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News and Opinions about MS, Health & Disability

Nothing new promised by latest work and pensions secretary

The cabinet table seat of the work and pensions secretary must be fitted with an eject mechanism. Yet again, it has a new incumbent.

Indeed, in the 20 months since the sudden resignation of Iain Duncan Smith, the role has changed hands four times. And throughout that time, benefits for disabled people, including those with MS, have been under attack.

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Esther McVey, new work and pensions secretary.

UK prime minister Theresa May on Monday appointed Esther McVey as the latest to run the Department for Work and Pensions. For her, it means a return to the department where she was minister for disabled people from 2012 to 2013.

So, what can we expect from the new head of the government department responsible for disability benefits? Sorry, but I can only see more of the same.

Just look back at what she did while she was in that more junior ministerial role. Freelance journalist and blogger Paul Lewis (@paullewismoney) tweeted: “As Minister for Disabled People she (Esther McVey) said 300,000 people would lose their benefits under her changes and she cut the walking test to get PIP from less than 50m to less than 20m.”

Secretary dedicated to cutting benefits

Wonderful! The new secretary of state is another Conservative politician dedicated to cutting benefits paid to disabled people. We need another change – this time a change for the better.

There have been many, many reactions to news of Ms McVey’s appointment and I see little point in repeating them all here. Instead, if you are interested in more information and comment, I would recommend taking a look at Vox Political Online.

This is an excellent blog written by left-wing journalist Mike Siver. His contribution to this story is “Esther McVey is now Secretary of State for Work and Pensions. Expect many, many deaths”.

The headline may seem to be incendiary but is, nevertheless, a timely warning. After all, less than two months ago I brought you news that spending cuts had already led to 120,000 deaths. Needless deaths.

Bearing that in mind, Sivier’s headline looks quite reasonable.

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Affiliate disclaimer: This affiliate disclosure details the affiliate relationships of MS, Health & Disability at 50shadesofsun.com with other companies and products. Read more.

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50shadesofsun.com is the personal website of Ian Franks, a freelance medical writer and editor for various health information sites. He enjoyed a successful career as a journalist, from reporter to editor in the print media. He gained a Journalist of the Year award in his native UK. Ian received a diagnosis of MS in 2002 and now lives in the south of Spain. He uses a wheelchair and advocates on mobility and accessibility issues.

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Note: Health-related information available on 50shadesofsun website is intended for your general knowledge only and is not a substitute for medical advice or treatment for specific medical conditions. I am not a doctor and cannot and do not give you medical advice. You should seek prompt medical care for any specific health issues and consult a doctor before starting a new diet or exercise programme. Any opinions expressed are purely my own unless otherwise stated.

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Government in fight for survival, cabinet split, opposition turns up pressure on health and disability

Key ministers have drawn up their battle lines and daily newspapers say the cabinet is split. The government has descended into disarray and this is likely to deteriorate into a form civil war within the party. The national leader seems completely unable to set any form of direction.

Meanwhile, the opposition is promising to review its social welfare policies and, so, take the high ground on such issues. Additionally, it already has the best policies for people with diseases including MS, and other causes of disability.

Sound familiar? Of course. In the US, the Republican majority cannot agree its own policy on the future of healthcare. Opinions are sharply divided.

But that’s not the story here.

survivalThis battle is in the UK. Chancellor of the exchequer (treasury minister) Philip Hammond and foreign secretary Boris Johnson are already skirmishing about Brexit and Europe. And other cabinet ministers are busy choosing sides.

So much for prime minister Theresa May’s ‘strong and stable’ government, promised as part of her failed campaign to win a bigger majority. In the end, her party lost its overall majority in June’s general election. Now, the knives are out and May appears to be lost.

Fight for survival

Yesterday, the Sunday press had a field day. According to the headlines:

Labour’s shadow secretary of state for work and pensions, Debbie Abrahams, has supported calls for the party to come up with a stronger policy on reversing government cuts to social security spending.

Mrs Abrahams spoke after Labour’s annual conference, last week in Brighton, voted overwhelmingly to ask the party’s policy-making machinery to reconsider its approach to reversing the government’s latest cuts to benefits.

The conference vote means that the Labour party MUST rethink, and hopefully strengthen, its response to the government’s horrendous benefit cuts.

A commitment to remove the benefits cap would be a great start.

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Affiliate disclaimer: This affiliate disclosure details the affiliate relationships of MS, Health & Disability at 50shadesofsun.com with other companies and products. Read more.

