Heart attack victim was told he must attend work scheme… as he lay in hospital

Agency called Colin Rogers as he lay waiting for a bypass operation in Broadgreen Hospital

DAYS after suffering a major heart attack and as he lay in a hospital bed wired to monitors facing a bypass operation, a Wirral dad was phoned and told he must continue a government work programme.

Colin Rogers, 58, from Irby, had been admitted to Arrowe Park Hospital and then transferred to Broadgreen, in Liverpool, after suffering chest pains. His wife, Carol, said she was later told he was moments from death as his heart failed and then specialists said he must undergo a quadruple heart bypass operation after he was taken ill on September 27.

Yet, days later – despite his wife informing the Job Centre of her husband’s condition and asking that this be passed on – as he lay in bed in hospital he received a call about his place on the Government’s Work Programme, delivered by public services company A4e. Colin, who had worked for Champion Spark Plugs until the factory closed and he was made redundant, was told by a manager from A4e that he was committed to the work programme he had been signed up and would have to continue it.

Colin, who came out of hospital a few days ago, said: “I couldn’t believe that they were ringing me because I had given my wife a list of people who needed to be told and she had contacted the Job Centre and told them A4e needed to be informed what had happened to me. So I was completely shocked and I said to the guy I couldn’t believe he was phoning me, that he was supposed to have been told that I had a heart attack.

“This guy was persisting about wanting to discuss the next plan of action but I said I was ending the conversation and put the phone down.”

Colin said within minutes of this a nurse, who had noticed his heart monitor, came and asked if there was a problem, but Colin said: “I didn’t want to say anything because I was embarrassed I was being phoned up like that.” He added: “But I was disgusted with what had happened. I want to work, but all I seem to be doing is fighting these people.”

Carol said: “He was not supposed to be stressed. It’s been horrendous, Even though my doctor said he may never work again, they are saying to us he has to finish the back to work programme.”

A spokeswoman for DWP said correct procedures had been followed. A spokeswoman for A4e said: “The telephone call that was made to Mr Rogers had been pre-arranged two months earlier, and when we rang him, we were unaware he had been taken seriously ill and was in hospital. The conversation was very brief and as soon as we realised Mr Rogers was in hospital, we ended the call. All correct procedures were followed, and no further contact has been made.”


Sanctions branded “evil” after mum shoplifts to feed family

BENEFIT sanctions have been dubbed as “pure evil” after a woman had to steal food and groceries to feed her family when her money was stopped.

Lucy Hill, of Westcott Road, Kidderminster, was caught taking chicken and washing powder from a Spar store on October 1, after first stealing more meat two days earlier.

The 35-year-old’s Employment Support Allowance had been sanctioned after she missed an appointment at the Job Centre and her defence solicitor, John Rogers, said it was “necessary that she committed this offence” for the good of her partner and their 18-month-old baby.

And now the public have rallied behind her agreeing they would have to steal as well in her position, with Kate Bennett from the Wyre Forest Citizen’s Advice Bureau saying sanctions are doing more harm than good.

“The whole idea of sanctions is to stop people from taking the Mickey, and that’s fine, but this is starting to get too much now and to be a punishment,” she said. “You can get a four-week sanction for a silly mistake or for being late and it might not be your fault, and they are sometimes counter productive, as you can see that some people shoplift as they haven’t got enough money to live on.”

ESA claimants in the work-related activity group, where an adviser assists them with training and skills, like Hill who was convicted of two counts of theft which she said was a result of the suspended payment at Kidderminster Magistrates’ Court on Thursday, October 16, are subject to sanctions. These are handed out for failing to attend a mandatory interview or failing to take part in a work-related activity.

In the district in the last 12 months, there has been a 30 per cent increase in the amount of people getting their benefits sanctioned.

“People who have tax payers’ money should do all they can and have to to get it but we should be helping people like this woman,” Ms Bennett said.

