My wish for 2014

Do you know I’m not a nasty person I have spent my life helping others I got injured on duty with the Police. Everything was going along very well until IDS Ian Duncan Smith and ATOS came along.
I had an assessment then had to go to appeal which I won do you think I can get any help? Like hell I can. The Tory party used to be the party that would look after us ex serving people not any more they just want to help the Bankers you know the people that caused all the financial problems.

Well I have a wish for 2014 and that is that IDS is put out of a job, and now I get nasty I’d love to see him end up disabled and have to go through the daily struggle a lot of disabled have to go through.We can punish the Tory party twice in the coming years we have the EU elections in 2014 and we have a General election in 2015 if like me you want an end to the suffering of the sick and disabled you must vote against them.
Rant over I wish you all a vey happy and pain free New Year.


Call for IDS to be sacked

@DoleQueueUnite: We & the TUC call for Iain Duncan Smith to be SACKED! petition – The…
Anyone this incompetent in any other job would have been sacked long ago. This man has no respect for the sick or disabled. It’s high time he went and he should be held accountable for the suffering he has caused.


Ian Duncan Smith out of touch

Iain Duncan Smith has been accused of being out of touch by Britain’s largest food bank charity.

The Work and Pensions Secretary was criticised for claiming that the reason behind the explosion in demand for the lifeline service was a growth in awareness rather than the effect of recent benefit cuts.

He was also blasted for claiming that this was also the view of the Trussell Trust charity.

But now the Trust’s chief executive Chris Mould has accused Mr Duncan Smith of being “disingenuous”.

In a letter to Labour MP Luciana Berger, he said: “We saw a clear and strong link between benefit changes and benefit delays, and people needing help from our food banks.”

He said it would be “incredibly useful for politicians to get out and listen to those on the receiving end” of April’s welfare reforms.

And Ms Berger added: “It’s shameful that the Work and Pensions Secretary is so out of touch about why people are being forced to rely on emergency food aid.”

The row comes as thousands of Britain’s poorest children face starving this summer while schools are shut for the six-week holiday.

It means that many will miss out on a free lunch.

Charity bosses say they are now seeing children in Lancashire with pot bellies, sunken cheeks and sallow complexions like youngsters found in famine-ravaged countries.

Meanwhile in London and Bristol the charity Kids Company is feeding 2,000 children a day.

Spokesman Laurence Guinness said: “Some children dread the holidays because they know they will have to fend for themselves.”

Sunday Mirror reporter Ben Glaze finds out what it’s really like on the poverty frontline

Reporter Ben Glaze lends a helping hand at Oldham Foodbank

Ben lends a helping hand at Oldham Foodbank

If Iain Duncan Smith wants to know what life is really like for poverty-stricken Britons he should spend half an hour at Oldham Food Bank.

I volunteered at the bank – one of Britain’s busiest – to see for myself the scale of our food crisis.

At first I was a bit ­cynical, suspecting that some ­people might be there for a hand-out rather than being in genuine need. But then I saw the first visitor of the day.

I watched in disbelief as the 40-year-old man ­explained that he had just been released from ­hospital after a suicide bid. A doctor advised him to visit the centre in the hope of an emergency parcel.

A volunteer hands the man enough food for 24 hours – cereal, ravioli and dried milk. To him, the box is a lifeline.

He is one of dozens of people I saw receiving help during my week at the food bank.

IDS would need to spend just an hour there to see how welfare cuts are causing a surge in demand.

Again and again people turned up and said reductions to benefits had left them struggling to feed their families.

The Trussell Trust-backed centre in Greater Manchester has strict rules to prevent people exploiting or ­becoming reliant on the generosity of donors, who give items such as tinned vegetables, packs of pasta and cartons of orange juice.

One of the most tragic cases I saw was on my second day at the food bank.

A woman arrived with a voucher and claimed to be entitled to a parcel. But she was trying to redeem her fifth ­voucher in the past few weeks – the limit is three in six months.

People who turn up ­trying to break the rules are stopped by food bank volunteer Lisa Leunig.

She checks every ­claim against the centre’s ­database to see how many parcels the person has already ­received – and prevent “voucher hopping”.

The mum-of-three, 46, says: “A lot of them think it’s OK if they go to one agency and get a voucher, then the next week go to a different one.

“But we check so they can’t do it.”

But this woman isn’t trying to cheat anyone… she is just trying to feed her family. 





