“David Cameron has blood on his hands.”  Yes, I dare to write those words because, apparently, that is the most evil and disgusting thing I can say — at least according to one judge in the UK — who fined a disabled woman £450 for saying the same thing.

David Cameron is leader of the the right wing Conservative Party and Prime Minister of the United Kingdom. After the last election, he formed a coalition government with the Liberal Party having failed to win an overall majority. One of his main campaign issues was the creation of a Big Society: “We do need a social recovery to mend the broken society and to me, that’s what the Big Society is all about.”

You measure the degree of civilization of a society by how it treats its weakest members.
— Winston Churchill.

Or for the American audience:

The moral test of a government is how it treats those who are at the dawn of life, the children; those who are in the twilight of life, the aged; and those who are in the shadow of life, the sick and the needy, and the handicapped.
— Hubert Humphrey

In 1948 “From the cradle to the grave” became the tagline for the new welfare state in Britain — all kinds of benefits/payments including maternity grants, unemployment and sickness benefits, old-age pensions and a death grant were payable to families to assist them in times of hardship and along with a “free” National Health service.

The main intention was to keep Britain working and not to let people fall into the traps outlined by Sir William Beveridge’s report Social Insurance and Allied Services, published on 1 December 1942. These five traps were “want, disease, ignorance, squalor and idleness.” These benefits were to be paid for by National Insurance contributions, some deducted from the wage earner and some funded by the employer.

These were not “hand-outs” they were entitlements which you had contributed to.

The writing on the wall for the implosion of the “Welfare State” was apparent to me and my family as long ago as 1990 when it became clear that expectations my parents had about support in their old age from the contributions they had both paid into for nearly 50 years were false.

Yes they had their pensions, but their top up private pensions had already been raided by the state and subject to taxes. Yes they had their basic health care needs met — but nursing home costs, dentistry, eye care — NO.  Thankfully my father died before his moral outrage at the situation became too much.

My mother on the other hand was faced with paying the full cost of her nursing home care and when her money ran out the state took all of her pension except for £17 a week pocket money and accrued the balance owing against the house that she and I shared. At the time of her death she owed the local authority that was responsible for her care over £87000.

Fast forward to today — the Coalition has been revisiting the welfare system and systematically destroying it.  Being sick or disabled for any reason at all now leaves you at grave risk of losing any and in some cases all the support that you might have received from the state. Everyone in receipt of Disabled Living Allowance — an allowance paid to the disabled to help and assist them lead normal lives, go to work, get an adapted car so they have independence or to pay for a specialist carer or support — now has to have their entitlement reviewed by a private company called Atos.

Atos gets paid by results — it gets paid for each person it removes from benefit.  These are some of their assessments.

Judging a mentally ill woman fit for work — benefits stopped.

Claimant being placed in the ‘fit-to-work’ group even though she has a brain tumour

Ruth Anim has learning difficulties, a heart problem and epilepsy. A work capability test by Atos said she should prepare for a job

32 people die a week after being told they are fit to work and their benefits are stopped.

1300 deaths in those claimants who had been on full support who died after being put back to work in the period between January and November 2011 — last page of PDF Document.

These are just a few of the ways that the government are destroying the lives of the disabled people of Britain.

Now we have the assault on the rest of the poorest and more vulnerable people in Britain.

There is the bedroom tax that cuts housing benefit to less well-off people if they have a bedroom too many ignoring people who may use their extra bedroom for a night carer at weekends, foster parents and people with older children who serve in the armed forces. It also ignores people with serious health conditions for whom sharing a bed is no longer possible and people who use their “spare” bedroom for safe storage of medical equipment such as oxygen cylinders.

There is also a cap being placed on a whole tranche of other benefits which is currently less than inflation.

These new cuts will put 200,000 children into poverty.

This is all bad enough — but the whole government has the blood of democracy itself on its hands as well.

