People on Universal Credit are being refused prescriptions and dental care

GPs and dental practices can’t tell who is eligible for free treatment under Universal Credit – meaning some claimants are going without, Left Foot Forward can reveal.

People are being denied prescriptions and dental care because practices do not know whether Universal Credit claimants are eligible for free treatment, according to evidence seen by Left Foot Forward.  

Under the current welfare regime, those on certain benefits – such as Jobseekers’ Allowance – receive free NHS prescriptions and dental treatment, Healthy Start vouchers and other government-funded support.

But the Conservatives’ Universal Credit scheme wraps several benefits into one. While the principle has broad cross-party support, dental practices and GPs are now unsure who is eligible to receive free treatment.

Those on working tax credits, for example, are not eligible for free treatment – but practices have no information on whether UC claimants are receiving the tax credits element of UC, in which case they’re ineligible, or the JSA element.

The confusion is leaving people already on the margins either having to fork out for dental care and prescriptions themselves – leaving them out of pocket – or going without treatment altogether, according to reports from the single parents charity Gingerbread and seen by Left Foot Forward.

The problem stems from the fact that the administration system hasn’t caught up. There is no way on NHS forms to make it clear how to declare that individuals are on UC – whereas for existing benefits, such as income support or JSA, there are specific boxes to confirm eligibility.

One single mum in touch with Gingerbread has incurred fines because of the changes in health assistance under UC. She has received a letter from the NHS informing her that she owes money for dental treatment and a prescription, explaining that they have fined her as a result. She says she was never fully informed how UC would affect her NHS support – and is currently unable to pick up a prescription given to her GP because she can’t afford to pay. She says she will only be able to get this essential prescription when she receives her next payment.

Daisy Srblin, Policy Officer at Gingerbread, told Left Foot Forward:

“The arbitrary waits built into the system clearly cause significant problems when a parent transitions onto UC. But the challenges people face don’t end there – day-to-day financial difficulties are made worse by unexpected costs such as dental fees and prescriptions.

“The official advice is pay first and claim later – but for many this is a cost they simply can’t afford. The aim has been a simplified benefits system; the reality is that the NHS and DWP systems (like so many other government departments) don’t work together, creating confusion, complexity and often additional costs for single parents.

“We want to see the administrative challenges resolved, and for Universal Credit claimants to be supported as they are entitled to be so that they are not pushed further into debt.”

Another single mum Gingerbread has spoken to has received a letter notifying her of prescription charges. The NHS informed her that she needs to provide them with a full breakdown of her UC award so they can assess her eligibility for support.

However, her Job Centre are telling her that the information they have provided her to date is enough – despite it being different to the documents requested by the NHS. With no consistent guidance and no money to pay the charges herself, she doesn’t know how to resolve the issue.

read more here: https://leftfootforward.org/2017/10/exclusive-people-on-universal-credit-are-being-refused-prescriptions-and-dental-care

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IF IT WASN’T FOR YOUR HELP TODAY I WAS CONSIDERING COMMITTING SUICIDE. I CAN’T TAKE ANYMORE. TODAY’S DEMO.

“Here is an awful case that shows that combined with bad advice, a lack of compassion and Universal Credit can and does ruin a persons life.”

Today was extremely busy, mainly because we now have a new influx of people needing help that had previously been signing on at Stalybridge Jobcentre which has recently been shut down. The impact of a Jobcentre shutting down is massive and it can’t be underestimated, especially in rural areas. How on earth can they expect claimants to walk miles to their nearest Jobcentre is beyond me. But i do know that this is a calculated and cruel move by the government to make it extremely hard for a claimant to fulfil their Jobseekers Agreement, therefore resulting on more sanctions etc.

Here is an awful case that shows that combined with bad advice, a lack of compassion and Universal Credit can and does ruin a persons life.

Please note that this is a true, honest account, and nor am I passing on any personal details as requested.

As soon as I arrived I saw a man shuffling out of the Jobcentre, I could see that he was unhappy and needed help. After four years I’ve learnt to recognise the signs.

As soon as I said hello to him, he started to tell me about his problems. He will remain nameless for respect for him and also so that he doesn’t get any repercussions from the DWP.

