Sparkhill JCP – Early Morning Sessions Break Guidance – Sanctions Applied Incorrectly

Birmingham Against The Cuts

Sparkhill JCP windowAs we have reported Sparkhill Job Centre was recently closed after a customer who had been sanctioned smashed several windows. Sparkhill Job Centre has drawn attention from campaigners as it is known as a high sanctioning office.
It is now coming to light that there are other developments in the office.

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Disabled man suffers ‘mini stroke’ during Watford Job Centre interview

A brain damaged disabled man who regularly suffers seizures thought to be possibly ‘mini strokes’ was struck down by one – midway through a Watford Job Centre interview, geared towards getting him back into work.

James Laver, 46, has to endure unexplained episodes – thought by some doctors to be transient ischaemic attacks (TIAs), or ‘mini strokes’ – which leave him temporarily paralysed.

Despite the fact his GP said he is ‘completely unable to work at present’, Mr Laver was still called into the Job Centre, in Exchange Road, on Tuesday afternoon for an appointment as he had been placed into the Work Related Activity Group (WRAG), which is aimed at ‘preparing him for work in the future’.

Since having a full stroke in 2008, in which he suffered minor brain damage and nerve damage to his left side, Mr Laver has suffered seizures which paralyse him for an hour and cause him to feel dizzy and to slur his speech.

The exact nature and cause of the seizures have divided opinion among doctors, with some believing they are TIAs, which are caused by a temporary disruption in the blood supply to part of the brain resulting in a lack of oxygen to it.


This can cause symptoms similar to those of a stroke, such as speech and visual disturbance and numbness or weakness in the arms and legs. However, a TIA does not last as long as a stroke. The effects only last for a few minutes and are usually fully resolved within 24 hours.

Nevertheless, Mr Laver has still been classed as someone who can prepare to go back to work and attended a Job Centre interview on Tuesday.

Mr Laver, who claims disability living allowance, said: “I was put on the floor and was swallowing my tongue, and began to choke. I managed to get myself into the recovery position, but staff then put me back on my back. I quite possibly could have died. “The attacks are getting worse and are becoming more frequent. Whenever I’m in A&E I’m told it’s a TIA, or possibly a TIA, or not a TIA or stroke, or possibly epilepsy. I think it’s a TIA.

“When I visited my partner in Australia two years ago I was having fits and the Royal Melbourne Hospital said they were TIAs. I’ve had five attacks this week in the space of a few days. Nobody this week has told me what they were. The woman in the Job Centre was mainly going on about why was I there when I was obviously not fit to work. She was just reading stuff on the screen, saying they couldn’t overturn the decision made that I should be in a WRAG.”

An Atos Healthcare spokeswoman said: “We were able to advise Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) that Mr Laver was not fit for work without the need for a face-to-face assessment. DWP makes all benefit decisions and has found that he should continue to receive sickness benefit.”

Regarding Mr Laver’s seizure at the Job Centre this week, ambulance service spokesman Gary Sanderson said: “We were called at 2.19pm and we conveyed a male to Watford General Hospital for further assessments.”

From the ‘Watford Observer’ 22nd August 2013:

Court claim after ‘fitness for work harassment’ during blood transfusion

A disabled woman who claims she lost the use of her last kidney because of harassment from her local jobcentre during an emergency blood transfusion is taking legal action against the Department for Work and Pensions

Lawyers for Annemarie Campbell will this week issue a claim for damages against DWP under the Equality Act, claiming discrimination, and possibly also harassment and a failure to make reasonable adjustments.

Campbell was receiving the blood transfusion in February when her jobcentre called her on her mobile phone to ask when she would be well enough to attend a back-to-work interview.

She had told the jobcentre in central London only the previous day that she would be in hospital for an emergency transfusion, and that she was seriously ill and awaiting a second kidney transplant.

But she says the jobcentre still hounded her while she lay hooked up to life-saving medical equipment in an emergency renal ward of Hammersmith Hospital.

A member of the jobcentre’s staff phoned her and asked when she could attend her work-focussed interview. When Campbell told her she was in the middle of a blood transfusion, the adviser asked her if she could fetch her consultant.

Campbell said: “When I was getting the blood transfusion it was trying to prolong my kidney and make me live a bit longer.

“I was on the phone being upset all the time, constantly trying to explain myself. They were pushing me to go back to work, constantly phoning me and writing to me.”

Five days after the transfusion, she told her consultant that she was going back to work, as a result of the DWP harassment.

But he told her she could not possibly consider working because her life was “on a knife edge”, and he wrote to the jobcentre to explain the seriousness of her medical condition.

She has now lost the use of her last working kidney, which she received in a transplant in 1995, and is convinced that the stress of the jobcentre harassment speeded up that process.

