Tag: Hansard

The Strathclyde Review clarifies the Conservatives’ authoritarianism

 

“The Government appear to consider that any defeat of an Statutory Instrument by the Lords is a breach of convention. We disagree.” Lord Norton of Louth (Conservative)

“The conduct of Parliament is a matter for Parliament, not the Executive. The Executive is accountable to Parliament, not the other way round.” Lord Forsyth of Drumlean (Conservative)

“The assertion is that this House had acted in defiance of the Government’s “electoral mandate”. But the Conservative Party never told voters that it intended to make massive cuts to in-work benefits, and it won a House of Commons majority of only 12 seats on the votes of just 24% of the total electorate, so the claim that the Lords defied an electoral mandate is tosh.” Lord Howarth of Newport (Labour). Source: Hansard.

A Bicameral Parliament is one in which two assemblies share legislative power. The main purpose of the House of Lords is to act as a deliberative assembly, providing expert scrutiny to ensure democratic checks on the power of the Lower House, and where necessary, to provide a counterbalance for excessively partisan legislation that makes no concession to the accommodation and representation of minority views. The House of Lords provides an essential additional layer of democratic process which helps to prevent the so-called “tyranny of the majority” and divisive, potentially damaging partisan changes to public life.

There is always a need to ensure additional checks and balances against incumbent governments and for extending opportunities to review and improve the quality of legislation. There is always a need to broaden the political participation of particular groups in society and to explore ways by which under-represented groups may be identified and included in political processes.

A review by Lord Strathclyde, commissioned by a rancorous and retaliatory David Cameron following the delay and subsequently effective defeat of government tax credit legislation in the House of Lords, recommends curtailing the powers of Upper House. 

Strathclyde proposes that the House of Commons is given the final say over secondary legislation (in particular, Statutory Instruments), which is frequently being used for political manoeuvring to edit the details of Acts, and ensure rules, regulations and even changes to legal definitions are made by ministerial order, rather than by the rather more open and democratic process of primary legislation: it’s being used as a way of bypassing Parliamentary scrutiny. 

In fairness, on page 6 of the report, Lord Strathclyde says:

“I believe it would be appropriate for the Government to take steps to ensure that Bills contain an appropriate level of detail and that too much is not left for implementation by statutory instrument.”

The problem is that Statutory Instruments (SI) are being over-used and are under-scrutinised in the Commons. SIs have become a major form of law-making activity in the UK. In 2015, the UK Parliament passed 34 Acts, whilst 1,999 Statutory Instruments were made. (In fact, 2015 has been a relatively light year for SIs: in 2013 and 2014, 3,292 and 3,486 SIs were made.)

The Government ensure they have a majority on any SI committee and MPs are chosen by Whips. The Hansard Society estimate that SIs currently account for as much as 80 per cent of the Government legislation that impacts citizens. However, they are given substantially less Parliamentary time than Bills, enabling Government to push through their legislative programme with very little scrutiny, exacerbating a lack of democratic transparency and accountability of the Executive (the Government).

The report details 3 possible options:

  • option 1 would remove the House of Lords from the Statutory Instrument procedure altogether – to take Statutory Instruments through the House of Commons only
  • option 2 would seek to retain the present role of the House of Lords but clarify the restrictions on how its powers should be exercised, by codifying them passing a resolution
  • option 3 is a compromise option would create a new procedure in primary legislation. The new procedure would allow the House of Lords to ask the House of Commons to think again when a disagreement exists but gives the final say to the elected House of Commons

Strathclyde has recommended option 3. However that would have a profound impact on our constitutional democracy.

The Hansard Society said that:

“Most criticism of the system is concerned with the negative resolution procedure where the initiative lies with the Opposition to table appropriate annulment motions in the form of Early Day Motions (known as “prayers”). Given that the Government controls almost all the available parliamentary time in the Commons, unless the Opposition can persuade the Government to provide time, either on the floor of the House or in Standing Committee, the SI will not be debated.

The time limit (of an hour and an half) imposed on debates should be removed.”

The Society also recommend far more robust pre-legislative scrutiny mechanisms.

