UK Government Refuses to Accept Responsibility for Crimes Against Humanity
By Mo Stewart
Following the fatally flawed Work Capability Assessment (WCA) conducted by Atos Healthcare, as contracted by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), the United Kingdom (UK) Government admitted that it was wrong to reduce the welfare benefits of Mark Wood, the vulnerable disabled man who starved to death following the reduction of his benefits, in C21 UK, when weighing only 5st 8lbs. Regardless of this tragedy, the UK Conservative led Coalition Government still refuses to accept any responsibility (a).
Tom Pollard, Policy and Campaigns Manager at Mind, said:
“We were deeply saddened to hear of the death of Mark Wood.
“Unfortunately this tragic case is not an isolated incident. We hear too often how changes to benefits are negatively impacting vulnerable individuals, who struggle to navigate a complex, and increasingly punitive, system.
“We know the assessment process for those applying for Employment and Support Allowance is very stressful, and too crude to accurately assess the impact a mental health problem has on someone’s ability to work.” (a)
WELFARE REFORMS, MEDICAL TYRANNY OR CRIMES AGAINST HUMANITY?
Despite the fact that the WCA was introduced by the last Labour Government in 2008, it was originally designed by previous Conservative Governments in consultation with the notorious American corporate giant now known as Unum Insurance, who were identified in 2008 by the American Association for Justice as the second most discredited insurance company in America (b).
Without a welfare state, sick and disabled people in America are required to use private healthcare insurance. The Government funded medical tyranny now imposed on the welfare dependent sick and disabled people in the UK, using the WCA, was designed in consultation with Unum Insurance to encourage the wider general public to purchase private income protection insurance policies, once it was made very clear via the welfare ‘reforms’ that chronically sick and disabled people could no longer rely on the British State for adequate financial support.
Americans often suffer when attempting to claim from the income protection insurance policies of Unum Insurance, who use an identical disability denial assessment model as that used by Atos Healthcare.
Due to the similarities of the negative and damaging experiences of claimants, the American sick and disabled people are periodically informed about the struggle in the UK by the high calibre and relentless work of Linda Nee, who tries to encourage unsuccessful Unum Insurance claimants to publicly protest, as witnessed in the UK(c), which it seems disabled Americans still don’t dare to do – such is the perceived intimidation of Unum Insurance and the American authorities.(d)(e)(f)
The new report by The Mental Health Welfare Commission for Scotland, regarding a woman’s suicide after being ‘stripped of disability benefits’, was reported by John Pring at the Disability News Service (DNS) and by many others.(g)
The Coalition Government knew this carnage would happen.
Three years ago a list of distinguished academics, together with politicians and disability support groups, identified the future in a letter as published in The Guardian newspaper: ‘Welfare reform bill will punish disabled people and the poor.’(h)
Lord David Freud the architect of the bedroom tax lives in an 11 room stately home in Kent
Now, 3 years after this letter was published, questions are being asked as to why the appointed and totally unsuitable Lord Freud, in his capacity as the Minister for Welfare Reform – who was unelected by anyone in the usual democratic way – deemed it necessary for the DWP to stop the annual reporting of the numbers of recorded deaths of claimants found fit to work, and removed from the long-term sickness and disability benefit now known as the Employment and Support Allowance (ESA), regardless of confirmed catastrophic and permanent diagnosis.
Questions are also being asked as to why the unelected former City banker, David Freud, was ever afforded so much authority and power in the UK Government given his questionable reputation, where one commentator described Freud as:
‘…one of the key players in several of the most embarrassing and badly managed deals in investment banking history.’ (i)(j)
The recent welfare Backbench Business debate in the House of Commons (HOC)(k) was granted due to the 104,000 signatures on the War on Welfare ‘WOW Petition’ as gathered by disabled people and carers who are demanding a cumulative impact assessment of all the DWP welfare reforms.
The debate was held on 27th February 2014 where, lamentably, most Coalition Government Members of Parliament (MP) failed to attend this very important and historic debate.
Of course, Coalition MPs still played the ‘blame game’, reminding the opposition that the previous Labour Government had introduced the WCA.
