“Taking the fight to this Morally Disabled Government
By soiniciulacht on
If you listen to the DWP you could be forgiven for believing that we are all ‘disability bullies’, scroungers, or feckless workshy fraudsters.
The majority of charities and virtually all the disabled groups are amenable to intelligent, evidence-based reforms and several intelligent activists worked with lawyers and advisers to come up with constructive input in a document called ‘Responsible Reform’ (more commonly known as the Spartacus Report
Let’s look at the initial steps of making a claim for ESA, described by DWP as follows:
Employment and Support Allowance provides financial help to people who are unable to work because of illness or disability.
The assessment phase lasts for the first 13 weeks of your claim
When you make a claim for Employment and Support Allowance (ESA), you will usually have a Work Capability Assessment. You may also be asked to take part in a medical assessment
1/ Completing the form:
A blind, deaf, tube-fed, non verbal, disabled man from Scotland has been deemed fit for work by the DWP. As a result of not completing the form correctly, his benefits will be stopped on 7th June
Result of incorrectly completing the form:
Claim refused and told either to make another claim or to appeal. This means 6 months delay during which time the claimant may not only have no access to ESA but if they are incapable of working will also be denied JSA.
Anxiety and possibly extreme financial difficulties.
Instant fines for incorrect benefit claims – DWP Press Release
A bloody insult
A waiting time of 6 months or more.
During this time certain other benefits that are available to the sick/disabled are closed off.
Little better than tossing a coin with 40% appeal rate-
the high appeal rate causes anxiety as nobody can have confidence in such a system
The actual tests are not fit for purpose with particular difficulties for those with mental health issues or multiple conditions
More anxiety and worry and a lot of really desperate claimants denied
The WCA is impersonal; many have complained that they are never spoken to other than to be asked the questions, no eye contact or normal human interaction as the assessor sits in front of the computer filling in the checklist.
Makes the claimant feel insignificant and insulted
The questions are designed to increase the likelihood of rejection. ‘What is your favourite TV programme?’ when written into the report becomes ‘Is capable of sitting and concentrating for 45 minutes’ or whatever; there is no follow-up question about whether you watch it in bed or record it and watch it in parts.
Anger at the dishonesty and possibly put back into the appeal system if it causes the claim to be rejected with the resultant anxiety.
Some ATOS centres are on upper floors and are thus either inaccessible to wheelchair users or prohibit access to wheelchair users on Health & Safety Grounds; in a fire wheelchair users could be trapped as they would not be permitted to use the lifts.
More delay, possibly a long journey to another centre with more anxiety
There are consistent claims that appointments cancelled by phone, when the claimant wants a home visit or cannot make it for example, are marked as a failure to turn up and thus the claim is rejected.
ATOS send letters to inform claimants of there WCA appointment. Sometimes the letter doesn’t arrive on time, if at all; claimants make a phone call to ask for a home visit or to change the appointment.
There are consistent reports that in many of these cases claimants are being marked down as a no-show.
More delay, possibly back to the start of the claim procedure and the 6 month wait starts again.
3/ Other factors informing the reaction of claimants
After a claim has been rejected there is a DWP review – THIS HAS NO TIME LIMIT
Welfare has been removed from the Legal Aid system
Disabled Charities have lost a huge swathe of funding
Councils are cutting back on social care and support and increasingly restricting eligibility
Council Tax benefit cuts will hit the disabled
Discretionary funds are being discontinued or drastically reduced
There is a disturbing tone to the rhetoric used by Ministers and Journalists and this has undoubtedly helped the increase in hate crimes
WCA retesting is to be applied to those with disabilities that are incurable and chronic such as those who have lost limbs or suffer from Parkinsons
By far the greatest cause of anxiety is the fear of the brown envelope landing on the doormat:
THERE IS NO RESTRICTION ON THE NUMBER OF TIMES YOU CAN BE RECALLED FOR WCA RETESTS NOR A MINIMUM PERIOD BETWEEN SUCH TESTS THIS IS AN INTOLERABLE WAY TO LIVE WITH NO GUARANTEED INCOME FROM WEEK TO WEEK