How the government misled MPs to deprive disabled people #spartacusreport


by Sue Marsh    
10:01 am - January 9th 2012

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A report published today finds that Government misled MPs and Peers over hostility to disability benefit reform. It finds that Parliament has been given only a partial view of the overwhelming opposition to the Coalition’s planned reforms of a key disability benefit, Disability Living Allowance (DLA).

It also finds that this opposition was previously not released to public scrutiny by the Government.

The report is based on responses to the government’s own consultation on its planned DLA reforms, which were only made public once disabled people requested them under the Freedom of Information Act.

The key findings include:

• 98% of respondents objected to the qualifying period for benefits being raised from 3 months to 6 months

• 99% of respondents objected to Disability Living Allowance no longer being used as a qualification for other benefits

• 92% opposed removing the lowest rate of support for disabled people

In all three cases, as well as many others, London’s Conservative Mayor, Boris Johnson also objected to the proposed changes.

The Mayor would call for the Government to retain the three-month qualifying period as the increase to six months will mean that people with fluctuating conditions have increased difficulty meeting the qualifying period. People with fluctuating conditions face the same barriers that all disabled face in relation to higher costs of living and DLA is essential to maintain a decent quality of life.

We would recommend that the passporting system remains the same as under DLA as it has worked well when signposting people to additional benefits to which they may be entitled.

Report was entirely researched, written, funded and supported by disabled people.

It suggests that the government’s DLA consultation breached the government’s own code of practice and was “highly misleading”.

On Wednesday, 11th January, the House of Lords will be debating the Welfare Reform Bill.

Its authors now hope to use the report to persuade members of the House of Lords to back an adjournment debate calling for a pause of at least 6 months. In that time, plans for PIP should be reconsidered with the views of disabled people properly taken into account.

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About the author
Sue is a regular contributor to Liberal Conspiracy. She blogs on Diary of a Benefits Scounger and tweets from here.
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Story Filed Under: Blog ,Fight the cuts ,Health

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Reader comments


This Tory led Coalition is built on the foundations of deceit and lies.

Remember what David Cameron said during the final electoral televised debate in 2010 : A country/government is judged upon how it cares for it’s most vulnerable in society in good times as well as bad times. David Cameron went onto say if you are sick, disabled, frail. vulnerable or the POOREST in society you have nothing to FEAR if he becomes prime-minister because he would protect that group of vulnerable people in society. Well that all turned out to be a pack of Bare-Faced lies using the most vulnerable in society to appear caring and compassionate to gain votes.

You cannot gt much more despicable and evil than that can you but now we find out that David Cameron and this Tory led Coalition have also held back information in defence of the sick and disabled !

In addition to this David Cameron publicly mocks a person in Parliament by saying that it is like sitting in front of someone with Tourettes.

All this demonstrates that David Cameron cares not for the sick and disabled and now uses a mentally ill condition (Tourette Syndrome) for a laugh.

David Cameron is out of touch and out of control plus a despicably evil specimen of the human race.

I believe that the Sick, Disabled and most vulnerable in society need protection and justice from this Tory led Coalition because they appear to be lying to, persecuting, discriminating and deliberately inflicting suffering upon this group of people in society.

David Cameron promised live on television during the election campaign to protect this group of people in society but has deliberately embarked in doing the complete opposite to what he promised. David Cameron should be held legally accountable for such lies and made/forced to make good his promise to protect this group of people.

Money for war but not the poor !

“• 98% of respondents objected to the qualifying period for benefits being raised from 3 months to 6 months

• 99% of respondents objected to Disability Living Allowance no longer being used as a qualification for other benefits

• 92% opposed removing the lowest rate of support for disabled people

Report was entirely researched, written, funded and supported by disabled people.”

Surprise of the century. People who get DLA object to it being harder to obtain DLA or other benefits. Next you’ll be telling us the Pope is Catholic, or that LIberal Conspiracy isn’t funded by the unions.

@Tyler

And because they have an interest in it their research is invalid? They’ve got all the statistics tables and the FOI requests available – their research is rock solid and their opinions should be given at least equal rate to a government that’s only concerned with saving 20% from the DLA budget.

@3 George

Are you really in any way surprised that people who directly recieve this benefit are going to complain if something makes it harder, or reduces their benefit?

