Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Austerity causes biggest rise in England’s death rate since WWII – expert

Government cuts to social services could be killing large numbers of vulnerable people in England, a health journal has said, as new figures show 2015 saw the biggest increase in the national death rate for decades. 
Preliminary figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) indicate mortality rates in 2015 rose by 5.4 percent on 2014 - an increase of nearly 27,000 deaths, bringing the total to 528,340.

Death rates in England and Wales had been falling since the 1970s, but this trend reversed in 2011 when mortality rates started rising.

Health advisers are now saying the rising death rate could be caused by cuts to vital social services. Oxford University Professor Danny Dorling, who is also an adviser to Public Health England, said the increase in deaths could be the biggest since World War II.


WCA: Cost of fitness-to-work tests skyrockets, assessments inadequate – report

The Tories are spending more taxpayers’ money on assessing whether Britons are fit to work than they are saving in reductions to the state’s benefits expenditure, a National Audit Office report shows. 
The damning report found the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) aims to carry out seven million health and disability assessments between April 2015 and March 2018 at an estimated cost of £1.6 billion.

The public accounts committee has warned savings in benefits will likely fall short of a billion pounds over the next four years as a result of the costly new tests.


Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Cameron's MOTHER joins fight against Tory cuts

The Prime Minister’s mother Mary has confirmed that she has signed a petition aimed at stopping Conservative cuts to “essential services”

 David Cameron with his mother Mary at the Wimbledon Tennis Championships 2013

The Prime Minister’s mum Mary has signed a petition aimed at stopping Tory cuts.

Jill Huish, who runs the campaign that Mary backed, said: “It shows how deep austerity is cutting our most vulnerable when even David Cameron ’s mum has had enough.”

Mary, 81, signed a petition railing against Conservative cuts to “essential services”.

She put her name to the battle to save dozens of children’s centres that a Tory-run council is poised to close to save £8million.


Sunday, December 6, 2015

Meteorologist Piers Corbyn (brother to Jeremy), says religion of climate change is a con

Piers Corbyn, a meteorologist (and brother to Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn), says the religion of climate change is a con, much of it being pushed by big money, and politicians that are twisting science for their tax and payola agenda for their mates in industry.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Workfare Abandoned! Mandatory Work Activity and Community Work Placements Both To Be Scrapped


In a major victory for campaigners, two of the main workfare programmes are to be abandoned the DWP has quietly announced today.  Private sector contracts to run Community Work Placements and Mandatory Work Activity will not be renewed says the department in their response to George Osborne’s spending review.

Community Work Placements involve six month’s forced full time work for the long term unemployed, whilst Mandatory Work Activity is a four week short sharp shock of workfare used to punish claimants who were judged not to have the right attitude by Jobcentre busy-bodies.

Hundreds of charities have pulled out of both schemes or boycotted them completely after furious campaigning from Boycott Workfare, Keep Volunteering Voluntary and claimants across the UK.  Recent performance figures showed that only half of those referred to forced community work actually started a placement.  Eighteen months after Community Work Placements began the DWP is still avoiding telling us whether anyone has actually found a real job through the scheme.  The department is claiming the programmes will not be renewed to save money.

This is not the complete end of workfare, with some claimants still facing forced work on the Work Programme, at least for now.


‘Fit for work’ tests have normalised the suffering of sick and disabled people

Halfway into a decade of austerity, the biggest threat posed by the Conservatives’ cuts may not be the suffering they are causing mentally ill, sick or disabled people but something altogether more lasting: that their suffering is becoming normalised.

I can think of no other reason why the work capability assessment – the now notorious test used by the Department for Work and Pensions to determine who is eligible for out-of-work sickness benefits and who should be classed as “fit for work” – remains in place.

This is a benefit assessment that has been proven to make people’s conditions worse, and that time after time has been linked to the suicides of people who were declared “fit for work” and had their sickness benefits removed.

It has now been more than 18 months since the mainstream media – including this paper – reported the death of Mark Wood. Despite struggling with multiple mental health problems, the 44-year-old was found “fit for work” in 2013 (Wood’s doctor described him as “extremely unwell and absolutely unfit for any work whatsoever”). Four months later, he was found dead in his home weighing 5st 8lb.