However, the Coalition routinely overlook the fact that they knowingly changed the WCA into the government funded nightmare that it is today, whilst MPs such as George Hollingbury (Column 430)(k) actually claimed that the Coalition “took it forward” (Welfare Reform Act 2012) whilst disregarding the fact that a WCA face-to-face assessment with Atos Healthcare is taking over 6 months to arrange. (Column 433)(k) Hollingbury waxed lyrically about all the ‘expert’ opinion (Column 431) (k) that totally failed to expose the dangerous and limited reality of the WCA, not least due to the restricted possible answers in the tick box WCA computer questionnaire, as conducted by Atos Healthcare, that fail to offer the choice of ‘none of the above’ as an additional possible answer when the WCA questions do not refer to a particular claimant’s situation.
Hollingbury quotes Dr Litchfield’s WCA review whilst overlooking the fact that Professor Malcolm Harrington, who conducted the first three annual reviews into the WCA, when no longer responsible, appeared in a BBC Panorama documentary and confirmed that:
No government representative can answer the subsequent obvious simple question – why should chronically sick and disabled people ‘suffer’ in the UK, apart from at the whim of a tyrannical government?
During the historic WOW petition debate, Alan Reid MP (Column 434 & 435)(k) claimed to be proud of his record in government as a Liberal Democrat (Lib Dem), and insisted that Lib Dems in government have been responsible for ‘improving’ the WCA process, whilst totally disregarding the fact that it is irrelevant how much more ‘flexibility’ is given to the DWP ‘Decision Makers’ when overlooking the fact that the Decision Makers, by their own admission, are totally unqualified for the vast responsibility they have.
They are basic grade administrators, not medical administrators and they are incapable of comprehending diagnosis, prognosis or the implications of long term drug use when using a combination of prescribed drugs (m)(n).
More and more DWP bureaucracy means more and more delays, increasing numbers of incorrect decisions made by the DWP Decision Makers and utter chaos with a system clearly in melt down as more and more victims of this UK Government suffer and die.(a)(g)
Guto Bebb MP (Column 442)(k) demonstrated that he was also very poorly briefed, and doesn’t appear to want to be better informed, claiming that the recent damning report by the National Audit Office(o) was ‘disappointing’ but insisted that the policy aims were OK.
Bebb still seems to think that any sick or disabled person not in paid employment is ‘unproductive’.
This disabled researcher begs to differ and, if the MP reads the often quoted detailed published reports(m)(n), as accessed by academics at universities throughout the UK, he’d know how incorrect he is.
Dame Angela Watkinson (Column 445)(k) also appears to be remarkably ill advised, as were various other speakers in this poorly attended yet important debate, who continued to repeat government rhetoric whilst disregarding the detailed evidence that has exposed the realities behind the ‘reforms’ as paving the way for private insurance to replace the once hallowed UK Welfare State. Since being introduced by the Conservative Government in 1992, all UK Governments have used the second worst insurance company in America as ‘government advisers’ on welfare reforms, and the dangerous and totally discredited WCA is the result.(m)(n)
Jim Sheridan’s comments (Columns 448,449)(k) were especially welcome during the debate when making reference to the new Personal Independence Payment (PIP) that has replaced Disability Living Allowance (DLA):
“Reference has already been made to the obsession with people receiving welfare benefits, but for those with money – the tax avoiders and evaders – life goes on as normal. If only a fraction of the resources used and the time spent on chasing down those on welfare benefits was diverted to tackle tax avoidance and evasion, some people might understand the rationale behind it.
“When people finally hear about their assessments, there is not much hope. Only 15.4% of new claims have received a decision, and only 12,654 of the 220,300 people who have made a new claim since April 2013 have been awarded some rate of PIP.
“A constituent of mine got in touch because her father had been diagnosed with lung cancer. Because there is a possibility that his treatment will work, giving him a life expectancy of up to five years, he has not been classed as terminally ill.
“He is not well enough to attend a medical assessment and so will have to wait longer for a home visit. It appears that letters from his GP, cancer doctor and cancer hospital are not enough to prove the seriousness of his illness.”
