Wednesday 6 January 2016

Blue Monday 18th January The Galleries

This is an event at the Galleries Shopping Centre Bristol. Rethink and Mind will be there and Time To Change will be next to their stands. Second Step and The Care Forum will also be there. It’s a great day to have this kind of event because Blue Monday is the most depressing day of the year, being a Monday, in the middle of winter, and after Christmas.

This information is copied from their poster -

Blue Monday? Let the sunshine in

Got the Blues after Christmas?

Money worries Looking for work? Want to make a new start?

Make a positive start the new year at Bristol’s Blue Monday Fair 18 January 2016 10am – 4pm

Join over 40 local organisations at The Galleries Broadmead for advice about debt, housing, health and wellbeing, finding work and training. Bring the family work and training. Bring the family and enjoy free:

  • Massage
  • Quizzes and games
  • Acupuncture
  • Live Music

Citizens Advice, Pennywise, Cashpoint Money Matters, Talking Money, Bristol A Learning City, Bristol City Council, The Galleries, Bristol Shopping Quarter

Thursday 5 November 2015

Public Health Social Services and Equalities – Effects of cutbacks

At least from this article Somerset appear to believe that it doesn’t have to obey the law.
Somerset County Council to cut £900k from its homeless programme - 4 November 2015 -
“Housing support for homeless adults and ex-offenders is to be stopped by Somerset County Council, despite fears it will put more people on the streets.
The county council has voted to cut almost £900,000 from its homeless programme from next April.”
 “Housing support for homeless adults and ex-offenders is to be stopped by Somerset County Council, despite fears it will put more people on the streets.
‘The reality of it is we will not be able to support people who are in the community to prevent them becoming homeless,’ said Justin Roxburgh.
But the county council said it has no legal responsibility to provide 'this support' for ex-offenders or those at risk of homelessness.
As soon as someone is homeless (and that includes ‘sofa-surfing’) the legal responsibility kicks in - Shelter - Homelessness: Are you eligible for help?
So by this councils’ logic it wants to save money by waiting for people to become homeless and THEN housing them rather than preventing them from becoming homeless. This shows a complete lack of ethics, logic, common sense, and systematic thinking.

The above is likely to result in legal, and regulatory problems that lead to suffering and extra costs as happened with their Childrens’ Services -

Somerset child protection services rated inadequate 5 August 2013 -
Somerset County Council child protection plans 'inadequate' - 14 January 2014 -
Somerset children's services boss Peter Lewis loses job 17 October 2014 -
Somerset County Council called to meet government over children's services 31 October 2014 -
Somerset's children 'not well served', Ofsted says 26 November 2014 -
Somerset children's services still 'inadequate', Ofsted says 27 March 2015 -
Somerset Children's Services get £6m for extra staff - 14 May 2015 -

Can Somerset council not pass on lessons learned from one department to another?

It isn’t OK to save money by failing to provide services to people who are entitled to them; nor is it OK to put stupid bureaucratic barriers in front of people who are to access them. This is an issue for a different but nearby council -

Paralympian Sophie Kamlish told to 'prove disability' for bus pass - Bath and North East Somerset Council -
"Sophie Kamlish represented Great Britain at the 2012 Paralympics, and won a bronze medal at the IPC World Championships in France in 2013
A Paralympian athlete was told by a local authority that her prosthetic limb was not proof of her disability.
At least this council limited the damage by sorting this out that same day.

If a council commission a service and it goes wrong, the council has responsibility - as indicated by the example below -

Councils reminded they can contract out services, but they cannot contract out accountability - 8 October 2015 -
"The Local Government Ombudsman (LGO) is reminding councils that although they can contract out services, they remain responsible for the quality of any service those contractors provide, and for addressing any complaints users of services may have. This accountability remains irrespective of whether the provider is a private company, a third sector organisation or another publicly-funded body.

A complaint about Somerset County Council was brought to the LGO by the mother of a young adult with Asperger’s Syndrome and hearing difficulties after an inaccurate assessment of the man’s needs left him without direct support payments for 14 months."

Thursday 29 October 2015

Time To Change Cabot Circus Bristol

World Mental Health Day 10th October 2015

Time To Change’s task is to end discrimination against people with mental health issues by talking to as many people as possible about mental health.
Cabot Circus Shopping Centre offered us a large area for free for the day. This was a great opportunity for Time To Change Bristol to talk to people about mental health. Time To Change created the concept of a village. For this day we had a marquee to show nationally produced Time To Change Films that were ready for the campaign and for World Mental Health Day.
Time to Change Cinema
This photo also shows our Minions (Names) who performed face painting and this was very popular. The photo also shows some of our Time To Change Champions. Time To Change Champions where the Time To Change T Shirt and talk to the public.
These photos show the whole Time To Change Village from above (Cabot Circus has many levels).

Time To Change Village from above – close up

Time To Change from above – whole Village
Balloon Modelling was another very popular activity –
  Lucy and the popular balloon modelling activity
Keith Winestein with his balloon modelled little man
Other activities included free massages provided by (name), and also we had 2 musicians Bex and Chris.

