Anonymous jobseeker: Why the Universal Credit system is not working

One jobseeker, who wishes to protect their identity to avoid any potential consequences for speaking out, details the struggle with the government’s new Universal Credit benefits system.001

Universal Credit is a new type of benefit designed to support people who are on a low income or out of work. It will replace six existing benefits and is currently being rolled out across the UK. The new system is based on a single monthly payment, transferred directly into a bank account.

I UNDERSTAND the supposed benefits of Universal Credit. I realise that Jobseekers’ Allowance was sometimes not flexible enough to accommodate modern working practices and patterns. I realise the value of a benefit that allows the claimant to pick up occasional work and seasonal roles.

I do, however, have several issues about the current system and its procedures. I will illustrate my feelings about Universal Credit via examples of interactions with my adviser, Trisha* at Clydebank Job Centre, outlining my issues with, what I can only describe as an ideological assault on welfare claimants.

The first point to address about Universal Credit is the initial wait for benefits money. This wait is up to seven weeks. The claimant is not entitled to money for the first week of this delay as this is classed as a waiting period.

It is not the role of our welfare system to reflect the fallow pay periods of the private sector. The point of welfare is that it is designed to support citizens where the market fails.

So, after seven weeks with no income, the claimant receives money for only a portion of this time. The reason for this wait is apparently due to the fact that claimants need to learn responsibility, and in “real jobs” one might expect to wait up to six weeks for one’s first payslip.

The perceived responsibility imbued in these monthly payments is fairly patronising: it suggests a top-down understanding of what it is like to meet one’s day-to-day expenses on a miserly income, with no real relation to the types of jobs that are available to claimants.

It is not the role of our welfare system to reflect the fallow pay periods of the private sector. The point of welfare is that it is designed to support citizens where the market fails. It is very sad that the DWP are aiming to mirror the practices of a poor employer.

Of course, the DWP are not monsters. No, there is a discretionary fund that one can apply for should they need to, say, pay rent or buy food while they wait seven weeks for their benefits to trickle in.

A discretionary fund which is, in fact, a loan, which the ‘successful’ recipient will have to begin paying back as soon as they receive their first Universal Credit payment.

The terminology employed throughout the Job Centre is a point of interest. My meetings are termed ‘interventions’. My interventions are generally an unhelpful process where Trisha treats me with a perfect combination of suspicion and derision.

During my interventions, Trisha has twice tried to push me towards unsuitable work. As outlined in my job description, I am looking for full-time (35-40 hours) work in my field of experience.

My meetings are termed ‘interventions’. My interventions are generally an unhelpful process where my adviser treats me with a perfect combination of suspicion and derision.

At my first intervention (note: six weeks before any money was due to enter my account), Trisha pushed information on a jobs fair towards me, printed on the Job Centre’s signature thin porridgey-yellow-grey paper.

“Maybe you could pick up some work while you wait for the benefits to come in,” she said.

I politely declined, outlining that the 12-hour retail role that she was ushering me towards would be a waste of my time and theirs, and that I would prefer to continue on my own job search.

If real jobs pay every five weeks, then I would still have to wait a significant time period for my first paycheque according to the DWP’s logic. So working in the meantime would be detrimental to my current circumstances with no income to cover travel and incidentals.

This particular interaction made me question the general competence of my adviser, and the effectiveness of the system as a whole. Trisha seemed to have little understanding or respect of my existing experience. Her attempt to push me towards a part-time retail role (which was unsuitable for me for many reasons) demonstrated the inefficiencies of a target-driven system.

This process is unhelpful for both employer and employee, pushing unsuitable candidates into unsuitable roles, no doubt contributing to high turnover and thus high HR costs for businesses.

My ‘interventions’ have thus far had no evidence of any sort of informed support. I am fortunate enough that I am able to conduct my job search alone and that I do not need any help from Trisha, because I’m certain that this support would not exist if I were to seek it.

This process is unhelpful for both employer and employee, pushing unsuitable candidates into unsuitable roles, no doubt contributing to high turnover and thus high HR costs for businesses.

The current format of job-hunting under Universal Credit requires claimants to treat their job hunt much like a job itself, evidencing 35 hours of activity a week. The proof of this job hunt has to be recorded via Universal Jobmatch, a government website which has a characteristically bureaucratic log-in process.

