Thursday, 7 January 2016


Earlier today I saw this story about Dawn Amos.

I considered blogging on it, but concluded that perhaps Munguin had hammered on about the DWP and IDS on such a regular basis that you might all be getting a bit sick of reading about it.

But Niko brought the story again to my attention and he was right to do so. With stuff like this going on there is no such thing as too much battering.

And you and I have no right to be fed up reading or writing about it.

Niko asked me to reconsider blogging on it. So I decided to do the right thing.

Dawn died in November from a debilitating lung disease. She was unable to dress herself or to walk any distance at all without help. She had been awarded Attendance Allowance to help her pay for people to attend to her needs. Her husband worked and was out all day.

However in November, using information that had been supplied to them 6 months earlier, they decided, in their infinite wisdom,  to cut her benefits.

Unfortunately they wrote to inform her on the day that her family agreed to turn off her life support system.

What the hell kind of social security safety net is that?

What the hell kind of country is it that uses information that is 6 months out of date to asses the entitlement of someone to help with care for a chronic illness that impedes their ability to walk, dress themselves and do everyday tasks?

Not one that I'd recognise as civilised.

If Duncan Smith can't organise his department to do a better job than this, then he must be sacked and someone with some intelligence,ability and please god, just  soupçon of humanity, should replace him, if they can find anyone in the UK government with any of these qualities.

When you are dealing with people's lives, you make decisions which err on the side of caution, not on the side of saving money and achieving targets.


  1. "When you are dealing with people's lives, you make decisions which err on the side of caution, not on the side of saving money and achieving targets."
    Unless you work for Iain Duncan Smith and the rest of the Tory basterts.

    Absolutely disgraceful, they should be ashamed of themselves, but they won't be.
    Labour are in disarray, and have no hope of forming a government at the next Westminster elections, so the Tories will do as they please.
    The poor, the sick, the huddled masses can all suffer and die, without human dignity, as those shower of shits have no human decency, nor compassion.

    1. I wish I could be certain that this kind of thing isn't part of their great plan to reduce the welfare budget, but I can't help feeling that these people just don't have any humanity at all, except for their own sort adn that they don't see these deaths as the personal tragedies they are. They see them as a way of saving money.

      What was it the old Welsh Windbag, aristocrat Neil Kinnock said: "Don't be young, don't get old, don't be unemployed, and don't get sick.

      Great Britian. Aren't you just proud to be a part of it?

      No? Me neither.

  2. Tris, keep raising these. As you may remember, I'm closely involved in an ongoing dispute someone has with HMRC. But they are not all idiots. The last person contacted immediately spotted an obvious flaw in the logic some other assessor used. It's fortunate that I understand how their system works with respect to overpayments, but many people are not so lucky. The people who I know are very stressed so fuck knows how disabled and vulnerable people must be when dealing with HMRC.

    Jim, the comment about "err in caution" is correct. In aircraft engineering, hours used are always rounded UP to ensure there are no problems. Exactly the same should be applied to people.

    I want to the SNP contingent at Westminster to treat the benefits issue as an absolute priority. Constant hammering about it. Yes, there has to be checks when it comes to benefits because there are cheats out there. Let's see the SNP pushing for reforms that are fair and properly effective.


    1. Of course Zog. There are cheat everywhere, from the bloke who gets a bag of food from the food bank and sells it for enough money for a bag of heroin, to HSBC directors who piled up billion of pounds at our expense. They come in all shapes sizes colours and creeds.

      But when you are dealing with people, you err on the safe side. I'd rather someone who didn't need the benefit got it, than someone who needed it didn't and died.

      I've had my own battles with HMRC which involved me having to pay them loads of money because I didn't understand how the system worked and they told me I'd underpaid and I accepted it, and then three years later me getting all the money and a bit more back because they had cocked it up.

      I agree that the SNP should push for fairness. With Plaid and the Greens they are probably the only ones who care about that, although to be fair to Mr Coprbyn, I'm sure he does too. Whether his spokesman on Social Security does or not, depends on whether he's Labour or Blue Blair Labour.

  3. Those bastards at DWP should be dragged out of their glass insulated heated (in winter) air conditioned ( in summer) holy ivory towers and made to dig the graves for each and evey person who dies as a result of their illness yet denied benefits or are sanctioned!

    1. I think the people at the top should be, Arbroath.

      IDS should be made to attend every funeral. Heaven knows it would keep him from messing with anything else and making a pig's ear out of it.

      But as Conan says below, the minions are only following orders. Many of them have left and got other jobs. Some have taken early retirement. I worked for Jobcentre for 9 months way back in the late 1990s in a very junior position at £3.64 an hour! It was a nightmare. My boss was a nice enough person, but the big boss was a complete featherhead whose whole life revolved around targets and profiles.

      Many of the staff were off sick with stress, and that was long before IDS got his hands on it. I can only imagine how awful it is now.

      I see from an article linked to by Scot by choice, below, that the incompetent idiots even managed to sanction someone who was going to start work with THEM.

      So yes. L:et's have the Whitehall management out digging graves, on tv cameras, but not to poor devils on £15,000.

      Although, that said, there are always a few who enjoy being hardhanded with the poor.

  4. Replies
    1. Indeed. I've had to do some of the following of orders. The management couldn't work their way out of a soaking paper bag.

      BTW Niko thinks you're going to put a brick through his window. Please try to reassure him. Poor wee sausage is worried sick. :)

    2. I'd never put a brick through his window, it might hit Taz...

  5. {It gets worse. Atos assessment £115 cost went up to £190 with the new company, AND there's a 280,000 backlog.} See here:

    The Government is spending more money assessing whether people are fit to work than it is saving in reductions to the benefits bill, a damning official report has revealed

    The study by the National Audit Office (NAO) found that the Department for Work and Pensions is handing over £1.6bn over the next three years to private contractors who carry out the controversial health and disability assessments.

