Samuel Miller

Subject: Part-Time Workers Face Benefit Sanctions Under Universal Credit

The Rt Hon Iain Duncan Smith MP,
Secretary of State for Work and Pensions

The Rt. Hon Priti Patel
Minister of State for Employment

Caxton House
Tothill Street

Dear Ministers,

I am a 59-year-old Disability Studies specialist and disability activist from Montreal, Canada who has been communicating frequently and voluntarily, since January 2012, to senior United Nations officials, on the welfare crisis for the United Kingdom's sick and disabled. (See attached, and http://www.twitlonger.com/show/n_1rp0uui; my handler is Jorge Araya, the UN's Secretary of the Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.)

With regard to today's Welfare Weekly story (http://www.welfareweekly.com/part-time-workers-face-benefit-sanctions-universal-credit/), I am left wondering if employers will face sanctions if they refuse to offer part-time and low-paid workers additional hours? (All joking aside, it's a legitimate question.)

My field of interest is disability. If the British government is truly interested in increasing employment opportunities for the disabled, why doesn't it follow the U.S. example and compel businesses to significantly increase the number of people with disabilities that they employ?

The U.S. rule requires most federal contractors to ensure that people with disabilities account for at least 7 percent of workers within each job group in their workforce.

While officials at the U.S. Department of Labor say they are not establishing a firm hiring quota for contractors, they do expect that businesses servicing the government will work toward achieving the target. Contractors that fail to meet the goal and do not show sufficient effort toward reaching the 7 percent threshold could lose their contracts under the new rule.

Disability advocates say the added pressure on federal contractors will go a long way—and, in my opinion, Britain should follow suit.

On another matter, Please see https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B4DDIATl4FpJTGd1dkxtemFfUU04bFB0QTdDZU0xQUxNbGpZ/view?usp=sharing regarding whether the DWP has consulted with an epidemiologist on the mortality of sick and disabled claimants. All I want is a straight 'yes or no' answer.

The professionals most qualified to analyze the recent DWP statistical releases on benefit deaths are Professor David Stuckler and Dr. Sanjay Basu, the co-authors of "The Body Economic: Why Austerity Kills". Why haven't you asked them to analyze the mortality releases? Would your department cooperate if they requested a thorough investigation of this matter?

Sanjay Basu MD, PhD is an Assistant Professor of Medicine at the Stanford Prevention Research Center. He received his undergraduate degree from MIT before completing a Rhodes Scholarship at Oxford before receiving his MD and PhD in epidemiology at Yale. His research interests focus on global development and human health, and include the use of econometrics and simulation models to study how socioeconomic changes and social policy interventions affect primary disease risk among low-income populations. His current work includes studies on the health effects of economic shocks, global changes in chronic disease risk, and approaches to studying public health interventions using systems science methods.

See, for instance: http://www.salon.com/2013/05/19/paul_krugmans_right_austerity_kills/, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xOeKIttXH3o, https://med.stanford.edu/profiles/sanjay-basu, http://www.theguardian.com/books/2013/may/27/economic-stuckler-money-king-review, http://www.theguardian.com/society/2013/may/15/recessions-hurt-but-austerity-kills, http://www.sociology.ox.ac.uk/academic-staff/david-stuckler.html, http://www.twitlonger.com/show/n_1rklst7, http://www.nytimes.com/2013/05/13/opinion/how-austerity-kills.html, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l7__D_e2tII.

In my opinion, thousands of sick and disabled benefit claimants died needlessly because of the benefits backlog, long waits for mandatory reconsideration decisions, and the failure of the DWP to implement a sensible Work and Pensions Committee recommendation: In 2014, that Committee called on the Government to pay sick and disabled people benefits while they appealed against incorrect 'fit for work' decisions. (Why didn't you implement that recommendation, and if you would so, how much more would it cost your department in additional benefit expenditures?)

It's a hard truth, but it must be stated. The purpose of a benefits backlog is to ensure that people die waiting for their claims to be processed, thus saving the Government money. The Government failed to set a reasonable timescale for the mandatory reconsideration process, leaving it open-ended. The human cost was enormous and thousands died.

Why is your department so unwilling to implement sensible and humane mortality avoidance measures? (In 2013, Iain Duncan Smith turned down my request to have his department hire an epidemiologist to conduct an independent study of the impact of the welfare reforms on the mortality of claimants on IB and ESA benefits.)

I think the answer to my question is stated below, even though it pertains to the United States. (Governments study the welfare reforms of other countries and states, which is why there are similarities in policy measures.)

[U.S.] Is Welfare Reform Causing Earlier Deaths? | The Nation http://www.thenation.com/article/welfare-reform-causing-earlier-deaths/

Pull quote:  So, while keeping someone on welfare indefinitely may cost more, that person might live longer. Yet under the theory that “personal responsibility” must be promoted through economic punishment, some conservatives seem unsure whether spending on social supports to stabilize and potentially lengthen a poor person’s life is a net benefit. In brutally mathematical terms, the study reveals how the neoliberal social “safety net” aims at reducing the cost of caring and indirectly devalues the poor, rather than helping them live more secure and healthier lives.

I look forward to your e-mail reply, and thank you for any consideration to my concerns.

Samuel Miller

via Twishort Web App

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