Do you think they are unbaised, or looking at someting from more than a very narrow perspective?

Really?

I’m sure you could replicate the same research for means testng/withdrawal of ANY benefit if you ask the people who recieve it.

I’m sure we will see a piece on the 50% tax from LC later. I’d guess if you ask people who pay the 50% tax rate if they want it removed, you’ll get very much the same sort of answer.

So in all, this report, and this article, tell us nothing we don’t already know.

@4

It tells us that, according to the government’s own figures, the claims ministers are making are lies. It tells us that their claim that they have support for the changes are lies. It tells us that they broke their own consultation guidelines and that the changes are likely to break several national and international laws. It tells us that they are going to be cutting 20% from the DLA budget despite the fact that, again, according to their own figures, fraud is only 0.5%. It tells us that even people like Boris Johnson think the changes are ill thought out and will prove immensely damaging.

So, here’s an idea, go and read the report and then come back if you’ve got specific doubts about elements of it. I’m going to bet you won’t though because you’re just some sneering berk who doesn’t know anything about this issue and only bothered to comment for the sake of making a cheap attack which sounds good despite the fact that it’t utterly irrelevant when dealing with an evidence based report.

Best of luck Sue.

PS I think Tyler is plaing with the classic right wing m-first-public-choice argument play set.

1) Point out conflict of interests
2) ?????
3) Dismiss report/politician/party/campaigners.

Of course, what grown ups do is use their knowledge at 1) as a tool to focus their inquiries into the veracity or the report’s findings.

At LibCon we generally just get ????? but that is to be expected.

This is where a lot of right wing anti-politics comes from, only people who have an interest in an issue will campaign on it, but they can be instantly dismissed as an interested party therefore no politics is legitimate. It makes life rather straightforward.

Tyler, just how is it follow from the fact that the authors of this report were all disabled, that the respondents to the Government’s consultation on DLA were all disabled too?

If this trick were as easy to pull off as you suggest, the Government would launch a public consultation on the abolition of the 50p tax rate tomorrow. 99% of respondents would (apparently) support the proposal, giving them a cast-iron mandate. (Or does the trick only work if you get an appropriate interest group to report the figures? Perhaps if the Taxpayer’s Alliance wrote a report, they could magically bring it about that 99% of respondents had supported the proposal. I’m not quite clear on the finer details.)

@5

I did actually bother to read the report. Written, amongst others, by the author of this article. Again, are you really surprised that a anti-cuts disability campaigner has written a report which says that disabled people are against cuts in their benefits?

More so, the actual report is riddled with errors. A lot of their analysis simply boils down to “our numbers are better than your numbers”. They mangle (sorry, use) their own statistics in horrible ways, though their own statistics show an approx 60% increase in the DLA rate from 3.2% to 5.1% in 15 years.

Then there are their questions, and the findings they glean from them.

The questions wouldn’t pass muster for an independent report because they lead the interviewee (not that it matters in this case, as the subjects were carefully selected to give the right responses). But that really doesn’t matter when you get such gems as;

“Question 5: Should some health conditions or impairments mean an automatic entitlement to the benefit, or should all claims be based on the needs and circumstances of the individual applying? ”

“Summary of findings

All agreed that automatic qualification should remain for those defined as terminally ill.”

That is lifted straight from the report vertabim. Tell me, where in the question were the terminally ill mentioned?

The proposal for compuslory support part of the document is another blinder, effectively having a go at government for something they haven’t done yet.

A lot more of the report is purely subjective, not objective (It was felt, or we dispute that..with no evidence…therefore). A nice one is where the report *complains* about independent assessors for DLA.

Again, as I say, should we really be surprised by this report? Other than by how flawed it is, hardly. You can tell from the off it was written with a certain agenda. It basically amounts to a criticism of the government from left wing sources, because people are going to potentially lose out. It’s the same story we are seeing with public sector workers, housing benefits etc, though possibly more emotive as this time it is the disabled.

Without getting into an argument, i do find it somewhat hard to believe that over 5% of the workforce is disabled, and that has grown by 2% in just 15 years, and that the % of disabled in the population looks to be growing further still. Clearly there are people out there who do need real support, but clearly there has been a change in what government are willing to classify as disabled, enabling more people to claim. I’m narcoleptic, do I count?

