1) Energy prices begin to rise and more winter deaths anticipated as families choose between heating and eating. Meanwhile, PM David Cameron advises wearing a jumper.
British Gas announced a 9.2% price rise this week ahead of winter, and others of the Big Six are expected to follow suit forcing many more families, poor, vulnerable and elderly to choose between heating and eating.
Following the announcement, British Gas made a PR faux-pas in allowing the public to ask questions through the Twitter hashtag #AskBG
— Daniel James Clarke (@danieljclarke) February 27, 2013
Thousands used the hashtag to hit out at British Gas for the price hike and the expected deaths caused by the increase.
PM David Cameron then made a bad move in suggesting that people should wear jumpers in order to keep warm – a suggestion that has inflamed the public and politicians alike. Labour MP John Robertson branded the Prime Minister “patronizing and out of touch.”
2) DWP Secretary to resign over Universal Credit ‘fiasco’
Robert Devereux, the permanent secretary to the DWP will be criticised in a new report highlighting the problems in the government’s Universal Credit programme.
Deveraux has said to colleagues that he will resign if he is personally criticised in the report made by the Commons Public accounts committee.
Minister for Work and Pensions, Iain Duncan Smith is thought to have fought with Devereux in the rollout of Universal Credit, which puts several benefit payments into one monthly sum.
In August, a leaked survey of staff working on the scheme revealed chaos, a lack of management and frustration. One employee described the work as “soul destroying.”
A report by the National Audit Office in September said it suffered from “weak management, ineffective control and poor governance” and could miss its 2017 deadline for implementation.
3) 150,000 complain about ATOS
Sky News have obtained figures showing that Citizens Advice has had 150,000 complaints about the fit-to-work test administrators ATOS.
Citizens Advice say that the tests are failing genuinely sick and disabled people across the country.
Doctors are also warning that the service is “unfit for purpose.”
4) Widow speaks out against ATOS on treatment of husband: “Cancer killed my husband, but ATOS took his dignity a long time before his death”
Lyn Coupe has vowed to continue the fight against healthcare group ATOS following the death of her husband David, who lost his life to cancer.
David Coupe had been ill for 24 years with a back injury, diabetes and a heart condition.
ATOS found David “capable of limited employment” and cut his benefits by £50 a week – a decision he appealed against, though he was told that a ruling would take a year.
Shortly after, David found he had cancer, which left him in even more pain and took his sight and hearing. He died before the appeal ruling. Lyn now says she will continue the fight:
“One night I heard him sobbing downstairs. He was blind, almost deaf and in terrible pain, yet they still said he was fit enough to work. He told me ‘I can’t go on. I’m done in duck’.
“All David wanted to do was stay alive long enough to see them pay back the money he was entitled to. Sadly he didn’t live long enough.”
MP Dennis Skinner brought the case to light in a speech to the Prime Minister, in which he called on David Cameron to end the fit to work tests and the “monster” that is ATOS.
by Kam Sandhu – @KamBass