This week sees the ragged, wretched Tory Party encamped in Birmingham rallying the blue rinse brigade, authoritarian following business folk and trying hard to cover the utter lack of numbers as seats lay bare for any cameras bothering to attend.
Yet this government is still holding onto power, still dishing out austerity as if it ever worked and most vile of all, killing its citizens with as much panache as it can muster to save money. The Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) and the roll out of Universal Credit is creating such chaos, so much suffering for individuals and families you might imagine a civil war against its own people to be in full swing.
As good as a D notice has been issued on the DWPs insistence that any relation or causal effect between its decisions and any downturn in benefit claimants’ health – including death is considered specious.
One case, there are so many, highlights the illegitimate and mendacious claim they make – the case of Jodey Whiting.
She was found to be ‘fit to work’ while all evidence pointed to the complete opposite. She had missed a capability assessment, as she was in hospital undergoing treatment for a brain cyst – and pneumonia. In the DWPs eyes this is no reason for considering her unfit for work! On 23 pills a day and morphine twice daily to alleviate the effects of scoliosis and bipolar disorder, she would be considered in a sane world unfit for work.
But the Department for Work and Pensions’ decision-maker refused to reschedule the assessment and found Ms Whiting ‘fit for work’ instead. The DWP then rubber-stamped a refusal of her request for mandatory reconsideration.
Contacting the only help she could rely on the Citizens Advice bureau took up her cause. Attempts to secure a new work capability assessment were initiated, however a few days later she took her own life.
With a clear conscience the Tories announced their sorrow at this death two weeks after and knew clearly another case had gone the full distance of avoiding an expense on their financial books. It is as cold hearted as that.
People suffering the effects of 10+ years of Tory disasters become an epidemic of lack of care, support and maintaining dignity and life.
The Tories cannot even be bothered to fake sorrow for the death. Mrs May’s correspondence team failed to offer condolences and her spokesperson refused even to comment on the matter.
The lack of any decent human consideration, coupled with the callousness inherent in the way they treated the deceased woman, damns the Tories.
A disabled woman whose daughter took her own life after being wrongly found “fit for work” has vowed to continue her fight for justice, despite the prime minister’s office brushing off her request for a meeting.
Joy Dove wrote in July to ask for a meeting with Theresa May to discuss the tragic death of her daughter Jodey Whiting in February 2017, and the thousands of other disabled victims of the government’s “wrong decisions”.
But the prime minister’s correspondence team dismissed her letter and replied just days later to say that a meeting would not be possible because of “the tremendous pressures of her diary”.
The letter failed to even mention Jodey Whiting or her death or express any condolences.
Statistics released by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) back in 2015 revealed that during the period December 2011 and February 2014 2,380 people died after their claim for employment and support allowance (ESA) ended because a work capability assessment (WCA) found they were found fit for work.
The DWP is refusing to release evidence that would show how many secret reports it has compiled into the deaths of claimants of its new universal credit, in a fresh breach of freedom of information laws.
DWP compiles an internal process review every time a “suicide is associated with DWP activity”, as well as in some other cases involving the deaths of disabled or “vulnerable” benefit claimants.
The last batch of reviews released by DWP were published in heavily redacted form two years ago.
But campaigners for transparency are keen to secure evidence of how many reviews have been carried out since then relating to the introduction of the much-criticised universal credit benefit system.
Repeated concerns have been raised about the introduction of universal credit and its impact on claimants in vulnerable situations.
Disabled activists have warned that universal credit is “rotten to the core” and have warned of “soaring” rates of sanctions and foodbank use in areas where it has been introduced.
In June, a report by the National Audit Office said DWP was failing to support “vulnerable” claimants and was unable to monitor how they were being treated under universal credit.
Meanwhile the Tories see nothing awry in the plans for ongoing killing of citizens through swingeing laws and totally unnecessary austerity measures. In spite of a study, published in BMJ Open in November last year, estimating that to return death rates to their pre-2010 levels spending would need to increase by £25.3bn, the Department of Health refuted such conclusions as this would leave far less money for the Tories to pocket themselves and distribute between all those keeping them in power.
The sooner the public wake to this criminality the sooner we might see a Labour Government and the return of compassion, dignity and fairness for the many not the few along with real funding for all.