Lastly, there is a lot of the waving about of “human rights” language. This will get people nowhere. You will never be able to argue that a certain fixed level of benefits is a human right, especially not when a combination of recession, inflation and tax rises are causing near everyone’s incomes to fall in real terms.

@ 6 L.O.

Left wingers play that game all the time. Report out that shows something they don’t like? Say it came from the right/daily mail etc.

@ 7 G.O.

You’re getting warmer…..

That’s exactly what I’m saying. Why should we listen to a report on DLA written by disability campaigners and give it any more credit than a report on the 50% tax by high rate taxpayers? Becaue disabled people are somehow more worthy or honest or something?

I’m sure disabled people are upset about the chance they lose some benefits, as I’m sure some people are upset about having to pay more tax.

But jsut because you like some people more than others doesn’t make one report more correct than another.

10. Planeshift

“, i do find it somewhat hard to believe that over 5% of the workforce is disabled, and that has grown by 2% in just 15 years,”

Then you should do some research. Medical advances mean life expectancy is rising, but as a result more people than ever are living with chronic conditions, some of which mean people are unable to undertake (some forms of) paid employment. Cancer survival rates being an excellent example of this, having improved significantly over the last 15 years, but with side effects that can leave people unable to work.

Indeed if you go and look at the stats for wider chronic conditions, you’ll find somewhere between 20 and 30% of the population (depending on which area you look at) have a chronic condition. For most they live with it and can hold down employment, but for others disability benefits are necessary.

There is something very sinister about the DWP press office using the #spartacusreport hastag to tweet its own false claims about DLA.
Claims that have been completely discredited by this report. Smacks of desperation to me. Perhaps they believe in the principle that if you repeat a lie often enough it becomes the truth?

Oh by the way, silencing the media from reporting this will not work in the internet age. Treat voters like morons and feed them lies they may just get a teeny bit angry.
If you don’t listen to a well researched and accurate report and the concerns of the public peacefully expressed, what will you listen to?

So the govt is acting like one of their tory supporters Anthony Worrall Thompson, who has been caught shoplifting from Tesco. 5 times apparently. He has got a caution. Funny how tory judges look after their own. When you look at the prison sentences that were handed down to people stealing from shops in the riots.

Still he was stealing from a corporation. The govt steals from the disabled and then lies about it.

@9 Tyler

You should listen to a report written by disabled people because all the claims are backed by checkable references. Because being in the system, disabled people understand how it works and know what is really hapening on the ground. You should listen because it was drawn up and paid for with the help of thousands of disabled people whose lives will be severely impacted or under threat. Not just a handful of PR spin doctors. It involved many people following the Welfare Reform Bill debate, reading misleading media articles and government press releases, attending party conferences, meetings with MPs and taking notes on every minister’s speech. You should read it, because the research is accurate and might shock you at the garbage fed to the public.

You should listen to disabled people because one day it might be you.

14. Cripplekicker

Well said Tyler @ 9.

This report is just more whining from the ‘disabled’ lobby, who would happily see the entire UK GDP spent on their ‘needs’ – and still want more.

Sue Marsh is very ill and supposedly cannot work. Yet she can find time and energy to contribute to this ‘report’ – or, more accurately, propaganda initiative. Is it so surprising that she recently failed her disability assessment?

9
I’m sure you’re right about people whining about paying more tax, but it’s hardly the same as having to live on a subsistence level and having that figure reduced or the length of time you have to wait for payments.
Comparison can be useful, but it needs to be like for like.

@ 10 Planeshift

People are indeed living longer, and more conditions are treatable. But this does NOT account for the 2% increase in people on DLA in only 15 years.

2% increase is simply a staggering number in such a time. Immigration doesn’t really count either, given this is a % rate….or immigrants have a much higher rate of disability (which is unlikely, as we know immigrants tend to be young and come here for work).

What the main driver is likely to be is that government/society have simply become more accepting and lenient on what actually constitutes a disability.

@ 13 Jan

The report primarily references government documents. It doesn’t show its own data, which as we know is from a very particular group of respondants.

