Is THIS why you lost PIP? Disability activists claim DWP assessments IGNORE mobility rule : Express.

DWPExamination.

DISABLED Britons being put through ‘frightening’ tests and tribunals just to access vital benefits may have been unfairly refused funds after assessors have been accused “watching claimants out the window” in “totally unfair” assessments designed by the Government.

Leading disability campaigners say ATOS failingGETTY

People are being watched from windows and not assessed properly – leading campaigners say

Since the Conservative Government switched from Disability Living Allowance (DLA) to Personal Independence Payment (PIP) in 2013 – thousands of people have been re-assessed – and refused much needed benefits.But these tests, designed by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) – and carried out by private firms – are being now brought into question over the ‘walking’ element.

Assessors for French data firm ATOS, and British business Capita must establish whether the claimant can walk 20m unaided, among other daily tasks, according to DWP rules.

But, experts told Express.co.uk they believe assessors are watching disabled people…

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Crohn’s sufferer on ending life at Swiss clinic: Government cuts denied me care so I’ve chosen to die

Wracked with pain, and after eight years on morphine, Marie Lopez has finally chosen death over a life blighted by illness and cruel spending cuts.

This once vibrant businesswoman has spent her every last penny paying for her own care after social services left her to suffer in agony.

Now she is using her last £10,000 to buy an end to her ordeal at an assisted suicide clinic in Switzerland, even though she is not dying.

For decades Marie, 54, has ­battled Crohn’s disease , a crippling and incurable condition that ­attacks the digestive system. Then, almost 10 years ago, the 38 hours a week of social care that made her life bearable was cut back entirely, forcing Marie to fund it herself.

Now she has decided she can ­endure no more. And she blames ­Government cuts for her decision to die at the Lifecircle Clinic in Basel.

The former City analyst says: “I have not taken this decision lightly. I am ready to die to put an end to my misery. Crohn’s might not be terminal but, believe me, it kills at a slow pace.

Read more here: http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/real-life-stories/crohns-sufferer-ending-life-swiss-9917689

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

Originally posted on The poor side of life: I’ll start today’s blog by describing the weather, because it certainly just about sums things up. Windy, raining and hostile. Certainly not favourable for holding our weekly demo. But still we soilder on. People need our support, it’s as simple as that.? I arrived at 10am, completely…

via Today’s demo. G4S bully boys and Storm Doris both making an appearance. Food parcels taken in less than 10 minutes.  — sdbast

MPs say housing benefit is being wrongly stripped from jobseekers, threatening them with eviction and homelessness

The Public Accounts Committee cites evidence that one-third of people who were claiming housing benefit lost their money when they were given a sanction

Housing benefit is being wrongly stripped from jobseekers accused of failing to look for work, MPs say – threatening them with eviction and homelessness.

The “appalling situation” is condemned by a Commons committee which has told the Department for Work and Pensions to investigate the blunder urgently.

Government rules say benefit claimants who are sanctioned can be docked jobseeker’s allowance (JSA) and employment and support allowance (ESA) – but not housing benefit, which they may need to keep their home.

In evidence to the Public Accounts Committee (PAC), Sir Robert Devereux, the DWP’s permanent secretary, said: “The sanction is applied to the JSA and not to the housing benefit.”

But a survey by the housing charity Crisis found that a staggering one-third of people who were claiming housing benefit lost their money when they were given a sanction.

Meg Hillier, the PAC’s Labour chair, said: “Suspending people’s benefit payments can lead them into debt, rent arrears and homelessness, which can undermine their efforts to find work.

“A third of people surveyed by the charity Crisis who were claiming housing benefit had this stopped in error because of a sanction – an appalling situation to be faced with.”

read more here: http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/mps-housing-benefit-sanctions-jobseekers-meg-hillier-eviction-homelessness-report-a7589936.html

MPs launch official inquiry into universal credit as criticism grows

Investigation into benefits system comes amid mounting evidence that payment delays have left thousands facing eviction

MPs have launched an official inquiry into universal credit amid growing concerns that design flaws in the new benefits system are leaving thousands of low-income claimants facing eviction and reliant on food banks.