“Inclusion Scotland has highlighted the case of the father of an applicant who was told that they would have to wait at least 10 months for any kind of decision, and perhaps even for a first assessment.
“A constituent of mine who is undergoing cancer treatment has been told that the eight-week time frame given by DWP is an unrealistic amount of time in which to process an application and offer an assessment slot.
“When my staff called the MPs’ hotline, they were told that they simply cannot process the number of applicants as there is not enough staff.
“They also say that most people who have applied for PIP will not be entitled to it, even before individual cases have been looked at. If that is the mindset of the staff processing the applications, it is hard to see how balanced decisions will be made.” (Columns 448,449)(k)
SNP Work & Pensions Spokesperson Dr. Eilidh Whiteford
Dr Eilidh Whiteford‘s MP comments during the debate were also very welcome (Columns 450 & 451)(k) and highlighted the vital work of the disability support groups such as the Black Triangle Campaign:
“The Government are looking at this through the wrong end of the telescope. Raising the bar on eligibility will not make anyone any less sick or any less disabled; it will just make it more difficult for them to function in society and place more pressure on those on whom they rely for their care and support.
“One of the most profoundly disheartening experiences for me as an MP since being elected in 2010 has been the relentless way in which disabled and sick people have been vilified and stigmatised in the public discourse about welfare reform. Those who had very little responsibility for the financial collapse and subsequent economic problems have nevertheless had to carry the can.
“The attempt to discredit disabled people in order to justify harsh and punitive cuts in their already fairly paltry incomes is quite shameful. It appalls me that the most disadvantaged have been asked to pick up the tab disproportionately for the profligacy of others.
“As we look to the future, we see further cuts of £12 billion, at least, promised in the years ahead. For disabled people in Scotland, the choice between two very different futures is opening up before them: one with decisions on welfare made in Scotland or one where further cuts slash their incomes even more. That choice must seem very stark indeed.”
The very experienced Labour MP, John McDonnell, who requested this Backbench Business debate, confirmed the involvement of Unum Insurance with the entirely bogus WCA (Column 426)(k):
“The work capability assessment was flawed from the start. It stemmed from the work of the American insurance company Unum, and the so-called biopsychosocial model of disability assessment. That was exposed as an invention by the insurance companies simply to avoid paying out for claims.”
“The staff employed in order to achieve that often had minimal medical or professional qualifications, and their expertise or experience was often totally unrelated to the condition or disability of the people they assessed.”…
“Assessments largely disregarded people’s previous diagnosis, prognosis or even life expectancy. The recent Panorama programme Disabled or Faking It? exposed the scandal of seriously ill patients—people diagnosed with life-threatening conditions such as heart failure or end-stage emphysema—being found fit for work.
“The so-called descriptors, or criteria, on which assessments are based bear no relation to the potential employment available, take little account of fluctuating conditions and are particularly unresponsive to appreciating someone’s mental health issues.”
John also identified the utter absurdity of this Government introducing yet another bogus assessment as the Personal Independence Payment (PIP) that will ‘replace’ Disability Living Allowance (DLA) although it is likely to remove this additional support from the vast majority of the 3.5 million people in receipt of DLA.
Shockingly, the provision of a Motability long leased vehicle as funded by the mobility component of DLA will now be removed from the majority of chronically disabled people who do work; thus actually preventing them from going to their place of work since they are physically unable to use public transport, which will dramatically and knowingly increase the numbers of disabled people not in paid employment. (Column 428)(k) (My emphasis. MS)
WoW petition campaign poster. 104,000 signatures were raised
No matter how many unnecessary tragedies are reported, or how many people die in utter despair and destitution (a)(g), Conservative MPs like George Hollingbury will dismiss them all as ‘questionable‘ results …. and Alan Reid MP, for the Lib Dems, still actually claims to have had some positive function in a Government that helped sick and disabled people, whilst disregarding the horrors, the deaths, the suicides and the overwhelming evidence; including distinguished academic papers from UK universities, together with detailed reports by both the British Medical Association (BMA)(p) and the Royal College of Nurses (RCN)(q). Reid accepts no responsibility for the nightmare he helped to create, blaming anyone except the Government he belongs to. He needs to read the detailed, referenced research (m)(n) to help him learn what the disability movement already know.