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ian Duncan Smith’s aggressive welfare philosophy


Iain Duncan Smith’s aggressive welfare philosophy

Iain Duncan Smith

Iain Duncan Smith: the work and pensions secretary describes his welfare reforms as ‘the most aggressive … Britain has ever seen’. Photograph: Ian Nicholson/PA

Iain Duncan Smith describes his welfare reform plans as “the most aggressive … Britain has ever seen”, which betrays his mindset (Benefits: our achievement, 29 July). Such bellicose language ill becomes someone charged with finding equitable solutions to problems rather than attacking the more vulnerable members of society.

Few would disagree, for example, that “nobody should be able to earn more in benefits than the average family earns going out to work”, but the more obvious, less divisive answer would be to increase the amount that work pays.

Duncan Smith’s banking colleagues can explain this to him, although, of course, the colleagues whispering caution in his other ear would be the employers who pay such low wages that seven million of their employees are entitled to working tax credits.
Nick Broadhead


• Iain Duncan Smith practises a deceitful sleight of hand in differentiating “the people who use [the welfare state] and the taxpayers who pay for it”. All in the UK, whether or not on benefits, are served by the welfare state – and, for that matter, all are taxpayers, if only of VAT. Duncan Smith has imported US language and used it as if comparing like with like. In the UK the payment of benefits and pensions are, or should be, expressions, within the overall concept of the welfare state, of the aspiration that everyone should have financial security.

In the US, such payments comprise virtually the whole of welfare provision. And in not mentioning the distress caused by the bedroom tax, the ever-increasing number of hungry people who have to beg for food or the increasing number of children in poverty, Duncan Smith shows himself to lack any sense of justice.
Rev David Peel
North Shields


• Iain Duncan Smith may take it as a compliment that this government has destroyed the welfare state in only three years. Disinformation from the Department for Work and Pensions (more in Monday’s Guardian) would have us believe that anyone claiming benefits is either a cheat or lazy, thus turning back the clock more than a century to the definition of poverty as “immorality”. That is his achievement.
Dr Graham Ullathorne


• It is interesting that Iain Duncan Smith never mentions the underlying purpose of welfare benefits, whether the relief of poverty; the maintenance of an adequate standard of living; or support for contingencies over which individuals have little control, such as unemployment. He talks about saving money and “fairness”, but is overseeing a significant reduction in living standards in what is already a low-wage, low investment economy. Almost 4 million British children went without basic necessities such as a winter coat and properly fitting shoes in 2012, an increase from about 2 million in 1999. It will get only worse with the changes to come. 
Janet Lewis


• Is Iain Duncan Smith claiming that he has cured the shirkers or previously maligned the unemployed when he states “people are using our Universal Jobmatch website for more than 5m job searches a day”?
Roy Grimwood
Market Drayton, Shropshire


• So Iain Duncan Smith says that Tory reforms will put an end to people being left on sickness benefits year after year. Perhaps he would like to inform the public of the miracle medical cures he has in mind to achieve this claim?
Elayne Kingaby


• It is good to see Iain Duncan Smith joining the growing numbers reassessing the reputation of Margaret Thatcher. It was her administration that tried to massage the unemployment figures by putting and leaving people on sickness benefits. Now he claims to have slain this Tory dragon, perhaps he could also turn his attention to the current Tory deception of counting people on insecure zero-hour contracts as employed. A further example of Tory untrustworthiness.
Chris Orton


There is already a human right to welfare

There is already a human right to welfare

The universal declaration of human rights is apparently controversial to the modern Tory party.


Photograph: Getty Images
Photograph: Getty Images

The Sunday Telegraph reports that Labour is considering a “secret plan” to make the claiming of welfare benefits a “human right”. The claim results from the secret taping of a shadow minister at a fundraising event. Patrick Hennessy writes:

Willie Bain, a shadow Scottish minister, was disclosed to have said two leading Labour politicians had asked him to examine whether “economic and social rights can be put into law”.

The request came from Sadiq Khan, the shadow justice secretary, and Jon Cruddas, the MP who was appointed the party’s policy co-ordinator by Ed Miliband last year, Mr Bain said…

At the moment, there is no automatic “right” to state benefits – as the Human Rights Act does not include what are known as “socio-economic rights.”

Of course, what the Telegraph – and Iain Duncan Smith, who told the paper, “as if we needed any more proof that Labour are still the same old welfare party, Ed Miliband has now decided that claiming benefits is a human right” – don’t mention is that claiming benefits is already a human right. Article 25 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which the UK is a signatory to, reads:

  1. Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services, and the right to security in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood, old age or other lack of livelihood in circumstances beyond his control.
  2. Motherhood and childhood are entitled to special care and assistance. All children, whether born in or out of wedlock, shall enjoy the same social protection.