“It’s not just the job seekers that suffer from being sanctioned, it’s the families.”

read the rest of this article here: http://www.kidderminstershuttle.co.uk/news/11555135.Sanctions_branded__evil__after_mum_shoplifts_to_feed_family/

MPs to probe Government’s savage benefit cuts

The Mirror reported how diabetic ex-soldier David Clapson died destitute at 59 without benefits after being sanctioned by the Job Centre for missing one meeting

MPs are to hold a new inquiry into the government’s brutal benefit sanctions regime – following a campaign backed by the Daily Mirror.

It has been triggered by Labour MP Debbie Abrahams, who called on the Work and Pensions Select Committee to investigate after the Government refused an inquiry.

The move follows a 200,000-strong petition set up by Gill Thompson in July following the death of her diabetic brother David Clapson at the age of 59. David, a former soldier who served in Northern Ireland, died destitute after being sanctioned by the Job Centre for missing a single meeting.


read the rest of this article by Ross Wynne Jones in the Mirror here: http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/mps-probe-governments-savage-benefit-4489466

7 Facts You Need To Know About Workfare

Image: Brighton Benefits Camapign Image: Brighton Benefits Camapign


Workfare schemes have been tried out in countries such as Australia, USA, Canada and places in Europe since the 1990’s, with dismal results. Research in Australia found that workfare had an insignificant effect on reducing long-term unemployment and was “ineffective” in finding sustainable employment.

The UK government commissioned it’s own international research into workfare before introducing the schemes and the findings were as follows:

“There is little evidence that workfare increases the likelihood of finding work.  It can even reduce employment chances by limiting the time available for job search and by failing to provide the skills and experience valued by employers”

“Workfare is least effective in getting people into jobs in weak labour markets where unemployment is high.”


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So what stopped you from killing yourself, then?

I accompanied someone to an Atos assessment today. His documentation mentioned that he had suicidal thoughts. The assessor asked a series of very probing questions that I was very uncomfortable with. He wanted to know what actual actions my friend was planning when he thought of suicide, how and where his suicide attempts were made, what stopped him from going through with it, what he was thinking about, why he was so depressed. The upside of this was that after 20 minutes of this the assessor said he had enough evidence and did not need to ask about my friend’s other conditions. I am hoping there was enough there to get him put straight into the support group, where he needs to be. But I am very concerned now about his state of mind after the assessment.

In cases like this a person is being put at immediate risk by talking about things that are very distressing to someone that is not even a mental health practitioner, or they will not get the benefit that they need. Should I have intervened and challenged the young man asking these questions, and run the risk that my friend would fail the assessment because he had not convinced the assessor? I’d greatly appreciate people’s comments on this.


Going private? My reply to a job offer from a private health company


What the heck is this? I’ve been trying and failing to stop the government from privatising the National Health Service for years, and now a private healthcare company has contacted me about a job!

The email from Care UK says they are “seeking a Media Relations Executive for our Head Office based in Colchester and your skills and experience appear to be a good match.” Huh? They are offering a “competitive salary, 25 days holiday and corporate discounts.”

Here’s what I have replied:

Dear Laura,

Thank you for your unexpected email about the Media Relations Executive job with Care UK. I am very interested. Since Care UK is possibly the leading private healthcare company making inroads into the NHS, I would relish the opportunity to publicise what it does – indeed, this is precisely what I was trying to do in my previous job as information officer for Keep Our…

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Food, clothes, transport, beds, ovens: the aid schools are giving UK pupils

Headteachers are breaking the rules to feed children and their families because they say they cannot ignore the signs of poverty


Fiona Gittings, a headteacher in a large primary school in the south of England, is talking about a child whose mother was recently refused asylum. The family was homeless and had been moved from place to place. Finally, they were put in a hostel so far from the school that transport costs were prohibitive. “Being in a hostel was terrifying and utterly unsuitable for the children,” says Gittings. “Carrying on coming to this school, where he was well settled, was so important for that child – it was the only stability he had.”

So Gittings dipped into an emergency fund she has created to pay for a bus pass for both mother and child. She set up the fund a few months ago with £500 of her school budget, £500 from her parent-teacher association and £500 from the church. She knows she can’t continue to pay for their travel though: one adult and one child bus pass for a month comes to about £100. So eventually the child may be forced to move to a new school.