    But at the same time, the Government’s own financial watchdog has warned that savings in benefits payments are likely to be less than a billion pounds by 2020 as a result of the new tests.

    1. Thanks for linking to that Scot.

      It's a set of stunning statistics that really requires some sort of action.

      Idiocy after incompetence on top of complete stupidity. And at the pinnacle Iain Duncan Smith. That man has never managed to do anything and get it right. You have to ask why he is still there.

      This farce really requires an article of its own.

      Again thanks for drawing our attention to it.

  6. Thank you for persisting with the issue. I don't understand why there isn't widespread public revulsion at the activities This absence is an indication of how tranquillised the population is.

    By the way - I don't make contribute many comments to your blog but I read it every day. I just want to say how much I appreciate the work you are doing. I regard your blog as having a comparable level of impact and quality as Wings, Bella, Pop and the Dug.

    1. ...I mean the activities of the DWP.

    2. John. Thanks for your comment.

      I've just read an interesting book by Mark Frankland (blogger, author and manager of First Base Food Bank in Dumfries). "Mere Anarchy".

      It's a gripping read, by the way, and the money from sales of it go to the food bank.

      Amongst all the rest of the fast paced action, the central theme is a total crackdown on the benefits system... and the fact that people who are not dependent on benefits are actually really happy that the government is taking these steps. Not to far from what the average person thinks, I suspect.

      Somehow in this so-called Christian country of ours, we don't really care about people a lot less fortunate than ourselves it seems.

      Of course, the book is a work of fiction, but Mark works every day at the sharp end and he knows a thing or two about what it's like living at the bottom of our pile.

      Thank you, John, for your kind words about the blog. I'm flattered that you consider Munguin to be in that august company.

      Please feel free to comment at any time. The blog is more about the opinion of its readers than than what Munguin thinks (although don't tell him that!).


  7. I saw that story yesterday too. I think it is important for you to keep highlighting this issue. It illustrates how these clearly bad decisions are not isolated cases. The system is drawn into very bad repute.

    It seems odd to me that assessors cannot see in so many of the cases you highlight that no reasonable person would fail to agree the victim cannot possibly work. It must be possible to design a system which sets a line but which errs on the cautious. We know there is a problem, few of us will not have encountered the odd dubious claimant over the years, but there is no need for inhumanity.

    1. I think the problem here was that they were working on medical reports that were some 5 months out of date.

      Some people who are long term ill have conditions which change. Sometimes they improve; sometimes they deteriorate. We need a system that responds to that need.

      I totally agree that there are benefit cheats, as there are cheats at every level of society. What we seem to have done is start from the assumption that everyone who is unemployed or ill is on the fiddle.

      This attitude reflects badly on us. It suggests that that is how our minds work. If the politicians who instruct the civil servants to design these policies assume that everyone is a cheat, it makes you wonder why. Could it be that it is the way THEY work?

      A decent society would err on the side of humanity.

      Clearly Britain is not like that.

  8. It is very much a concerted attack on the poor, disabled, sick, old, carers and furriners.
    First you get the media attack dogs to demonize them, then you introduce legislation to reduce payments, better still you hire an outside agency to take the flack.

    I may be wrong here, but did WM not pass legislation, preventing any member of government being prosecuted for any deaths,etc caused by government legislation.

    1. Now what regime does that remind me of, Golfnut?

      One that declared itself Christian, then started attacking and demonising various groups... Jews, the sick, the disabled, the outsiders, foreigners)?

      It wouldn't surprise me that the "honourable" ladies and gentlemen decided to exclude themselves from any responsibility for the havoc they leave behind.

      You can only hope that justice will finally come to them. I'd so much like to see some of them in need and in a situation where their own rules excluded them from what they need. But I fear they have probably put themselves beyond the law as it applies to the "ordinaries".

  9. Tris

    We sadly live in one of the most disgusting countries in the world. We already provide some of the lowest and worst social security in the world, low enough that both the UN and the EU have made comment and Osbourne threatens more cuts yesterday and IDS now stands beside Angus Robertson at Scottish Questions, as he allegedly waits to enter the chamber, and stands laughing. If these examples are not enough to inform all the NO voters of our standing in the UK and people's standing and value in general then God help us all. I hate this country.


    1. No wonder he laughs Bruce.

      Here is a man whose record is abysmal. Going all the way back he has lied and cheated, and whenever he has had any responsibility he has made a complete mess of it.

      In particular we have to highlight his current job, where he has overseen the wasting of hundreds of millions of pounds; the deaths of thousands of people and the misery of his staff... and yet he is still there, living off the fat of the land and his wife's father.

      Yes, I can see why a stupid man like him would be laughing. I suspect he knows where bodies are buried, and Cameron can't afford to sack him (although he tried a few years ago).

      Hopefully he'll get what's coming to him.

  10. This is a slave's prayer which touched my heart many years ago when I was wondering which direction my life should take. It comes from around 1866 and you have to wonder if our world has really changed for the better over the intervening years since then.

    "Do Lawd, come down here and walk amongst yo people
    And tek 'em by the hand and telt 'em
    That yo ain't hex wid 'em
    And do Lawd come yourself,
    Don't send yo son,
    Cause dis ain't no place for chillen@

    1. Yes, John. Good prayer.

      And looking around the world at kids being bombed out of their schools; that blind lad in Yemen being bombed out of his hostel; with nowhere to go, kids being washed up on beaches; children starving to death in Syria, and kids here stealing food out of wastepaper bins, because they are so hungry, the prayer is right.

      Dis ain't no place for chillen.