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[Image: StrongerStabler on Twitter.]

Are you getting tired of hearing the Conservative government claiming the latest tragedy to befall sick or disabled people is the result of an administrative error?

If so, think of the reason: You’ve heard it too often.

Every time we hear of a new instance in which the Department for Work and Pensions victimises somebody in a position of extreme vulnerability – possibly to their death – the Tories say it was an error, often with a comment that measures are being put in place to ensure the same mistake can’t happen again.

Then we read another story in which it happens again.

Here‘s Patricia Nimmo, of Hull – a woman so crippled with the pain of severe arthritis and fibromyalgia that she struggle to walk, move her hands, or even talk.

The DWP has spent the last two years telling her she is not disabled enough to claim Personal Independence Payment (PIP) – or failing to get the amount of PIP correct. Notice that, in Ms Nimmo’s story, spokespeople couldn’t even be bothered to apologise.

The department didn’t apologise to Paige Garratt last year, either. She had Stage 4 cancer but apparently wasn’t sick enough to receive PIP either. That was many months ago, and we are told she made a full recovery, despite the DWP’s refusal to acknowledge the seriousness of her condition or pay her the benefit she was due.

Here‘s Pat Higgins, who has multiple sclerosis, osteoporosis, autism, obsessive-compulsive disorder, depression, anxiety and liver problems. Moving her onto PIP, the DWP decided she didn’t deserve half the money she had been receiving and took away her mobility car. The loss of her independence seriously harmed her mental health.

The DWP tried to claim that she could have kept her mobility car for three months and was entitled to a £2,000 payment – but she said she was never offered the cash as the DWP – the same DWP – had said she didn’t qualify for it.

Ms Higgins said the DWP had made her feel like “a scrounger and an outright liar despite having the documentation”. She also said, “If it isn’t affecting their life then they aren’t bothered.”

How about Malcolm Tower, who has lost his home because the DWP insist he owes £18,000 in overpaid benefits, despite the fact that he was cleared of the accusation in a court case? The DWP is still insisting he was overpaid, and claiming (unconvincingly) its debt management team is useful in supporting people having problems.

Check enough cases and you’ll see that the DWP is working to a plan. As Sue Jones describes it on her own site, this government department is subjecting innocent people to “strategically placed and thoroughly demoralising ordeals, which are being passed off as arising because of bad administrative practices and simple errors”.

This cannot be true, she states, because “such ordeals are happening far too frequently to have arisen through random error” and “there is an identifiable pattern of government sponsored behaviours… which is aimed at simply denying people support”.

Isn’t that what we are seeing?

Ms Jones wrote: “Many people who have challenged a Department for Work and Pensions’ (DWP) decision not to award them Personal Independent Payment (PIP) in court successfully are finding that soon after they have won their appeal, they face a reassessment, and their award is taken from them again.” That’s what happened to Patricia Nimmo.

“Even when people appeal, the system is rigged against them applying for legal support, and cuts to charities mean any support at all is shrinking away.” Mr Tower could take the DWP to court over the disproved claim that he owed £18,000 – but he simply doesn’t have the money to carry out a court case.

“Since PIP was launched in 2013 to reduce the costs of disability support, the increasingly reduced access to financial assistance to help with the additional costs of being disabled has forced more than 75,000 people to give up their specially-adapted Motability vehicles.” And that’s what happened to Pat Higgins.

Here’s the sting:

All of the cases mentioned above (apart from that of Paige Garratt, which is mentioned to demonstrate a point) were reported in the press within the last week.

The DWP has been committing the same injustices to the vulnerable for years.

That‘s why you keep hearing about it.

They say they are improving, but they haven’t changed anything.

And under “Groundhog” May, they never will.

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