DWP launches SEVENTH review of benefit errors in a year. But were they REALLY mistakes?

Sarah Newton: The Conservative minister for disabled people once said there was no “hostile environment” for benefit claimants. The seven reviews of wrong decisions carried out by the DWP within the last 12 months suggest otherwise.

As I write this, I, Daniel Blake is on the TV – its television premiere. The scene involves the title character’s work capability assessment (he’s claiming Employment Support Allowance), with a “healthcare professional” who does her level best to avoid discussing the heart attack that put him in front of her, and also to avoid explaining how she is qualified to handle his case.

The implication is clear: The assessor isn’t qualified to deal with him and doesn’t want to talk about his genuine health problem because she wants to deny him any benefits.

Aaaaand sure enough, he’s just been found fit for work. Falsely, of course.

I mention this because the Department for Work and Pensions has been forced to launch a seventh expensive review of its own records to find details of disabled people unfairly deprived of benefits.

This particular review isn’t about people being denied benefits because of wrong assessment decisions – it’s actually more appropriate to the situation faced by single mother Katie (Hayley Squires), who is denied a chance to sign on because she arrives late at the Job Centre.

Disability News Service explains: “The latest review is necessary because of an upper tribunal ruling in the case of a claimant moving from disability living allowance (DLA) to personal independence payment (PIP) who had his DLA stopped because he had failed to attend an Atos face-to-face assessment.

“The upper tribunal found that the claimant, OM – who had long-standing psychosis, and became agitated and aggressive around people he did not know – had “good reason” for not attending the PIP assessment that the government contractor Atos had told his wife he would have to attend in one of its London centres.

“The upper tribunal found that OM should have his DLA reinstated until a final decision was made on his PIP claim, while he should also receive backdated payments from the date DWP stopped his DLA.”

The new review means the DWP has to apply the same approach to other cases in which DLA claimants had their benefits stopped because assessors said they did not have “good reason” for failing to attend or take part in interviews or to provide necessary information or evidence for their PIP claim, but were later found to have had a “good reason” after all, by the DWP or a tribunal.

Of course, the operative question here is, why were all these people denied benefits, based on a false premise?

And, if no fewer than six other reviews have taken place to find other people who have been wronged by the DWP, I have to ask: Were these really mistakes? Or were they deliberate policy decisions designed to harm the people DWP is meant to be helping?

I think anyone who’s seen the film will know the answer to both those questions.

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12 thoughts on “DWP launches SEVENTH review of benefit errors in a year. But were they REALLY mistakes?

    1. Denise Merükdoff Harrisön

      Because of my debliting illness l couldn’t see the flim, so glad l finely managed to see it on the tv, tory Britain were the vauable are murderd by starvtion or stressed to death.

  1. Michael McNulty

    I’ve been saying for years those who work for the DWP shouldn’t go to work in shirts and ties like ordinary people. They’re mercenaries, they should be wearing combat jackets and berets.

  2. Pat Sheehan

    They are ALL deliberate ‘government’ policy decisions effectively designed to harm and seriously intimidate the very same people that our ‘government’ and their ‘agents’ the DWP is contracted to help. Furthermore they all get paid handsomely to do this notwithstanding ‘austerity’, with additional sweetening bonuses to encourage any wimpy, wavering staff to be as vindictive and obstructive as possible.
    Either that or the whole crowd, the ‘government’ and their DWP agents are all a complete bunch of demented thickos, totally unqualified and undeserving of the seriously demanding positions they get very well paid to occupy and ought to be turfed out immediately. In a ‘democracy’ of course they would be!
    I’ve not seen ‘I, Daniel Blake’: I don’t feel I need to: my own personal experience was quite enough to shake and shape my beliefs! If anyone has any doubts at all I recommend trying the ‘personal experience’ but I wouldn’t wish it on you!

  3. joanna

    I looked up comments about it and get this, IDS. The Liar reckons he is a Trained HGV driver and that his instructor kept hitting him around the head and calling IDS a D**khead!!!

  4. Julia

    Having supported my sister through 5 horrendous years following her transition to ESA in 2011, I actually cannot bring myself to watch ‘Daniel Blake’.

    She was in receipt of IB for physical problems but by the end of the 5 years she was clearly suffering from mental health issues and sadly and ironically was even less fit for work! Luckily, I had experience in benefits advice otherwise I just cannot imagine how she would have survived.

    The whole story could be published as a short novel (or more appropriately a horror story) but suffice it to say, like many others she had to appeal to the highest tier where she had to appear in a court of law before a judge as if she was a criminal. One could not have devised a more cruel and kafkaesque system that disabled people in the UK (what a misnomer that is!) have to navigate.

    The nightmare started again when she moved to another part of the country and she was told she had to be ‘re assessed’. However, she remarried and luckily her partner can now support her until she reaches 67 – yes she has been deprived of her state pension too! How many more simply give up claiming help that should rightfully be theirs?

    Didn’t Thatcher and Tory friends in the media (aided and abetted by Blair) and now consolidated by the utterly appalling May government, do a wonderful job of persuading large tracts of the population that ‘there is no such thing as society’ and ‘divide and rule’ has been similarly successful.

    I am sorry this has turned into a bit of a rant! But thank you Mike for your sterling efforts in providing an antidote to all the Labour Party and Corbyn bashing in the media – including shamefully The Guardian which, as a Mancunian I was always very proud of, but which has now sunk nearly as low as the other tabloids.

  5. Dan

    I reckon the only time the DWP makes a mistake is when it pays someone their benefit in full, on time and without hassle…

  6. Marie Brattley

    l watched this it fetched me to tears how the system is worked no wonder people are killing them selfes people and children on the streets food banks as a country our Politicians should hang there head in shame l am glad lm the age l am and l wont be around to see whats coming in the near future people who dont believe this dont live in the real world our Country as gone to rack and ruin no great Britian anymore.

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