Tag Archives: dwp

The Independent View: ‘Benefits on Trial’: DWP Injustice Exposed

‘Benefits on Trial’ is based on my work in Cornwall since 2012 as a volunteer advocate with adults who have a learning disability. In recent years, that work has increasingly concerned benefits cases: helping people with their PIP and ESA applications; accompanying them to assessments; requesting reconsideration of decisions; and taking cases to the tribunal stage. That experience – particularly of tribunals – triggered the writing of ‘Benefits on Trial’.

The book describes how six people – for all of whom names have been changed to protect their identities – have to battle with the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) whose system, with built-in hurdles, is loaded against them. Two of them – Danny who has ABI and Thomas who has Down’s syndrome – figured prominently in my previous book, ‘Austerity’s Victims’. The others are Ben, Jon, Tony and Denise: Ben has fibromyalgia and ME as well as being on the autism spectrum; Jon has Global Developmental Delay; and Tony and Denise both have an unspecified learning disability.

‘Benefits on Trial’ builds up a detailed picture of each of the six people, their current lives and events in their past which have helped to shape them. The experience of Denise described below – her early years and her application for benefits – serves as an example of the inhumane treatment suffered by all six at the hands of the DWP.

When she was eight, she had the first of what turned out to be many epileptic seizures. Because of the way in which they have affected her memory, she cannot remember either much of the detail of her life after the seizures started or what her life was like previously. A member of staff at her day centre, however, who went to the same secondary school recalls both appalling bullying there and later when she was nearly twenty a sexual assault that was taken to court.

Not the start in life that most of us enjoyed and one that cries out for compassion. Instead, from the state, the reverse was inflicted upon her. She, like all the others in this book turned down for PIP, was left with an income which no-one should be asked to survive on. Her £107.50 in 2018 was only 26.86% of the UK median per week, 28.27% of the equivalent median for the South West and 39.99% of the Joseph Rowntree Foundation’s UK Minimum Income Standard.

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LibLink: Christine Jardine: All consuming Brexit is making this country a less caring place

Sarah Newton resigned as Disabilities Minister 3 weeks ago but she still hasn’t been replaced.

In her Scotsman column this week, Christine Jardine outlined why a new minister was needed and soon.

The Personal Independence Payments system is broken, she said, highlighting a local example:

Alexandra Mitchell from Cramond, has already highlighted the shortcomings. Born with a disability and entitled to a Motability car for years, she was mysteriously told she no longer qualified for the support, with no adequate reasoning behind the decision. Although we managed to have the decision overturned on appeal that, in itself, is not good enough. Nor is it an isolated, or even unusual, incident.

That wasn’t the end of the story, though, for Alexandra:

I again raised the case of Alexandra Mitchell who has now been told that there is an ‘end date’ of her lifelong disability. Wow, who knew the department had such powers? That they could end disability at the stroke of a pen. They can’t. And to get to the bottom of why the department thought it could, I was due to have a meeting with the Minister for Disabilities in the very week she decided that she could no longer stomach her own Government’s approach to Brexit. Since then, there has been nobody in Government tasked with addressing those issues, of which there are so many, that myself and other MPs have been keen to raise. Fortunately I had also arranged a meeting with Amber Rudd, the current Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, to ask if she would consider changes to a Universal Credit system that has proven not fit for purpose. Again Brexit, as ever, intervened and foreshortened our meeting, but not before I had grasped the opportunity to confront the Secretary of State with the problem. To be fair, she asked me to send details of Alexandra’s case directly to her and I have.

Christine highlighted the ridiculous amount of money that the Government spends on holding appeals, most of which are upheld:

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Lib Dems: Universal Credit could lead to up to 1.3 million evictions

New data released yesterday by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) reveals that only 6% of Universal Credit claimants in the private rented sector have their rent paid directly to their landlords, compared to 35% in the socially rented sector .

This is despite calls by Liberal Democrat DWP spokesperson Stephen Lloyd to make payments to landlords default. Lloyd has argued that maintaining the status quo will lead to many of the 1.3 million benefit claimants in the private rented sector being evicted, and potentially made homeless.

According to the Residential Landlords Association, 73% of landlords still lack confidence in renting to tenants on Universal Credit due to uncertainty that they will be able to recover rent arrears, while 38% have already experienced UC tenants going into arrears.

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Vince calls on Government to delay changes to mortgage interest payment for people on benefits

In less than 3 weeks’ time, the Government stops paying mortgage interest to for those on certain benefits.

Some bright spark at the Department of Work and Pensions came up with a way to save the Government money – by getting a private company, Serco, to operate a loan scheme. Instead of having payments covered by the state, they will be covered by the homeowner taking out a private loan with Serco in return for a charge on the property. That means that they will have to pay back an unspecified sum of money if they eventually sell their house.

The Government …

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Lord Mike German writes…ATOS contract scrapped, two requests for its replacement

stethoscopeThe previous Labour Government’s 2005 contract awarded to Atos Healthcare has been a long term thorn in the side of the policy of fairly assessing people on Invalidity Benefit for transferring to Employment and Support Allowance. The contract has been dogged by decisions taken which have been overturned on appeal, and longer and longer queues as people wait for their assessments.

At the root of the problem was Labour’s decision to award the contract to a single supplier for the whole of Great Britain. Now, we know Labour loves monopolies and centralising …

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ATOS lose monopoly on work capability assessments after audit shows up “unacceptable” standards

Those of us who are concerned about the fairness of the welfare system often cite the Work Capability Assessment, which claimants of Employment and Support Allowance are required to take. It seems that every few days there’s a story in the press reporting how someone has been marked fit for work when it is clearly inappropriate to do so. Yesterday the Daily Record carried the story of a woman who lived just a couple of miles away from me who was told she was fit for work weeks before she died of a brain tumour.

Concerns about the WCA appear …

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