Cruel government tests that literally leave people dying for help

Terminally ill people are being refused the financial help they so desperately need

For 31 years, Fred Williamson worked as an NHS paramedic. Now, at 62, he has terminal leukemia and needs help himself. But the benefits assessor who saw him scored him zero points – so he is not eligible for the Government ’s flagship Personal Independence Payment.

“I’ve worked hard all my life but I’m having to fight for help when I need it,” he says. “I know I’m going to die, I’m OK with that, but I don’t think I should be treated like this.”

Peter Grice, 58, a former lorry driver living in the same area of Staffordshire, who has prostate cancer was also turned down after being assessed. He had to fight through a tribunal for help. He is now facing a second tribunal after a repeat assessment.

Meanwhile, Diane Siegertsz, 57, from Stoke, who has twice had mouth cancer, was also knocked back for PIP despite the fact she has  severe difficulties communicating and swallowing, and weighs just six stone.

Seriously ill patients like these are the very people Damian Green , newly appointed to the role of Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, says he wants to help. His first welcome move as DWP boss has been to end the retesting of people with “severe” conditions for Employment Support Allowance, saying he wants to “sweep away any unnecessary stress and bureaucracy”.

But his reforms will do nothing to help any of these three cancer patients. Fred, Peter and Diane all get ESA but they have struggled to get PIP – a critical additional benefit. Without PIP, they don’t just lose financial support, their families also lose Carers’ Allowance, a ­disabled badge, power wheelchairs and motability, the scheme that helps them buy specialised cars. The result is that hundreds of vehicles are being taken from disabled people every week.

Charity Macmillan has previously criticised severe delays in PIP reaching cancer patients.

Benefit advisers in Stoke are now questioning the quality of ­Capita’s assessments as well as DWP decision making over cancer patients.

“We are seeing people with stage four lung cancer being awarded zero points,” says Duncan Walker, a Unite community adviser based in Stoke. They need eight to qualify for help and 12 to get enhanced help. These people are critically ill and some won’t live long enough to fight through the tribunal system”

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‘Go back to work’, DWP tells man who suffered four heart attacks

A TENANTS’ champion who has been told he must go back to work despite having four heart attacks says he has been left “financially destitute” and shivering cold with only a duvet to keep him warm.

The 61-year-old man – a longstanding District Management Committee activist who did not want to be named – has been fighting for his Employment Support Assessment (ESA) benefits to be reinstated after they were removed following a “work capability assessment” on September 9.

The man has been diagnosed with pancreatitis, heart disease and suffers from “anxiety and stress”, according to his appeal letter, which adds that his condition has “deteriorated considerably” since the test.

“I am financially destitute after this decision was made,” the man said in his letter, seen by the New Journal. “I am unable to heat my home and pay for my heating costs, and because of this my health has been affected. I have received no social security benefit since the decision was made and I am living in a home where my only form of warmth is a duvet cover.”

On Tuesday, the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) dismissed his appeal saying they did not have to take this into consideration and are satisfied that his condition is not “uncontrollable or life-threatening”.

The Camden tenant has for several years received £315 a fortnight of ESA – benefits for people who are too ill or disabled to work – but it was immediately halted after his assessment.

The assessments used to be carried out by Atos, but the company and the government has cut ties and they are now run by an American company called Maximus.

The man said: “From when you sit down everyone there is being assessed. They had written down how long I was sitting down in the waiting room – it was 33 and a half minutes. They had written down whether I had signed my name and whether it was legible. I was treated like a second-class citizen.”

He has spent time being fed through a tube in hospital this year for his pancreatitis but has been told to fill out 50-page forms to retain his benefits.

Dorian Courtesi, spokesman of the Camden Assembly of Tenants, which has been supporting the man, said: “Apparently the tenant is fit to work even though they have had four heart attacks this year, two operations due to bowel cancer, suffers from diabetes, is diagnosed with heart disease and has fluid on his lungs due to their heart condition.” He added: “Iain Duncan Smith says he wants to put job advisers at the entrances of food banks. Why not just go one step further and place a funeral adviser on the doorstep instead? This government’s disregard of the disabled and sick is truly criminal.”

