Wednesday 20 January 2010

ESA proves that Labour has betrayed its core values.

I spent this evening watching a black labrador slurpily lapping the shoes of a major think-tank director whilst its owner thought up ways to lie to me about his party's attitude to the poor and needy. In a speech given in conjunction with Progress, David Blunkett MP set out to demonstrate just why the Tories are so very, very different from New Labour. The former Home Secretary quoted Aneurin Bevan, who described the Conservative party's habit of using government policy to shore up the assets of the privileged as "sucking at the teats of the state".

"That sums it up pretty well", said Blunkett, who went on to describe how the evil, ghoulish Tories, are planning to reduce the size of the state by selling off central and local government functions to private companies in an effort to save money, because they, unlike Labour, care about money more than about people.

Mr Blunkett omitted to mention the small matter of the Welfare Reform Bill 2008, with its stated aim of saving cash by getting a million people off sickness benefits and back into work whether they are up to it or not. This week, the BBC has exposed the inhumanities of the new ESA (Employment and Support Allowance) system, which requires all claimants of incapacity and other benefits to attend a 'compulsory work-focused interview' in order to assess their capability for work. In almost all cases, the BBC found, after a series of humiliating interviews in which patients with terminal cancer have been asked to demonstrate how far they can walk, applicants were told that they were ineligible for state support and ordered to seek full-time paid work immediately.

After nearly a year of ESA, the government still cannot say how many people this brutal and dazzlingly expensive system has helped back into work, but it can say for sure that 44,000 people are currently waiting for the results of their appeals, costing the taxpayer additional millions.

Dr Chris Johnstone, whose work helped shape the ESA policy, criticised the system, saying,"I have no problem with a rigorous medical assessment done in a supportive fashion, but I think if you have a slipshod one done, as it appears to be anecdotally, that's unfair for the people going through the system. It feels like some of it is done inappropriately and it's almost being done to save money rather than to look after people."

So here we have a Labour policy that involves ...well, it involves contracting out functions of the welfare state to private companies, with the explicit purpose of forcing a million people who are sick off state benefits, in order to save money. Which, by the way, they're not even doing.

When I raised this inconsistency more-or-less politely with Mr Blunkett, he stammered for a moment before claiming that people attending compulsory medical assessments "should be entitled to a choice of providers" of this "service". This is an outright fabrication. Even where more than one private company does offer ESA assessments in an area, welfare claimants are not informed of their right to a second 'medical' opinion. But that's not the clever bit. The clever bit of ESA, the really nasty, vindictive thing about this scheme, is that accessing the money one is entitled to now involves a fight, a fight that, according to Atos doctors, one is designed to fail:

"When doctors go in for the day's assessments, they pretty much know the clients are going to be turned down...It's really tough to qualify for ESA." Sam, 32, a former research scientist, described his experience of applying for ESA, which was far from 'empowering':

''Jumping through the hoops to access my benefits took me six months, during which I was peniless and despairing. It's not about 'what you can do' - what the DWP want to find out is just how incompetent and incapable you are. If you're to stand any chance of getting the support you need, you have to fail hard enough to satisfy them. And if there's ever anything calculated to institutionalise failure, that's it."

After Blunkett had finished pontificating about 'choice' and 'empowerment' and how much Labour 'cares about people', I waited for the red-eye to subside, made tea, and turned on my computer. Where I found that another friend of mine, Laura, 23, who suffers from severe mental and physical health problems, had received a letter from the DWP telling her that she no longer fulfils their criteria for being unwell:

"... and therefore, I am no longer entitled to my Employment and Support Allowance. And as such I have no income whatsoever.

"Now, when I read the letter I cried for half an hour. Cried so much my throat hurt. But now, now I'm just angry. I've spent months in psychiatric institutions, and I struggle every fucking day with feeling like a failure, and what this letter essentially says is, 'you've failed a test you didn't even know you were taking, and no, we didn't consult your doctors, but as far as we're concerned there's nothing wrong with you, get back to work and stop sponging.''