The Commons work and pensions committee said it was compelled to launch a full investigation after mounting evidence that built-in payment delays and administrative blockages were creating severe problems for claimants and landlords.

A Guardian investigation this month found widespread evidence that thousands of tenants on universal credit were running up rent arrears and debts because they could not manage the minimum 42-day wait for a first payment.

Landlords have also criticised the system, with private landlords warning that they will not let to universal credit claimants because of the high risk of rent arrears and problems navigating byzantine official bureaucracy.

Surveys by housing associations have found that up to nine in 10 tenants on universal credit either run up rent arrears or increase the level of pre-existing arrears because so few are equipped to cope with long waits without income.

Frank Field MP, chair of the work and pensions committee said: “Huge delays in people receiving payments from universal credit have resulted in claimants falling into debt and rent arrears, caused health problems and led to many having to rely on food banks.”

The inquiry will ratchet up the pressure on the Department for Work and Pensions to review the design of universal credit. It has played down the impact of the 42-day waiting time, arguing that its research carried out two years ago suggests arrears levels fall after three months once tenants get used to the new system.

But the former welfare minister Lord Freud admitted to MPs last month that at least a quarter of tenants on universal credit had run up rent arrears as a result, and he suggested that ministers should consider shortening waiting times for payment.

The MPs inquiry was announced on the same day that the universal credit full service was rolled out to a handful of new areas, including Poplar in east London and Warrington. The rollout is not due to be complete until September 2018.

read more here: https://www.theguardian.com/society/2017/feb/22/mps-launch-official-inquiry-universal-credit-benefits?CMP=share_btn_fb

British Psychological Society calls for the Government to suspend its benefits sanctions system

In a joint response with other leading psychological bodies to a Government consultation the British Psychological Society has called for the suspension of the benefit sanctions system.

The Government should suspend its benefit sanctions system as it fails to get people back to work and damages their mental health, says the BPS and other leading UK psychological bodies.

The bodies highlight evidence that sanctions, or the threat of sanctions (benefit cuts following a claimant’s failure to comply with jobcentre conditions, e.g. missing an appointment with their work coach) can result in destitution, hardship, widespread anxiety and feelings of disempowerment.

The call came in a joint response to the Government’s consultation, ‘Improving Lives’, from the British Psychological Society, the British Association of Counselling and Psychotherapy, the British Psychoanalytic Council, the British Association for Behavioural and Cognitive Psychotherapies and the UK Council for Psychotherapy.

Findings from the National Audit Office  show that there is limited evidence the sanctions system actually works, or is cost effective. The bodies argue that the Government needs to change focus from trying to make unemployment less attractive, to trying to make employment more attractive.

read more here: http://beta.bps.org.uk/news-and-policy/bps-calls-government-suspend-its-benefits-sanctions-system

Benefit cap arrears and eviction threats for women and children. Already.

From Kate Belgrave’s blog:

Another short post on impossible situations:

Here’s a rent arrears demand recently received by a woman who lives in a Basildon flat with her three young children (the arrears have increased since she received this letter).

It appears these arrears have come about because of the recently-lowered benefit cap.

This woman’s benefits exceeded the Out of Greater London limit of £384.62 by about £100 a week. As a result, at the end of last year, her housing benefit was cut by about £100 a week from about £188 a week to to £87 a week (think the sums are correct, looking at the paperwork. Give me a shout if you think the totals need looking at. Maths problems with these things are not at all uncommon).

Basildon council recently gave this woman a discretionary housing payment of £20 a week to cover some of the rent shortfall. That helps a bit, but only a bit. She only gets the DHP for the short term, too. After that, she either finds the full whack each week, or moves house again (this time with a serious arrears history) and takes the kids out of school again (she was recently in temporary accommodation in another borough)… or she ultimately gets evicted, I guess:

read more here: http://www.katebelgrave.com/2017/02/benefit-cap-arrears-and-eviction-threats-for-women-and-children-already/