Massage from Nealey

Spanish Guitar by Bex

Singing and Guitar by Chris
All this helped gain attention for Time To Change with the public and this led to us having 627 conversations with people – ahead of our aim of 500 conversations for the day.
Our Time To Change Table was filled with information and we had many Time To Change goodies to give away to those people who talked to us.
Time To Change Table with some of our Champions AJ, Rebecca and Peter
Our Time To Change Post Box is there for people to send a postcard for free with a message to friends or family.Lynne also provided a survey with a prize draw for those most interested in our campaign.
Keith Winestein and Lynne at our Post Box
We also had a mobile postbox –

Angela Etherington as a post box and AJ posting a postcard
Here is information on how to become a Time To Change Champion -

Saturday 19 September 2015

BBC News - Bristol law centre gets 95% of 'fit-to-work' decisions overturned

This is important for appeals. My benefit medical didn't need to go to appeal this time, but I would have gone to Avon and Bristol Law if it had. South West Law also used to do this, including twice for me, but they've closed (due to legal aid cuts I suspect).

BBC News - Bristol law centre gets 95% of 'fit-to-work' decisions overturned

16 September 2015
 From the section Bristol

More than nine out of ten "fit-to-work" appeals handled by volunteers at a Bristol law centre found claimants were wrongly told they had to work.
Working under supervision, the trainee law students helped with the paperwork many people found too complicated.
The Avon and Bristol Law Centre found in the past year 95 of the 100 cases were overturned. Nationally it is 59%.
The Department for Work and Pensions said anyone who disagreed with a decision is eligible to make an appeal.

'Long and complex'

"Our reforms are helping people into work while making sure sick and disabled people get the support they need," a DWP spokesman said.
"Decisions for eligibility to Employment and Support Allowance are based on an assessment of the impact of an individual's disability or health condition that takes into account all of the evidence provided."
Marcus Keppel-Palmer, a senior law lecturer at the University of the West of England, said in times when access to justice is being restricted through cuts, it is important the vulnerable can be helped.
"The practical experience that students gain in undertaking supervised work like this informs their further academic studies, and I am very proud of the success of these students," he said
One of the people helped is Chris Bradley, from Bristol, who suffers from severe back pain and depression.
Following his Work Capability Assessment he was told he was "fit-to-work", a decision he said resulted in him trying to take his own life.
"If I'd tried to do [the appeal] on my own I would have probably failed," he said.
"You can download a guide to putting in an appeal but it is so long and complex - it's a minefield.
"[And] you have a limited amount of time to get your paperwork in."

Law students had to help a man in debilitating pain fight being declared 'fit to work' - - Avon and Bristol Law

Wednesday 5 August 2015

Discrimination re: ESA Assessment Process and failure to take into account Autism diagnosis

I'm making my complaint letter to DWP public because everything I write in it is literally true so DWP can't sue me

Formal Complaint
Dear sir or madam
I am making a formal complaint against DWP ESA administrators.
I have been called by DWP request to a medical assessment with Health Assessment Advisory Service/Maximus, as the result of an out of date ESA85A form of August 2014. I was since diagnosed with High Functioning Autism.
When I informed DWP ESA staff that I had since been diagnosed with Autism DWP ESA refused to withdraw the request to Health Advisory Service to perform a medical assessment.
This has caused me a great deal of stress and worsened my anxiety and depression and is in breach of the Equality Act 2010 and Autism Act2014, and so is discrimination.
My request for a reasonable adjustment in order to give me more time was repeatedly refused.
I am having to resend all the information to DWP ESA that I had already sent to DWP PIP administrators.
I requested a reasonable adjustment from DWP ESA of allowing me 2 months to send this information, an updated ESA 50 form and to allow DWP ESA medical staff the chance to read this, and fill in form ESA85A as a decision on whether a medical is still required given the updated information. My request for a reasonable adjustment was refused without explanation and no alternative proposed by DWP ESA.
I have made a similar complaint to Health Assessment Advisory Service/Maximus over similar failings on their side of the process.


Peter Hale

Further Information -

Maximus deny refusing to allow up-to-date ESA evidence - - Tuesday, 28 April 2015

Thursday 19 March 2015

My Involvement with BALP (Bristol Active Life Project)

I had many bad experiences in 2006 to 2010 including redundancy and being critically ill in hospital. This led to anxiety and depression that was worsened by a long running court case relating to my injuries. In 2010 I got involved with Bristol Active Life Project (BALP) and also finished my PhD. This all assisted with my physical and mental health and wellbeing. As well as being a participant of BALP I've also been involved in planning and research of the service, making use of my background as a researcher. I'm a regular in the football team and occasional captain. I'm also secretary of a mental health walking group that also aims to assist people with mental and physical health and wellbeing.

Sunday 4 January 2015

Benefit Related Deaths and the Need for Evidence-Based Policy and Training - draft of Sunday 4th Jan 2015

Benefit Related Deaths

The horrible truth is that there have been a large number of benefit related deaths [1] [2] [3] [4] [5] [6] [7] [8] [9] [10] [11] [12] [13] [14] which are now becoming more publicly known. Despite this DWP (Department of Work and Pensions) knowledge and training in Suicide Prevention, Mental Health First Aid [19], and aspects of physical and mental health is poor. Such poor understanding, driven by DWP and Government policy, and incompetence can often be a matter of life and death. In fact there is evidence of a deliberate sanctions policy that puts people at risk [22]. Examples of campaigners' activities and publications against these dangerous benefit failures are in [15] [16]. The Independent [17] states "The spending watchdog" (National Audit Office) "has found that disabled people are facing 'distress and financial difficulties' because of the mismanagement of a new Government benefit scheme."

Suicide, and Mental Health Resources 

These are some resources for suicide prevention training [18], mental health first aid training [19], and help for people who have lost someone through suicide [20]. Resources on benefits are available in [5].