The user log-in consists of a 12-digit number, to be entered alongside a case-sensitive password. These login details have to be obtained via a lengthy registration process, with one half of your log-in being sent to your email address, and the second texted to your mobile phone.

The Universal Credit process already presupposes that claimants have access to email and SMS, which may not be true of everybody, and that claimants are computer literate to a moderate degree.

Even if you can use it, Universal Jobmatch is not a perfect website. The search algorithm produces hundreds of results, many of which may only have tenuous links to the original search keyword. This means that claimants have to sift through tens or hundreds of often unsuitable roles in order to find the few that they can apply for.

In the Universal Jobmatch user agreement, the website even states that the jobs have not been verified, and that there may be inaccuracies in the description. In my personal experience, I have found that it is simpler, and more effective, to jettison the Universal Credit website in favour of more specialised websites where job search results are more tailored to one’s needs and experience.

However, despite spending the requisite number of hours a week searching for jobs on suitable platforms, I continue to be treated with suspicion from Trisha. Recently I attended an interview for a role in another city. I had to travel to and from the 90-minute interview, and including time spent at lunch this took the majority of the day, almost seven hours.

The Universal Credit process already presupposes that claimants have access to email and SMS, which may not be true of everybody, and that claimants are computer literate to a moderate degree.

In my next intervention I was asked why I hadn’t performed a job search on that day, which I hadn’t conducted due to being exhausted from travel, interview preparation, and the tail end of a head cold. Apparently it was not sufficient enough to have attended the interview, but that I had to somehow supplement this activity with an online job search.

In my initial meeting with a male adviser, I was told that, in theory, a variety of activities can contribute to the 35-hour job hunting quota. In practice, however, my adviser Trisha would have preferred that I had stayed at home and evidenced my job hunting activity online instead of attending my interview.

There seems to be more time spent focussing on evidencing activity than to the actual quality or effectiveness of the activity itself. Opinions on what constitutes appropriate jobseeking activity changes from adviser to adviser, meaning that the claimant is at the mercy of the subjective whims of their allocated DWP employee.

Furthermore, Trisha asked why I had not logged in over a particular weekend to perform a job search. I pointed out that in my first appointment, with the male adviser, I had been told that I could spend five days a week searching and take weekends off, or spend fewer hours searching across all seven days.

Indeed, as long as a full 35 hours a week are met, the claimant is able to structure their job search to a manner that suits them, which may involve ‘days off’ due to other commitments or care requirements.

This is not the case, according to Trisha, who expects the claimant to log in every single day, including weekends, to record their job search, regardless of the hours spent searching midweek.

As a point of feedback, if the DWP would like claimants to act like employees then they must be afforded some reciprocal respect.

There seems to be a disconnect in this logic: the claimant is expected to treat their job hunt like a job in itself. Payment is withheld from the claimant for up to six weeks to reflect the situation that one might encounter in a real job. The claimant is expected to learn responsibility from their monthly payments, and budget accordingly, like they might in a real job.

But that’s where the employee-employer relationship ends, because the claimants are not afforded the real job perks of weekends or time off, which are fairly crucial to one’s mental health.

As a point of feedback, if the DWP would like claimants to act like employees then they must be afforded some reciprocal respect. Claimants should be entitled to time off and should not be treated with suspicion should they not perform a job hunt every day.

Since my local library is not open on a Sunday, I would be very interested to know how someone without internet access might be expected to perform an online job hunt over a weekend. Indeed, if initial payment of Universal Credit is to continue to be withheld for up to seven weeks, then it seems more and more likely that the claimant may be unable to cover phone or internet costs at home.

In my personal experience, I do not find the Universal Jobmatch website useful, and therefore I do not log in every day, as my time is better spent on other forms of job hunting. I feel that it is unfair to expect claimants to evidence their job hunt solely through the online service.

There needs to be an element of trust afforded to the jobseeker, who may choose other avenues that differ from the DWP’s fault-laden online service.

There is an unbelievable amount of miscommunication within the system, and it cannot be ethical to solely operate Universal Credit from a phone line that the claimant has to pay to contact.

I tried to raise my concerns about Universal Credit at an early date after noting on the DWP website that I could register a complaint in person, over the phone or in a Letter. After noting that the required phone call to the Universal Credit service centre was as 0345 number, and therefore would cost money, I decided to raise my concerns in person.

