Number Of Disabled People Hit By Benefit Sanctions Soars 31%

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The number of sick and disabled people affected by the government’s controversial benefit sanctions regime rocketed by 31% in the last year, the Daily Mirror has reported.

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According to the Mirror, figures published by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) show that 33,357 Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) claimants saw their benefit payments docked in 2014-15.

This, the newspaper says, equates to around 6.8 sanctions for every 100 claimants and is 31% higher than the previous year; when the proportion of sanctions stood at 5.2 per every 100 claimants.

A report by the Work and Pensions Select Committee earlier this year called for a “full independent review” into the benefit sanctions regime.

Former chair of the committee Dame Anne Begg said in March: “Benefit sanctions are controversial because they withhold subsistence-level benefits from people who may have little or no other income.

“We agree that benefit conditionality…

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He cannot talk, read or write, but Tories want severely disabled Stuart Chester to fill in 20-page form to keep benefits

A SEVERELY disabled young man who is unable to talk, read or write and needs round-the-clock care from his mother is the latest target in Iain Duncan Smith’s campaign against Scotland’s most vulnerable.

Stuart Chester, who has Down’s syndrome, epilepsy and autism and is unable to feed or wash himself, is being told by officers in the Tory minister’s Department for Work and Pensions to prove he is unfit for work.

The 25-year-old has been sent a controversial 20-page work capability assessment form to fill in that will investigate his fitness for work and whether he deserves his Disability Living Allowance (DLA) and Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) benefits.

Last night Social Justice Secretary Alex Neil described Stuart’s case as “absolutely outrageous” and “shameful”.

Stuart has been given a deadline of September 18 to complete the complicated and detailed document and return it to the DWP.

His mother Deborah McKenzie, 51, said receiving the form had caused her “undue stress” and said Duncan Smith’s plan to deliberately target the sick and disabled was tantamount to “genocide”, after shocking DWP figures were released last week showing more than 80 people were dying each month following work capability assessments.

She said: “Stuart gets the high-rate DLA and he was supposed to get that for life because his condition will never change. He also received ESA benefits.

“I cannot understand why he was sent this capability for work questionnaire because he cannot talk, read or write or do anything for himself. There is no way he could work and this is just causing a lot of undue stress and anxiety.

“I was really upset when the form came through the door. I called up the DWP and asked them why they would send it out to someone like my son when he is supposed to to get DLA for life and they told me it was tough luck, that it’s just the way it is and I would just need to fill out the form for him just like everyone else.

“I know other disabled people in wheelchairs with conditions like cerebral palsy, also people like Stuart who cannot do anything for them, are being harassed by the DWP to fill in fit for work forms when there is absolutely no way they could work.

“I used to have to fill in a form for my son every three years but eventually we were told he had the DLA for life because his circumstances were not going to change and he I no longer had to fill in an application for benefits for him.

“I am his full-time carer and there is no way my son could work, no chance. He needs 24/7 care and cannot feed or wash himself and he has a lot of accidents toilet-wise. I have to do everything for him.”

 

read more here: http://www.thenational.scot/news/he-cannot-talk-read-or-write-but-tories-want-severely-disabled-stuart-chester-fill-in-20-page-form-to-keep-benefits.6995

Bedroom Tax victims fighting to prevent disabled grandson going into care – and costing Government much more

Paul and Susan Rutherford have defeated Iain Duncan-Smith’s bid to block their legal appeal against a ruling which could see them separated from grandson Warren

A disabled boy’s grandparents have beaten Iain Duncan Smith’s heartless bid to block a court appeal on the Bedroom Tax that will decide whether he carries on living with them or goes into care. Doting Paul and Susan Rutherford were targeted by the ­cruel levy, which will force them to quit their three-bed home, two years ago and fought it with a judical review.

Grandson Warren, 15, needs round-the-clock attention from two people and because of their own disabilities the couple rely on help from paid carers – who need to sleep over regularly. Without their third bedroom they will lose their support lifeline and Warren, who has Potocki-Shaffer syndrome, will go into care with the taxpayer footing the bill.