"Tomorrow I'm going to have to phone some faceless telephone person who I'm either going to shout it, which they don't deserve, or cry at, which doesn't help. This seems like a system that discriminates against those who are most vulnerable."

You can read the whole of Laura's post here. It's important to remember that Laura, Sam and people like them are not just recieving rejection letters, shrugging their shoulders and getting on with it. This is a policy that destroys lives, sometimes literally, sometimes inexorably, and always with the tepid tang of faceless beauracracy. If Labour's only election strategy is to accuse the Tories of not caring about ordinary people, something is badly amiss. It's not merely a lie: it's an untruth so fundamentally at odds with the last five years of policymaking that one suspects the cabinet of some terrible mass hallucination of integrity.

In its belated return to the rhetoric of privilege and class, Labour forgets that a significant proportion of its voters and former voters no longer fit the worn Labour image of 'working class', because they are not able to work for a living in this stress-inducing, punishing service economy, if indeed they ever were. Labour forgets that people who have the cheek to need state support have votes too, and that their votes matter - indeed, they are, all too often, precisely the disenfranchised 'urban block vote' that Blunkett accused the Tories of forgetting.

Labour's callously outsourced welfare solutions demonstrate that the party has betrayed its core values of decency, fairness and support for ordinary people. In doing so, it has sold the ordinary people of this country, working-class and middle-class, skilled and unskilled, the Sams and the Lauras and you and me, into what could be a generation of failure to thrive.


  1. Unfortunately this kind of treatment isn't something new under the new ESA. They've been assessing people and taking benefits away for years. Back in 1998 a member of my family suffering from mental health problems had an assessment of whether they were still entitled to benefit.

    Needless to say, the conclusion was 'no' and the same day that person tried to commit suicide. It wasn't a success, and they're still with us today, but I think it's important to remember that this isn't a new thing.

    This person had been ill for more than 10 years at that point, had been in an institution for part of that time, medicated in all sorts of combinations and is still today in the same position. I see it as a failing of two systems - the mental health service and the benefits.

    If both were able to work together effectively people might be able to be rehabilitated, rather than the equivalent of being thrown out on the street, and the people still in need of help would not have everything taken away from them.

    Thanks for writing about this.

  2. Thank you. Thank you so much for this. You are awesome.

    *will attempt signal amp in various places*

  3. Thanks for writing this, I'm one of the 44,000 and it's really heartening to see that the vile circus that is the process of claiming for ESA exposed for what it is. A test where you are made to preform then judged by someone who has taken a 2 min history and has no intention of contacting your GP, hospital consultant or pshyciatrist for their input. From what I am led to believe you've failed the test if you arrive for it with out creating a fuss (regardless of the physical & mental pain it caused, the expense of a taxi they won't cover and the day off from work your carer had to take to help).

    Gah, the amount of hoops you have to jump through if you become disabled (which makes hoop jumping difficult in a lot of cases) just to get the bare minimum of support is gross.

  4. @ Liz. Always a relief to hear about someone failing in their attempt to commit suicide. It's one thing you really, really don't want the person to succeed at (except possibly in very extreme medical situations where there really is no hope). I hope the individual concerned is is a happier state of mind.

    I was so lucky with the doctor I had for my medical examination last year, but I wish the government would stop implying that anyone who does not have paid work is a parasite and possibly a malingerer. It is so insulting to millions of job seekers, and ill people, many of whom do valuable unpaid work anyway. And so insulting to carers. It's so wrong and cruel.

  5. I agree with everything that's been said. But, Penny Red, after all the recent hammer-headed wickedness perpetrated by James Purnell and Yvette Cooper in the Labour Party's name, will you yourself be able to bring yourself to vote Labour in the forthcoming general election?

    Perhaps you won't want to say one way or the other but for me James Purnell's time in the DWP that ended any possibility that I could continue to hold my nose and vote for the Labour Party in the foreseeable future. My strategy now is to vote for the candidate fielded by the most civilised and humane party, other than Labour (crypto-Tory) or the Conservatives, who is most likely to get elected and so deny either of the aforementioned parties at least one MP in the House of Commons.

