Brutal Benefit Cuts for the Disabled Are Leading to Suicides in the UK

6.6.11

When it comes to callousness, the supposedly caring veneer of David Cameron’s Tory party disintegrated almost as soon as the expedient governing coalition with the hapless Liberal Democrats was formed, when our new leaders announced, with evident relish, their intention of haranguing those without work at a time when there was only one job available for every five unemployed people.

Targetting the unemployed during a recession would be cruel under any circumstances, and it was disgraceful to see the government peddling the false notion that anyone without a job was a workshy scrounger and parasite — and to see that particular lie being lapped up by large numbers of my fellow citizens, thereby revealing that, beneath many people’s superficial respectability beat hearts of hatred, forever burning to find a scapegoat and to make them suffer.

With a sleight of hand, involving an absurdly strict cap on immigration that seemed to have been sourced directly from the fascist BNP, Cameron and his fellow butchers of the British state diverted attention away from immigration but made sure that the new scapegoats consisted of people without a job — even if, or perhaps especially if — they have physical or mental health problems.

Like many malignant Tory policies, overhauling what used to be known as the Invalidity Benefit system originated under the Tories in the 1990s (who replaced it with Incapacity Benefit and introduced a stricter validity test than previously existed) and continued under New Labour (who came up with a new benefit system, Employment and Support Allowance, accessed through even harsher tests — first of all, the Personal Capability Assessment, which was then replaced with the Work Capability Assessment).

However, as Steve Griffiths, a freelance consultant and researcher in health and social policy, explained in the opening paragraph of a recent article based on research for Compass, entitled, “The misuse of evidence in incapacity benefit reform” (PDF), the basis for these reforms is deeply flawed:

The idea that there are over a million people in Britain receiving Incapacity Benefit who are not entitled to it has driven a major strand of welfare reform for more than fifteen years, and was a cornerstone of the New Labour project. Yet this proposition was based from the beginning on selective use of evidence — and there is a persuasive alternative narrative, available from a wide range of sources, that has been determinedly overlooked by both major parties and by the media. There is of course no doubt that work is often good for health; and nor is there doubt that many people who are unfit for work might be able to return to work with appropriate support. The problem is that this case has been fatally exaggerated, while, on the other hand, large numbers of people with severe health needs — who are themselves the subject of huge investment by the Department of Health — have been treated as invisible (or, worse, as malingering) by the DWP and successive Work and Pensions ministers. It is hard to avoid the conclusion that those in charge of Work and Pensions have been driven by a compulsion to judge and to privatise, with any consideration of the population’s health needs deliberately excluded from their policy framework.

Griffiths’ article is worth reading in its entirety, but what concerns me here is the coalition government’s intention to push ahead with its own version of a policy that, in Labour’s dying years, had begun to attract savage criticism from experts.

Administered by ATOS, a French/Dutch company, the Work Capability Assessment found that roughly two-thirds of claimants were “fit for work,” but the programme was criticised by the House of Commons Work and Pensions Committee, the House of Commons Public Accounts Committee, Citizens’ Advice and the National Audit Office.

Citizens’ Advice found that “seriously ill people were inappropriately subjected to the Work Capability Assessment,” that “the assessment did not effectively measure fitness for work,” and that “application of the assessment was producing inappropriate outcomes,” and the Work and Pensions Committee stated, “We note widespread concerns that decision makers appear to give excessive weight to the conclusions of DWP medical assessments over other evidence claimants may provide. If a claimant is able to provide statements from specialists, who have regular contact with them, this evidence should be given due consideration.”

Perhaps the most damningly succinct criticism, however, came from the OECD (the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development), which noted, in 2006, that the Personal Capability Assessment was “one of the toughest in the world.” As Steve Griffiths noted, “Unfortunately though, this recognition did not prompt any self-examination.” If anything, the Work Capability Assessment pushed a tougher line and is even tougher under the coalition government, as Debbie Jolly, the co-founder of Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC), stated in a recent blog post:

First introduced in 2008, the much criticised WCA has become even more punitive since changes in the 2011 edition of the training manual for assessors. Pilots in Aberdeen and Burnley have raised more criticisms of the process adding to the raft of criticisms from the British Medical Association, GPs, Citizens Advice Bureaus (CABs), Members of Parliament and disability organisations.

