9 days, over 14 phone calls, and a lot of Vivaldi later…
The mother of a disabled man who starved to death after he was found “fit for work” and lost his out-of-work disability benefits has called for ministers to face criminal charges.
Jill Gant says work and pensions ministers should be tried for misconduct in public office for failing to take action that could have saved the life of her son, Mark Wood.
In a series of special reports, Granada Reports looks at the current benefits system.
James Harrison died after Job Centre staff wrote to his GP telling them not to issue him any more sick notes.
He was a Community Centre manager in Liverpool for 35 years but his health deteriorated when he was made redundant. He was declared ‘fit for work’ after a Work Capability Assessment, something his doctor disagreed with, even though he had a serious lung condition and depression.
He died of heart failure still waiting for a second medical assessment to prove he was ill. His daughter Abbie said he was forced to use a food bank and was made to feel ‘degraded and ashamed’
The film director Ken Loach has made a film to show the harsh reality of applying for benefits in his film “I Daniel Blake’.
In April, the government plan to cut the new Employment Support Allowance (ESA) for ill or disabled claimants who are judged to be able to work in the future.The allowance will be reduced by a third to £73.10 per week, the same as Jobseekers Allowance (JSA) and is designed to give an incentive to disabled people to find work.
Ken Loach says the most vulnerable are being targeted by the new ‘benefit reform’. His film “I Daniel Blake’ follows two benefits claimants plunged into poverty, its distributor is Entertainment One UK.
This week on Granada Reports we will be taking to claimants who’ve had their benefits cut, the charities trying to support them and those forced to go to court to prove they are ill
Government plans to cut unemployment benefit for new disabled claimants could leave some unable to meet essential living costs, MPs have warned.
The Commons Work and Pensions Committee said the evidence that reducing Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) would provide an incentive for disabled to find work was “ambiguous at best”.
While the Government’s aim to halve the “disability employment gap” – the difference between the employment rates of the disabled and non-disabled – was laudable, it said ministers had failed to commit to a timeline for achieving it.
Under Government plans, from April new ESA claimants adjudged to be capable of work in the future will receive £73.10 per week – the same as the Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA) – a reduction of £29.05 on the current rate. However, the committee said the measure – intended to save a total of £1 billion by 2020-21 – could leave some with lower disposable incomes than JSA claimants as they often faced unavoidably higher living costs.
It was imperative, the committee said, that the Department for Work and Pensions provided additional financial support for those claimants in the so-called work-related activity group (WRAG) who found they were unable to cover their essential living costs due to their condition.
“The Government expects the new, lower rate for the ESA-WRAG to enhance incentives to work. The evidence is, at best, ambiguous,” it said. “We heard substantial concerns about the possible impact of the new rate on disabled people’s capacity to look for and move into work.”
The report also noted, that at current employment levels, halving the “disability employment gap” would require an extra 1.2 million to 1.5 million disabled people to find work.
However, it cited one estimate by the Learning and Work Institute that on current rates of progress, it would take over 200 years to achieve.
Committee chairman Frank Field said: “We expect the Government to respond to this report before the proposed new lower rate of ESA is due in April.
“If they intend to proceed with these cuts, we expect an explanation of how this will not be detrimental to its target of halving the disability employment gap, by making finding and keeping a job even more difficult for disabled people than it already is.”
About 100 activists and their allies have taken part in a protest and vigil to mark the death of a disabled man who died minutes after leaving a jobcentre… six months after a government contractor found him “fit for work”.
Lawrence Bond is said to have collapsed on the pavement shortly after leaving Kentish Town jobcentre, following a back-to-work appointment.
The 26-year-old is to be medically assessed for work despite having mind of a three-year-old
A severely disabled woman, with the mental age of a toddler, had her benefits stopped by the Department of Work and Pensions because she “missed an appointment”.
Georgina Ball has aicardi syndrome, a rare brain abnormality which means she suffers from severe epileptic seizures and learning disabilities, and is unable to walk, talk, read or write.
The 26-year-old claims Employment Support Allowance but this was stopped in December after her mum received a letter to say that her daughter had missed an appointment, to be medically assessed for work.
Mum Paula, who is Georgina’s full time carer, says that she never received a letter, and added that even if she did her daughter cannot attend the appointment because the centre does not have the facilities to deal with her needs.
The 53-year-old said: “What three-year-old would be able to go to work? Georgina can’t read, she can’t write, she likes Teletubies and Thomas the Tank Engine.
“I do everything for her.
“I think it is disgusting that someone with her disabilities has to go and prove them.”
Read more and see the video here: http://www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/news/liverpool-news/woman-mental-age-toddler-benefits-12523947
A man collapsed and died in the street on the way home from the Jobcentre on 12 December. He had been declared ‘fit for work’.
Lawrence Bond suffered a fatal heart attack shortly after leaving the Kentish town Jobcentre, reports The Camden New Journal. The 56-year-old had longstanding health problems such as difficulty with mobility and breathing.
Last year, the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) cut Bond’s Employment and Support Allowance (ESA). This happened after US private firm Maximus carried out his Work Capability Assessment (WCA) in July. The DWP turned down a subsequent appeal. His sister, Iris Green, said that Bond was waiting for the outcome of a second appeal when he died.
Bond had suffered prolonged health problems, associated with being heavily overweight. But in turn, his obesity may have been linked to his mental health problems.
[he] held down regular jobs and was never out of work from the age of 16 when he trained as a car mechanic, then did computer studies and went to companies fixing computers, photocopiers, cash tills – so he had his van which he felt safe in – but, of course, his diet was shocking so he put on weight.
Bond was distressed about a lack of treatment for his mental health issues, his sister said:
His anxiety was getting worse as he could not pay bills and was afraid to leave home to go to the shops. Two referrals his GP had made for mental health services had been lost and he said he felt annoyed about that.
He functioned very well when he had a job, and money, and a van and functioned as a productive tax-paying member of society, but he was frustrated that, although he was an intelligent person, he could not seem to get his needs met.
She expressed concern about the controversial Work Capability Assessment, and called for change:
I realise that the reception staff have no clinical knowledge or responsibility for doing it, but the rules need to be changed so that they have the right and discretion when they see a human being turning up in physical distress to flag the situation up and ask for urgent re-assessment.