Trisha, however, told me that I was mistaken and that complaints could not be addressed in person, ‘in person’ meant over the phone and all complaints had to go through the service centre, which is only accessible by phone.

A week or so later, after I had cause to contact the service centre for another matter, I decided to log my concerns ‘in person over the phone’, as directed by Trisha. After an excruciating encounter with a voice-recognition phone system (a request for ‘travel expenses’ took me to the department that deals with the registration of deaths) I eventually had the opportunity to register my complaint with a human voice.

At this point I was told that, no, I could not complain over the phone, but would have to do so in person. At this point I lost my patience and firmly explained Trisha’s instructions to complain in person over the phone and asked them to explain what the next step could feasibly be in this bureaucratic farce.

After a pause it was suggested that I compose my thoughts into a letter and hand it into the job centre – the letter which you are currently reading.

There is an unbelievable amount of miscommunication within the system, and it cannot be ethical to solely operate Universal Credit from a phone line that the claimant has to pay to contact.

Every encounter with the Job Centre, and specifically my adviser, has left me frustrated, deflated and defeated.

I foresee accessibility becoming a huge issue as the benefit is rolled out, especially when Universal Credit covers a wide range of needs. Logging a complaint should not require this amount of effort, and it calls into question the extent to which ordinary complaints and concerns are noted or listened to.

My main point is that I don’t believe that the system is working. I don’t know which evidence base the policy was built on, but in my personal experience I believe that it is ineffective, and will result in very hollow ‘rewards’ as it continues to be rolled out.

Every encounter with the job centre, and specifically Trisha, has left me frustrated, deflated and defeated. In our last meeting, due to a mix up in the appointment times, which change every fortnight, Trisha informed me that our meeting was “eating into her break”.

My first meeting was at 9.50am, which I assumed would be true of all subsequent meetings. But my next was scheduled for 9.20am, and the next at 9.40am. I genuinely suspect that Universal Credit is structured in this way in order to maximise sanctions, when confused claimants fail to make it to their meetings on time.

There has been little evidence of compassion or support with those who I met with at Clydebank Job Centre, and the target-driven culture within it will only serve to fail potential workers.

Universal Credit claims to offer the opportunity for responsibility but its structure does little to afford the claimant any respect in return for their efforts.

To offer a contrast, countries that offer a fair wage to their unemployed citizens experience little turnover and see claimants go into long-term roles after a short period of unemployment.

I am registering my feelings about this abhorrent system in the event that my experiences and reflections will have some form of impact before the system is rolled out further to families or vulnerable individuals.

As evidenced with trials of a Citizen’s Income, a strong welfare system means that employers are pressured to offer better roles and conditions for workers, with less likelihood of workers being pushed into exploitative positions.

At time of writing, it will be another three weeks before I receive my first Universal Credit payment. I first registered my claim on 18 September 2015. I expect to receive my first payment on the week beginning 2 November 2015.

In this time period my salaried friends, who are paid monthly, will have enjoyed two pay-days.

I am registering my feelings about this abhorrent system in the event that my experiences and reflections will have some form of impact before the system is rolled out further to families or vulnerable individuals.

* Names have been altered to protect identities, because the author wouldn’t wish Universal Credit on anybody else. Even ‘Trisha’.



#benefits, #universal-credit

Girl who lost a leg to cancer told ‘you’re not disabled enough to keep your Mobility car’

STUDENT Olivia Cork has been told she is ‘not disabled enough’ to keep her specially adapted Motability car – despite having lost a leg to cancer.

The 19-year-old was told her specially-adapted vehicle was being taken away from her following Government changes to disability benefits.

Olivia – who was diagnosed with cancer aged 14 – was left distraught at the possibility of losing the car, which allows her to lead a full and independent life.

But after hearing about her plight, generous well-wishers donated more then £6,000 in just a few days to allow her to buy the car.001

Olivia, who lives in Newchapel, said: “Taking away the car would be taking away my lifeline. Without it I don’t know what I would do.”

The teenager had her right leg amputated above the knee after being diagnosed with osteosarcoma – a form of bone cancer – in January 2011.

