IDS Armed Police Point Guns At Disabled Claimants
In this edition we have the most revealing insight yet of the fear and hatred DWP ministers appear to feel for claimants. A sullen and angry Iain Duncan Smith and Lord Freud turned up to the Work and Pensions Select Committee last week surrounded by bodyguards and armed police, who proceeded to point their machine guns directly at the small group of disabled claimants waiting to go into the public gallery.
Sadly, at the committee meeting itself, IDS seems to have entirely wriggled off the hook in relation to fake statistics, unfair sanctions and the universal credit fiasco.
Elsewhere, there is a report by Kaliya Franklin that suggests that the imposition of ‘norms’ in the work capability assessment ensures unfair outcomes and the People’s Review of the same test illustrates the real human suffering it causes.
Moving on to Personal Independence Payment, there’s the dispiriting news that terminally ill cancer patients will have to rely on a ministers assurances that he can use his boots to kick the DWP into paying PIP within 7 days, whilst whistleblowers and claimants reveal the true extent of PIP medical assessment chaos.
Looking on the bright side, we’re giving away 10 free subscriptions to the site this week in a fit of Christmas generosity.
And although it didn’t require armed police to remove me, it did take quite a bit of persuading to get me to step aside and let my colleagues Karen and Sangeeta write the rest of this newsletter.
So . . . I’ll be off then.
10 FREE SUBSCRIPTIONS TO BE WON
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IDS turned up to be questioned by MPs surrounded by armed police and bodyguards, perhaps in the hope of intimidating both politicians and members of the public.
However, IDS has come under fire himself - metaphorically at least - following his appearance in front of the work and pensions select committee. Backtracking on previous comments he has made regarding those on long term ESA, he indicated that he now wishes to protect the most vulnerable claimants from being transferred onto Universal Credit during the biggest roll out phase. This was an interesting statement, given his previous one hinting at plans for scrapping the WRAG after the elections in 2015.
During the session, he denied he has made up and misused statistical information, citing “only 2 occasions” of criticism from the UK Statistics Authority and deflected allegations of further misuse by the Conservative party chairman, as he said he cannot be held accountable for the comments that others make regarding statistics. He also denied that the rollout of the flagship Universal Credit was in any financial jeopardy, although he did appear to admit that previous statements he had made regarding planned timescales had been misinformed and, learning from the practical issues associated with the rollout, those timescales have since been adjusted.
When questioned by Debbie Abrahams MP, he denied that there are any targets for getting as many claimants off benefits as possible, as alleged by a former jobcentre worker. He maintained that this was merely one critic of the system. However, in a letter to the Guardian, a former senior manager of jobcentre services appears to confirm that sanctioning occurs for trivial reasons, causing hardship, despair and demoralisation for the claimant. He supports the call for an independent enquiry into the impact of benefit sanctions.
The fourth annual review of the Work Capability Assessment, carried out by Dr Paul Litchfield, was published last week. In it, he makes some stark comments about the complexity of the system, which he believes is “impenetrable” for the most vulnerable claimants.
Many will suspect the minister’s motives for continuing to support the current system of work capability assessments, which are ‘fundamentally flawed’ according to an analysis by Kaliya Franklin who has concluded that this rigs the assessment (members only) against the claimant .
In other ESA news, The People’s Review was published, detailing the devastating impact of the work capability assessment. Within the report, harrowing tales of hardship and despair are told by those most deeply affected. This didn’t seem to be something on IDS’ mind at all throughout the select committee session – here is a man who has no doubts that his reforms are thoroughly on-track and justifiable.
There's one bit of good news amongst the gloom, however. Any money owing to ESA claimants who have been through a mandatory reconsideration and lodged an appeal will be paid to them at that point, rather than waiting until the appeal has taken place.
When faced with the evidence that terminally ill cancer patients were facing severe delays, as long as 8-10 weeks, in receiving their benefits: Mike Penning told the Select Committee for Work and pensions that he is going to use his ‘size 10 boots’ to ensure that terminally ill people receive PIP within 7 days of claiming. MacMillan Cancer Support, on the other hand, would prefer to see enforceable targets set rather than expecting terminally ill claimants to feel assured by politicians' promises. Penning also let on to Glenda Jackson that one of the providers of the PIP contract has been punished for failing to meet sevice level expectations (members only).
However, delays are affecting all PIP claims according to reports collected by the Disability News Service. (members only) and a Whistleblower, working for Capita has also shared her concerns (members only) stating that assessments she completed in September on behalf of Capita have still not been submitted to the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) for a decision on PIP eligibility.
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Personal independence payment might have started slowly, but claimants still need the best help possible to make a successful claim. As the assessments begin to catch up, we’re likely to begin seeing more and more PIP decisions coming through. Is your agency ready for PIP and all the problems it’s likely to bring? If not, prepare yourself to help your client group by signing up for a Benefits and Work PIP training course in March 2014.
Find out more about our PIP training or:
During the Select Committee's 'grilling' of Ian Duncan Smith; @benefitsandwork tweeted Debbie Abrahams, Labour MP for Oldham East and Saddleworth, as soon as she highlighted the People's review. This was in response to Ian Duncan Smith stating that Work Capability Assessments had improved.
In a year that has seen police reporting the highest ever numbers of incidents of abuse and attacks on people with disabilities and their carers, we wanted to express our sincerest sympathy to the family and friends of Brian Holmes, who was attacked in a supermarket car park, dying the next day. We asked our page followers what they thought of this latest incident and received a huge response from people on the page and in messages, expressing many views on this. The Family has asked to be left alone to grieve for their loss.
Finally, Christmas is just around the corner and the holiday season may leave some of our page followers feeling vulnerable and unsupported; please take the time to make supportive comments where you can on the page for others to see. Replies are also always appreciated by us at the Facebook team but, more importantly, by our other page members too.
There are many more news articles on the site than we have room for here, including:
43% of ESA appeals are decided in favour of the claimant at Tribunal hearings
Harrington accuses minister over ‘fitness for work’ test (members only)
DLA renewed until March 2016
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From IB to ESA, placed in the support group, prognosis 3 years
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Straight into the Support Group with no medical on reassessment
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Higher rate care and Lower rate mobility until 02/12/2018
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DLA decision overturned
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Sandra via email
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Thank you for all the wonderful help that your website provides, it provides crucial help for the many sick and disabled people subjected to this cruel process.”
Paul via email
“In the last few days I received a letter (dreaded brown envelope)...just one day after my 48th Birthday. I have been placed in the support group without a medical. In March 2012 I was on the sick and claiming E.S.A, by December of that year I was claiming J.S.A until March 2013. Just 3 weeks later the Atos questionnaire arrived and cannot thank Benefits and Work enough. Previously be denied E.S.A and D.L.A appealed, and lost both claims even though I am affected daily by the fibromyalgia . Had £1000 deposited in my bank that very day. Speechless, but did feel a little deflated, because it has been a difficult and long journey.
I can now have my heating on a little longer and pay the bedroom tax.I feel I have won the Lottery !
It is now over 18 months that I had been dismissed from employment because of my absence level.
Thank you Benefits and Work!”
Robbie via email
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Good luck, happy Christmas and all the very best for the New Year,
Karen Sharpe and Sangeeta Enright
Benefits and Work Publishing Ltd
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