Benefits activist jumps ship to cries of Judas

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Popular blogger joins the other side after being offered a £75k post 

21st January 2015 by Robert Armour 3 Comments

Her articulate, at times funny but often harrowing accounts of struggling to make ends meet on benefits captured the imagination of thousands, but now a benefits activist is being accused of being a hypocrite by supporters.

Sue Marsh (below) gained international attention and plaudits from the UK to Australia as she detailed her – and others’ – plight on a meagre ration of benefits meted out by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) as welfare cuts tightened.  

Unable to work because of a rare, debilitating form of Crohn's Disease, Marsh posted weekly accounts of her battle with the authorities over welfare cuts and benefit reforms, rounding on everyone from David Cameron to Nick Clegg, the DWP and contractors doing the government's bidding.    

Now the blogger is being branded a Judas after she revealed an astonishing Damascene volte-face by accepting a £75,000 customer services post with Maixmus – the company awarded the contract for carrying out health assessments on disability benefit claimants. 

Marsh’s site, Diary of a Benefits Scrounger, made her a darling of the left and saw her writing regularly for The Guardian and even appearing at the Labour Party conference.

But now her supporters have turned against her, calling her “Judas” a “hypocrite” and a “traitor”, as she revealed details of her new job as well as her justification for doing so.

She says she “agonised” over the decision.

“Those of you who love and trust me I hope, will be pleased,” she writes in her latest blog.

“Those who doubt my intentions and goals and those with different goals to mine will almost certainly be critical, and, in a sense, I understand that response. If I didn’t know me I might be sceptical too.

“I’ve devoted the last 6 years of my life to doing anything and everything I could to improve WCAs (Work Capability Assessments for ESA, Employment and Support Allowance).

"I’ve negotiated with people I did and didn’t want to, I’ve worked with any group or individual with a genuine concern for those experiencing the assessments. I’ve worked with media and politicians of all parties. My only concern has ever been for the people – like myself and some of you – going through the process of assessment.”

Previously Marsh lambasted Maximus, saying the Department of Work and Pension had sought out “the worst provider they could find” to assess claimants. However, she now says she has had to have an “enormous – almost cosmic – mindset shift” to accept the job.

The news led to over 500 comments on her blog.

One wrote: “I am so sorry to say this but I feel betrayed so much I can only now call you JUDAS”.

Another anonymous commentator added “Indeed. Judas, hypocrite, traitor, take your pick! And to think I’ve read this shit for years.”

Ephemerid’ commented: “If I was offered a job tomorrow, I still couldn’t do it; I’m at a loss to understand how you can now, suddenly be well enough to take on a full-time high-profile high-pressure job.”

A spokesman for Maximus said: “We believe, given her experience, that Sue will be able to contribute a great deal in making the customer experience of work capability assessments a better one.”

22nd January 2015 by Clivegsd

"My only concern has ever been for the people"<-- That is a bare faced lie, much like Simon Stevens her first concern has been money, followed closely by media attention. As someone else has said, she has put back campaigning for disabled people years.

23rd January 2015 by Hetty

Only just heard of her now, but it seems she did nowt to help benefits claiments, they are still be interrogated and hounded and sanctioned, in fact its worse! Was she really genuine that is the question.

27th January 2015 by HT

Unfortunately the system is here to stay at least for the foreseeable future. Surely it is better to have someone with intimate knowledge of the issues in a position of authority to help make the changes required from the inside. I wish Sue Marsh the best of luck in what will be a testing role and I am sure she will be a powerful advocate for all those struggling with the current system.