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30 March 2007

Are you fed up with the DWP making arrangements to save money and suit itself, regardless of how they might affect you or your health? If so, download the latest Benefits and Work factsheet 'Get better treatment from the DWP' and find out how to assert your rights under the Disability Discrimination Act. The guide includes sample letters you can copy and adapt to match your individual needs.

Health needs
Do the DWP fail to take any account of your health conditions in their dealings with you?

For example, are you asked to attend appointments with no regard for whether your condition is at its worst at that time of time of day?

Are you kept waiting for long periods of time, even though your condition makes this difficult or painful for you?

Are you obliged to make claims or provide information over the telephone even though you have great difficulty in concentrating because of your health condition and would rather be able to give information in writing?

Are you expected to discuss your health condition in an open-plan office where you can be overheard by other people, no matter how distressing you find this?

Reasonable adjustments
Is it time you considered using the Disability Discrimination Act, and especially the DWP's duty under the Act to make reasonable adjustments, to help you get better treatment?

In some areas of law, such as employment tribunals, considerable efforts appear to have been made to comply with the Act. Disabled people attending hearings have been provided with a conference room for breaks, letters in large fonts, the opportunity to practice being asked questions in the witness stand before the hearing and much else besides.

But benefits claimants and those attending appeals still seem to be expected to endure the same sausage factory system with no regard for individual needs. And as cuts to the DWP's funding bite even deeper with, for example local offices being replaced by regional call centres, the service provided to disabled claimants looks set to get even worse.

This guide aims to be a first step in helping you to improve the service that's offered to you, by insisting on your right to reasonable adjustments under the Disability Discrimination Act. It looks, in brief, at who is covered by the Act, what counts as discrimination and what adjustments might be reasonable for you. There are sample letters to help you to ask for reasonable adjustments, examples of reasonable adjustments made in other areas of law - just to show that it can be done - and details of the first steps to take if your requests aren't complied with.

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