Receiving benefits because of your mental health? You’re up to three times more likely to be punished by the DWP than helped to find work

Data from Mind today reveal the scale of sanctions imposed on people with mental health problems being supported by out-of-work disability benefits. Figures obtained by the mental health charity under the Freedom of Information Act show that there were up to three times more benefit sanctions issued by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) to people with mental health problems last year than there were people supported into work.
There were almost 20,000 benefits sanctions received by people who were out of work because of their mental health last year[1], while only 6340[2] of this group were successfully supported into a job during the same period.

There are approximately 250,000 people receiving the benefit Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) who need this support primarily because of their mental health. People can be sanctioned – have their benefits cut – if they fail to participate in work-related activity, including missing appointments or being late for meetings or CV writing workshops. However, many people with mental health problems find it difficult to participate in these activities due to the nature of their health problem and the types of activities they’re asked to do, which are often inappropriate.

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Malnutrition and ‘Victorian’ diseases soar today in England ‘due to food poverty and cuts’

Cases of malnutrition and other “Victorian” diseases are soaring in England, in what campaigners said was a result of cuts to social services and rising food poverty.

NHS statistics show that 7,366 people were admitted to hospital with a primary or secondary diagnosis of malnutrition between August 2014 and July this year, compared with 4,883 cases in the same period from 2010 to 2011 – a rise of more than 50 per cent in just four years.

Cases of other diseases rife in the Victorian era including scurvy, scarlet fever, cholera and whooping cough have also increased since 2010, although cases of TB, measles, typhoid and rickets have fallen.

Chris Mould, chairman of the Trussell Trust, which runs a nationwide network of foodbanks, said they saw “tens of thousands of people who have been going hungry, missing meals and cutting back on the quality of the food they buy”.

“We meet families from across the UK struggling to put enough food on the table and, at the extreme end, you get people who are malnourished,” he said. “We often see parents who are going without food so that they can feed their children, and these parents often struggle to afford enough nutritious food for their children, too. We don’t think anyone should have to go hungry in the UK, which is why we’re working to engage the public, other charities and politicians across parties to find solutions to the underlying causes of food poverty.”

Dianne Jeffrey, who chairs the Malnutrition Task Force, an independent expert group, and charity Age UK, said the rise in hospital admissions for malnutrition was “deeply distressing”.

“Older people and professionals often incorrectly assume that losing weight and having a reduced appetite are just a normal part of ageing,” she said. “Much malnutrition is preventable, so it is totally unacceptable that estimates suggest there are at least one million older people malnourished or at risk of malnourishment. Cuts to social care mean many older people are being left to cope on their own.”

The figures from the Health and Social Care Information Centre show that in worst-affected areas – Devon, Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly – 2.4 people out of every 100,000 were admitted to hospital with a primary diagnosis of malnutrition.

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Man With Cancer Told To Give Up Treatment and Join Work Programme To Keep Benefits

A Scunthorpe man has received a 40% cut in benefits after he was diagnosed with cancer, leaving him in serious financial distress during his battle with a disease that killed his father and brother.  To add insult the injury, the DWP told him that he could return to his previous level of benefits, provided he gave up treatment and complied with the Jobseeker’s programme.

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More jobcentre recordings: We can’t help disabled claimants at this jobcentre. You’ll have to go elsewhere

Here’s a very recent example of the extraordinary lack of support that disabled JSA claimants can find at jobcentres when they’re looking work.

In the recording below, an adviser at a north London jobcentre actually tells me that advisers at this jobcentre can’t give extra jobsearch help or support to the disabled claimant who I’m with. The adviser doesn’t try to pretend otherwise. He says that the jobcentre can’t help this disabled man, because there are no Disability Employment Advisers at this jobcentre now (DEAs are advisers who are meant to have additional skills and time for disabled benefit claimants). Nobody else at the jobcentre can give the man extra support. The adviser said that the man’s only choice was to move jobcentres to one that does still have specialist disability advisers. That was the end of that. So much, I thought, for the DWP’s claims to me by recent email that disabled benefit claimants can expect “tailored support specific to their individual needs,” at jobcentres. These DWP claims of “tailored support” for disabled JSA claimants are rot as far as I’m concerned – as great a lie as the DWP’s use of fake benefit claimants and quotes in leaflets. It seems to me that when the DWP talks about “tailored support” for disabled claimants at jobcentres, the DWP pretends to offer a service that it does not.

Read more and hear the recording here:

Prime minister dismisses UN inquiry into government’s discriminatory treatment of disabled people

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has asked David Cameron at Prime Minister’s Questions today to publish the details of the Government’s response to the United Nations inquiry into the allegations that Conservative policies are breaching the rights of disabled people in the UK. He also asked if the government intended to co-operate with the inquiry.Such UN investigations are conducted confidentially by the UN and officials will not confirm or deny whether the UK is currently being put under scrutiny.However, the ongoing inquiry been widely reported by disability rights groups and campaigners. The Department for Work and Pensions has previously declined to comment on the possibility of an investigation.