Are any benefit sanctions legal? Benefits are what the Government says a person needs to live on. Everyone has the right to life! MIND [21] explain why sanctions are harmful to mental health and wellbeing. Of course financial results of sanctions can be poverty, physical health issues, and death also. There is evidence of target driven sanctions being used as a political tool [22] [23] [24] [25].

DWP claims it & ATOS help people into work, but only assess people & sanction them. Money spent on that nonsense should on creating jobs and helping people into them. When a DWP customer can't get a job they get sanctioned for 'not making enough effort' - when customer does get a job - 'DWP got them a job'. Many of the sanctions are for ridiculous reasons and they are dangerous to health and wellbeing [26] [27] [28] [29] [30] [31] [32] [33] [34] [35] [36] [37] [38] [39] [40] [41]. Sanctions are applied to sick and disabled people who should be exempt, as they have been judged not fit to work [28] [29] (only capable of certain work related activities under medical advice).

In a January 7th discussion of the Oakley report- Jobseeker’s Allowance sanctions: independent review [42] several experts heavily criticised Government policy on sanctions, at a relevant parliamentary committee  hearing. Professor Peter Dwyer Welfare conditionality project - asked whether current consensus on conditionality to 'prevent worklessness' is ethical. He questioned whether there was any evidence in favour of the consensus amongst politicians and policy makers, and whether evidence against this policy had been ignored. Dr David Webster - articulated that DWP are sanctioning people willy nilly, at that there is no legal basis for this. Hence sanctions are overturned on appeal, as the only requirement is to be available and look for work, not to do so in a way prescribed by DWP. He argues that sanctions problems inevitable from secret system without safeguards and that sanctions are a secret penal system that runs parallel to the legitimate court system, which addresses any illegality. This is also argued in [43]. Dr David Webster explains that training works best when it's voluntary, most people who are unemployed want to work, and that the best way with DWP to be involved is to assist the DWP service user to follow their own plan and engage with the person to advise as necessary. Citizens advice explained that in their experience conditions imposed by DWP are inappropriate to the, and thus they are set up to fail. Chris Mould of Trussell Trust gave results from responses as to why people had to be referred to foodbanks as catastrophic collapse in income leading to access to foodbanks. The referral form has been consistent for many years, and does not specifically refer ask about sanctions (also service users may not necessarily use that term). For all these reasons benefits experts are urging the Government and DWP to suspend sanctions in general and specifically when people with mental health issues or disabilities are impacted [44].

Also on January 7th 2015 Newcastle MP Chi Onwurah demanded an end to demonisation of people on benefits [45]. Inevitably the issues of sanctions are linked with severe poverty in families, and with benefit related deaths [46]. Biased and inaccurate fitness for work tests [47], the sanctions regime, and other failures in benefit provision compound each other. The result is that jobsearch requirements on many people are unachievable because they are on the wrong benefit. E.g. They should be on ESA (Employment and Support Allowance) but are on JSA (Jobseeker's Allowance), or people are in the wrong group.
In general the benefit system is poorly suited for people with disabilities, leading to appalling financial problems [48] and [49], and upset from poor communications [50] and procedures.

Because of the assumptions that the DWP system understands and enforces the return to work plan to the service user rather than engaging with their plan failures are inevitable [51] [52] [53], any assumption that the jobseeker is lazy, worsens this service [54]. Reasons for this failure are outlined in My blog post (Why forcing people to work for benefit won't work - - Wombling for Welfare!) counters the reasoning of the DWP policy of pressuring people to work for free. People need their basic needs catered for before they can develop career goals. The Keep Volunteering Voluntary Campaign [55] encourages organisations to opt out of participating in any scheme that is compulsory or for which people are pressured to take part. As ethical organisations pull out of involvement in compulsion and workfare, only the least ethical and most profit centred organisations are left to take part. Thus meaning that organisations such as Poundland, who have no motive other than profit gain free labour. It is not in the interests of voluntary organisations to 'employ' people on workfare, ethically or for provision of services, and of course compulsory volunteering, and working for free are contradictions in terms.

Inevitably all of these sanctions and other DWP failures and policies lead to fear [56]. Policy should be evidence driven [57]. The alternative of the opposite unethical, unscientific approach used in a fake DWP Psychometric test [58].

"Sanctioning someone with a mental health problem for being late for a meeting is like sanctioning someone with a broken leg for limping" - Paul Lewis -

Poverty and Hunger

Government- benefit cuts do not help people lift themselves out of poverty. People can't lift themselves when they can't eat enough, and heat homes. The Guardian makes this point [59]. Also, food poverty is causing people to be hospitalised [60] [61]. The largest cause of referrals to food banks is that of welfare failings [62] [63] [64] [65] [66] [67] [68] [69] [70] [71] [72] [73]. How benefit failings are leading to a rise in use of food banks was researched by Sheffield University [74], and is explained in [75] [76] [77] [78] [79] [80] [81]. There has been considerable criticism of the contrast between Government members professed Christian views, and the actuality of the increase in UK food poverty and food bank use [82] [83] [84] [85]. Government needs to be more in touch with the consequences of its policies [86] [87]. The rising cost of living has also been a major cause of the increase in use of food banks [88]. More information on food banks is available in a Daily Mirror guide [89]. Government must address this issue because poverty has a catastrophic effect on people's mental health [90] [91] [92] [93].

Fitness to Work

DWP claims it and ATOS help people into work, but they only assess people, stop benefits, and sanction people. Money spent on that nonsense should go to finding people work and training. Ironically the assessment process itself has not been assessed by the Government, nor have any of its users been involved significantly in its design, nor in their own medicals. The focus has been on finding people fit for work, and as with anything where wishes and bias interfere with objectivity, bias is introduced. This is the opposite of evidenced based policy and as it involves people and health it has been a massive unethical experiment on huge numbers of ill people. Inevitably this has caused a lot of deaths, illness, poverty, and misery.