As Steve Griffiths points out, it is alarming that the coalition government is pushing ahead with its plans, when, for the last 15 years, the entire basis of subjecting the mentally and physically disabled to a review process has, essentially, been based on making reality fit a preconceived notion of the number of false claimants, which is itself based on deeply flawed research, and which, as a result, causes unnecessary hardship to some of the most vulnerable members of society. As Griffiths explains:

Close analysis of tribunal data and other source material since the introduction of Incapacity Benefit in 1995 suggests, at a very conservative estimate, that half a million people have been wrongly disallowed Incapacity Benefit, or, more recently, ESA. More than 300,000 have had their benefit restored at appeal after disallowance — at great public expense and personal and health cost.

Last week, in a letter to the Guardian, entitled, “Fatal consequences of benefit changes,” five CEOs — Paul Farmer of Mind, Paul Jenkins of Rethink Mental Illness, Prof. Bob Grove of the Centre for Mental Health, Bill Walden-Jones of Hafal, and Billy Watson of the Scottish Association for Mental Health — plus Dr. Jed Boardman, a Consultant and Senior Lecturer in Social Psychiatry at the Royal College of Psychiatrists, expressed their fears about the government’s policies.

“Reform of the welfare system is steaming ahead, and already we’re hearing about the devastating effects this is having on the mental health of hundreds of thousands of people across Great Britain,” they wrote, adding, “While much is made of the impact that changes to benefits will have on people with physical disabilities, it is vital that those with “invisible” issues such as mental health problems are not forgotten. Reassessments of people on Incapacity Benefit (IB) via the deeply flawed Work Capability Assessment are due to start next month, and the new personal independence payment test is being trialled over the summer — just some of the changes already alarming many people affected by mental distress.”

In a crucial passage, they wrote:

We’ve found that the prospect of IB reassessment is causing huge amounts of distress, and tragically there have already been cases where people have taken their own life following problems with changes to their benefits [emphasis added]. We are hugely worried that the benefits system is heading in a direction which will put people with mental health problems under even more pressure and scrutiny, at a time when they are already being hit in other areas such as cuts to services.

They also stated:

There needs to be a shift towards a more sympathetic and supportive system that genuinely takes into account the additional challenges people with mental health problems face and can make a real objective assessment of their needs rather than placing them into a situation where their wellbeing is put at risk.

In an article following up on the letter, the Guardian noted that in April the government had begun sending out 7,000 letters a week summoning people to attend their Work Capability Assessments, and is “now sending out more than 11,000 reassessment requests,” with the first interviews taking place this month.

In the Guardian‘s words, experts described the test as “not sophisticated enough to identify the challenges faced by people with mental health problems,” warning that the process was “increasing the pressure on those already suffering high levels of anxiety and stress.” A study for Mind, of 300 people affected, found that 75 percent of respondents “said the prospect of a Work Capability Assessment had made their mental health worse” and 51 percent “said it had left them with suicidal thoughts.” In addition, 95 percent “thought they would not be believed at their assessment.”

As the Guardian also explained, although the Work Capability Assessment was introduced for new claimants of the Employment Support Allowance in 2008, “critics are increasingly concerned that it will be used to reassess the first wave of incapacity benefit claimants from June.”

It cited the case of Liz Woollard, 48, who “suffers from depression and anxiety,” and who failed the test, which lasted less than an hour, “despite two GPs, a psychiatrist and a senior nurse stating she was not able to work.” The report stated that she “did not appear to be trembling … sweating … or making rocking movements.” She subsequently appealed, but lost the appeal after an eleven-month wait, and “has now been told that she will have to be reassessed again.”

As she told the Guardian, “It was a couple of weeks before Christmas and I had been out for a Christmas lunch with some friends and they made a lot of that … They did not have any sympathy or understanding of mental health issues. In that fortnight I had a major depressive episode that left me in bed for three days [but] they virtually brushed over that … In the written report they didn’t mention that — they focused instead on the Christmas lunch I had managed to attend.”

