Mum ordered to pay back dead son’s benefits

A GRIEVING mother was ordered to pay back £41.36 for her dead son’s overpaid benefits to the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP), it was revealed yesterday.

Rachel Degaetano received the letter last week after 21-year-old Chae Bennett committed suicide on April 15 this year in woodland near his family home in Barry, Wales.

DWP stated that employment and support allowance (ESA) paid for five days after his death should be given back.

The letter reads: “We are sorry to hear that Mr Bennett has died and apologise for having to get in touch with you at this time. We hope you will appreciate that when public funds are incorrectly paid we are obliged to ask for them to be refunded.”

DWP said it could not comment on individual cases when contacted by the Star.

Ms Degaetano, a mother-of-five and mental health support worker, posted online in response: “Does Iain Duncan Smith need breakfast money?”

The Work and Pensions Secretary had claimed that he could live on £53-a-week jobseeker’s allowance — before blowing £39 of taxpayers’ money on one morning meal.

She added: “Fewer than 55 days after my son takes his own life, because he was let down by a system already underfunded, which this government intends to make further cuts to, they have the audacity to send me this?”

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Many people whose benefits have been stopped have serious health conditions, so of course more are dying, admits DWP

Yet again Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has blocked the publication of statistics showing how many people have died within six weeks of having their benefits stopped.

These figures were routinely published until 2012, when this government’s Welfare Reform Act  started to bite. Since then the DWP has steadfastly refused to publish new statistics, saying:  a.They were too expensive to gather and: b.That so many people requested the figures that the requests themselves were ‘vexatious’ and could therefore be ignored. Direct requests to the DWP from several MPs have had no more luck.

Now the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO), an independent authority set up to uphold public information rights, has agreed that there is no reason not to publish the figures. And yet again the DWP is trying to wriggle out.

What struck me most in this article from the Huffington Post was this warning from the DWP:

“The DWP  warned it was irresponsible to suggest a causal link between the death of an individual and their benefit claim, and that mortality rates among people with serious health conditions are likely to be higher than those among the general population.”

Well, The system of disability assessments was supposed to sort out who needs disability benefits. The DWP’s warning demonstrates that they don’t see people with serious health conditions who are more likely to die as being in need of benefits. And if they are being kicked off their benefits and then dying, that’s just fine as long as the Tories can dodge publishing the figures..

The DWP takes its orders from the Conservative government. And David Cameron and his ministers appear to be completely at ease with the idea of stripping seriously ill people of their benefits and them subsequently dying. If those people die, well, they were more likely to die anyway.

I read over and over again in comments here and elsewhere on the net of people who have been thrown off disability benefits as ‘fit to work’, but cannot then get unemployment benefits because the Job Centre deems them ‘Unfit to work’. I’m personally trying to help 2 people in this exact situation right now. As a result of losing their sickness benefits and having no income, both have been hit by a spiral of depression which made it impossible to appeal against the decision in the one month time slot allowed by the DWP.

More than 18,000 people have signed a petition in under a week after the DWP appealed a decision to release the sensitive figures

I can’t leave this topic without mentioning the tireless campaigning to get these figures published.over several years by John Pring of the Disability News Service . If the government is pushed into a corner it can’t wriggle out of and forced to release these figures, it will largely be thanks to John.











DWP order woman with 45 years experience to do unpaid work to learn ‘vital skills’ – or face sanctioning : Clydebank Post | Vox Political

DWP Forced To Apologise After Terminally Ill Claimant Tried To End Own Life

Originally posted on Same Difference:

An extract from Welfare Weekly:

In October 2013 I was placed on the long list of people to have the dreaded WORK CAPABILITY ASSESSMENT, whilst at the same time waiting for a decision on my daughters [disability benefit] P.I.P – she had been in receipt of disability benefit from the age of 5.

I finally had my assessment on 23rd December 2014, but had to travel around 14 miles each way. To this day I still haven’t received any official confirmation as to the outcome, so let me explain:

After not hearing for around 14 to 15 weeks I contacted the DWP, only to be told over the phone that I had been placed in the support group for 2 years. Great I hear you cry, well not really as firstly I am terminally ill with emphysema and with only 23% lung function. Secondly I’m in constant pain due to…

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DWP Faces Legal Action Over ‘Unreasonable’ Disability Benefit Delays

Vulnerable disabled people have taken the government to court over delays to disability benefits, it has been reported today.

Lawyers at Irwin Mitchell have launched a judicial review on the grounds that delays to Personal Independence Payment (PIP), which is replacing Disability Living Allowance (DLA) for disabled people, of over a year are ‘so unreasonable that they are unlawful’.

Red the rest of this story here:

‘Disabled woman’s life at risk’ after DWP harassment

A disabled woman says her life is at risk following a “barrage” of texts and phone calls from the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), threatening – unlawfully – to remove her benefits if she failed to attend a work-focused interview.

Stella*, who has type one diabetes, was placed in the support group of people claiming employment and support allowance (ESA), after a tribunal found in her favour and said she should not be assessed again for two years.

The ESA support group is – according to the government’s own rules – for sick or disabled people not expected to carry out any work-related activity in return for out-of-work benefits.

But Stella was forced to lodge a complaint with the police after being “scared witless” by an “unacceptable barrage of communications” about work-focussed interviews and threats to remove her benefits if she failed to attend.


read the rest of this story on the Disabiity News Service here:

DWP To Be Investigated Over Refusal To Publish Reviews Into Benefit Deaths

The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) is facing an investigation into its refusal to publish ‘secret’ reviews into 49 benefit-related deaths, it has reported today.

The information watchdog is to investigate the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) over its refusal to publish secret reviews into 49 benefit-related deaths.

The Information Commissioner’s Office has launched the investigation into DWP’s failure to provide information requested by Disability News Service (DNS).

A series of DNS Freedom of Information Act (FoIA) requests eventually revealed how DWP has carried out 49 secret reviews into benefit-related deaths since February 2012.

Of the 49 “peer reviews”, it later emerged that 33 contained recommendations for improvements in procedures at either national or local level within DWP, while 40 of the 49 reviews were carried out following the suicide or apparent suicide of a benefit claimant.

But despite FoIA requests from DNS, and others, DWP has refused to publish the reviews, or their summaries, recommendations or conclusions, even with personal details of benefit claimants removed.

It claims that releasing the reviews – even with these details removed – could breach section 44 of the FoIA, because section 123 of the Social Security Administration Act 1992 makes it an offence for anyone employed in social security administration to “disclose without lawful authority any information which he acquired in the course of that employment and which relates to a particular person”.

Now the ICO has said that it will investigate a complaint lodged by DNS into the failure to release the information.

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