“Very dangerous” rules are forcing severely-ill people applying for the government’s new universal credit to look for jobs and take part in training, even though their GPs have said they are not fit for work, “horrified” disabled activists have warned.The rules – which have never been announced or publicised by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) – apply to new universal credit claimants who are waiting for an assessment of their “fitness for work”.And they mean they could have their benefits sanctioned for up to three months if they fail to follow strict instructions from a job coach with no medical training.They are forced to take part in work-related activity, such as a work-focused interviews and “work preparation”, which could mean training or employment programmes.They could also face sanctions if they fail to show they have searched for a job for up to 35 hours a week, and have not made themselves available for paid work.Potential sanctions will continue to hang over their heads until their fitness for work is eventually tested through the notorious work capability assessment (WCA), which could take months.Dr Stephen Carty, medical adviser to the Scottish grassroots campaign group Black Triangle (BT), who works as a GP in Leith, on the edge of Edinburgh, said the “substantial risks” of the policy were “incalculable”.The new rules – uncovered by BT’s sister organisation Disabled People Against Cuts – apply to sick and disabled people who would previously have been eligible for income-based employment and support allowance (ESA), which is gradually being phased out in the move to universal credit, but not to those eligible for the contribution-based form of ESA, which will continue alongside universal credit.Under ESA, claimants with a “fit note” from their GP are not expected to carry out any work-related activity and continue to receive a lower assessment rate of the benefit until they have had their WCA and a decision is reached on their eligibility.DWP insisted this week that universal credit claimants with a fit note will only be forced to carry out “reasonable” work-related activity that is “tailored to the individual’s circumstances”, while work coaches will demand no work-related activity “if appropriate”.But appalled activists said this week that the potential harm caused to severely-ill people could be catastrophic and potentially fatal.Dr Carty said it was a “dreadful situation and is bound to cause further harm”.He said: “Seriously sick and/or disabled people may find themselves pressed to attend work-related activity and risk being sanctioned if they fail to attend. Yet to attend may place them at significant risk of harm.”He added: “Jobs advisers and those overseeing work-related activity lack the information, knowledge or experience to make safe decisions and this will undoubtedly place sick and/or disabled individuals in serious danger.“It is in my opinion outrageous that a patient with a fit note from me, their GP, stating that in my professional opinion that they are currently not fit for work will automatically be assumed to be treated as fit for all work-related activity.“A doctor with over 20 years of experience and in possession of the patient’s full medical record will have their professional opinion completely disregarded.”He said GPs had not been told about the DWP policy, and again “find themselves pawns and complicit in a system that has been shown to be harmful and [is] becoming more dangerous by the day”.Dr Carty said the consequences would be felt “particularly acutely” in primary care.He said: “The cumulative impact of this policy on claimants and primary care services will be enormous.“General practice is in crisis. There is a recruitment and retention problem unheralded in the history of NHS.“Further disempowerment in the form of complete disregard of professional opinion regarding fitness for work is hardly going to help matters.”Anita Bellows, a Disabled People Against Cuts researcher, said the universal credit policy was “a very dangerous development”.She said that any decisions on reducing the work-related activity a person had to carry out would only be at the discretion of the DWP work coach, who would have no medical training and would be likely to have access to little or no information about the claimant’s health.She said: “How these work coaches are expected to understand the consequences of any mandatory work-related requirements on the health of claimants is a mystery. “Some claimants will be exempted because they are considered ‘vulnerable’ but the DWP has not made public yet the guidance given to work coaches to help them decide which claimants are vulnerable.“DPAC is absolutely horrified by this development, which is a recipe for disaster and will hurt claimants.“DPAC also feels that the professional judgement of GPs is being undermined by being overruled by pen-pushers who have no understanding of disability.”The rules have apparently been in force since at least 2015 but the impact on disabled people is probably only emerging now because of the slow roll-out of universal credit, which was originally only available in a few parts of the country, and mainly applied to single jobseekers making new benefit claims.But DPAC discovered a DWP freedom of information response (see page eight) dating from November 2015, which makes it clear that “claimants who have a fit note and are awaiting a WCA” are subject to “all work-related requirements”.This was confirmed this week by a DWP spokesman.He said that universal credit claimants who had fit notes from their GP stating that they were not fit for work, and who were awaiting a WCA, were subject to work-related requirements.The DWP spokesman said: “Work coaches will discuss with universal credit claimants whether any reasonable work related activity is appropriate before their work capability assessment.”He suggested that the new rules had been applied since universal credit began to be rolled out, but when asked if they put the health of many claimants at risk, he said: “Absolutely not.“Any actions will be tailored to the individual’s circumstances and work coaches will set no work-related activity if appropriate.“Universal credit is designed to help more people into work.“Claimants will therefore have access to a work coach from the start of their claim who can support them in preparing for work.”Asked when DWP had announced these measures publicly, he said that anyone applying for universal credit (UC) was “made aware of their requirements” by their work coach, and he pointed to a DWP leaflet, Universal Credit and You.But the leaflet does not appear to make any reference to fit notes and claimants waiting for their WCA.When DNS suggested that this meant DWP had never announced the measures, either publicly or in written information given to claimants, the spokesman said there was nothing more he could add, although he insisted that DWP was “open about the UC process with claimants”.