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Macmillan calls on Govt to pull planned benefit cut for people with cancer too ill to return to work

One of Britain’s biggest charities is calling on the Government to ditch its proposed £30-a-week cut in benefit for people with cancer who are too ill to return to work, saying it risks “pushing the most vulnerable over the edge”.

Macmillan Cancer Support, which provides financial support as well as specialist health care and information to patients, says the planned reduction through the Conservatives’ Welfare Reform and Work Bill could leave many without a financial lifeline.

In a letter to the Herts and Essex Observer, the charity’s senior development manager for the East of England, Rukshana Kapasi, said that Macmillan was highlighting the extra financial burden many people with cancer face as a result of treatment costs and/or a loss of income.

Last year, more than 1,250 people with cancer in Herts and Essex depended on a Macmillan grant to help them with treatment costs, receiving around £380,000 for vital essentials such as heating bills, clothing, bedding and transport to and from hospital.

Nationally, more people with cancer than ever before – over 85,000 – depended on the charity to understand and access the Government benefits and tax credits system, including getting help to fill in complex and time-consuming forms, as well as representation at tribunals by its local benefits advice services.

Ms Kapasi said: “The growing number of people with cancer turning to us with money worries is a stark reminder of the financial impact of a cancer diagnosis, when, on average, income halves and outgoings rocket.

Rad more here:

Man With Cancer Told To Give Up Treatment and Join Work Programme To Keep Benefits

A Scunthorpe man has received a 40% cut in benefits after he was diagnosed with cancer, leaving him in serious financial distress during his battle with a disease that killed his father and brother.  To add insult the injury, the DWP told him that he could return to his previous level of benefits, provided he gave up treatment and complied with the Jobseeker’s programme.

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Welfare cuts: Cancer patients face losing up to £120 a month in Government support, warns charity

Macmillan’s concerns come as George Osborne tells MPs that he is ‘comfortable’ with controversial tax credit cuts

Thousands of cancer patients could lose support payments used to pay for daily living costs like heating, transport and special dietary needs because of the Government’s welfare cuts, the country’s leading cancer charity has warned.

Macmillan said the reforms, which would see some cancer patients who are too ill to work losing up to £120 a month in Government support, could push vulnerable people “over the edge financially”.

Currently, sick and disabled people too unwell to work and eligible for Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) are assigned to one of two groups – the support group, for people with problems so severe they have no prospect of working, or the work-related activity group (WRAG), who have to attend interviews with employment advisors.

Under the Government’s Welfare Reform and Work Bill, WRAG payments, which are designed to enable people who are unwell to pay for extra costs associated with their health condition, will be cut from £102 to £73 a week.

For cancer patients, the money often goes on heating bills, because cancer increases vulnerability to cold; new clothing, often required because of weight loss or to cover swellings or colostomy bags; and extra nutritional food to ensure a healthy recovery.

The Government must reconsider these plans or risk pushing the most vulnerable over the edge financially

Lynda Thomas, chief executive of Macmillan

As of February this year, around 3,300 cancer patients were in the WRAG group. Although the changes, due to come into effect in 2017, will only affect new claimants, Macmillan has warned this could quickly lead to thousands of cancer patients missing out.

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PIP man cannot reach hospital for cancer x-rays after loss of Motability car

A disabled man who lost a leg to bone cancer says he has been left unable to travel to hospital for vital x-rays, after crucial evidence was ignored by an assessor testing his eligibility for the new disability benefit.

Tom Carter (pictured) was awarded the enhanced mobility rate of personal independence payment (PIP) last year after an above-knee amputation.

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Fit for work?

Chris Smith lay in a hospital bed, dying of cancer.

He should have been helped by the system, the welfare state which was established to help people like Chris. Instead, the bombarded him with texts telling him he had to apply for jobs, and letters urging him to come to ‘job workshops.’