    What a sad day.

    But I really cannot support a party that borrows five billion pounds to fund a programme that seems expressly designed to persecute and pauperise armies of the sick, disabled and mentally ill; struggling single parents with very young children, carers or the unemployed in general.

    How can this have happened?

    Why aren't more Labour MPs up in arms about it?

  6. I'm sorry to hear about your friends experience, I actually worked for the DWP for a while and I can't say it was an experience I would be eager to repeat.

    Targets existed for calls answered, rather than quality of outcome-of course all that happened was poor quality of customer service. In the end I left the organisation frustrated.

    I am lucky enough to be able to work, I would hate to be treated in such a way if I was ill.

  7. As a welfare rights adviser I regularly represent people at ESA appeals and before that at Incapacity Benefit appeals. Since 1999 I have lost 2 out of probably 200. One of these was bound to lose the other I appealed to the social security commissioners and got a rehearing which I woun. This is not to boast but to to show that (1) the doctors used for the examination interviews often are dressing up a political judgement about people claiming benefit as a medical judgement. The quality of the work is a joke. Sometimes the reports contain things that are just made up and are slipshod to the extent that they not only get the gender of someone wrong but the species wrong...this is quite an entertaining story as you can imagine but it would breach confidentiality.(2) You can win if you get advice, collect medical evidence andmake sure that you go and go with someone to support you to the appeal hearing. Good luck to anyone who is appealing and don't let the bastards grind etc!

  8. I know I already said this, but again I wish to praise the doctor I saw when I had my incapacity benefit assessed last year. The system is wrong, and there are also individual injustsices, but please let us avoid falling into the trap of suggesting that everyone involved in administering the scheme is incompetent or uncaring.

  9. I'm one of those 44,000, after having applied 3 times over.

    Another stupidity of the system - those in the main phase of ESA are only entitled to Cold Weather Payments if they're doing "work-related activity" - so in essence if you're really REALLY ill then you're punished financially again when it gets cold and you have huge heating bills...

  10. @Vanilla Rose, unfortunately the person is still very ill, but has better coping strategies these days. I believe the suicidal thoughts are fewer, but perhaps they are just better hidden. Who knows. Thanks for your well wishes and I'm glad you had a good experience with it all.

  11. The benefits system is a pile of shit, very often written by idiots who have never had any on the ground experience of welfare benefit advice!

  12. Statistics show that people in work are always better off than those out of work. Surely it's better to get sick and mental people into some kind of job? I mean it gets them out of the house, allows them to meet people and make a contribution to society as well as reducing the benefits bill. A lot of mental people are able bodied after all and could do simple manual work like packing biscuits or stacking shelves. I reckon the Conservatives and James Purnell have the right idea.

  13. I'm not sure that ESA's fundamentally wrong in principle. But the two key problems were (a) the danger of implementation in a punitive way designed to catch people out rather than help people who do want the chance to work and (b) trying to bring it it in the middle of a massive recession.

    (b) is a problem even in situations where the local agencies implenting ESA are acting in good faith. There's quite a lot of people who have been on IB who'd be keen to get back into work if they got the right support to do so. But it's hardly the right time to be expecting Jobcentres back-to-work providers to be providing new, specialised support to specific groups of people when they're dealings with millions of people who are newly conventionally unemployed.

    It's a policy that should've been punted into the long grass for a few years when the economy went wrong.

  14. George.
    In response to Laurence. I have two son's with various mental health problem's. Yeah let's get all the Mental people as you call them, stacking shelf's and packing biscuit's, because the low pay that Ordinary people who work that job aren't needed! not to also stress the health and safety of all the members of staff who would carry the fall out of one of my son's taking a moment of unclearness! I've got congradulate you for restoring the faith that some people don't see the dangers in front of them

  15. As the Blunkett anecdote indicates, they've got some neck, with their Bevan comparisons and party broadcasts rediscovering the Battle of Cable Street; whilst pushing people out of benefit.