The Guardian also spoke to Julie Tipping, an appeals officer for the charity Disability Solutions, who said Woollard’s case was “not unusual.” As the Guardian described it, she said that “many people with mental health problems had had their benefits cancelled and appealed successfully, only to be told their case needed to be reassessed again.”

“This is having a devastating impact on people with mental health issues,” Tipping said, describing it, crucially, as “a constant reassessment process which is just absolutely relentless. It is almost like they want to assess you to death or reassess you until you can’t face it any longer and drop out of the system altogether. It is like a deliberate grinding down process. It is devastating to see.”

She added that two of her clients had tried to commit suicide after being told that they were “fit for work” after assessments, and that both ended up sectioned instead.

“These were really serious attempts, not cries for help, these were people who had just had enough and this was the final straw for them,”Topping said, adding, “Do we really need to wait to such a stage where people are trying to throw themselves from a bridge before somebody listens to how chronically affected they are by their condition? Is that the kind of society we want to live in?”

For me, and, i hope, for many other UK citizens, I hope the answer is no. I had already heard about suicides taking place under the Labour government, but this promises to be much worse, not only because of the deliberate callousness of the procedure, but also because of the “relentless” reassessment process identified by Julie Tipping, and elaborated upon by Debbie Jolly of Disabeld People Against Cuts in her recent blog post:

Those going through the test can be put into one of three groups: ESA Support Group — not required to undertake work-related activity, but will be reassessed continuously; ESA Work Related Activity Group, for those deemed fit for work with support and preparation. It will be limited to just 12 months before ESA is stopped, and also may be subject to reassessment in the 12 month period; or Fit for Work, not entitled to ESA but transferred to a lower amount on Jobseeker’s Allowance.

Note: For reports on “The Hardest Hit,” a protest in central London by and for disabled people on May 11, see this Guardian article by campaigner Jody McIntyre. Also see this article and these opinions (also from the Guardian). For further information about the government’s cruel notions of welfare reform, and my despair at my fellow citizens, see the following articles that I wrote last year: Butchering the Poor, the Ill, the Weak, the Dispossessed and the Marginalized: Welcome to Cameron and Osborne’s Heartless Britain, Critics Attack UK Government’s Cruel and Ill-Conceived Assault on Welfare, The Cruelty and Stupidity of the Government’s Welfare Reforms and On Housing Benefit Cuts, British Public Reveals Shocking Lack of Empathy and Compassion.

Andy Worthington is the author of The Guantánamo Files: The Stories of the 774 Detainees in America’s Illegal Prison (published by Pluto Press, distributed by Macmillan in the US, and available from Amazon — click on the following for the US and the UK) and of two other books: Stonehenge: Celebration and Subversion and The Battle of the Beanfield. To receive new articles in your inbox, please subscribe to my RSS feed (and I can also be found on Facebook, Twitter, Digg and YouTube). Also see my definitive Guantánamo prisoner list, updated in June 2011, details about the new documentary film, “Outside the Law: Stories from Guantánamo” (co-directed by Polly Nash and Andy Worthington, on tour in the UK throughout 2011, and available on DVD here — or here for the US), my definitive Guantánamo habeas list and the chronological list of all my articles, and, if you appreciate my work, feel free to make a donation.

55 Responses

  1. Andy Worthington says...

    On Facebook, Quinlan John ‎wrote:

    & the Bankers walk free

  2. Andy Worthington says...

    Karen Todd wrote:

    where are the “love police”???……or have they turned their backs on love and dignity too

  3. Andy Worthington says...

    Madeline Bradley wrote:

    This really saddens me!

  4. Andy Worthington says...

    Ciudadano Kane Kane wrote:

    !!!
    shared!

  5. Andy Worthington says...

    Tamzin Jans wrote:

    Exactly what one shouldn’t do if one wants to help the economy.

  6. Andy Worthington says...

    Thank you, my friends, for your comments, and thanks also to those who have shared this. I know there are permutations of this story happening all over the Western world — and I also know that, when it comes to caring for the poorest and weakest members of society, we in the UK at least have a welfare state to dismantle, unlike so much of the US, but I’m glad this story resonates with so many of you from all around the world, as I believe a society and its leaders can be judged by how they treat those less fortunate than themselves. And in this, of course, Britain’s leaders, and many of the British people, are failing a crucial test of humanity, which is all the more alarming when you consider how many of these people regard themselves as good Christians.