It is useful to know that the Conservative party does not, in fact, think that people have a right to food, housing or medical care. It might explain a lot about the aims of their welfare policy.


DWP obstruction over ATOS deaths – a plea for sanity

DWP obstruction over Atos deaths – a plea for sanity

11 Thursday Jul 2013



4 Votes


Fear of fallout: Is Iain Duncan Smith desperately trying to keep a lid on the number of people who have died while going through his murderous ESA assessment regime, because he knows the resulting public outrage would finish him - and may even topple the government?

Emailed to the Department for Work and Pensions today:

Thank you for your response to my Freedom of Information request. I am writing to request an internal review, on the grounds that your refusal of my request, on the grounds that it is “vexatious”, is unreasonable. I believe the decision may also be politically motivated.

Your letter states that your refusal is entirely based on a single line – not in my FOI request itself, but on my political blog website – at the end of an entry in which I gave details of the request, the reasons it is necessary, and the information required. That line was “I strongly urge you to do the same. There is strength in numbers”.

Your letter states: “With this as the stated aim of the exercise I believe your request is designed to harass DWP in the belief that encouraging others to repeat a request which they know has already been raised will affect the outcome of that request.” Although you do not make clear what “this” is, the statement must be considered irrelevant. The stated aim of the exercise is the release of statistical information about people who have died, during 2012, while going through a DWP policy process, namely the Atos-led work capability assessment system for Employment and Support Allowance, while appealing against it, or after having had the benefit refused. This fact is made abundantly clear in the main body of the article and it is unreasonable to suggest that an afterthought on the last line changes the entire tone of the piece.

Guidance from the Information Commissioner’s Office, ‘Dealing with vexatious requests’ supports my position. It may be found at

Paragraph 86 states that, “if a public authority has reason to believe that several different requesters are acting in concert as part of a campaign to disrupt the organisation by virtue of the sheer weight of FOIA requests being submitted, then it may take this into account when determining whether any of those requests are vexatious”. It is unlikely that the ICO will consider an afterthought comment at the end of a blog post to be, in any way, “acting in concert as part of a campaign to disrupt”. A concerted campaign would, in my opinion, require me to be contacting other individuals and telling them what to do and when to do it, in order to cause the kind of disruption the guidance describes.

Skipping ahead to Paragraph 92, this states that “it is important to bear in mind that sometimes a large number of individuals will independently ask for information on the same subject because an issue is of media or local interest. Public authorities should therefore ensure that they have ruled this explanation out before arriving at the conclusion that the requesters are acting in concert or as part of a campaign”. You have no proof that I have launched a campaign against the DWP. Even if others making the same request have mentioned my name or the blog article, this does not constitute a campaign – it indicates that the issue is of interest to the public. They would not be asking if they did not want the information. It is the information that is important – not any unjustified claim by the DWP that it is being harassed.

Since you have made that claim, let’s look at Paragraph 87, which supplies examples of evidence an authority might cite in support of its case that a request is vexatious. The example that “requests are identical or similar” can be ruled out because this is likely in a case that has come to public attention at a particular time. Also to be ruled out is the example stating there is “an unusual pattern of requests, for example a large number submitted within a relatively short time” – this is to be expected when a matter of public interest comes to public attention.

The question of whether you have received email correspondence in which other requesters have been copied in or mentioned is relevant, though. Have you received such correspondence? I have not, and as the suggested instigator of your imagined campaign, I think I would need to be a part of such communication!

The question of whether a group’s website makes an explicit reference to a campaign is also relevant. My website is my own, and does not belong to a group but, for the sake of fairness, let’s ignore that in your favour. Does my comment, as quoted by you, make an explicit reference to a campaign of harassment against the authority? Of course it does not. I’m sure the Information Commissioner would laugh at such an inference.

Paragraph 89 states that “If the available evidence suggests that the requests are genuinely directed at gathering information about an underlying issue (in this case, the number of deaths occurring in relation to a DWP policy process), then the authority will only be able to apply section 14(1) where it can show that the aggregated impact of dealing with the requests would cause a disproportionate and unjustified level of disruption, irritation or distress. You cannot prove this.

The DWP habitually collects the information I requested, and has already turned the data from 2011 into an ‘ad hoc’ press release without claiming that it caused a disproportionate or unjustified level of disruption, irritation or distress.