    And this neck is gonna get wrung by the electors, Tories or not.

  16. Why should I have to work like a dog and then get taxed so some guy or girl can just say, "I'm depressed" and dodge the drudgery of the daily grind just because they feel a bit miserable? Purnell and Grayling are right to suport legislating to force as many of these idle buggers into jobs as possible by coercion and sanction if necessary. As James Purnell and Yvette Cooper have rightly pointed out loads of these people are frauds who are faking their symptoms in order to sponge off taxpayers like me. Ok. Perhaps a few really ill people may become worse or even commit suicide but, like the Labour Party, I for one believe this would be a price worth paying as far as creating a healthier society goes. To win a game of chess sometimes players have to sacrifice some of their pawns. Personally I never thought the Labour Party had it in them to be so enlightened and reforming - especially during so awful a recession. Without massive downward pressure on the unemployed via the welfare we probably whould have five million on Jobseeker's Alowance by now.

  17. Lawrence, the people who are malingering on IB are in areas that have no work, or they're simply not employable because they have few skills or because of their age. The government isn't trying to get _them_ off IB, that would just spike the jobless numbers at a politically bad time.

    The government is pushing a hundred thousand people with potentially serious but manageable conditions back to work early. (I doubt Penny's life as a vivacious 23yr old bisexual in London medialand would put her in much contact with "idle buggers" scrounging the system.) It's an exercise that won't save much money - but it will please the Daily Mail's audience of oppressed feeling little England voters.

    The problem isn't idle shirkers, it's a deliberate cross-party policy to warehouse an older generation of semi-skilled manual workers. If you have a constructive suggestion about how to unwind that, we would all be interested to hear it!

    Anon of Not Searched

  18. Only people in rich developed countries can afford to be "mentally ill". Poor people are too busy trying to stay alive to get depressed or manic and so on. You don't see hundreds of thousands of people living on handouts in Asia, Africa or even poorer countries in the EEC, like Poland, claiming that they are unable to work because of "mental illness". I reckon "mental illness" is just an indulgence afforded to spoiled people in wealthy counties. Most "mentally ill" men and women are probably capable of undertaking some kind of work, e.g., picking up litter or mowing lawns in parks and should where and whenever able to do so. I for one support workfare 100%.

  19. I think 'Laurence' or 'Lawrence' is a troll and therefore his comments should be treated appropriately - ignored. After all I can harldy imagine anyone who seriously held those opinions would be able to type.

  20. "... can harldy[sic] imagine anyone who seriously held those opinions would be able to type." LOLz !

    Penny, the Daily Mail is published, so there are people with Lawrence's opinions who are able to type, even write, very well. Lots of people have his opinions. If you want any of your political idealism to move forwards, they're the people you'll need to talk to. The New Statesman's audience made its mind up decades ago. Try working a 50 hours week, paying a total tax rate of 35% and raising a kid in London - you'd start sounding like Lawrence too.

    (I do up to 24 hours after filling my Self Assessment form.)

    Anon of Not Searched

  21. Contrary to what James writes, workplace participation in much of Eastern Europe is very low. A lot of people are on sickness and invalidity benefit in Poland too.

    As for Lawrence, what he writes here:

    "Without massive downward pressure on the unemployed via the welfare we probably whould have five million on Jobseeker's Alowance by now."

    I'm quite sure he is correct in that the real level of unemployment is far higher than he says. JSA being so low, it's no wonder people try to work out an alternative. Has anyone here tried JSA? YOU CAN'T LIVE ON IT. It penalises the unemployed!

  22. Laurence.

    Mental illness isn't like physical illness and so cannot be judged by the same standards.

    My sister suffers from depression. When she is ill pretty much all she can do is go to bed. In that state the poor woman can't really talk or move; even taking a breath is a tremendous effort for her and is difficult to do. On the other hand when she isn't ill you would never have any idea that there was anything wrong with her at all.

