Man Jailed After Comments Made In Atos Assessment

the void

atos-killsUPDATE 26/04/13  Steve Topley has been bailed, has pleaded guilty and is now expected to receive a community sentence.  Seems he wasn’t such a threat to the community after all.

A Nottingham man has now been held in custody for two weeks after he was accused of “threatening behaviour”* due to comments he allegedly made during his Atos benefits assessment.

Steve Topley is a 49 year old father with multiple serious health problems who was required to attend a Work Capability Assessment with the notorious IT firm Atos – the company responsible for stripping benefits from hundreds of thousands of sick and disabled people.  During the process Mr Topley made some comments about someone not present at the assessment.

These comments led to Atos staff calling the police and Mr Topley was asked to attend Queens Medical Centre (QMC) in Nottingham.  When he refused to do so he was arrested. …

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254 Lords betray the people of England


A few minutes ago, 254 peers betrayed the people of England, as they defeated 146 other peers in a crucial NHS vote on a Labour motion in the House of Lords to kill ‘secondary legislation’ that the government is trying to implement under last year’s Health and Social Care Act.

Why was it such a betrayal? Earlier today, one quisling Labour peer, Norman  Warner, gave the game away when he went on the record in the Guardian to explain

Why I, a Labour peer, am supporting a regulated market for NHS competition

An unforgivable treason when the amended secondary legislation the government is trying to implement (having failed to sneak it through unnoticed) is even worse than the original version and will mire commissioners of NHS services in England in such confusion and fear of legal action that will force them to play safe by including private health companies…

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The Man Who Pushed a Toy Pig to Downing Street to Save our NHS

Scriptonite Daily


Mark McGowan a.k.a The Artist Taxi Driver spent today on his hands and knees, pushing a toy pig four miles to Downing Street, with his nose.  He made his art protest as our House of Lords full of private health investors, voted through their own pay rises by approving new competition rules.

What’s All the Fuss About?


The S75 Regulations form part of the governments Health and Social Care Act, the purpose of which is to open up as many NHS services to private providers as possible.

The new ‘Competition Regulations’ force the NHS to put all but a minority of services out for competitive tender.  The majority of services currently run by the NHS will shortly and swiftly be turned over to profit making private healthcare providers. This is privatisation by the back door.

To make matters worse, the MPs and Lords drafting and voting upon this piece…

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Employment Support Allowance claim update: Exceptional Circumstances – Regulation 25

Politics and Insights


Regulations 25 and 31 will replace the old Special Regulations 29 and 35 when Universal Credit is rolled out.

However, the old Regulations 29 and 35 still apply to ongoing cases that are not yet affected by Universal Credit, and will remain in place indefinitely for all Contributions-based ESA. This means that most of you will use Regulations 29 and 35 at this time.

Income-based ESA will be replaced by Universal Credit, as it is rolled out, but there will be the same additional financial components added as we currently have for ESA – either the work-related activity or the support component.

The contents of both sets of Regulations are essentially the same. They are applied in the same way. 25 and 29 are for those who are not capable of work, and would usually be placed in the Work-related Activity Group, and 31 and 35 apply to those not…

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Demand a Public Enquiry Into 1300 Deaths After Atos Medicals

Life, Leeds United, the Universe & Everything

The petition calling upon Iain Duncan-Smith to instigate a Public Enquiry into the conduct of Atos, with particular record to this appalling fatality rate has so far attracted 4,346 signatures.  That’s not a bad start, but much more is needed.  YOUR support, and YOUR willingness to help network this petition could be vital; if a Public Enquiry could be brought about, Atos would be well and truly under the spotlight and it’s possible they may be forced to change their way of working.  It’s not over-stating the case to say that this could save lives.  YOUR signature, YOUR support could actually SAVE LIVES.  It’s that vital.

An Enquiry would seem appropriate in any case, for an organisation which has been branded “Not fit for purpose” by the British Medical Association, and which has itself recently issued a wheedling apology to the people it has wrongly found fit…

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Meet the 28-Year-Old Grad Student Who Just Shook the Global Austerity Movement

AusterityMost Ph.D. students spend their days reading esoteric books and stressing out about the tenure-track job market. Thomas Herndon, a 28-year-old economics grad student at UMass Amherst, just used part of his spring semester to shake the intellectual foundation of the global austerity movement.

Herndon became instantly famous in nerdy economics circles this week as the lead author of a recent paper, “Does High Public Debt Consistently Stifle Economic Growth? A Critique of Reinhart and Rogoff,” that took aim at a massively influential study by two Harvard professors named Carmen Reinhart and Kenneth Rogoff.  Herndon found some hidden errors in Reinhart and Rogoff’s data set, then calmly took the entire study out back and slaughtered it. Herndon’s takedown — which first appeared in a Mike Konczal post that crashed its host site with traffic — was an immediate sensation. It was cited by prominent anti-austerians like Paul Krugmanspoken about by incoming Bank of England governor Mark Carney, and mentioned on CNBC and several other news outlets as proof that the pro-austerity movement is based, at least in part, on bogus math.

