Compliance interview

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I had a visit from a ‘ Compliance officer’ someone had made an allegation against me, that I’m able bodied, that I’m up and about, doing my own housework, walking my dog. Those who have firstly, read my previous blog know this is far from the truth, in fact impossible.

I have friends who voted Tory, for which I do not judge them ( it’s part of the ‘ human condition ‘ to do so ) but those who know me in real life please put aside your images of what people who are in receipt of National insurance claims are like. I’m the true face of ‘ benefits street ‘. Not those you see on Television or read about in the press. I and many others like me. We’re the True face. I would ask you to look at what the government that you voted for is doing to those like me. Lives are being lost, it was very close to me becoming one of those. Fortunately I had 1) Sufficient medical evidence to disprove the malicious report 2) My very appearance was testimony to the fact I that I’m seriously ill. The police have accepted this as a hate crime. The DWP have instantly dropped the case as being ‘ no case’. The person who made such a horrendous allegation will be receiving a cease and desist order. My daughter ( currently studying Law) has a influential contact within prestigious Law chambers in London. The Barrister she contacted on my behalf will sign the cease and desist order.

This was s Hate Crime. I value my privacy, but I’m prepared to take this to the press and become a ‘ true face of ‘ real ‘ benefits street. Send out a strong message to those who contact the Government much loved ‘ fraud’ hotline, that if they do so maliciously then the Law will be used against them.

I’m now feeling worse, my condition worsened by the stress and trauma of such a dreadful act, from a person who doesn’t even know me. Yes, reports to the the Fraud line are ‘Anonymous ‘ but as it’s a Crime, the police can find out who you are. You may find yourself homeless, not permitted to live in close vicinity to me.

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Source: Compliance interview

Phil Brehaut has Parkinson’s. Threatening to cut his benefits won’t help him back to work

‘How long are you likely to have Parkinson’s?’ asked the woman assessing his claim. No wonder he is scared for his future

Until five years ago, Phil Brehaut was healthy and earning a decent wage working in the warehouse at his local Morrisons in Stockport. But in the spring of 2011, the 57-year-old was diagnosed with Parkinson’s and found himself in a position that any of us could: physically unable to work. With bills still coming in, he applied for sickness benefits.

It gives an insight into how successful the Conservatives’ benefit-shaming has become that, as he describes his assessment, Brehaut – who has excruciating pain in his legs and can’t keep his balance – is concerned to assure me he has “never signed on before” and has worked since he was 15.

“It was very daunting, like being in court,” he says. “The lady on the panel actually asked me, ‘How long are you likely to have Parkinson’s?’” He pauses. “The person next to her quickly whispered in her ear … You would think they’d know a little bit about it.”

Brehaut was granted employment and support allowance (ESA) but put in the “work-related activity group”, or Wrag. This second-tier ESA group receives lower benefits than the “support group” and requires disabled claimants to undertake “work-related activities” or risk being sanctioned and left to get by on £67.50 a week.

In order to receive his money, his local jobcentre told him, he would have to bring them a weekly “sick note” – leaving Brehaut to visit his GP every Monday and hand-deliver the note to a DWP adviser by 10.30am. This went on every week for nine months.

“It was awful,” he says. “Some days I couldn’t get up – because mornings are tough for me – but I had to or I wouldn’t have any money.”

The jobcentre “did nothing” to help, he says.

“They made it very clear that if they found what [they thought was] a suitable job, they’d have stopped my benefits. They asked what sort of work I could do but I can’t do anything physical because of my tremors … I can’t hold the wardrobe handles to get my clothes out in the morning.”

That image might be one for George Osborne to pause on as he talks of cutting sickness benefits as an “incentive” for people such as Brehaut to get a job.

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DWP “evasive” and “selective” with information on Universal Credit programme

DWP “evasive” and “selective” with information on Universal Credit programme –

Has the Department for Work and Pensions put itself, to some extent, beyond the scrutiny of Parliament on the Universal Credit IT programme?

Today’s report of the Public Accounts Committee Universal Credit progress update was drafted by the National Audit Office. All of the committee’s reports are effectively more strongly-worded NAO reports.

If the Department for Work and Pensions cannot be open with its own auditors – the National Audit Office audits the department’s annual accounts – are the DWP’s most senior officials in the happy position of being accountable to nobody on the Universal Credit IT programme?

The National Audit Office and the committee found the Department for Work and Pensions “selective or even inaccurate” when giving some information to the committee.

In answering some questions, the committee found officials “evasive”.

Source: Shared from WordPress

Nearly 14,000 disabled people have mobility cars taken away

Nearly 14,000 disabled people who rely on a specialist motoring allowance have had their cars taken away from them following government welfare changes.

Figures seen by the BBC show almost half of those having to be reassessed for this support under the changes lost their Motability vehicle. Many had been adapted to meet their owners’ needs and campaigners warn it could lead to a loss of independence.

But the government says the new process is fairer and people can appeal.

More than 650,000 people currently use the Motability Scheme, which allows disabled people to lease a new car, scooter or powered wheelchair using their government-funded mobility allowance. The scheme also helps towards the cost of adaptations – such as a hoist for a wheelchair or hand controls – that the individual requires.

Until recently, anyone receiving the highest rate of the “mobility component” of Disability Living Allowance (DLA) was eligible for the scheme. However, as part of Department for Work and Pensions welfare changes, the Personal Independence Payment (PIP) began replacing DLA from April 2013.

Under DLA, most people completed their own application form and did not have to reapply once entered into the scheme. With PIPs, everyone – new applicants and those already in receipt of DLA – will have to attend a face-to-face assessment by government-hired private companies, and only those scoring 12 points or more will qualify for support – currently £57.45 per week.