It’s hard to know exactly where to start with the tragic story of Chris Smith, a plumber from Leicester who died last month. You could begin with the disease which claimed his life. Chris had cancer; lung cancer, skin cancer and a cancer that spread to his spine. He was diagnosed in April. Although Chris refused to believe it, he was dying.

As he was dying, Chris, 59, and his partner, Maggie, were embroiled in an unnecessary row with the Work and Pensions department.

Chris, a qualified plumber, had been ill. A poorly knee had kept him off work and then he began to feel sick. He was called in for health tests. Government assessors told him he wasn’t ill enough. They deemed him fit for work. His benefits were stopped. Chris didn’t think it was right, but he didn’t complain, either. He started to look for work.

Chris didn’t know it, but he already had cancer. He was diagnosed with terminal lung cancer a few weeks later. And, by rights, this is where the story should end. A man with terminal lung cancer should not be ordered to find work. He shouldn’t have his benefits stopped. This is what the Welfare State was created for, the safety net which cares for the sick and the poorly.

Chris Smith slipped through this safety net.

His partner, Maggie Black, told the job centre about Chris’s cancer. They nodded and made all the right noises. They agreed Chris was not fit for work. But nothing changed. His benefits were not reinstated.

And then came the texts. One a week usually, sometimes more, imploring Chris to get on his bike to find work, to apply for this plumbing job or that one. Chris, meanwhile, was in hospital, having chemotherapy, whiling away his days vomiting as the cancer ate away at him, from his lungs to his skin and into his spine.

And then, after the texts, there was the letter. The letter from the job centre informing Chris he needed to report to the benefits office for a special meeting to step up his efforts to find work.

The letter arrived the day after Chris died. It was opened by his grieving partner.

“I stood by the front door and read it and had to reread it, again and again,” says Maggie. “I couldn’t believe it. How could they be so insensitive? How could they get something like this so wrong?”

No-one from the job centre, no-one from the Department of Work and Pensions, apologised. Instead, they carried on texting Chris job vacancies.

Another letter, inviting him to apply for more jobs, landed on their doormat this week, along with letters from the council informing Maggie her housing benefits had been stopped. “This is what happens,” she said. “One thing goes wrong and it’s like a domino effect – everything else tumbles, too.”

Falklands veteran dying of cancer told: You have to work again

FORMER commando Gordon Lang has been told he should get back to work – despite having terminal cancer.

Amputee Gordon, 62, was already in dispute with the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) after they forced the Falklands and Northern Ireland veteran to sign on to Jobseeker’s Allowance.

But the ex-marine was left feeling ‘betrayed’ after saying he told a government work programme about his cancer diagnosis, only to receive a response saying: ‘When you feel fit and ready for work we look forward to working with you to find a suitable job.’

 Mr Lang, of Chilworth Grove, Gosport, was then told he will remain on a work programme – despite being about to undergo lung cancer treatment that may only add three months to his life.

Mr Lang, who has not been told how long he has to live, said: ‘I feel not only betrayed but criminalised for being ill. I’ve been at work since I was 10 years old – that’s 50 years in the work place. If I hadn’t lost my leg I’d still be at work now.”

Read the rest of this story here:

DWP blames cancer patient for her illness

Pride's Purge

(not satire – it’s the UK today!)

This letter from the Department for Work and Pensions was posted by Chris Nelson on Facebook (click to enlarge):

ewing's sarcoma

According to this letter, the DWP is clearly placing the ‘blame’ for having cancer on the patient herself.

Has the demonisation of welfare claimants in the UK got to the point where we’re blaming cancer patients for their own illnesses now?


Related articles by Tom Pride:

Mother’s plea for son who lost benefits after missing signing on because of cancer operationp

The government has finally done something so outrageous even I can’t be bothered to satirise it

Throat cancer victim – “this is not the England they fought and died for!”

Let’s be clear – Tory and Lib Dem MPs have decided terminally ill patients should work or starve

Don’t turn your back. Because you’re going to be disabled too one day.

ATOS assessor found blind woman fit…

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