Cancer-free for the last four years, Olivia now studies at Alsager Sixth Form, works part-time in a pharmacy and a pub and competes for two swimming clubs.

On top of this, she also volunteers her time for charities including Teenage Cancer Trust, Macmillan and Cancer Research.

She has been using her Ford Fiesta Motability car to get to all these commitments since passing her test two years ago, but was told by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) that she was no longer eligible for it. The decision follows changes to the Disability Living Allowance, which has been replaced by the Personal Independence Payment (PIP).

Olivia, who does not receive any benefits other than the car, said: “Because I can walk 20 metres I’m not classed as being disabled enough. I was gutted. I use the car all the time. I couldn’t get to swimming training at 6am without it, and I don’t know how I would get to sixth form and work.

“It’s not that I think I’m entitled to it – I know it is a privilege – but PIP is supposed to help people to be independent and it is taking that away from me.”

Following the decision by the DWP, a Crowdfunder page was set up online to help Olivia raise the £5,500 she needs to buy the car outright and insure it.

The total raised has now topped £6,000 in just over a week, meaning Olivia will get to keep her car.

She said: “It is phenomenal. To have that support is amazing.”

Her mum, Fiona Gibson, said the family was ‘so thankful’ to those who had donated. But the 48-year-old said she was disgusted by the DWP’s decision.

“It’s unbelievable that somebody with one leg is not classed as disabled enough,” she said. “Everybody we have spoken to is absolutely horrified.”

A DWP spokesman said yesterday: “Ms Cork was given the opportunity to appeal the decision regarding her claim for PIP but chose not to. We are working closely with Motability who are providing support to people leaving the scheme following reassessment.

“Motability have decided that the majority of people will be eligible for a one-off payment of £2,000, which will help ensure their mobility needs continue to be met.”


#benefits, #benefits-street, #cut, #cuts, #disability, #disability-benefit, #disability-living-allowance, #disabled, #dla, #personal-independence-payment, #pip

Grieving mum shocked after DWP call demanding son’s whereabouts – one day after his funeral

A MOTHER was called the day after her son’s funeral to ask why he hadn’t attended a meeting about his Jobseekers’ Allowance.

The Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) has apologised to Jacqueline Brown, who says she was appalled to receive the phone call on Tuesday, despite filling out all the necessary forms to tell them what had happened.

Jacqueline’s son, 31-year-old James, was first taken to hospital with meningitis several weeks earlier.

“I think it’s disgraceful what they have done,” she said.

“Less than 24 hours after I buried my son I was taking calls demanding to know where he was.

“No mother should have to go through this.cropped-rose_485_lrg-copy-wordpress

“I did everything they asked and they have lied to me and continued to keep contacting me.”

James was found unconscious in his Toothill home by police in June and was first taken to the Great Western Hospital before being transferred to the John Radcliffe in Oxford to treat an infection in his brain.

Despite the treatment, he did not regain consciousness and remained in a coma for several weeks. Before he died on July 24, Jacqueline remained hopeful he would recover and was concerned he would lose his Jobseekers Allowance while in hospital, leaving him unable to pay rent.

“I went into the Jobcentre and the person I spoke to told me I would need to get legal advice first,”  said Jacqueline.

“I asked if there was a form. He went away and came back with the form I had to fill in.

“I came back a week later with all the documents, including one from the hospital to say James was there.

“This time the man was really helpful and stamped everything to say it was in order.”

But the money was stopped and Jacqueline was told it was because James had not attended meetings.

She was given power of attorney of her son’s affairs but still the DWP were not convinced,.When her son died Jacqueline was advised to fill out an online form which should have notified every department.

But the devastated mother continued to be contacted, culminating in Tuesday’s call about the missed meeting. A DWP spokesman said: “Our thoughts are with the family of Mr Brown. We are sorry for what has happened and have been in touch with Mrs Brown to apologise.”

The above article is copied from

#benefit-deaths, #benefits, #death, #deaths, #dwp, #sanction, #sanctions

The following article is written by Paul Kavangh for The National Scot. Some small edits have been made.

POLITICS is, allegedly, the art of the possible. However, if you look to the oeuvre of such high profile practitioners of the political arts as Iain Duncan Smith or John McTernan, you soon realise that politics isn’t the art of the possible at all. It’s the art of making things up as you go along. It’s the art of self-justification. It’s the art of outright lying. Although to be fair, it’s wrong to accuse John of outright lying, because before you can lie you must be in touch with some sort of semblance of reality to begin with.