Campbell said: “In the end, because of the harassment and the stress they put me under, I lost my kidney. I was harassed and harassed and harassed and now they have broken me.”

She had been forced to reapply for employment and support allowance (ESA) last autumn after her health deteriorated.

Atos Healthcare – the company that assesses “fitness for work” – told her she would not need a face-to-face assessment and would be placed straight into the support group, for those who do not need to take steps to return to work.

But DWP’s own decision-makers placed her instead in the work-related activity group (WRAG), which meant she would need to attend work-focused interviews, even though she made it clear that she had a job to go back to – she does legal agency work – when she was well enough.

Campbell is currently receiving dialysis for 12 hours a week and is back in the support group, but is now facing yet another reassessment of her fitness for work in September.


by John Pring on the Disability News Service, 26th July 2013

Read the rest of this article here:

How can disabled people appeal if not told the assessment result?

2 years ago I was placed in the (disability benefit) Work Related Activity Group without a medical so have to attend job centre every 6 months, my advisor is great and has stated that she is not qualified to over rule my psychiatrist, psychologist or GP so basically we chat for 10-15mins thats it. In late April/early may this year I got the dreaded med form to fill in waited till last minute took all info I could get from what is posted on FB and sent it in, I have been waiting in torture since. This week I had my meetin with my job centre advisor and she asked if I had been for a medical , I said no but told her about the form, she then told me i had been placed in the wrag group again for 2 years, I stated it was bad that they had not let me know as my health had suffered as a result of the worry, she the told me 98% of people who attend there do not hear personally. I think this should be posted as a lot of people may want to appeal to be put in the support group. I myself am to afraid to do this as i have heard you can lose all your benefit if you appeal, i live alone and pay bedroom tax and am in debt because of this already cut off my phone and eat less. but how can people appeal if not told result??

From the Facebook page The People Vs The Government, DWP and Atos, 26th July 2013

The whole process is crazy and unfair

 I am on Disabled Living Allowance  and ESA (incapacity benefit) as I have a rare neurological condition and depression and anxiety disorders. I had my ATOS assessment a few weeks ago and the man seemed very nice and told me I had nothing to worry about with my claim. I went away feeling positive however I had a letter last week saying that I have been put in the work related group despite taking all my hospital reports and statement from my GP saying I couldn’t work. I am going to appeal the decision I have a app with CAB on tues to ask them to help with the appeal. Unfortunately I have to go to the job centre on mon to see my ‘personal advisor’ to put my plan in place to get me into work even though im appealing. I think the whole process is crazy and unfair putting so much extra stress on the genuine people. sorry rant over lol.

from the facebook page     Disability & Benefits Support – Don’t Go Alone, 14th July 2013

Bedridden with seizures but told to attend work related interviews.

For those really ill on work related activity esa group
My severely ill housebound partner has been placed in the work related activity group i am going to appeal…has anyone else really disabled been put in this group? Are they understanding? I cannot get him to stupid interviews..he is bedbound- housebound with 24-7 uncontrolled severe seizures most of the time my sweetheart doesnt even know his own name…after a seizure he goes into postical state..doubly incontinent and will attack people…he hasnt left the house in years….he no longer sees a neurologist as nothing worked and he was unsuitable for brain surgery….he was put into this group without atos medical….can they do phone interviews etc?…im worried stupid i have severe progressive ms and vertually paralysed now from waist down so i cant get him there unless my children push us five miles in our bed!!!! Im so pissed off with dwp this is peoples lives….does anyone have positive stories of work related or are in the same sutuation…..we are also on contribution and income related esa…till nov as taken them five months to sort it so that makes a year…what will happen then?…we have no savings or money and partner not worked since 2004….phoned esa they were rude and unhelpful…sorry for long message just had enough x

From the facebook page ‘Atos Miracles’

The ESA ‘Revolving Door’ Process, and its Correlation with a Significant Increase in Deaths amongst the Disabled.

Politics and Insights


A Department for Work and Pensions Freedom Of Informationrequest (FOI) yielded a response showing that people having their claim for Employment Support Allowance (ESA) stopped, between October 2010 and November 2011, with a recorded date of death within six weeks of that claim ceasing, who were until recently claiming Incapacity Benefit (IB), totalled 310. Between January and November 2011, those having their ESA claim ended, with a recorded date of death within six weeks of that claim ending totalled 10,600. 

Bearing in mind that those who were successfully migrated to ESA from IB were assessed and deemed unfit for work, (under a different assessment process, originally) one would expect that the death rates would be similar to those who have only ever claimed ESA. This is very clearly not the case.

Furthermore, there are NO alarming increases in mortality rates amongst those who are still in receipt of Incapacity Benefit…

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