Government knew about rise in mental illness long before this week’s study – but won’t talk about it

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Vox Political ~ politics for the people

Government knew about rise in mental illness long before this week’s study – but won’t talk about it

[Image: Black Triangle Campaign]

[Image: Black Triangle Campaign]

Yesterday (Wednesday), This Writer learned two new things about the new university study that has found 590 people committed suicide between 2010-13 after taking work capability assessments (actually, one was a reminder of something I’d forgotten):The study found that, for every 10,000 people undergoing a work capability assessment for sickness or disability benefits in those years, 7,020 were prescribed anti-depressant drugs afterwards, 2,700 reported to their GPs with mental health issues, and six committed suicide.

The reminder came from a Vox Political commenter and was that the DWP already knew there had been a huge increase in the number of benefit claimants with mental health disorders.

According to the Express, of all places: “In 2010 just 221,000 with mental disorders were in receipt of out of work benefits. But official statistics show the figure leapt to 861,000 last year [2013] – a rise of 289 per cent.

“Those with conditions like bipolar disorder, severe depression, obsessive compulsive disorder and schizophrenia now account for 46 per cent of those paid Employment and Support Allowance.”

So the increase of 279,000 people with mental health problems, added to the 221,000 who were on benefit in 2010, gives us half a million people – easily within the 861,000 total for ESA alone.

So figures that were published by the DWP itself totally support the new study.

The second new thing was that the Conservative Government doesn’t seem to want to talk about it.

Debbie Abrahams, shadow minister for the disabled, tried to ask an urgent question about the new study in the House of Commons on Tuesday (November 17) but was refused permission. So she made a point of order, asking the Speaker, John Bercow, how she could get the work and pensions secretary, Iain Duncan Smith, to make an early statement on the subject.

Again, she was rebuffed – Bercow told her to table a written question and “if she remains unhappy with the answers—or, as she sees it, the lack of answers—she can try again to deploy the mechanism of an urgent question”.

There might be a justification for not answering if the study had only revealed the extent of mental illnesses, which was known.

But there is the matter of the 590 suicides. Is the work capability assessment driving people to their deaths?

People killing themselves as a direct result of the work capability assessment – as the study indicates – is a serious issue, especially for a government that is still – increasingly desperately – clinging to claims that it is not possible to show that the WCA causes people to die, in any way.

And nobody at the DWP wants to talk about it.

Thomas More once stated: “The maxim is ‘Qui tacet consentit’: the maxim of the law is ‘Silence gives consent’. If therefore you wish to construe what my silence betokened, you must construe that I consented.”

Let’s have that question again: Is the work capability assessment driving people to their deaths?

The DWP is silent.

Silence gives consent.


#Conservative Party at War against the Disabled: David Cameron, a champion of disabled people? Try telling Paula Peters

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David Cameron, a champion of disabled people? Try telling Paula Peters

Matt Kenyon's illustration on austerity and disability
Illustration: Matt Kenyon

‘Paula has so far kept her benefits. But she observes that they’ve barely risen in five years. Sometimes, she goes without eating.

The Wednesday before we met passed without a single meal.’

A prime minister who talks about caring for his disabled son is about to unleash a new wave of benefit cuts on Britain’s most vulnerable people. People like Paula

George Osborne won’t have a clue who Paula Peters is, but he has shaped the past five years of her life. And when the chancellor delivers his emergency budget in parliament early next month, he should look up to the public gallery. He may well see Paula staring back at him.

As a disabled woman, she’s among those most hurt most by Osborne’s cuts. Now she wishes to hear for herself what the cabinet’s going to do to her next.

I want you to hear Paula’s story precisely because it is not the one David Cameron would have you believe. As the prime minister tells it, he’s a champion of the rights of disabled people. He has talked about how the strain of caring for his own severely disabled son, Ivan, almost led to his family “falling apart” I have no wish to doubt Cameron’s sincerity – but this month he will scrap the independent living fund, a small pot of cash that allows very disabled people to live in their own homes and communities. Without it, people with similar conditions to Ivan will become prisoners in their own homes, or shut away in a residential care facility.

During the election campaign, the Conservative leader promised that “the most disabled should always be protected”. Yet the Centre for Welfare Reformcalculates that his austerity programme has so far hit Britons with disabilities nine times harder than the average. Those with severe disabilities were whacked 19 times harder. And now those same people are about to be devastated all over again.