In early February Cait Reilly won an appeal in the House of Lords — the highest court in the UK against the government over the controversial  Back to Work programme, and which required jobseekers to undertake unpaid work where directed or face the loss of their benefits. While encouraging the unemployed to obtain relevant skills might seem reasonable enough, the reality of the scheme for at least one jobseeker, Cait Reilly, was that she had to give up voluntary work in a museum to stack shelves without pay.

The appeal court unanimously held the regulations were unlawful because the claimants were required to comply with a scheme that had not been clearly set out.  This opened the door to 300,000 jobseekers that would otherwise be entitled to seek compensation for being unlawfully stripped of their benefits. So what did the government do — they passed a new law which retroactively amended the botched rules they had drawn up to force people onto their mandatory labour schemes with the help of the opposition so what was illegal at the time is suddenly legal!

Now the worst part — because of all this with the poisonous rhetoric with undercurrents of hatred the sick and the disabled are now becoming the pariahs of society, they are called lazy scroungers, idle good for nothings — and that is just the polite terms.  The sick and the disabled are being demonised. Attacks on the sick and disabled have risen by nearly 25% over the last year. This is ripping Britain apart at the seams.

Yes I am angry — yes I am helpless — all I can do is offer personal support where I can.

My parents who worked hard all their lives, fought in wars against Hitler’s Nazi Germany will be turning in their graves — their beloved country is turning into something they risked their lives to prevent happening.  England is no longer a green and pleasant land.

43 Comments

  1. This is rather grim and upsetting, Nicola. Atos seems like a cruel, heartless organization that has one thing as its bottom line with no concern for whom it crushes on its way to a larger profit.

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    1. It is horrible – especially when you read the stories of how ex-servicemen are treated, how children are NOT being treated for cancer etc etc It quite literally made my blood boil.

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  2. I can taste your rage, Nicola! Such excellent detail and research and writing and passion!

    When the money goes bad — the first to pay the government debt are the elderly, the disabled and the children.

    Now, with my bloody tongue planted firmly in my American cheekiness — are you unaware how wonderful the UK healthcare system is, and I know because I watched the 2012 London Olympics and saw the spinning hospital beds and sick children jumping up and down celebrating your wonderful socialized medicine:

    NHS, paid for via national taxes, provides free and reduced health care for all residents of the UK. NHS employs more than 1.4 million people and serves a population of about 52 million. It also operates in Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland.

    The ceremony, directed by Danny Boyle (Slumdog Millionaire, Trainspotting), paid homage to NHS through a dedicated segment that featured dancing nurses and “sick” kids.

    http://goo.gl/2fYA3

    [Organizer Danny] Boyle recruited real nurses working for the National Health Service to take part, a tribute to a treasured national institution that started in 1948 amid the ruins of war-devastated Britain. The state-funded NHS provides free health treatment to all Britons, and is embraced by all political parties. While grumbling about its perceived slow service is widespread – and planned government reforms are controversial – its egalitarian ethos is a matter of national pride. When U.S. Republicans criticized the NHS in 2009, a Twitter campaign in its defense became so popular it crashed the NHS website.

    http://goo.gl/HBM80

    I even have video of the dancing nurses to prove it!

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    1. The NHS has been great – there are large numbers of individuals who work in the NHS who work extremely hard under very dissicult conditions to provide the best care they can. I would not be alive without the NHS – and a very dedicated surgeon who operated through the night on a hunch to save me. It would have been too late in the morning.

      The problem is that the structures of the NHS do no always work in its best interests there are now more cheif than indians – and a lot of those cheifs weild pens and calcultors rather then medicines and surgery.

      The Danny Boyle celebration of the NHS was a celebration of how great our NHS USED to be and a warning against the mass privatisation takeover that is now taking place, despite pre-election promises that it would not be privatised.

      here is an outline of the changes to come http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-12177084

      As usual it is the elderly that suffer

      http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/2011/oct/13/nhs-hospitals-care-of-elderly

      There is not enough money – or rather they chose for there not to be enough money for some treatments – it is called the postcode lottery

      http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/2012/oct/20/patients-rare-conditions-postcode-lottery

      http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-london-20272912

      http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2140952/Doctor-fought-NHS-tirelessly-postcode-lottery-pioneering-cancer-treatment-loses-battle-life.html

      http://www.telegraph.co.uk/health/8158059/Postcode-lottery-of-NHS-care-revealed-in-full.html

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      1. Thanks for the amazing education, Nicola.

