How disabled benefit claimants are being set up for sanctions

Yet another disabled JSA claimant is told that his jobcentre no longer has specialist support for disabled jobseekers:

(You can read earlier stories on this same issue here and here):

Last week, I spoke at length with a 66-year-old woman who accompanies her son to his JSA signon sessions at a West Midlands jobcentre.

Her son has serious depression. His mental health condition can be so severe that he struggles to leave his flat and panics if anyone comes to his home. “That’s why I go to the jobcentre with him – because he just wouldn’t go. [If people don’t attend] then of course they get a sanction and they get no money.” This woman is her son’s appointee. He was receiving employment and support allowance, but was found fit for work after a work capability assessment. He is now on jobseekers’ allowance and is supposedly being “helped” to find work by his jobcentre and the DWP.

The problem is that this “help” is becoming very hard to find. At his most recent jobcentre meeting, this man and his mother were told that the disability employment adviser they’d been seeing for support was no longer working in that role at their West Midlands jobcentre. DEAs are/were jobcentre advisers who had extra training and time to support disabled claimants. DEAs are being removed from jobcentres. “She told me that she’s no longer the disability adviser, because they’ve stopped them. They’ve put her on the front desk with all the others. So basically, they’re disregarding disability now.” Her son has a sick note to excuse him from jobsearch activities for a set period of time. His mother said the adviser told her son that he might feel better and more able to look for work after the sick note expired. And there you have it: disability support at jobcentres for people who claim JSA and have serious mental health conditions.

There are two issues here.

Read more: http://www.katebelgrave.com/2015/11/how-disabled-benefit-claimants-are-being-set-up-for-sanctions/

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The stories that show how fit-for-work assessments are destroying lives

The Conservative government’s ongoing overhaul of the welfare system is discriminating against some of the most vulnerable people in our society.

Michael O’Sullivan suffered from depression, anxiety and agoraphobia. Nonetheless, a government disability assessor, employed by Atos, decided that he was fit for work. The 60-year-old Londoner was taken off employment support and put on jobseeker’s allowance. Six months later, O’Sullivan hanged himself.

The Conservative government’s ongoing overhaul of the welfare system is discriminating against some of the most vulnerable people in our society. Over the last few months, there has been a lot of interest in the effects of the government’s fit-for-work test, the Work Capability Assessment (WCA), on the health of benefits claimants. Some are calling for the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), who run the scheme, to release data on its impact.

In a report to the DWP, a coroner said that O’Sullivan’s suicide was probably triggered by the fit for work assessment. Some people say that his suicide is a tragic but isolated event. Our research, which will be published in a report early next year, suggests that although tragic, it’s certainly not an isolated case.

We interviewed 28 benefits claimants with mental health problems about their experiences of undergoing the WCA and how it has affected their lives and well-being. We also interviewed three mental health advocacy workers who have been closely involved in supporting and representing people subject to the WCA. Our findings suggest that the assessment and its outcomes place unnecessary stress on those whose mental health is already fragile, and that this can result in a downward spiral of deteriorating mental health and desperation.

Simon’s story

read more here: https://theconversation.com/the-stories-that-show-how-fit-for-work-assessments-are-destroying-lives-50559

Benefit cap discriminated against disabled people, court rules

High court finds that two claimants caring for relatives for upwards of 35 hours a week were effectively in work and should be exempt from cap

The welfare secretary, Iain Duncan Smith, unlawfully discriminated against disabled people by failing to exempt their carers from the benefit cap, a high court judge has ruled.

Mr Justice Collins said the government’s decision to apply the cap to full-time carers for adult relatives had created serious financial hardship for them, forced many to give up caring for loved ones, and loaded extra costs on to the NHS and care services.

The benefit cap, which limits working-age unemployed people to £500 a week in benefits, was introduced by the government on the basis that it sent a strong message to so-called workless families that they had to try harder to get a job.

The court ruled that the two carers who brought the case – and who were caring for upwards of 35 hours a week – were effectively in work even though they were in receipt of benefits, and therefore should be exempt from the cap.

Collins said: “To describe a household where care was being provided for at least 35 hours a week as ‘workless’ was somewhat offensive. To care for a seriously disabled person is difficult and burdensome and could properly be regarded as work.” The court ruled that the government had breached article 14 of the European convention on human rights.

read more here:http://www.theguardian.com/society/2015/nov/26/iain-duncan-smith-unlawfully-dicriminated-against-the-disabled-rules-judge

Malnutrition causing thousands of hospital admissions

More than 2,000 cases of patients with malnutrition were recorded by 43 hospital trusts in a single year.

There were 193 “episodes” of malnutrition in 12 months at Salford Royal NHS Foundation Trust alone, according to new figures. Freedom of Information (FOI) figures show a rise of 259 between the 43 trusts compared with three years ago.

A food bank charity said it feared families were struggling to afford to feed themselves.

The government said that malnutrition was “unacceptable”. Meanwhile, there are warnings that parents are going without food so their children do not go hungry.

The figures were revealed as Tameside Hospital, also in Greater Manchester, became the first NHS hospital in the UK to set up a permanent food bank on site.

‘Thousands’ at risk

Medical staff reported a significant increase in the number of malnourished patients turning up for treatment and care.

Trisha Jarman from Tameside East food bank said: “There are a lot of people out there that are malnourished. It’s not just people coming into hospital, it’s across the board. People are struggling to feed themselves and their families, particularly at this time of the year.”

Read more here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-34777348

Residents left without food or electricity while waiting for first benefits payment, according to Bolton organisation

PEOPLE claiming the new universal credit have been left unable to pay their rent or afford food or electricity, according to a report co-authored by Citizens Advice Bolton.

Bosses from the advisory organisation presented their report at the Houses of Parliament, which aims to highlight problems with the new benefits system.

The report claims four out of five people surveyed by Bolton and 15 other Citizens Advice offices were unable to pay for such basic items while waiting for their first payment.

 It says admin problems had contributed to the delays, such as claimants being asked to send documents which had already been provided, and claims being lost within the IT system.

What’s happening to this world?, asks ‘cripple’ with one functioning arm as he faces benefits cut

A PARTIALLY-SIGHTED man with one functioning arm says he feels “harassed” after being told all his benefits could be stopped by the Government.

Michael Wright, who lives in Royal College Street, Camden Town, has a completely limp right arm and still is prescribed top-level pain medication following a motorcycle crash 20 years ago.

He said: “I realise that I’m no longer a fit member of society. I don’t expect much. I would like to have some perks, not much – I don’t expect to go to the pub or the cinema. But I do like some things, I like to get a bottle of cologne now and then because I can start to smell a bit.”

He added: “What people do not realise is that this can happen to anyone, anyone can cross the street and get run over. When you get injured like this you lose your friends, it is inevitable, people do not want to see others suffer.

Describing himself as a “cripple”, he has already had his benefits cut following welfare reforms and has been told he will lose his remaining benefits – around £400 a month – if he does not complete a 50-page form by tomorrow (Friday).

He said: “What is happening to this world? I cannot even see the form properly and I only have one arm working, the other one just dangles. Now I am in a financial mess – it’s the first time in 20 years I’ve been in the red.”

Read more here:

http://www.camdennewjournal.com/benefitsworld