So, what numbers would we expect?

Thousands of welfare claimants have died within weeks of being declared “fit for work” and taken off sickness benefits, Government statistics have disclosed.
Campaigners called for an urgent inquiry after statistics released by the Department for Work and Pensions disclosed that 2,380 people died between December 2011 and February 2014 shortly after a work capability assessment declared them able to work.

There’s obviously some number of people we would expect to die in any period, from any portion of the population. So what we want to know is, well, is this death rate higher or lower than we would expect from this portion of the population?

Not going to be me working it out but if anyone spots someone doing so, let us all know, eh?

105 comments on “So, what numbers would we expect?

  1. And how does this compare to the general working population kicking the bucket in the same timeframe?

  2. Being expected to work after a lifetime of avoiding it tends to result in fatalities, particularly among men. The collapse of the USSR provided us with a large-scale demonstration of that effect: the women got off their arses and did what needed to be done, including working three jobs if necessary. The men complained and reached for the vodka bottle until their hearts gave out.

  3. Of course it would be higher.

    There must be some people who are deeply religious AND incredibly lazy.

  4. Dr Greg Woods blog is no longer openly available: http://worktestwhistleblower.blogspot.com/ but, given that the ever competent Atos have only been out of the contract since the start of the year, I would expect the numbers to be higher than the control.

    And if we are looking for whether the tests were skewed inappropriately, we have the control group somewhat wrong – it should be people who are sufficiently sick that they have some difficulty in working. How you find that group (man-flu sufferers?), I have no idea.

  5. From here:

    In 2011-2014, there were 231,684 UK deaths of men aged 18-65. The number is pretty stable (2011 58924, 2012 57531, 2013 58101, 2014 57128). For women, it’s 151,907, for a grand total 383591.Let’s normalise this per month. That’s 7991.5 per month.

    So in the 27 month window, about 215770 people of working age died.

    The 2,380 figure is thus 1.11% of the working age deaths were “shortly after a work capability assessment”.

    It then gets tougher cos the age tranches for population estimates aren’t per year… So we’ll have to engineer an estimate. UK population from age 15-64 = 41,666,600, a good first-order estimate is to just average that per year – that’s a 50year tranch (not 49…), so 833,332 per tranche. 18-65 is 48 tranches, so call it 40M. It’s as good an estimate of any.

    So the overall mortality rate is 5394 per million in the timeframe in question. But, without knowing the number of fit-for-work assessments in this period we can’t assess whether the figure is out of the ordinary or not. I suspect not, since it’s only 1% of all deaths of working age people in the timeframe.

  6. That’s interesting. And they were, by definition, people who were at least slightly ill, or had been recently. A group where we would expect a higher mortality…..

  7. @Tim

    My thoughts exactly. It’s not a surprise that it’s higher. Had it been 50%, 100% higher it might have cause for concern.

    But chuck out a number that massages the “evil tory cuts literally kill people” prejudice and the usual suspects pounce on it without further reflection.

  8. There are obviously a myriad of factors at play. Once one factors in the likelihood that on average this group will be older then their age-adjusted mortality rate may be lower than the general population. Which would not be altogether surprising given passed fit at some level.

  9. Someone went to the effort of looking in to all those deaths, presumable at tax payers’ expense, is it too much to expect them to have recorded what they died of as well as when they died?

  10. Abacab

    That 369,500 figure – could that include multiple assessments per person? Eg someone assessed in 2011, found not fit. 2012, ditto. 2013, found fit to work.

  11. @Rob, possibly. It seems to just be the number of positive FtW assessments. Could even include multiple FtW’s for one person if they went back a couple of times to try and get the assessment changed.

  12. @Bloke in Berkshire,

    I suspect if you were to crunch it for say ages 40-65 that 20% will largely evaporate.

  13. Some anecdotal evidence: my ex-wife, who had cerebral palsy was one of the 2,380. Now of course she wasn’t in the best of health but there was never any suggestion that she was going to die from the condition any time soon. Until the DWP/ATOS got their hands on her. I seen first hand how her health deteriorated as they bullied, harassed and harangued her, even though she was confined to a wheelchair, her fingers where so numb she couldn’t hold a pencil, her muscles so weak that most days just getting out of bed was a major achievement.

    Now that’s purely anecdotal: but I’d lay good money she was far from the only one to suffer at their hands. All for what? Given that there aren’t anywhere near enough jobs for healthy able-bodied people, what’s the point?

    These bastards are pure evil and nobody will ever convince me otherwise.

