Thursday, 12 July 2012

Thrill Of Rights

It was frustrating, trying to warn about the dangers inherent in Universal Credit which remove almost all benefits that will merge with it as statutory entitlements. The right to the single combined benefit will depend entirely on secondary legislation and what ever the Secretary of State decides. With the Welfare Reform Act, far from simplifying the benefit system politicians have granted themselves unprecedented control over it. Most of that power of course is exercised through increasingly complex decision maker guidelines, not the primary legislation where ministers have the least control and must pass a full Act of Parliament to change, going through all the checks and balances.

I've almost given up trying to get the issue more recognised so that it can be fought, but today some small hope was delivered from the most unlikeliest of places: the front page of the Sun newspaper.

Well it turns out there was OUTRAGE(outrage I say!) yesterday over a proposal being considered by the UK Bill of Rights Commission to make social security entitlement a fundamental right or 'human right' as the Sun tried distorting it; the commission themselves never endorse or criticise the concept of human rights and the consultation document which prompted the faux outrage last night and this morning only mentions human rights in the context of legislation and arguments made by those who have contributed to earlier consultations with arguments for and against.

The UK Bill of Rights Commission page is here, the latest consultation document is here.

The part for our attention is on socio-economic rights. The arguments for, in my biased opinion, are strong and the arguments against are laughably weak. If this right were to make it into a new Bill of Rights, it would at a stroke reverse the decision made by the Coalition to do away with statutory entitlement on the quiet.

It is not well known that most benefits are statutory entitlements; the government MUST pay them to those who make a claim and meet the criteria as set out in legislation. This was tested to destruction in DLA cases where the government tried pretending some claims were fraudulent when really the claimants had made simple errors; it was ruled that the onus was on the DWP to establish that the claimants were not eligible, rather than the claimants to make sure they were. This is why despite DLA documentation that was still in use when I made my claim in 2007 which says the claimant has a duty to report such changes in circumstances, the law said otherwise. It was an important distinction that emerges from the principle of statutory entitlement and it meant people who had really done nothing wrong were not labelled fraudsters. For some time now, there has been an effort by the media to impress on the public perception that 'entitlement' when it relates to benefits means 'entitlement culture' or an attitude, rather than an actual legal principle that underpins benefit claims. So when the government removes statutory entitlement, of course few were ever going to notice. But we can kill this secretive policy before it gets far and put the sneaky bottom-feeders on the run.

Yes, like this
Entitlement to social security as a socio-economic right in a future Bill of Rights won't give us something new; it will give us back what we had before the Welfare Reform Act passed. Everyone concerned about the loss of statutory entitlement as a legal protection must contribute to this consultation. It's so important, I am considering making this Case File 4.


  1. They are planning to stop publication of "take up " of income related benefits-2 full time statisticians-bollox.

  2. 7.52 -12.31 billions unclaimed on income related alone,no doubt it would be far more were it not for the "entitlement culture"





    "A really good deal"-words fail me.

  7. Funny thing, the troops won't be put through the wringer of periodic assessment because they already get assessed for the pension they receive due to their injuries and mental health.

    That one assessment is thorough enough that it overrules periodic PIP assessment for an indefinite time into the future.

    Well, I want THAT assessment.

  8. Indeed.Glad you sorted out the job centre "incident",BBC giving you the run around,enjoy your work/holiday-the life of a "truth seeker" is an eventful one.Peace.