What they don't tell you | Vital Football

What they don't tell you


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Just read my monthly newsletter via e-mail from Benefits and Works: For those of you who don't know it is a online support for people with illnesses and disabilities whether claiming through ESA or/and DLA/PIPS.

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The DWP are keeping very quiet about it, as are the Daily Mail, but a DWP fraud investigator has just been convicted of involvement in a massive tax fraud involving a dormant charity. She and her husband are now awaiting jail sentences.

Meanwhile, over at Emma Harrison’s A4E, nine members of staff who were involved with the work programme have been charged with no fewer than 60 offences of fraud and forgery. The A4E employees are charged with having falsely claimed to have got people into work in order to receive payments from the DWP.


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Today George Osborne announced not only plans to force long-term JSA claimants into work or training, but also a pilot scheme to get ESA claimants in the work-related activity group into work after the Work Programme has failed them. The new scheme will be based on methods used with troubled families rather than, for example, obliging employers to take on sick and disabled candidates.

In reality, the scheme seems designed to provide new opportunities to sanction ESA claimants, something which a leaked memo proves Iain Duncan Smith is increasingly keen on.

The Guardian has reported that IDS has been warned by civil servants that he can’t impose new ranges of sanctions on ESA claimants without new legislation, something which he doesn’t think there is time for before the election. IDS wants to see additional tasks being forced on ESA claimants in the work-related activity group and even hopes to force some claimants with serious, but allegedly time-limited conditions, to take a job or lose their ESA.

Meanwhile, the DWP has had to cancel a week-long celebration of sanctions that have caused misery and hardship to millions and targeted some of society’s most vulnerable people.

“Conditionality week” was due to begin today, but was discovered by the Guardian in documents obtained using the Freedom of Information act and hastily cancelled by the DWP.

According to a memo obtained by the Guardian, the event was about “ celebrating how far we have come since new tougher sanction levels were introduced last year ...”

In other ESA news, the introduction of mandatory reconsideration before appeal for ESA and other benefits on 28th October is now a certainty. Earlier this month the secretary of state finally introduced the statutory instrument to make the new system law.

The degree to which this will cause chaos and hardship for sick and disabled claimants depends largely on how long it takes for decision makers to carry out a mandatory reconsideration. But as there is no statutory time limit for doing so, many people are deeply concerned. The possibility of being forced to claim JSA and then facing sanctions if a jobseekers agreement or claimant commitment is not kept, whilst waiting for the reconsideration to take place, will add hugely to the strain of challenging a decision that you are capable of work.

Trying desperately to appear slightly less anti-claimant than the coalition, Shadow work and pensions secretary Liam Byrne has called on the government to sack Atos because of the number of incorrect work capability assessments (WCAs). However, he offered no change to the system itself, an issue which many disabled claimants think is much more important than who actually administers the flawed assessment process.

The Liberal Democrats appear to be marginally more in favour of changes to the WCA, with pensions minister Steve Webb telling the Disability News Service that the government should look at any “alternative models” to the WCA. (members only)

Finally, Homeless Link released a report last week which shows that homeless claimants are seven times more likely to receive an ESA sanction and ten times more likely to receive a jobseekers allowance (JSA) sanction than other claimants. Perhaps the sanction-based attack on homeless people would have had it’s own special celebration day during ‘Conditionality Week’, if only it had gone ahead.