  14. Oh shit, might have used mortality in England & Wales and population for UK…….

    Will have to check it over.

  15. No I didn’t… this is the file name to search for the data: syoa19742014publication_tcm77-410301.xls

  16. Given that there aren’t anywhere near enough jobs for healthy able-bodied people,

    Bollocks.

    There are jobs available for anyone that can be arsed to get one. As proven by the 2 million newly-arrived immigrants finding work here since 2010.

  17. abacab,

    What percentage of them were nasty horrible evil smokers?

    I am surprised that we do have such a high mortality rate for the 18 to 65 year olds. Since only 20% of the population still smoke, the rest of the UK population should, if you believe the NHS propaganda, LIVE FOREVER.

  18. Recalc for 40-64, which is probably the bulk of cases:

    population estimate: 20’824’600

    Men 2011-2014: 185322
    Women 2011-2014: 125211
    Total = 310533, or 6469 p.m.

    In 27m window, 174674.

    That’s 8387 per million!

    So, compared to the 40-64 population mortality, the rate of 6441 per million FtW assessments is 23% below the general population.

    Someone can check my calcs if they like.

    I now suspect, when corrected for age, there’s little or no difference with the general population.

  19. Presumably there is a higher suicide rate among people whose gravy train has just ended abruptly? Not that everyone is on one, but plenty are.

    KJ – sorry but anonymous anecdotes prove fuck all. You could easily be a Corbyn spad. No reason not to name yourself and your wife, so name her or it’s bullshit.

  20. TIm

    I presume Murphy grabs/grabbed your attention because of his transparently ludicrous claims to be ‘an economist’ or suchlike. Not sure if you have ever encountered a blog called ‘Another Angry Voice’ – but it is in desperate need of fisking – the guy is no more rational than the KCNA feed, and lo and behold, this argument was wheeled out to blame ‘evil Tory cuts’ for these highly selective figures….

  21. @KJ, reminds me of Mhairi Black’s maiden speech to the HoC, in which she recounted the terrible – and undoubtably true – tale of a Scotsman, who due to Evil Tory Cuts, was no longer able to operate a tap and hence collapsed of dehydration in the bus on the way to his work fitness assessment.

  22. I’m talking about real life sick/disabled people dying and you’re number crunching to try and excuse it. So yes, someone is being dogmatic but it’s not me, you fucking ignorant smug dickhead.

  23. You think there are jobs available for everyone so we can probably dismiss your opinion… On pretty much everything…

  24. abacab, if you’re in number crunching mood, it would be interesting to know the proportion of the 18-64yo population that died in NHS hospitals each year…

  25. KJ in ‘I cannot understand Maths’ complete non-shocker.

    Then turns into Mr Sweary.

    Go and learn some Maths. Then, some Stats.

    What is being said is that the death rate is, likely NO DIFFERENT to the general population.

    Get that? You dozy cunt.,

  26. KJ, a statistic is being used to bash the government, by massaging the prejudices of Grauniad-types.

    The response it to put the statistic in its … erm… statistical contex, and not to talk about anecdata that may or may not be true. This is in fact the whole basis of epidemiology as a tool of public policy.

    In any system there will be individual mistakes and screwups. Each one a tragedy in its own right. But is it not also a tragedy every time someone who could be working gets put on the sick unjustifiably and thus steals from those who work? Should we be making public policy only on the basis of isolated emotional cases? Like Mhairi’s putative Scotsman who apparently couldn’t find a tap in his house? If so, then I despair for humanity.

  27. KJ, a statistic is being used to bash the government, by massaging the prejudices of Grauniad-types.

    So what we really need to do is massage the figures in such a way as to make it look as though all those deaths were just co-incidental and hey presto! The government is off the hook.

    That’s why…

  28. Have a look at Tom Chivers twitter feed from yesterday – I think he got at least as far as how many deaths you would expect from a pool of healthy people.

  29. You’re all missing the more general point of course, which is: why should people who have been born with serious medical progressive conditions (do note progressive: ie. will only ever get WORSE NOT BETTER) now be instructed that they’re fit for work by people who lack the necessary qualifications to make that judgement. As though they were just being lazy and needed these pen pushing arseholes to tell them to get off their lazy arses. It doesn’t work like that for many of these people, they have good and bad days. So on a given day then, yes, perhaps they could make it into a workplace and press a keyboard for a few hours, but then on another day they might have trouble lifting their head off the pillow. Now what employer is going to be willing to accomodate that, do we think? Somewhere in the region of zero would be my guess.