Delegates at the annual conference of transport union TSSA yesterday overwhelmingly voted against Brexit, describing the project as a “victory for the xenophobic and nationalist right”.Approving a statement from the Transport Salaried Staffs’ Association executive committee, the union reiterated its support for “final say on any Brexit deal agreed by parliament”.At its conference last year, TSSA became the first Labour-affiliated trade union to back another referendum on the UK’s membership of the EU. It was soon joined in its support for a public vote by GMB and Community, and more recently by Unison.TSSA general secretary Manuel Cortes, who has been supportive of Jeremy Corbyn but critical of Labour’s Brexit position, said: “I’m delighted our union has again made it clear we stand strongly against Brexit. It is nothing more than a mad Tory creation, which poses a clear and present economic danger the working people of this country.“The only people who would benefit from Brexit are those with money to burn and zealots like Nigel Farage. It would amount to a victory for the xenophobic and nationalist right and set the UK back many decades.”Below is the full statement from the TSSA executive committee, which was debated and approved at the union’s conference on Sunday 9th June. The real division in our society is not between those who voted Leave and Remain but, as ever, between the many and the few. We are immensely proud that our party leader, Jeremy Corbyn, wants to build a Britain in which no-one is left behind.Sadly, Brexit is poisoning politics and stopping us from addressing the key issues that matter to our people. We urgently need a general election to deliver a radical Labour government.However, even if Britain leaves the EU, Brexit does not end. Instead, we face years of negotiations with our European partners to disentangle over 45 years of joint policy making in many areas and with other countries, over trade deals which will further deregulate our economy in the interests of capital.The Brexit squeeze is not worth the juice as Britain remains a capitalist country within a capitalist world. Brexit in our country is led by right-wing, free-market, fundamentalists.Sadly, Brexit has also been a victory for the xenophobia of the nationalist right and poses a real threat to our worker rights, our jobs, our NHS, our public services, our food standards and our fight against climate change.The far-right are all about hate and the politics of despair, neither of which has been far removed from the debate on Brexit. Our Labour and trade union movement can and will bring our country back together with hope and solidarity.We must rebuild our communities with investment, end austerity, properly fund our public services, expand public ownership, boost wages, increase living standards and union rights, end child poverty and homelessness and challenge the narratives of the nationalist right.As Internationalists, we once again commit ourselves to always challenge the far-right and their hate-filled politics. We reiterate our policy that the British public must have the final say on any Brexit deal agreed by parliament and our party must now leave no stone unturned to stop a new Tory Prime Minister from delivering a no-deal exit.We strongly condemn those Tories who are playing with fire by advocating a Brexit which undermines the Good Friday Agreement. There must be no return to a hard-border in Ireland.Our executive committee will campaign for a Europe-wide Green New Deal as part of a global initiative to deal with our climate emergency. They will continue our fight to democratise European institutions, to end Fortress Europe, for the creation of a Europe for the many not the few and will advocate putting in place an international strategy to deal with tax evasion and to ensure that the super-rich and the corporations pay their fair share of taxes.Our union will campaign for all the objectives contained within this statement and all of our policies on Brexit within our party and our wider movement. Another Britain within another Europe as part of a Socialist world is what we seek.Tags:TSSA /Brexit /