To date, Motability has seen around 51,200 people join the scheme using PIP. Of those previously on higher rate DLA, 31,200 people have so far been reassessed for PIP, and of those, 55% – or 17,300 – have kept their car. But the remaining 45% – 13,900 people – have lost the higher rate and therefore their car as well.

Despite being an amputee with spina bifida, who is only able to take a few steps, Christine Mitchell did not score the points she needed to keep her Motability car. She appealed and eventually won, but is extremely critical of the reassessment process.

“I explained to the lady in detail that I wasn’t able to walk. She asked me how far I could walk, and there was a filing cabinet that was maybe 3ft away, and I said I could possibly walk that far. It was so frustrating. I looked at my husband and I was near enough in tears because I couldn’t make her understand. She hadn’t got a clue what spina bifida was.”


Liz Sayce, chief executive of Disability Rights UK, told the BBC “being disabled costs money. The Personal Independence Payment is supposed to help with those costs, but many people are being denied the benefit because they are not assessed properly. Sometimes that means people lose their cars; a massive blow which impacts on their ability to remain independent, take part in their communities or get and keep a job.”

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Significant decline’ in UK life expectancy, health officials warned

Public Health England confirms there has been a fall in life expectancy, particularly among older women. Critics blame unhealthy lifestyles, government cuts to social care budgets and worsening GP and hospital care.

Health officials are currently investigating a “significant decline” in life expectancy across the country.

An email sent to Public Health England by Darwen Council’s director of public health, Dominic Harrison, said: “The council had seen a sustained reduction in life expectancy.”

He said reductions in life expectancy such as this are “extremely unusual.”

Figures suggest a women’s life expectancy, which stood at 85, has fallen in recent years.

The email, sent before Christmas and seen by the Health Service Journal, said: “In Blackburn and Darwen there have been reductions for both men and women, as well as some signs of a reduction in life expectancy for men at 65.”

The email was described as an “alert” and calls for a national review to analyse “the causes and developing local/national recovery plans.”

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A day in court showed me the misery of Britain’s housing policy

Polly Toynbee writes:

The bedroom tax and government cuts have led to a wave of evictions targeting the poor and vulnerable

The waiting room is packed, but with not enough seats some defendants hunker down. This is possession and eviction day at Clerkenwell and Shoreditch county court. Everyone here is in danger of losing their home.

The duty solicitor from Shelter gets just a few minutes to collect each person’s details before presenting their case to the judge to stop an eviction for rent arrears. That’s not long to extract difficult life stories from nervous people. He checks with the usher and smiles with relief: today it’s the nice judge. Every 90 seconds last year a renter faced legal proceedings and 99,000 ended up evicted, mainly due to rising rents and housing benefit cuts. Enfield tops the list, but Peterborough and Rochdale are high too.

First up is a 63-year-old man who creeps into the consulting room to perch anxiously on a chair. He brings such an air of despair he seems enveloped in a grey fog of depression. He has £2,737 of rent arrears for his two-bed flat. How did that happen? He sighs. His mother and sister died in the flat last year.

He hasn’t worked for five years, since an accident at work, and now suffers mental problems. “Bereavement,” he says. “I’ve never claimed anything, until now,” he adds, as if that were a defence. So how has he survived? “Friends helped out, selling stuff, odds and ends.” Finally, he was prodded by others to claim his £73.10 jobseeker’s allowance, and he may get disability pay. “I think I’m waiting for a letter from the mental health team,” he says. What tipped him over the edge financially was the bedroom tax, another 14% on his rent for the spare room after the family deaths. Now he has a notice to quit.

The judge notes this man’s mental state, agrees there is a small technical mistake in the landlord’s application and grants a 28-day adjournment to give Shelter time to try to sort out his affairs. If not, he will be out.

Next comes a grandmother, who cares full time for her 10-year-old grandson and has fallen £3,948 into arrears. She works in Tower Hamlets council’s kitchen – but it’s zero hours with unpredictable income, so sometimes she hasn’t paid the rent.

Next, the mother of a two-year-old has arrears after she lost all her housing benefit because the department of work and pensions thinks she’s a student, but she isn’t: she works in customer services. If she loses her home the council will have to put them up in a bed and breakfast, costing far more.

A self-employed man in arrears has been paying for his breakdown truck to get business going on his own, but his income is unpredictable: he has never thought to claim housing benefit. A mother has debts after her daughter moved out and she has to pay the bedroom tax: rent takes up 60% of her income. Only one case looks simple – a young single man who refuses to pay rent after a long-running dispute with his landlord over a wet carpet. Last, a woman comes in walking crookedly and sits rocking violently, trying to explain her mental problems: she has a small son and has only just applied for housing benefit, but if it’s not backdated she’ll lose their home. Looking at her obvious illness, how could a jobcentre have refused her disability pay?

The kindly judge that day adjourned most cases to let Shelter sort out benefit claims and debts. Without that, none would save their homes – and some may still lose them. The process is cruel: as evictions rise, councils insist tenants stay until bailiffs throw them on to the street to prove they are genuinely homeless.

Failing to claim, along with benefit delays and errors, lay at the heart of almost every case that day. That’s usual, says the solicitor. These are not scroungers, not the ones TV’s Benefits Street seeks out, but those who fall into debt through not claiming, out of ignorance or pride. Zero-hours and self-employment leave many vulnerable to debt. Universal credit, slowly rolling out now, was supposed to make benefits rise and fall automatically with fluctuating incomes, but it has made tenants less secure: so far 89% of those on universal credit have fallen into arrears, their rent no longer paid direct to landlords.

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