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50shadesofsun.com is the personal website of Ian Franks, a Clinical Writer with Healthline, the fastest growing health information site. He enjoyed a successful career as a journalist, from reporter to editor in the print media. He gained a Journalist of the Year award in his native UK. Ian received a diagnosis of MS in 2002 and now lives in the south of Spain. He uses a wheelchair and advocates on mobility and accessibility issues.

 

 

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Healthcare benefits under attack again

Cold-hearted policies and actions of government toward its own people is no surprise to my regular readers. And neither will there be any shock at my continued opposition to such disgusting activities.

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The Capitol, Washington DC, home of the Senate and House of Representatives.

Unfortunately, this is not limited to one country. The current Conservative-led government in the UK has a despicable record in relation to vulnerable people. Now, though, what’s happening in the US seems to be just as bad.

A healthcare reform proposal known as Graham-Cassidy, named after its main protagonists, is currently before the Senate. And, if passed, it will limit healthcare benefits to those Americans who need them the most.

The National Multiple Sclerosis Society and several patient and healthcare groups oppose the proposal, led by Republicans Senators Lindsay Graham (South Carolina), and Bill Cassidy (Louisiana).

Benefits funding cuts proposed

In headline terms, the Graham-Cassidy proposal would:

  • reduce funding for Medicaid, a benefits program on which so many people with MS depend
  • remove the Obamacare requirement that insurance policies cover basic, essential medical services
  • remove Obamacare’s protection for people who have pre-existing conditions.

The Republican party, the majority in the Senate, has a fight to pass the reform proposal. That is because, if the Senate doesn’t vote it through on or before this Friday, September 30, it will need more votes to move the proposal forward.

Up to the end of this week, the supporters will require only 50 votes but after that, according to the voting procedure, they will need 60 votes to move to a vote on the bill.

So, what happens if the Republicans miss this Friday’s deadline? Well, the good news is that followers of Washington politics believe it’s highly unlikely that the Republicans could gather 60 votes.

The current state of the parties in the Senate, is Republican 52, Democrat 46, and Independents 2.

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Affiliate disclaimer: This affiliate disclosure details the affiliate relationships of MS, Health & Disability at 50shadesofsun.com with other companies and products. Read more.

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50shadesofsun.com is the personal website of Ian Franks, a Clinical Writer with Healthline, the fastest growing health information site. He enjoyed a successful career as a journalist, from reporter to editor in the print media. He gained a Journalist of the Year award in his native UK. Ian received a diagnosis of MS in 2002 and now lives in the south of Spain. He uses a wheelchair and advocates on mobility and accessibility issues.

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Disability benefit cuts are still a real risk

This week is the first of the six-week summer recess of the UK parliament, which is a great time to look at welfare benefits for people with disabilities.

Regretfully, despite more than a year passing and a new government, albeit the same party, nothing has really changed.

In April last year, I reported that the then secretary for work and pensions Stephen Crabb was about to make a statement about government plans and cuts to welfare benefits. That was after he had said that it had decided not to proceed with planned cuts. They were unpopular with the disability community and controversial within the Conservative party.

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Stephen Crabb.

A month earlier, I wrote an article headed ‘No further plans’ does NOT mean ‘no further cuts’ after Crabb spoke in the House of Commons.

He said that the government “will not be going ahead” with changes to the Personal Independence Payment (PIP) that were announced. He also said there are no further plans for welfare cuts this parliament. (Bold italics are mine).

Their words don’t always mean what you think

I warned that it did not mean PIP was safe – just that the cuts would not be going ahead in the form previously announced. And the part about ‘this parliament’, meant to take us to 2020, is now irrelevant as we have sinve had an early election and have a new parliament.

Then, on May 14, I wrote another post. It was headed ‘No further plans to cut benefits’ pledge lasts 51 days and told of new plans.

Prime minister Theresa May.

About the same time, prime minister Theresa May refused to rule out making further cuts to disability benefits. This wvas widely reported by British daily newspapers.

In March, I wrote about the meaning of the words we heard. In an article headed Don’t be fooled by government’s callous weasel words – disability benefits cuts are still planned, I reported the words of Stephen Crabb as: “We’re not going to be going ahead with these cuts to disability benefits that were proposed on budget day.

“The prime minister has confirmed that himself. I was very clear when I discussed the offer of the job this morning we were not going to go ahead with the cuts that were proposed.”

