Tag: Benefit Reform

A couple of articles that caught my eye

My Friends have posted a couple of links that caught my eye today, I thought I would share them but it would take more than 140 characters. So I elected not to use twitter as my main medium for link sharing on this occasion.

They are:

Did I touch a nerve Iain Duncan Smith? (IDS)” On Diary of a Benefit Scrounger.


I’m proud of our welfare reforms” or as I like to call it, “The dangerous delusions of Iain Duncan Smith” on The Guardian Website.

I also saw on the Sky News ticker (on the bottom of my TV) that disabled families lost their High Court attempt to block the coalition’s benefit cuts for council house residents with spare rooms. My views have always been clear, personally I am against the recent benefit reforms as they are simply not fit for purpose.

The “main” problem I believe is that benefit reforms need to look at a persons disability and ability to work. At the moment the reforms only look at a persons disability, they do not look at their ability to work in any way at all. This isn’t the fault of the DWP, Jobcentre or ATOS Healthcare, it is a problem with the legislation. This legislation is not fit for purpose and the hidden costs could cripple the countries finances as a single issue. I am not saying these agencies/companies are not problems in themselves but they are not “the” problem above all other problems.

After reading in detail the legislation it does not take into account, at any stage, what is required to “be employed” or “retain employment”. Therefore looking into a persons ability or lack of ability is useless because at no point is the “employment test” defined, let alone applied. The government would have us believe that a company made up of disabled people would perform just as well and be just as profitable as a company made up of fully able people. This is simply not the case, by very definition the disabled are not able to do certain things abled people can do.

They need to look at it from an employers perspective, they need “work” doing, so taking into account the potential employees needs, would if be fair to expect them to do this “work” reliably enough to pay a wage in exchange for the work being done? Or should we continue to legislate to force employers to pretend everyone has the same abilities and different expectations are wrong and illegal?

This is why the descriptors are wrong, they assess the ability to perform the tasks outlined in the descriptors only. They do not even start to assess if it realistic to require the claimant to become an employee, or if it is realistic to expect an employer to employ them.

DWP issue conflicting advice as everyone is swamped with benefits paperwork

ESA File Height

Further to our story yesterday entitled “Benefits Paperwork Overloading Claimants” this website has uncovered certain documents in the public domain that seem to demonstrate confusing and conflicting information from the Department of Work & Pensions (DWP) with regard to Employment & Support Allowance Appeals.

The story yesterday spoke of ESA Benefit claimants being swamped by the paperwork that is involved with making a claim. The picture above was used to demonstrate the size of one claimants file of paperwork about her ESA claim that started in July 2010 which is still ongoing, next to a standard pack of 500 sheets of A4 paper to show comparative size. This claimant has not been paid any benefit money for approximately one year but is swamped with the paperwork involved in appeals and Tribunals as she believes she has never been placed in the correct category for her limited capabilities due to her Fibromyalgia.

The story also referred to a BBC Website article on the 4th May this year entitled “GPs ‘flooded’ with letter requests due to UK benefit reforms.” This article claimed BMA Scotland had said GPs were being “flooded with additional avoidable work” as patients seek support regarding benefit payment appeals. Dr Alan McDevitt, chairman of the BMA’s Scottish General Practitioners Committee, said: “The UK government’s flawed approach to benefits reform and changes to the Work Capability Assessment are flooding GP practices across Scotland with additional avoidable work.” It also states that The committee has advised GPs not to respond to these sort of requests which could literally leave claimants high and dry as they can not collect medical evidence to appeal.

In a document within the public domain dated 19th April this year the DWP have responded to a Freedom of Information Act request. The Question posed to the DWP was: “When a person appeals the decision of the DWP, for DLA & ESA which is based on an Atos work capability assessment. Who is responsible for obtaining medical evidence from their GP; the DWP or the person who is making the appeal?” The answer from the DWP was: “It is the responsibility of the appellant (the person who is making the appeal)
to obtain medical evidence.”

