Fury over ten minute inquest into death of ‘real life Daniel Blake’

St Pancras Coroner’s Court does not hear evidence about Lawrence Bond’s work capability assessments

THE sister of a man whose death triggered protests over the government’s “fitness for work” reforms believes a coroner’s inquest has failed to answer key questions.

Lawrence Bond had seen his benefits stopped under controversial work capability assessments, which critics say are forcing people to take on jobs while they are still unwell. The 56-year-old collapsed and died in Kentish Town in January, shortly after a visit to the Jobcentre, but this back story was not considered by coroner Dr Richard Brittain.

Instead an inquest at St Pancras Coroner’s Court on Friday was completed in little more than 10 minutes with “paper-only” evidence and nobody on the witness stand. The case had led comparisons with Ken Loach’s award-winning film I, Daniel Blake, and the movie director was among protesters who joined a vigil outside the Jobcentre in Kentish Town in the days following Mr Bond’s death. Frances Coombes, Mr Bond’s sister, who did not attend the hearing, said yesterday (Wednesday): “What we would still like to know is, how can someone who had so many different things wrong with them, be classed as fit for work? What does that say about the system? Is it fit for purpose?”

She added: “I and my sister started to get seriously worried last year that Lawrence did not seem to be getting any help or understanding from the professionals he came in contact with.” Campaigners at the inquest said representatives from the Department for Work and Pensions and Maximus – the company that assessed Mr Bond – should have been called to give evidence.

read more here: http://camdennewjournal.com/article/fury-over-ten-minute-inquest-into-death-of-real-life-daniel-blake

 

Benefits cut to hit 200,000 people with mental health conditions

Cut contradicts Theresa May’s commitment to end the “burning injustice” of the treatment of people with mental health conditions, say Labour

More than 200,000 people suffering with mental health conditions are set to see their incomes reduced due to draconian social security cuts, it has emerged today.

A Freedom of Information response published today by the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) reveals that over 200,000 people with mental health conditions will have their Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) payments reduced, due to cruel cuts which came into force in April this year.

read more here: http://www.welfareweekly.com/benefits-cut-to-hit-200000-people-with-mental-health-conditions/

Cardiac patient declared ‘fit to work’ by benefits assessors suffers third heart attack THREE HOURS into new job

Michael Bispham, 44, was told he was well enough to work again, despite 11 letters from consultants and other medics saying he wasn’t

A cardiac patient who was declared fit for work by benefits assessors suffered a third heart attack just three hours into a new job. Michael Bispham, 44, was told he was well enough to work again, despite 11 letters from consultants and other medics saying he wasn’t.

He was refused ESA (employment support allowance) after scoring zero points.

Michael had already suffered two heart attacks, and he collapsed with a third on the day he started work as a delivery driver in Barrow, Cumbria. His plight has echoes of the Ken Loach film ‘I Daniel Blake’, in which a heart patient battles the benefits system.

Michael, of Dalton, Cumbria, was fitted with a cardiac shock device before he started work on February 13.

To add insult to injury, news that his employment and support allowance assessment was being reversed on appeal arrived as he lay in a ward at Furness General Hospital, awaiting transfer to the region’s cardiac centre at Blackpool Victoria Hospital.

Now, his wife Emily has spoken of the double trauma of helping Michael in his recovery while fighting the “horrendous and unfair” benefits system she claims is designed to make honest people feel “worthless”.

Emily, 38, said: “My husband scored zero points when he was assessed for employment support allowance. He’d already had two heart attacks. That should have been it. We knew he was too poorly, we submitted 11 letters about his condition from consultants and the hospital, but they declared him fit to work”

“It nearly killed him. I’m so angry about it. Just when we needed help and support, we had to navigate the system with pages of forms. They stopped any money because he was no longer able to job seek and we were told to start from the beginning and apply again for the ESA he’d been turned down for in the first place.”

“We had nothing for three weeks at what was the worst time of our lives. It was so difficult.”

read more here: http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/cardiac-patient-declared-fit-work-10522261#ICID

Osborne’s legacy: welfare cuts worth £2 billion begin this week

George Osborne might have been sacked as Chancellor nine months ago, but the poor and vulnerable are still paying the price for the decisions he took during his six years in Number 11 Downing Street.

And a whole raft of extra cuts announced by Osborne in the 2015 summer budget will enter into force from tomorrow.

We’ve put together this timeline of pain, showing how many people will be effected and how much they will lose, based on research by the Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG).

Cut 1: Housing benefit for young people

When: Tomorrow

Who will lose what: 18 to 21 year olds will lose their automatic entitlement to housing benefit

How much: £35 million

Cut 2: Employment and support allowance

When: Monday April 3

Who will lose what: New Employment Support Allowance claimants, deemed to be fit to do work-related activity, will lose £1,510 a year.