I met Paula at the end of last week, a couple of days after Cameron refused to rule out further cuts to disability benefits. The 43-year-old has a range of health problems, physical and mental – among them rheumatoid arthritis, which accounted for her swollen hands and the chipped walking cane. Rapid-cycling bipolar disorder makes her prey to vertiginous mood swings. “Up, down, up, down: you want to get off the rollercoaster but you can’t. Your mind won’t quieten down.”

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Austerity has failed, and it isn’t only Labour’s core voters who want change

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Austerity has failed, and it isn’t only Labour’s core voters who want change

After Scotland, the need for Ed Miliband to make the case for radical reform couldn’t be clearer

  The Guardian, Wednesday 24 September 2014 20.35 BST

Seamus ed
‘In the real-world Labour conference, Ed Miliband lurched nowhere. He was a picture of studied caution.’ Photograph: Oli Scarff/Getty Images

If you’re in a fix, create a diversion. That will be the watchword of David Cameron’s Tories next week. George Osborne may have presided over the weakest recovery on record. He may have spectacularly missed his fiscal targets. The deficit may be growing again. Real wages may have fallen for the longest period since the 1870s. But Ed Miliband will certainly be the man in the frame at their Birmingham jamboree.

The Labour leader even forgot to mention the deficit in his conference speech, the Conservatives will hoot – tax cuts at the ready – so Labour can’t be trusted with the nation’s finances. And fresh from bringing Britain to the brink of breakup, Cameron will play the English nationalist card as his winning ace. Miliband isn’t quite one of us, the dog whistle will have it.

The media has been playing warm-up act all week. Labour has “lurched to the left”, the Tory press complained, yet again. Miliband is pursuing a “core vote” strategy. He must return to the “centre ground”. The Telegraph even reckoned that £2m houses – which Miliband plans to tax to pay for more doctors, nurses and home care workers – can be “relatively modest”.

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Welfare the gilded cage! Russell Brand takes apart the #Conservative idea that It’s Your Fault You’re Poor and /or on Benefits?

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Reaction to a Fox News segment on poverty in the US and UK, and the common argument that welfare displaces work. Subscribe Here Now: http://tinyurl.com/opragcg and send links to video news items of topical stories that you’d like me to analyse.


The financial incentive for keeping claimants in ‪#‎ESA‬ Assessment Phase

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#DWP: Housing benefit will be sanctioned

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DWP: Housing benefit will be sanctioned               From INSIDE HOUSING 27 February 2014

 Part-time workers judged to be doing too little to find full-time work face having their benefit for housing costs sanctioned by the government for the first time under universal credit.

Under the present system housing benefit is paid direct to landlords and sanctions can only be applied to out-of-work benefits, such as jobseeker’s allowance or employment support allowance.

Landlords, already concerned by the prospect of universal credit being paid directly to tenants, have been lobbying the government to exempt the housing element of the single payment from sanctions in all circumstances.

However, the Department for Work and Pensions has confirmed to Inside Housing that under the government’s flagship welfare reform, where a tenant is working less than 35 hours a week at minimum wage and is not eligible for JSA or ESA, the housing element can be sanctioned instead.

Landlords are concerned that by extending ‘in-work conditionality’ to the housing element, if the DWP deems claimants to not be doing enough to find full-time employment and applies sanctions, rent arrears could increase.

Sue Ramsden, head of policy for neighbourhoods at the National Housing Federation, said that until now, it has been unclear whether the DWP would allow housing costs to be exempt. ‘We are pressing for DWP staff to have regard for the need for an alternative payment arrangement to be put in place at the same time that the sanction is imposed,’ she said.

Sam Lister, policy and practice officer at the Chartered Institute of Housing, said there was concern about the effect of sanctions on arrears at a time when the housing benefit caseload for in-work claimants continued to rise, but much depended on how the policy was implemented. He added: ‘It will depend on the instructions given to DWP administrators about how strictly the sanctions are implemented in the case of part-time workers who are in receipt of benefit as a contribution to housing costs.’

No research has been carried out on the impact sanctions could have on arrears. More than 1 million people are currently in work but reliant on housing benefit to meet their housing costs, up from 691,000 in 2010.

A DWP spokesperson said: ‘It is only right that people claiming benefits should be aware that not sticking to the rules can have a consequence. Any reductions to benefits as a result of a sanction are applied to the universal credit benefit as a whole rather than a particular element of it.’

Read the full article here

Channel 4 News Disabled people are being left without money for months at a time

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To watch the Report click here http://bcove.me/ih06vydt

Disabled people are being left without money for months at a time as government contractors Atos and Capita struggle to keep up with the relentless demand placed upon them by the Tory-led coalition in assessing thousands of people for the new disability benefit Personal Independence Payment (PIP), Channel 4 has reported.

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