  30. “So what we really need to do is massage the figures in such a way as to make it look as though all those deaths were just co-incidental and hey presto! The government is off the hook.”

    Which is the entire basis of an entire branch of statistics – epidemiology – which you just want to discount. This branch of statistics has helped bring about the greatest improvements in public health ever since John Snow plotted cholera cases in london.

    The whole point is you look at the DELTA, not the raw figure. It’s no good saying X people died when Y people would have died anyway. If X is in fact less than Y, you’re a bit of a twonk, for a start. What’s interesting is (X-Y), is it positive, is it statistically significant, and then is there a causal relationship with something.

    You know, I once rubbed a slug on a wart and it was gone in two months. Therefore the slug cured me of the wart. You’re an evil f*cker for suggesting that a certain proportion of warts will disappear of their own accord in the same timeframe, and playing with your statistics. Same thing, trivial example much more easily comprehended.

  31. @KJ, you’re trying to make a general point with one specific case. Which never ends well.

    I can’t believe there’s not a doctor’s report in there, and that’s what the appeals process should sort out, with consequences for the muppet that took the decision.

  32. Not to mention the amount of mentally ill people the government have forced into work. More anecdotal I’m afraid: I worked in a factory a couple of years ago and a bloke was threatened with a knife because she pulled a guy up for being late back from his break. They’re just storing up problems, but that’s government for you.

  33. The ATOS assessors dismiss all medical reports: if you have normal intellect and a pulse then basically you’re fit for work. I’m not going on just one case, incidentally. I know of dozens of people who have faced the same process and they all tell me the same. Not to mention the amount of cases highlighted in the media. I know, it’s the media: but we surely can’t dismiss all of them. Although IDS seems quite happy to.

  34. KJ,

    Firstly, I’m sorry to hear about your wife. Some of the people here can be utter wankers, yes (probably including me), and personally I think you’re entirely justified in swearing all you like at someone who is rude to you about your wife’s suffering. Frankly, though, I am surprised that anyone here would dismiss as incredible the idea that state functionaries might be callous inhumane jobsworths. Sounds all too likely to me.

    Something we see time and time again — no matter who’s in government — is that targets create perverse incentives with bad results. I know for a fact that there are plenty of excellent midwives in the NHS, but we have also seen that there are others who respond to guidelines to reduce the number of C-sections by risking mothers’ and babies’ lives. I have no doubt that there are some good people doing fit-for-work assessments, and I equally have no doubt that there are some fucking bastards doing them. Sorry to hear your wife got the latter.

    But the problem with targets works both ways. Why did this situation arise in the first place? Because Blair’s Labour created incentives to get people onto benefits who were in fact fit to work. It helped with the unemployment figures and (more cynically) with expanding the class of people dependent on government largesse. That’s not to excuse the way your wife was treated, but to make the point that people being treated badly because of the implementation of central-government targets is the norm, not a Tory thing.

    > why should people who have been born with serious medical progressive conditions … now be instructed that they’re fit for work by people who lack the necessary qualifications to make that judgement.

    Because either the Blair years saw an unprecedented surge in horrible debilitating illnesses (something even his worst enemies haven’t accused him of presiding over), or we know for a fact that many thousands of people who were perfectly fit for work were incorrectly ruled unfit for work, and we want to correct that error.

    I’m not going to argue that the correction of the error is going to be done well — it’s being done by the bloody government, so we can be sure it’ll be done badly, with lots of collateral damage. But we should at least recognise that there is a problem there and that the electorate (according to May’s result) want that problem fixed.

    > The ATOS assessors dismiss all medical reports

    We know (from accounts given by some of the doctors writing those reports) that, during the Blair years, it was a rubber-stamping exercise. If doctors’ reports are now not being trusted, we can blame doctors for undermining trust in them.

  35. @KJ
    “’m talking about real life sick/disabled people dying and you’re number crunching to try and excuse it. So yes, someone is being dogmatic but it’s not me, you fucking ignorant smug dickhead.”
    I am very sorry to hear this. However there are people who are not sick who play the system. I know someone on the sick who is fit he could probably kill someone. He does have a medical condition but he could work.

  36. It is perfectly reasonable to query the statistics behind the “evil Tory cuts killing ill people” meme whilst also believing that Atos were somewhere between incompetent and malicious.

    There are enough reports of how Atos over-rode the medical opinion (and did utterly stupid things like hiring offices without disabled access) to see that some people will not have had a fair assessment.

    that, during the Blair years, it was a rubber-stamping exercise.

