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6 September 2010

MPs returned to the commons today and, as a result, many of us will be bracing ourselves for the next round of misleading and vicious attacks on disabled claimants.

But, in reality, the hate campaign never really let up over the summer recess.  The most distressing example was undoubtedly the threat to unleash private sector bounty hunters on incapacity benefit claimants.

So, to mark the return of the disablist parliament , Benefits and Work looks at what actually happens when government agencies work with the private sector to uncover benefits fraud. 

We reveal:

whether incapacity benefit claimants really will be investigated if they spend too much money on flat screen TVs, gardening or DIY equipment;

whether disability living allowance claimants will be on the bounty hunters ‘most-wanted’ list;

what the only type of fraud likely to be detected by bounty hunters actually is.

Find out what’s really going to happen if the private sector goes claimant hunting in ‘The truth about bounty hunters’.

THE RIGHT TO RECORD YOUR MEDICAL
Professor Malcolm Harrington, meanwhile, is carrying out the independent review which is supposed to find out the truth about whether the work capability assessment for employment and support allowance is working.  In our last newsletter we asked you to contact  the professor with your views and experiences. 

We now understand that the professor would also like to know what changes you would make to improve the assessment process.  Very high on our list would be the right to record your medical without the nonsense of having to provide a sound engineer and professional recording equipment. 

So, even if you’ve already made a submission to the review, if you have practical suggestions for improvements, such as being able to record your medical, please email them to

wca.evidence@dwp.gsi.gov.uk

not later than 10 September.

WHERE’S THE BENEFIT?
For further reading about disability benefits issues in general, we can recommend the Where’s the Benefit blog, which was set up in August for the purpose of ‘Campaigning against the government's distressing war on disabled benefit claimants’.  There’s lots of well-informed comment and news, some of it from people you will be familiar with if you are a BBC Ouch regular:

CUTS CAMPAIGN
Meanwhile, CarerWatch are beginning a campaign to ask the Coalition to protect disability benefits before the October cuts. In preparation, they are asking disabled people and their carers to post short accounts of their own fears about benefit cuts and how it will affect them on the CarerWatch site.

MORTGAGE PAYMENT MISERY
One of the cuts planed for October will result in almost half of all claimants who receive mortgage interest payments facing a shortfall.  The majority of those who will fall into arrears will be pensioners and disabled claimants.   The coalition blithely claims that ‘based on conversations with the Council of Mortgage lenders we would expect lenders to demonstrate forbearance in the vast majority of these cases’  You can read more details in the DWP equality impact assessment.

FORUMS RETURN
The forums were closed for a few weeks in August due to a shortage of moderators.  We reopened on 1 September with two new mods – welcome Survivor and DepressedDerek – and below are a few of the good news posts we’ve received since reopening.

DLA Tribunal Result

ESA Success- thankyou!

Don’t give up!

Relief - ESA into Work Related Group

ESA Appeal Success - Harrumble!

ESA Success YIPPPEEEE

IB tribunal

MPs are only back for two weeks before going off on another break for their annual conference jamborees.  We have no doubt that all the major parties will be using the occasion to try to outdo each other in demonstrating how tough they can be on sick and disabled claimants.  Meanwhile, we’ll carry on doing our best to reveal the truth behind the disablist propaganda.