The Government and DWP set the rules for these failed fitness to work tests and drove the policy - It is not just ATOS failing - it is DWP and even CPS (Crown Prosecution Service) [94].

For the NHS - patient involvement is important and structured, this combines with regulatory inspections such as hospital inspections [95]. The need for this has been agreed and provided for because lives are at stake. The same is true for fitness to work assessments, sanctions regime, and assessment for Personal Independent Payments. Lives are at stake if these decisions are wrong. This would entail recruitment of a "small army" of doctors, nurses, patients and carers [95]. Inspection could also help ensure that staff are not being lost to the NHS [96]. Fitness to work tests are completely unsuitable for those with mental health issues [97] [98] [99] (and also for those with physical health issues). This unsuitability is partly due to the confrontational nature of the tests [100] [101] [102] [103] [104], and partly due to bias and inaccuracy [105] [106] [107] [108] [109]. This whole system is expensive [110] [111] [112] [113] [114]  and leads to avoidable hardship and avoidable appeals for so many wrong decisions.

Despite DWP showing little interest in listening to the views of users of its service or in allowing inspections, campaigners have made considerable progress in bringing the problems into focus, and reporting on them [115] [116] [117] [118] [119] [120] [121] [122] [123] [124] [125] [126]. This has also involved working with politicians and press to put pressure on the Government over policy [127] [128] [129] [130] [131] [132]. An appalling case of a person in a persistent vegetative state being sent a letter inquiring if he was fit to work has been highlighted [133].

ATOS are at last leaving the fitness for work process but this is unlikely to result in resolution of any of the problems in its design and implementation [134] [135] [136] [137] [138] [139] [140] [141] [142].

All of these problems are a very real risk to people with all kinds of disabilities [143]. These are some resources available for people having to encounter the fitness for work system [144] [145] [146] [147].

Bedroom Tax

Disabled people and carers are worst affected by bedroom tax and welfare reforms, and there have been many injustices [148] [149] [150] [151] [152] [153], legal challenges and human rights complaints over this [154] [155] [156]. More generally the bedroom tax has been heavily criticised for causing misery, poverty, and homelessness [157] [158] [159] [160] [161] [162] [163] [164] [165]. Further criticism emerged over ineffectiveness, inefficiency, lack of savings [166], impossibility of bedroom tax payers moving to smaller homes [167] (lack of smaller homes, and those adapted for disabilities), and financial pressure on councils [168]. All of these failings have led to the bedroom tax becoming an important election issue [169] [170] [171]. These problems are of the institutions themselves, systems, computing, and arguably on the policy itself and focus on policy change around welfare reforms and cuts.

Universal Credit

In command-and-control organisations, the ILLUSION of control is much more comforting - and hence valuable - than any actual control. Iain Duncan Smith put his faith in new leadership of Universal credit. This isn't how big IT projects succeed. They succeed when users and staff are the main drivers. Government plans to deliver Universal Credit on time and on budget, simply by increasing the budget and putting back the date. It will still fail. This blog post of mine explains why, and goes into technical reasons for all the other problems that cause the human suffering -

Government Digital By Default - Reality Check - - Digital by Default will leave vulnerable people more vulnerable and excluded.

Labour considered the idea of Universal Credit to be too risky and impractical to implement [172]. There are very many serious practical problems [173] [174] [175] [176] [177] [178] [179] [180] [181] [182] [183] [184] [185] [186] [187] [188] [189] [190] [191] [192] [193].


Two essential things that need to happen with this are short term improvements to reduce benefit related death rates within the current failed system, and a medium term reconstruction of the system based on what previously worked.

It used to be that one of the key aims of jobcentres was to assist the person to find work. This was at a time of relatively full employment. Even then it was understood that there would be a structural rate of unemployment due to people moving in and out of work. This structural rate could still be reduced by good careers advice, and assistance, help to find work, and prompt and efficient payment of benefits. This is all of greater importance in times of high unemployment, something that has been persistent now for decades. This importance is because it is possible to reduce both the structural rate of unemployment, and that above this rate, and because people who are in work create work via both their work and their spending.

However, it has become increasingly difficult for jobseekers to deal with jobcentres, and the benefit system in person. Rules have become more inflexible and administration more remote from the 'customer'. Now most assistance is provided by telephone helplines in a remote location from people with no understanding of the jobseeker nor any flexibility in decision making. This problem is exacerbated by very poor, and biased fitness assessments with virtually no involvement of the people assessed in construction and monitoring of this system, nor in their own assessments. An overcentralisation of systems due to a misguided strategy of digital by default (leaving the most vulnerable and poor excluded) adds to this problem. An example is the failing Universal Jobsmatch system [184].

For mental health (and with all other types of health) this breaks the evidenced-based policy of 'No decision about me without me'. For mental health this also breaches the evidenced-based policy of parity of esteem for mental health. For everyone this is a breach of Equality Rights and Human Rights.

The role of evidence-based policy in hindered by the current coalitions repeated refusal to undertake a Cumulative Impact Assessment of the way the Welfare Reform Act affected Sick and Disabled people [185] [186].