Any social security system requires a process that can accurately – and humanely – determine who needs out-of-work sickness benefits (and who is physically and mentally fit to be on jobseeker’s allowance, looking for work). This can’t be a test based on suspicion but one that values the opinion of the disabled person and their own doctor, rather than a stranger hired by an outsourced private company. Instead of a crude box-ticking judgment of impairment, any assessment needs to appreciate how someone’s health actually affects their ability to get and keep a job.

What exactly is the DWP waiting for?


Terrorism or austerity - a death is a death

Why is the government so determined to protect British people from dying at the hands of terrorists, but completely unconcerned about British people dying as a result of its own policies? Why are some deaths to be prevented at all costs, whilst others appear to be simply viewed as the collateral damage of a political ideology?

After six years of being told that it was absolutely essential to slash public spending, with all the harm that has caused to the most disadvantaged people in society, it was remarkable to see David Cameron deliver a defence review in which money seemed to be no object, and in which an unforeseen extra £6 billion for Trident was a minor detail.

On the other hand, we have sections of the population, particularly the poor and disabled, living in fear and actually dying due to those 'essential' spending cuts, and the government policy of making the weakest bear the greatest burden.

No doubt some will say that this is an extreme statement of the situation. But we have just had a report linking the government's Work Capability Assessment to an extra 590 suicides. We have had coroners attributing deaths to that same policy. We have a list compiled by Black Triangle of deaths they associate with welfare reform. We have a prediction that the figures on 'excess winter deaths', to be released tomorrow, will be the highest for fifteen years. We can argue about the exact figures, but it now seems undeniable that significant numbers of people have died, and will continue to die, due to austerity and welfare reform.

So we have to ask ourselves, why are these deaths so much less important or newsworthy than deaths brought about by terrorism? Why does the fear engendered by terrorism command so much in terms of resources and media attention, whilst the fear and death brought about by callous government policy is almost totally disregarded?


Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Fit-For-Work Tests May Have Taken Serious Toll On Mental Health – Study

Research links additional 590 suicides and 725,000 antidepressant prescriptions over three years to impact of work capability assessment.

More deprived areas such as Liverpool showed the greatest increase in mental health problems
More deprived areas such as Liverpool showed the greatest increase in mental health problems

Tougher “fit for work” tests to assess eligibility for disability benefit may have taken a serious toll on mental health in England, according to a study that linked the tests to 590 extra suicides and hundreds of thousands of additional antidepressant prescriptions.

In what is believed to be the first research of its kind to examine the mental health impact of the work capability assessment (WCA) in England, experts said there could be “serious consequences” of the policy to move people off benefits, which they said had been introduced without any evidence of its potential impact.

Published online in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, the analysis follows research published last week which found that debt, austerity and unemployment were significant factors in the rising number of British men who have killed themselves since the tests were introduced in 2008.

Disability rights campaigners and mental health charities have long called for an overhaul of the assessment scheme, following anecdotal evidence of adverse effects on mental health.

One million recipients of disability benefit had their eligibility reassessed under the WCA tests in England between 2010 and 2013, according to researchers from the University of Liverpool.
The researchers calculated that these assessments were linked to an additional 590 suicides, 279,000 extra cases of self-reported mental health problems and the prescribing of an additional 725,000 antidepressants between 2010-13.

This is equivalent to a 5% rise in total suicides, 11% increase of self-referred mental health problems, and 0.5% more antidepressant prescriptions.

The researchers believe they have ruled out the impact of deprivation, economic trends and long-term trends in mental health, but the methodology can only identify correlations between WCA and the increase in mental health problems. It cannot say definitively that WCA is the cause.

Benjamin Barr, from the public health department at Liverpool University, who is the report’s principle author, said: “The pattern of increase in mental health problems closely matches the increase in assessment of the work capability assessment.”


Tuesday, September 29, 2015

This ignorant Tory councillor had better try justifying the deaths his party has caused

Too much for you? Too bad.