    This is the problem with such conditions. Sometimes sufferers present symptoms and are completely unable to function well enough to socialise and work; other times they are not obviously incapacitated and can interact socially and hold down a job like anyone else.

    Here lies the problem. What employer would want to hire someone that will intermittently and unpredictably be absent from the workplace for indeterminate periods? The same difficulty is also faced by many of people on, or trying to stay on, ESA with non-life threatening illnesses. While it is true that such people are "kind of" capable of some kind of "work", because their physical condition is variable sometimes they need to stand, or sit, or lie down depending on what their condition imposes on them from moment to moment; obviously this makes such unfortunates less than ideal choices for employers trying to recruit staff. With so many people struggling to find jobs who are able bodied and able minded, employers simply have no reason to need to consider physically or mentally ill men and women as prospective employees.

    What Laurence doesn't understand is that the overwhelming majority of the mentally and physically ill have no real chance of securing gainful employment. Employers predominantly don't want to hire men and women with any kind of problem or handicap and it is ridiculous of the government to legislate to harass and pressure such people into finding work when suitable work does not and my never exist for these citizens; cold hearted behaviour like this will simply make them worse and make them even less likely to be able to support themselves than before.

    David Freud, James Purnell, Yvette Cooper and, indeed, the Labour Party itself should be ashamed of what they have done and are doing to the mentally and physically ill.

    In my opinion the whole sorry affair is bloody disgraceful.

    People don't "choose" not

  23. As a straw poll, who here thinks that disability benefits should be tied to work? I'm in IT, if I lost both my legs, I'd still keep my job. Should I get compensation from NI?

    Personally, I'm fine with a millionaire with a great job claiming for a bad back. It's insurance - it ought to pay out on the condition.

    Anon of Not Searched

  24. What's your point, Anonymous?

    You take yourself as an example and conflate it spuriously. If you lost both your legs you'd still be able to work in IT? If true, good for you, but are you self-employed? If not and you are an employee of an organisation how can you possibly know what your employer would feel about you if you were legless?

    Suppose you were a bricklayer? Or a postman? Or a gardener? Or a nurse? Or a milkman? Or a teacher? Or a sales assistant? Whatever. Would you still feel the same way or say the same thing as you did above? Suppose you were disabled and lived in a rural area which had limited public transport and you couldn't drive yourself and possessed no personal transport? Under such circumstances how would you be able to get to work and back on a daily basis over a five day working week?

    A one-armed, one-eyed man (or woman) with no legs could, in theory, work in a call centre al long as they could read, hear, speak and use a computer keyboard, but do you really think any call centre anywhere in the UK would employ such an individual? Even if an employer were willing to offer employment to someone so disabled how could that person travel from home to work and back each day unaided? It just doesn't happen anywhere in the real world.

    This is the trouble with Labour's Welfare Reform Act. It's a "one size fits all" piece of legislation that fails to take into account the skein of complex threads that mesh to affect the daily lives of the sick and disabled.

    Personally I believe that receipt of disability benefit should not be associated with any requirement in respect to "being available for" or "actively seeking" work: receipt of incapacity benefit should be dependent solely upon a person's psychological and physical needs. As things stand virtually any sick or disabled person that can raise an eyebrow is judged to be capable of filling "any job" which is ridiculous.

    There is no sense in Purnell's Act nor is it reasonable. The whole thing is reminiscent of a policy demanding that our society begins to demolish hospitals and care homes to "encourage" people not to be sick and not to be old age pensioners.

    The whole sorry mess is despicable, unworkable and doomed to crash and burn. But before it fails and falters it is destined to inflict an unbearable amount of pain and misery of many hundreds of thousands of the innocent.

    The Labour Party are a bunch of arseholes!

  25. As someone who has had serious mental health issues on two fronts (Narcolepsy and depression), who has also worked with several seriously physically disabled people, and attended assorted group therapy type situations, meeting other in my position, I have to say this;

    Many people are simply taking the easy way out. Not all, but a good many are "sponging". I get up early in the morning and force my way to work some days, sometimes when really i'm in no fit state to, and go to work. I do it for a variety of reasons, but partly at least not to let my conditions be the defining aspect of my life.

