From Kate Belgrave’s blog
“Here’s a situation I’ve dealt with a couple of times now:
I’ve just got off the phone with a woman who has a schizophrenia diagnosis. She has struggled with her mental health condition over the years and has been sectioned in the past.
She told me that she’d cancelled her Personal Independence Payment face-to-face assessment this week because she was too frightened and stressed to attend. She didn’t know what to do next.
Her partner, who has an Asperger’s diagnosis and severe depression and anxiety, has had a terrible time as he’s gone through the PIP application process this year (you can read that story here and here). His PIP face-to-face assessment was stopped by a Capita assessor who could decided that the applicant couldn’t cope with the face-to-face meeting. No adjustments were made for the applicant’s mental health and no alternatives were put in place so that he could get PIP. His Disability Living Allowance was stopped before a decision was made about his PIP application. Six weeks later, he found out that his PIP application had been denied – on the grounds that he didn’t comply at the face-to-face assessment. This was ridiculous. Then, his Mandatory Reconsideration – the DWP’s review of its own decision to deny him PIP – was carried out without his input or knowledge. His partner was worried about having the same experience and meeting with the same assessor who stopped his assessment (she was told to attend the same assessment centre). So she cancelled her appointment in a panic this week. If things can’t be fixed with a home assessment, or a paper-based assessment if that’s even doable, she’ll lose money that she can’t afford to lose. She’s worried about asking her GP to support a home visit application, because the letters she needs cost £15 a go.
This MUST happen all the time now – people pulling out of benefit applications because they can’t handle the process and they haven’t got the money to pay for the medical paperwork that they need. Another real problem is that there’s nobody really left to help people navigate these terrible benefit applications and the endless calls and paperwork that form such a large part of the application shambles. The CAB is almost impossible to use in the part of the country that these people live in (it’s difficult to use in other parts of the country too, as I’ve reported before). Appointments are scarce, queues are long and ongoing help for complex situations is hard to land. The local welfare advice centre is about to stop supporting cases because the Housing Association that funded the service is pulling the money. This woman did not have anyone to accompany her to the PIP face-to-face assessment she was meant to attend this week. Not so long ago, she might have had some help. A few years back, these two people had a social worker and a local mental health support facility that they could attend. Those services have disappeared.