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


Stroke victim ‘told to take back-to-work test while still in hospital’

Labour MP Iain Wright said the case was one of the most disgraceful he had heard from constituents on sickness benefits

An MP is demanding an investigation after a stroke victim claimed she was told she must undergo a back-to-work test – while in a hospital stroke unit.

Labour’s Iain Wright said the case was one of the most disgraceful he had heard from constituents on sickness benefits who have been told to undergo a work capability assessment (WCA).

Mr Wright said the woman, who did not wish to be identified, had come to him in great distress, blaming the actions of the private firm Maximus, which carries out the assessments.

He told The Independent: “I found this case both utterly shocking and completely disgusting.

“It demonstrates all too vividly how inhumane and uncivilised the Government’s welfare reform policy is.”

Mr Wright vowed to write to Work and Pensions Secretary Damian Green to demand to know whether such practice was allowed – and to get a “full apology to my constituent”.

The case is the latest in a very long line of controversies surrounding the WCA, which is undergone by sick and disabled people attempting to claim Employment and Support Allowance (ESA).

read more here: http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/stroke-victim-told-to-take-back-to-work-test-while-still-in-hospital-a7318766.html

Maximus employee tried to stop me taking notes at an ESA assessment

Just back from accompanying someone to an ESA a work capability assessment, run by Maximus. Got in, sat down, got out my clipboard to take notes and the ‘Health Care Professional’ told me I wasn’t allowed to take notes. When I said this was not the case she had the nerve to ask me to tell her where it was written that I could take notes.

I have accompanied people to a good few assessments and have always taken notes, and I didn’t back down, and she dropped it. I took notes.

Last time I went to an assessment the ‘Health Care Professional’ told me there was no point in taking notes as they would not be accepted at a tribunal. I knew this to be a flat out lie, but didn’t make an issue of it, just kept on taking my notes.

Is this a new official Maximus tactic to disadvantage claimants, or just coincidence?


‘Go back to work’, DWP tells man who suffered four heart attacks

A TENANTS’ champion who has been told he must go back to work despite having four heart attacks says he has been left “financially destitute” and shivering cold with only a duvet to keep him warm.

The 61-year-old man – a longstanding District Management Committee activist who did not want to be named – has been fighting for his Employment Support Assessment (ESA) benefits to be reinstated after they were removed following a “work capability assessment” on September 9.

The man has been diagnosed with pancreatitis, heart disease and suffers from “anxiety and stress”, according to his appeal letter, which adds that his condition has “deteriorated considerably” since the test.

“I am financially destitute after this decision was made,” the man said in his letter, seen by the New Journal. “I am unable to heat my home and pay for my heating costs, and because of this my health has been affected. I have received no social security benefit since the decision was made and I am living in a home where my only form of warmth is a duvet cover.”

On Tuesday, the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) dismissed his appeal saying they did not have to take this into consideration and are satisfied that his condition is not “uncontrollable or life-threatening”.

The Camden tenant has for several years received £315 a fortnight of ESA – benefits for people who are too ill or disabled to work – but it was immediately halted after his assessment.

The assessments used to be carried out by Atos, but the company and the government has cut ties and they are now run by an American company called Maximus.

The man said: “From when you sit down everyone there is being assessed. They had written down how long I was sitting down in the waiting room – it was 33 and a half minutes. They had written down whether I had signed my name and whether it was legible. I was treated like a second-class citizen.”

He has spent time being fed through a tube in hospital this year for his pancreatitis but has been told to fill out 50-page forms to retain his benefits.

Dorian Courtesi, spokesman of the Camden Assembly of Tenants, which has been supporting the man, said: “Apparently the tenant is fit to work even though they have had four heart attacks this year, two operations due to bowel cancer, suffers from diabetes, is diagnosed with heart disease and has fluid on his lungs due to their heart condition.” He added: “Iain Duncan Smith says he wants to put job advisers at the entrances of food banks. Why not just go one step further and place a funeral adviser on the doorstep instead? This government’s disregard of the disabled and sick is truly criminal.”

Read more here: http://www.camdennewjournal.com/dwphampstead

People with mental health conditions are being denied the opportunity to complete an application form for sickness benefits.

An investigation by Benefits & Work found that Maximus – who is one of the private contractors replacing Atos – are not sending application forms (ESA50) for Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) to some claimants with mental health conditions.

Benefits & Work say that the forms are vital for understanding how a claimant’s health effects their ability to work, prior to being asked to attend a face-to-face assessment – otherwise known as the Work Capability Assessment or WCA.

read the rest of this story here: http://www.welfareweekly.com/mental-health-claimants-denied-chance-to-complete-sickness-benefit-form/

Huge Success For Campaigners As Rage Against Maximus Explodes Onto The Streets Across The UK

the void

Disabled protesters block Victoria Street bringing traffic chaos. Disabled protesters block Victoria Street bringing traffic chaos.

Over 30 towns and cities held protests yesterday against the involvement of sinister US based outsourcing company Maximus in the despised Work Capability Assessments.

Maximus take over from Atos this week carrying out the tests used to strip benefits from sick and disabled people by finding them ‘fit for work’.  Atos were chased out of their lucrative contract with the DWP after a string of protests destroyed their carefully crafted corporate identity and campaigners have vowed to do the same to Maximus.

In London up to a hundred disabled people and supporters descended on their non-descript London offices where a noisy and determined protest took place outside their front door.  Protesters then took to the streets and occupied a roundabout where a Work Capability Assessment circus was held with events including a jumping through hoops display and a box lifting competition –…

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Sell, Sell, Sell! Maximus Share Prices Could Tumble After Welfare To Work Scandal Rocks Australia

Day of action against Maximus tomorrow: actions occuring nationwide. Find out if there’s one near you here http://dpac.uk.net/2015/02/your-all-in-one-guide-to-the-maximus-national-day-of-action-2nd-march-scrapwca-maximarse/

the void

share-collapse1A damning documentary exposing the shoddy behaviour of Maximus and the welfare-to-work sector in Australia could lead to a drop in the company’s share price according to one stockmarlet analyst.

The programme, produced by ABC (and still viewable here), tells a story which will be familiar to all those in the UK forced to attend outsourced schemes such as Iain Duncan Smith’s Work Programme.  Claimants had their benefits stopped for no reason, signatures on paperwork were faked and the most marginalised claimants were parked – meaning abandoned completely by the companies who saw no profit in helping them.  Maximus dominate the welfare-to-work sector in Australia, and have several contracts running similar schemes in the UK.

According to an analyst on finance website Seeking Alpha, Maximus earn 10% of their revenue in Australia and that could now be under threat due to a ‘short term negative news cycle’. …

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