An ignorant Conservative councillor has attacked an opponent in the Labour Party for tweeting an entirely appropriate comparison between Iain Duncan Smith and Adolf Hitler.

Yes, Cllr Ashley Dearnley, leader of the Conservative group in Rochdale – it was perfectly appropriate for North Middleton Cllr Chris Furlong to tweet a picture of Hitler above one of Iain Duncan Smith and imply that the Conservatives may be responsible for the deaths of more disabled people than the Nazi leader – that is what the figures suggest.

Remember, the reference to the killing of 70,000 disabled people by Nazis is compared with only 81,040 people who died in only just over two years under Duncan Smith’s Conservative policies. We don’t have the full figures yet.

Mr Dearnley can’t say that Conservative Government policy has not led to any deaths because we have the case of Michael O’Sullivan to prove that it has.

Not only that, but north London coroner Mary Hassall’s report, blaming Tory policy for Mr O’Sullivan’s suicide, was filed in January 2014, meaning that the Tory Government’s protestations, throughout the summer, that there is no causal link between Mr Duncan Smith’s policies and the deaths of claimants, is proved to be a lie

Tuesday, September 8, 2015




1: Grouping, categorising and then implying that all victims of child sexual abuse- regardless of whether their allegations are proven, genuine, or false – are just out to make money. Examples of clumpensation are almost always followed by denials of clumpensation, qualifications or disingenuous caveats. Example

2: A tactic used by some to try and dissuade victims of child sexual abuse from coming forward by suggesting that their motive is financial and thus making them feel guilty.

See also

Clumpensation Culture

1: The general trend in the media, most notably in newspapers to clumpensate.

2: Also used by lawyers defending alleged perpetrators of sexual abuse and those representing institutions, including local councils, that might face liability.

Visit Site

Monday, August 31, 2015

UK Citizens more likely to be killed by DWP than a murderer



DPAC triggers UN inquiry into grave and systematic violations of disabled people’s rights

The UN Inquiry and UN visit to UK to examine the grave and systematic violations of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD) was initiated by DPAC.

This inquiry is the first of its kind-it has great historic importance. It means the UN will examine the vicious and punitive attacks on disabled people’s independent living as well as the cuts which have seen so many placed in inhuman circumstances and has led to unnecessary deaths.

In May 2013, after 3 years of onslaught against disabled people by the Condem government, DPAC made a formal submission under the CRPD Optional Protocol which establishes an individual complaints mechanism for the Convention.

There was less information and statistics than now on the impact of the Welfare Reform and loss of a right to independent living on disabled people. However the evidence DPAC presented to the CRPD Committee was extremely strong

DPAC’s evidence presented the regression of disabled people’s convention rights and the grave and systematic violations of disabled people’s rights under the UNCRPD. It was accepted by the UNCRPD Committee.

After an initial response from the government responding point by point to the DPAC submission, DPAC made a second submission, supported by further evidence of the disproportionate impact of all cuts on disabled people.

This submission, as the first one, included,
  • the failings of the Work Capability Assessment,
  • the bedroom tax,
  • the closure of the Independent Living Fund
  • the unwillingness of the government to make an assessment of the cumulative impact of the Welfare Reform on disabled people
  • its reluctance to monitor what was happening to disabled people who were found fit for work after an assessment and who lost their only means of support (see complete list)i,.
This submission was partly based on firmly sourced statistical and other factual evidence, and also on the hundreds of personal testimonies that DPAC has received from individuals who have been affected adversely by the governments’ welfare reforms.

The UK government sent a second response to the UN about DPAC’s submission but by then the CRPD Committee had decided that there was enough evidence to open an inquiry into the violations of disabled people’s rights by the UK government.

The Committee also told DPAC that the inquiry was totally confidential and could be jeopardised and called off if any news of an UN inquiry was leaked.

It was the indiscretion of an ex-member of the CRPD Committee which brought the inquiry into the open, but DPAC kept its side of the non-disclosure agreement. The further leak in newspapers on Sunday 30th August convinced us that disabled people needed to know the full extent of the process

This inquiry is an unprecedented move and unchartered territory for the UNCRPD Committee.