  7. Andy Worthington says...

    Carol Anne Grayson wrote:

    I am meeting Anne Milton, Health Minister on this and others issues end of June… Appalling situation… all that money spent on conflict and we can’t even care for our disabled…!!!

  8. Andy Worthington says...

    Amanda Menlove wrote:

    It’s getting to the point where Anarchists need to be employed by the state so people WILL receive services.

  9. Andy Worthington says...

    Ha! Thanks, Amanda, and thanks also, Carol Anne. I’m glad to hear of your meeting in June. And I agree, it’s funny, isn’t it, how, since we were told that the Labour government had bankrupted Britain, we have allowed the City and the corporations to evade as much tax as possible, we remain committed to Trident, and to war in Afghanistan, we have put on a Royal Wedding with no thought of the cost, and we have engaged in another war in Libya … It seems, after all, that we are only sporadically bankrupt, and only when it involves students, the poor, the unemployed, the disabled …

  10. Andy Worthington says...

    Amanda Menlove wrote:

    EXACTLY!! i WONDER WHY THAT IS.

  11. Andy Worthington says...

    Sulaiman Ibn Rehana wrote:

    hi andy, i went through a horrible time with atos origin firsthand and i know that they have no intention of letting you pass the medical examination unless you are braindead in a wheelchair! the guy in charge of atos origin (the company that deals with the medical examinations) was on facebook last time i checked. if you are interested in contacting him, i can attempt to relocate his profile.

  12. Andy Worthington says...

    Thanks, Sulaiman, but I don’t think I’d have anything polite to say to him! One of the modern world’s greatest problems is that, since Thatcher saw off socialism and made everything all about profit, people involved in disgusting amoral or immoral enterprises — including some scumbags that I met under New Labour — pretend that they’re not involved in disgusting exploitative enterprises that ought to keep them awake at night if they hadn’t sold out their last traces of humanity, but they’re lying to themselves. I have nothing but disdain for them — and the leeches are everywhere, sadly.

  13. Andy Worthington says...

    Carol Anne Grayson ‎wrote:

    Andy… and upping the drone attacks too from Lincoln air base now as well as US… supplied by Israel… another huge expense… !!!

  14. Andy Worthington says...

    Yes indeed, Carol Anne. Thanks.

  15. Andy Worthington says...

    Christine Casner ‎wrote:

    Andy, I simply cannot find it within myself to “Like” this post. A tragic state of affairs, and likely soon to be happening in the U.S. as well, IMHO. :(:(

  16. Andy Worthington says...

    “Like” doesn’t always work, does it, Chris? It’s similar to how I feel before screenings of “Outside the Law: Stories from Guantanamo,” when I express my hope that audiences will enjoy it …

  17. Andy Worthington says...

    Mezentian Gate wrote:

    if the government [aka other individuals] cannot be trusted to properly treat incarcerated persons, why should they be trusted to treat the disabled with any less compassion ? it is not their money they are thrashing, it is not their liberty they are trashing..

  18. Andy Worthington says...

    Yes, exactly. Thanks, Mezentian.

  19. Andy Worthington says...

    Esther Angel wrote:

    Empathy and compassion are generally two words which don’t exist in a government’s dictionary. Who was it who originally said that “a society is ultimately judged by how it treats its weakest and most vulnerable members”?

  20. Andy Worthington says...

    Mezentian Gate wrote:

    that is my point– an honourable society needs a government neither for compassion nor aid nor charity– leave that for the people who are willing & able & do not attach “strings”

  21. Andy Worthington says...

    Sod You wrote:

    About 2.6million people are on Incapabity benefit and Tories are planning to cut half of people and get them into Jobseekers, how the hell they are they going to apply for a job if they are sick?

  22. Andy Worthington says...

    Interesting comments. Thanks, my friends.
    Esther, the author of that exact quote seems to be unknown, but Mahatma Gandhi said, “A nation’s greatness is measured by how it treats its weakest members,” and similar quotes have been attributed to both Winston Churchill and Harry S. Truman. Hubert Humphrey, Lyndon Johnson’s Vice President, also had a good comment: “”The moral test of a government is how it treats those who are at the dawn of life, the children; those who are in the twilight of life, the aged; and those who are in the shadow of life, the sick and the needy, and the handicapped.”

