DWP routinely harasses claimants. Isn’t it time we demanded change from this culture of abuse?

Stuart Chester and his mother Debbie McKenzie, with one of the DWP’s forms [Image: The National].

I could write a story every day about DWP harassment of individual claimants, and still leave thousands of people unrepresented.

It is only a week since I wrote about the way the DWP hassled 18-year-old David Brown into suicide by threatening to take away his Jobseekers’ Allowance.

The DWP said it would examine the circumstances that led to the young man’s death, implying that they were extraordinary – but today I am reporting similar behaviour against a young man in Scotland – who, fortunately, has his mother to look after his interests:

A severely disabled young man who is unable to talk, read or write and needs round-the-clock care has been targeted yet again by the Department of Work and Pensions because of Tory government changes to disability benefits.

Last year The National revealed how Stuart Chester, who has Down’s syndrome, epilepsy and autism and is unable to feed or wash himself, was sent a 20-page work capability assessment form to fill in to assess his fitness for work and whether he deserves his Disability Living Allowance (DLA) and Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) benefits.

His mother Debbie McKenzie, 51, said receiving the form had caused her “undue stress” and after filling in the form last August she was told he would have DLA for life because his condition was never going to change.

Now the DWP has dropped another bombshell and sent Stuart a 42-page form to fill in to prove he is severely disabled and entitled to the the new PIP (Personal Independence Payment) that is replacing the DLA.

(Source: Hounded by the DWP: Mother yet again forced to prove her son is severely disabled (From The National))

To the best of my knowledge, Down’s Syndrom, epilepsy and autism are congenital conditions, that is, they are integral parts of Stuart Chester – as opposed to being diseases or conditions that may come and go.

So, what did the DWP think could possibly have changed about them in the last year?

Not only that, but after mother Debbie McKenzie filled out the new form – with all the further stress it entailed – included contact details of Stuart’s social workers and doctors and made it clear that the DWP could use all the details on the previous form… she received notice that it wasn’t the DWP’s job to gather evidence from medical professionals.

Why request those people’s details on the form, then?

The comment from a DWP spokesperson contradicted much of the behaviour we have seen in this story. “It’s really important that we get all the information to ensure people get the right support,” we are told.

Why give claimants this idiotic runaround, then?

“There is support available for claimants who need help filling out the form” – but this is never volunteered; people have to demand it, and this is hard to do when you don’t know it exists.

Furthermore, all the guidance from people who genuinely want to help claimants says the last thing anyone should do is seek help from the DWP in filling out one of its forms. This is a sure route to rejection of a claim.

We are left with Ms McKenzie’s comment: “Maybe the DWP are hoping it is so difficult for people to fill in the forms they just won’t bother.”

That is the conclusion many of us formed, several years ago. It is bizarre that the message still has not filtered through to the general public.

But the main issue is that this is another case of DWP harassment against a claimant, completely separate from the David Brown case and many miles away.

It proves that the harassment of claimants is systemic; it is DWP policy, and the intention is to do harm.

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7 thoughts on “DWP routinely harasses claimants. Isn’t it time we demanded change from this culture of abuse?

  1. Dez

    The reason the general public are unaware of this moranic situation is that until the public are personally touched by family circumstances that drag them into this farcical timewasting system they will never understand what the hell is going on. Nothing, barring a miracle, is going to change in Stuarts conditions or situation from when he first presented and therefore he should have been a straight auto swap into the latest system without any of this stressful nonsense. I believe you are correct there is a backbone of despair introduced deliberately in producing these countless forms which I am sure will bring less resourceful folk down to either giving up the form or taking worse drastic measures. I recall having to fill an equally daunting long winded form for my mother, my first intro into cr*p for cr*p’s sake, many many years ago and it seems it has not got any better. However I was offered assistance from a local government official in the form’s completion. The person was a real good guy diamond in ensuring every question was answered “correctly” as opposed to normal response.. It was explained exactly what actually lay behind the question and potential consequences of not fully completing the response correctly. I also agree that co-form completion will not be done with integrity…those days are gone. This integity will never happen with bonus-driven contractors and SS staff currently employed with only one mission – to reduce the costs of the poor, vulnerable and disabled. Shame on the Cons and their SS troops they never learn….only get worse and worse.

  2. Barry Davies

    Down’s and autism are certainly unlikely to improve at any point during the persons life, but Epiliepsy can alter considerably in its effects throughout someones life, not that I am in any way supporting the bonus’ for sanctions culture of the DWP or harassment on people with long term conditions that clearly will never improve.

  3. Jane Owens

    Harassment is when someone behaves in a way which makes you feel distressed, humiliated or threatened. Harassment is both a criminal offence and a civil action under the Protection from Harassment Act 1997. Shame that sufficient benefit claimants on the receiving end of harassment from the DWP, could not band together and bring a civil action against them. No doubt it would prove a costly business, nevertheless, a nice thought.

  4. Jeffrey Davies

    hmmm There is support available for claimants who need help filling out the form” – but this is never volunteered; people have to demand it, and this is hard to do when you don’t know it exists. yes but using this route how many pass and how many fail hmm yet the same old same old will the dwp preach its in the claimants interests and they always try to help yet we know its like knocking your head against a brick wall with anything to do with the dwp asking them to go back to were evryones not afraid to talk or recieve brown one from them will have to wait untill the tories are out of office jeff3

  5. JohnDee

    No wonder the DWP staff have the highest incidence of absenteeism due to mental health issues after they realise that they are expected to torture obviously disabled innocents in the implementation of a cruel government policy.

    1. Dez

      Made worse by their same bosses, this Government, having totally ignored Mental Health services, facilities and staff sooo unfortunately they will not get any help. Maybe a bit of poetic justice having a taste of your own medicine.

  6. mrmarcpc

    The public don’t speak out about it because they aren’t told about what is really going on, plus some of the public couldn’t care less and support the tories policies, fellow fascists lovers and the public who think like that are just as guilty as the tories!

Comments are closed.