        At least dental appears to be included as a service in your new NHS realignment. In the USA, for some reason, your teeth are not considered a part of comprehensive healthcare. You have to purchase dental coverage separate from your health insurance and few people do. In a failing economy good, pretty, healthy teeth are viewed as a luxury.

        If you’re old or young or poor — and on assistance — the government cares not about your teeth in the USA unless they are specifically making you sick or were injured by a nearby jaw or facial cancer. Then, there is little reconstruction and nothing cosmetic. They will always prefer to pull the teeth than repair or make bridges or provide implants.

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        1. I would love to think that the dental system will deliver those promises – a lot of dentists have left the NHS and have gone private. I know when I left the UK that you have to pay a large percentage of the costs yourself when you had HNS dental care – not checked to see how much that will change under the new provisions.

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    1. Peter! It is quite wonderful to have you back with us — even if only momentarily, SMILE! — you always have interesting and insightful things to share.

      I thank you for helping Nicola do the research for this post. The evidence was meticulous and damning! Well done!

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  3. Nicola, this is deeply disturbing. I too am angry and disgusted by what you have stated in this post and what I read in those articles. It leaves one with an overwhelming feeling of helplessness. I am fairly aware of the cracks in our own US system, which leaves me feeling angry and helpless enough, but what you have written here has left me with little hope of things getting better. Quite a heavy duty read for a Friday morning – but such an important topic that people need to be aware of.

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    1. I am sorry for such a heavy subject on what is the first day of a holiday weekend – I got to bursting point – or is it boiling point.

      I know they system is sligjtly different in the USA but I am pretty sure all the cracks look pretty devoid of hope from wherever you are. I wil be back with food and kitties later on in the weekend.

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      1. Jumping in… I want heavy subjects like this! No apologies, please, for writing such an important article!

        As I privately told you — we need articles like this published here every single day because they make a big difference in the perception of life.

        This article is currently the #3 Most Read article in our sidebar. That is an amazing achievement for a new article published only an hour ago! You have touched a reader nerve. The people are with you!

        Sorry, but no sorries for greatness!

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        1. I said what had to be said the only way I could say it – I do not wnat to put people off their breakfast though …………. or do I ? I certainly want them to think and as twist says it is a good day to do that .

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  4. No apologies are needed. I think the upcoming holiday makes for a very appropriate backdrop to this post. Not to get all religious, but Christ did teach that we should care for our widows, impoverished and sick. I think your post needed to be written. As many prepare their Easter baskets and buy their Easter dresses, I think we need to be reminded the true meaning of the Easter message – “Hope” and ultimately, charity and helping those who can not help themselves – all messages Jesus gave us.

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  5. exactly – and I have been thinking on this more the CHurch and the State are much more in bed with each other in the UK than they are in the USA – The Queen is our Monarch and head of the Church of England. – our upper house – the House of Lords is made up of ALL our bishops along with other LOrds and Ladies . What happened to Christian compassion ??? Most of the members of Parliament are also Christian and they passed these laws too. The hypocrisy of it all!

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    1. Now THAT’s an interesting web of deceit! Does the Queen have any moral or political power at all — or is she just a figurehead as suggested here in the USA? Can she declare a policy change or form a mandate that has any sticking power?