Lord Craig of Radley (Cross-Bencher) points out that:

“Since 2010, 34 Acts have been passed by Parliament with Henry VIII powers. Before us at present there are five Bills with Henry VIII powers. In case your Lordships are not familiar with Henry VIII powers, I should like to read from Clause 68 of the Scotland Bill, which states: “The Secretary of State may by regulations make … such consequential provision in connection with any provision of Part 1, 3, 4, 5 or 6, or … such transitional or saving provision in connection with the coming into force of any provision of Part 1, 3, 4, 5 or 6 … Regulations under this section may amend, repeal, revoke or otherwise modify any of the following (whenever passed or made)” — and so it goes on. In other words, if your Lordships think that you have passed a Bill, you have not — because the Secretary of State can amend it by statutory instrument.”

Baroness Smith of Basildon (Labour) said she would like to thank Lord Strathclyde for his report, and:

“For the extraordinary speed with which it has been produced and the vigour with which he has sought to defend the Government’s exceptionally weak rationale for undertaking it.”

She also said:

“Lord Strathclyde asks for responsible Opposition. We provide that but seek responsible Government.”

Baroness Andrews (Labour) said:

“We have had to refer back to this House secondary legislation which contains substantial policy changes with substantial impacts — for example, the draft hunting regulations, immigration changes, and universal credit. In this Session alone, 32 SIs have had to be corrected by government after serious flaws were identified and 16 have had to be withdrawn completely.

If we add to that ministerial failure to provide impact statements, or Explanatory Memoranda which do the opposite of what they are supposed to do, a picture emerges of a Government who not only deliberately exploit secondary legislation and reduce parliamentary scrutiny in the process but are resentful of proper scrutiny. If we were to lose our exceptional power to reject SIs, Parliament would lose a legitimate brake on government excess. However, it would also reduce the credibility of the scrutiny process as a whole and open the gate to greater abuse. What is needed, which the noble Baroness, Lady Hayman, anticipated, is a wholesale review of secondary legislation to remind Ministers of their public duty to be open and transparent about policy and legislation, to be accountable, and to respect—in fact, invite—the role of scrutiny.

We should not see this as a stand-alone report; rather, it should be seen alongside other legislation and proposals—for example, the lobbying Bill in the previous Parliament that restricted the ability of charities and other groups to campaign for their causes; new limits on freedom of information; and the Trade Union Bill, debated this week, which will strip the Labour Party of its funding, quite contrary to the balanced proposals from the Committee on Standards in Public Life. We have seen reports of Ministers being told to make increased use of statutory instruments to drive through legislation without proper scrutiny; and now we have the proposal to remove this House’s power to veto the same secondary legislation that the Government favour. It is hard not to see this as an authoritarian Executive waging war on the institutions that hold them to account. The Government are seeking to stifle debate, shut down opposition and block proper scrutiny. They are a Government who fear opposition and loathe challenge.”

Lord McNally (Liberal Democrat) said:

“I may want to see this House reformed, but I have no wish to see it become Mr Cameron’s poodle, and a neutered poodle at that.”

I suspect this is a Government that would prefer a world of neutered poodles.

disempowerment
Conservative Paternalism


A full transcript of this important debate can be found here

You can also watch the excellent contributions here.

A critical analysis of the DWP’s Mortality Statistics release

 

Disability rights activists protest in London, November 2016

The government’s release of mortality statistics related to sickness and disability benefits has caused fierce debate about what the figures actually mean. It has to be said that the way the figures were presented – in a flat descriptive way – makes drawing causal links and inferences very difficult and making useful comparisons impossible. This of course was intentional.

There’s a simple difference between descriptive and inferential statistics – descriptive statistics simply summarise a current dataset, it’s just raw data. Subsequently, analysis is limited to the data and does not provide a scope that permits the extrapolation of any conclusions about a group or population. Inferential statistics are usually used to test an hypothesis, and aim to draw conclusions about an additional population outside of the dataset. Inferential statistics allow researchers to make well-reasoned inferences about the populations in question, and may be tested for validity and reliability, using various appropriate formulae.

To complicate matters further, the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) claim that they don’t keep detailed information regarding whether a person died before or after their benefit claim was ended. So when the data is about people who died within six weeks of their claim ending, it could mean that the claim ended before they died, or after, because the person had died.

Of course the question we need to ask is why the DWP don’t keep a more accurate record of that data. And furthermore, why are the government so supremely unconcerned about even basic monitoring of the consequences of their welfare “reforms” on sick and disabled people?

I had a lengthy debate with Tom Chivers from the Telegraph last year about this very issue. He said that it was most reasonable to assume that the overwhelming majority of deaths happened before the claim ended, rather than the converse being true. He criticised campaigners for claiming that people were dying as a consequence of the “reforms”.