The Department of Work and Pensions is presided over by Iain Duncan Smith who once claimed that he’d studied at the prestigious University of Perugia. In fact, Iain went there on a weekend break, had a nice plate of lying linguine in a sauce of barefaced cheek and went back home to the expensive house his wife’s millionaire family bought. It’s very easy not to have to face the consequences of your actions when you have an extremely wealthy family which will insulate you from your screw-ups. And Iain’s career in politics has been one lying screw up after another.

Back in 2013, the UK Statistics Authority issued a statement condemning Iain’s department for its abuse of statistics after he claimed that 8000 claimants affected by the benefits cap had moved into work. The very statistics Iain’s department had collected showed no such thing. Enraging an accountant takes a special kind of annoying. Iain did the same with his claims of success for the work programme, which was supposed to provide training for the long term unemployed. Iain just makes things up, and by the time the correction makes it way into a small paragraph in the inside pages of a Tory newspaper, his lie has already been plastered all over the front of the Daily Mail as an example of the successes of vicious right wingery. Of course, the only thing that Iain is successful at is telling porkie pies.

Iain’s relationship to truth and veracity is at best tangential, so when faced with mounting criticism of the inhumane regime of capriciously applied benefits sanctions which take from the mouths of the very poorest, Iain was in desperate need of some sanctioned claimants who would say that their sanctions had been a positive experience. Not for any particular reason of improved public image mind, the entire country already thinks he’s a bastard. It was because in keeping with Iain’s benefits regime, cabinet ministers have to produce a certain number of positive media reports, or George Osborne will sanction them. George knows all about painful and humiliating sanctions.

Unsurprisingly, he couldn’t find any people who’ve been starved who think it’s a positive thing, although perhaps if he’d looked amongst people following Michelle the Moan’s diet plan he might have had some success. He’d have had even more success if he’d trawled some of the more recherché nightclubs, because there at least he’d encounter some masochists who really do enjoy being kicked in the nads, reduced to powerless objects who have to beg, and stripped of their human dignity. Rumour has it there are quite a few of them who are Tory MPs.

Confronted with an absolute absence of any real-life positive outcomes from the Department of Work and Pensions sanctions regime, the DWP just took a leaf out of its boss’s book of lies, and made some up. Jennifer was sanctioned by the DWP and it relieved her of the burden of choosing food for her children’s tea, now she saves a fortune by just feeding them what she can find in the bins at the back of Lidl. James was found fit for work after dying of cancer, and now he runs a successful waste consultancy business in Kidderminster with Derek Acorah. Richard was sanctioned for being late for an appointment after his bus was caught in traffic, now he’s learned that money is a symbol of materialism and is a more spiritual person who fasts for weeks at a stretch.

But in one important respect, the invented sanctions stories are absolutely spot on. Just like the real sanctions, they have no grounding whatsoever in any objective reality. Caught out in its lie, the DWP hastily claimed that the stories were merely for illustrative purposes. This is obviously a different interpretation of “illustrative” from that used by the rest of us.

In the DWP “illustrative” clearly means fictitious self-justifying bull. If they’d caught claimants doing the same thing in their CVs the DWP would have sanctioned them more quickly than Iain Duncan Smith could say Perugia University. Because there’s a technical term for what the DWP did, and it’s “lying through your lying teeth”. Otherwise a claimant could write a CV full of what an employer would have said about how good they were at the job they never got and if the employer had liked them. But surely it must be OK if it was only for illustrative purposes. Iain does it, and no one sanctions him.

THERE was a time, aeons ago, that a government minister whose department was caught out telling bare faced lies would have had to resign for it. They’d have been slapped down and forced to make a grovelling apology to the House of Commons. That’s why cabinet ministers are paid so much more, because they are supposed to be responsible and the buck stops with them. They’re supposed to be accountable. But Iain won’t receive any sanctions for an action that would have resulted in a benefits claimant being sanctioned. It’s only the poor and the weak who have to suffer the consequences, not the rich and the powerful. That’s the real lesson of Iain’s sanction regime. We are governed by an unaccountable class which doesn’t need to bother with trivialities like truth, or even basic human decency. Iain’s department is also the department which insists that a raped woman prove that her child is a result of rape or she’ll get her benefits capped. And these are the people whose job is to ensure a basic standard of living for all citizens.