How much: £350 million

Cut 3: Two child benefit limit 

When: Thursday April 6

Who will lose what: New claimants to Universal Credit, child tax credits and housing benefit will not receive support for any more than two children. It will affect more than 500,000 families by 2019 and mean they will lose £2,780 for each ineligible child. CPAG says it “breaks the link between need and support” in the benefits system and will push up to another 200,000 families into poverty. 

How much: £1.2 billion

Cut 4: Child tax credit family element and first child element in Universal Credit

When: Thursday April 6

Who will lose what: Both benefits are being scrapped for new claimants. It will leave 970,000 families £545 a year poorer by 2019.

How much: £540 million

Cut 5: Bereavement benefits 

When: Thursday April 6

Who will lose what: The new “bereavement support payment” will mean 91% of bereaved parents will be supported for a shorter time and 75% will receive less money – by £12,000 a year for the average working parent.

How much: £100 million

In total that’s more than £2.1 billion worth of benefit cuts affecting hundreds of thousands of people landing in the next week.

 

But don’t expect to read about it in the Evening Standard…

https://politicalscrapbook.net/2017/03/osbornes-legacy-welfare-cuts-worth-2-billion-begin-tomorrow/

Mother of ‘fit for work’ victim calls for ministers to face criminal charges

The mother of a disabled man who starved to death after he was found “fit for work” and lost his out-of-work disability benefits has called for ministers to face criminal charges.

Jill Gant says work and pensions ministers should be tried for misconduct in public office for failing to take action that could have saved the life of her son, Mark Wood.

read more here: http://www.disabilitynewsservice.com/mother-of-fit-for-work-victim-calls-for-ministers-to-face-criminal-charges/

‘Degrading and cruel’ – claimants view of the benefit system

In a series of special reports, Granada Reports looks at the current benefits system.

James Harrison died after Job Centre staff wrote to his GP telling them not to issue him any more sick notes.

He was a Community Centre manager in Liverpool for 35 years but his health deteriorated when he was made redundant. He was declared ‘fit for work’ after a Work Capability Assessment, something his doctor disagreed with, even though he had a serious lung condition and depression.

He died of heart failure still waiting for a second medical assessment to prove he was ill. His daughter Abbie said he was forced to use a food bank and was made to feel ‘degraded and ashamed’

The film director Ken Loach has made a film to show the harsh reality of applying for benefits in his film “I Daniel Blake’.

In April, the government plan to cut the new Employment Support Allowance (ESA) for ill or disabled claimants who are judged to be able to work in the future.The allowance will be reduced by a third to £73.10 per week, the same as Jobseekers Allowance (JSA) and is designed to give an incentive to disabled people to find work.

Ken Loach says the most vulnerable are being targeted by the new ‘benefit reform’. His film “I Daniel Blake’ follows two benefits claimants plunged into poverty, its distributor is Entertainment One UK.

This week on Granada Reports we will be taking to claimants who’ve had their benefits cut, the charities trying to support them and those forced to go to court to prove they are ill

read more: http://www.itv.com/news/granada/update/2017-02-06/degrading-and-cruel-the-harsh-reality-of-the-benefit-system/

Disabled claimants may not meet costs with cut in unemployment benefit, warn MPs

Government plans to cut unemployment benefit for new disabled claimants could leave some unable to meet essential living costs, MPs have warned.

The Commons Work and Pensions Committee said the evidence that reducing Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) would provide an incentive for disabled to find work was “ambiguous at best”.

While the Government’s aim to halve the “disability employment gap” – the difference between the employment rates of the disabled and non-disabled – was laudable, it said ministers had failed to commit to a timeline for achieving it.

Under Government plans, from April new ESA claimants adjudged to be capable of work in the future will receive £73.10 per week – the same as the Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA) – a reduction of £29.05 on the current rate. However, the committee said the measure – intended to save a total of £1 billion by 2020-21 – could leave some with lower disposable incomes than JSA claimants as they often faced unavoidably higher living costs.

It was imperative, the committee said, that the Department for Work and Pensions provided additional financial support for those claimants in the so-called work-related activity group (WRAG) who found they were unable to cover their essential living costs due to their condition.

“The Government expects the new, lower rate for the ESA-WRAG to enhance incentives to work. The evidence is, at best, ambiguous,” it said. “We heard substantial concerns about the possible impact of the new rate on disabled people’s capacity to look for and move into work.”

The report also noted, that at current employment levels, halving the “disability employment gap” would require an extra 1.2 million to 1.5 million disabled people to find work.

However, it cited one estimate by the Learning and Work Institute that on current rates of progress, it would take over 200 years to achieve.

Committee chairman Frank Field said: “We expect the Government to respond to this report before the proposed new lower rate of ESA is due in April.

“If they intend to proceed with these cuts, we expect an explanation of how this will not be detrimental to its target of halving the disability employment gap, by making finding and keeping a job even more difficult for disabled people than it already is.”