“I had to get my local MP to intervene due to DWP staff laughing at me down the phone when I was requesting letters etc in braille.

……..”I would have my benefits delayed, not weeks but months to be processed and in the mean-time I had nothing to live on. I ran up debts for my utility bills and council tax etc and this confounded bedroom tax for a box room smaller than my toilet. When they were finally sorted I was sanctioned. Why? For spending too much time at the cancer units and not enough time looking for a job. Sanction after sanction after sanction.”………

This is an extract from a letter published on Welfare Weekly.

Read the rest of it here: http://www.welfareweekly.com/letters-iain-duncan-smith-made-my-life-not-worth-living/

Tax credit error costs families with disabled children £4,400 a year

(I hope someone takes the DWP to court over this – Argotina)

‘Gap in data feed’ led to thousands of families missing up to £20,000 – but payments will only be backdated to April

Thousands of families with disabled children have lost out on up to £4,400 a year in tax credits after an administrative blunder by the authorities.

The error in processing their claims meant an estimated 28,000 families whose children qualified for disability living allowance (DLA) during 2011-14 missed out on an additional tax credit premium of between £60 and £84 a week.

The government revealed in the autumn statement this week that it had set aside £360m over six years to ensure these families receive child disability tax credits in future. However, the payments will be backdated only to April, meaning individual families may have lost out on entitlements totalling up to £20,000 over the past five years.

The non-payment of the tax credit premiums appears to have been a result of the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) failing to inform HMRC about families’ eligibility for the award over a three-year period.

The charity Contact a Family called for a compensation fund to be set up to help the families, saying it was not their fault that they lost out on what collectively amounted to tens of millions of pounds in entitlements.

“One thing is certain: this isn’t the fault of families. When you tick a box on a government form indicating you are in receipt of tax credits you reasonably expect it’s there for a reason – and there’s a process in place that allows government departments to share this information,” said the charity’s head of policy and public affairs, Una Summerson.

Read more here: https://www.theguardian.com/society/2016/nov/25/huge-rise-in-hospital-beds-in-england-taken-up-by-people-with-malnutrition

Crewe couple’s nightmare with disability claim red tape

DWP apologise to Andy Halden as he struggled to cope financially

A Crewe couple have been left struggling to pay the bills after changes to disability entitlements denied them access to essential payments.

Andy Halden was employed by the Highways Agency until poor health prevented him from working. As his physical and mental well-being deteriorated, he became registered as disabled.

In March this year the government stopped adults claiming DLA (Disability Living Allowance), and claimants were required to apply for a benefit called PIP (Personal Independence Payment).

PIP is  provided to help with costs associated with long-term ill-health or disability, for adults between the ages of 16 and 64.

When Andy was assessed to determine whether he was entitled to the new payment, he was declined. That left him struggling financially and increased his anxiety.

He said: “I was devastated. My physical state wasn’t good, but the stress that I suffered following that decision was unbearable. Some days I struggle to get around the house, and I have fallen down the stairs recently. The assessment just didn’t make sense. One day I was registered disabled receiving DLA, the next I was supposedly okay and not entitled to anything.”

Andy’s partner, Lisa, is employed as his care provider. When the PIP payment was declined, the carer’s allowance was also stopped, heaping further pressure on the household.

Lisa said: “I provide 35 hours of care for Andy each week. Losing that allowance made it almost impossible to balance the books. We appealed to the Department for Work and Pensions about the decision, and in July a tribunal ruled that Andy was entitled to the payments. We got this in writing.

“But the saga went on and on. Every week we get another letter but no payments. We received some money for the arrears, but the regular weekly entitlement never started. The carer’s allowance is also still stopped. I was on the phone every single day to the PIP department, but I got the same message each time. They told me it was being looked at.”

read more here: http://www.crewechronicle.co.uk/news/crewe-south-cheshire-news/crewe-couples-nightmare-disability-claim-11952402#ICID=sharebar_facebook

DWP issued guidance that made suicides more likely, then ‘lied’ to cover its tracks

The government has secretly made major changes to guidance given to “fitness for work” benefits assessors that has put the lives of thousands of disabled claimants at risk… and then “lied” about what it had done.

The changes appear to show ministers made a calculation last year that it was worth risking the loss of some lives in order to cut benefits spending and force more disabled people into their discredited back-to-work programmes.