    Of course, the Work Capability Assessment was brought in in the first year of the Brown government.

  37. Bravo, Squander.

    I’d like to add just two things- There is a significant proportion of the unwell or disabled though who want to work, as work brings other non-financial benefit. Minimum wage laws cause problems for those folk, because the higher the wage cost, the greater the need to justify it through productivity increases. The minimum wage squeezed out a big section of people who would have been happy to work at all, and that is both a tragedy and an evil obscured by the left’s love of the minimum wage.

    Secondly- there’s a dignity in work that is overlooked entirely in the discussion about benefits. Paying someone to waste a life sat on the benny is a horrific thing.

    Also- the high mortality rate in the 18-65 cohort is most likely suicide. Of mid 20’s males.

  38. @Squander two
    “Because either the Blair years saw an unprecedented surge in horrible debilitating illnesses (something even his worst enemies haven’t accused him of presiding over), or we know for a fact that many thousands of people who were perfectly fit for work were incorrectly ruled unfit for work, and we want to correct that error.

    I’m not going to argue that the correction of the error is going to be done well — it’s being done by the bloody government, so we can be sure it’ll be done badly, with lots of collateral damage. But we should at least recognise that there is a problem there and that the electorate (according to May’s result) want that problem fixed.”
    I agree although I think the problem and the problems with the solution come from having big national benefits system.
    If we had local ones they should be smaller and more flexible.

  39. Just waiting for Interested to swear at Anonymous and accuse him of peddling bullshit. Or is anonymous anecdata only worthy of abuse when it comes from someone who disagrees with you?

  40. this is a blog where commentators tend to believe that governments are incompetent, bureaucrats look after their own interests and don’t work for the greater good, and are generally cynical

    I think you should have no problem at all in believing that trying to outsource fit to work assessments in a bureaucratised fashion, when the background is undeniably a desire to cut welfare spending, and giving staff performance targets etc. resulted in system that treated some genuinely ill people very badly, caused a great deal of stress and suffering, with some impact on on their health. There is nothing here that stretches credibility at all. The fact that the state and its agents is capable of monstering people is, I’d have thought, exactly the sort of thing that ought to underlie anti-state sentiment. Really, have none of you any experience of chronically ill friends or relatives, and seen how vulnerable they can be to worries and stresses, and how devastating things you might be dismissive of, can be?

    also if this chap KJ saw his wife treated badly, had her life made (more) miserable, then die, then even if you think there is some non-zero chance he’s making it up, I’d err on the side of benefit of doubt and respond with some humanity.

    Sometimes some of you lot really are repulsive shits.

  41. (although everybody is right that the Guardian is – as ever – completely innumerate and likes to write stories completely unjustified by the data. They needs to show that the rate of deaths was higher than you’d expect anyway, to establish that is had anything to do with these fit to work assessments.)

  42. KJ if other people have had similar experiences to you, and your experience was not just an unfortunately coincidence of events but – as you say – your wife’s treatment hastened her death – then we should expect this to show up in the data, and number crunching is exactly what somebody should be doing if you want to nail the government for killing people.

  43. “(although everybody is right that the Guardian is – as ever – completely innumerate and likes to write stories completely unjustified by the data. They needs to show that the rate of deaths was higher than you’d expect anyway, to establish that is had anything to do with these fit to work assessments.)”

    My point entirely. I might have been a bit of a dick about it (and I’m fed up of being peddled made-up stories by people trying to “prove” a point, the same kind of people who then reacted with ire in respect of made-up quotes next to stock pictures of models in a DWP broschure), but the discussion was about the stats and not about some anecdata intended to detract from that.

  44. Luis: agreed (with both posts).

    I do think that a fair measure of the irritation shown to KJ possibly comes from decent people being accused of callous disregard for the ill, when what we are trying to do is understand the scale of the problem.

  45. fair enough. But KJ did say it was just an anecdote, suggesting awareness that anecdotes are just that.

    as for Interested, calling KJ a bullshitter because he did not write: and my wife’s name as Marjory Dawes, is just fucking nasty.

    have sometimes related true anecdotes on the interwebs, and I have never named the individuals involved, why the hell would I want to?

  46. I sympathise with KJ’s complaint about ATOS – every person I know who has been interviewed by ATOS has complained: at some point it moves from anecdote to anecdata with the accent on *data*. The only case where they (eventually) agreed that the claimant was entitled to ESA had been on DLA since early childhood and they spent over eighteen months to decide during which time he got not a penny of the ESA to which he was entitled (while still getting a few £ per week of DLA).

