‘Devastating’, ‘unethical’, ‘cruel’… disabled people react to green paper

Disabled people and other campaigners have reacted with shock, anger and concern to government proposals to consider forcing all sick and disabled people on out-of-work disability benefits to take part in “mandatory” activity.

Disability News Service (DNS) revealed last week that the new work, health and disability green paper suggests that all claimants of employment and support allowance (ESA) with the highest support needs could be told to stay in regular touch with their local jobcentre, or risk having their benefits sanctioned.

The green paper, Improving Lives, says ministers “could consider implementing a ‘keep-in-touch’ discussion with work coaches” for all people in the ESA support group, which “could provide an opportunity for work coaches to offer appropriate support tailored to the individual’s current circumstances” and “could be explored as a voluntary or mandatory requirement”.

Paragraph 114 of the green paper goes on to say that such contact could use “digital and telephone channels in addition to face-to-face contact, depending on which was more appropriate for the individual and their circumstances”.

Penny Mordaunt, minister for disabled people, appeared to confirm the proposal in the Commons this week, after she was asked about the future provision of employment advice for people in the support group.

She told MPs the government was “consulting to establish if a ‘keep in touch’ discussion would be of benefit for this group, and if so, how and by whom should it be delivered, to ensure it meets the needs of individuals in this group”.

Many disabled people reacted with horror to the story on the DNS website.

Guy Stewart said: “Sanctions! Making us believe that our inability to gain work is our fault, when it absolutely is not, is cruel, but neatly fits into a government that constantly initiates dogma driven policy, rather then evidence driven policy.”

“Sparkz_” said: “Will people have to phone from their hospital bed to keep in touch?”

In response to Sparkz_, Jeffrey Davies said: “Been there done that, Atos at its best, in the high [dependency] unit. Ouch.”

Rowan Farmer said: “I’m now wishing my life away, I’m 61 and thanks to the government I have another five years of stress and worry about assessments, appeals, benefits sanctions, poverty and homelessness, so much so that I’m actually looking forward to reaching 66 just to get rid of the added stress on top of several chronic, deteriorating and very painful illnesses!”

Brian Mcardle added: “Now you know why [Theresa] May wants rid of the Human Rights Act.”

read more here: http://www.disabledgo.com/blog/2016/11/devastating-unethical-cruel-disabled-people-react-to-green-paper/

Ministers set to force work-related activity on everyone in ESA support group

The Department for Work and Pensions is considering forcing all sick and disabled people on out-of-work disability benefits to take part in “mandatory” activity, its new green paper has revealed.

The suggestion of compulsory activity is revealed in a single line of the 92-page work, health and disability green paper, published this week.

Such a change would mean that all people on out-of-work disability benefits – even those who are terminally-ill or have the very highest support needs – would have to stay in regular touch with their local jobcentre or risk having their benefits sanctioned.

Read more here: http://www.disabilitynewsservice.com/ministers-set-to-force-work-related-activity-on-everyone-in-esa-support-group/

ESA figures show ‘very disturbing’ drop in number placed in support group

15th September 2016 John Pring http://www.disabilitynewsservice.com/


“Very disturbing” new government figures show a steep fall in the proportion of disabled people being found eligible for out-of-work disability benefits.

Disabled campaigners fear the figures show the government is cutting spending on disability benefits “below the radar”, after being forced to abandon its attempts to reduce expenditure on personal independence payment (PIP) in April.

The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) statistics, released this week, show the proportion of disabled people applying for employment and support allowance (ESA) who were placed in the support group – for those with the highest barriers to work – plunged by 42 per cent in just three months.

For assessments completed during November 2015, 57 per cent of claimants were placed in the support group; but by February 2016 that had dropped by 24 percentage points to just 33 per cent.

During the same period, the proportion of applicants found “fit for work” – and therefore ineligible for ESA – rose from 35 to 49 per cent, while those placed in the work-related activity group (WRAG) increased from 8 to 17 per cent.

Fresh cuts to disability benefits spending will see a loss of nearly £30 a week for new ESA claimants placed in the WRAG from April 2017.

read more here: http://blacktrianglecampaign.org/2016/09/15/esa-figures-show-very-disturbing-drop-in-number-placed-in-support-group/

‘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/

Lord Freud Confirms Getting ESA Support Group Has Been Made Harder For Women

Same Difference

With many thanks to Benefits And Work.

In a written parliamentary answer, Lord Freud has confirmed last week’s revelation by Benefits and Work that it has now been deliberately made harder for women claimants to qualify for the support group of employment and support allowance (ESA).

In our newsletter last month, we warned readers that:

“ . . . a new scoring system has been created to decide if claimants with mental health issues can get into the support group because of a risk of harm to themselves or someone else. The system has been deliberately designed to make it more difficult for women to qualify than men.

“For example, a man with a diagnosis of depression and a history of deliberate self-harm who is unemployed – generally the case for ESA claimants – will be eligible for the support group, according to the guidance.

“But a woman in…

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Govt Gives Maximus Green Light To Reduce Numbers In Support Group!

