Atos’s PR company director wants me to phone him about one of my articles

Politics and Insights

Image result for atos healthcare controversy

Atos don’t provide medical assessments for disabled people needing to claim support: they provide ‘functional’ assessments, as ‘disability analysts’, who ‘focus on what you can do, rather tan what you can’t.’

I wrote an article recently, which was published by Welfare Weekly, about the Work and Pensions Committee inquiry into Personal Independence Payment (PIP) and Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) assessments. 

The editor of Welfare Weekly, Steven Preece, forwarded an email to me regarding my article, marked ‘high importance’. It said:

Subject: Atos FAO Sue Jones
Importance: High

Hi there, 

Please could you ask Sue Jones to give me a quick ring on 0141 221 0707 re the article in the link below. We represent Atos and I’d like to have a quick chat about a couple of point in the article which are inaccurate. 

Apologies for the email but I couldn’t find any numbers…

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The DWP Is Happy To Lose Cut Price PIP And ESA Appeals

Same Difference

With many thanks to Benefits And Work.

A briefing document prepared by the DWP for work and pensions select committee reveals the scandalously small amount of money the DWP spends on carrying out mandatory reconsiderations and preparing appeals. It also explains why the DWP are happy to get personal independence payment (PIP) and employment and support allowance (ESA) decisions wrong so often.

Cut-price submissions
People often argue that it must be costing the DWP huge amounts of money to process so many mandatory reconsiderations and appeals and that it would be cheaper to just pay the benefits to claimants.

In fact, it turns out the DWP can knock out a reconsideration decision for under £40 and an appeal can be done for under £100, the cheapest being in connection with claimants being forced off DLA and reassessed for PIP.

Figures published in a document entitled ‘Work and Pensions Select Committee…

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DWP Tried To Con PIP Inquiry

Same Difference

With many thanks to Benefits And Work.


The DWP have attempted to mislead the work and pensions select committee over the accuracy of PIP and ESA decisions.

In a document entitled ‘Work and Pensions Select Committee PIP and ESA Assessments inquiry: Supporting Statistics’ the DWP argue that only “A small proportion of decisions are overturned at MR [mandatory reconsiderations] or appeal”.

The document presents figures showing that only 4% of PIP decisions and 3% of ESA decisions are overturned at mandatory reconsideration.

What the document fails to explain is that many claimants are prevented from requesting a mandatory reconsideration in the first place, because call centre staff repeatedly mislead claimants by telling them:

You are not allowed to request a mandatory reconsideration by phone, you must do so in writing;

You must have new medical evidence before you can ask for a mandatory reconsideration.

Neither of these statements is…

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Former Wirral Council Director of Law Bill Norman Resigns from Cheshire East Council

Wirral In It Together

12 12 17 - bill norman - my bald lawyerFormer Wirral Council Director of Law, Bill Norman, has resigned from Cheshire East Council following the suspension of himself and two fellow senior officers.

No pay off we assume, but crucially, no disciplinary measures and no public accountability either… as usual.  Knowing his history, maybe this gamer and journeyman has been busy looking for something else during the downtime?

If the bulging sacks of cash and growing pension pot he’s amassed during his journey from Torbay to Wirral to Hereford to Cheshire East were not quite enough to cover the mortgage and the lifestyle, then maybe we’ll see him being welcomed into his next well-remunerated senior public sector or “charity” role very soon?

And if we’re wrong, and setting himself up for the future was not the reason for bailing out, presumably somebody in the know on the inside has tipped Norman off as to what form of redress…

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Tory spin can’t hide the reality of their massive bankers’ bonus



bank spin.pngAs the SKWAWKBOX publicised earlier, Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell has written an open letter – signatures are still open if you want to add yours – challenging Philip Hammond to reverse his planned £5 billion tax-cut for banks and use the money to fund childrens’ services instead.

The Tories are attempting to spin away the reality of their plan by claiming they charged the banks a levy of £14bn and are imposing a so-called ‘corporation tax surcharge’ of £9bn – but as usual, what Tories say and the reality are two different things.

Tory spin

The bank corporation tax surcharge replaces the higher bank levy. Tory bank tax changes mean a tax giveaway for banks while children’s services continue to be cut. No amount of spin can make this anything but indefensible.


The Tories were lobbied to cut bank taxes, so their tax changes are really just another…

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Jeremy Corbyn and Noam Chomsky receive the prestigious international MacBride Peace Prize

Politics and Insights

Jeremy Corbyn was awarded the Sean MacBride Peace Prize along with Noam Chomsky and Japanese anti-military base activists, yet the award received no coverage in the British media. It was International Human Rights day today. Corbyn made an outstanding speech in Geneva, but the UK media unbelievably appear to have vetoed what ought to have been headline news.

So it’s been left to a handful independent journalists and writers like me to report this event.

The International Peace Bureau presents the prestigious Sean MacBride Peace Prize to individuals, organisations or movements for their work for peace, disarmament and human rights. 

Sean MacBride was a founding member of Amnesty International, a hugely well-known and successful charity that was set up by…

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When the DWP don’t know their own rules

scottish unemployed workers' network

Universal Credit what you need to know

If any other organisation made as many errors and administrative cock-ups as the DWP they would be sued for negligence. The whole system is understaffed and undertrained, reflecting the contempt in which the department holds it’s ‘customers’. This week, for the second week running, we met with someone who had been told that because they had a bit of money (in this case a small pension) they would get no unemployment benefit, when they had only recently lost their job and were entitled to 6 months contribution-based Jobseeker’s Allowance. This time the person concerned had done their own research and was able to inform the Jobcentre that this benefit has not been eliminated by Universal Credit, as they had previously been told. We wonder, though, how many people will have missed out on payments because they have been miss-informed.

We were also contacted by a very worried man who had…

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