#benefits, #dwp, #iain-duncan-smith, #lies

One in four claiming disability benefits faces serious difficulties including delays, unfair dismissals and confusion over eligibility

Almost a quarter of all people applying for disability benefits to help them live independently are encountering serious difficulties, including delays, unfair dismissal of claims and confusion over eligibility, The Independent on Sunday has learnt. The scale of the problem with personal independence payments (PIP) means that needing help with the benefit is now the most common reason for approaching the national charity Citizens Advice charity, new figures show.

In June last year, the Public Accounts Committee described the implementation of PIP as “nothing short of a fiasco”. Figures for April this year show 11,500 people in one month went to Citizens Advice for help with the benefit in one month. This is a significant number given that the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) recorded only 52,000 new claimants and reassessments in the same month.

PIP began replacing the old disability living allowance (DLA) in 2013 as part of Iain Duncan Smith’s welfare shake-up. In an attempt to slash the benefits bill, the criteria for receiving help became more stringent and most claimants will now be subject to constant reassessment. Since last month, almost everyone on DLA – apart from the most extreme long-term cases – has had to reapply for PIP.

The idea of the benefit is to provide financial support for disabled people who face the greatest challenges to be independent, regardless of whether they are in work. The payments range from £21.55 to £138.05 a week, depending on the severity of the condition, to help with some of the extra costs caused by long-term ill-health or disability.

In the past year, Citizens Advice received more than 100,000 queries about eligibility for PIP and more than 50,000 approaches about issues with a claim, including problems with delays. A significant number – more than 20,000 – also needed help with challenges and appeals after being turned down for the payment.

Gillian Guy, chief executive of the charity, said: “People’s ability to live independently is at risk due to PIP failures. People are experiencing problems with every part of the PIP application process, causing a huge amount of stress and anxiety for those going through a very difficult time. For too many people the system is not working. In order to fulfil its intention, the Government needs to ensure the PIP process is implemented properly and responds to people’s changing needs.”

Figures from the DWP published in June 2015 showed that delays for PIP had fallen to an average of 11 weeks for new claimants. However, Citizens Advice has evidence that some people are still waiting more than a year, and that delays to decisions have resulted in many people falling into debt and some relying on support from family members.

Shadow disability minister Kate Green said: “These figures make worrying reading. PIP can be a lifeline, helping disabled people and those living with serious illness such as cancer or Parkinson’s disease to meet the extra costs disabled people face. Yet the Government is recklessly pressing ahead to roll out the new benefit to all existing disability living allowance recipients rather than sorting out the problems that this research shows. It’s a recipe for chaos which will leave many disabled people facing hardship and distress.”

The majority of assessments in the UK – about 70 per cent – are handled by the controversial outsourcing giant Atos. Capita handles the remaining cases in Central England, Northern Ireland and Wales.

Last year, Atos famously bought itself out of a contract assessing fitness to work tests for the DWP last year following years of protests and bad headlines – including that it found terminal cancer patients fit for work. Its role in PIP contracts has also been controversial.

An investigation by the Disability News Service last month found that the proportion of disabled people stuck in the queue to be assessed for PIP was more than five times higher in parts of the country managed by Atos than those managed by Capita. Nearly a third of new PIP claimants in Atos areas – Scotland, the North of England, London and southern England – waited longer than 20 weeks for a decision, official figures from 31 March showed.

An Atos Healthcare spokesperson said: “We are sorry that anyone has had to wait for their PIP claim and we have been clear that this has been unacceptable. We have done all we can to reduce delays quickly, while also making sure that we give each individual the time they need during an assessment.”

The disability charity Scope says that, like Citizens Advice, its helpline has been inundated with calls from people struggling with PIP. Negative decisions and poor decision-making are something the service says it hears about every day.

Mark Atkinson, chief executive of Scope, said: “We’ve heard from a large number of disabled people who used to receive DLA, but did not qualify when reassessed for PIP. Many of the callers said that their assessment report didn’t resemble what happened in their assessment.

