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Sunday, 16 February 2014

Atos + Sanctions = Final Solution?

Placard: Atos + Sanctions: The New Death Penalty?

From Welfare News Service:

Shocking Extent Of Sick And Disabled Benefit Sanctions Revealed

Iain Duncan Smith

The shocking extent of the number of sick and disabled benefit claimants having their benefits cut, through the use of sanctioning, has been revealed in a Freedom of Information (FOI) request made to the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP).
     According to the response from the DWP, 172,750 Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) claimants were referred for potential sanctioning between October 2008 and June 2013. Of those referrals, 76,300 received an adverse decision, meaning their sickness benefits were cut or stopped completely. 11,600 of those benefit sanctions were in Greater London alone.
     On 3 December 2012 the DWP introduced a new system for sanctioning claimants, which is described by the DWP in the FOI as a ‘sanctions regime’. Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, Iain Duncan Smith (pictured), has repeatedly denied accusations that Jobcentre staff are being pressurised into sanctioning benefit claimants through the use of ‘targets’, and yet the FOI shows that the changes to the ‘sanctions regime’ has led to a startling 45,480 ESA claimants being threatened with the removal of their sickness benefit between December 2012 and June 2013. 11,400 of those people received an ‘adverse decision’, the DWP admitted.
     Perhaps the most startling statistic revealed in the FOI is the revelation that 85% of ESA claimants who had their benefits axed or slashed under the new ‘sanctions regime’ have NEVER been sanctioned before. The figure rises to 89% for Greater London. This calls into question the DWP claim that sanctions are only ever used as a ‘last resort’ and only when benefit claimants repeatedly fail to ‘participate in work related activity’, which includes ‘failure to participate in the Work Programme’....

Swheatie of the KUWG comments on this: Kilburn Unemployed Workers Group members foresaw this when we demonstrated about the 'new system for sanctioning claimants' outside Kilburn Jobcentre on 3 December 2012 when it was introduced.

Kilburn Unemployed denouncing sanctioning of ESA claimants in December 2012

Though it is Secretary of State Iain Duncan Smith that is pictured in the Welfare News Service news item, he is not the sole instigator and we do need to question the ideological basis of these 'welfare reforms'. The current Welfare Reform Minister Lord Freud was originally headhunted by war criminal Tony Blair to 'sort out the mess that is welfare'. See Daily Telegraph article, 'Welfare is a mess', says adviser David Freud.

In that interview the subsequently 'ennobled' Lord Freud reveals something of the investment banker's mentality that got the UK into a debt crisis that is now being blamed on 'shirkers', etc to favour and deflect attention from the global wealthy who stand to gain economically from pillaging public services in the UK. Completely ignoring those disabled jobseekers who had been serially let down by subsequent governments for decades and failing to recognise that people on Incapacity Benefit were volunteering and making a contribution to the economy, he considered it a virtue that he knew nothing about the benefits system when appointed and was thus too easily influenced by American health insurance company Unum that had been 'advising' successive UK governments on 'welfare reform' since 1994. Freud said that the solution was simple — a privatised 'helping you back to work' industry, as if such an industry had not been failing vulnerable jobseekers as cash cows since the Thatcher era and into the Blair era's halving length of jobcentre funded courses to double the throughput for the dole queue in the interests of short-termist massaging of official statistics:
There is in his view "one simple reason why it's got to be the private sector. You cannot incentivise someone on payment-by-results if the person who is paying is the Chancellor of the Exchequer. There has to be some risk."
     For the companies that do well, the rewards could be huge. "We can pay masses - I worked out that it is economically rational to spend up to £62,000 on getting the average person on Incapacity Benefit [sic] into work."
Note that that was said before the banking collapse. Now, claimants ruled by Atos to be 'fit for work' and thus to be 'sanctions fodder' are told that they must await a 'mandatory reconsideration' [that can take several months] before they can appeal. Yet when the banking collapse occurred, there was no 'mandatory reconsideration' of David Freud's nous as a welfare reform 'guru'. Neither was there a mandatory reconsideration of allowing an investment banker encouraging the use of public money to turn economically vulnerable adults and their children into banking chips when the vulture companies realised that they could not get anything like £1.9m people on benefits into waged work that would take them off benefits. Thus as I recall reading when that had clearly failed, the companies involved demanded more 'upfront' money.

And, of course, the vast majority of Employment & Support Allowance claimants have been ruled 'fit for work' even when they were not!  And now they are 'fit for sanctions' for 'failure to comply'. (Such deviants, eh, from the welfare reform guru's picture of 'the average person on Incapacity benefit'?)

I close now with a few more placard designs that outline what is now going on, whether it is inspired by a 'can't care, won't care' attitude or sheer malice among 'key decision makers' as they say that there is no more money for this or that, such as flood defences and then decide to compensate flood victims at whose expense, say. In times of manufactured scarcity, it is those that society has been led to despise the most that become the biggest losers, and yet the Nuremberg Defence is: "We didn't know what was really happening."

DWP targets disabled people

'Austerity' the Quest'n, Slavery the Answer?

'Austerity' Euphemism for Moral Bankruptcy

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