It is also another route of hope for disabled people who have been abused by the UK government, ignored by most of the opposition and betrayed by the big Disability Charities.

Sunday, August 30, 2015

UN investigating British Government over human rights abuses caused by IDS welfare reforms

‘The UN is to visit the UK to investigate whether Iain Duncan Smith’s welfare reforms have caused “grave or systematic violations” of disabled peoples’ human rights, it has been reported.

A leading disability charity says that they have been contacted by the UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities as part of an investigation into human rights abuses against disabled people in the UK.

Inclusion Scotland, a consortium of disability organisations in Scotland, says the UN committee has advised them that they will be sending a Special Rapporteur to the UK in the “near future” as part of their probe.’


Saturday, August 29, 2015

Friday, August 28, 2015

Death Has Become Part Of Britain’s Benefits System

More than 80 people a month are now dying after being declared ‘fit for work’. The safety net that used to be there for the most vulnerable is being torn to shreds.

Go to your local benefits office and desperation can be boiled down to a six-point plan, mounted on pink laminated card. The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has assembled written guidance on suicide for its “frontline staff” – a euphemism for workers hired to call people and break it to them that they’ve been rejected for benefits. One section of the guidance – that is to be reported to managers to alert them of “a suicidal intention” – instructs jobcentre staff to find out what the person plans, when it is planned for, and whether “the customer has the means to hand”.

I don’t know at what point social security and a risk of suicide became inevitable partners. Or when government “supporting people” – as the DWP described the guidance this week – began to mean, not helping people build their lives, but checking that they do not want to die.

Death has become a part of Britain’s benefits system. That is not hyperbole but the reality that the stress caused by austerity has led us to. Shredding the safety net – a mix of sanctions, defective “fit for work” tests, and outright cuts to multiple services – has meant that benefit claimants are dying; through suicide, starvation, and even being crushed by a refuse lorry when a 17-week benefit sanction forced a man to scavenge in a bin for food.

How can a government have such disregard for death? It is worth looking at how it expects some of us to live...

This morning, the government released mortality statistics – or rather, was forced to after several freedom of information requests – that show more than 80 people a month are dying after being declared “fit for work”. These are complex figures but early analysis points to two notable facts. First that 2,380 people died between December 2011 and February 2014 shortly after being judged “fit for work” and rejected for the sickness and disability benefit, Employment and Support Allowance (ESA). We also now know that 7,200 claimants died after being awarded ESA and being placed in the work-related activity group – by definition, people whom the government had judged were able to “prepare” to get back to work.

Notably how or why each of these people died was not recorded – meaning it’s impossible to say whether a death was linked to an incorrect assessment. But for the government, distortion is key and it is not restricted to faked benefit sanction leaflets. If we needed a sign of the DWP’s intentions, as it prepared to release today’s mortality statistics it was seemingly hedging its bets by finalising the details for a tribunal where it had planned to try to repress some of them.

How can a government have such disregard for death? It is worth looking at how it expects some of us to live. Until a few months ago in Bootle, Merseyside, a 48-year-old severely disabled man was being washed in a paddling pool in his front room. Rob Tomlinson, who has cerebral palsy, had used a purpose-built walk-in shower in the specially converted four-bed council house he shared with his carers, his brother and sister-in law. The bedroom tax saw the family evicted and until a new property was found a year later, Rob lived with only a child’s pool and hose to stay clean.

There is a reason, in the age of austerity, that politicians and much of the media has stopped using the term social security and replaced it with “welfare”. It sets expectations much lower. A sense of security for members of society in need bumped down to mere subsistence.

Today’s mortality statistics do not simply point to the death of disabled, poor, and ill people but of the system that was meant to protect them. Before our eyes the principle of a benefit system is being reduced from opportunity, respect, and solidarity to destitution, degradation and isolation.