Cuts to benefits – and weasel words

I also added my own comments:

Sounds good, right? Well, err, no. The key words in the first sentence are ‘that were proposed on budget day’. Similarly, two sentences later the telling words are ‘that were proposed’.

Now, call me a cynic if you like but I have worked as a journalist, spent time in public relations and been around politicians long enough to recognise this for what it is – the use of prepared phrases, or callous weasel words, designed to trick us into thinking the cuts won’t happen.

The government is just trying to buy time to find a way to get them through in another form and without rebellion from within their own MPs.

David Gauke MP. (Picture: South West Herts Conservatives Association).

Trust me, despite what we are being led to believe, the cuts are still very much on the table

What has happened since then? Plenty, but absolutely nothing to prove me wrong or make me change my mind.

As for the current secretary of state for work and pensions, David Gauke, little has been heard, except a change to the timing of a planned increase in the retirement age.

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Affiliate disclaimer: This affiliate disclosure details the affiliate relationships of MS, Health & Disability at 50shadesofsun.com with other companies and products. Read more.

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50shadesofsun.com is the personal website of Ian Franks, a Features Writer with Medical News Today. He enjoyed a successful career as a journalist, from reporter to editor in the print media. He gained a Journalist of the Year award in his native UK. Ian received a diagnosis of MS in 2002 and now lives in the south of Spain. He uses a wheelchair and advocates on mobility and accessibility issues.

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‘Devastating’ benefit cuts could hit 10% of people with MS – and other disabilities too

One in ten people with multiple sclerosis in the UK could face cuts in government disability benefit payments, according to new figures published by the country’s MS Society.

The figures reveal the severe extent of benefits cuts for people living with MS. And, I would sms society logo new_editeday that it is highly likely that people living with other disabilities could be hit to the same degree.

The society, the UK’s largest MS charity, estimates that more than a thousand people with MS have already had their benefits downgraded since the phased introduction of the Personal Independence Payment (PIP) began to replaced Disability Living Allowance (DLA).

The society said: “Of those eligible for DLA, 93% of people with MS received the highest rate of mobility support. But of the 4,349 who have so far been moved over to PIP, only 70% have received the same rate.

“With more than 80% of people on DLA still to be moved onto PIP, we’re concerned that up to 10,000 people with MS could eventually lose access to the highest rate of mobility support.”

michelle mitchell ms societyMS Society chief executive Michelle Mitchell (pictured, left) said: “Changes to disability benefits assessments have already had a devastating impact on the lives of too many people living with MS.

“It’s absurd that those who were once deemed in need of this crucial support now face having it reduced or taken away. We’re deeply concerned by the staggering figures of how many could lose out.”

Tightening of the eligibility criteria under PIP means that more people with MS stand to lose this support. Under PIP, if someone can walk more than 20 metres, even with walking aids, they will no longer qualify for the highest rate of support.

Previously, under DLA, 50 metres was considered to be the rule of thumb for entitlement to the higher rate.

“Changes to the eligibility criteria for mobility support under PIP were introduced with no evidence to show why it was reduced. These changes must be reversed to reflect the barriers people with MS face.

“Having a condition like MS is hard enough. It shouldn’t be made harder by a benefits system that doesn’t make sense,” said Ms Mitchell.

She’s absolutely right, of course, and it is good to see the MS Society making a stand and calling for change. Not that the current government will take any notice.

 

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Paralympians fear losing their cars through government benefit cuts

Some of the British athletes, including two with multiple sclerosis, heading to Rio for the Paralympics fear losing their cars supplied through the Motability Scheme after being reassessed as part of the government’s programme of benefit cuts and reforms. This has been revealed by a member of the ParalympicsGB team – according to the Disability Information Service.

The report, by John Pring, continues:

Some Paralympians have spoken previously of the importance of the support they receive from the benefits system, particularly through disability living allowance (DLA), but this is the first confirmation that any of them have lost that support as a result of the government’s austerity programme.

The concerns were raised by wheelchair-racer Ben Rowlings, one of the young track stars of the British team, who is set to compete in the T34 100 metres and 800 metres in Rio, and holds the British record at 100, 200, 400 and 800 metres.

He currently receives the higher rate mobility component of DLA, which has allowed him to use that payment to lease a vehicle through the Motability scheme.Hannah-and-Ben-702x336_edited

But like hundreds of thousands of other disabled people, he has been told he will be reassessed for the government’s new personal independence payment (PIP) – introduced in 2013 in a bid to cut working-age DLA spending by 20% – and that an assessment of his eligibility will take place next year.

