame-low-wages-soaring-housing-benefit-bill/

Benefit Reform “Shambles” Pushing Disabled People To Suicide, Says Whistleblower

Sick and disabled claimants are experiencing severe distress and some are even close to suicide due to botched disability benefit reform, an insider has revealed.

Personal Independence Payments (PIP) are replacing Disability Living Allowance (DLA) for Britain’s sick and disabled, but the assessment process which should take no longer than 26 weeks is sometimes taking twice as long.

 The insider, or should we say whistleblower, is a call centre worker for the private contractor Capita, who together with the disgraced private healthcare firm Atos are responsible for assessing PIP claimants on behalf of the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP).

The two companies are set to make £540 million from the new benefit in the next five years. Atos will receive the larger share of around £400 million, despite heavy criticism and a poor record in delivering ‘fit for work’ tests for Employment and Support Allowance (ESA), while Capita will make roughly £140 million.

PIP can be claimed by sick and disabled people regardless of their employment status.

Under the new disability benefit PIP, claimants are required to attend face-to-face assessments to determine their eligibility and the level of benefit they will receive. The whistleblower claims that mismanagement, IT problems and staff shortages are to blame for a backlog of 145,000 cases.

While waiting to be assessed for PIP, many sick and disabled people are often left penniless and unable to pay their rent, because their DLA has been stopped, the whistleblower said.

Speaking to the Daily Mirror, the whistleblower said:

I’ve had people on the phone crying their eyes out and saying they are going to commit suicide.

“On one occasion I had to call an ambulance because they said they had stopped taking their medication. Some people have been going for months and months without money.”

We’ve started getting calls from people saying their DLA will run out in a month’s time and they’ve not even got an appointment for an assessment.

“Others have been left with nothing because their DLA has been stopped. People have lost their home because they can’t pay their rent.”

She continued: “It’s a shambles. Day in, day out there are people ringing up to say, ‘Why is my appointment cancelled?’ I’ve seen appointments cancelled time and time again.”

According to the whistleblower, Capita call centre staff have been given instructions on what excuses to use when claimants ask why their PIP assessment has been delayed or cancelled. “I am having to lie on a daily basis about why things are taking so long”, she said.

Minister for Disabled People,  Mark Harper told the Daily Mirror: “By the autumn, we anticipate that no one will be waiting for an assessment for longer than 26 weeks.”

Capita said they would be hiring more staff to help reduce the backlog.

 Source – Welfare News Service,  03 Aug 2014

http://welfarenewsservice.com/benefit-reform-shambles-pushing-disabled-people-suicide-says-whistleblower/

 

Oh dear. Look what Mark Harper said about people who employ illegal immigrants

Hello Mr Pot…have you met Mr Kettle ?

Pride's Purge

(not satire – it’s the Tories!)

Here’s what Mark Harper – the Tory immigration minister who has just resigned for employing an illegal immigrant as a cleaner – said in parliament just last Novemberabout ‘unscrupulous’ employers who employ illegal immigrants:

“There is some agreement about the need to crack down on unscrupulousemployers. One is their exploitation of individuals in the United Kingdom; another is that by treating individuals in the way they do they undercut legitimate employers who obey the law and follow the rules. That iswrong. Unscrupulous employers also help to facilitate one type of illegal migration, in which individuals are, frankly, duped into coming to the United Kingdom with the promise of a better life only to end up working in unsatisfactory conditions and not receiving a good income, and so would have been better off if they had never made the…

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