Six-point plans to avoid people on benefits killing themselves do not exist in a society that has hope for their lives. The welfare state was built on the idea of “the cradle to the grave”. Now for thousands, all they receive is help to that grave. © Guardian News & Media Limited 2010
Published via the Guardian News Feed plugin for WordPress.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Fake benefits claimant 'Zac' quoted in other DWP documents

Non-existent benefits claimant featured in second Department for Work and Pensions leaflet describing how his jobseeker’s allowance was cut

DWP Leaflet - with fake quotes and pix

A non-existent benefits claimant invented by the government to talk in glowing terms about its welfare system has been quoted in other documents published by the Department for Work and Pensions, it has emerged.

“Zac”, who appeared in the DWP leaflet withdrawn on Tuesday amid a storm of criticism, features in a second document describing how his jobseeker’s allowance was cut.


Thursday, July 16, 2015

Labour MPs Call For ESA Death Statistics To Be Published

A small group of Labour MPS, including leadership candidate Jeremy Corbyn, yesterday lodged an early day motion calling on the government to publish the employment and support allowance (ESA) death statistics.

The statistics detail how many claimants have died within six weeks of, for example, being placed in the work-related activity group of ESA.

The information commissioner has ordered the DWP to release the figures.

In addition, a petition on the website calling for the publication of the figures has received over a quarter of a million signatures.

There are fears that the DWP now plan to release Age Standardised Mortality Rate (ASMR) figures that would not allow a direct comparison of deaths over time.

The early day motion cannot compel the government to do anything, but it does continue to keep the pressure on them...


How the election was won – fraud and corruption

If any media had reported the situation of Cameron covering up the “worst and largest single case of banking fraud to have ever emerged in this country” (Nafeez Ahmed) in order to get the ex-chair of the bank, and a current director, into government, he would have had to resign. Instead he has been re-elected to Prime Minister for another 5 years.
Apart from the FCA the fraud has also been covered up by the Solicitors Regulation Authority, the Ministry of Justice, the Legal Services Board, the Office of Fair Trading, the Financial Services Authority, various MPs and Lords; and the police refuse to taken action. All details are on this site


Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Starvation in the UK

"We’ve watched our town centres deteriorate.

"We’re watched our communities decline...

"One in five children in my constituency go to bed hungry every night."

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Fuck Sotheby’s, Fuck The Rich, Let’s Take The Class War To Their Front Doors

Walking through Mayfair you would not believe that this could be a country where the poorest are abandoned to survive on just a few pounds a day.  Mayfair screams money, and there the rich play openly, driving their sports cars, holidaying in luxury hotels and sitting outside expensive restaurants whilst a few hundred yards away people bed down in shop doorways.

Of course the people working in those restuarants and hotels do not share in this vast wealth – most are working for a minimum wage that will not even pay for the basic necessities of life.  These people do some of the hardest work in society, working long hours for fuck all, cleaning up the shit and detrius of the rich.  And after Wednesday’s budget they will be made even poorer to pay for a huge inheritence tax cut for the children of millionaires.

At Sotheby’s auction house in the heart of Mayfair, billionaires bid for scrappy pieces of art, spending more on trinkets than most families will ever earn in their entire lifetimes.  Yet the cleaners and porters who work there do not even get decent sick pay, and four of them were just sacked for complaining about it.  The rich, and the lackies like Sotheby’s that serve them, treat the poor with utter contempt, as if the only purpose of these living, breathing human beings is to generate them ever more wealth that all, ultimately, comes from the work we do.

In the past during periods of such grotesque inequality the rich lived in terror, hidden away behind locked doors, praying that their guards and servants did not slit their throats as they sleep.  Yet now they flaunt their fortunes for all to see, laughing and braying in the London sun as they boast about their property portfolios and bark orders at those they consider beneath them.  There is no indignity too great that it cannot be inflicted on the plebs, the chavs, or whatever they are fucking calling us this week.

The class war is real, it is destroying our lives and they will take everything unless we start to fight back.  There should be no comfort for millionaires whilst  children go hungry –  the rich should not be permitted to eat and sleep and enjoy their pampered lives as if everything is as it should be.  This has gone on for far too long, and it could be stopped in a heartbeat if we re-learn to act collectively on the scale that is required.