Source: Prime minister dismisses UN inquiry into government’s discriminatory treatment of disabled people

The Tory policy that encourages people to work less hard or lose their home

Despite the government’s claim to represent hardworking families, ‘pay to stay’ will force some social housing tenants to actually work less

Go back and listen to any of the speeches by David Cameron or George Osborne from the election period and, if you’ve no responsibilities, play a drinking game: neck a shot every time they allude to “hardworking people” or decry a “something-for-nothing culture”.

One such hardworking person is Gary, a man I met recently, who lives in central London in a housing association flat that his parents, and grandparents, lived in before him.

Gary has worked for decades in a nearby business. His pay has never been exorbitant, but Gary’s persistence and loyalty to the same company for decades means that, including workplace benefits, his income just broaches £40,000. So, as a reward for being exactly the kind of “hardworking person” Osborne praises, Gary and his wife are facing a hike in their rent under the “pay to stay” clause in the housing bill – which will allow social landlords to charge tenants market rents if they earn above £40,000 in London or £30,000 elsewhere.

The flat has been extensively adapted for Gary’s wife, who has multiple sclerosis and severe mobility difficulties. As well as his day job, Gary cares for his wife – saving the state a huge sum. Now, with a looming rent hike that will make their flat unaffordable, they’re considering the prospect of being forced to leave a home that’s been in their family for generations, and move away from Gary’s job.

Looking in estate agents’ windows in the local area, Gary tells me flats range from £750 to £2,000 per week – simply unaffordable for a couple earning the equivalent of £20,000 each. As with the bedroom tax, housing professionals and anyone with an ounce of common sense who has considered the policy for more than two seconds have warned that it is both unfair and unworkable. The cost of chasing supplemental rent, and the fact that HMRC will be passing tenants’ details on to housing associations, have caused understandable worry throughout the sector. Tenants are worried about eviction and data security, and landlords are baffled at the amount of admin and guesswork they’re expected to wade through.

It would cost a lot to adapt a new flat further away, and would mean upheaval for the couple, and much higher commuting and rental costs. Gary can see only one solution: reducing his hours, so he and his wife can stay in their home.

“I have spoken to my employer who is ready to reduce my working week sufficiently to bring my salary under the £40,000 threshold,” he tells me. “This does not seem fair or logical. It is surely counterintuitive that I can save more money by not working than I could by working. How can it be in my interests to work less hard?”

So much for rewarding “hardworking people”. The pay to stay policy has all the hallmarks of the bedroom tax: an ideological policy designed to wage war on social housing, with no thought as to the human costs. If social rents are cheaper than market rents, maybe, just maybe, it’s not because social rent is subsidised – a lie debunked over and over again – but because private markets are rapacious and volatile, and will happily spew out the poor after making as much profit as possible.

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Welfare cuts: Cancer patients face losing up to £120 a month in Government support, warns charity

Macmillan’s concerns come as George Osborne tells MPs that he is ‘comfortable’ with controversial tax credit cuts

Thousands of cancer patients could lose support payments used to pay for daily living costs like heating, transport and special dietary needs because of the Government’s welfare cuts, the country’s leading cancer charity has warned.

Macmillan said the reforms, which would see some cancer patients who are too ill to work losing up to £120 a month in Government support, could push vulnerable people “over the edge financially”.

Currently, sick and disabled people too unwell to work and eligible for Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) are assigned to one of two groups – the support group, for people with problems so severe they have no prospect of working, or the work-related activity group (WRAG), who have to attend interviews with employment advisors.

Under the Government’s Welfare Reform and Work Bill, WRAG payments, which are designed to enable people who are unwell to pay for extra costs associated with their health condition, will be cut from £102 to £73 a week.

For cancer patients, the money often goes on heating bills, because cancer increases vulnerability to cold; new clothing, often required because of weight loss or to cover swellings or colostomy bags; and extra nutritional food to ensure a healthy recovery.

The Government must reconsider these plans or risk pushing the most vulnerable over the edge financially

Lynda Thomas, chief executive of Macmillan

As of February this year, around 3,300 cancer patients were in the WRAG group. Although the changes, due to come into effect in 2017, will only affect new claimants, Macmillan has warned this could quickly lead to thousands of cancer patients missing out.

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How The DWP Is Drafting In Doctors To Promote Iain Duncan Smith’s Warped Ideology

Are you working hard enough?  Are you sure?  What if you get sick, or have an accident?  Are you prepared to go to work anyway, even if you don’t think it would be good for your health?  What if your doctor and boss agree you could do something other than your usual job instead of malingering at home?  Like making cups of tea all day, or cleaning the bogs, or any form of work your empoyer can dream up to force you not to take time off.  Because that is now the chilling reality as the DWP attempts to inject Iain Duncan Smith’s warped ideology into the NHS

the void

fit-note-guidanceAre you working hard enough?  Are you sure?  What if you get sick, or have an accident?  Are you prepared to go to work anyway, even if you don’t think it would be good for your health?  What if your doctor and boss agree you could do something other than your usual job instead of malingering at home?  Like making cups of tea all day, or cleaning the bogs, or any form of work your empoyer can dream up to force you not to take time off.  Because that is now the chilling reality as the DWP attempts to inject Iain Duncan Smith’s warped ideology into the NHS.

Last week the DWP issued patronising new guidance to GPs on when they should issue a Fit Note.  Doctors are warned of the dangers of ‘worklessness’ and told they must consider “the vital role that work can play in your patient’s health”.

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