He told me that he had been sanctioned again, he didn’t know why and his advisor wouldn’t tell him either. He was told to phone up the 0345 number which at the moment costs a person up to 55p a min to phone. He waited for ages to speak to someone and then he ran out of credit, so now he can’t use his phone.

He had always worked since the age of 15, until he had a heart attack five years ago. this left him unable to work so upon advice given he then claimed ESA. This was going ok for a while until he attended an ATOS medical, when they declared him fit for work. He clearly wasn’t. So he appealed this decision, won his appeal and reclaimed his ESA.

The stress of this didn’t do him any good so he became ill and had to be admitted to hospital for a heart related illness. The consultant advised him to stay away from stressful situations. Easier to say than do though, especially when he was called up for another ESA medical.

They declared him fit for work so he then went to the Jobcentre to try and claim Jobseekers Allowance until his appeal was accepted. However his advisor told him that he had to claim Universal Credit. He had no choice and nor could he appeal the ESA decision. We know that this is wrong, but this is what they are doing to people folks.

He then went ahead made his claim and was told that he had to work, he had no choice. So against his consultants decision he found a 16 hour a week job, which was supposedly topped up by Universal Credit.

He ended up far worse off financially because the way that universal credit is worked out it actually makes a person worse off in work and he was effectively working for 33p a hour.

Then his hours were reduced to 10 a week. He knew that he couldn’t survive on this, and he also knew that he would be punished by the Universal Credit system for the decision that was made by his employer. He was told to find more hours to work or there was a possibility that he would be sanctioned.

As a result he became ill because of the stress and couldn’t cope. He has subsequently been sanctioned and has had no money for a few weeks.

Straight away I reassured him that we are here for him, that we can help him. He told me that he was close to committing suicide, and was serious about it, but our kindness has made him rethink this. He didn’t think that anyone would help, because no one cared. I told him that we do care and that we would help him to sort this out.

I gave him a food parcel which he was overjoyed at recieving, I don’t think that he has eaten anything decent for a while. I then telephoned his local MPS office and asked his team if they could see him asap. Because his case is complicated, and there is more to it than I have explained above, seeing his MP is essential. There’s nothing like a letter from an MP to get things moving, because if there is one thing that the DWP hate is an MP becoming involved in a case. I did also inform him of other local organisations, but he said that he wasn’t ready for them yet but maybe he will be after he has spoken to his MPs office.

I know that he will be treated with the upmost respect when he meets them, and they are a great team. Remember folks, go and see your MP if you can. Even if they are Conservative, because they need to hear your problems, even if some won’t deal with it then need to hear them. I’m now confident that his life will improve.

Read more here: https://thepoorsideoflife.wordpress.com/2017/10/19/if-it-wasnt-for-your-help-today-i-was-considering-committing-suicide-i-cant-take-anymore-todays-demo/

My local Accident & Emergency department is rammed with suicidal residents going to A and E as they have no where else to go

This was posted today on Facebook by Paula Peters.

“I want to share a couple of experiences of the mental health services cuts with you today.

I have a local CMHT ( community mental health team) in south London, we had three CMHTs it went down to two, and the discharge rate in the last four years is massive. You will only stay under a CMHT if you are on Clozapine medication, other than that you are back to primary care and GP. You can imagine for clients, as the team calls them, what that does for them with no treatment, no support and no supporting medical evidence needed for (disability benefits) ESA and PIP and support for UC (universal Credit) Claims. My local A and E is rammed with suicidal residents going to A and E as they have no where to go, and local counseling services have an 18 month and longer wait for therapy. The average wait to see a GP in some practices in Bromley is now 8 weeks and climbing. as not only is there a shortage of consultant psychiatrists, but, there is a shortage of GPs.

Just recently, i saw my local consultant psychiatrist who I have not seen since October 2016. I have not been able to see them because they have been on sick leave and there was no one else to help out. I found out when I saw them, what happened.

They now manage two teams within the CMHT, psychosis and adapt. They have 5,000 clients to deal with, appointments and paperwork. That does not include dr training, management of staff, in patient work on the local unit and any other work required of them.