As he talks nonsense, people die.
Reid complains about Atos whilst ignoring the fact that the DWP is complicit. Totally unqualified DWP ‘Decision Makers’, under any UK Government, are dangerous and they are a liability by constantly making incorrect decisions.
Their decisions to remove benefits from genuine claimants are catastrophic for the innocent victims of this UK State funded medical tyranny and their countless wrong decisions means that people die (a)(g), encouraged by this enthusiastic and very dangerous UK Government, who sit back and watch as the majority of people blame Atos Healthcare who are simply following the DWP contract when using the bogus ‘Logic Integrated Medical Assessment’ L.I.M.A. software to conduct the WCA, as copied from Unum Insurance.
Atos Healthcare doesn’t remove anyone’s benefits – a constant incorrect claim by many – as they don’t have the authority. All Atos staff can do is to decide if someone is ‘fit for work’ based on the results of a bogus imported computer assessment:
Any other company in the same position would result in the same conclusions as that is how the computer software in designed, which is why the Lima software should be banishedand this particular WCA cancelled.
By definition, DWP Decision Makers actually make the decisions about welfare benefits. These totally unqualified administrators are required to consider all additional evidence provided by the claimant; including detailed letters from Consultants and GPs who know their patients very well.
It is the unskilled incompetence of the unqualified DWP Decision Makers, who fail to comprehend the details of medical information and chose to accept any conclusion following the WCA, when using the Lima software, that makes these DWP staff so very dangerous to the most vulnerable people in the UK. Mandatory reconsiderations can’t help if the Decision Makers remain unqualified for the job. What better way is there to remove as many people as possible from welfare benefits than to employ totally unqualified staff to make these vital decisions?
Identified claimant suffering includes dramatic increases in the onset of mental health problems(r). The General Practice (GP) service is close to collapse (s) due to overwhelming numbers of patients needing support with DWP paperwork, that limits GP time spent with other patients who are ill and the BMA (p) and the RCN (q) have both exposed the WCA as causing ‘preventable harm’ in breach of the Hippocratic Oath.
This dangerous UK Government, with a Cabinet full of millionaires who fail to comprehend need, dismiss all other evidence regardless of source. They disregard the obvious fact that the ‘reforms’ are falling disproportionately onto chronically disabled people and those who are very ill and in need of guaranteed long-term welfare benefits, as the Government sell the UK and transform a once great nation into “UK plc”.
In a now infamous 2008 interview, Lord Freud claimed that he “couldn’t believe” that anyone had been awarded a benefit “for life” (t), demonstrating the immense danger of permitting a former investment banker to have control of welfare spending when he fails to comprehend that many health conditions are permanent and do indeed last a lifetime.
Meanwhile, the Public Accounts Committee’s report (u) of February 2013, regarding the DWP’s contract management of medical services, was unlimited in its criticisms of the DWP:
‘Poor decision-making causes claimants considerable distress, and the position appears to be getting worse, with Citizens Advice reporting an 83% increase in the number of people asking for support on appeals in the last year alone. We found the Department to be unduly complacent about the number of decisions upheld by the tribunal and believe that the Department should ensure that its processes are delivering accurate decision-making and minimizing distress to claimants.‘(u)
There were many powerful speeches in the historic WOW petition debate and it isn’t possible to highlight them all. However, one name in particular should be highlighted for the courage to expose the fact that, if a link could be proven;
“…there would be a case for corporate manslaughter.”(Column 460)(k)
I salute Caroline Lucas MP of the Green Party for her courage and, in particular, for her condemnation of the official opposition for their total failure to offer detailed, significant support to this nation’s chronically sick and disabled people, with the new Shadow Secretary for Work and Pensions, Rachel Reeves MP, using her first interview to announce that Labour would:
What a catastrophic announcement from the Shadow Secretary for Work and Pensions that, effectively, offers this nation’s most vulnerable people no hope if the Labour Party were to win the next General Election in 2015.
Given the recent announcement by the largest trade union UNITE, who have threatened to withdraw financial support for the Labour Party due to their abject failure to identify with the working people of this country (w) there seems little chance of a Labour Government in the UK any time soon.
