Sunday, 27 April 2014

Ilegal . org . uk Calls for IDS to sink under his dodgy stats

Via :

It's time he went under

Seriously, IDS is getting away with blue murder and it's time he was seriously challenged.

In the previous two posts I've drawn attention to what I consider to be a major inconsistency in the DWP's Employment & Support Allowance statistics.  By major I mean major as in three quarters of a million.

This is the latest figure I've unearthed by making a simple comparison between two sets of DWP statistics.  The two I compared were:

The DWP Work Capability Assessment statistics which crucially tell us (1) How many claimants have been found fit for work and (2) How many claimants stop claiming without an assessment.  These figures tell us lots of other things but for the purpose of this latest comparison only (1) and (2) are relevant. 

The DWP 'off flow' statistics which tell us how many claimants have come off Employment & Support Allowance ever since it first started in October 2008.

It is to me logical to base an assumption (there are exceptions which for now I would ask you to put on hold) that those found fit for work and those who have ended their claims as shown in the Work Capability Assessment statistics will translate in to a minimum number which I would expect to see in the off flow statistics.  

What these figures show is that the actual numbers of claimants is far less, by over three quarters of a million, than the assessment figures suggest.  

This discrepancy highlights, to a considerable extent, the enormity of a problems which exists within the Employment & Support Allowance assessment programme.  These figures show that despite the purported assessment outcomes. 2.1 million claimants remain entitled to Employment & Support Allowance rather than over 2.8 million claimants being removed from their benefits as implied by the assessment statistics.  

What these figures show is a huge disparity between the 2,882,500 claimants identified as moving off Employment & Support Allowance in the assessment statistics and the 2,125,830 shown in the claimant figures as the real number of claimants who ended their claims - a difference of 756,670 claimants.  It's not a figure which IDS can easily explain away.

It should also remembered that the higher figure of 2.8 million is very much a minimum baseline because it only relates to findings at or near the point of assessment.  Many more will have ended their claims for all kinds of other reasons, these won't be picked up in the assessment figures but the higher the figure the greater the three quarter million discrepancy.  This is because the actual numbers ending their claims is a figure depicted by the DWP's actual records of claimant's movements on and off the allowance. 

So why haven't 756,760 ESA claims ended as depicted in the assessment statistics come off the allowance?

Unfortunately I can't pretend this isn't complex and something which can be easily followed by all, none the less I'll try and put it over in a way which I hope followers will understand.

The assessment statistics show a total of 2,882,500 claimants who have come off ESA between October 2008 and June 2013.  Of these we know for certain that 1,393,700 are claimants who have ended their claims before an assessment. Once these claims are ended they come to an end, there's no going back so this is a firm figure which is non - reversible.  

Instead of deducting the 1,393,700 closed claim figure from the assessment total, we can deduct it from the actual numbers of claimants who have closed their claims.  This means deducting the figure from 2,125,830 which gives us 732,130.  

What's strange about this is how it very firmly bites in to the numbers the DWP say have been found fit for work. We can safely deduct the 732,130 (because we know for sure all closed claims before assessment would definitely have ended their claim) from the 1,488,800 claimants found fit for work - a difference of 756,670.  The reason we can safely deduct from the fit for work figure is that it is reversible - it can be changed after the assessment results by people appealing or asking for reconsiderations.  

The irrefutable fact is that despite whatever the fit for work figures say around 50% of claimants are not in fact ending their claims at all, if they were the overall number of closed claims would be much, much higher.  So something very substantial isn't adding up. 

The only explanation to this three quarter of a million discrepancy is that the 1,488,800 found 'fit for work' figure has been changed to one of two different status:

(1) The claimant has appealed and their appeal is still ongoing (which is why they do not come off the allowance). This is possible under the Employment & Support Allowance rules up to October 2013.  Upon electing an appeal, the claimant moves/stays in the Assessment Phase up until their appeal has been heard.

(2) The claimant has appealed and the appeal has been decided in their favour in which case the claimant remains on Employment & Support Allowance within either the Work Related Activity Group or Support Group.  

Cases which the DWP depict in the assessment statistics as 'still in progress' can be eliminated from the possibility that they contribute to the three quarter of a million figure because I have excluded them from the calculation. 

So how is the 756,670 figure made up?

In dealing with (1) by looking at more DWP statistics we can ascertain that in May 2013 there were 70,940 ESA claimants of 'unknown' status and 490,260 in the Assessment Phase.  All of these claimants will either be awaiting an assessment or will have been found fit for work and appealed, there is no other way of being placed in the Assessment Phase.  There is no way of distinguishing between the two.