    However, that has *nothing* to do with “evil Tory cuts” since ATOS was chosen by the Labour government.

    To get a view on the impact of the “evil Tory cuts” we need data on the death rate of those who did *not* get their ESA cut off. THAT, rather than the general population death rate, should be the yardstick for comparison. Given that data I could work out the significance but I am *not* going to try to compare apples and grapefruit.

  47. Sorry I lost “without the claimant going to appeal”.
    The success rate of appellants compared to the %age who do not appeal shows that ATOS’ judgement is pretty poor (especially since the higher rate of ESA vs JSA means that if there are no jobs any guy who recovers from a medium-/long-term disability has no incentive to switch to JSA until challenged)

  48. Oh boo fucking hoo. Some anonymous bloke on the internet got his story questioned, and the word ‘bullshit’ was used.

    Some anonymous bloke, moreover, who called the people who supposedly made this decision ‘bastards’ and referred to others (*not me*) who dared to looked at the issue from a statistical standpoint a ‘fucking ignorant smug dickhead’ and a ‘fucking idiotic wanker’ and just a plain old vanilla ‘wanker’.

    And is now warning us that ‘Karma is on its way, you gang of evil fuckers’.

    My heart bleeds, he sounds like a regular all-round good egg!

    I swear occasionally, people swear at me, I don’t really let it bother me. (The very people who are wetting their panties over me calling possible bullshit on this story are now calling me and others ‘repulsive shits’ and ‘utter wankers’ – the irony is amusing.

    My point stands – the internet is utterly full of people going round making claims about stuff, and we shouldn’t place any particular credence on them.

    At times like this, it’s fuller still of people going round straight out lying to gain political advantage. It’s called propaganda, some of you may have heard of it.

    Assuming KJ’s telling the truth, she was his *ex*-wife. So did he abandon a woman with cerberal palsy? Who knows, but maybe.

    @S2 – I don’t know why you’re waiting around for me to comment, but thanks. Personally, I don’t set a massive amount of store by any anonymous anecdote. Call me insane.

    As for this:

    >Firstly, I’m sorry to hear about your wife. Some of the people here can be utter wankers, yes (probably including me), and personally I think you’re entirely justified in swearing all you like at someone who is rude to you about your wife’s suffering.<

    Being rude about an actual woman's suffering would be wrong. Speculating that this guy is a leftist plant making up convenient lies to do down his opponents – and I think it's likely that that's what he is, a position strengthened by his reaction to statistical argument – is not. It's sensible scepticism.

    You're ever so reasonable, but he doesn't agree with you, and the proof of that pudding is that he hasn't even responded to you.

  49. Luis,

    > as for Interested, calling KJ a bullshitter because he did not write: and my wife’s name as Marjory Dawes, is just fucking nasty.

    Yup. And stupid, because we all know there are perfectly good reasons for anonymising such personal data in a public forum on the Web. And cluelessly hypocritical, because it’s not as if we can look up “Interested” in the phonebook.

  50. ^I should add – of course ATOS are idiots and make mistakes. They work for the government and they’re human. The answer to this is not to visit ‘karma’ on the ‘gang of evil fuckers’ who could have utterly predicted this whole mess, or to throw yet more money into a failing system and give everyone who feels a bit tired some free money, both of which would be KJ’s preferred solutions, it’s to scrap the welfare state and start again.

  51. @S2

    Stupid I may be, but despite that I’m doing OK, thanks.

    I might be hypocritical if I were to attack KJ for his anonymity while retaining my own.

    But that wasn’t what I did.

    I questioned the anecdote supplied by someone who quickly revealed himself to be of the hard left, and started wanking on about ‘karma’.

    (It would *perhaps* be hypocritical if I went on to a leftist blog and demanded they take my anecdata seriously, but I have no intention of so doing.)

  52. @S2

    >“I called him a cunt and then he was rude to me! His rudness proves I was right to call him a cunt!”
    Really? Grow up.<

    I was calling you a cunt for calling me a cunt while ignoring his cuntishness, if you must drag it down to those levels. You cunt.

    Christ, your ego has gone bananas since the Russell Brand days, eh? Can't you put something up somewhere about YOU again?

    😉

  53. The answer to this is … to scrap the welfare state and start again.

    Part of which is what IDS has been attempting, with his Universal Credit. So it’s no surprise to see the shroudwavers out in force.

