Fit-To-Work Benefits Test ‘Unfit For Purpose’

More than 150,000 people have raised serious concerns about fit-for-work tests administered by a private healthcare company on behalf of the Government.

Figures obtained exclusively by Sky News show the charity Citizens Advice has been inundated by huge numbers of complaints about assessments carried out by Atos.

Atos Kills. More than 150,000 people have raised serious concerns about fit-for-work tests administered by a private healthcare company on behalf of the Government.

It warns that genuinely disabled and seriously ill people are being stripped of benefits following inadequate tests.

Meanwhile, doctors are warning that the service is “unfit for purpose”.

Gillian Guy, the chief executive of Citizens Advice, warned: “Atos is failing to do its job properly, failing to give taxpayers value for money and worst of all, failing thousands of sick and disabled people who bear the brunt of wrong assessments.”

It comes as a woman widowed just last week tells Sky News about how the decision that her husband was fit for work was not even overturned while he was dying from a rare and aggressive cancer.

Lyn Coupe’s case was raised in Parliament this week by her local MP Dennis Skinner.

The 81-year-old Labour politician famed for his passionate performances in Parliament implored David Cameron to “abolish this cruel heartless monster called Atos, get rid of it”.

The Prime Minister admitted that every MP had heard similar stories in their own constituencies.

Mrs Coupe, from Calow near Chesterfield, said she felt compelled to speak out even while organising her husband David’s funeral.

He was assessed as able to work late last year despite ulcerated legs, back pain that left him in agony, diabetes and heart problems.

Mrs Coupe said the couple were forced to sacrifice food and heating to deal with the cut in benefits.

“We didn’t have any heating on in the winter like other people would have had. We sat with coats on or blankets. I would go to bed at about 8am in the evening to try to get warm.”

Food was also sacrificed, and the couple never went out.

The Coupes tried to launch an appeal but were told they would have to wait at least 10 months because of a backlog of cases.

Once Mr Coupe was diagnosed with terminal cancer that would kill him within months, his wife contacted Atos again but still the appeal was not brought forward.

Continue reading…

Via Sky News


Queen tries to use state poverty fund to heat Buckingham Palace

Queen tried to use state poverty fund to heat Buckingham Palace

Queen tried to use state poverty fund to heat Buckingham Palace

Ministers were asked if money earmarked for schools, hospitals and low-income families could be used to meet soaring fuel bills

The Queen asked ministers for a poverty handout to help heat her palaces but was rebuffed because they feared it would be a public relations disaster, documents disclosed under the Freedom of Information Act reveal.

Royal aides were told that the £60m worth of energy-saving grants were aimed at families on low incomes and if the money was given to Buckingham Palace instead of housing associations or hospitals it could lead to “adverse publicity” for the Queen and the Government.

Aides complained to ministers in 2004 that the Queen’s gas and electricity bills, which had increased by 50 per cent that year, stood at more than £1m a year and had become “untenable”.

The Royal Household also complained that the £15m government grant to maintain the Queen’s palaces was inadequate.

Continue reading…

From The Independent September 2004. By no means any less relevant today.

☷ Comment

A particular point of interest lies within the Government’s response. Where you or I might question the moral implications of such a proposal, concern here rests solely with the probability of “adverse publicity”, inferring that ‘If the palace would like to choose a less contentious coffer, we’ll do business’.

Further Reading

Republicans Against Biased BBC Coverage Of Royal News And Trivia
Many people complain to the BBC about their coverage of royal news and events however many people complain/notice that the BBC tend to send out standard replies sometimes (in fact quite often) giving answers that bare no relation to the original complaint so we would like to encourage people to post their complaints to the BBC along with the replies on our page so that we (you) can compare the replies and hopefully this will assist other republican groups or individuals in their fight for real democracy in this country….lets start turning the heat up in Aunties kitchen!

The Monarchy Needs To Go!
There can’t be many people who think the decision to award the Queen a 22% above-inflation pay-rise is, in any way, justifiable. The move is an insult to everyone being hit hard by the government’s austerity measures and highlights how out-of-touch the unelected Head of State is. In 2010, it was revealed that the Queen had applied to a poverty fund to help heat Buckingham Palace, again demonstrating the Royal Family’s indifference to the problems faced by people on low incomes. The idea of abolishing the monarchy is no longer a radical idea, it is common sense.

How I went from monarchist to republican
I was initially a monarchist by reaction and instinct. Before I thought about the issues I noticed that the people arguing that Australia should become a republic were exactly the same people who were the first to point out Australia’s shortcomings on every other occasion. I call them the ‘Australia Sucks Brigade’ (the ASB). The ones who scour Australia’s record for every shortcoming and focus only on those events and flaws.

As Expected
The Superior Court of Ontario has ruled yesterday that the Canadian citizenship oath, which requires would-be citizens to promise “allegiance” to the Queen, is constitutional, thus rejecting the challenge of a group of anti-monarchists who argued that it infringed their freedoms of speech and of religion, as well as their equality rights under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

Thailand Debates Lèse Majesté Law
A constitutional monarchy since 1932, Thailand has one of world´s most strict lèse majesté laws. The article 112 on the Criminal code prohibits any words or acts that “defame, insult or threaten the King, the Queen, the Heir-apparent or the Regent” and establishes a punishment of three to thirteen years of imprisonment for infringements. According to official statistics, in 2008 authorities processed 77 cases of lèse majesté. Along the last year two cases won public attention. The most controversial one was the sentencing of editor Somyot Prueksakasemsuk to 11 years in jail for publishing two articles criticizing the King. The other case, which happened in April, resulted in Akachai Hongkangwan condemnation to 40 months in jail for selling DVD copies of an Australian documentary that pictured the Thai monarchy under a negative light. See also The Normalization of the Violation of Human Rights in the Name of Protecting the Monarchy

An analysis of Sir Bob Russell: MP and abusive monarchist
In two previous articles (see here and here), we discussed correspondence which republicans have had with their MPs regarding the monarchy. While the MPs themselves may not have given much in the way of a response, their answers were at least passably civil. That cannot be said of Sir Bob Russell, the highly abusive MP for Colchester, who responded to a constituent’s complaint about the cost of last year’s royal wedding (the multi-million pound security bill for which was paid by us, the public, of course), by saying:

“With reference to your email raising concerns over the cost to taxpayers for the Royal Wedding next year: Haven’t you got something better to do in your sad life? Bit of a spoilsport, aren’t you? What a miserable person you must be! Get a life and stop whingeing!”

Mr Russell justified his remarks by claiming: “I knew this clown came from the republican, socialist wing of the Labour Party so I let him have it with both barrels.” We have no knowledge whatever of the political sympathies of the person who wrote to him. However, it was interesting that Mr Russell accused and derided the writer as being a supporter of the Labour Party – given that he himself was a member for many years before he switched his allegiances to the Liberal Democrats.
Republic is a campaigning pressure group. Everything we do is aimed at persuading ordinary people – and our politicians – to support a democratic alternative to the monarchy. Our website is just a small part of what we do. We undertake a range of activities on behalf of our members, ensuring the views of republicans are heard.