DWP chief Mr Duncan Smith urged judges to throw out the couple’s challenge. But last month Lord Justice Underhill and Lord Justice Stanley Burnton ruled their case must be heard by the end of 2015.

Michael Spencer, a solicitor for the Child Poverty Action Group, said: “Paul and Sue work round the clock to care for Warren. “Without carers who can stay they wouldn’t be able to cope and Warren would have to go into care – at substantial cost to the taxpayer.”

Paul and Susan live in a three-bed bungalow in Clunderwen, Pembrokeshire, specially adapted to meet Warren’s needs. They share a room while Warren sleeps in another. In addition to putting up carers, the third stores Warren’s equipment. Paul and Susan – who were in BBC documentary Saints and Scroungers – claim the hated levy ­unlawfully discriminates against ­seriously disabled children requiring overnight care.

The case will be heard at the same time as an appeal brought by a domestic violence victim known only as A, who suffered rape, assault, harassment and stalking at the hands of a former partner. She lives with her 11-year-old son in a three-bed property specially adapted by police to feature a panic room. But under the reviled Bedroom Tax, she and her boy are now only entitled to housing benefit for a two-bed property.

Rebekah Carrier, the solicitor ­acting for A, told the Sunday People: “Our client’s life is at risk and she is terrified. She lives in a property which has been specially adapted by the police, at great expense, to protect her and her child. It is ridiculous that she is now being told she must move to another property where she will not have any of these protections or else take in a lodger. She is a vulnerable single parent who has been a victim of rape and assault. The Secretary of State cannot seriously suggest it is appropriate to take a stranger into her home.”

The Lord Justices ruled that both of the cases raise points of significant public importance.

http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/bedroom-tax-victims-fighting-prevent

Clydebank mum: I go without food everyday to feed my three kids and mother

A single mum has revealed how she battles poverty to feed her three young children and mother every day.

The woman and her mother, who live together in Dalmuir, visit West Dunbartonshire Foodshare in Clydebank every week to get the week’s food, the Clydebank Post reports.

The young mum told how her bank runs dry every month as benefits are sucked away into the rising bills and cost of living.Her mother relies on her support after her benefit was docked to pay back a housing debt she says she paid, but could not prove. Now the family of five live in poverty, relying on the kindness of others to feed them.

 The young mum, who wished to remain anonymous, told the Clydebank Post: “Once you pay the TV license, bills and food you are left with about £3. I get nothing, I go without food every day, it’s either me or the kids a lot of the time, and food has to go to them over me.”

At first, she felt humiliated at having to use a food bank — but sheer necessity means she has overcome those feelings to ask for help.

“I’ve been going for two years now,” she said. “I have no choice, I can’t afford to live like this — I don’t remember the last time I bought anything. I have to save every penny I get for the kids.”

Counting pennies is something that is familiar to people who rely on the foodshare service.

The woman’s mother, leaning on a walking stick and with tears in her eyes, told the Post how life relying on handouts is difficult and undignified.

“I have gone without gas an electricity on Christmas Day twice now,” she said. “Last Christmas someone put money through my door for food but I had to spend it on bills. I get food from the food bank and I share it with my daughter. If there’s something we both like, we sometimes trade things and if there’s something we don’t eat we hand it back. Nothing goes to waste, we do it together so we can avoid going hungry where possible. I can’t live like this, I just can’t — there is no way of us getting enough food, we can’t manage on our own, we can’t live like normal people. It’s embarrassing at first but we have had to accept it.”

 Pushing a buggy uphill at Radnor Park another woman told the Post she and her children eat from microwaved tinned food every day.Crisis loans don’t work when you’re raising three,” she said. “My cooker has blown so now we have to eat just tinned food cooked in the microwave.I have to use the food share, I don’t have another choice, and even though my situation has got so bad there are a lot of people in Clydebank who use the food bank that are worse off than me.”
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