We spoke to Herndon about his crazy week, and how he’s planning to celebrate his epic wonk takedown.


An Important Call Out To Take Action NOW!! Update Round 2

Via PCS Union Email

Dear equality campaigners, 

Final push to save the general equality duty

Action now – please send the new updated email to MPs

Huge thanks to everyone for sending the campaign email to save our equality law. Nearly 4,000 people sent the email to their MP in just five days.

While most MPs voted on Tuesday to scrap our equality law, this was just the first round of voting on the issue. There will be another vote soon so we really need to apply the pressure once more.

The impact of your emails was significant. A lot of MPs are clearly troubled by the issue and refused to do what they were told by their political parties, and decided not to vote at all. A few in government were brave enough to vote against their parties altogether.

With one more massive push – with us and all our friends, colleagues and families sending the campaign email – we might succeed in getting them to take that extra step to voting against their government.

We’ve updated the wording of our email to MPs . Please send it to your MP again (particularly if they are in government) and send the link round to your friends, family and colleagues.

It is important that everyone does this, particularly if you/they live in a constituency of a government MP.

Please take two minutes now to send the automated message to your MP

If you’re on Facebook or Twitter, please post a link using hashtag #saves3

Thank you so much for all your help and passion on this,

Natasha Burgess, Campaign Officer

Campaigns and Communications
Public and Commercial Services Union
PCS, 160 Falcon Rd, London SW11 2LN

FAKE DWP ‘test’ reveals sinister govt ‘psy-war’


Please read and share this widely – I think it might just be massive.

I wrote yesterday about the psychological bullying being inflicted on unemployed people by Jobcentre Plus on behalf of the Department of Work and Pensions, as huge, intimidating tasks are inflicted on people with minimal literacy, confidence and computer skills – backed by the threat of benefit ‘sanctions’ if they are not completed by a very short deadline.

But it gets even worse. One part of the series of tasks being imposed is an online ‘My strengths test’, consisting of a series of 48 multiple-choice answers to questions about your personality.

I can reveal that this ‘test’ is a completely bogus scam designed to manipulate unemployed people into performing a completely random, week-long exercise of incorporating supposed ‘characteristics’ into their daily behaviour.

How do I know this? Because the ‘test’ is fake – it allocates you a…

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What you need to know about Atos assessments.

Politics and Insights


Courageous whistleblower, Scottish nurse and ex-Atos employee, Joyce Drummond, who recently made a heartfelt apology to Atos assessment victims, has submitted evidence to the Scottish Parliament Select Committee on Welfare Reform.

Joyce forwarded some of her notes to me, containing this information about Atos assessments. We had some dialogue about the content. I have edited where needed, organised the notes and added some information to the text. I’ve included the contents from Joyce’s notes in full.

Both Joyce and I share this information in the hope that people going through Atos assessments will find it helpful.

Joyce told me: 

“I knew nothing about Atos when I joined, and left as soon as I realised that there was no way to ‘fight from the inside.’  I stated at my interview for the job that I believed in social inclusion and social justice.

I attended 4 weeks training in England. The training…

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By ADAM FORREST @ The Big Issue

The tsunami of benefit cuts will hit the most vulnerable in our society… leaving thousands facing homelessness

Hardest HitNo one attending the bedroom tax protests last weekend could have failed to notice how many wheelchair users were out waving placards and voicing their anger. Two-thirds of the 660,000 social housing tenants hit by the bedroom tax, remember, are disabled.

It was also impossible to forget the freezing cold weather on the day of nationwide protest. People who often struggle to leave the house were forced to scream and shout in the snow to fight off poverty. Desperate times indeed.

In Manchester, Tria Hall joined neighbours from the West Gorton estate to speak at a rally in the city centre. The 27-year-old suffers from Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, a tissue disorder that has left her requiring a wheelchair.

Cuts to local care budgets have restricted her to 10 hours of home help a week. She now has to pay £12 extra each month in bedroom tax and also faces an £8 reduction in council tax benefit.

“It’s the cumulative effect of these things that’s scary because it’s difficult to see how I can reduce what I spend any further,” she tells The Big Issue. “I have my boiler on low as much as I can and I use duvets and hot water bottles just to keep warm on cold days.

“I was originally moved to my house because the council thought it was a suitable place for a disabled person,” Hall explains. “If they tried to downsize all of us and move us out there’s just nowhere in this area of Manchester to go.

“There just aren’t one-bedroom places available. It would cost more to move me and do all the adaptation to another house I need than it would to leave me be and waive this.”

Government ministers vainly refer to “the removal of the spare-room subsidy” but the ubiquity of the term ‘bedroom tax’ – and its echoes of other strange, arbitrary measures such as the poll tax and window tax – suggests they have lost the argument.

People understand it’s about clawing back money. Since housing tenants with spare rooms are to be docked an average of £14 per week in housing benefit, the government estimates it will save £490m a year.

What happens to disabled people who simply can’t meet the shortfall? The government has earmarked £25m a year in discretionary housing payments (essentially an emergency fund) for disabled people living in adapted homes, and a further £5m for foster carers.