    Then I find that the taxes I pay are being used to support people whose symptoms are not as serious as my own? Some who have no real disease other than a poor education. Some who have no disease at all except voting Labour.

    Why should I carry these people with half the money I earn, when frankly its hard enough carrying myself? What happens if i ever have a family? Shouldn't I be caring for them instead of caring for someone else's first?

    Whilst there are some people too disabled to do meanigful work, I fear they are much fewer than we give credit for. One guy in my last office has birth deformities so serious he is forced to use an electric chair and brace just to keep him upright. He only has proper control over one hand. Yet he still does meaningful work in the IT dept (head office of a bank). There are opportunities for the ill and disabled, but some people are unwilling to look for them.

  26. Ash, I already said that I agree with you. IB should be paid to the disabled regardless of their working lives (if any).

    (A lot of call centre work is done from home now, so the average one-eyed one-armed cripple could do that. Or write copy, or paint on commission. They're limited options, but they're worth something, as Anon of Rightwing Narcolepsy above said.)

    My point is that we have people who perceive incapacity benefit as social insurance, e.g. it should pay identically to anyone who has a condition, and, those who perceive it as a means tested benefit, e.g. a bricklayer should receive more than me per lost leg as it stops them earning entirely. And I'm curious who's which.

    I honestly think a more than 50% of people on IB ought not to be. That's not because I'm a heartless b*stard, it's because 2.5m working age people are unlikely to be physically disabled in the UK. That would give the UK an 8% workforce disability rate - something that might normally only been seen in a society after a major war!

    Anyone who wants to oppose ESA, needs to propose an alternative. Otherwise it's just whining.

    Anon of Not Searched

  27. Fifty percent is a nice round number, Anonymous. What evidence do you have that makes you think 50% of Incapacity Benefit claimants are swinging the leg? At least you're more generous than Lord David Freud who claimed that two thirds of these people were "probably" capable of work and should be transferred to Jobseeker's Allowance: trouble is Freud never disclosed one scrap of mathematics, statistics or data he used to arrive at this conclusion.

    I reckon both you and Freud are going on "gut feelings" estimating working ability amongst the vast body of Incapacity Benefit claimants goes, but I am prepared to have my mind changed if anyone can produce a corpus of reputably gathered evidence backed up by hard facts and hard data rather than unsubstantiated supposition, feelings or intuition.

    Personally I am convinced that 99% of MPs are sexual deviants, drunks and drug addicts who cross dress under their business suits and take bribes as a matter of routine. I am convinced that this is true although although I cannot (nor should I need to) prove it. Just take my word for it. You'll see. When the Mail and Telegraph are persuaded to come around to my views and begin promoting my "findings" there'll be lynch mobs in the streets intent on stretching the necks of all politicians before you can say Jeffrey Archer!

    You know it makes sense!

  28. Until I encountered Laurence, I genuinely believed that severe depression (the type where the whole world seems evil and anything good in it seems utterly emphemeral whereas the badness is overwhelming) was not something I would wish on anyone.

    It seems I am not as nice a person as I thought I was.

  29. Nor does it make any sense to push people who are already unwell into paid jobs that are likely to make them worse. Many, many unwell people are NOT sitting around feeling sorry for themselves, they are doing great work but because it is unpaid it does not seem to count. Such a capitalistic, sexist notion.

  30. 50% is a nice round number, I did just make it up. But 8% of Britain's workforce being disabled is wrong. The way 65% of the population being left-handed would wrong, the way saying there are 60 cash machines in the country is wrong. It is an extreme number that cannot be observed in real-life. It would give Britain the health statistics of a sub-Saharan state, when we're well fed, free of disease, and have free health care.