The questions from the questionaire we see in the report are especially leading, and wouldn’t make it through any real scrutiny, and the inferences they make from the answers they recieve often jump to rather large conclusions.

They offer no hard evidence as to why their data is somehow better than the government data either. They simply state theirs is more valid (“because we’re disabled”) and their main conclusion in every individual part of the report simply states that they are right and the government is wrong.

As it is, this “report” is really a left-wing political opinion dressed up as some high quality independent work. It doesn’t offer an alternatives, or solutions, and knowing the political leanings of those involved in authoring it, i’m hardly surprised.

We’ve seen, and will see more reports about how certain groups, particularly those on the left of the political argument or totally dependent on government spending (in reality, taxpayers money) are going to be hurt worst by the government cuts. Disabled people/unemployed people/people in council houses/people on benefits/public sector workers/women etc.

Well, everyone is going to have less money because the government as to cut spending thanks to the 150bn budget deficit left by Brown and Labour, and the 10% structural deficit caused simply by overspending. Taxpayers are already getting hurt, and simply put, the welfare state has got too big and too expensive for nothing to be done about it. I’m sorry to say it but everyone is going to have less to spend (or in Labour’s case, less to dole out to buy votes).

Thanks to the tyler troll we now know that we can ignore anything that comes out of Institute of directors, the CBI, a raft of think tanks funded by business, and any report from any commercial organisation.

Just so any trolls want to sight any of those please don’t bother.

16
One reason why DLA has increased is that people with mental health problems had, in the past, failed to claim although many were precluded from working or had the ability to look after their everyday needs.
Over time, agencies working with mental health service users have applied for this benefit on the person’s behalf and there has been more literature advising that this benefit can be claimed.
Even now, the questions on DLA forms tend to focus on physical disability and it requires a certain skill to complete the questions when reporting disability through mental ill-health.

An excellent achievement Sue.

I for one shall be celebrating this by not feeding the trolls in the above thread.

@OP, Sue Marsh: “Report was entirely researched, written, funded and supported by disabled people.”

That comment is crass and irrelevant. Citizens should not be classified as disabled/abled, white/non-white, Christian/non-Christian etc unless it is purposeful. It is not purposeful on this occasion.

“People are indeed living longer, and more conditions are treatable. But this does NOT account for the 2% increase in people on DLA in only 15 years. ”

It does.

“What the main driver is likely to be is that government/society have simply become more accepting and lenient on what actually constitutes a disability. ”

Evidence please? (note the term ‘likely’ – you clearly haven’t bothered to research it, prefering instead prejudice and assumptions that people are lying).

If this were the case we would expect a sharp increase following a re-defanition of what disability was. So in order to show this please point to the relevant policy decision or piece of legislation, we can then look at what happens claims before and afterwards.

In any case, a look at the legislation and policy decisions over the past decade shows that actually the attitude towards disability changes towards one of keeping people in work/expecting disabled people to go to work – abolition of incapacity benefit, introduction of work capability assemsments, disability discrimination act etc. Not that the government simply made claiming easier (the opposite happened)

In any case the benefit stats don’t show this. You can use IB/SDA claims – these show a decline between 2000 and 2011 of aprox 800,000 claims (working age). In 2003 DLA gets introduced and between then the claims rise by about 700,000 (all stats from nomis). What happened is that people were shifted from IB/SDA to DLA, so overall numbers of claimants essentially remain static over the decade.

@Tyler

If this is a left wing, refuseniks thing then why do people such as the Conservative Mayor of London oppose the changes? Why does every single sickness and disability related charity, including giants such as Macmillan endorse the report?

It’s simple, the changes are rushed and don’t make sense. To give one example, one of the changes will stop DLA being used as a qualifier for other benefits – such as blue badges. Which means that loads of entirely new assessments will need to be set up.

All of these people have engaged with the consultations by the DWP. They’ve expressed concern over problems and suggested alternatives. But all of them have been ignored in favour of a DWP assessment which lies and says that there is “broad support” for the changes when the responses to the consultation which clearly shows otherwise.

The fact is that the DWP wants to cut DLA by 20%. The cuts will come only from those of working age. As these make up 50% of the DLA caseload, that amounts to a 40% cut in funding to those affected. The number of people in need of help isn’t going to decrease, it just means that they’ll be less disabled people able to get the help they need.

