‘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: http://www.disabilitynewsservice.com/disabled-womans-life-at-risk-after-dwp-harassment/

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.

Read the rest of this article herehttp://www.thefedonline.org.uk/disability-in-the-news/information-watchdog-to-probe-dwp-s-secret-reviews-on-benefit-deaths



DWP ‘threatened to dock terminally-ill woman’s benefits’ if she paid for her own funeral

A terminally-ill woman was told by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) that she risked being charged with an “offence” and would lose part of her benefits if she used an insurance policy windfall to pay for her own funeral.

DWP bosses told Sue Smith that spending the £3,700 in advance on her funeral would be seen as “deprivation of capital” – deliberately spending her savings in order to maintain entitlement to benefits.


Read the whole story here: http://www.disabilitynewsservice.com/dwp-threatened-to-dock-terminally-ill-womans-benefits-if-she-paid-for-her-own-funeral/

Half-blind UK widow commits suicide after incapacity benefit cut

A partially-blind widow, who suffered crippling back pain for over a decade, committed suicide after her incapacity benefit was cut because state assessors claimed she was fit to work.

Following a two-minute assessment, private firm Atos Healthcare concluded Jacqueline Harris was fit to work despite the fact she had trouble walking and suffered constant, excruciating back pain.Her incapacity benefit was subsequently axed by the government, which pays the firm to conduct fitness-for-work assessments.

Harris, a former nurse who had claimed incapacity benefit for a number of years, was awaiting a serious spinal operation when Atos assessed her. According to the deceased’s sister, the Atos employee asked Harris one question during the interview – whether she was capable of catching a bus.

The firm has been the focus of a firestorm of criticism in recent times, with mounting claims that vulnerable and unwell people are being wrongly proposed for work, and are forced to endure exasperating and upsetting medical interviews.

‘Atos should be shot’

Fifty-three-year-old Harris was discovered dead in her home in south Gloucestershire in November 2013, with a hand written note attached to her chest stressing she did not wish to be resuscitated. She took her own life just a few weeks before an appeal hearing had been scheduled with the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP).

Harris’ sister told the Daily Mail the family received a letter about the hearing a month after the former nurse died. “I didn’t tell them she had died and went along myself. I said to them ‘I’m disgusted’. Atos should be shot,” she said.

Speaking outside the Bristol court, where Harris’ inquest was held, Christine Norman said her sister’s decline was sparked by the DWP’s decision to replace her incapacity welfare allowance with Jobseeker’s Allowance. “It gave her no hope. She was defeated. What hope did she have?” Norman asked.

Norman added the government has since ruled Atos’ decision to declare her sister fit for work was wrong.

Throughout the inquest, the court was told Harris had suffered an array of different injuries and disabilities since the 1990s. Her trouble began with a fall during work, causing injured discs in her neck and back. She also endured chronic pain in her hands, resulting from a vicious dog bite and partial blindness following a severe bang to the head.

As her back pain worsened over time, Harris sought assistance and advice from doctors, attended pain management classes and engaged in physiotherapy.

Following the DWP’s decision that she was fit to work, Harris pleaded with the body saying she was awaiting an intensive back operation. But her poignant pleas were reportedly ignored.


Read the rest of this story here: http://rt.com/uk/209731-suicide-woman-benefit-axed/

Benefits removal fear ‘was trigger for woman’s suicide’

As a coroner says the upset caused by the potential withdrawal of benefits triggered the suicide of Julia Kelly, Channel 4 News looks at the wider impact of benefit changes on vulnerable claimants.

As a coroner says the upset caused by the potential withdrawal of benefits triggered the suicide of Julia Kelly, Channel 4 News looks at the wider impact of benefit changes on vulnerable claimants.

Julia Kelly was in constant pain. After two car accidents and innumerable medical procedures, she was trying to come to terms with the prospect that her spinal condition would be with her for the rest of her life. She founded a charity, Away with Pain, to help others also living with chronic pain.

But in November 2014 the 39-year-old took her own life. Last week a coroner found that “upset caused by the potential withdrawal of her benefits had been the trigger for her to end her life”.

She had received letters asking her to repay some of the benefits she had claimed.

See the video and read the rest of this article from Channel 4 News here: http://www.channel4.com/news/benefits-removal-fear-trigger-for-her-to-end-her-life-julia-kelly

Paid to fail? The appalling record of the Work Programme contractors who find jobs for fewer than one person in 10

But the businesses still rake in millions of pounds of taxpayers’ cash every year

The appalling record of Wales’ work programme contractors can today be laid bare by figures that show they got fewer than one in 10 people a job.

Rehab Jobfit, which covers Wales and south west England, found work for just 3,460 job seekers out of 39,060 referred to them.

The nation’s other provider, Working Links, helped just 3,930 people out of 39,620 referrals.

As the Public and Commercial Services (PCS) Union slammed the findings the companies were stood accused of being paid for failure.

“The problem with the work programme is the way it is set up,” a PCS spokesman said. “A lot of untested companies like this are able to get these referrals from Job Centres to deal with people that need expert help, advice, and support to get back into work. They are not up to the job. This is emblematic of what is wrong with the work programme.”

Firms rake in millions of pounds in taxpayer cash.

According to Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) documents payments range “from a maximum of around £3,800 for a young unemployed person to £13,700 for someone who has a limited capability for work and, as a result, has been receiving benefits for several years”.

That means Rehab Jobfit could have earned almost £48m while Working Links could have been paid almost £54m for those people they did get into work.

“But they are doing themselves out of money they could be getting on the contract by being such poor performers,” the PCS spokesman said. “One of the problems of paying people by results is that they go and cherry-pick the easiest people to place. That means the people the programme was designed to help are getting left behind because they are too difficult to deal with.”

He claimed the programme was “really poorly designed”. Our position is that it should be scrapped and brought back under DWP control where expert help exists,” he said. “The DWP needs to invest to give people in Job Centres time to spend with job seekers that they need.”

ead the rest of this story from Wales Online here: http://www.walesonline.co.uk/news/wales-news/rehab-jobfit-working-links-jobs-8938525

Boy battling leukaemia fed by foodbanks after Department for Work and Pensions axed his benefits

The family of a seven-year-old boy battling leukaemia have been forced to use foodbanks after their benefits were axed.

Tommi Miller’s parents received £700 a month to help look after him until he was given the all-clear last April. But when the cancer returned in a more virulent form, Ruth, 39 and Kevin, 42, stopped work to care for their son.

They hoped the Department for Work and Pensions would restart the payments. But officials said No.

With no income for six months, the family have relied on foodbanks to eat. They have struggled to pay gas bills, been threatened with eviction and could only celebrate Christmas after friends raised £1,200. One of Tommi’s consultants at Addenbrooke’s Hospital, Cambridge, also gave them £600 in supermarket vouchers so they could survive winter.

Mum-of-four Ruth said: “Everything we have is spent on the kids – me and Kevin are happy to go hungry. They should have a heart and realise our priorities are not rent and council tax. Every single thought is focused on our child. Kevin added: “What they are doing to us is inhuman – this is a young boy who is suffering.”


read the rest of this article here: http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/real-life-stories/boy-battling-leukaemia-fed-foodbanks-5068514


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