    Mezentian, I’m now not sure where you’re going with your comments. Are you advocating societies in which the state doesn’t care for the poor and the ill, and it is left to the discretion of wealthy individuals? I ask because that’s not a political philosophy that I find entirely convincing — although clearly much is in the power of individuals, and the world would be a better place if the wealthy all found significant time for philanthropy.

    And Sod You, yes, that’s the heart of the problem isn’t it? To save money that could be found elsewhere, the government wants to make people who are too ill to work live on the most marginal amount of money available, rather than following Gandhi’s lesson. I find that distasteful, especially when there’s mental trickery involved, designed to make people with physical and mental health issues appear “workshy” rather than actually ill, and I’d only be able to endorse the kind of cuts the government wants if the country was actually teetering on the verge of bankruptcy, and only then when every other avenue for savings had been exhausted. But then, unfashionably, those who think like us seem to have taken on board the Christian message more fully than those in power who profess to be Christians, even though I’m not a practicing Christian myself.

    According to the Gospel of St. Matthew (Chap. 25), these false Christians, who take from the poor and the ill rather than giving to them, are in deep trouble:

    Then shall he say also to those on the left, Go from me, cursed, into eternal fire, prepared for the devil and his angels: for I hungered, and ye gave me not to eat; I thirsted, and ye gave me not to drink; I was a stranger, and ye took me not in; naked, and ye did not clothe me; ill, and in prison, and ye did not visit me. Then shall they also answer saying, Lord, when saw we thee hungering, or thirsting, or a stranger, or naked, or ill, or in prison, and have not ministered to thee? Then shall he answer them saying, Verily I say to you, Inasmuch as ye have not done it to one of these least, neither have ye done it to me. And these shall go away into eternal punishment, and the righteous into life eternal.

  23. Andy Worthington says...

    Robyn Connell Jackson wrote:

    Thank you for your work, and your fire Andy, which is inspirational, and obviously fueled by a spirit of compassion! Religion – in the words of Carl Jung – is from the Latin “ligare” or to connect. Unless we all connect with others – in our understanding of what difficulty and suffering is – and actively work for reduction in suffering in the world – then we cannot be full members of our human family. Compassion is beyond religion. It is something we realise is necessary when we really connect with our fellow human beings. And every single one of us can make a difference….

  24. Andy Worthington says...

    Thank you, Robyn, for your clear and inspirational explanation of compassion, and for your assertion that “every single one of us can make a difference.” I have taken to saying, when asked about activism these days, that if everyone who professed to caring about issues of concern actually did something about it — however small — we would transform the world. Apathy or resignation is at least as great an obstacle to change as the machinations of those who, in whatever field, have gone over to what Dick Cheney called the “dark side.”

  25. Andy Worthington says...

    Robyn Connell Jackson ‎wrote:

    Andy – I have often seen people feel powerless – not understanding that they have the capacity to make a difference. The world has more light in it than it does tragedy. This is an extraordinary time to be alive – and the evolution of the net is an exciting tool of communication, empowerment and potential to act. I am interacting with you (from Australia), via a tool that wasn’t even around five years ago (social media). Somehow, I think that the positive dimension of human nature, the development of the net, and increasing numbers of us who are passionate about truth and justice, will bring about the changes we have all been waiting for.

  26. Andy Worthington says...

    George Kenneth Berger wrote:

    I shall share this at once, Andy. Some of this has parallels in other EU countries.

  27. Andy Worthington says...

    Hamja Ahsan wrote:

    I was reviewed as fit to work when I was suicidal depressed and non-functional physically and mentally- but I felt so ashamed of myself for not working that I didnt appeal. So strange doctor asked me questions like whether I could sit on a chair and because I got a 1st class degree thought that meant everything was okay.

  28. Andy Worthington says...

    George Kenneth Berger ‎wrote:

    Andy. I just shared this. Thanks to you ATOS has just been exposed in several countries, e.g. in Sweden, through it and its affiliate KPMG. It was a pleasure to have told you and others about these characters (with hit man Mark Britnell in the UK). I was almost finished connecting a few dots here, and planned on finishing tomorrow. But you speeded things up.

