Judge refuses DWP leave to appeal ruling on Universal Credit reports


By Tony Collins

An information tribunal judge has unexpectedly refused consent for the Department of Work and Pensions to appeal his ruling that four reports on the Universal Credit programme be published.

The ruling undermines the DWP’s claim that there would be “chilling effect” if the reports were published.

The judge’s decision, which is dated 25 April 2014, means the DWP will have to publish the reports under the FOI Act  – or it has 28 days to appeal the judge’s refusal to grant consent for an appeal.  The DWP is certain to appeal again. It has shown that money is no object when it comes to funding appeals to keep the four reports secret.

In 2012 John Slater, who has 25 years experience working in IT and programme and project management, had requested the UC Issues Register, Milestone Schedule and Risk Register. Also in 2012 I requested a UC project assessment review by the…

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Jobcentre Adviser: “I am unable to emphasise enough, what a massive con and waste of taxpayer’s money the Work Programme is.”

In the second part of our interview with a Jobcentre adviser we talk about sanctions and the Work Programme. Read the first part of the interview here.

Image: powerinaunion.co.uk Image: powerinaunion.co.uk

Have you ever experienced any use of target culture for sanctioning? If not, what are you told about sanctioning? If yes, how are you told to sanction and by who?

“This is the type of thing that would not be out of place in the novel ‘Catch 22’. We are constantly told by managers ‘there are no targets, only expectations.’ However, the expectations are based on the highest performing local offices or Districts. So, say I work with a colleague who sanctions because they get some sort of sick power kick from it (I do know some people like this, there are some in every office).  They might refer 7 people for a ‘doubt on their actively seeking’ per day. In…

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Jobcentre adviser: “The reforms have been designed to hide the numbers of unemployed.”

We interviewed a Jobcentre adviser to ask about their experiences of welfare reforms since the coalition came to power. Having seen the changes and effects of unprecedented reforms, we wanted to know how their job experiences and demands had changed. Following on from our other interview last week, we bring you a second interview with a Jobcentre Adviser.

In the first part of this interview we talk about changes to welfare since the coalition and how the number of unemployed is remaining hidden under reforms.

Image: The guardian Image: The guardian

How long have you worked in the job centre?

“10 years+ and in numerous positions.”

What are your thoughts and experiences of welfare reforms and rules since the coalition came to power? How have they changed? What are they aimed towards? What have been the effects on the people you serve? 

“It is clear that the Coalition/Tories have created a…

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Labour Party Poverty and Disability Taskforce report published

Making rights make sense

Today the Labour Party published the report of the taskforce it established in 2013 to look at ways to break the link between disability and poverty.  The press release announcing the setting up of the taskforce by Anne McGuire MP and Liam Byrne MP is below and the report can be downloaded here.

We are advised that there will not be a press release to accompany the launch of the report as it is not the policy of the Labour Party to do so in relation to ‘policy submissions’ (a somewhat interesting and loaded description, given the report was commissioned by Labour shadow Ministers to advise them) hence we are left to promote the report ourselves.   This is deeply disappointing and the obvious inference is that Labour does not wish to promote discussion or to engage with its proposals.  As the taskforce had no resources it was unable…

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wcaThere will be a three day hearing in the Royal Courts of Justice in London on 22, 23 & 24 July 2014 in an attempt to establish what the DWP is going to do to remedy the substantial disadvantage that people with mental health problems suffer when being put through the Work Capability Assessment. This will follow a directions hearing that will take place in May.

Everyone knows that the only real remedy to our plight will be when these mock assessments are abandoned but, until then, we will continue the fight to try to improve them.

The case centres around the importance of further medical evidence for a person with mental health problems and on who is responsible for obtaining this evidence. Both the MHRN and the judges believe that such evidence is vital and that the DWP should be responsible and proactive in obtaining it. For their part, the DWP don’t want to know about medical evidence from a claimant’s own mental health professionals because the WCA is not an assessment of a person’s mental health condition but a dummy assessment that pretends that how a person functions can be separated from any condition they live with. The last thing the DWP want is real evidence from someone who might be qualified to comment!

It is possible that some kind of pilot study will be undertaken by? maybe Atos? to try to establish how they could go about obtaining this evidence. Under the Equalities Act, the DWP should be making reasonable adjustments to the assessment to accommodate our problems and it has been successfully argued that obtaining such evidence would be a reasonable adjustment. We can probably predict that they will try to show from a pilot study that such adjustments would be too expensive, unhelpful and unworkable, and therefore unreasonable. It will be for us to keep an eye on the progress of any pilot and to make sure they know that we are all watching them.

We will be in court and will keep you informed.

An open letter to the Daily Mail…

Thanks for speaking the truth


The Daily Mail chose today to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus, champion of the oppressed, by publishing this article today.  Here’s my response.


Dear Daily Mail,

I’ve got a little boy.  His name is Isaac, and he’s nearly three.  Like any little boy, he loves cars, balls, and running around.  He’s barely ever still.

A few days ago though, he was.  I took him to the supermarket to spend his pocket money, and we passed the donation basket for our local food bank.  It was about half full – nothing spectacular, in fact, mostly prunes and pasta – and he asked what it was.  As simply as possible, I tried to explain that it was for people to give food for other people who couldn’t afford it.

This affected his two year old brain fairly deeply.  After a lot of thought, he decided to spend a little bit of…

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Vital Disabled Student Support to be Cut. Save DSA!

The Hardest Hit

Cross-posted from Sarah Campbell, Rolling with the Punches
Spread the word. Tell your MP. Write blogs. Let people know what is happening. We must try to stop this.

You can write to your MP online here.
Please also sign the e-petition here.
Share and Retweet this #ProtectDSA.

After becoming disabled as a teenager, I went to university, obtained a first class degree, then completed a PhD.  While I worked extremely hard, none of this would have been possible without the support of Disabled Student Allowance (DSA), which covers the extra costs for equipment and assistance disabled students may require in order to study at university.

This is why I was aghast to learn that the government has just announced plans to cut DSA.
Couched under the language of “modernisation”, “targeting funds at those who need it most”, “fairness”, is hidden the reality of an estimated 60 to 70% cut in…

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