Socialist Worker

Woman died weighing 3 stone after DWP stopped her benefits

Issue No. 2715

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Private contracters have no place making benefits assesments (Pic: Guy Smallman)


A cancer patient has died weighing just three stone after the Department for Work and Pensions stopped her benefits.

Christine McCluskey from Dundee suffered with a number of health conditions that meant she was housebound. 

The Tories’ regime had denied her disability benefits for four months before she died.

Christine, who suffered with Crohn’s disease, arthritis, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and other problems was being fed through a feeding tube when her benefits were assessed in May 2018.

She was worryingly malnourished and had a cough. 

Private contractor Independent Assessment Service (IAS), previously Atos, conducted the benefits visit.

As a result of the assessment, the DWP cut Christine’s Personal Independence Payments and removed her mobility car.

It refused to reinstate her benefits a month later, when she was diagnosed with incurable lung cancer.

Her daughter Michelle said, “I can’t get my head around how someone could assess my mother as anything but very sick. You only had to look at her to see that.

“They said she could walk 200 metres based on her having hobbled from the sofa to the door to let them in.”

Michelle said the IAS report was “full of blatant lies”. She said it claimed that Christine could get herself into a bath, but that this was not actually assessed on the visit.

She added that the stress of having to fight the DWP for her benefits contributed to the decline in her mother’s health.

Christine weighed five stone, five pounds when she was assessed. When she died four months later she weighed just three stone.

Michelle took her mother’s case to a tribunal and a judge reversed the benefits decision. But by that time, Christine had died.

Michelle is part of the Scrap 6 Months campaign, set up by charities. It demands that the government make it easier for terminally ill people to access benefits.

Currently people can only get fast track support if they are deemed as only having six months left to live.


England’s chief nurse has confirmed how she was dropped from the Downing Street daily coronavirus briefing.

Ruth May said that in a trial run for the 1 June briefing, she was asked about Dominic Cummings’ decision to drive from London to Durham during lockdown. After she didn’t back Cummings, she said, she was told she was no longer needed.


A busy road in London had to be shut for over 11 hours after ammunition fell off the roof of a police armed response vehicle. 

Cops were driving towards a firearms operation at the time.

The eastbound A13 near Prince Regent Lane in east London was closed on Wednesday of last week after a “quantity of ammunition and ancillary items” fell onto it, cops said.


Did Tory leader get to  choose vote districts?

An investigation has been called over allegations of gerrymandering against a Tory council leader in east London.

A 32-minute leaked recording of a meeting of Havering Tory councillors, shows leader Damian White discussing how he had influenced the local boundary review process so that it would be “politically advantageous” for the Tories.

White is heard telling Tory councillors, “for these four walls”, that chief executive Andrew Blake-Herbert had “agreed for some reason to allow me to influence the proposals and, erm, I’ve been able to”.

White added, “The [chief executive] has now agreed that we can have a governance committee meeting to discuss the four options, pick which one we like, make any recommendations or changes to it and that then goes to full council.”

The matter was raised by Jon Cruddas MP and Havering Council monitoring officer has launched an investigation.


Tesco cleans up as it sweeps out cleaners 

As Boris Johnson fights to push more people into work, he claims bosses are making workplaces “Covid-secure”.

In reality, corners are being cut that put workers at risk.

Last week Tesco announced it would get rid of cleaners in nearly 2,000 stores. 

Instead, store staff will have to take on the cleaning from 24 August, including washing windows and floors.

Workers will also have to clean their own break rooms and toilets.

The move follows soaring sales for Tesco during the lockdown, rising by 8.7 percent in the three months to 30 May. 

It also grabbed a business rates holiday worth £585 million from the Tories’ emergency coronavirus support package.

Tesco has done so well out of the virus chaos that it was able to pay a £635 million dividend to shareholders this year.


Does Sports Direct pay fair?

An undercover investigation has suggested that Sports Direct could be paying below the minimum wage.

The Guardian newspaper placed an undercover reporter inside the firm’s Shirebrook warehouse facility during two weeks in late June and early July.

The reporter recorded how warehouse workers at the site—which has been rebranded as Frasers Group—were unable to leave the building during their 30-minute unpaid breaks. 

Some employment law experts say this should count as paid working time and, if correct, would push hourly wage rates below the legal minimum of £8.72 to about £8.20.

Frasers Group said its warehouse workers did not have to be paid for the breaks and that the business had “no rule preventing staff leaving the warehouse during a rest break”.

The Guardian’s undercover reporter asked three separate direct supervisors if he could leave the warehouse during his daily break. 

All three said this was impossible and that the break should be spent in a staff canteen or on the smoking terrace.


Years of NHS cuts hit hard

Years of underinvestment in the NHS will hamper its ability to tackle the backlog of tests and required treatments that built up during the Covid-19 pandemic, research shows.

A new 31-country study found patients in Britain will face long waits for care and the rationing of treatment because the health service has so few staff and beds.

The research, by the Nuffield Trust health thinktank, found that Britain is near the bottom of the league table for health resources—staff, equipment and buildings —compared to a list of comparable countries.


The things they say

‘A deeply thoughtful, kind, empathetic, quite self-effacing guy’ 

Boris Johnson’s former adviser Will Walden describes the man we don’t see in public

‘I just wish her well, frankly’

Donald Trump sends all the best to Ghislaine Maxwell, who faces charges of playing a role in the sexual exploitation of children

‘The Union is a fantastically strong institution’

Boris Johnson celebrates the vote against Scottish independence in 2014

‘The lockdown could have spelled disaster, an economic tsunami that washed away hundreds of thousands of Scottish jobs’

Boris Johnson celebrates the unity of the British state

‘Berlin 1936 marked the 1st Olympic torch relay to bring the flame to the cauldron. We can’t wait for the next one in Japan’ 

The Olympics social media accounts celebrate the games hosted by the Nazis 


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