However, we know from media coverage of some of those tragic deaths that people have died as a consequence of having their employment and support allowance (ESA) benefit claim ended. We also know from the debates in parliament that have been tabled by the opposition on this topic, and the inquiries instigated by the work and pensions committee, that many people have been adversely affected by having their claims ended because they were assessed as “fit for work”, some of the cases presented had also died – details of which can be found on the Hansard record.

So it isn’t a reasonable assumption that most people died and then had their claim closed, on the part of Tom Chivers (and others) at all. But there’s more.

I made a statistical cross comparison of deaths, using the same Department for Work and Pensions statistics as Tom Chivers, though my analysis was undertaken the year before his. I found that the data showed people having their claim for Employment Support Allowance (ESA) stopped, between October 2010 and November 2011, with a recorded date of death within six weeks of that claim ceasing, who were until recently claiming Incapacity Benefit (IB) – and who were migrated onto ESA – totalled 310.

Between January and November 2011, those having their ESA claim ended, with a recorded date of death within six weeks of that claim ending totalled 10,600.

This is a very substantial, significant statistical variation over a comparatively similar time scale (although the 10,600 deaths actually happened over a shorter time scale – by 3 months) that appears to be correlated with the type of benefit and, therefore, the differing eligibility criteria – the assessment process – as both population samples of claimants on ESA and IB contain little variation regarding the distribution in the cohorts in terms of severity of illness or disability. Bearing in mind that those who were successfully migrated to ESA from IB were assessed and deemed unfit for work, (under a different assessment process, originally) one would expect that the death rates would be similar to those who have only ever claimed ESA.

This is very clearly not the case.

Further evidence that very ill and disabled people have been excluded from an award of ESA may be found in the statistical outcomes of tribunals – there is a consistently very high success rate amongst those who have appealed Atos/DWP decisions, over that time period. Those on IB were not required to have continuous assessments, whereas those on ESA are constantly required to undergo the Work Capability Assessment.

Dr Steven Bick indicated that there are targets to reduce the number of people who “qualify” for ESA payments, the WCA is unfairly and irrationally weighted towards finding people fit for work, often when it’s clearly not the case, so each assessment is simply an opportunity for the DWP to end claims. Many claimants have described a “revolving door” process of endless assessment, ceased ESA claim, (based on an outcome of almost invariably being wrongly “assessed” as fit for work), appeal, successful appeal outcome, benefit reinstated, only to find just three months later that another assessment is required.

The uncertainty and loss of even basic security that this process creates, leading to constant fear and anxiety, is having a damaging, negative impact on the health and well-being of so many. A significant proportion of those required to have endless assessments have very obviously serious illnesses such as cancer, kidney failure, lung disease, heart disease, severe and life-threatening chronic conditions such as multiple sclerosis, lupus, myalgic encephalomyelitis, rheumatoid arthritis, brain tumours, severe heart conditions, and severe mental health illness, for example. To qualify for ESA, the claimant must provide a note from a doctor stating that the person is unfit for work.

There can be no justification for subjecting people who are so ill to further endless assessments, and to treating us as if we have done something wrong. Negative labelling, marginalising and stigmatising sick and disabled people via propaganda in the media, using despiteful and malicious terms such as “fraudster”, “workshy” and “feckless” is a major part of the government’s malevolent attempt at justification for removing the lifeline of support from sick and disabled citizens.

In addition to very justified anxieties regarding the marked increase in disability hate crime that the Tory-led propaganda campaign has resulted in, many sick and disabled people have also stated that they feel harassed and bullied by the Department for Work and Pensions and Atos. All of this is taking place in a setting of government generosity to very wealthy people, with Osborne implementing austerity cuts, which disproportionately target the poorest citizens, at the same time as he awarded millionaires £107, 000 each per year in the form of a tax cut.

Many sick and disabled people talk of the dread they feel when they see the brown Atos envelope containing the ESA50 form arrive through the letter box. The strain of constantly fighting for ESA entitlement – a lifeline support calculated to meet basic needs –  and perpetually having to prove that we are a ‘deserving’ and ‘genuine’ sick and disabled person is clearly taking a toll on so many people’s health and well being. I know from personal experience that this level of stress and anxiety exacerbates chronic illness. 