New Approach

Government responds to the 5th independent review of the Work Capability Assessment 

Disabled activist groups need to vigorously protest against these heartless work tests.  To date Government has shown no sign of taking any of their views seriously. One thing is for sure, no amount of window dressing will make it any better.

The government has published its response to the fifth review of the Work Capability Assessment.

It looks as though it’s there to give Maximus a green light to diminishing the large numbers of claimants currently placed in the Support Group of the DWP’s Employment & Support Allowance.

As of May 2014 DWP figures confirm there were 1,031,480 ESA claimants in the Support Group of which 480,930 were recorded as having a mental health problem.  Of the overall total 631,160 were migrated from older incapacity benefits of which 298,840 had a mental health problem.

The review response comes just after the DWP’s newly appointed…

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“A4e hassled my brother literally to his death”

Work Programme Provider A4E is harassing  people who have been signed off their services..

From the Facebook page ‘Atos Miracles’

“Asked on here before about this…son in support group but was on work programme. A4e keep ringing him to “see how he is”. I spoke to cab and they said he has no obligation to (participate in the ) work programme so i rang A4e to tell them that. She said they have a duty of care n i said well your letters and phone calls are stressing him so she agreed to check into it. Another letter has arrived and they want to phone him next week and it states he has to let them know if he cant be available. Harrasment? He is on the autistic spectrum and any stress affects him terribly.

*(comment)  I imagine they get paid every time they send a letter or make a phone call. If so we could be looking at outright organised fraud, in the same way they defrauded the government by claiming for tagging people who had long since been released from their tagging order. I wonder if anyone is investigating this?                                       
*(comment)    If these people could just read a pamphlet about the autistic spectrum they may be a little less clueless. They probably don’t ‘believe’ it exists. What a waste of time and money to the public purse and of course how upsetting for you both. Xx
*(comment)  I’m in the support group was in the Wrag group and I’ve started getting calls from the work program people too. I told the woman to leave me alone and if she carried on phoning me I’d report her for harassment and also told her I would speak to my mental health support worker about it. I blocked her number from calling also.
*(comment)   My son’s autistic, has to do free work placements in factories or they stop his money. He signs on weekly he gets dla but only a low rate is classed fit for work. They don’t seem to understand he has trouble communicating and understanding people
*(comment)   If anyone is distressing and alarming him, then call the police and start legal proceedings against A4e. They will soon stop. Also contact your local councillor and MP.
*(comment)  It’s harassment . If he’s in a support group they can’t do this. He will be heading straight for meltdown territory if they keep this up. Time to threaten with legal action under the DDA??
*(comment)  You look at your bank account to find there was no payment… You ring dwp to be told ‘we tried to contact you to ask you to attend x meeting, when you didn’t turn up your benefits were withdrawn.. You will have to start a new claim’
*(comment)   I still recieve letters from them even though I’ve been in the support group for over a year. Stressed me out as they kept threatening sanctions if i didnt go.Even though my Dad called them to explain & ask them to stop they wont.

*(comment) According to the dwp if you are in the support group A4E cant do anything. They told me to ignore their letters,which we have,& i still get my esa,& haven’t been sanctioned x
*(comment)   My friend had same problem with A4e, job centre told him he was under no obligation with them so he told them to stick it!! They hassle you because they get paid!!
*(comment) I was at A4E yesterday the bloke as good as told me they pester people like hell because they (A4E) don’t get paid otherwise
*(comment) A4e hassled my brother literally to his death


From the Facebook page ‘Atos Miracles, 13th March 2013

I’m at my wits end, feel like crying, I don’t know what to do.

I’ve not been posting up personal accounts recently, there’s so much documented news to cover.  And so many individual stories of hardship and penury being caused by the cumulative effects of Ian Duncan Smith’s welfare ‘reforms’ on the disabled and vulnerable. This short account from the facebook page ‘disability and benefits support, don’t go alone’ is just one of tens of thousands  of desperate cases.

“Am fuming!!! 9 MONTHS & still no reply from DWP regarding me asking for a reconsideration to be moved from WRAG to support group. I phoned them AGAIN today to be told there’s still no progress!!! I’m too scared to leave the house on my own as keep blacking out (last week an ambulance was called). My psychiatrist has put me on a 3rd antidepressant & my legs are getting worse & every 14 days I have to attend my 1:1 session else my ESA will be sanctioned. I have my next 1:1 on Monday morning & have to go alone as my daughter who normally is with me all the time has been forced to do work experience else they’ll sanction her JSA. I’m at my wits end, feel like crying, I don’t know what to do. This is making me even more depressed than I already am which in turn flares up my fibro!! So sorry for the long post”

Now finally I can concentrate on getting my health in order

I wont go into detail but suffice to say I recently had my 3rd atos assessment, after being failed on my first though a combination the assessor lying several times and contradicting herself no less then 4 times on 1 page I appealed, which after 11 months of waiting was granted in 3 minutes by the court. My second was with the same assessor and I barely passed as again she was woefully inaccurate. So around comes my third assessment, this was with a completely different assessor and low and behold I received a letter a few weeks later placing int o the support group, So now finally I can concentrate on getting my health in order.