Blind from birth, epileptic and unable to leave home alone – but Government says she’s fit to work

Hazel Macrae has been told by the Department of Work and Pensions that she must go back to work despite being blind from birth

Blind since birth and stricken by a string of disabilities but told she is fit to work – this is the reality of Government benefit cuts.

Hazel Macrae, who also suffers from epilepsy, Type 2 Diabetes and osteoarthritis, was claiming Employment Support Allowance (ESA) and was told she’d have to undertake a back to work assessment.

The 62-year-old filled in a questionnaire explaining she’s unable to leave her home without the help of her partner or son because she is afraid of falling, can’t use a pen or pencil, telephone, and would be unable to “move safely” in a workplace.

She was also required to meet with a health professional in Gosforth to undergo a face-to-face assessment where she was asked a series of questions about her daily activities.

Echoing the award-winning Ken Loach film I, Daniel Blake – which was shot in Newcastle – Miss Macrae has been told she has “limited capability for work” and her ESA has been moved from the Support Group to Work Related Activity Group, and reduced by £15 per fortnight.

Miss Macrae, who has artificial eyes, will now have to regularly meet with a work coach to discuss how she can get back into work.

read more here: http://www.chroniclelive.co.uk/news/north-east-news/blind-birth-epileptic-unable-leave-13737805

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Video: Learning and literacy difficulties and need to drop a sick note to the jobcentre? Too bad. You’re banned. Get out

from Kate Belgrave’s blog:

Here’s one you should see: a recent* video which shows a woman with learning and literacy difficulties being told to Get Out of Kilburn jobcentre – even though she needed to drop off an all-important sick note at the jobcentre.

I post this to show you how unpleasant things can be at these places for long-term unemployed people who have support needs. People in these situations really are at the bottom of the pile. They have no power and absolutely no means of challenging the DWP.

I hate that.

The woman, Linda (name changed. I’ve written about her many times) is in her 50s. The day I took the video, Linda, as I say, needed the jobcentre to accept a sick note she had from her doctor. She risked sanctions if the jobcentre did not accept the note.

Nonetheless, the jobcentre adviser we saw refused to take the sick note.

Read more, and see the video here: http://www.katebelgrave.com/2017/10/video-learning-and-literacy-difficulties-and-need-to-drop-a-sick-note-to-the-jobcentre-too-bad-youre-banned-get-out/

Seriously ill woman lives by candlelight with no power or heating after her benefits were axed

“The worst thing is the constant cold”

A severely ill woman has lived alone by candle light for a year without electricity or gas after her benefits were axed.

Donna Cross is a tragic example of how vulnerable people are slipping through the cracks of society

The 56-year-old lives out of a crumbling living room in Walton with only a stained sofa and duvet to keep her warm.  According to Ms Cross: “The worst thing is the constant cold.”

This only worsens her deteriorating health: she has anaemia, type two diabetes and a chest infection that often causes her skin to bleed.

Ms Cross, had her Employment and Support Allowance cut last year and can no longer afford electricity, gas or heating. When she does have food she has to go to a friend’s house to heat it up.

Ms Cross, from Liverpool, lives out of a derelict and damp room where both the flooring and wallpaper is peeling off. She said: “It’s getting to winter. There are times when I’ve wanted to go up to the candle for heat. Even under the quilt I can still feel the cold. When the electricity goes off, I’m in total darkness. I can’t even read a book. It’s too cold to even get out under the duvet and get a biscuit. Normal houses are warmer than this, aren’t they?”

Ms Cross has been receiving benefits since she left school. But they were cut last year after she failed to turn up to a medical assessment because she had to go a doctor’s appointment.

She said: “I used to get Jobseekers Allowance even though I’ve told them I’m not well enough to work. “If I’m too ill to work, how can I look for a job? And how can I look for a job if I can’t use a computer? When they stopped the benefits last year, that’s when I felt I was in a situation where I didn’t know if I was going to cope.”

Without hot water, Ms Cross has been unable to wash for months and only has one soiled pair of clothes. She said: “When there’s no hot water I can’t even wash my clothes because I can’t boil a kettle.”

