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Disability Benefits Reassessment "Silent Witness" Project (4 April 2011)

Discussion in 'Action Alerts and Advocacy' started by drjohn, Apr 4, 2011.

  1. drjohn

    drjohn Senior Member

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    PERMISSION TO FORWARD AND RE POST EVERYWHERE FOR MAXIMUM EFFECT

    As the Government announces its programme to move more people off disability benefits and encourage them into work (4 April 2011), ME Free For All.org has written to invite anyone, including journalists who believe that the Work Capability Assessment (WCA) test is a valid and reliable way of assessing ill people for work, especially those with unpredictable, randomly fluctuating and often invisible symptoms, such as M.E. (Myalgic Encephalomyelitis) sufferers, to follow the whole process, decide for themselves whether it is fair and to check that no one who is genuinely ill will suffer. They will have the opportunity to follow a claimant from the moment the letter drops on the doormat to the final outcome. We think this is the fairest way and will produce quite a difference in public awareness, than relying on press releases from and spokespeople for, the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP).

    To make this project effective, we are, therefore, looking for people in every part of the UK*, who are due for a review of Incapacity Benefit (IB) or Disability Living Allowance (DLA), to volunteer to have someone such as a: local or national journalist; any independent witness; friend or relative; welfare rights lawyer, or Citizens Advice Bureau worker; maybe even their MP to follow them every step of the process and accompany them to sit in silence and observe to any medical assessment or appeal. They may make a written account or sound recording if agreed.

    If you have any concerns about volunteering, anonymity of both name and photo can be guaranteed (unless, of course, you prefer to be identified) and any extra effort involved in writing to journalists, MPs and government ministers can be shouldered by our willing volunteers. We can also arrange a buddy for you, who has been through it all before (You might get me!).

    Our aim is to provide evidence to every one of the 650 MPs in the House of Commons and get some really objective reporting in the press and broadcast media.

    Please dont leave it to others who may be doing the same and regret it afterwards, when you are struggling on lower rates of benefits, left without any money at all pending appeal, in debt, despair and being forced into inappropriate work, which is likely to make you ill and send you round the carousel again.

    Please e-mail me, drjohngreensmith@mefreeforall.org, today or as soon as possible, with Silent witness Project in the subject line. It would be helpful if you would give a date (if you already have one) for your assessment, or alert us the same day you receive your letter; the area where you live; local newspaper(s) and MP.

    I can assure you that any discomfort or stress that volunteering for this Project will be far less than going it alone and you are much more likely to get a favourable outcome for yourself and others.

    Since the degree of success of this Silent witness project really does depend on the collective willingness to volunteer and support volunteers and is the biggest we have ever undertaken, we welcome as much help from willing individual volunteers and the support of other local and national groups representing people with M.E. E-mail me today, with the sort of help you can offer: Claimant volunteer; buddy, administrator, publicist, area co-ordinator, willing gopher (go for this, go for that) .. or whatever you can offer to help. Please be patient for replies. We depend totally on volunteers, who are not always very well themselves.

    * We are distributing details of this project worldwide for general information and as a comparison with the systems in other countries.

    Best wishes
    John
    drjohngreensmith@mefreeforall.org
    Dr John H Greensmith
    ME Free For All.org
  2. Esther12

    Esther12 Senior Member

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    Thanks for this John.

    I'm not sure if it would be helpful for me to do this - my condition's been improving recently, so I think that it could well be fair for them to move my payout down a bit. I'll give it some more thought when I get my letter.
  3. currer

    currer Senior Member

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    This looks like a good initiative, and worth responding to when YOUR TIME COMES!
  4. SilverbladeTE

    SilverbladeTE Senior Member

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    Somewhere near Glasgow, Scotland
    yeah it's a joke, a dark one a tbest
    ATOS put me off incapcity, grea I cna only go TO their sodding assessment 30 miles away when I have a "good day" and on a good day my natural "lust for life" comes ot the fore
    So, on most days if I can only manage to walk my dog ONCE for 500 yards or so, very slowly and painfully and that is my *limit* for the day (and I keep trying to go near my limit to keep active), how the f' can I get to and from work, never mind cope with work itself!?
    what bollocks :/