And this switch to a new system will cost at least £600 million in admin costs – and that’s with the DWP assuming there won’t be any hiccups, which, inevitably, there will be. DLA is an incredibly cost effective benefit. A large number of claimants are in work and paying taxes – but they are only able to do so because DLA helps provide them with the assistance they need to stay in work, for example, helping to cover the extra heating costs caused by working from home. If they are moved off of DLA then they’ll be left unable to work and will instead become an incredibly costly burden on the NHS and social care services.

The majority of the rise in DLA is down to demographic changes – as the population ages that means more people in old age are living with conditions associated with old age, such as partial blindness, hearing loss, mobility loss, back problems, etc. There’s also been a rise over the past decade because this is a relatively recent benefit and it takes time for people to move onto it – in fact, a lot of the rise corresponds with a government campaign to get people on it because too many people were missing out.

And the fact is that there is very little room for savings – true, some people defraud the system, though that amounts to less than 0.5% of claimants, and some people are overpaid. But there are also people who are underpaid and the net result of the overpayments and fraud and underpayments is a net SAVING for the DWP.

Switching to an entirely new system will only cause a bureaucratic nightmare and damage a group of people who are already struggling on a daily basis with disability and pain and who are disproportionately more likely to be living in poverty. Disability campaigners and charities have suggested ways DLA could be reformed to make it more cost effective but the DWP isn’t interested. All they’re interested in is cutting 20% from the budget. And that’s why Responsible Reform doesn’t propose an alternative – there’s not enough time for that. These changes could be rushed through parliament in a matter of a couple of weeks and campaigners are desperately focusing all their efforts on getting a six month pause for the proposals to be PROPERLY consulted on and examined. That’s all they’re after.

I get DLA because I have a severe mental illness. Some people are shocked at how much money I get because it is over £300/month, but I used to spend time in psychiatric units every year, which cost £300/night, and now I live in the community all the time; which is just as well because cuts in local mental health services mean that I no longer have access to a mental health team without a long re-referral, so when I have a crisis, I use my DLA to pay for the care I need. In other words, for people with severe mental illness, DLA is care on the cheap.

There will also be a hidden knock-on effect for cutting a lot of DLA – no DLA = no carers allowance. That means a lot of people will stop getting £60/week for looking after their sick/disabled love one for 35+ hours a week and the state will pick up the pieces. Let’s see, 35x£15 (agency rate) = £525/week. Local authorities will love funding that.

Vitally – I believe that this must make everyone ask –

If they have breached their own Code of Conduct, misrepresented statistics to bias opinion and misled the Public on this – how do we know they haven’t done this with all other consultations, impact assessments, reviews etc that they say they have done in relation to the Welfare Reform Bill?

In Cameron’s own words – “what we are putting forward is the most radical reform of welfare in 60 years” – therefore to rush the Bill through (which they are trying to do) without knowing if any of their arguments for change are based on any kind of truth – and on the evidence in “Responsible Reform” it seems they are not – is a recipe for disaster – a huge cost to the taxpayer and more importantly, cost to the health, wellbeing and dignity of those involved.

They must be made to stop and there must be enquiries into ALL the “evidence” they are using to try and justify these punitive cuts.

The Liberal Democtrats must call for a halt to the Bill until investigations can take place. If they do not, they will lose all trust and all credibility.

Quite frankly, I find it appalling that it has been left to a few very sick individuals to bring this to light. Where are the politicians? Why are they not doing the job they are paid for by ensuring that any legislation is right and proper and based on sound and honest research?


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    @seumasmilne Please tweet or retweet I support the #spartacusreport. Of utmost importance… http://t.co/cPg7kymi

  46. Londonneur

    @DeborahJaneOrr Please tweet or retweet I support the #spartacusreport. Of utmost importance… http://t.co/cPg7kymi

  47. Jeni Parsons

    @DeborahJaneOrr Please tweet or retweet I support the #spartacusreport. Of utmost importance… http://t.co/cPg7kymi

  48. justanotweet

    @Martinrowson Please tweet or retweet I support the #spartacusreport. Of utmost importance… http://t.co/cPg7kymi

