After over 250,000 people signed a petition calling for the release of benefit related deaths, the government finally released them on Thursday 27 August, revealing over 2500 people have died after being found fit to work in just two years. Michael Meacher has said that Parliament should have the power to sack Iain Duncan Smith over the WCA deaths, and it has been reported that the UN is looking into whether the Minister for Work and Pensions‘ welfare reforms are committing ‘grave violations’ of human rights.
The figures came following a lengthy campaign by Mike Sivier of Vox Political and many other campaigners. When figures released over three years ago showed deaths of ESA claimants were at a rate of 32 per day, sparking public outrage, Iain Duncan Smith and the DWP have refused to release figures since.
Iain Duncan Smith has fought the release of the figures at every point, even announcing that the department did not keep record of these statistics, days before Cameron told the public they would be released.
However, despite this release, and their attempted burial under immigration figures, there are still questions to be asked and action to be taken to prevent further deaths under the system.
Mike Sivier has suggested that the figures have been deliberately confusing to hide corruption and muddy the argument. He breaks down the reasons why in his post here, and is continuing to fight for a hearing on November 10 to put his questions to the DWP about the inconsistencies.
Fake Successes, Fake Stories
A leaflet issued by the DWP featured several case studies where sanctions are applied, and claimants explained why – all seeming remarkably understanding about why they were left without money, and quick to praise the results and by association the ‘tough love’ actions of the DWP.
However, these case studies left the good people over at Welfare Weekly suspicious of the ‘stories’ and following an FOI submission questioning whether the stories were real, the leaflet was taken down and apparently only to be used for ‘illustrative purposes.’
The FOI read:
“The photos used are stock photos and along with the names do not belong to real claimants.
“The stories are for illustrative purposes only.
“We want to help people understand when sanctions can be applied and how they can avoid them by taking certain actions. Using practical examples can help us achieve this.
“We have temporarily changed the pictures to silhouettes and added a note to make it more clear that these are illustrative examples only.
“We will test both versions of the factsheet with claimants and external stakeholders to further improve it in the future. This will include working with external organisations.”
Research: Benefit Cuts do not lead to Employment
And in more revelations of failure for the DWP, research commissioned by Scottish Parliament has found that benefit cuts do not force people into work, and that their exploratory analysis provides ‘sufficient evidence’ to cast serious doubt on the welfare reforms undertaken by Iain Duncan Smith
Researchers from Sheffield Hallam and Glasgow Universities said;
“Welfare reform does reduce public expenditure and thereby the budget deficit, but it does not, it would seem, lead to higher employment or lower unemployment.”
Professor Steve Fothergill, of Hallam’s Centre for Regional Economic and Social Research said;
‘This research delivers a severe blow to the Westminster government about the positive impact of welfare reforms on the Labour market, not just in Scotland but potentially across the rest of the UK as well.”
An image of some TV listings which feature back-to-back poverty porn programming on Channel 5 has been making the rounds on social media.
While it is easy to see that these programmes are created to encourage judgement of benefit claimants under the false banner of reality, the sheer volume of this programming is not to be underestimated. Several of these programmes are on almost every evening across several channels. If ever you wanted to know the place of benefit claimant bashing, of viewing the poor as if on safari, of playing the poorest off against one another, in the 2015 digital world of ‘choice’ and ‘information’, it has firmly been given the spot of prime time viewing.
Watch Artist Taxi Driver take apart the language and titles of this particular image here:
Image shows cost of brutal welfare reforms
At the request of the Tomlinson family, the release of an image showing a disabled man forced to bathe in a paddling pool in his living room with the help of his parents hopes to show the costs of welfare reforms forced upon people in the UK.
After being forced out of his converted home, adjusted to help him with his disability because of the bedroom tax, Rob Tomlinson has had to move in with his parents and rely on them for his care.
Rob, 48, had used built in fixtures such as walk in showers to enable him to take care of himself, but after the bedroom tax forced Rob out of his home, he has had to cope without the conversions that were built for him.
Also it was reported this week that Stuart Chester, a 25 year old with Down’s Syndrome, Epilepsy and Autism, has been told by the Department for Work and Pensions that he must prove he is unfit to work.
Chester was sent a 20 page form to fill out, despite being unable to read or write and requiring round the clock care from his mother.