    Alot of folk will lose their lives over this evil crap, I just hope some of those poor buggers who decide to top themselves do it in front of Parliament or the BBC etc to draw attention to this silent slaughter, ick :/
    And NO, none of you lot bloody do that. Just a victory for the Weasels when one of us dies, don't give them the satisfaction!
    but many people will lose their homes, ability to care for themselves etc...
    *Silverblade sings Deutschland Uber Alles outside Parliament with a banner with a pic of Ian Duncan Smith wearing a swastika armband and the logo "Are you proud you voted Tory, idiots?"* :p

    Any of you read what Ian Duncan Smith, head of the Department of Work and Pensions said other week? basically they should cut welfare payouts to encourage folk to work!
    Coming form an upper middle class wanker who's never had to worry about real work or being unemployed, that is outrageous.
  5. currer

    currer Senior Member

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    Sorry to hear about your difficulties, silverblade.
    I hope you will be appealing against this decision. Most ATOS decisions that go to appeal are overturned. The appeal board is not made uip of ATOS employees.
    I believe the disability benefit system will grind to a halt once the reassessments get underway. The system will not be able to take the number of appeals against unjust decisions.

    The last tiime the conservative government tried to radically reduce the number on disability benefit, the cost of decision making, staff, bureaucracy etc. for the increased work made the whole scheme uneconomic.

    How much better it would be if the DOH tried to discover WHY so many citizens of working age are unable to work!
    They should see it as a medical problem, instead of treating it as a financial problem, which is the current policy.

    Do you realise that the DOH does not collect disease statistics across the population? So if an illness is rising in numbers as some kind of epidemiic they will not know. They really do not know how many people are claiming sickness benfit for CFS/ME. It could be a quarter of a million, but that number was always stated in the early nineties. It could be more now. Suppose it is half a million? No-one knows as far as I can tell. Does this make any sense as a way to run a complex society?

    Remember the discussions that went on a couple of years ago saying that there were half a million excess numbers on incapacity benefit?
    I wonder if that number could be made up of untreated CFS/ME sufferers? If ME really is spreading in the population it could account for the rise in disability claims in people of working age.

    The problem seems to be that many people who OUGHT TO BE WORKING are instead suffering from mysterious fatiguing illness. Why not LOOK AT THE MEDICAL PROBLEM? If you have young people getting ill YOU HAVE GOT A MEDICAL PROBLEM AND SICKNESS SPREADING IN YOUR SOCIETY. This is not best managed as a financial problem. This is the disadvantage of getting bankers in to run the government.

    Anyone in government listening?
  6. drjohn

    drjohn Senior Member

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    Good news that you have been improving recently, Esther. I presume that you have been through a review before? I have - 5 times! I'm pleased to say that I have IB until 2014, unless they change it or I explode first. Yes, best to wait until your letter comes. We may be able to arrange some help for you and/or you may be able to help someone on our list.
  7. drjohn

    drjohn Senior Member

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    Thanks Currer. We are expecting the steady trickle to turn into a flood when these letters go out. Anyone affected, please do let us know the instant that you hear the dull thud of the letter on your doormat. Don't delay a day and we'll see if we can help. We must try to get an efficient system of matching volunteers and supporters.
  8. drjohn

    drjohn Senior Member

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    Hi Silverblade, Am I right in thinking that you've had your medical and they have decided that you are fit for work? If so, I think you either have to seek a job (which takes as much energy as doing the job itself!) or appeal. I would definitely appeal. As Currer says, there is about 40% overturned. We may be able to find some support in your local area and a sympathetic journalist to tell it how it really is. I'm sure that not only is this system nasty for claimants but costly for the very taxpayers the government says it is trying to protect. Get in touch if you want help in any of these ways, Silverblade -- drjohngreensmith@mefreeforall.org -- Damage limitation if nothing else!

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