In dealing with (2) we can look at separate records held by the Her Majesties' Courts & Tribunals Service (HMCTS) to see how many claimants had successfully appealed up to June 2013, the majority of these will be appeals against fit for work decisions. 

The DWP maintain in the assessment statistics that they only had been able to retrieve data from HMCTS Tribunals relating to 125,600 ESA appeals overturned in the claimant's favour.  I would however suggest that the three quarter of a million discrepancy paints a very different story.  

The way to get to the root of this is to look at the Tribunal overturns shown below: 

Year / QuarterESA appeals cleared % in favour   
Number of appeals in
claimant's favour

2008/2009274%Not shown

Q1 Up to June 201377,22742%32,435


The figure of 260,269 is well above the 125,600 recorded in the assessment statistics and would therefore appear to suggest that the DWP have updated all of the 260,269 overturns in the claimant count.

If we deduct the 260,269 from the 756,670 figure we arrive at 496,401
which more or less mirrors the 490,260 in the Assessment Phase in May 2013.  So it is possible that these will represent a fair number who have appealed. 

Can we simply say of the 756,670 figure; 260,299 are the claimants who have had their decisions overturned and the remaining 496,401 are in the appeals process?  

The answer is no.


Because of the 2,125,830 number of claimants who have definitely ended their claims (as shown in the off - flow statistics) a fair number (not fully disclosed by the DWP) will have ended their claims in either the Work Related Activity or Support Group of their own accord.  

The more claimants who end their claim of their own accord, the higher the number will be of fit work decisions which have either been overturned or appealed (because these claimants remain on ESA and will not show as off - flows).

The other consideration is that the DWP are overturning far more decisions from fit for work to entitled at the reconsideration stage than they are currently conceding to.  

The fact is there is a three quarter of a million discrepancy between those identified in the assessment statistics and those actually coming off ESA.  

Saturday, 26 April 2014

Report to the Labour Party by the Disability and Poverty Taskforce April 2014

Via : >

Breaking the Link between 
Disability and Poverty

Report to the Labour Party 
by the Disability and Poverty Taskforce
April 2014

This ground-breaking report was launched today 24 April 2014. Alas it has been said the Labour party, who commissioned the report, will not be promoting it. This leaves disabled people to do the promoting themselves.

This blog post today is soley for promoting this report.

Below are tweets I (vsocjustice) sent today outlining the report in brief. I (vsocjustice) also created a pdf version specially for those who wished it. Here is the link. DOWNLOAD FROM FOLDER

Breaking the link between Poverty & Disability - report by Bert Massie #disability #poverty Apr 24, 2014 
Bert Massie & his Poverty Taskforce says DLA/PIP are not doing the job. There needs to be a third element to these #disability benefits 1/2 Apr 24, 2014
2/2 The mooted Disability Costs Allowance will accurately reflect its purpose & would comprise elements for mobility, care & general costs. Apr 24, 2014
Massie's Disability & Poverty Taskforce also say the 20 metre limit imposed by IDS should be removed and made 50 meters once again. Apr 24, 2014
Massie's Disability & Poverty Taskforce says more effort should be made to give disabled people their rights and better access to justice. Apr 24, 2014
Massie's taskforce: There should be investment…a sea-change in employer behaviour on recruitment, development & retention of disabled people Apr 24, 2014
Joseph Rowntree Foundation: “The effect of removing DLA & Attendance Allowance from incomes is to double the number of people in poverty" Apr 24, 2014
Massie's taskforce: Disabled people’s financial status also makes them disproportionately vulnerable to financial exclusion & exploitation > Apr 24, 2014
> that can further erode their capacity to escape poverty." "Disabled adults…twice as likely as non-disabled…to live in persistent poverty." Apr 24, 2014
"Other European countries…Sweden, Iceland, Estonia, Switzerland, Denmark, Germany all achieving disability employment rates above 50%" >> Apr 24, 2014
The employment rate in UK for disabled people's significantly lower than in many European countries according to Bert Massie's task force. Apr 24, 2014
Massie's taskforce says: "Disability is expensive. Disabled people experience both an income penalty & a cost of living penalty: they are > Apr 24, 2014
>likely to face complex barriers to getting & keeping a job…be unable to work or…work full-time; they have costs…non-disabled people do not" Apr 24, 2014
Bert Massie's taskforce report on Disability & Poverty is in .doc format only. Ive created a PDF version: Apr 24, 2014

Thursday, 24 April 2014

#luxuryonthesick NOPE.

Nope . 