So fuck elections and get out on the streets.  Advance to fucking Mayfair, starting this Wednesday, and support the sacked cleaners who lost their jobs for daring to raise their voices.  Join Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC) earlier in the day and say Balls to the Budget.  Come to the Fuck Parade in Camden on Saturday and fight back against rampant gentrification.  Wherever there is trouble run towards it, because it is time to rediscover our pride and show our strength and our rage.  There is fucking more of us than them.  Let’s start to make sure they know that.

Disabled People Against Cuts are gathering outside Downing Street at 10.30am on Wednesday July 8th, full details at:

The protest demanding the re-instatement of the sacked Sotheby’s workers is on the same day, meet outside the United Colours of Benetton, at Oxford Cicus from 5.30pm or head to Sotheby’s at 34-35 New Bond Street, London W1A 2AA, more info at:

In the meantime everyone is piling on Sotheby’s on twitter @Sothebys and their facebook page.

Class War’s anti-gentrification Fuck Parade is meeting outside Camden Tube at 7pm on Saturday 11th July, info at:

If you are outside London or can’t make these protests please help by sharing, tweeting and blogging about them...


Greece: "You cannot impose economics on such a politicised people."

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Unite union backs Jeremy Corbyn for Labour leadership

Unite, the UK's largest trade union, has backed left-wing firebrand Jeremy Corbyn for the Labour leadership.

The union decided to support Corbyn at a private executive board meeting today, and will advise members to vote for Andy Burnham as their second preference.

No official nomination was made for deputy leader, but the Union gave their support to Tom Watson and Angela Eagle for the role.


Greek Voters deliver emphatic NO to austerity

Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras
No vote: Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras delivers a speech at an anti-austerity rally in Syntagma Square in Athens 

Brave Greek voters delivered an emphatic ‘No’ to austerity and plunged Europe into fresh crisis.

As counting on the nation’s crunch referendum continues it is clear Greeks had voted overwhelmingly against the EU’s harsh bail-out terms.

“There is a new popular mandate,” beamed Greece’s EU negotiator Euclid Tsakaloto.

The landslide 60%-40% margin sent shock waves across Europe and moved Greece a major step closer to a Euro exit...


Friday, July 3, 2015

An Open Letter from Catholics to Iain Duncan Smith

Dear Mr Duncan Smith,

We are fellow Catholics and people who were brought up in the Catholic faith. We are writing to express our concern at the impact on our communities of your welfare reform policies. We understand that your Catholic faith is important to you, and your approach is driven by a desire to improve the quality of individual lives. However, we believe that they are in fact doing the reverse. We would urge you to rethink and to abandon further cuts which are likely to cause more damage.

Of particular concern are benefit sanctions. We were shocked to learn that your Department recognises sanctions can lead to a deterioration in the health of a claimant. Yet sanctions continued to be imposed. This, as a punishment for what may be a clerical or timekeeping error, seems excessive. We would not expect prisoners in our jails to be punished in this way, and would be grateful if you would consider whether it is an appropriate way to treat people who are unemployed, sick, or disabled.

We are also very concerned at the way the Work Capability Assessment is currently managed and the change from Disability Living Allowance to Personal Independence Payments. Both these systems are causing great harm to sick and disabled people as are the enormous delays in administering disability and sickness benefits. To become seriously ill or disabled is bad enough. To then have to wait months for help whilst unpaid bills mount up, perhaps fearing eviction or needing to use a foodbank, is distressing and damaging. The recent suggestion to reduce Employment Support Allowance – currently funded at a level that recognises the additional costs of illness or disability – to the rate of Jobseeker's Allowance will cause further hardship

We appreciate that you believe the benefits cap encourages people to take control of their lives and find work. However the evidence suggests that it is in fact driving families into poverty and homelessness.The main reason families exceed the benefit cap is that they require high levels of Housing Benefit in order to pay excessive rents. As a result, thousands of people have been forced to leave their homes, which is disruptive to families and damaging to local communities.

We know you place great faith in Universal Credit to restore fairness to the system, but would ask you to reconsider many aspects of it, including the halving of the disabled child’s allowance. Disabled people, and families with disabled children, are already more likely to be living in poverty – it does not seem fair that they should lose more.