The Shropshire resident does much of his training 50 miles away in Coventry, alongside fellow Paralympians Kare Adenegan and Mel Nicholls, and told Disability News Service this week that the PIP reassessment could put his career in jeopardy if it results in him losing his Motability car.

He said: “It is something that’s on my mind because without the access to having my Motability car… I wouldn’t be able to get to any of the training that I do.

“I need my car, I need the support to get me around to places, and training and work, because racing is my job, and without the support of the Motability [car]and the DLA, I wouldn’t be able to get to training.”

The 20-year-old said he knew of fellow Paralympians who have already lost their Motability cars after being reassessed for PIP.

He said: “There have been Paralympians who have been told that they are too able to claim Motability and they have had to fight to get the cars back because they have been taken off them.

“I don’t know too much about it, I haven’t spoken to them about it because that’s a personal matter for them, but it’s something I’m a little bit concerned about.”

He said he was not comfortable providing further details about colleagues, and could not say how many fellow team-members had lost their Motability vehicles, but added: “All I know is anyone with disabilities is getting assessed at the moment, so it’s a possibility for any of us.”

Last month, another ParalympicsGB star wheelchair-racer, Hannah Cockroft (pictured with Rowlings), told DNS she was “scared” that she would lose her independence when she was reassessed for PIP.

Cockroft, who won double gold at London 2012, has also yet to be assessed for PIP, but she said that she was dreading her eventual reassessment, the possibility of having her support cut, and potentially losing the car she leases through the Motability scheme.

Motability has said that it expects 35,000 vehicles will have to be returned by disabled people during 2016 as a result of the PIP reassessment programme.

Of Motability customers reassessed for PIP so far, 44% of them have lost their entitlement to the scheme and have had to hand their vehicles back.

You can read the full Disability News Service story here.

 

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Welfare benefit cuts high on anti-austerity agenda

anti austerity londonPlacards proclaiming ‘Cut War Not Welfare’  are held aloft during Saturday’s Anti-Austerity protest.

Anti-austerity protests and movements have become increasingly popular during the latter half of last year year and again this year.

Mass protests have taken place around the world, notably in Greece, Spain, France, Italy, the UK, Canada and the United States’ commonwealth of Puerto Rico. And opposition to austerity is seen as the force behind the rise of new political parties such as Podemos (We Can) in Spain, Italy’s Five Star Movement and Syriza (‘from the roots’ or ‘radically’) that is now forming the government in Greece.

And on Saturday, thousands of people again took to the streets of central London to protest against government cuts. Banners calling for UK prime minister David Cameron to quit were brandished by protesters as they marched to a rally in Trafalgar Square.

The demonstration, organised by the People’s Assembly, was also attended by the Labour Party’s shadow chancellor John McDonnell who said that a Labour government would end cuts and “halt the privatisation of our NHS”.

Importantly, for people with disabilities, Mr McDonnell pledged that his party would scrap the hated work capability assessments and also target homelessness by building hundreds of thousands of council homes.

While the UK government says austerity measures are key to reducing the country’s deficit, McDonnell described the government as being bankrupt in its political ideas and handling of the economy. He called for Mr Cameron to resign and to “take his party with him”.

“On every front now we are seeing the government in disarray – in terms of the economy we are slipping backwards instead of growing,” Mr McDonnell said.

David Cameron, or Dodgy Dave as MP Dennis Skinner prefers to call him, has previously argued that the government needs to make savings, over the course of this parliament, so that it can “prioritise what matters for working families – schools, the NHS and our national security”.

Labour’s Diane Abbott, a fellow speaker, said that fighting austerity was the “political struggle of our time”. She blamed cuts on “forcing people out of work and into zero hours’ contracts”.

Also there were Len McCluskey, general secretary of the trade union Unite, Green Party leader Natalie Bennett and National Union of Teachers’ general secretary Christine Blower.

Speaking for the Stop The War Coalition, which was chaired by Jeremy Corbyn MP from 2011 until he became Labour leader last year, Chris Nineham said: “Austerity is not about economic necessity, it is a political choice.”

Cameron’s Conservative manifesto for the 2015 general election pledged to save £12bn from welfare by the end of this Parliament in 2020. However, it has already abandoned one set of proposed cuts to disability benefits although those receiving welfare payments are fearful of the government’s next move.