  29. Andy Worthington says...

    George Kenneth Berger ‎wrote:

    Andy and Robyn. My philosophy of life is similarly based on a form of compassion. It lacks religion (Jung’s derivation is correct). My basic value is friendship that is good in itself, directed towards others by our nature, and enables the compassion and empathy that’s needed to form humane social groups. One then does one’s best, in concert, to extend this as widely as possible. This idea combines rational self-interest with group solidarity. I got it from my grandteacher, the late Prof Wilfrid Sellars. One of his sources was the American philosopher Josiah Royce. Another was Wilfrid’s father, Roy Wood Sellars. Roy was a left-wing atheist who of course never achieved wide recognition in America.

  30. Andy Worthington says...

    Gaian Aware wrote:

    shared

  31. Andy Worthington says...

    Robyn, thanks again. Your thinking is truly inspirational.
    And George, I can’t even begin to tell you how honored I am if my attempts to publicize the privateers preying on the ill and the poor, and to join a few dots, have helped to make people aware of what is happening, and to contribute to resistance in other countries. The privatization of what should be in public hands has been a magnet for scoundrels for over 30 years now, since Thatcher first came to power here in the UK, and, as you know, this latest onslaught is in some ways the most distressing yet, as those driving it seem more confident than ever that they can now get away with killing parts of the welfare state, and returning some poor unfortunates to the kind of squalor that those of us with hearts thought had been banished from our countries. I do hope our fellow citizens start to wake up and realize what’s happening before it’s too late.

  32. Andy Worthington says...

    Hamja, thank you very much for sharing your experiences.
    I also received another disturbing report from a lawyer friend, who told me that ATOS “assessed” a client as being able to work immediately after his release from prison where he had been wrongly imprisoned for five years. ATOS made no reference to these unique circumstances, and when the lawyers asked to see their policy on dealing with former prisoners who were victims of wrongful conviction, they said they “did not understand the nature of our records request.”

  33. Andy Worthington says...

    George Kenneth Berger wrote:

    My pleasure once again. I shared it with a strictly factual but revealing commentary. If the dots get connected as I fear they will, I’ll publish more. But only if I am as certain as I can be.

  34. Andy Worthington says...

    Omar Yunus wrote:

    This may sound like common sense but if the government didn’t spend their money waging wars across the world, funding oppressive regimes and spending millions on surveillance and security as a result, I’m sure there would be a lot less job losses, welfare cuts and a stronger economy.

  35. Andy Worthington says...

    George Kenneth Berger ‎wrote:

    Andy I just noticed the remark about the prisoner. That and similar misdeeds are SOP in Holland and Sweden. You look outwardly fit, and you must work. This holds even for cancer patients shortly after release from hospital. In Holland there’s an expression whose exact wording I forget, but it’s roughly, “Tumor gone, back to work.” Sometimes doctors are paid extra to do such things. Or (in Holland) some got paid a bonus, dependent on how many people above some average they declared fit. Many became ill again, more ill, or stressed-out from pain and effort while working.They had to quit and live on the poverty of minimal welfare. i am mixing incidents from three countries now, but the hidden agenda is the same everywhere I know: From incapacity to poverty of welfare, asap.

  36. Andy Worthington says...

    Thanks, Omar. Sounds like common sense; is common sense. Such a pity that the world runs on other motives.
    And George, thanks again. I’m happy to do whatever I can to try and keep this very important story alive.

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  38. Andy Worthington’s Blog: ‘Brutal Benefit Cuts for the Disabled Are Leading to Suicides in the UK’ | Black Triangle Campaign says...

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  39. jamesd says...

    If any one has difficulties with these heinous Disability welfare reforms please go to this website below they will try and help on the forums and there is plenty of advise to read and templates you can download if you don’t feel secure enough to log in.kindest regards James
    http://dwpexaminations.blacktrianglecampaign.org/phpBB3/index.php

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  41. al says...

    When I got the form I tried to kill myself too, 4 times in a row with increasing doses of an opiate painkiller… Lucky me only ended up with an insane tolerance to the drug and the resulting displeasure of withdrawal from it, and I still have so much poverty and homelessness to look forward to.