“Life costs more if you are disabled. From higher energy bills to specialist equipment – our research shows that this adds up to on average £550 per month. Extra costs payments – DLA and PIP – are a financial lifeline for disabled people.”

Clair, 32, a mother of three from Berkshire was in a serious car accident last year that left parts of her brain pushing down onto her spinal chord. She has mobility, vision and hearing problems and suffers from constant pain and nausea. She only receives £202 a fortnight in statutory sick pay and applied for PIP in July 2014. She was not given an assessment date until February this year and it was a two hour drive away. She suffers from severe motion sickness and vomited so much on the journey that it had to be abandoned and she was hospitalised for five days.

Clair was then forced to re-apply all over again and was only interviewed for it last week, when she discovered the waiting was not over: “They said the wait would be four to eight weeks, or a bit longer, which is a long time given I’ve been waiting since last year,” she said. She is due to have major brain surgery in the autumn and says the money “would make an absolutely massive difference; it would be a lifeline.”

Paralympian Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson, who lobbies in the Lords for improvements to disability benefits, said: “Not only has the system changed, but there are new criteria, and the appeals process is more challenging. The cost of a decision being overturned because the wrong decision was made in the first place is such a waste.

“I am also concerned about the delays, and the percentage of people who are actually being transferred over [from DLA]. I think we are potentially seeing the tip of the iceberg and we are not going to know the full scale of the problems for another 12 months.”

Case study: “‘I can’t use my arms or legs, but I have to face a tribunal’”

Ronny Huelin, 52, lives in Rugby with her husband, Mike, 47, and daughter, Louise, 17

“I applied for PIP back in May on the advice of a neurological specialist treating me for an extreme version of restless leg syndrome. It’s like Parkinson’s and means I’ve lost function in my arms and legs. I can’t make the bed, wash my hair or Hoover; I can’t even pick up a kettle – it’s like I’ve got no muscles. In the night my legs and arms jerk so I wake up exhausted.

“I used to work as a teaching assistant but now I can only do playground duty for six and a quarter hours a week. I have no other income. My husband was made redundant as a warehouse operative recently. My husband and daughter help, but once she’s back at college and he’s back at work I don’t know what I’ll do. PIP would mean I could afford things like lighter pans that I can lift on my own and someone to help with cleaning.

“At the first PIP assessment I was given six points and needed eight. I appealed, and the second time they came back and gave me seven. They never spoke to the specialist who told me I should be eligible. Now I’ve had to take my case to a tribunal.”

The above article is copied from The Independent.

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#atos-2, #benefit-deaths, #benefits, #delay, #delays, #disability, #disabled, #dla, #esa, #fit-for-work, #maximus, #personal-independence-payment, #pip

Benefit cut ‘could make thousands of vulnerable young people homeless’


External link to The Guardian.

#benefit-deaths, #benefits, #homeless, #housing, #housing-benefit, #ymca, #young-people

JSUK Opinion- Anyone who agrees with a 13 week benefit sanction needs to think about it.

Under Universal Credit the minimum sanction can now  be 13 weeks on a first offence depending how ‘severe’ it is. We know there are sanction targets and staff are forced to meet them or be, in a way, sanctioned themselves. I myself have been a victim of a 13 week benefit sanction for something I never did. I would never wish the same on anyone else. It was the advisers word against mine and all my money was stopped. I did not qualify for hardship payments. I kept asking when the appeal would be sorted, they never answered me. 12 weeks later I won the appeal and then it took two weeks to be paid back payments. Meaning THEY were in the wrong. Of course, most people drop out during the appeals process as you are still expected to sign on, job search and do other various duties, even attending job clubs.

Never mind that you may have no money for food, get evicted, put hardship on yourself, friends and family.

But here’s the thing. I rang up about another possible sanction on my claim a few months later and the lady on the end of the phone agreed with me and overturned my sanction there and then, as it was a week before Christmas. So, if a call centre agent can overturn a sanction, then why the fuck is there a 12 week wait on appeals?

In 2014 it was revealed half a million young people simply dropped out of the system when sanctioned and no one knows where they are, as the Government don’t keep track of them . We know people die, we know people suffer and still millions more people will talk about what colour the dress is.

Quote of the day:


#benefits, #deaths, #jsuk, #opinion, #sanction, #sanctions, #suicide