In summary, issues are -
  • Remoteness of services from those who use them
  • Sanctions
  • Wrong belief that poverty motivates people
  • Biased and incompetent fitness for work tests
  • Digital by default, those left behind
  • Lack of assistance for work, carers advice, training, and benefits
  • Poor DWP knowledge and training for disabilities, both physical and mental health

Mental Health and Blogging

BBC News - People asked to blog about their mental health illness - - 'I blogged my way to mental health' – Video


Benefit Related Deaths

1. Mainstream media wakes up to benefit sanctions’ death toll - Vox Political - - Casualty storyline – Observer, Guardian

2. Suicides highlight the grim toll of benefits sanctions in austerity Britain  via @guardian

3. Benefits Cuts, suicides and deaths - - Politics UK - 26 Dec 2012

4. DWP urged to publish inquiries on benefit claimant suicides - via @guardian

5. Suicide and the unspoken side of welfare 'reform' | Wayne Blackburn - but there are people and organisations who can help

6. Full report: People considering suicide after losing ill-health benefits, says charity - - Video and Article.

7. The 60 benefits-related deaths we may never hear about - - Benefit cut blamed for deaths of many vulnerable people

8. Half-blind woman killed herself after her disability payments stopped - via @MailOnline following TWO MINUTE assessmnt

9. Another Tragic Atos Death: RIP Jacqueline Harris - via @johnnyvoid stripped of benefits after being found ‘fit for work’

10. The single killer question from ATOS that drove a woman to suicide - via @ThomasPride - Kingswood, Bristol.

11. Bristol woman "killed herself after benefits were stopped"- - partially sighted walked with stick-Kingswood, Bristol

12. Sick nurse killed herself after disability benefits were cut and she was ruled 'fit to work' - via @DailyMirror

13. Atos, deaths and welfare cuts | Big Issue - - Was it public outrage or the impossible task that made Atos want to stop?

14. The most cold hearted letter ever sent by a Minister -

15. Interview:Disabled People Against the Cuts (DPAC) - Red Pepper blog - - campaign of disabled people not for disabled people

16. What were Iain Duncan Smith's 'welfare reforms' really about? Sue Marsh - @guardian failed & frightened most vulnerable

Suicide, and Mental Health Resources 

18. ASIST - Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training - See more at:

19. Mental Health First Aid England - - Mental Health First Aid is an educational course which teaches people how to identify, understand and help a person who may be developing a mental health problem

20. Recommended in Parliament Suicide Prevention Debate- Losing someone close through suicide. Free Booklet - Help is at Hand -


21. Mind - People Need Support, Not Sanctions - - Fulfilling Potential? ESA and the fate of the Work Related Activity Group

22. Senior DWP Manager Congratulates Staff For Hitting Sanctions Targets - via @samedifference1

23. BBC News - Benefits stopped 'to meet targets', PCS union claims - - "enormous pressure" to stop claimants' Jobseeker's Allowance

24. Benefits sanctions show government at its Kafkaesque worst - Ally Fogg - - bureaucratic nightmare manufactures injustice

25. Government fiddles unemployment figures by excluding everyone 'sanctioned': -

26. Sanctioned jobseeker turns tables on Duncan Smith with viral blog - via @Dis_PPL_Protest

27. Understanding Welfare Support & Sanctions - invite-organisation to support major national research project - more at:

28. BBC News - 'Shocking increase' in ESA sickness benefit sanctions - - according to homeless charity Crisis.

29. DWP target mental health claimants for ESA sanctions - - 6 out of 10 - vulnerable people - mental health or learning difficulty

30. The 11 most senseless benefit sanction decisions known to man - - From the Independent

31. MPs ‘Lying’ About Benefit Sanction Targets, Says Whistleblower - via @WNSNews - August 6th 2014

32. 'No one should die penniless and alone': the victims of Britain's harsh welfare sanctions - via @guardian

33. Government Say They Will Change Treatment Of Sanctioned Claimants After Report - via @sdbast

34. BBC News - Ministers to review letters about benefit sanctions - - "legalistic" and lacked personal explanations

35. The Government should conduct an investigation into the Sanction Culture at Job Centre Plus: via @annebegg

36. New Scottish Government Expert Group on Welfare Report: Scrap Work Capability Assessments, Workfare and Benefit Sanctions Regime -

37. PCS Conference: Jobcentre Staff Demand End Of ‘Despicable’ Benefits Sanctions From Iain Duncan Smith - - kittysjones

38. Unemployed Face Benefit Sanctions If Bad Weather Prevents Them From Getting To Jobcentres

39. A Selection of Especially Stupid Benefit Sanctions - - Cruel, arbitrary and ridiculous reasons why peoples' benefits stopped

40. War hero's benefits axed - because he was selling POPPIES - - via @DailyMirror

41. Conditionality and Sanctions Update - News archive via @pcs_union - Performance Improvement Plans (PIPs) - Re: sanctions

42. Oakley report - Jobseeker’s Allowance sanctions:independent review - DWP First published:22 Jul 2014-updated:18 Dec 2014 -

43. The Secret #Sanctions article shared below was originally published in the Big Issue of the North and written by Gary Ryan -

44. Iain Duncan Smith Urged To Stop Benefit Sanctions Regime - The Huffington Post UK - - until a review is carried out of their impact, particularly on the mentally ill and disabled

45. 'demonisation' of benefit claimants, Newcastle MP Chi Onwurah demands - - Chronicle Live

46. MPs Probe Benefit Sanctions Death Toll / Sputnik UK - News, Opinion, Radio -

47. BBC News - Disability benefits system flaws 'grave', MPs warn - - replacing Atos would not address problems "on its own" - 23 July 2014