ESA+h/ben +council tax support for ME as a total, is below The poverty line which is 

" A family or individual is considered to be in poverty when post-tax income falls below 60 per cent of the national median – £367 a week, which is £220 a week." 

As all three added up is below that £220 definition. And With the contribution to council tax , thats a tax. So I am correct that ESA, for me,  is below the poverty line.

Media often is on about people Raking it in . *coughs* its a media myth. 

Mental Health failures in welfare system ...



There will be a three day hearing in the Royal Courts of Justice in London on 22, 23 & 24 July 2014 in an attempt to establish what the DWP is going to do to remedy the substantial disadvantage that people with mental health problems suffer when being put through the Work Capability Assessment. This will follow a directions hearing that will take place in May.

Everyone knows that the only real remedy to our plight will be when these mock assessments are abandoned but, until then, we will continue the fight to try to improve them.

The case centres around the importance of further medical evidence for a person with mental health problems and on who is responsible for obtaining this evidence. Both the MHRN and the judges believe that such evidence is vital and that the DWP should be responsible and proactive in obtaining it. For their part, the DWP don't want to know about medical evidence from a claimant's own mental health professionals because the WCA is not an assessment of a person's mental health condition but a dummy assessment that pretends that how a person functions can be separated from any condition they live with. The last thing the DWP want is real evidence from someone who might be qualified to comment!

It is possible that some kind of pilot study will be undertaken by? maybe Atos? to try to establish how they could go about obtaining this evidence. Under the Equalities Act, the DWP should be making reasonable adjustments to the assessment to accommodate our problems and it has been successfully argued that obtaining such evidence would be a reasonable adjustment. We can probably predict that they will try to show from a pilot study that such adjustments would be too expensive, unhelpful and unworkable, and therefore unreasonable. It will be for us to keep an eye on the progress of any pilot and to make sure they know that we are all watching them.

We will be in court and will keep you informed.
LEON gave me this. 

Saturday, 19 April 2014

Expensive Meds? They wanna drop One for cost?

Latest consultant letter to my doc 

" I reviewed this pleasant individual in clinic today..." 

"..tolerating medications.." 

"nothing that we didnt already know..."
(summary of issues) 

 "Doesnt wish to change a working regime.."
"In view of this I have continued.." 

 "will review this in six months" 

The review bit is to remove one of my meds, due to cost. THEY TOLD ME ITS EXPENSIVE. 

I dont want that . I won this time, maybe not next time.

Friday, 18 April 2014

TRIBUNAL: Regarding IB/ESA claimant death figures - Mr M. Sivier

Diary marker
Tribunal – Law Courts, Cathays Park, Cardiff, April 23, 2014 at 10am
Incapacity benefits – deaths of claimants
A tribunal will decide whether the Department for Work and Pensions should be ordered to release its statistics on the number of people who have died while claiming Incapacity Benefit or Employment and Support Allowance, at a hearing next week.
The First-Tier Tribunal (formerly the Information Tribunal) will be hearing an appeal by Vox Political blogger Mike Sivier, against a decision by the Information Commissioner and the DWP to refuse a Freedom of Information request on the subject.
The DWP published an ‘ad hoc statistical release’ in July 2012, showing that 10,600 claimants died between January and November 2011. Of these, 3,500 – or 73 people every week – were either going through the assessment process or had been put in the work-related activity group, intended for people who were expected to recover within a year, when they died.
The revelation provoked outcry from people suffering from disabilities and long-term illnesses, and seems to have discouraged the DWP from continuing to publish the figures.
Mr Sivier made his request in June 2013, after learning that the DWP had refused previous requests. The department at first claimed there was no intention to release any further statistics, and the information would take a great deal of time and effort to gather and collate – this is not true. In fact, the DWP later admitted that it does hold the information, and could provide it within the cost limit.
The next excuse was that the Secretary of State, Iain Duncan Smith, accepted that there was interest in the figures and was considering how to publish them. This was claimed in August 2013. Since no plan to publish these time-sensitive figures after nearly nine months, we must conclude that, like the previous claim, it is not true. The figures are time-sensitive because it is important that the system be improved to prevent unnecessary deaths. Delays in publication mean the figures are unlikely to be used in that way.
Seeing that the DWP had brushed aside privately-made requests, Mr Sivier ensured that his was public knowledge by writing an article about it in his blog (at As an afterthought, he included a line encouraging readers to follow his example, if they believed the issue was important, reasoning that the DWP may give more weight to it if it was known that there was general concern.
The DWP refused the request, claiming it was “vexatious” under section 14(1) of the Freedom of Information Act 2000. Officers had visited the blog and concluded that the last line, “I strongly urge you to do the same. There is strength in numbers,” constituted a co-ordinated campaign of harassment against the department.
Mr Sivier believes this is nonsense and appealed to the Information Commissioner on this basis. But the Commissioner was persuaded by the DWP and upheld the decision, forcing Mr Sivier to take the matter to the tribunal.


