Homeless ex-soldier, 82, dies hours after being evicted from squat in Manchester city centre

The man, known only as George, was taken to Salford Royal by other homeless ex-serviceman and passed away with them at his bedside

A homeless ex-soldier aged 82 died hours after he was evicted from a city centre squat.

Known only as George, he is believed to have passed away from bronchial pneumonia, a support group for veterans has revealed. He had been living in a disused building in Manchester with 12 other homeless ex-servicemen before they were all evicted.

His ‘band of brothers’ walked with him to Salford Royal Hospital after he was taken ill and he died with four of them at his bedside.

Salford Armed Forces Veterans Network (SAFVN), which is in contact with the group, say they know little about George, but said his death was a damning indictment on support services available for homeless ex-service personnel across the country.

Read more here: http://www.manchestereveningnews.co.uk/news/greater-manchester-news/homeless-ex-soldier-82-dies-10458191


Sickness benefit medical test caused massive increase in mental illness, research shows

“The programme of reassessing people on disability benefits using the Work Capability Assessment was independently associated with an increase in suicides, self-reported mental health problems and antidepressant prescribing. This policy may have had serious adverse consequences for mental health in England, which could outweigh any benefits that arise from moving people off disability benefits.”

Read more here: http://voxpoliticalonline.com/2015/11/17/sickness-benefit-medical-test-caused-massive-increase-in-mental-illness-research-shows/

and the original research document here: http://m.jech.bmj.com/content/early/2015/10/26/jech-2015-206209.full

Benefits sanctions overused to reduce claimant numbers, critics claim

Work and pensions committee hears that sanctions have seen millions withheld from claimants since coalition tightened conditions

There is a broad political consensus that job seekers must fulfill certain obligations as a condition of receiving unemployment benefit. This consensus is breaking down, however, over how harsh this conditionality should be and whether it is effective in getting people back into work.

Ministers claim that benefits sanctions send a clear message to the tiny minority of claimants who abuse the system, making them more likely to look for jobs, and ending the so-called “something-for-nothing” culture. They have said sanctions are a “last resort” imposed on people unwilling to work.

Critics, however, say that the sanctions system has spiralled out of control since the coalition tightened benefit conditionality in autumn 2012. Ten years ago, typically a thousand people a month would be sanctioned; by October 2013 that figure hit 12,000 and currently stands at around 7,000. In some areas up to 10% of all unemployment benefit claimants were sanctioned.

Sanctioning is no longer a last resort tactic aimed at the stubbornly workshy, say critics, but a crude way of pushing down claimant numbers and cutting back on the benefits bill. The work and pensions committee has heard estimates that sanctions have seen £275m withheld from claimants – who are already living on the breadline – over the past two years. The biggest impact has been on vulnerable individuals, such as people with mental illness, who are unable, rather than unwilling, to comply with the benefit conditions.

read more here: http://www.theguardian.com/society/2015/jan/20/benefits-sanctions-overuse-claimant-numbers-reduce

Disabled man died of heart attack after being told of ESA sanction threat

A disabled man died of a heart attack, just an hour after being told that the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) was threatening to stop paying his out-of-work disability benefits.

Alan McArdle, who had previously been homeless but was living in council accommodation in Slough with the support of a charity, told the friend who had read the DWP letter to him: “They’ve sanctioned my money,” before he collapsed.

The government contractor responsible for finding him work, the discredited outsourcing giant Maximus, had reported him to DWP for failing to attend appointments intended to move him towards work, as part of the Work Programme, despite being told about his severe ill-health.

Read more here: http://www.disabledgo.com/blog/2015/11/disabled-man-died-of-heart-attack-after-being-told-of-esa-sanction-threat/