At Christmas they were so tired and wrung out that they caught their bag in a slam door in the office that severely broke their wrist. They did not know the wrist was broken at the time and they went back to the desk they share with 6 other members of staff and wrote up 7 people’s medical notes as they were behind on doing so.
They ended up in A and E for 9 hours and a plaster cast on and off for the next 8 months after a series of operations. They were so stressed when I saw them they were at breaking point.

All they talked about was targets targets targets. Many of them unachieveable and they pointed out the three people going around with clipboards harassing staff. Apparently the next round of redundancies were due. They said they are not sleeping, scared and worried about their jobs and worried about clients who are not getting the support they need.

They cant send anyone for treatment at the local inpatient unit because well there are no beds for 300 miles there are nursing shortages and dr shortages.

When I saw my consultant they said the suicide rate and self harm rate is rocketing due to lack of support. They are angry at the government for the lack of service support and further cuts to come.

As for me, well i am on my third support worker in 9 months. They keep leaving. They are so stressed and depressed am surprised they don’t label the place the titanic!

The support worker who i will only see for six sessions is not sure when she will see me next as she has 1200 clients to see. She is not sure if she is sticking around either. As i need continuity of care with GP i cant get a GP appointment right now she is off sick and they are not sure when she is coming back and the other GP has no openings on the appointment book until December, they can’t get a locum as there is a shortage of those and many of them are engaged elsewhere in the coming weeks.

The cuts to mental health services are claiming lives, putting lives at risk, not just the patients, but the staff too. Patients are being denied the support they so need to get through each day. There is no support available and no good going to local MINDs as it is all work is a health outcome and jog your way through depression which is not helpful to anyone with a severe mental health condition and in serious mental distress.
The person needs support and compassion not to be told they are a burden, told its all their fault and get back to work as soon as possible.

Before you donate to a local mental health charity check first they are not involved in the health and work programme, they do not employ staff and zero hours contracts and they are not bidding for local council and DWP contracts. If they are avoid them, because they are not working for claimants in mental distress but against them. National Mind being paramount to working and colluding with national government and DWP on health and work programme contracts who think if we go out jogging we can jog our way through depression and anxiety and if we think ourselves better, we will be better.

Here is my response to MIND – jog on what utter bollox! If i could jog my way out of depression, and having RA and fibro and HMS its out of the question I would have done it by now and think better and everything will be well?

No, with a tory government and national charities working with them and they persecuting people in mental distress as well as disabled people everything is not well. Its a bloody mess and people are taking their own lives.

We need to talk about this every day, not one day a year because the cuts are going to get worse and with the UC roll out accelerating the deaths and poverty will go through the roof too.

……………………………………………………………

this was posted in the comments:

“I know 3 people who rang crisis team for help as they felt suicidal, one was recently an inpatient after an attempt 2 had both made attempts in the past year, they were all told they would only get help if they attempted suicide. Very sadly, one did and is no longer with us 😦 Those of us who are working in mental health are doing so with not enough resources and far too little time and many of us are becoming unwell too”

If you are having dark thoughts yourself please contact the Samaritans on their free number (free for mobiles, too) 116 123.

Blind from birth, epileptic and unable to leave home alone – but Government says she’s fit to work

Hazel Macrae has been told by the Department of Work and Pensions that she must go back to work despite being blind from birth

Blind since birth and stricken by a string of disabilities but told she is fit to work – this is the reality of Government benefit cuts.

Hazel Macrae, who also suffers from epilepsy, Type 2 Diabetes and osteoarthritis, was claiming Employment Support Allowance (ESA) and was told she’d have to undertake a back to work assessment.

The 62-year-old filled in a questionnaire explaining she’s unable to leave her home without the help of her partner or son because she is afraid of falling, can’t use a pen or pencil, telephone, and would be unable to “move safely” in a workplace.

She was also required to meet with a health professional in Gosforth to undergo a face-to-face assessment where she was asked a series of questions about her daily activities.

Echoing the award-winning Ken Loach film I, Daniel Blake – which was shot in Newcastle – Miss Macrae has been told she has “limited capability for work” and her ESA has been moved from the Support Group to Work Related Activity Group, and reduced by £15 per fortnight.