Although she has an electric heater, she rarely has the electricity to power it. And Ms Cross often has to brave the freezing cold on an empty stomach.

read more here: http://www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/news/liverpool-news/seriously-ill-woman-lives-candlelight-13730000#

Universal credit and tax credit debt collection… wtf is going on here. My god

From Kate belgrave’s blog.

Let’s finish the week as we started it – ie trying to make sense of the Universal Credit “system”:

I just finished speaking to the young Universal Credit claimant I wrote about earlier in the week. Readers of this site will be familiar with this woman’s story. This woman must carry out her Universal Credit compliance activities through Croydon jobcentre even though she lives in Colchester. She’s also been having £100+ deducted from her Universal Credit payments each month to repay a Universal Credit advance payment – the advance payments that David Gauke assures us will help people avoid (don’t laugh) the debts caused by delays in Universal Credit payments.

Now, the DWP has landed another debt on this young woman. This is a tax credit debt that she is sure she does not owe. The DWP has suddenly (this week) started deducting £25 a month from this woman’s Universal Credit payments. That’s another £25 gone each month from this woman’s money. She didn’t expect this deduction (at all) and she hasn’t budgeted for it. You see what I mean when I say that the state keeps broadsiding people with debts they can’t pay.

read her story here: http://www.katebelgrave.com/2017/10/universal-credit-and-tax-credit-debt-collection-wtf-is-going-on-here-my-god/

 

Former DWP ministers could face police investigation over fit-to-work tests

A complaint was made against Iain Duncan Smith and Chris Grayling

Police in Scotland are assessing whether to launch a criminal investigation into two former DWP ministers’ handling of so-called disability fit-to-work tests.

Disabled activist John McArdle of the Black Triangle campaign lodged a complaint with police in March against Iain Duncan Smith and Chris Grayling, according to the Disability News Service news agency.

He told police in Edinburgh that the two ministers had ignored a coronor’s concerns about the safety of the tests, which are used to judge whether a disabled person receives benefits.

He also produced evidence of suicides he said were related to fitness-to-work tests.

Mr McArdle says the ministers may be guilty of “willful neglect of duty by a public official”, which is a criminal offence.

According to the Crown Prosecution Service, willful neglect “can be the result of a positive act or a failure to act”.

“There must also be an element of knowledge or at least recklessness about the way in which the duty is carried out or neglected,” the CPS explains.

“The test is a subjective one and the public officer must be aware that his/her behaviour is capable of being misconduct.”

Revealed: universal credit sends rent arrears soaring

Housing chiefs’ warning on effect of flagship Tory welfare reform

Ministers are coming under intense pressure to put the brakes on the government’s flagship welfare reform programme, following damning new evidence that it is leaving thousands of low-paid workers unable to pay their rent and at risk of homelessness.

The Observer can reveal a catalogue of concerns from landlords, councils and charities about universal credit, which have been handed to a parliamentary inquiry investigating the programme.

With the accelerated roll-out of the new system just weeks away, some warn that rent arrears among tenants receiving universal credit are running at three, four or even five times the level of those on the old system. Three councils whose tenants have already been moved on to universal credit said they had built up about £8m in rent arrears. Croydon, Hounslow and Southwark said that more than 2,500 tenants claiming it were now at risk of eviction.

Some food banks reported that marriages had broken down as a result of the extra pressures of waiting for payments, while some landlords are now choosing not to accept tenants on universal credit.

Figures obtained by the Observer under the Freedom of Information Act also show that half of all council tenants across 105 local authorities who receive the housing element of universal credit – which replaces housing benefit – are at least a month behind on their rent, with 30% two months behind.

By contrast, less than 10% of council tenants on housing benefit are a month behind on their rent, with under 5% running more than two months behind.

read more here: https://www.theguardian.com/society/2017/sep/16/universal-credit-rent-arrears-soar?

Welfare reform ‘will see £50 a week more cuts to 900,000 disabled people

About 900,000 disabled people will see their weekly incomes fall by at least £50 a week by 2020, because of the continuing impact of the government’s welfare reforms, according to new research.

The research by the consultancy Policy in Practice found that, of 7.2 million working-age, low-income households, more than two-fifths of those containing a working-age disabled person would lose at least £50 a week, compared with November 2016.

read more here: https://www.disabilitynewsservice.com/welfare-reform-will-see-50-a-week-more-cuts-to-900000-disabled-people/