Friday, 4 April 2014

Scrutiny in Parliament? A little dig under the surface...

Myself and Wayne were chatting regarding the Maria Miller what can only be called ...  debacle .

Wayne raised a few questions that spurned his research, I , as is Wayne, am TOTALLY gobsmacked by what came out of both of our questioning of this. 

Wayne agreed to write it up. All I'd add is that the whole thing absolutely reeks , I'll let Wayne explain below. 

As many of you already no doubt are aware, Maria Miller, Conservative MP and Culture Secretary, was today slapped rather tamely on the wrist, ordered to apologise and repay £5,800 after being found to have overclaimed the money on her mortgage in 2009.  Despite a hugely critical report by Kathryn Hudson, Standards Commissioner, Ms. Miller is still in her job and in the Cabinet.
Needless to say, I think the decision is ridiculous and Maria Miller, at the very least, should be resigning immediately from both the Cabinet and Parliament.  But what really astounds me is that the decision was made by a group of her peers - ie. other MPs who sit on the House of Commons Committee on Standards, and not an independent body or the Police.  It’s frankly ludicrous that this group was allowed to decide on this matter.  So it got me wondering, who exactly sat on this Committee?
Well, thanks to this document (Page 5) I can tell you that the current membership of the Committee is as follows:
For some reason that I cannot explain, the list set off some alarms bells in the deep recesses of my brain.  Whether is was something I’d read during the expenses scandal, or something more recent, I’m not sure, but a couple of the names jumped out at me.  So, at a little after midnight this evening, I decided to do a little Googling and see what I could find on these members of the “Standards Committee”.
And I was astounded at what I found.  Let’s go through them one by one, shall we?
Mr Barron claimed £1500 a month to rent from a colleague, as reported by the Telegraph here.  This is the man who sits as CHAIR of the Standards Committee, and yet is found to be doing this.
Sir Paul, one of the most influential dentists in the country, designated his West London home, which included his surgery, as his second home on his parliamentary expenses.  He claimed thousands on this “second home” according to the Telegraph here.
Mr Buckland was elected to the House of Commons in 2010.  This, of course, means he was not part of the expenses scandal that we all saw in 2009.  He has, however, been criticised for claiming energy bills on expenses (see the comments at the bottom for details of his claim).
Well, where to start?  Mr Chope not only claimed over £800 to strip down and recover a sofa, he also claimed £10,000 to re-roof a property owned jointly with his wife.  He claimed £136,992 in 2007/08. The report is here.  And he sits on the Standards Committee??
Mr Clarke designated the Sloane Club in Chelsea as second home, and claimed about £1,500 a month while in London. Claimed £400 a month for food, according to the Telegraph.
Whilst Mr Cox has been quite open and transparent regarding his expenses claims, questions have been raised about the amount of money Mr Cox earns from his second job.
Sir Nicholas Barton Harvey claimed money for renting a property in London whilst also renting out his own property, as the Huffington Post revealed here.  He also, shamefully, accepted £7.20 in expenses forattending a Rememberance Sunday parade.
In 2010 Ms. O’Donnell had to defend expenses that were the highest in Scotland, with over £14,500 in a three-and-a-half month period.  She was elected in 2010.
Mrs Wheeler was elected in 2010.  She was criticised over claiming energy bills last year.
Dr Whitehead claimed mortgage interest payments of up to £730 per month on his second home in London. Also claimed £1,942.98 for a replacement boiler according to the Telegraph.
Mrs Brooke has been criticised in her local press for having the highest expenses claims in Dorset.  She also claimed expenses for fizzy drinks and chocolates, despite leading a fight against obesity.
So, despite a couple of notable exceptions, all of the so-called House of Commons Committee on Standards have previously had their own issues with expenses and parliamentary standards.  Not exactly the impartial group you’d want to be conducting this sort of investigation into one of their peers, is it?  And it’s also noteworthy that over half the Committee are Coalition members, who I have absolutely no doubt will have wanted to support their colleague.
It’s simply not good enough, and there are definite questions that need to be answered here.  
Not least being why the hell is the Committee on Standards made up of people who have fallen so badly foul themselves of the rules on standards themselves?

4th April, Guardian, had this to say >