Miss Macrae, who has artificial eyes, will now have to regularly meet with a work coach to discuss how she can get back into work.

read more here: http://www.chroniclelive.co.uk/news/north-east-news/blind-birth-epileptic-unable-leave-13737805

Video: Learning and literacy difficulties and need to drop a sick note to the jobcentre? Too bad. You’re banned. Get out

from Kate Belgrave’s blog:

Here’s one you should see: a recent* video which shows a woman with learning and literacy difficulties being told to Get Out of Kilburn jobcentre – even though she needed to drop off an all-important sick note at the jobcentre.

I post this to show you how unpleasant things can be at these places for long-term unemployed people who have support needs. People in these situations really are at the bottom of the pile. They have no power and absolutely no means of challenging the DWP.

I hate that.

The woman, Linda (name changed. I’ve written about her many times) is in her 50s. The day I took the video, Linda, as I say, needed the jobcentre to accept a sick note she had from her doctor. She risked sanctions if the jobcentre did not accept the note.

Nonetheless, the jobcentre adviser we saw refused to take the sick note.

Read more, and see the video here: http://www.katebelgrave.com/2017/10/video-learning-and-literacy-difficulties-and-need-to-drop-a-sick-note-to-the-jobcentre-too-bad-youre-banned-get-out/

Seriously ill woman lives by candlelight with no power or heating after her benefits were axed

“The worst thing is the constant cold”

A severely ill woman has lived alone by candle light for a year without electricity or gas after her benefits were axed.

Donna Cross is a tragic example of how vulnerable people are slipping through the cracks of society

The 56-year-old lives out of a crumbling living room in Walton with only a stained sofa and duvet to keep her warm.  According to Ms Cross: “The worst thing is the constant cold.”

This only worsens her deteriorating health: she has anaemia, type two diabetes and a chest infection that often causes her skin to bleed.

Ms Cross, had her Employment and Support Allowance cut last year and can no longer afford electricity, gas or heating. When she does have food she has to go to a friend’s house to heat it up.

Ms Cross, from Liverpool, lives out of a derelict and damp room where both the flooring and wallpaper is peeling off. She said: “It’s getting to winter. There are times when I’ve wanted to go up to the candle for heat. Even under the quilt I can still feel the cold. When the electricity goes off, I’m in total darkness. I can’t even read a book. It’s too cold to even get out under the duvet and get a biscuit. Normal houses are warmer than this, aren’t they?”

Ms Cross has been receiving benefits since she left school. But they were cut last year after she failed to turn up to a medical assessment because she had to go a doctor’s appointment.

She said: “I used to get Jobseekers Allowance even though I’ve told them I’m not well enough to work. “If I’m too ill to work, how can I look for a job? And how can I look for a job if I can’t use a computer? When they stopped the benefits last year, that’s when I felt I was in a situation where I didn’t know if I was going to cope.”

Without hot water, Ms Cross has been unable to wash for months and only has one soiled pair of clothes. She said: “When there’s no hot water I can’t even wash my clothes because I can’t boil a kettle.”

Although she has an electric heater, she rarely has the electricity to power it. And Ms Cross often has to brave the freezing cold on an empty stomach.

read more here: http://www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/news/liverpool-news/seriously-ill-woman-lives-candlelight-13730000#

Universal credit and tax credit debt collection… wtf is going on here. My god

From Kate belgrave’s blog.

Let’s finish the week as we started it – ie trying to make sense of the Universal Credit “system”:

I just finished speaking to the young Universal Credit claimant I wrote about earlier in the week. Readers of this site will be familiar with this woman’s story. This woman must carry out her Universal Credit compliance activities through Croydon jobcentre even though she lives in Colchester. She’s also been having £100+ deducted from her Universal Credit payments each month to repay a Universal Credit advance payment – the advance payments that David Gauke assures us will help people avoid (don’t laugh) the debts caused by delays in Universal Credit payments.

Now, the DWP has landed another debt on this young woman. This is a tax credit debt that she is sure she does not owe. The DWP has suddenly (this week) started deducting £25 a month from this woman’s Universal Credit payments. That’s another £25 gone each month from this woman’s money. She didn’t expect this deduction (at all) and she hasn’t budgeted for it. You see what I mean when I say that the state keeps broadsiding people with debts they can’t pay.

read her story here: http://www.katebelgrave.com/2017/10/universal-credit-and-tax-credit-debt-collection-wtf-is-going-on-here-my-god/