    Anon of Not Searched

  31. This whole ESA thing sounds kind of nuts to me.

    At the moment there are about two and a half million able-bodied people unemployed and looking for work. Nearly a million of these are fit active under twenty-five year olds. With such stiff competition how in God's name can the physically and mentally ill hope to find any kind of work that pays a living wage? If I was an employer looking for someone to pack biscuits or stack shelves I would recruit a young person who is not too bright (so not likely to get bored and cause trouble), 100% fit (so not likely to need time off due to bad backs and whatnot) and, preferably, 16 to 18 (so I could pay him or her the lowest possible minimum wage).

    Even if you put a loaded pistol to the temple of someone on Invalidity Benefit and told them that if they didn't get a job you were going to shoot them, I think you'd need hundreds of thousands of bullets at your disposal because people in that situation are simply NOT going to be able to secure gainful employment in the current economic downturn! Even during boom times I doubt if many of these poor souls would be able to be placed in semi-permanent jobs that were worth doing.

    This is the politics of the madhouse.

  32. Whisky Alpha November Kilo Echo Romeo Sierra27 January 2010 at 15:38

    Shouldn't all welfare reform be properly piloted and proceed slowly and incrementally to ensure no one is made worse off or hurt by any changes? I don't understand why New Labour slammed Purnell's Welfare Reform Bill through the Commons at warp speed using the guillotine expressly to prevent dissent amongst their own ranks. No a lot of harmless and vulnerable people are set to get hurt by this poorly scrutinised legislation, needlessly. Why? Who out there thinks these "reforms" have been helpful to the Labour Party or to the people they affect?

  33. When I'm down in the dumps I just pick myself up and get on with it. It was men of enterprise and fortitude like me that built the British Empire. Men that stand on their own two feet and, once weaned, don't expect or need to be attached to the teat of state sponsored handouts for the rest of their lives. If you people had more spine and determination Mr. Purnell wouldn't have needed to use sanctions to shake you loose from Britannia's apron strings, because you'd all want to get out into the world and achieve. Instead people like me have to keep you by means of involuntary donations taken out of our earnings. Shame on the lot of you!

    1. Laurence; Lord of all cliches.

      You haven't got a clue.

  34. Laurence wrote, "When I'm down in the dumps I just pick myself up and get on with it. It was men of enterprise and fortitude like me that built the British Empire."

    Reminds me of a troll I encountered on imdb who did have the grace to eventually admit he was a troll.

  35. boycott the general election over these dispicable welfare reforms.

  36. Judge for yourselves. I have a brain tumour. I have intermittent nasty fits. I was treated so badly by the DWP and Atos Origin I published all my correspondence. It is now coming up to a year and no end in sight.

  37. The way to hurt a despicable company like Atos Origin (DWP contractor) is by making it hard for them to get future work. Use the European Tender Notices which lists all future major work planned for Europe.
    In the search box enter "UK Medical" or "UK NHS" or similar. Click on a project and if it is one that Atos might go for write to the contact for the tender. Insist they carry out due diligence on Atos Origin.

    Dec 2009: Seriously ill cancer patients are being forced to undergo "cruel" back-to-work interviews despite the fact they should be exempt.

    Nov 2008: Inquiry into loss of confidential data on 12 million website users.

    April 2007: 900 patients to be recalled for scans so NHS bosses suspended tests being carried out by Atos Origin.

    May 2006: Almost 80,000 sick and disabled people a year are being wrongly denied benefits, according to a BBC investigation for Radio Five Live.

    March 2005: DWP hires Atos Origin to provide medical assessments.

    Point out that if Atos are awarded the contract this decision may be subject to Judicial Review. You are concerned how poor Atos has performed. You are concerned at the apparent influence of Atos. You are concerned how they wine and dine senior UK figures in the DoH and DWP. Hopefully Atos will eventually deliver the quality of service as set out in legislation and the contract or they will lose more and more business and be forced to change. Publicity is everything.

    Thank you for letting me publish on your blog. I do not have much time left but nothing is more important than preventing the abuse of the dying, the sick, the disabled and their carers.

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