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Don’t be fooled by government’s callous weasel words – disability benefits cuts are still planned

Work and Pensions Secretary Stephen Crabb.

Work and Pensions Secretary Stephen Crabb.

Mystery still surrounds the fate of the threatened cuts to the UK’s Personal Independence Payment paid to people with disabilities. including Parkinson’s Disease, Multiple Sclerosis, blindness and mental illnesses.

Just look at the timetable:

March 11, Justin Tomlinson, Disabilities Minister in the Department of Work and Pensions, officially announced plans to make changes, to make cuts, to Personal Independence Payment.

March 16, in his budget speech, Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne gave details of the cuts the government was proposing.

Following the budget, and for a further two days, uproar ensued. Not just protests from those likely to be affected but from disability charities too. And the government, which has a majority of just 17, suddenly found itself facing almost certain defeat in the House of Commons when around 20 of its own MPs said they would oppose the move.

Back-peddling was the order of the day, publicly hinted at by Education Secretary Nicky Morgan on BBC Question Time, when she said that the proposed cut was only ‘a suggestion’; with the Chancellor saying that he would look again to get things right.

March 18 saw Iain Duncan Smith resign as Work and Pensions Secretary, calling the planned cuts ‘a compromise too far’.

Prime Minister David Cameron, in his reply to Duncan Smith’s resignation letter, said “Today we agreed not to proceed with the policies in their current form and instead to work together to get these policies right over the coming months.”

Look at that closely, read it carefully. The Prime Minister did NOT say that those policies, the cuts, won’t happen. What he did say was that they would not go ahead in their ‘current form’ and that the policy would be got ‘right’ in the coming months.

Then, yesterday March 19, Stephen Crabb was promoted from being Welsh Secretary to take over at Work and Pensions. And, on his first day in his new post, he said the cuts to disability benefits will “not be going ahead.”

Well, actually, no he didn’t! Let’s look at it carefully.

These are the words that the new Work and Pensions Secretary Stephen Crabb really said: “We’re not going to be going ahead with these cuts to disability benefits that were proposed on budget day.

“The prime minister has confirmed that himself. I was very clear when I discussed the offer of the job this morning we were not going to go ahead with the cuts that were proposed.”

Sounds good, right? Well, err, no. The key words in the first sentence are ‘that were proposed on budget day’. Similarly, two sentences later the telling words are ‘that were proposed’.

Now, call me a cynic if you like but I have worked as a journalist, spent time in public relations and been around politicians long enough to recognise this for what it is – the use of prepared phrases, or callous weasel words, designed to trick us into thinking the cuts won’t happen.

The government is just trying to buy time to find a way to get them through in another form and without rebellion from within their own MPs.

Trust me, despite what we are being led to believe, the cuts are still very much on the table.

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Iain Duncan Smith’s resignation and government’s benefit cut ‘rethink’ may not change anything

Chancellor George Osborne presenting his 2016 budget to UK's parliament.

Chancellor George Osborne presenting his 2016 budget to UK’s parliament.

Iain Duncan Smith’s resignation from his position as UK’s Work and Pensions Secretary gives the government a chance to abandon its planned cuts to Personal Independence Payment (PIP) – but don’t hold your breath, it probably won’t happen.

Gone: Ian Duncan Smith, the former Work and Pensions Secretary.

Gone: Iain Duncan Smith, the former Work and Pensions Secretary.

In his resignation letter, Duncan Smith said that while the benefit cuts are “defensible in narrow terms, given the continuing deficit, they are not defensible in the way they were placed within a budget that benefits higher earning taxpayers.”

Every government has its finances to consider, with so much to gather in, so much to spend, so much to borrow and so on. Then there is the matter of the surplus or, more usually, the deficit that has to be controlled.

It was with all this in mind that the Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne, equivalent to other countries’ finance ministers, presented his budget to parliament on Wednesday.

Of course there were lots of items in it but nothing so controversial as plans to hit disabled people who claim Personal Independence Payment (PIP). And, unlike the recent move to reduce Employment Support Allowance (ESA) from next year for new claimants, the proposed PIP changes will affect those already receiving it when their claims are next reviewed.

There is no need, here, to go into the full details but it could mean anyone affected could lose £55 a week – which is a significant amount to a person with MS or any other disability.

But not everything is smooth sailing as the often turbulent waters of parliament are threatening to get stormier by the minute.