A new research paper by distinguished academics has concluded:
‘… Thatcherism resulted in the unnecessary and unjust premature deaths of British citizens, together with a substantial and continuing burden of suffering and a widespread degradation of well-being.’(x)
Any future Conservative or Conservative led Coalition Government will continue to kill many more innocent victims in this State sanctioned slaughter, which remains the ultimate Thatcher Legacy as interpreted by her devoted disciple David Cameron (y)(z)(zz).
In the UK the growing catalogue of reported atrocities, fear, deaths, human suffering, humiliation, degradation and despair, caused by the impact of the ongoing enforced welfare ‘reforms’, are the very definition of Crimes Against Humanity and were accelerated by the Coalition Government without any consideration of the confirmed and very obvious human consequences:
Crimes against humanity, as defined by the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court Explanatory Memorandum,
‘ … are particularly odious offenses in that they constitute a serious attack on human dignity or grave humiliation or a degradation of human beings. They are not isolated or sporadic events, but are part either of a government policy (although the perpetrators need not identify themselves with this policy) or of a wide practice of atrocities tolerated or condoned by a government.’
(My emphasis.) RE: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crimes_against_humanity (Accessed 25th April 2014)
(a) Government admits it was wrong to cut benefits of 5st 8lbs disabled man who starved to death By Richard Hartley-Parkinson – The Daily Mail Accessed 3rd April 2014 http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/mark-wood-death-government-admits-3298472#ixzz2xMtXXoyZ
(b) The Ten Worst Insurance Companies in America – The American Association of Justice. Accessed 3rd April 2014
(n) From the British Welfare State to Another Anerican State by Mo Stewart CDS, Leeds University Accessed 21st April 2014 http://disability-studies.leeds.ac.uk/files/library/FROM-BRITISH-WELFARE-STATE-TO-ANOTHER-AMERICAN-STATE-2013-
(o) DWP 2012 – 2013 accounts: National Audit Office report Accessed 21st April 2014
This research is dedicated to my Webmaster, Mike Bach, whose kind and generous support offered me space on his website to permit my earlier research to be published at a time when he was suffering from an incurable diagnosis. He is a giant amongst men and, together, we have established the long ago plan to destroy the Welfare State, and how it will be achieved.
http://www.whywaitforever.com/dwpatos.html (Research by Mike Bach) http://www.whywaitforever.com/dwpatosveterans.html#documents (Earlier research by Mo Stewart)
Grateful thanks to Kaliya Franklin, founder of the Broken of Britain, whose online video first attracted my attention to these atrocities 4 years ago. Heartfelt thanks to my academic adviser Dr Stephen Hall, for his consideration and guidance over several years, to Professor Peter Beresford for his continuous encouragement of my efforts and to Professor Alison Ravetz who exposed the research used by the DWP to justify the welfare reforms as being ‘largely self-referential’. Thanks to the academics in universities across the UK who are supplying detailed research as to the impact of the welfare reforms, the enforced poverty it has created and the manipulation of the national press to influence public opinion to reduce public support for the disabled community. Special thanks to the disability support groups such as The Black Triangle Campaign, Disabled People Against Cuts, The Broken of Britain, Carer Watch, and all others, for their valiant fight to resist government tyranny and to raise public awareness of their plight. I salute their courage and value their support.
Mo Stewart is a former healthcare professional, a disabled female veteran and, for the last 4 years, has researched and reported the links between the DWP, Atos Healthcare & Unum Insurance. To date, the research evidence has been quoted during welfare debates in the House of Lords, the House of Commons and in Westminster Hall. Mo routinely shares all research evidence with academics, medical and healthcare professionals, frontline national charities and selected politicians, journalists and service users via the online disability support groups such as Black Triangle and Disabled People Against Cuts.
Two previous research reports are published by the Centre for Disability Studies, Leeds University:
• The Hidden Agenda: a research summary: March 2013
http://disability-studies.leeds.ac.uk/files/library/THE%20HIDDEN%20AGENDA-a-research-summary-March-2013-FINAL.pdf • From the British Welfare State to Another American State: May 2013