We are aware of your wish to promote personal responsibility and self-reliance, and we too believe these qualities are to be encouraged. However, we feel that for large numbers of people, policies aimed at promoting these qualities are having the opposite effect, pushing them further into poverty, and worse.

We would ask you to consider these words from Quadragesimo Anno, the Papal Encyclical written in 1931, as the world dealt with the Great Recession:

To each, therefore, must be given his own share of goods; and the distribution of created goods, which, as every discerning person knows, is labouring today under the gravest evils due to the huge disparity between the few exceedingly rich and the unnumbered propertyless, must be effectively called back to and brought into conformity with the norms of the common good, that is, social justice. (para 57/58)

The Encyclical went on to stress that this entitlement to a share of the wealth of the community was not dependent on work. In other words, when people are unable to work through ill health or disability, or unable to find a job, it is our duty to make sure that they receive the basic requirements of a dignified life; adequate food, shelter, warmth and security.

We believe that a supportive welfare state is an expression of Christian justice and compassion. When this support is removed, we may think we are saving money, but the consequential problems, like poorer mental and physical health, and educational underachievement, all bear a human and financial cost, and will have to be paid for in some way.

We accept that your reforms have been undertaken in accordance with your conscience, but we would ask you to accept in return that our concerns are genuine, and our experiences of increasing social distress are real. Our consciences, informed by our faith and experience in our communities, leave us with no alternative but to speak out when we see some of the most disadvantaged people in society being harmed.

We would like to enter into a dialogue with you, to explore how as citizens we can best support and enable our less fortunate neighbours, whilst treating them with dignity and respect. We have constructive proposals on how to make our welfare system work better, and in a way that is more compatible with Catholic and Christian values. We would not wish to find ourselves reliant on charity to survive, and are saddened that so many of our neighbours have become so in recent years. As Saint Augustine said, ‘Charity is no substitute for justice withheld.’

We would like to thank you for taking the time to read this letter.

We remain your sisters and brothers in Christ,


Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Government Stripping UK Children Of Rights, Says Report To UN

The Conservative government’s policies risk systematically stripping children of their rights, a report for the United Nations has found.

Anassessment by the four children’s commissioners of the UK, the first full-scale review for seven years, called on the government to reconsider its deep welfare cuts, voiced “serious concerns” about children being denied access to justice in the courts, and called on ministers to rethink plans to repeal the Human Rights Act.

The commissioners, representing each of the constituent nations of the UK, conducted their review of the state of children’s policies as part of evidence they will present on Wednesday to the UN revealing how much progress has been made under the Convention on the Rights of the Child.

Many of the government’s decisions are questioned by the report as being in breach of the convention, which has been ratified by the UK. England’s children’s commissioner, Anne Longfield, said: “We are finding and highlighting that much of the country’s laws and policies defaults away from the view of the child. That’s in breach of the treaty. What we found again and again was that the best interest of the child is not taken into account.”


Saturday, June 13, 2015

60,000 Sign Petition Calling On The Government To Publish Benefit Death Statistics

More than 60,000 people have signed a petition calling on the government to publish statistics into the number of benefit claimants who have died after benefits were removed.

The number of signatories is growing fast and could force the government to come clean about the impact of welfare reforms on vulnerable people.

A number of attempts by journalists and campaigners, using the Freedom of Information Act, to force the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) to publish the statistics have been rebuffed.

The government argues that drawing a direct link between the deaths of seriously ill people and the removal of benefits would be irresponsible.

Welfare Weekly reported last month that the DWP had been ordered by the Information Commissioner to disclose details into deaths related to welfare reforms, following a complaint by political blogger Mike Sivier. It is our understanding that this is currently being appealed by the DWP.

The petition, on the website, claims that this appeal is a direct attempt by the Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith to block publication of benefit-related death statistics.

Maggie Zolobajluk, who started the petition, calls on “the Courts and Tribunal Service to dismiss this appeal and so prevent any further delay by the DWP in publishing these figures”.

It continues: “For years there have been reports of people committing suicide or dying from ill-health soon after their benefits are stopped...