48. MSPs were told how blind former health worker was reduced to begging as result of UK government's welfare reforms -

49. Tens of thousands of sick and disabled patients face YEAR-long wait for cash help -

50. BBC News - Brain injury victim's family disgusted at 'work' letter - - man permanent vegetative state after assault.

51. BBC News - Back-to-work schemes are 'making mental illness worse' says charity - - Mind surveyed 439 people

52. BBC News - Work Programme not doing enough for sick and disabled, providers say -

53. Funding for disability employment support schemes being misdirected, finds study - - Andy McNicoll-Mar 27 2014 in Mental Health

54. BBC News - Benefit levels 'do not promote laziness', study suggests - - Europe-wide study has found- University of Edinburgh

55. Campaign - keep volunteering voluntary - - The keep volunteering voluntary agreement

56. Iain Duncan Smith Blames Benefits Reform 'Fear' On Grant Shapps, and Journalists - via @HuffPostUKPol - Article and Video

57. Research outputs, and Evidence Based Policy - - Vitae Blog Post - Research outputs, and Evidence Based Policy.

58. Academic paper: fake DWP psych test is tool of neoliberal manipulation - See more at: - paper -

Poverty and Hunger

59. Big society? Cutting welfare to 'aid recovery' is just a big lie - - Heartless policies are merely adding to the plight

60. BBC News - Food poverty: Experts issue malnutrition health warning - - Faculty of Public Health - Article and Video

61. Malnutrition cases in English hospitals almost double in five years - - People who are so hungry they are hospitalised

62. Almost 50% of referrals to food banks in the UK are due to 'issues with the welfare system' - The Independent -

63. Food bank Britain: Thousands need charity handouts because of welfare system failings | UK | News | Daily Express -

64. Food bank is expanding as hunger bites | Evening Times - @TheEveningTimes - pulling off lids and eating with their fingers

65. Top Tory lord Norman Tebbit admits hard-up food bank families are wrongly being denied benefits -

66. BBC News - UK government 'in denial' over food bank use, says Holyrood committee - - DWP in food bank 'denial' say MSPs

67. BBC News - Food banks see 'shocking' rise in number of users - 913,000 food parcels in last year, up from 347,000 year before

68. BBC News - 'Shocking' rise in use of food banks - - Video and Article - more than 900,000 food parcels in last year

69. BBC News- Poorest families 'need more help over debt' - - Conservative-leaning think tank says - Centre for Social Justice

70. Britain's hunger crisis: One MILLION food parcels handed out despite UK having sixth richest economy -

71. The food poverty scandal that shames Britain: Nearly 1m people rely on handouts to eat and benefit reforms may be to blame -

72. Food bank visitors in Coventry: ‘Compassion has disappeared out of the welfare state’ -

73. Hundreds of thousands of people in UK will go hungry this Christmas, but they don't have to - Comment -The Independent -

74. Need for food banks is caused by welfare cuts, research shows - via @guardian Hannah Lambie-Mumford, Sheffield University

75. The crisis in local welfare assistance explained - via @guardian - What has happened?

76. Benefits blunders forcing thousands to use food banks says TORY think tank - - Policy Exchange - Michael Gove and Francis Maude

77. Benefits blunder adds to Christmas misery for thousands as food bank users triple in 12 months -

78. The year government cuts changed the face of welfare state - - dramatic rise of food banks,drastic withdrawal of benefits

79.Food bank Britain: Thousands need charity handouts because of welfare system failings | UK | News | Daily Express -

80. Two million poorest families hit by welfare reforms, says Oxfam -

81. BBC News - Welfare reforms 'hit Wales hardest' - Auditor General for Wales - Rent arrears are rising and debts mounting

82. BBC News - Church of England bishops demand action over hunger - - "cutbacks and failures" in the benefits system

83. BBC News - Low earners are being left behind, say archbishops - - Poor left behind, archbishops warn

84. Grace Dent: Thanks for Easter message Dave.But if you’re good Christian, why so many people in Britain using food banks?

85. Food banks:Not so Christian | The Economist - - briefing given to Daily Mail by someone in Department of Work and Pensions

86. Food Banks Aren't Needed Because Restaurants Are Busy, Says Tory Councillor - via @HuffPostUKPol

87. Iain Duncan Smith refuses to meet food bank charity and accuses them of 'scaremongering' - h

88. Rising cost of living ‘forcing students to use food banks’ - Education News - Education - The Independent -

89. Food bank debate: 20 things you need to know about food banks and hunger in Britain -

90. To tackle our mental health crisis we need to reduce inequality - - addressing causes.

91. Poverty 'consumes' your mental capacity - NHS Choices - - "Poverty saps mental capacity to deal with complex tasks"

92. Soaring UK personal debt wreaking havoc with mental health, report warns | Money -

93. Down and out in London: The Government should do more to provide support services to those afflicted by mental illnesses -

Fitness to Work

94. One-legged man accused of benefit fraud after officials examined wrong leg -

95. BBC News - Hospital inspections- This is needed for ATOS/DWP - - "small army" of doctors, nurses, patients and carers to carry out inspections and ratings.

96. Atos and Capita accused of poaching paramedics to cut benefits instead of saving lives - via @sdbast

97. Fitness-for-work tests unfair on people with mental health problems, court says - via @guardian - May 2013

98. Mentally ill people need to be helped, not hounded | Polly Toynbee - via @guardian .. the reality is scandalous cruelty

99. Secret Cuts 6: How are those with mental health problems treated by Atos? - Complaints about work capability assessment

100. BBC News - Work fitness tests are 'confrontational' - review - - "considerable dissatisfaction" among disabled people

101. Benefits changes causing anxiety in MS sufferers, says charity - via @guardian - MS Society – Poll

102. Why people like me agree the WCA is unfair - - people like me and my son have known how unfair the WCA is for months.