Voices are naturally being raised against the move – and not all from expected quarters. You would count on opposition from MPs of other political parties but, now, a sizeable section of Conservative backbenchers is threatening to rebel against the government.

Maybe they have been alarmed by the massive show of public opinion that has so far led to three MPs being required to stand down from their roles as patrons of charities after voting for the ESA cuts.

Then, on BBC television programme Question Time, government Education Minister Nicky Morgan said that the PIP cuts were just a “suggestion” at this stage and that further discussions were needed.

And, although this has been dismissed by someone described as close to then Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith, her views have since been reflected by the Chancellor.

BBC News was told that Mr Duncan Smith was saying that the government is not in “concession territory”, adding: “I don’t know how Nicky is explaining what she said but she doesn’t quite seem to have understood what Iain has been saying.”

Since then, however, Mr Duncan Smith has resigned while Mr Osborne has said he will revisit the £4.4billion cut to PIP “to make sure we get this absolutely right.”

The Daily Mirror newspaper reported:

Government sources confirmed the cuts will now be “kicked into the long grass” and could eventually be scaled right back.

“This is going to be kicked into the long grass. We need to take time and get reforms right, and that will mean looking again at these proposals,” a source said.

“It’s not an integral part of the Budget – it’s a package that came out beforehand. We are not wedded to (saving) specific sums.”

A word of warning, though. It is important not to take this a face value. The planned cuts have not been dropped, “Revisiting them” does not mean they have been abandoned. Even “scaling back” does not mean dropping the cuts.

Like all politicians in a difficult place, they are wriggling, using phrases to encourage us to think the situation has changed while being just as committed to the cuts. Even though Iain Duncan Smith has gone, don’t be fooled.

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Lies, damn lies, and IDS’s statistics

Ian Duncan Smith has made unreliable claims about sanctions as well as his education.

Ian Duncan Smith has made unreliable claims about sanctions as well as his education.

Mired in controversy over his handling of what the Government calls welfare benefit ‘reform’ and critics call ‘cuts’, Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith (pictured, above) is now being accused of having ‘lost the plot’ after making an incredible statistical claim that 75% of people who have had their benefits stopped under his department’s sanctions regime said it helped them “focus and get on.”

And that is something that Labour is challenging and threatening to report to the UK Statistics Authority – and that civil servants at his department have not confirmed.

Add to that the controversy over his education – and his suitability and qualification for his current role have to be called into question.

Daily-MirrorIn an article in the UK’s Daily Mirror newspaper, the sister of ex-soldier David Clapson, who died starving and penniless after having his benefits stopped said: “I don’t think my brother said it had helped him get on.”

The report continued:

After hearing Mr Duncan Smith’s comments, Gill Thompson said: “I think they’re losing it. They’re losing the plot.”

In a string of jaw-dropping claims, IDS dismissed protests against benefit sanctions as “classic buzz from the left” and that protesters were “never going to vote for us. They hate us”.

And he claimed Job Centres were “running out of people” to put back to work. Despite a fall in overall unemployment, there are currently 1.68m people out of work in the UK.

The audacity of the man is unbelievable as he made his comments to local councillor Johnny Bucknell, during a visit to London’s Belsize Park to campaign for Tory Mayoral candidate Zac Goldsmith.

framework_cnj_logoThose comments may never have been kept private had they not been caught on video and subsequently published by the Camden New Journal local newspaper.

But what of his education controversy? In Mr Duncan Smith’s biography on the Conservative Party website as well as his entry in Who’s Who, it was originally stated that he had studied at the University +of Perugia in Italy.

In 2002, an investigation by the BBC found that statement to be untrue. In response to the BBC story, Duncan Smith’s office stated that he had in fact attended the Università per Stranieri (University of Foreigners), a different institution in Perugia, for a year. He did not complete his course of study, sit exams or gain any qualifications there.

Duncan Smith’s biography, on the Conservative Party website, also stated that he was ‘educated at Dunchurch College of Management’ but his office later confirmed that he did not gain any qualifications there either, that he completed six separate courses lasting a few days each, adding up to about a month in total. Dunchurch was the former staff college for GEC Marconi, for whom Duncan Smith worked in the 1980s.

  • Duncan Smith was educated at what is now St. Peter’s RC Secondary School, Solihull, until the age of 14, then at HMS Conway, a Merchant Navy training school (since closed) on the Isle of Anglesey until he was 18. In 1975 he attended the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst and was commissioned into the Scots Guards.
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