  54. @ abacab
    Thank you – I did not realise that the Grauniad was *quite* that shameless.

    We now know that 113 times as many people on IB/SDA who were *not* deemed fit to work died as those who were deemed fit for work. For ESA it was a mere 21 times as many deemed *not* fit for work as deemed fit for work. Less than 1% of those on IB/SDA who died were judged “fit to work”, for ESA it’s still less than 5%

    Those are quite staggering ratios – those deemed “fit to work” who died are almost certainly within random variations.

    It is possible that the ATOS testers got their judgements warped by seeing so many terminally ill people.

  55. @john77

    Thanks for that. I am also now convinced that once corrected for age, there’s really nothing to see statistically.

    But shamlessly throwing a raw number around allows the Grauniad to shout “SEE, WE TOLD YOU THAT A TORY GOVERNMENT WOULD LITERALLY KILL PEOPLE”.

  56. interested

    look you swaggering tough guy, there’s nothing nasty about the word bullshit per se, but responding to somebody who’s just related the story of their wife’s death by calling it bullshit is the mark of a tone deaf berk. And if you cannot understand why he came over all sweary after that, you’re a halfwit

  57. “KJ
    August 28, 2015 at 9:10 am
    Some anecdotal evidence: my ex-wife, who had cerebral palsy…”

    So why weren’t you providing for your ex wife KJ. Your bloody responsibility after all.

  58. ATos did as they were instructed. They will not have made legislation.
    And exactly like with disability benefits for decades they will be looking at the info they have. Medical reports? What does a Dr or consultant know about whether someone can work?
    With 4 disabilities I can still work, running a business doing a load of the work myself or with disabled wife. Who but each of us can say we can work or not?
    Too many write the disabled off because we can’t do everything in exactly the same way. Does not mean we are somehow incapable of doing anything.
    Have known many disabled people over the years, its harder for us to get a job but not always any harder to keep one.
    How many can do no work? There will be some. It will be far from all.

  59. Interested,

    > I questioned the anecdote supplied by someone who quickly revealed himself to be of the hard left, and started wanking on about ‘karma’.

    And? Using the word “karma” means he must be lying? Being left-wing means he must be lying?

    And what exactly is wrong with someone of the hard Left commenting here? You only want to argue with people who already agree with you?

    Personally, I would like to see a Libertarianish government one day. The way to achieve that is by persuading people, one person at a time. I’d rather we welcomed left-wingers round here and to other similar places, and engaged with them decently. I was Socialist once. Amazingly, I didn’t change my mind because of Tories guffawing over my dead friends.

    And you didn’t just question the anecdote. There are plenty of ways of doing that politely. You were obnoxious. As usual. And, you know, sometimes I’m obnoxious, but at least I know when I’m doing it and don’t start screeching about other people being rude when I started it.

  60. So why weren’t you providing for your ex wife KJ. Your bloody responsibility after all.

    Why ? There may be a perfectly good reason for that and anyway it’s no one else’s business.

    I also don’t see why KJ has to be some kind of comintern agent just because he doesn’t agree with the general position of most of the commenters here. That’s no better than the sort of nonsense one sees at places like CiF where anyone disagreeing with the party line is denounced as a Tory stooge, denier, shill for big oil, etc etc.

  61. @Luis Enrique

    Knowing quite a few genuinely tough people, I actually don’t personally think swearing is tough. It’s just something a lot of people do, including me, sometimes.

    (Amusingly, I assume you *did* think you were being a ‘tough guy’ when you called ‘people’ ‘repulsive shits’? Fucking hell. Fair enough.)

    Look, the guy wasn’t just swearing at me, he was swearing at lots of people, and threatening us and ours with ‘karma’ for what we believe. Some of us have seen this film before.

    But who aged above 18 and below 80 and who isn’t a CoE vicar gives a shit, really?

    Far more importantly, KJ subscribes to a political creed which I sincerely believe is evil.

    Other than that, if you want to set up a blog and set the rules to disallow swearing, go right afuckinghead, champ. I shan’t be a regular, but I’ll live with that.

  62. Martin Davies,

    I think there should be some middle ground between “fit for work” and “unfit for work”, to allow for disabled people who want to work but can’t do a lot of stuff. There are other ways of getting people into the workforce than merely slashing their benefits.

  63. @S2 “I think there should be some middle ground between “fit for work” and “unfit for work”,”

    There is – there are percentages unfit to work.