103. Whistleblower says Atos Work Capability Assessments are unfair - - Video - BBC Six O'Clock News 16/05/2013.

104. Disabled mum on benefits left humiliated after Atos makes her take 3 degrading assessments - - Mirror article (not still online).

105. Atos assessor 'forced to judge disabled fit for work'- - Nurse was employed by controversial capability assessor Atos

106. How Atos comes under pressure to declare disabled people as fit for work | David Gillon - via @guardian - leaked report

107. BBC News - Disability benefits system flaws 'grave', MPs warn - - replacing Atos would not address problems "on its own"

108. Atos fit-to-work assessments branded 'farcical' people with progressive diseases like Parkinson's told they'll RECOVER -

109. Opinion: What's Going On Behind The Scenes? - DWP v Atos - Work Test Whistleblower - Dr Greg Wood - Friday, 28 March 2014

110. FOI Disability Assessments cost DWP £199.1m 2012-13 - - Value for Money? Accurate? Fair?

111. FOI Request - Indirect cost for all appeals re: eligibility for Employment Support Allowance in the UK was: Approximately £19.6m in 2012/13.

112. FOI Request - Indirect cost for all assessments for eligibility for Employment Support Allowance in UK was: Approximately £102.4m in 2012/13.

113. My FOI Request - Direct cost for all assessments for eligibility for Employment Support Allowance in UK was: Approximately £77.1m in 2012/13.

114.Value for money? Watchdog turns focus on Atos - the firm that tests people claiming sickness and disability benefits -

115. MPs’ report vindicates DNS (Disability News Service) investigation into Atos PIP contract - - according to a committee of MPs.

116. At last,a report that skewers Iain Duncan Smith welfare policies | Alex Andreou - We Are Spartacus- almanac of condemnation

117. The People's Review of the Work Capability Assessment -

118. Anyone taking the Work Capacity Assessment is 8 times more likely to end up in a tribunal than a job - - #WOWpetition

119. Call to halt fitness-for-work test for disabled people as court upholds ruling - - via @guardian Work capability assessment

120. Why I'm lobbying parliament for disabled rights | Penny Pepper - via @guardian Penny Pepper Wednesday 4 September 2013

121. 05/02/2013 Welfare Reform - Panel talk of their harrowing experiences - - Video - 1 hour 38

122. Government Reviewer Opposed Rollout of ESA -: - Friday, 13 December 2013 - Sue Marsh

123. Disabled People Against Cuts protest in Westminster, central London - - Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC)

124. DPAC & UK Uncut protest ATOS + DWP 31/8/2012 - - Published on 1 Sep 2012 Disabled People Against Cuts & UK Uncut.

125. Video: Disability campaigners protest against fit-to-work tests outside Exeter Atos building -

126. Bradford Council to probe work ‘disability tests’ - @leonc1963 full-scale investigation into controversial assessments

127. “Atos not fit for purpose” - Dennis Skinner on benefits testing (Exclusive) [E26] — RT Going Underground: - Video

128. BBC News- PMQs: Skinner on Atos work tests for disabled people - - Abolish Atos tests, says Skinner - Video - parliament

129. Michael Meacher MP» Blog Archive» Atos Minister Hoban forced to rethink by vigorous systematic critique from Spartacus -

130. BBC News - Labour: Fitness-for-work tester - Atos 'should be sacked' - - a "disgrace" and should be sacked, Labour has said

131. Comment: Iain Duncan Smith is no longer fit-for-work - - via @politics_co_uk

132. Atos life in parallel Universe - savaged by a cross-party committee - - Paul Flynn MP from Daily Mirror 29 January 2014

133. Paul McCauley, left in vegetative state by gang attack, sent letter asking whether he is fit for work | via @MetroUK

134. You and Yours - BBC Radio 4 - - ATOS - Should the benefit paid to people who can't work be completely overhauled?

135. Atos is out: government seeks new company to carry out fit for work tests - UK Politics -  The Independent -

137. BBC News - Fit-to-work tests: Atos quits contract - - to finish its contract early, ministers have confirmed.

138. BBC News - Atos was 'lightning rod' for anger over benefit changes -

140. Black hole fears as Atos ends ‘fit-to-work’ contract early - UK Politics - UK - The Independent -

141. The facts behind Atos death threat claims - - Benefits and Work has obtained documents via the Freedom of Information Act

142. After hated Atos quits, will Maximus make work assessments less arduous? @guardian

143. Benefit cuts can be fatal for the vulnerable - via @guardian - We are all one car accident or stroke away from disability

144. The Decision Maker - Film about the ATOS system. It is for all those without a voice and for all those going through it

145. Black Triangle Campaign - Regulation 29 and 35 - - 2 regulations ‘could hold the key to winning ESA appeals’ John Pring

146. Employment and 'Support' Allowance - ESA 50 form Interactive Guide to filling this in - - nickd (Mylegal) - ilegal team

147. Watch and share this powerful film from @TynesideMind about #mentalhealth service users' experiences of the #WCA: -

Bedroom Tax

148] Disabled people are worst affected by bedroom tax and welfare reforms - via @guardian - threats to their independence

149. UK 'sleepwalking into violating disabled people's human rights' - - via @guardian - Welfare reforms break UN convention

150. 300,000 disabled people waiting for housing living in unsuitable homes - - via @guardian - adaptable ‘lifetime’ houses