It’s not the first time Gittings has helped poor families out. “This mum had no money – she was literally begging and borrowing to pay for two bus rides across the city to get her child to school. I told her to ask me if she needed help. She’s desperate and she was utterly mortified, but I am so proud that she felt she could come to me.”

But bus passes are the least of it. Gittings lists other recent payments she has made from the emergency fund: new bunks for two children when their beds were destroyed in a domestic violence incident; £12 to a mum heading to court who thought she’d have to pay for a non-molestation order (she brought the money back); a bed, a table and a chair for a boy living with his dad where there was no furniture other than a sofa in the flat. Then there’s £30 to £50 food money every few weeks to a “very proud” grandmother looking after a young boy. “I couldn’t trust the mum not to shove it up her arm, but the nan I could.”

Read the rest of this article here: http://www.theguardian.com/education/2014/oct/14/schools-providing-basic-necessities-to-disadvantaged-pupils?CMP=fb_gu


You must do your JSA jobsearch online, even though we know you can’t

This is from Katebelgrave.com

…………….Eddie must go to the jobcentre every fortnight to sign on and to show that he’s searched for at least 14 jobs. This post will show you how difficult and pointless this jobsearch exercise is for him. One of Eddie’s main problems is his struggle to read and write. He can write letters out if people tell him which ones to choose (for example, he asked me how to spell “Customer Service Advisor” when applying for one job, then wrote it as I spelled it out), but has trouble with more complex words. He also finds computers challenging. He doesn’t have a computer at home, which means that he rarely uses one. He wasn’t sure what a browser was when I took my laptop around to his flat to help him with his jobsearch (you’ll see some of this in the videos below).

Nonetheless, a couple of weeks ago, Eddie’s jobcentre adviser instructed him to choose and apply for at least three jobs online as part of his fortnightly quota………..

Read what happened next in the full article on Kate Belgrave’s blog here: http://www.katebelgrave.com/2014/10/you-must-do-your-jsa-jobsearch-online-even-though-we-know-you-cant/#

Benefit sanctions often to blame for increase in food thefts, says police commissioner

GOVERNMENT ministers in denial over links between benefit changes and shoplifting must “wake up and smell the coffee,” according to a North-East police commissioner.

Durham police and crime commissioner Ron Hogg has raised concerns over benefit changes and sanctions leading to an increase in poverty, with people often committing offences simply to live. Mr Hogg said the rising demand for food banks is evidence enough to show the impact austerity measures have had on those struggling to make ends meet.

 Speaking during a visit to the Food Store at King’s Church, in Whessoe Road, Darlington, he said: “If they have been sanctioned for 13 weeks, how are they supposed to feed themselves? What greater evidence do they need?The fact that we need food banks is disgraceful, but what they are doing here is fantastic. It cannot be right that so many families in a town like Darlington are relying on this just to feed their family.


Read the rest of this article here: http://www.thenorthernecho.co.uk/news/11528906.Benefit_sanctions_often_to_blame_for_increase_in_food_thefts__says_police_commissioner/


Bedroom Tax: Desperate man jailed after ‘booby trapping’ home to stop bailiffs evicting him

Michael Hilton planted gas cannisters and petrol around his home in Church when a bailiff went round to evict him due to bedroom tax arrears.


A desperate man who ‘booby trapped’ his home after bailiffs came round to evict him over failure to pay £900 Bedroom Tax arrears has been jailed.

Michael Hilton planted gas cannisters and petrol around his home when a bailiff and antisocial behaviour investigator went round on June 4 this year to evict him.

The 52-year-old barricaded the front door and stairs with items from the house and gas cannisters and covered them with petrol, Burnley Crown Court heard.

Hilton, of Church near Accrington, Lancashire, pleaded guilty to criminal damage and threatening to destroy or damage property and was jailed for 10 months.

Ten police officers and PCSOs, 14 specialist officers and fire crews were called to the scene and were there for around four hours during a ‘stand-off’, the Accrington Observer reports.


From the Mirror, 9th Oct 2014. Read the rest of this story here:  http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/bedroom-tax-desperate-man-jailed