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  6. The Queen takes little direct part in Government. The decisions to exercise sovereign powers are delegated from the Queen, either by statute or by convention, to Ministers or officers of the Crown, or other public bodies, exclusive of the Monarch personally. Thus the acts of state done in the name of the Crown, such as Crown Appointments, even if personally performed by the Queen, such as the Queen’s Speech and the State Opening of Parliament, depend upon decisions made elsewhere:
    Legislative power is exercised by the Queen-in-Parliament, by and with the advice and consent of Parliament, the House of Lords and the House of Commons.
    Executive power is exercised by Her Majesty’s Government, which comprises Ministers, primarily the Prime Minister and the Cabinet, which is technically a committee of the Privy Council. They have the direction of the Armed Forces of the Crown, the Civil Service and other Crown Servants such as the Diplomatic and Secret Services (the Queen receives certain foreign intelligence reports before the Prime Minister does).
    Judicial power is vested in the Judiciary, who by constitution and statute have judicial independence of the Government.
    The Church of England, of which the Queen is the head, has its own legislative, judicial and executive structures.
    Powers independent of government are legally granted to other public bodies by statute or statutory instrument such as an Order in Council, Royal Commission or otherwise.
    The Queens role as a constitutional monarch is largely limited to non-partisan functions, such as granting honours.
    She has a weekly briefing with the Prime Minister – she can express concern , displeasure etc but not a lot more. Will be interesting to see what her annual Christmas message is this year.

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  7. She can abdicate in which case her elsest son Prince Charles would probably take the throne and the crown – although there is considerable wishful thinking that it will skip a generation ans go straight to Prince William. Ironically she came to the throne by way of the last abdication – when King King Edward VIII abdicated because he could not do his job properly with out his “mistress” at the time – Wallis Simpson – at his side . There was no way the church at the time would allow them to marry – she was an american divorcee. At the moment of King Edward VIII’s abdication, his brother Albert, the next in line for the throne, became King George VI. King George VI is Queen Elizabeths father.

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  8. Fantastic article. Straight and to the point. It is disgusting what this government is doing and more people need to pull their heads out of the sand and realise that the stories fed to the press about hundreds of thousands of benefit cheats are just not true. If anyone is cheating the system it is the government themselves with their endless expenses claims even after they have left office; the passing of reteospective laws after losing cases against them and the over use of financial privilege.

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    1. Thank you for your comment ……… I am finding it hard to believe that so many people have fallen for the spin . I think it is utterly immoral that members of the government claim more for one meal than some families get to live on a week.

      The retrospective law is litterally the death of the legal system in England – one day you do something that is legal – to have it made illegal three weeks later …………………….. excuse me ?????

      There has to be some wy of stopping this .

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  9. Richard Sanderson, 44, drew up meticulous suicide plans after learning he could no longer afford the flat he shared with his wife and nine-year-old son after being told their housing benefit would be cut by £30 a month.Richard stabbed himself twice through the heart.

    Paul Reekie,48, left no suicide note but a letter informing him that his welfare benefits were to be stopped were found next to his body.

    Paul Willcoxson, 33,Who had mental health problems was found hanging in Pignals Enclosure, near Hollands Wood campsite.A suicide letter and next of kin note were found in which he expressed concerns about the cuts to his benefits.

    Leanne Chambers,30, Leanne Chambers body was found in the river weir five months after she walked out of her home she had battled depression for a number of years and had taken a turn for the worse after receiving a letter telling her she had to be assessed by a doctor she did not know, to see if she was fit to return to work.

    Christelle Pardo,32 and Kayjah Pardo 6 months, After having all her income cut off and her housing benefit withdrawn, and with a baby to care for, she had been left destitute. When she begged for help the only response from the DWP was that she didn’t qualify under the rules,So she killed herself and her young child.

    Elaine Christian, 57, was found in a drain after walking out of her home. A post mortem revealed she had died from drowning, despite having more than ten self-inflicted cuts on her wrists.The inquest in Hull was told Mrs Christian had been deeply worried about a meeting she was due to have to discuss her entitlement to disability benefits.

    David Groves, 56, died of a massive heart #attack the night before his medical assessment as he sat at his computer and scoured the Internet for ways to raise cash in case he lost his entitlement.

    Mark and Helen Mullins were found lying side by side in their home after committing suicide together.They had been left destitute after Helen had her claim for benefit turned down,they had no food, no heating and no electric.

    Linda Knott, 46, had worked as a supervisor at the Brierley Community Centre in Little Hulton for 16 years before it fell victim to spending cuts.The news tipped her into depression and she had already taken an overdose of pills eight days before she was found hanging at her home in Walkden.