The first half started brightly and with the players managing to respect possession they rolled downfield with comparative ease.In the first few minutes Ryan Horne was held up over the line, the first of three during the half.The forwards were running with conviction prompted by the continual probing of Josh Eaves winning penalty after penalty by running at the lazy marker.On one such occasion the Saints opened the scoring as he brought Matty Lees back on the angle to finish under the sticks.The strong running prop was held up over the line twice more before, against the run of play, the Bulls drew level with a soft try from a dart at the line from dummy half.The Saints were doing better without the ball as well getting off the line and into the faces of the visitors forcing errors.One such error on the Bulls 40 led to the Saints regaining the lead. Three drives at the heart of the defensive line allowed Horne and Brad Billsborough to spin the ball out left for Chris Follin to force his way over.The same hard defence on the stroke of half time again gave the Saints fantastic field position which they again crafted into a try this time for Luke Ward who dove into the corner to score.There was no hint of the issue to come as the Saints started the second period the brighter.Drives from subs Evan Bullen and Jordan Olmez got the Saints on the front foot and when Billsborough dipped his left shoulder he shot through the line. He passed it out to Follin who took it on to the full back before giving it inside to his Captain to go under the sticks for a 16 point lead.At this point it was all set for a 50 point haul but the wheels came off as the Bulls scored from a terrible last tackle kick and a flukey bounce and gained confidence.Ward scored his second to stretch the lead but really the try should have gone to Sean Croston who made the break himself and should’ve dropped over the line himself.Back came the Bulls who were growing in stature and ability visibly and really put the Saints hearts a fluttering as they scored their third try with 12 minutes to go.The Saints managed to hang on until the last minute when Josh Eaves capped a typically intelligent and hardworking performance with a try darting away from dummy half.The first half contained sparks of the old confidence returning with Weldon, Callum Hazzard, Sam Royle and Alex Eckley showing some of their old form.But the second half, during which the Saints completed only four sets without receiving a penalty, was just not acceptable and a big improvement will need to happen.Match Summary:Saints:Tries: Matty Lees (11), Chris Follin (29), Luke Ward (37 & 60), Mike Weldon (46), Josh Eaves (78).Goals: Brad Billsborough 4 from 5.Bradford:Tries: Wilf Moxon (19), Ryan Butterworth (55), Josh Rickett (68).Goals: Ryan Butterworth 3 from 3.Half Time: 16-6Full Time: 32-18Teams:Saints:1. Kevin Brown; 2. Tom Nisbet, 3. Cameron Brown, 4. Sean Croston, 5. Luke Ward; 6. Ryan Horne, 7. Brad Billsborough; 8. Matty Lees, 9. Josh Eaves, 16. Alex Eckley, 11. Chris Follin, 12. Mike Weldon (C), 13. Callum Hazzard.Subs: 10. Jordan Olmez, 14. Paul Nash, 15. Sam Royle, 17. Evan Bullen.Bradford:1. Jay Panter; 2. Alix Stephenson, 4. Josh Rickett, 3. Lawrence Okaga-Ajwang, 5. Ryan Butterworth; 6. Rowan Milnes, 7. Jack Wilson; 8. Tom Doyle, 9. Reiss Butterworth, 10. Keelan Foster, 11. Wilf Moxon (C), 12. Elliott Culling, 13. Matthew Fletcher.Subs: 14. Lochlan McGill, 15. Kieran Todd, 16. Bradley Gallagher, 17. Oliver Wilson.
Quadrant Partnerships branding will appear for the first time on our Magic Weekend shirt for the Round 16 fixture with Castleford Tigers at Anfield this Sunday, 6pm kick-off.Quadrant Partnerships are an energy broker that works within the commercial energy sector. Their services include energy procurement, providing the most up-to-date prices for new energy contracts to the latest in renewable technology such as Solar PV and air source heat pumps. Neil Davies from Quadrant Partnership is excited by their association with Saints: “We were delighted when the opportunity arose to partner with Saints for the remainder of the 2019 season. Over the last two decades we have been privileged to watch some of the most memorable moments in Super League history whilst watching St.Helens.“Quadrant are proud to be a part of that history and looking forward to working with Saints both now and in future Super League seasons.”Saints General Manager, Dave Hutchinson is equally delighted to welcome Neil and his business to the Club: “We are very grateful of Quadrants support for the remainder of the season, and look forward to developing a longer term partnership in the future.“There are some exciting opportunities available between the club and Quadrant and over the coming weeks we shall be exploring them further as to how they can be of benefit to our fans and the club alike.“Neil is a big supporter of Saints and he has worked hard to ensure Quadrant are a good fit with our future plans at the club.”For more information on Quadrant Partnerships visit www.quadrantpartnerships.co.uk.Pictured are Neil Davies, Dave Hutchinson and Kevin Naiqama showcasing the new Quadrant Partnership branding.