151. Disabled man told ‘pay £78 or we’ll evict’ says he is a victim of the “bedroom tax” - - Devon

152. Disabled Coleford man wins bedroom tax battle - - small spare room used to store medical equipment and a manual hoist

153. Bedroom tax hits 60,000 families with carers - - caring for elderly or disabled relative caught out by “bedroom tax”

154. Bedroom tax: Raquel Rolnik's uncomfortable truths - - authentic and authoritative account of Britain's housing crisis

155. Full statement from special rapporteur on housing Raquel Rolnik -  via @guardian - 'Bedroom Tax'

156. Bedroom tax investigated by UN housing official - via @guardian senior UN official to scrutinise impact of bedroom tax

157. It's official: the bedroom tax causes misery | Hugh Muir - via @guardian - that's exactly what his bedroom tax does

158. Bedroom tax plans are levy on the grief of the poor | Michael Rosen - - When I my lost son, preserving his room for while was a help

159. The bedroom tax is ‘immoral’, says MP - - Cornwall Lib Dem MP labels Government’s so-called bedroom tax “immoral” and “Dickensian”

160. Peers round on Lord Freud over bedroom tax - - Lord Freud withstood a barrage of questions about the bedroom tax

161. Bedroom tax bites as low-income tenants choose between 'heat or eat' - via @guardian - downsizing is not an option

162. BBC News - Scottish Lib Dem conference: Willie Rennie says 'bedroom tax should go' - - Scottish Liberal Democrat leader

163. Evaluation of Removal of the Spare Room Subsidy Interim report - July 2014 - - DWP

164. Forced to pay the cruel Bedroom Tax because of the death of her hero soldier son in Afghanistan - - Daily Mirror

165. Sudden rise in homelessness blamed on housing shortage and the 'bedroom tax' -

166. Bedroom tax savings will fall short - Third Force News - via @ThirdForceNews latest 2 Joseph Rowntree Foundation reports

167. About 6% of people hit by bedroom tax have moved home, figures show - via @guardian

168. Exclusive: New chapter in 'bedroom tax' saga - now councils run out of emergency funds to help worst cases -

169. Duncan Smith can't hide the death of "compassionate conservatism" - - welfare reform defined by the bedroom tax.

170. Bedroom Tax: Exclusive Sunday People poll reveals Prime Minister is in danger over charge - - the hated Bedroom Tax.

171. 'I will repeal the bedroom tax' - - Tuesday at the Labour conference - Video 1min - Ed Miliband - #lab13

Universal Credit

172. Alistair Darling:I was warned that Universal Credit would be unworkable - - very difficult to implement and cost more than saved

173. Duncan Smith 'must answer MPs on muddled Universal Credit' | Public Finance— official CIPFA magazine - @Public_Finance_

174. Exclusive: Top mandarin hits back at Iain Duncan Smith over universal credit smears - The Independent -

175. Universal Credit has "not achieved value for money", warns NAO - - More bad news for Duncan Smith-National Audit Office

176. Iain Duncan Smith's catalogue of waste and poverty | Nick Cohen - via @guardian - delays - - to grandiose universal credit

177. Auditors challenge government over cost of universal credit IT problems - via @guardian - National Audit Office 

178. BBC News - MP sorry for money 'wasted' on Universal Credit system - - Conservative MP Nigel Mills - Work and Pensions Select Committee

179. BBC News - Universal credit - an IT fiasco? - A plan to transform the benefits system risks becoming a disaster

180. BBC News - Universal Credit may not hit 2017 deadline, says Duncan Smith - - may not be complete by 2017.

181. Universal Credit crunch: Iain Duncan Smith’s welfare reform wastes £34m - so far - ‘weak management & poor governance’

182. Universal credit: Iain Duncan Smith blames civil servants for IT failings - - rare step of publicly blaming civil servants

183. BBC News - Universal credit: What went wrong? - At-a-glance: What went wrong.

184. How to fix Universal Credit - cut out the IT crowd via @Telegraph - - blamed department’s officials for teething problems.  

185. Now Showing: The Independent | 04.09.2013 - - Universal Credit £34 million wasted so far! Duncan Smith - Audit.

186. "Of £303m spent so far on IT, only £162m deemed to be fit to be capitalised as an asset - doubt the £162m too. #UC

187. DWP writes off millions of pounds on Universal Credit IT, damning NAO report reveals - @ComputerWeekly

188. “@SysThinkReview: NAO: 'Universal Credit: early progress.' ” - points 23 and 24, carry on regardless...

189. NAO: 'Universal Credit: early progress' - - Bob Marshall ‏@flowchainsensei1

190. David Cameron's £2.4bn universal credit project riddled with problems -  @guardian £34m wasted on failed IT programmes

191. Why does truth on Universal Credit emerge only now? via @tonyrcollins - By Tony Collins - In advance of Audit report

192. DWP drops agile from flagship government software project- Public Sector IT:- - drops scheme to avert software disasters

193. Make no mistake: Iain Duncan Smith wants the end of social security | Zoe Williams - via @guardian


194. DWP draws up plans to ditch ridiculed jobs website - - "series of fake, repeat or fraudulent jobs ads" - March 2014

195. WOWCampaign’s response to this ConDem Government’s repeated statement that it is impossible to do a Cumulative Impact Assessment of the way the Welfare Reform Act affected Sick and Disabled people, despite evidence to the contrary -

196. War On Welfare petition: 100,000 sign petition asking for assessment of cuts to the sick and disabled - Mirror Online -