Many families of those who have died have said that the constant strain, anxiety and stress of this revolving door process has contributed significantly to their loved ones’ decline in health and subsequent death. The figures from the DWP, and the marked contrast between the ESA and IB death statistics certainly substantiate these claims. At a meeting in June 2012, British Medical Association doctors voted that the Work Capability Assessment (WCA) should be ended “with immediate effect and be replaced with a rigorous and safe system that does not cause unavoidable harm to some of the weakest and vulnerable in society”.

On 22 May 2013, a landmark decision by the courts in a judicial review brought by two individuals with mental health problems ruled that the WCA is not fit for purpose, and that Atos assessments substantially disadvantage people with mental health conditions. Despite the ruling’s authoritative importance, the decision had a similar lack of real-world effect as it did not halt or slow down the WCA process: Atos and the DWP have ignored the judgement and its implications.

Many of us have reasonably demanded a cumulative impact assessment of government welfare policies, AND an inquiry into the statistically significant increase in mortality rates correlated with the government’s welfare “reforms” aimed at sick and disabled people, only to be told that the cases we present as evidence of the need for investigation are merely “anecdotal”.

Yet when the government talk of “scroungers”, the “workshy”, “generations of ‘worklessness'”, a “culture of entitlement”, a “something for nothing culture”, we are expected to accept that at face value as ’empirical evidence”. With no offer of evidence or reasoned discussion to support these ideological claims.

There is an argument to be had (which I’ve presented previously) about the need for more methodological pluralism in social and political research, with a leaning towards qualitative data. The government should not be attempting to invalidate people’s accounts of their own everyday experiences and attempting to re-write them to suit themselves. I’ve a strongly qualitative preference when it comes to methodology, because of issues relating to validity, reliability and because of the meaningful, authentic, rich details that can be gathered this way. Using quantitative methods only tends to exclude the voices of those groups that are being studied. Qualitative methodologies also tend to be more conducive to understanding issues being researched, rather than simply describing them numerically. Statistics tend to dehumanise because they exclude the narratives of citizens’ lived experiences, and of how they make sense of their circumstances.

As it is, we have ministers shamefully rebuked by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) for lying to justify extremely punitive welfare cuts, more than once, yet with even more cuts to come, and an ongoing United Nations’ inquiry into this government’s human rights abuses, it’s very worrying that there is a silence and lack of concern from the wider public about any of these issues.

The point blank refusal to enter into an open debate and open an inquiry into the deaths that are correlated with Tory policy reflects a callous, irrational and undemocratic government that draws on an underpinning toxic social Darwinist ideology and presents a distinctly anti-enlightenment, impervious epistemological fascism from which to formulate justification narratives for their draconian policies, in order to avoid democratic accountability and to deflect well-reasoned and justified criticism.

That ought to be a cause for considerable concern for the wider public of the UK – a very wealthy, former first-world liberal democracy.

 

Campaigners from Disabled People against Cuts (DPAC) protest in central London against welfare reform


Endnote

A few people have asked me what epistemology means. It’s a branch of philosophy, very relevant to science and the social sciences, that is the study and investigation of the origin, nature, methods, and limits of human knowledge. It’s about what and how we understand. It’s related to ontology, which is the study of the nature of reality and existence, and both branches of philosophy are important to social sciences such as politics, sociology and psychology, influencing methodology – informing how we conduct research.

I’m always happy to explain any terms or phrases I use. I sometimes use sociology or psychology terminology and conceptual frameworks, because these are often very useful for presenting clearly defined and very specific meanings, and for framing debates meaningfully to raise our understanding of social issues. But I don’t assume everyone has done a degree in the social sciences, so please don’t hesitate to ask for meanings.

I always do when I don’t understand something.


I don’t make any money from my work. But you can help by making a donation to help me continue to research and write informative, insightful and independent articles, and to provide support to others. The smallest amount is much appreciated – thank you.

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Government turns a blind eye to work capability assessment related deaths and expect the public to do the same

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Tory ministers are facing further pressure to reveal information about how many people have died after being assessed as “fit for work.” Labour MP for central Newcastle-upon-Tyne, Chi Onwurah, has joined over 120,000 people that have signed a petition to demand that the Government release the figures.

Many campaigners have been calling on the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) to publish the figures since November 2012.

Mrs Onwurah, who led a Commons debate on welfare earlier this year, said: “One of the most powerful and distressing examples in my debate was of a man who had committed suicide.