Yet dividing the £25m fund among the 440,000 disabled people losing out leaves little over £1 a week for each person. “The [DHP] budget is just not big enough,” says Duncan Shrubsole, director of policy at homeless charity Crisis. “It’s not a long-term solution for very many people, and the government is being disingenuous in claiming it is.”

The bedroom tax means the very real prospect of people losing their homes. Deb Elthalion, a 48-year-old mum from London’s West Norwood district, was out campaigning in Trafalgar Square last weekend. One of her three daughters has Down’s syndrome and autism.

As a result of the bedroom tax, Deb has been told to pay the shortfall of just over £80 a month or move somewhere with one bedroom fewer, forcing her 15-year-old disabled daughter to share a room with one of her other children.

“If we stay where we are that amount of money is really going to hurt us, and at the moment I’m not really sure how we’ll manage,” says Deb. “I see the Prime Minister on the telly saying these changes won’t affect disabled people. Well, sorry, we are a disabled family and we just can’t afford this.

“It’s so, so wrong. I’m fighting to keep our home now, a place we love, a place where I gave birth to one of my daughters. I think everyone deserves a home.”

Some disabled people are being hit by as many as six cuts to their income at once. April’s multiple whammy includes a 10 per cent cut to council tax benefit, and 500,000 fewer disabled people eligible for mobility payments as disability living allowance (DLA) is replaced with the new personal independence payment (PIP).

But most significant of all is likely to be the overall benefit cap – imposed at £500 per week, or £350 for single people – introduced by selected councils next week and rolled out nationally later in the year (56,000 households will be hit, with an average weekly loss of £93).

What will councils and housing associations do when their poorest tenants’ money dries up? Could people with very obvious physical disabilities really face eviction and be made homeless? Could Iain Duncan Smith’s attempt to cut welfare spending push a whole new wave of people on to the streets?

“There will be disabled people living in adapted properties who won’t be able to afford to pay the rent,” says Crisis’ Duncan Shrubsole. “Councils and housing associations may be able to forbear for a while but they can’t afford to do it indefinitely, so will have to look to evict people. Unless people can then find somewhere in the private rented sector on reduced LHA and benefits, there will literally be nowhere for them to go.

“They’ll be at the council declaring themselves homeless, which will then cost even more for the council. If they are statutory homeless, councils will have to provide temporary accommodation in B&Bs, or lease from a private landlord, or put people up in old people’s homes.”

Helen Fisher, financial capability trainer at Liverpool Central Citizens Advice Bureau, says many of her clients can’t see how they’re going to get through the year in their current home. “Whether you’re disabled or not, if you can’t pay the rent, ultimately you’re going to get evicted,” she says.

“And if disabled people are presenting as homeless, councils may have to put them in residential care to be looked after, which then costs a fortune. It doesn’t make any sense. We’re supposed to be helping people live independent lives and work where they can. But they’re actually making people more helpless than they already are.”

Some people argue the country simply can’t afford to be as benefit generous as it used to be. Yet Iain Duncan Smith continues to make his case in terms of fairness, insisting the bedroom tax and other measures affecting the poor and disabled are about more than cutting back welfare spending, and are all part of establishing a principle “that a life on benefits must not be more attractive than working”.

Knowing the enormous practical difficulties it will cause, many councils have declared their opposition, and a handful have even declared they won’t evict tenants who fall into arrears as a result of the bedroom tax.

If you scratch beneath the surface of this rhetoric, however, the reality is much less encouraging. For a lot of people, the bedroom tax will be just one financial woe among many leading to rent arrears. How will local authorities or housing associations identify tenants in penury solely as a result of the bedroom tax?

Dundee City Council, for example, was among the first local authorities in Scotland to heed the SNP’s call for council bosses to assure tenants they would not be evicted. Yet Dundee’s housing convener was then forced to admit “cover against eviction disappears” if a tenant in arrears declines alternative accommodation.

In Nottingham, the Labour council has decided its high-rise flats, even those with two bedrooms, will be classified as one-bedroom in preparation for the bedroom tax. Many councils and housing associations may try their best to adapt and assist as far as they are able but they are helpless to avoid the misery ensuing when people go flat broke.

Joe Halewood, a housing consultant who works with social landlords and has campaigned against many of the government’s cuts, says it’s “nonsense” for councils to claim they won’t evict. He believes that judicial appeals will prevent too many social housing evictions for at least a year but the overall benefit cap will soon lead to huge numbers being turfed out by private landlords.

“There will be mass evictions as a result of the overall benefit cap – it will cause homelessness,” Halewood says. “I reckon it could end up adding 100,000 people to homelessness figures. And where do they all go when they show up at the council? Into B&Bs? Will big families be spilt up? The housing just isn’t there for them.

“The whole thing is going to cause pandemonium in the housing system. It’s going to cause meltdown, and the best thing for the government to do is rethink this and get rid of these measures.”

Back in 2010, when the government outlined some of the ways it would cut support for some of the most vulnerable, satirist Armando Iannucci remarked: “It’s about time [the] bedbound… were taken down a peg or two.”

It appears we’re about to find out what happens when you take away the last rungs of the ladder.