At a meeting of the Commons Work and Pensions Committee on July 10, David Frazer, your Director of Information, Governance and Security Directorate, said: “If Ministers themselves want to use information publicly, and it’s not readily available from a first-release publication or a tabulation tool, then we also produce what’s known as an ‘ad hoc’ statistical release… It’ll have the key numbers and advice on how to interpret.”

We know that ‘Incapacity Benefits: Deaths of recipients (9 July 2012)’ was an ‘ad hoc’ release – so Mr Frazer was saying that the information it contained is gathered as a matter of course. It should, therefore, be easy to gather it together and release it into the public domain.

Mr Frazer said: “We put out regular publications that say [for example]‘this is the latest number of people on working-age benefits; here’s a summary of the key trends and matters around that.” He went on to say this was supported by background information and charts created by dedicated statisticians and analysts. In that context, it stretches credibility for the DWP to claim it does not keep statistics on the results of ESA work capability assessments, including – especially – the number of people who have died. This government department has an army of experts compiling data on its activities every day.

In your refusal letter, you argued that “Compliance with multiple repetitions of a known request also causes a burden, both in terms of costs and diverting staff away from other work, due to the significant time required to administer these requests.”

However, we know from the evidence of Mr Frazer that this is not the case. He said, on the record, that the DWP makes its responses to FOI requests publicly available on its website: “Besides sending them to the person that’s made the FOI request, they’re readily available to everybody else”. Clearly, then, if someone sends in an FOI request for identical information to that requested by someone else, they can be directed to the relevant webpage with a minimum of effort from DWP staff. The time required is tiny, not “significant” – therefore any claim that a request is “vexatious” on such grounds is obstruction on the part of the authority – abuse of the legislation.

And consider this: If the purpose of s.14 is to protect the resources of a public authority from being squandered on disproportionate use of FOIA, the fact that multiple requests are being made, by different people, means that this use of your resources is NOT disproportionate but would, in fact, rectify an omission in the Department’s statistical coverage. This is information that should be in the public domain and it is remiss of the DWP to withhold it. Some might say it constitutes dereliction of duty.

So you see, the aggregated impact of dealing with the requests, according to the DWP’s own Director of Information, would not cause a disproportionate and unjustified level of disruption, irritation or distress. It may be handled as a matter of course and, in any case, the information should be publicised as it is a matter of public interest.

You may wish to claim that public interest arguments are irrelevant as ICO guidance states there is no public interest test when considering whether a request is vexatious. This would be a misreading of the rules. Public interest is relevant when considering the context of the request, and the guidance states that a public authority may take this aspect into account. The subject of my request is clearly a matter of substantial public interest, acknowledged as such by the DWP, otherwise the ‘ad hoc’ statistical release of 2012 would not have been published.

I draw your attention also to paragraph 27 of the guidance. The information about an “accusatory tone” is irrelevant as my tone, although formal, may not be considered aggressive in any way. But the paragraph goes on to state that if the “request has a serious purpose and raises a matter of substantial public interest, then it will be more difficult to argue a case that the request is vexatious“. As you know, my request was for very specific information that has been withheld from the public (in my opinion) unreasonably, and it is in the public interest to have that information published.

Finally, taking all of the above into account, it seems likely that there is a political motivation behind the refusal of my request. Paragraph 13 of the ICO’s guidance states explicitly that “Section 14(1) is concerned with the nature of the request rather than the consequences of releasing the requested information,” but in his evidence to the Work and Pensions Committee on June 10 – in relation to this very request – Mr Frazer revealed that it is likely my request was refused by a Minister, for political reasons. He said: “In the first instance we have officials who will look at what the request is; they will look at whether it would produce a disproportionate cost for what it is – they will make that judgement, but I believe it will come down to Ministers to make that call.”

With regard to this alone, it is clear that the DWP is abusing the ‘vexatious’ exemption. It is not intended to shield the government from politically challenging fallout.

So you see, there are no possible grounds for refusing my request. Please carry out an internal review – with alacrity. There should be no difficulty with this as John Shield, your director of communications, has already promised the Commons Work and Pensions committee that he would check this request, to make sure the response is “copper-bottomed, 100 per cent accurate”. He will find that it is not.

Afterwards, you must immediately release the information I requested. My FOI request was made after I learned that a previous request, made in November last year, had been refused. The DWP delayed responding for more than seven months before notifying the requester that it had no intention of releasing the details he had requested. It is now eight months since that original request was made. According to the ‘ad hoc’ statistical release last year, this means an average of 2,482 people are likely to have died while going through the process in the intervening time – but those figures are out of date. How many deaths have really taken place?

If you persist with your negative decision, I will have to complain to the Information Commissioner’s Office for a ruling.

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