The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) could now face legal action over its decision to bring in the changes without seeking approval from parliament.

read more here: http://www.disabilitynewsservice.com/dwp-issued-guidance-that-made-suicides-more-likely-then-lied-to-cover-its-tracks/

DWP derides claimant complaints over digital rollout of Universal Credit

Campaign4Change

By Tony Collins

dwpLess than 24 hours after the Institute for Government criticised the DWP’s “tendency not to acknowledge bad news”, the department’s press office has poured scorn on complaints to an MP about problems with the rollout of Universal Credit’s “digital” system.

A spokesman for the Department for Work and Pensions has described as “anecdotal” complaints by the public about the “full” digital Universal Credit system in south London.

The DWP has declined to publish reports that would give a factual account of the performance of the Universal Credit digital system during rollout.  Its spokespeople can therefore describe claimant complaints as “anecdotal”.

Cheap

Ministers hope that the in-house and cheaply-developed “full”  digital system will ultimately replace a “live” service that has many workarounds, has cost hundreds of millions of pounds,  has been built by the DWP’s traditional IT suppliers, and deals with only limited groups of claimants.

But the agile-developed digital system has had its problems at a pilot site in Scotland – where the DWP described claimant…

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SNP pledge to block DWP’s hated benefits sanctions regime from operating in Scotland

QUALITIES Secretary Angela Constance is not going to ‘assist’ the UK department responsible for sanctions when Holyrood takes new welfare powers.

THE SNP are pledging to block the hated sanctions regime when Holyrood takes control of more welfare-to-work powers, the Record can reveal today.

Equalities Secretary Angela Constance said she would refuse to “assist” the UK Department for Work and Pensions if they attempt to penalise claimants.

Her promise follows a report which warned 13,000 Scots face being sanctioned each year. The figure was revealed last month in research into devolved benefit powers heading to Holyrood.

At the time, the Scottish Government declined to comment directly on the proposal.

But in an interview with the Record, Constance said: “While we can’t stop the UK Government putting conditions on the work-related benefits, we’re not going to be giving them any information or responding to inquiries if we think that might lead to a sanction.

The reality is we’ll have two systems – we’re trying to design a new system. It is easy for people to get confused. But what I can say, and what the minister for training and employability can say, is our skills programmes are voluntary and we’re not going to deal with an inquiry if it would add to the risk of a sanction.”

read more: http://www.dailyrecord.co.uk/news/politics/snp-pledge-block-dwps-hated-8801234

 

Benefit claimants die as DWP staff keep failing to follow suicide guidelines

September 8th 2016 John Pring

The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has refused to consider an inquiry into its repeated failure to prevent the deaths of benefit claimants, despite the release of damning new information from nine secret reviews.

Key information from reviews into the deaths of nine benefit claimants had been requested by Disability News Service (DNS) in April – following the release of 49 earlier reviews – but DWP has only released it now after pressure from the Information Commissioner’s Office.

Although most of the information from the reviews – previously known as peer reviews but now called internal process reviews – was redacted, DWP did release the authors’ recommendations for how procedures should be improved locally and nationally.

Those recommendations show that DWP staff repeatedly failed to follow strict guidelines on how to support benefit claimants who have expressed thoughts of self-harm or threatened to take their own lives, which were introduced in 2009.

That guidance – known as the six-point plan – “sets out the framework for managing suicide and self harm declarations from customers”.

The plan tells staff to “take the statement seriously”, “summon a colleague”, “gather information”, “provide referral advice – if the situation is non-urgent”, “summon emergency help”, and “review” the incident afterwards with their line manager.

DWP managers are supposed to use this framework to create their own local six point plans.

But the information released to DNS shows that with two of the nine deaths, which were all reviewed between August 2014 and January 2016, the author called for DWP to “remind staff about the Six Point Plan” and pointed out the need to “embed” the plan in DWP procedures because the failure to follow the guidance was “a recurring theme”.

Of the nine reviews, seven of them involved people who had taken their own lives, and five included recommendations for local or national improvements.

Other concerns raised by the reviews include the apparent use of out-of-date information to decide an employment and support allowance (ESA) claim, and benefits staff apparently failing to visit a claimant marked in their files as “vulnerable” who had failed to attend an assessment before their claim was rejected.

As in all nine cases, the claimant lost their life, although no other information is known about the circumstances of their deaths.

read more: http://blacktrianglecampaign.org/2016/09/08/benefit-claimants-die-as-dwp-staff-keep-failing-to-follow-suicide-guidelines/