  64. Abacab,

    > There is – there are percentages unfit to work.

    Fair enough, then.

    > Err, because this?

    Yes, we can see KJ is left-wing. I don’t think anyone has disputed that. What is under discussion — and what Thornavis’s “comintern” comment clearly refers to — is the idea that, because he’s left-wing, anything he says must be a lie. Which is a line of argument my eight-year-old has grown out of.

  65. interested – you don’t seem to be registering that it’s not the swearing, it’s the attitude towards somebody who just related a story about his ex-wife’s death, that I’m having a go at.

  66. @Interested @ 9:28 & others on this interchange about KJ’s missus.
    Let’s take KJ at face value.
    KJ’s missus has been getting free money through the benefits system. whether you like the expression, or not, “free money” is what it is. And I imagine we’ll all be presuming that’s quite a lot of “free money”. Enough to live on.
    Now there’s an awful lot of people would very much like to be handed free money every four weeks. But not all of them are entitled to it. And there’s nothing actually “free” about free money. The cost of the “free” bit is borne by all the (net) taxpayers who don’t get it.
    So it doesn’t seem unfair that there’s some cost imposed on the recipients. The cost of showing they’re entitled. Paid by maybe finding the process of proving entitlement isn’t particularly easy or pleasant. Because, if you don’t have something like that, the cost of providing assistance to the genuinely needy – along with the not so who scam the system – will rise to the point where it’s unaffordable for the rest of you.
    Or:

    Their
    Ain’t
    No
    Such
    Thing
    As
    A
    Free
    Lunch

  67. tremendously well done to BiS for the news that the tax and benefits system involves paying some people money or providing services without charge and that this is conditional on eligibility criteria.

    the matter in hand is the extent to which Atos / the govt dealt with people who were reliant on such money because they are unable to work and subjected them to unreasonable stress and general incompetent bureaucratic bullshit causing much needless plain and suffering, possibly early death.

  68. @dearime

    to be fair, she could have divorced him. Might have been over something as trivial as school choice, even 😉

  69. @ Luis Enrique
    No – there are two separate questions.
    One is “have the Evil Tory Cuts killed people?”.
    The other is “are ATOS a bunch of (insert name here)?”
    NB ATOS were appointed by Gordon Brown’s minions.
    The answer to the first is “Not as far as anyone can tell from data which shows that 113 times more IB/SDA people juidged “not fit to work” as judged “fit to work” died.”
    The answer to the second “We don’t know for sure, but all the anecdotes point that way.”

  70. I agree there are two sides to this and using incorrect data to attack the atos attitude to claimants is stupid.
    I’ve seen both sides of this with my wife who was injured and required extensive surgery and spent 2.5 years off work. The extra stress of the system can really impact your mental state, to the point where her doctor and myself were very concerned.
    On the other side I have an in law who has never worked a day in his life and milks the system
    The workers health insurance system where we currently live has guidelines for dealing with claimants suspected of being suicidal and warning signs, so obviously recognised as an issue. would be interesting to knowing atos had similar and what rate of suicides there was and how that compared to national average. Now that might be the stick to beat them with not this general deaths one.

  71. Thank you for the condescension. LE. Always gratefully received.
    But you can’t get round, any system where you’re giving stuff away does need filtering, to ensure it’s being given to the right people. And any such filtering is going to be have elements of arbitrariness, intrusiveness, inefficiency, even incompetence. Because it’s run by people. And people are people. But if you don’t have it, you won’t long have the thing being filtered.
    Going back to the original quoted passage & ignoring all aspects of statistical anomaly. Maybe DWP practices were indeed responsible for the death of 2380 people. Bloody sure the cost of not having the benefit system would entail a lot more. So even if were true, the outcome is still much better.

  72. It’s strange how we’re told pretty much this by the defenders of the NHS. It may not be perfect, but on balance it produces a better outcome than other systems. Where would we be without it? So let’s not look to closely at the details. Can’t be helped. Mostly they get it right.

    The commenters’ names are awfully familiar….

  73. bnis, that’s a good point. In your earlier comment, I thought you were being rather blasé about the costs being imposed on would be recipients and stating obvious, hence condescension. Although you make a good point that imperfect administration is inevitable, that does not mean that we can never point to particular practices and say they are needlessly terrible. NHS is not something I have strong views on (I like single payer, free at use, I am not hung up on private provision therein) but I’d sometimes defend NHS in fashion you depict, On other hand I’d also criticise it, if examples of dreadful incompetence and bureaucratic cruelty found.