    Instead of killing ourselves we should be killing these fucking idiots, but of course disabled people are hardly known for their expertise in political assassinations. Apparently we’re not known for much else than our pathetic inability to provide for ourselves and the unbearable burden that we put on the “able” taxpayer… While our overlords spend billions on bombs and police brutality and fancy cars and wonderful mansions.

    But yeah, us scroungers who can barely afford to eat, living in shit-hole flats in poor areas surrounded by abusive scumbags… We are obviously the ones to blame.

    Sorry for existing.

  42. Andy Worthington says...

    Thank you, Al, for the powerful message. I am hoping the tide will indeed turn against these scumbag politicians – the worst I ave ever had to endure, and that’s saying something, as I grew up under Thatcher, but everything that went wrong then, and that continued under Blair and Brown, who turned the economy into a property circus, has become much, much worse under the Etonian butchers. Unfortunately, far too many people have a world view that consists of the philosophy, “I’m all right, Jack, so f*ck you,” but this is also supposed to be a country in which many people have Christian values, which, perhaps, they will recall one of these days.
    Anyway, I’ll try to keep doing my bit to raise awareness of the abuse of disabled people by this government. It truly disgusts me …

  43. Lyn Phillips says...

    Thanks for all your hard work in trying to stop evil ATOS. I am in the support group and have recently received my ESA50 oto fill in again. I fully expect to be put in the WRAG if I have to have a medical assessment, even though I have MS and had to give up work 3 years ago. I cannot even leave the house on my own! I was put in the support group with no assessment, so I was lucky then, I dont expect it to be so easy this time.

  44. Andy Worthington says...

    Hi Lyn,
    Very good to hear from you. Please feel free to update me on your circumstances. I’m happy to host reports from the front lines, if it helps to get the word out about the disgusting cruelty of this government.

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  48. jay says...

    how are these people parasite’s when they struggle to make end’s meet, which is keeping money circulating in the economy, and providing job’s for heath care workers!!??

    a parasite, like tick’s and fles etc, hordes resource; blood, or in humanity’s case money! and spreads disease i.e, propaganda, excuses for the rich to stay rich and cull the poor cos there getting to intelligent about this rotten f******g world.

    so how is stagnant money good?

  49. Andy Worthington says...

    Jay, if my vote meant anything, I’d have you in No. 11 tomorrow, and Osborne on the street. People don’t know what anything means anymore, they can’t tell when a privileged idiot is telling them lies …

  50. Paul Cowling says...

    The majority of us are on Disability Benefit after a rigorous an detailed Medical. From the first of April new Claimants should have been assessed under the new rules, our long time illnesses can’t be altered to suit the new rules, what a foolish notion to think some one who has previously been deemed unable to work can suddenly become able bodied because the law changed! Parliament may be struggling with the budget, but the priority should not be to make peoples life a misery and put them into poverty.
    And to all those able bodied people who think we are scroungers, I worked for 30yrs. Then Due to a Road Traffic Accident I was left unable to work! It could happen to you, would you be so dismissive of people on benefit then?

  51. Andy Worthington says...

    Thanks, Paul, for your comments. I hope that our fellow citizens are starting to realise that they have been lied to, but I worry about the lasting impact of the lies about “scroungers” and “shirkers” to which they have been subjected by the tabloids and the government, unleashing a meanness of spirit that truly appals me.

  52. A budget for a class war | says...

    […] I described mirrors what’s happening there, including the suicides by people who lost their benefits – not because they weren’t doing their best to get by, but because the government […]

  53. Scotland – We are NOT voting for SNP or any Politician, we are voting for Freedom and to stop deaths | shaunynews says...

  54. Scotland – We are NOT voting for SNP or any Politician, we are voting for Freedom and to stop deaths | Ace Shauny News Desk 2014 says...

  55. Why We Can’t Be Selfish In This Vote Scotland | Ace Shauny News Desk 2014 says...

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Andy Worthington

Investigative journalist, author, campaigner, commentator and public speaker. Recognized as an authority on Guantánamo and the “war on terror.” Co-founder, Close Guantánamo, co-director, We Stand With Shaker. Also, singer and songwriter (The Four Fathers) and photographer.
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