Yet in direct conflict the DWP responded to the BBC Website Article saying: “If the DWP requires further medical evidence it will be requested by a healthcare professional working for Atos Healthcare, which GPs are required to complete as part of their terms of service.” The article goes on and quotes Dr John Ip, secretary of the Glasgow local medical committee and a GP in Paisley who says: “There are contractual and agreed methods for GP’s to provide medical information to the Department for Work and Pensions.”

There seems to be total confusion about who should be requesting medical evidence from GP’s and Health Professionals. Quite simply it appears claimants are given misleading information from the DWP and do not know if it is their responsibility to collect medical evidence for an appeal or if that responsibility lies with the DWP. Due to this patients contesting controversial Work Capability Assessments conducted by ATOS Healthcare are having to collect evidence against these assessments for their appeal cases and they are doing so in huge numbers which is putting a strain on GP’s. There is so much strain that the BMA in Scotland are advising GP’s not to respond to requests which could lead claimants without benefit they may be entitled to because of the sweeping benefits reform especially with regards to ESA.

In yesterdays article we showed how claimants are swamped with benefits paperwork, the BBC article claims GP’s are swamped with benefits paperwork and we also know the Tribunals Service have a huge backlog of cases and are swamped with benefit paperwork as well. Therefore it is no surprise that a number of disability charities teamed up with Citizens Advice (who are incidentally swamped with benefits paperwork) to publish a document in 2010 about ESA, entitled “Not Working” because the benefits system is literally “Not Working” and since then nothing much has changed. This government have said they are committed to reducing bureaucracy and cutting paperwork levels within the public sector. But with regards to benefit reform and ESA, everyone concerned seems to be swamped in benefits paperwork as this system is simply “Not Working”.

Our Family Income just dropped like a stone

As the title suggest our family income has just taken a dramatic nosedive due to the cuts and benefit changes. How it is all worked out is very complicated so I’m not going to go into detail but the important bit is that our circumstances have not changed, but out income has.

From 1st May:

Child Tax Credit – Completely Withdrawn
Working Tax Credit – Completely Withdrawn
Employment & Support Allowance – Completely Withdrawn

We are still a couple, one disabled (bedridden), one working full time, one child under 2 in private rented home with no housing benefit or council tax reductions. Looks like this year is going to be a squeeze then, especially when my DLA does not cover my share of council tax, rent, bills, food etc etc. Cheques made payable to………………………

Well thats my Employment & Support Allowance gone!

Yes, I have officially joined the Scrap Heap of Disabled People too having had my Employment & Support Allowance stopped under the 365 day rule. I got my letter just before it stopped on 1st May as I was on contribution based ESA and in the WRAG. Got another nice untitled letter which I believe is my P60 so now were living off my wife’s income only. Given the fact I have been bedridden for over a year I have of course appealed and appealed and had already sent a complaint and appeal in before I got my letter. Yet again my complaint has not been acknowledged and appeal not been looked at so it looks like another letter will go in. I suppose the silver lining to the cloud is I won’t be told I’m fit enough to get a job that lets me work from bed for 0 hours a month.

On a lighter note I have uploaded a lot of content under the medications section, I’m also working on VAT free products and Fibromyalgia treatments too. I’m getting to the stage where I would like to get a design sorted now. I don’t know if I should do it myself, get someone else to do it, use template or pay for a template yet. I would appreciate people’s opinions in general and from people with WordPress sites. Also after me making the post about Spam comments I seemed to be getting even more now, I just hope that with the increase in Spam there is an increase of genuine visitors. I would love to hear from anyone genuine, say hello, post a comment, send me a message or contact me through twitter @my_fibromyalgia I don’t really mind how, it’s entirely up to you!

Keep well and best wishes

Changes to contribution based ESA

Some of the letters have already been sent…. The changes have put a cap on claiming Contribution Based Employment & Support Allowance if your in the Work Related Activity Group and state you can only get it for 365 days. Those who are entitled to Income Based ESA or those in the Support Group should not be effected and those entitled to income based ESA should be automatically moved to it.

As you can imagine there is a lot more information on the subject here so I would suggest that anyone getting Contribution Based ESA and are in the Work Related Activity Group should visit this site and read about the changes and how it effects them.

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