1) Judge rules work programme ‘incompatible’ with human rights
Retrospective law changes made by Iain Duncan Smith and the Department for Work and Pensions, following flaws identified by three judges in a case that involved the use of workfare in Poundland, have been deemed in contravention of European Human rights laws. Human rights lawyers say the ruling is a “damning assessment” and if the appeal is upheld, government will owe jobseekers £130m.
Appeal judges agreed that “the 2011 regulations failed to give the unemployed enough detailed information, especially about sanctions, including loss of jobseeker’s allowance, for refusing jobs under the schemes.”
To avoid re-paying jobseekers for unfair sanctions and withdrawal of benefits, Iain Duncan Smith changed the laws retrospectively – a callous abuse of his position to avoid giving any justice to the unemployed people who had been unfairly treated.
Iain Duncan Smith will, unsurprisingly, appeal against this decision.
Iain Duncan Smith is also appealing a third time against a decision to release a report problems of the Universal Credit scheme – a flagship policy that has seen hundreds of millions of pounds wasted. All of these appeals are paid for by the public purse.
2) Police begin inquiry into treatment of protestors at Westminster Abbey
Last week, we posted an account by Rob Punton, from Disabled People Against Cuts, about his experience at Westminster Abbey when the group attempted to start a protest against the closure of the Independent Living Fund.
Rob Punton also posted his experience on his blog, and detailed that police would not allow food, water or medication into the site, where some 300 police surrounded 100 protestors.
Metropolitan Police are now launching an inquiry into the treatment of protestors at the site.
3) Calum’s List an important resource in understanding the effects of welfare reform
Calum’s List, a website dedicated to remembering the people who have committed suicide as a result of welfare reforms or delays and which was shut down last month, is a ‘valuable resource.’
“It includes cases such as that of Martin Rust from Norwich, a schizophrenic who had been found fit to work by a DWP assessment, and committed suicide two months later. The Coroner cited the “distress” caused by the DWP’s decision as a contributory factor in his decision to end his life. And that of Elaine Christian, who was found dead in Holderness Drain after self-harming and taking an overdose. The inquest heard that she had had to stop work because of poor health and was worried about a medical appointment to assess her eligibility for disability benefits she was due to attend the next day. Vicky Harrison, a 21-year-old who took an overdose after being rejected by what her family estimated to be around 200 jobs in two years. Her case is one of the few on the list to have been reported by the national press.”
The list is important as many of these stories may be reported by local press, but are often not picked up by national media, and this sort of body of evidence is vital in ensuring we understand what is taking place.
4) UK needs 4 day week to combat stress, says leading doctor
One of the UK’s top doctors has called for a move to a four day week to reduce stress, allow people to spend more time with family, and to reduce unemployment.
Dr John Ashton added that this would also benefit people’s health.
“When you look at the way we lead our lives, the stress that people are under, the pressure on time and sickness absence, [work-related]mental health is clearly a major issue. We should be moving towards a four-day week because the problem we have in the world of work is you’ve got a proportion of the population who are working too hard and a proportion that haven’t got jobs”, Ashton said.
“We’ve got a maldistribution of work. The lunch-hour has gone; people just have a sandwich at their desk and carry on working,” added the leader of the UK’s 3,300 public-health experts working in the NHS, local government and academia.”
5) Glenda Jackson makes an excellent speech speaking out against Iain Duncan Smith and DWP
by Kam Sandhu – @KamBass