Category Archives: Stupid stuff

More #stupid stuff – food bank Britain & sanctions

Employment Minister Esther McVey on cuts to benefits only used against those who were “wilfully rejecting support for no good reason”…..

The Express spoke to a number of people which revealed unfair sanctions, here are some examples:-

  • a blind woman whose benefits were removed because she did not apply for a cleaning job.
  • a father with terminal cancer punished after he missed signing as he was at a hospital appointment.
  • a woman refused benefits as she forgot to “sign on” on the day of her brother’s funeral.
  • a  33 year old man with severe dyslexia who had his benefits removed because he could not fill in his claim correctly.

There are many more real people’s lives highlighted in the Express on 17th November. Welcome to UK 2013.

#stupid stuff in action – PIP

The Campaign’s response to extended period of phasing in of PIP payments

The Campaign for a Fair Society welcomes the recent announcement of the need to take stock & ensure the implementation of Personal Independence Payments adopts a ‘controlled approach to the introduction…continuously testing & reviewing the processes to ensure they are right’ (

This is something the Campaign & others within the disability movement have been asking for since the inception of the Welfare Reform Act, 2012.  However, we know this pause is related to the practicalities of implementation, rather than the need to look at ‘what is right’. The problems with undertaking the amount of assessments needed by organisations such as ATOS are well documented.  Taxpayer’s money seems to be very poorly spent on a system that is not working.  ATOS & others are simply not delivering on the targets they put in their tenders for the work.  The amount of assessment centres is considerably less than intially proposed & all the while new claimants are suffering unnecessary delays & upset.

Our call for a cumulative impact assessment of changes to welfare & social care remains

The Campaign disputes the argument about the  growth in DLA claimants being unsustainable – this is misleading & based on incomplete data. In an ageing population mobility issues will inevitably increase. Incomplete, as there is no account taken of the future costs that will be incurred in health & social care in withdrawing this workbased benefit from hundreds of thousands of individuals.  Not investing in ensuring as many people remain as independent as possible will have huge cost implications for the future.  We want everyone’s taxes, including those of working disabled people, to be spent in the most efficient ways, leading to long term sustainability in health, social care & welfare.

Eg, the new PIP assessment says if a person can walk more than 20 metres, aided or unaided, they do not need or deserve the highest level of help the state can offer to cover mobility costs.

This 20 metre rule is replacing the qualifying distance of 50 metres used to assess people for Disability Living Allowance. 20 metres for most people will enable them simply to be able to navigate around their own homes. We believe that this policy, if left unchecked, will lead to disabled people dropping out of work & education & lead to increased poverty & isolation, increasing costs in other areas of government spending. We believe such a potentially risky change in policy should not be taken any further forward without a robust & accurate evidence base.

Gary Aldridge, Campaign for a Fair Society, English Steering Group

A mother’s story

What is it like to be in a position where you need support from the state? A mother tells us of her daughter’s experience.

About 2 years ago I was contacted by letter to say that 2 people were coming round to our home to inverview us regarding my daughter receiving DLA.  This turned out to be the second time in about 4 years that someone has contacted them to say that in their opinion, she should not receive benefits.

I was unaware at the time, but when 2 officials arrived, their attitude of suspicion made me immediately aware that I was being interrogated. This was followed up some weeks later by a visit from a (presumably retired) gp, who again acted as if she was claiming money under false pretences.

I will tell you that my daughter, now aged 37, contracted a rare virus at the age of 17 months which caused brain damage – I would say she has an academic age of about 4 or 5 and a social age of maybe 12 or 13.  She has always, and still does, live at home.  In the following years she has been diagnosed with severe & multiple allergies, lupus, meningitis which cause the loss of some toes & now kerataconus wich has caused virtual blindness in one eye.

Anyone speaking to her for more than about 10 seconds would realise there was something pretty seriously wrong.  However, we were treated the whole time with suspicion – this culminated in a final question from the doctor as to whether I had anything else to add.  I commented how it was not easy to bring up a daughter alone as a one parent working mother, for most of her life with problems physically & mentally such as hers.  Her reply was – “I meant medically”.

My daughter was made to sit with us the whole time at both interviews.

Having spent years encouraging her & telling her how clever she was when she achieved something small, this was ruined by 2 visits during which I had to tell them all the things she can’t do.

Amongst the illnesses she has, brain damage is irreversible, lupus is incurable, allergies cause problems on a daily basis, she will never grow new toes & the keracatonus will, sometime, affect her other eye too.

I can understand that these officers & the gp must see lots of people who do try to claim benefits falsely but their attitude caused both of us to be in tears after they had left.  It then took 3 months for them to reach the decision that she is entitled to the benefits she gets.

The following year, she was subject to another assessment, another 2 hour stint, because of local authority cuts to see whether she qualified to keep the 2 days she attends at a local creative arts workshop.  She does.

Now we’ve heard that DLA is changing to PIP so another assessment will take place.  Apart from costing the Government a fortune, this continual fear & uncertainty has given me, amongst other things, high blood pressure.  In my opinion, they’ve targeted the very section of society who are the most vulnerable & are unable to speak up for themselves. When you have it on record the problems that my daughter has, I cannot understand what you gain by these reassessments.



Strivers & Skivers, the reality behind the rhetoric

The New Economics Foundation have looked into the basis of this rhetoric. They write that politicians and commentators would have us believe that only people in paid jobs are hard-working and make a valuable contribution to society. People claiming out-of-work benefits are lazy and worthless; they choose a life of leisure and get ‘something for nothing’.

This Mythbuster reveals the reality behind the rhetoric. Only a tiny minority of claimants are able but unwilling to work. A much bigger share of the social security budget goes towards subsidising low wages through in-work benefits. Far from ‘skiving’, most people who are not in paid work are making an extremely valuable contribution through a range of unpaid activities – without which the whole of our society, including the formal economy, would collapse.

See their report at

Stupid stuff – myths about poverty

Truth and Lies About Poverty, a report from the Baptist Union of GB, Methodist Church, Church of Scotland & United Reformed Church challenges the 5 myths which we will all have heard about people who live in poverty. The report points out the myths conveniently allow the poor to be blamed for their poverty, enabling dangerous policies to be imposed on whole sections of society without their implications being properly examined.

The report, which challenges the stupid stuff, those myths which abound, can be read at