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The Troublemaker—Profits go up for firm denying benefits as one victim dies

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Issue 2651
Campaigning to kick ou Maximus in 2015 (Pic: Jon Woods)

A six stone emaciated man who was deemed “fit to find work” has died. But the company running the tests that deny people benefits is rolling in profit.

Stephen Smith died last week after struggling with a number of severe health problems.

A fitness for work assessment by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) saw him denied vital benefits.

His case was known because shocking images showed the 64 year old in hospital—after he was admitted with pneumonia.

However, despite his obvious poor health and worrying weight loss, he was forced to get a pass out from hospital to go and fight the decision by the DWP—which repeatedly denied him crucial benefits and insisted he was fit and capable of finding work.

Maximus is the US corporation that carries out “fitness to work” tests to see if disabled people are well enough to get a job and so receive less in beneits.

The company took over Work Capability Assessments from the discredited Atos 2015.

Since then its earnings have risen by tens of millions of pounds compared to its loathed predecessor.

The DWP paid Maximus £187 million in 2018. The maximum Atos made, in 2013, was £114 million. Even in 2016, its first full year of service, Maximus was paid £155 million.

The latest accounts, covering 2017, show Maximus made a £26 million profit.

Yet last year some 68 percent of those who appealed against Maximus’s judgement that they weren’t eligible for employment support allowance were successful.

Another big earner for Maximus is Remploy.

This was founded as a publicly-owned company employing disabled people in its factories and workshops in 1946.

It began to close “sheltered” workshops in 2008.

The government sold the remaining business—running “welfare to work” schemes to help disabled people into jobs—to Maximus in 2014.

Maximus now has a £49 million turnover and has made £7 million profit from Remploy, running a variety of government-funded employment schemes.

Theresa who? Being a Tory is a mug’s game

Tory canvassers are refusing to mention “toxic” Theresa May as they try to woo people ahead of next month’s local elections.

Unhappy activists reckon she is a liability as they campaign.

Grassroots Conservatives chair Ed Costelloe said, “Most people canvassing are saying this is worse than anything before.”

North East Cambridgeshire Conservative Association chair Jan French added, “I don’t talk about May at all. We are having a tough time on the doorsteps.”

Tory activist Chris Rose said May had “made wearing a blue rosette toxic”.

  • Good news for the prime minister. Theresa May toby jugs are outselling the Margaret Thatcher version in parliament’s gift shop. Winston Churchill is the most popular option, while Anthony Eden jugs are proving difficult to shift. Bad news for Gordon Brown. He’s apparently sold out
  • Jeremy Clarkson moved left—he couldn’t move right—sort of. He wrote, “There are bits of a socialist programme we’d do well to examine.” So horrified is he by posh shops he moaned, “This, is the beginning of the end for capitalism.” But he prays “every morning and night, that Jeremy Corbyn never takes control”.
  • HSBC chief executive John Flint was one of a number of bosses to boycott Saudi Arabia’s Future of Investment “Davos in the Desert” conference. It came just after the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi. But now the Saudi state oil company Saudi Aramco has issued £10 billion of bonds on the London markets. HSBC signed up as a well-paid “bookrunner”. As did bank JP Morgan, whose boss Jamie Dimon shunned the conference—as did the head of the Stock Exchange David Schwimmer

Tax avoidance is doing politics differently

Neil Davidson is the treasurer of Change UK. He is also the partner of Anna Soubry, the Change UK MP and former Tory.

Davidson was among rich investors who took part in Eclipse film partnerships.

They have now been shut down by HMRC.

Eclipse Film Partners No 38, bought distribution rights to a film. The partnership borrowed money then sought to set the substantial interest payments against its members’ own personal tax.

Thirty investors, including Davidson, contributed an average of £1.77 million each.

The tax relief worked out at around £4 million each and allowed them to earn a potential average of around £9 million without paying tax.

Davidson is chair of Optibiotix Health and a non-executive director of the supermarket group Morrisons.

Wimpey boss gets a cheaper house

Taylor Wimpey is planning to give its chief executive Pete Redfern a £436,000 discount on the asking price of a luxury apartment.

The firm had originally set the price of the flat in London at £2.48 million.

It is proposing to sell it to Redfern for £2.04 million.

Redfern is one of the highest paid executives

in Britain, last year receiving £3.15 million in salary, pension and benefits.

He has been paid some £38.67 million over the past ten years.

The apartment is in Palace View, a nine-storey luxury block on the Thames.

Homelesness is just hype

The Tory candidate for London mayor dismissed the NHS funding crisis and homelessness as “all hype”.

Shaun Bailey posted a clip of him talking to a man called Louis on Twitter.

Louis questions why Shaun is a Tory and says, “People are homeless, people aren’t getting help, money’s going to places it shouldn’t be going, the NHS is suffering.”

Shaun, a London Assembly member, said, “But all of that is hype!

The things they say

‘The Conservative Party notoriously has two default settings: complacency or panic’

Tory MP Damian Green

‘Extinction Rebellion is rapidly turning itself into an utter irrelevance’

Lord Blunkett, Labour former home secretary

‘Extinction Rebellion consists entirely of top-knotted hipsters and berserk menopausal women in tie-dye outfits’

Rod Liddle in the Times newspaper maintains the usual press approach to protests

‘Surely this is the time for the protesters to take their pink boat to Tiananmen Square’

Tory MP Boris Johnson joins in the ‘I care about the climate, but don’t have protests’ choir

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