  74. @LE,

    “I am not hung up on private provision therein”

    I presume that people who are hung very much up on this refuse to see their GP on principle that he or she is a private provider paid for by the NHS?

    Oh, wait, most people aren’t aware that GP’s are private providers :p

    (btw, In 12 years in Foreign I have thus far found only 1 brit who has lived under Foreign systems who defends the NHS. But then it’s a bit “Eigeninteresse” because she’s a chronic low-level sickie who objects to [her husband] having to co-pay for her medication and regular doctor visits)

  75. @ LE
    You must be the only person who didn’t. Note the Grauniad’s carefully selected timescale, the Grauniad’s carefgul selection of an utterly misleading statistic, it’s snide “Ministers insisted that the data could not be used to link claimant deaths to its welfare reforms, but the figures focused attention on the government’s fit-for-work assessment process, which has been dogged by controversy in recent years.” The Grauniad carefully omits to mention that the assessment process was introduced by New labour – they imply that it is *this* government’s process.

  76. People seem to be assuming a grammariens distinction between “ex-wife” and “late-wife” that might not be justified by the reality.

    Who died and elected me the sensible adult around here?

  77. @Luis – so it wasn’t the swearing that annoyed you, it was the mere fact that I dared to suggest that a self-confirmed Corbyn supporter might be fibbing when he pops up out of pretty much nowhere on this blog and starts telling stories about his ex wife?

    Ok got you, makes all sorts of sense.

    It boils down to you believe this guy, because I don’t know why, and I’m saying can we have more evidence please?

    Because these cunts – and that’s what they are – are not exactly known for holding stories like this back, are they? Particularly people who traverse the web talking about it.

    If this imaginary woman actually was forced to work in the manner he describes it would probs be all over the Graun/BBC/Mirror.

    So yep, until I hear evidence I’m afraid I call bullshit.

    Sorry, but I have school age kids and I see this as a war for their future. You may not, but Karma Comedian and his mates sure as fuck do.

    @Squander

    Remind me who the fuck appointed you the arbiter of anything except the warmth of your lunchtime sandwiches and when it’s time to call it a day on a career in execrable and highly derivative electro pop in favour of punching a keyboard for other people and I’ll take some interest in what you have to say. Until then…

  78. Some anecdotal evidence: my ex-wife, who been placed on welfare benefits years ago was able to work but unwilling to do so because she preferred her current situation. DWP/ATOS decided that she was able to work and removed the benefits. This gave her the incentive to look for, and eventually to find, a job. Being employed and responsible for herself has led to a change in her outlook and she is now much more pro-active and positive which has given her a much better quality of life. She takes much better care of herself now which has increased her life expectancy.

    See, another internet anecdote which may or may not be true. You just cannot say for certain. But if the default position is that we must not question the story nor the interpretation placed on it then you must accept its veracity to the same extent that you accepted KJ’s and put yourself in a position in which you can never discover what is and is not true.

  79. “KJ cared so much about the poor woman that she was his ex-wife”

    @ Dearieme….

    I feel sure this won’t be the first time this has been said to you… But anyways, do fuck off, there’s a good lad…

  80. Interested always brings up his tired old anecdote about some relative who died on the Liverpool Care Pathway, adding personal interpretations of acts that may or may not have happened and then topping it with “therefore NHS is bad”.

    What’s your name, Interested, you sad coward.

  81. Interested,

    > Remind me who the fuck appointed you the arbiter of …

    Ah, you’ve descended to that, have you? “I commented on someone’s comment on the Web. Someone else then commented on my comment. HOW DARE THEY?!

    Oh, and insulting someone’s music to try and hit home, too. Very good. I’ll go find a pillow to cry in.

    > you believe this guy, because I don’t know why

    He told a story about bureacrats being incompetent uncaring bastard jobsworths. Where’s the unlikely bit?

    > when he pops up out of pretty much nowhere on this blog and starts telling stories

    As did everyone here at one point, you included.

    Tim has enough regular readers to be able to send stuff viral and have a fallacy named after him. There are, what, a dozen regular commenters here? We know there must be hundreds, maybe thousands of people reading who don’t usually join in. The level of paranoia required to conclude that if any of them open their mouths they can only be a fifth column must make everyday life lots of fun.

    And, you know, things get very bickery round here, which is fine, but the only person who consistently makes personal attacks on actual commenters rather than just arguing with what they say is you. Maybe take some sedatives. Or try yoga.

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