    Jack Shemtob, 53 jumped to his death from his office building after human resources told him he was losing his job as part of the governments cost cutting programme.

    Stephen Hill,53, Died of a heart attack a month after having his benefits were stopped, after being told his heart problem were not serious enough to stop him working.

    Craig Monk, 43,was found hanging in his home, he had a a partial amputation of his leg and was described by his family as “vulnerable” he became depressed that his benefits had been cut.

    Martin Rust, 36,a schizophrenic had his benefits cut and was ordered back to work.He left a note saying: “To those I love, I’m sorry. Goodbye.” Coroner William Armstrong said the DWP’s decision “caused distress and may well have had an adverse effect”, recording that Mr Rust had committed suicide while suffering from a treatment-resistant mental illness.

    Paul Turner, 52 died from ischaemic heart disease – caused, his family claim, by the stress of losing his benefits.He was told his heart problems were not serious enough for him not to work,he died 4 weeks later.

    Mark Scott, 46, who suffered from anxiety, epilepsy was left penniless when he was declared fit for work and his benefits were stopped.He died six weeks later in the Southport flat where he lived alone.

    Colin Traynor, who was a life long epileptic. He was assessed as fit for work, he appealed, but his parents say he became depressed and lost weight , he died less than four months later,the day after his death his parents found out he had won that appeal.
    My friends, these are just a few names out of 10,600 since the ConDems took power. The next could be you or a loved one if you lose your job or become ill.

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      1. Guardian, Mirror, Independent, Daily Mail Daily Telegraph all involved in reporting – Sun and the Time – Murdochs two are too busy charging their customers to read their on- line versions. I did I quick skim through the Murdoch on line versions – nothing at all – in fact they seem to be pepetuating the myth that the disabled are scroungers .

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  10. This treatment of the disabled is horrifying, especially the Atos bit. I can’t believe that there are people (sociopaths?) who are willing to misdiagnose so many clients, just for profit.

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  11. it is not misdiagnosis as such – all of these people have a medical diagnosis – ATOS just have to decide if they are able to work. Up until now these people have been entitled to a state payment that has enebled them to live their lives as independently as possible – these payments have paid for adapted cars , carers, specialist aides, adaptions to their home, a person to travel with them on the bus so they can get to a job or a supermarket, they have paid for specially adapted computers so they can communicate.

    They have judged people with terminal cancer fit for work, they have judged people with Schizophrenia fit to work – they asked a person woth Downs Syndrome how long they had had it !!!!!!!

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  12. http://m.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2013/mar/28/benefit-cuts-monday-defines-government

    “Here is the final wicked twist: legal aid has been removed for advice on benefits, housing, divorce, debt, education and employment. On Monday the budget of Citizens Advice for such cases falls from £22m to £3m. The few emergency cases still covered – families facing instant eviction – can only use a phone service, not face-to-face legal help. Law centres will close. There will be no help on school exclusions, landlord or employer harassment, or failure to pay wages.”

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  13. http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2013/mar/30/health-act-means-death-of-nhs

    “The government consistently claims the NHS budget is protected. In reality, the NHS is being forced to make cuts dressed up as efficiency savings of £15bn-£20bn by 2015. Across the country, A&Es, maternity and other services are being closed, with thousands of jobs lost. Patients with chronic and complex diseases will continue to lose services essential for their care. In north-west London, four A&Es have been downgraded, with none for the boroughs of Hammersmith & Fulham, Ealing and Brent – a population of 750,000 or a city the size of Leeds. As a result of these changes, people will die.”

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  14. As an “ordinary” person “existing” on this planet I feel there must be something that we, as a united country must be able to do, but don’t know where to turn. I feel the more we sit quiet the more we are trampled on from a great height. This is one man and one government. There are more of us than them, but I don’t know where to start…………….

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    1. I share your concerns – there is a lot of nasty rhetoric flying around – hatred begat hatred . I am trying to find reasonable but determined groups that are fighting this. Sadly I am not sure if reasonable is going to win the fight and that we might have to get as dirty as them to ein it.

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