Social security system fast becoming unfit for purpose, says study

Most low-income working households to be worse off by 2020, and families on out-of-work benefits face losing fifth of income.

The UK’s social security system is rapidly becoming unfit for purpose, as successive cuts leave children and working age adults with an increasingly inadequate safety net for when families fall on hard times, according to a study.

Most low-income working households will be worse off by 2020, while years of social security squeezes mean the income of families on out-of-work benefits will have fallen by up to one-fifth, the analysis by the Fabian Society shows.

At the same time, the cash value of the basic personal tax allowances is on course to have increased by 80% in 2020 from what it was in 2010, meaning that by the end of the decade a typical high-income household will receive more financial support from the state than low-income families reliant on benefits.

Without an urgent overhaul, the crisis in living standards for poorer families will get worse over the next few years as their incomes deteriorate, while child poverty and inequality will rise sharply, even with strong economic growth, the study says.

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CRUEL benefits chiefs refused a bereavement payment to a widower – after his wife was kept alive to donate her organs.

ALISON Shaw’s family kept her on life support so her organs could be donated and benefits chiefs are now refusing to pay out.

Kind-hearted Alison Shaw’s family honoured her wish to help others after she suffered a devastating brain haemorrhage last month.The 63-year-old gran’s heartbroken relations decided to extend her life by three days to prepare for the donor surgery.But they did not realise she would become eligible for her pension on the very day her life support was finally removed.
Department for Work and Pensions chiefs are refusing to pay out the £2000 Alison’s widower Isaac, 65, would have received had she been taken off life support 24 hours earlier.

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DWP to disabled man: We’re sticking with the Mandatory Reconsideration we did without you. No PIP for you

From Kate Belgrave‘s blog

The story below is pretty extraordinary. It’s a classic example of the DWP’s extreme dysfunction and bureaucratic tangling. It also demonstrates how very few rights of appeal disabled people really have when they apply for benefits:

I’ve posted below a letter which was received last week by Sean (named changed), a man in his 50s who has an Asperger’s diagnosis and serious depression and anxiety. (I’ve been writing about Sean’s struggle to apply for Personal Independence Payment, the benefit that is meant to replace Disability Living Allowance).

About a month ago, Sean found out that his application for PIP had been turned down. Then, bizarrely, just a few days after he received that rejection letter, Sean got a letter from the DWP which said that his Mandatory Reconsideration of his PIP rejection decision had already been carried out and the decision to reject his PIP appeal upheld. Mandatory Reconsideration is the review that PIP applicants must ask for if they want to challenge a DWP decision about their PIP application. When people request a Mandatory Reconsideration, they can ask the DWP to review the reasons why they were turned down. The problem for Sean was that the DWP carried out a Mandatory Reconsideration of its decision to deny him PIP without telling or involving him. Sean didn’t request the Mandatory Reconsideration that the DWP did and he never had the chance to contribute to it. More than that – the letter Sean received about this random Mandatory Reconsideration showed that the DWP carried it out BEFORE it made a decision about Sean’s original PIP application. Sean didn’t request that Mandatory Reconsideration, because he didn’t even know his PIP application had been rejected when it was done. He was very upset about that, with good reason.

So – Sean wrote to the DWP to complain about this Mandatory Reconsideration going on without him. He asked the DWP to run his review again – and to this time give him a chance to contribute to it. He got this letter in return – a letter which says Sean’s Mandatory Reconsideration has already been done as far as the DWP is concerned and so that is the end of that.

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Want social justice, Theresa May? Break the link between disability and poverty

Nearly one in three disabled people live in poverty.
If the Government is serious about social injustice, it needs to break the link between disability and poverty. Nearly half of all UK poverty is in households containing a disabled person. If the new Government is serious about tackling injustices, addressing their needs must be top of the list.

Our latest research for the Joseph Rowntree Foundation explores the links between disability and poverty – disabled people and their households face higher poverty rates than non-disabled people: 31 per cent compared with 18 per cent. Nearly half (48 per cent) of people in poverty are either disabled themselves or in a household with a disabled person. This 48 per cent figure amounts to 3.9m disabled people and 2.7m people living with them.

The poverty experienced by disabled people tends to be deeper as well. A quarter of working-age disabled people are living on below half the average income, compared to 13 per cent of non-disabled people. Nearly a fifth of disabled people are unable to afford multiple basic goods and services like heating or meet unexpected expenses, three times as high as for non-disabled people.

Why are poverty rates so high? The first is higher costs. Disabled people tend to face higher costs in terms of things non-disabled people may not need (for example, medication or appliances), as well as more of the things everyone uses (such as higher heating bills). These higher costs mean that a disabled person would have a lower standard of living than a non-disabled person if they both had the same income.

This is the case even when households with a disabled member are receiving benefits designed to account for the extra costs of disability, such as Disability Living Allowance/Personal Independence Payments and Attendance Allowance, suggesting the inadequacy of these benefits. Our research adjusts income to remove these benefits: including income designed to meet extra costs but not including those costs would artificially depress poverty rates for disabled people. As the graph indicates, even with this adjustment, the figures are likely to be underestimates of poverty among disabled people, but capturing the full costs of disability is an impossible task.


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Linthorpe mum was involved in benefits dispute before she took own life, inquest hears

Joanne Smith was involved in an ongoing dispute with the Department of Work and Pensions over sick pay before her death

A mum was embroiled in a row over benefits before she took her own life, an inquest heard.

Joanne Smith was involved in an ongoing dispute with the Department of Work and Pensions over sick pay before her death, Teesside Coroner’s Court was told.

The 46-year-old was found hanged at her Middlesbrough home on June 29.

Ms Smith had lived at her home on Wakefield Road, in Linthorpe , for 30 years.

She had two children to partner Lee Grace, who said he believed the dispute was the reason for her depressed state of mind.

In a statement read out to the inquest, he said: “I don’t know for sure but I think Joanne was depressed.

“She had a sick note but the DWP had stopped paying her and this did upset her.”

Ms Smith suffered from asthma and arthritis. Her knee was badly damaged in a car accident when she was just 11, the inquest heard.

She had no history of depression or suicide attempts in the past.

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If you are having suicidal thoughts please call the Samaritans on their free phone number 116 123


‘I’ve had a heart attack, two strokes and my kidneys are failing…but I’ve still been told I’m fit to work’

Former scientist Phil Williams from Caernarfon said he was devastated to find out he’ll be stripped of his disability benefits after a recent Government assessment

A former scientist who has to undergo 12 hours of dialysis treatment a week because his kidneys are failing has been told he is fit to work.

Philip Williams, 56, from Caernarfon has been plagued by health problems in recent years including kidney failure, loss of hearing and ulcerative colitis – which brings on bouts of extreme diarrhoea and vomiting.

He received a letter from the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) on Monday saying that his Disability Living Allowance will be stopped next month after a recent medical assessment deemed him ineligible for benefits.

A nurse visited Mr Williams around six weeks ago to carry out an assessment using a points system to determine whether or not he is able to cope around the house alone.

But Mr Williams now feels that the nurse was “unqualified to carry out the assessment” due to her lack of experience in his particular illness.

Mr Williams said that he feels “disgusted” by their decision and claims that DWP made no attempt to contact his GP or renal consultant about his illnesses.

see the video and read more here: