It never ceases to amaze me just how dangerous and costly this government has got. From dozens and dozens of failed ‘free schools’ that cost a lost fortune to a ludicrous ‘help-to-buy’ scheme that lined the pockets of national housebuilders but actually helped no-one. From the LearnDirect cash scandal to dismantling the Audit Commission and not forgetting the jewel in the crown of Tory incompetence – Brexit.
But nowhere has that incompetence come into sharper focus than with Universal Credit. Except for under-funding the NHS of course. That is expected to cause an increase of 250,000 avoidable deaths each decade from here. Oh and victimising the disabled with its management of the Work Capability Assessment and Employment and Support Allowance where thousands have died waiting for assistance or been declared fit to work. And – mustn’t forget the 9,000 deaths that just quietly occurred because of fuel poverty this winter. I’ll stop here as the list goes on a bit.
However, we don’t know how many people are seriously adversely affected or even die as a result of being on Universal Credit – mainly because its national rollout has been delayed – due to it failing to do what it was supposed to do – but also because the government refuses to answer Freedom of Information requests about it.
More Windrush – yes, but that’s another story. More Brexit failure, yes, but that’s another story. More innocent teens being murdered due to lack of street cops – yes, but that’s another story. No, this time it’s about taking some salt and shoving it as hard as possible into the deepest, widest most gaping wound of them all and revelling in the pain it brings.
Buckle-up folks, prepare to reach for the Gin once again. No tonic required. From Steven Preece at Welfare Weekly comes this heart-warming story where empathy and compassion are once again abandoned for no other logical reason than the ideology of right-wing lunatics shooting a new dose of austerity into the veins of our very weakest and most vulnerable.
Universal Credit staff are being ordered to visit benefit claimants whilst they are in hospital to help determine their eligibility for state support, it has been reported.
Campaigners say seriously ill people are being interrogated by DWP officials whilst they are laying in hospital beds in order to ensure they are receiving the right level of financial support.
The cruel practice of unexplained visits has been described as “grotesque”, with some of those affected receiving visits whilst awaiting operations or other emergency medical treatment.
The shocking practice was exposed by Islington’s Policy and Performance Scrutiny Committee, who say the “callous” approach must be stopped with immediate effect.
Councillor Troy Gallagher said: “When people are in hospital they are not there to be chased and it’s not for the DWP to guess or validate if they are well or unwell.”
“I think it’s callous”, he said.
“It’s an issue they need to amend quickly because it’s highly stressful and deeply upsetting.”
He added: “If someone says they’re unwell, whatever the reason is, you should always accept that.”
A Department for Work and Pensions spokesperson said: “Jobcentre staff occasionally conduct hospital visits to confirm people’s bank account or rent details. This ensures we can pay their full benefits on time.”
But campaigners say the practice must be stopped immediately, because of the potential harm to a person’s health and well-being.
Gail Ward, from the campaign group Disabled People Against Cuts, said: ‘It’s disgusting and immoral.’
“When you are very ill in hospital the last thing anyone wants is to be harassed by the DWP.”
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