My regular readers (all twelve of them) might recall that one of the topics I'm most likely to get ranty about is the welfare system and the government's welfare reforms which are basically taking support away from the sick and disabled purely in order to save money - without any regard to the human cost.
Now, back to the figures from the Daily Mirror. Via a freedom of information request they found the following:
We've used the Freedom of Information Act to discover that, between January and August last year, 1,100 claimants died after they were put in the "work-related activity group".
This group - which accounted for 21% of all claimants at the last count - get a lower rate of benefit for one year and are expected to go out and find work.
This compares to 5,300 deaths of people who were put in the "support group" - which accounts for 22% of claimants - for the most unwell, who get the full, no-strings benefit of up to £99.85 a week.
We don't know how many people died after being found "fit to work", the third group, as that information was "not available".
But we have also found that 1,600 people died before their assessment had been completed.Yes, you have read that right, eleven hundred people who, according to the welfare system, were healthy enough to work in the near future, were actually so unhealthy that they died. Now, the problem with these figures is that they don't tell us what the causes of death were - so some of those 1,100 could well have been hit by a bus. But even so it's a shocking indictment of the way the welfare system works and how it cocks things up and puts people in the wrong groups.
The Government has boasted that more than half of new claimants are found "fit to work" - failing to mention that over 300,000 have appealed the decision and almost 40% have won.So yeah, an error rate of up to 40%. Fan-fucking-tastic. And yet this is the system that Chris Grayling and other tories think is "too soft". A system which insists that people, who are so unwell that they die, are fit to work is one which the government thinks isn't tough enough on these "scroungers". After all, according to the actual model used by the DWP, the
Oh, I forgot to mention:
But we have also found that 1,600 people died before their assessment had been completed.
This should take 13 weeks, while the claimant gets a reduced payment of up to £67.50 a week, but delays have led to claims the system is in "meltdown".£67.50 a week! What luxury! Not.
You see, when people talk about impoverished pensioners, who get a winter fuel allowance, a higher tax allowance and concessionary rates on a lot of things, yet who still can't afford to eat properly or heat their homes, what you've got to bear in mind is that these pensioners get almost wice the amount to live on as someone who, for example, was juse blinded in an industrial accident.
I wish I could see Chris Grayling and the Lib Dem MPs who signed off on the welfare reforms have to live on £67.50 a week for three months. Preferrably while in constant discomfort from some illness or disability which is bad enough to make life miserable but not bad enough to get them into the unconditional support group. And then, at the end of the three months maybe they could then find out, after struggling to travel to an inaccessible "assessment centre" that their assessment has been cancelled, that it's their own fault for not having received the letter notifying them of the cancellation, and that they'll have to keep on trying to scrape by on £67.50 a week for yet another month.
That would be justice.
Unfortunately in real life the best that could be hoped for is for someone in the coaliton to wake up and have the guts to do something about the hideous mess of the welfare system - preferrably something which doesn't just continue the New Labour/Tory trend of fucking over the sick and disabled.
Oh, sorry, nearly forgot. Here's the best part:
The work capability assessments are carried out by private firm Atos, on a £100million a year contract.
The firm made a £42million profit in 2010 and paid boss Keith Wilman £800,000, a 22% pay rise on the previous year.Fucking brilliant.