“If someone dies after being found fit to work it doesn’t necessarily mean that being found fit to work had an impact in their death, so I can understand that the Government might fear the figures would be misinterpreted.

“But if the Government has figures then they should share those, and allow people to interpret them fairly.

“This isn’t just a matter of dry statistics. It is about about the health-affecting impact that having been found fit to work can have on claimants.

“And I know that because I see them in my surgery on a regular basis.

“When bad decisions are made I know they can have a life-destroying impact on vulnerable people. So it makes sense for the Government to share that data.”

It was in January of this year that Mrs Onwurah told MPs about a vulnerable constituent who had tragically committed suicide after being found fit for work. He was claiming Employment Support Allowance and incapacity allowance. He was being supported by Newcastle Welfare Rights, who told the DWP that after suddenly being found fit to work:

“.. he was acutely distressed; he struggled to talk, he was having thoughts of suicide, he had also started drinking alcohol to cope and had struggled to leave the house”

Despite supporting psychological assessments, other evidence, and an attempted suicide, the decision was not reversed and in January 2014 he was found hanged by his neighbour.

Mrs Onwurah said: “My constituent was found hanged in his home by a neighbour. He was well known to Newcastle Welfare Rights, from which he had received considerable support in his dealings with the Department for Work and Pensions.

“He had been in receipt of employment and support allowance, and previously incapacity benefit, and he was engaging well with Newcastle Welfare Rights until November 2013, when he underwent a work capability assessment.”

The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) insists it is irresponsible to suggest deaths which follow an assessment that claimants are fit to work were caused by the assessment.

The DWP originally published statistics in July 2012  after several of us submitted Freedom of Information requests (FOIs). The released statistics indicated that 10,600 people had died between January and November 2011 who had been claiming Employment Support Allowance (ESA), and where the date of death was within six weeks of the claim ending.

The DWP publication caused huge controversy, although many people disagreed over what the figures actually showed. Ministers subsequently blocked publication of any updated figures.

At the time, I made a statistical cross comparison of deaths, and the information released showed that people having their claim for Employment Support Allowance (ESA) stopped, between October 2010 and November 2011, with a recorded date of death within six weeks of that claim ceasing, who were until recently claiming Incapacity Benefit (IB) – and who were migrated onto ESA – totalled 310. Between January and November 2011, those having their ESA claim ended, with a recorded date of death within six weeks of that claim ending totalled 10,600. The DWP did not provide information regarding whether or not people had died before or after their benefit claim was ended, which complicated matters.

However, there is a very substantial and significant statistical variation over a comparatively similar time scale (although the 10,600 deaths actually happened over a shorter time scale – by 3 months) that appears to be correlated with the type of benefit and, therefore, the differing eligibility criteria – the assessment process – as both population samples of claimants on ESA and IB contain little variation regarding the distribution in the cohorts in terms of severity of illness or disability. 

Bearing in mind that those who were successfully migrated to ESA from IB were assessed and deemed unfit for work, (under a different assessment process, originally) one would expect that the death rates would be similar to those who have only ever claimed ESA.

This is very clearly not the case. And we know that the ESA assessment process has actually excluded many seriously ill people from entitlement because of the media coverage of individual tragic cases, when a person deemed fit for work by Atos has died soon after the withdrawal of their lifeline benefit, and of course, such accounts of constituents’ experiences and case studies, as evidence, informs Parliamentary debate, as well as the ongoing Work and Pension Committee inquiry into ESA, details of which may be found on the Hansard parliamentary record.

An official watchdog has also ordered the Government to release further information about how many people have died after going through the work capability assessment (WCA) which had resulted in a decision that they were fit for work, since the last publication in 2012.

The ruling was made after an appeal by Mike Sivier, a fellow campaigner, freelance journalist and a carer that runs the Vox Political blog who has himself been pushing for the figures to be published since the summer of 2013.

Being assessed as fit for work would mean that someone is expected to start looking for a job, take part in training designed to “prepare them for employment”, including workfare programmes – and would face the prospect of sanctions as part of the strict welfare conditionality regime – losing their lifeline benefits – unless they comply.

Mike also used the Freedom of Information Act to ask how many people who died between November 2011 and May 2014 had been found “fit for work”, or told they should move towards finding work.

But the Department for Work and Pensions refused his request, saying it was already preparing to publish the information.

Mr Sivier appealed to Information Commissioner, Christopher Graham, who ordered the DWP to publish the data within 35 days of his ruling on April 30, 2015.