  49. Hilary Pereira

    @DeborahJaneOrr Please tweet or retweet I support the #spartacusreport. Of utmost importance… http://t.co/cPg7kymi

  50. Valerie Burnett

    “@lightacandleOTM Please tweet or retweet I support the #spartacusreport. Of utmost importance… http://t.co/Mowq8BdL”

  51. damian

    I support the #spartacus report #spartacusreport http://t.co/HYVQwkEQ

  52. patriciarichards

    'How the govt misled MPs to deprive disabled people of vital benefits' http://t.co/J3s4vlNh Summary of #spartacusreport by @suey2y

  53. Jaime Wilder

    'How the govt misled MPs to deprive disabled people of vital benefits' http://t.co/J3s4vlNh Summary of #spartacusreport by @suey2y

  54. Lightacandle

    @daraobriain Please tweet or retweet I support the #spartacusreport. Of utmost importance… http://t.co/cPg7kymi

  55. Claire Marriott

    @DeborahJaneOrr Please tweet or retweet I support the #spartacusreport. Of utmost importance… http://t.co/cPg7kymi

  56. timsaenen

    @Martinrowson Please tweet or retweet I support the #spartacusreport. Of utmost importance… http://t.co/cPg7kymi

  57. Helen Kara

    @DeborahJaneOrr Please tweet or retweet I support the #spartacusreport. Of utmost importance… http://t.co/cPg7kymi

  58. Declan Gaffney

    How the government misled MPs to deprive disabled people #spartacusreport | Liberal Conspiracy http://t.co/UXpl9Zb0 via @libcon

  59. Mr Moz

    'How the govt misled MPs to deprive disabled people of vital benefits' http://t.co/J3s4vlNh Summary of #spartacusreport by @suey2y

  60. Bert Random

    How the government misled MPs to deprive disabled people #spartacusreport | Liberal Conspiracy http://t.co/UXpl9Zb0 via @libcon

  61. KATE BUTLER

    RT @libcon: How the government misled MPs to deprive disabled people #spartacusreport http://t.co/9ojhDsfl

  62. Louise Bolotin

    RT: @Kate_Butler: RT @libcon: How the government misled MPs to deprive disabled people #spartacusreport http://t.co/PNKfaH7B

  63. Kat

    RT: @Kate_Butler: RT @libcon: How the government misled MPs to deprive disabled people #spartacusreport http://t.co/PNKfaH7B

  64. Beth McCarthy

    How the government misled MPs to deprive disabled people #spartacusreport | Liberal Conspiracy http://t.co/UXpl9Zb0 via @libcon

  65. Mike Smart

    How the government misled MPs to deprive disabled people #spartacusreport | Liberal Conspiracy http://t.co/UXpl9Zb0 via @libcon

  66. Sue Bowyer

    How the government misled MPs to deprive disabled people #spartacusreport | Liberal Conspiracy http://t.co/UXpl9Zb0 via @libcon

  67. Duncan Hall

    How the government misled MPs to deprive disabled people #spartacusreport http://t.co/3m2fMLMI

  68. Kristen McHugh

    Good blog on #spartacusreport here RT @libcon: How the government misled MPs to deprive disabled people http://t.co/w3lkqULY

  69. Ken Penton

    @Martinrowson Please tweet or retweet I support the #spartacusreport. Of utmost importance… http://t.co/cPg7kymi

  70. No TV News Coverage For The #SpartacusReport On DLA Yet Disabled Cats Get Covered « Same Difference

    [...] as was the Guardian who gave Sue space at Comment Is Free and in yesterday’s print edition.Liberal Conspiracy and Left Foot Forward both ran posts on the report, and when the House of Commons wanted to charge [...]

  71. Jo Platt

    How the government misled MPs to deprive disabled people http://t.co/36W25RIc #spartacusreport”

  72. Jo Platt

    How the government misled MPs to deprive disabled people http://t.co/36W25RIc #spartacusreport”

  73. Rachel

    RT @lightacandleOTM: @CarolineLucas Pls retweet I support the #spartacusreport. Of utmost importance http://t.co/XDKFQ45Z >>Happy to – I do

  74. Adrianne Sbstn-Scott

    #DisabilityBenefitReform This is from a year ago. The government has never apologised or admitted that they lied. http://t.co/QMZhnBle





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