But the Department of Work and Pensions has instead decided to appeal this ruling.

Campaigners now want to know what the government is trying to hide and the online petition demanding that Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith stop attempting to block publication of the statistics has been signed by more than 120,000 people on the website: www.change.org.

A spokeswoman for the DWP said: “We have been clear that we intended to publish these statistics – but we need to make sure they meet the high standards expected by the UK Statistics Authority before we do so.”

Many sick and disabled people have said that the constant strain, anxiety and stress of what they have described as a “revolving door process” of assessment, review, appeal and re-assessment, has contributed significantly to a decline in their health.

The previous figures from the DWP, and the marked contrast between the ESA and IB death statistics certainly substantiate these claims that the assessment process places a great deal of stress on people who are often seriously ill. Anyone with a chronic illness will tell you that stress invariably exacerbates their condition.

At a meeting in June 2012, British Medical Association doctors voted that the Work Capability Assessment (WCA) should be ended “with immediate effect and be replaced with a rigorous and safe system that does not cause unavoidable harm to some of the weakest and vulnerable in society”.

The vote has not been acknowledged by Atos or by the Government, although it was reported widely in the media at the time. On 22 May 2013, a landmark decision by the courts in a judicial review brought by two individuals with mental health problems ruled that the WCA is not fit for purpose, and that Atos assessments substantially disadvantage people with mental health conditions. Despite the ruling’s authoritative importance, the decision had a similar lack of real-world effect as it did not halt or slow down the WCA process: Atos and the DWP have ignored the judgement and its implications.

In mid-January 2012, there was a significant scandal as media were alerted to the fact that the WCA had found a man in a coma to be “fit for work”. Work Capability Assessments have found patients with brain damage, terminal cancer, severe multiple sclerosis, and Parkinson’s Disease to be fit for work. On 24 April 2013, a woman who was a double heart and lung transplant patient died in her hospital bed only days after she was told after a WCA that her allowance was being stopped and that she was fit for work.

In August 2011, twelve doctors working for Atos as disability assessors were placed under investigation by the General Medical Council because of allegations of misconduct in relation to their duty of care to patients. One doctor was forced to resign from Atos after being told to change a report about an individual, pointing out “the General Medical Council makes it clear that doctors must not change a report and risk being disciplined for unprofessional conduct if they do”.

There are many more well-documented problems with the Work Capability Assessment. It’s mired in controversy. Yet since 2010 the current government has continued to expand its role to reassess millions of  people that the DWP had already judged to be entitled to Incapacity Benefit. The government also made changes to the framework of the test to make ESA more difficult to claim.

Despite the controversy, the government continues to show a somewhat baffling and extremely troubling disinterest in the serious problems related to the increased means-testing and conditionality of sickness and disability benefits that they have introduced.

Another major area of concern is that there is a clear absence of impact monitoring, regarding the changes they have made to policy. I find it curious that whilst the DWP couldn’t state either way which side of a claim ending that the deaths happened, journalists and the government shrug the figures off, rather than actually INVESTIGATING the matter.

I have lost 3 friends during the past three years, who each died tragically just after being told they were fit for work, their lifeline benefit support was ended. Families who have suffered bereavement related to ESA claims consistently report that it is the stress of the assessment, the strain of being told they are fit to work when they are not, and the fact that chronically sick people then have to fight for their lifeline benefits that causes a further decline in their health, and the exceptional stress, caused by government welfare policy that is very punitive in nature, that is leading to some people dying.

It’s inconceivable that the government have failed to understand that placing very ill people in a position where their lifeline benefit is stopped so they have to fight for the means to meet their most basic needs – those of food, fuel and shelter – will potentially be very harmful, having a detrimental impact on their health, which may be fatal.

Further related reading:  Cross-party concerns raised in Parliament about Atos assessments, with evidence – presented cases studies of people who died AFTER their lifeline benefit was withdrawn – Atos comes under attack in emotional Commons debate

How many persons has Atos killed today? – Michael Meacher MP

Black Propaganda

What you need to know about Atos assessments

Clause 99, Catch 22 – State sadism and silencing the vulnerable

Labour would end this Government’s demonisation of benefits claimants – Chi Onwurah MP

Essential information for ESA claims, assessments and appeals

Remembering the victims of the Government’s welfare “reforms”

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Thanks to Robert Livingstone for his excellent pictures.

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