Tag Archives: compensation

DWP won’t contact over 100,000 ESA claimants owed millions in compensation

This comes courtesy of Benefits and Work; This Site is just passing it on:

The DWP has refused to follow a recommendation by the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman (PHSO) to contact over 100,000 ESA claimants who are owed compensation totalling many millions for DWP errors. However, one claimant has been awarded £7,500 in compensation and we explain below how you can begin a claim if you were affected.

The issue relates to mistakes made by the DWP which began over a decade ago.

In 2011 the DWP began transferring claimants from incapacity benefit to employment and support allowance (ESA). However, in many thousands of cases the DWP only assessed claimants for contribution based ESA and failed to check whether they should also have been awarded income-based ESA.

Eventually, after many complaints and awards to claimants who had missed out, the DWP reluctantly launched a LEAP exercise to identify claimants who had been victims of their error.

This resulted in 118,000 claimants getting backdated awards of ESA, in many cases amounting to thousands of pounds. Others also got awards outside of the LEAP scheme.

However, these claimants were not told that they might also be entitled to special payments because they had missed out on other benefits or undergone hardship as a result of the DWP’s maladministration.

Indeed, the DWP specifically told claimants that they could not complain to the Independent Case Examiner and did not tell them about the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman (PHSO).

However, one claimant – known as Ms U – had advice from a welfare rights worker. As a result, she did complain the PHSO after the DWP refused to pay her compensation in addition to £19, 832 in backdated ESA.

The PHSO found that Ms U had suffered considerable hardship and her health had suffered as a result of the DWP’s failures. She had also missed out on free prescriptions, warm home discount payments and other help such as paying for a washing machine.

The PHSO recommended that the DWP pay Ms U £7,500 as compensation and also pay interest on the back payment of ESA.

The DWP paid Ms U, but refused to follow another recommendation of the PHSO.

This was that they contact claimants both within the LEAP exercise and outside it who had been given ESA arrears due to their maladministration, look into their circumstances and award them any appropriate compensation.

Instead the DWP argued that: “should a claimant feel that they should receive compensation due to their individual circumstances, they can contact the Department and set out their reasons. All requests received will be considered on a case by case basis.”

The DWP know very well that almost none of the affected claimants will ever discover that they might be entitled to compensation and thus they will never know to ask for it.

In a recently released letter dated 10 May 2022, the PHSO said that they were “extremely disappointed” with the DWP’s decision not to follow their recommendations.

Unfortunately the PHSO has no power to force the DWP to do so.

We know that only a small proportion of Benefits and Work readers will have been affected by this issue.

But if you are one of them, we have a downloadable letter, complete with instructions, that you can use to begin the process of applying for compensation.

It comes with no guarantees that it will work, but waiting for the DWP to act seems to guarantee that you will not get a penny of what you may be owed.

If you are not personally affected but know someone who may be, please send them a link to this article.

And if you regularly post in a forum or belong to a group that might include affected people, again please give them a link to this page.

Who is affected

Affected claimants are those who were transferred from incapacity benefit to ESA, a process that began as far back as 2011, and who later received a lump sum payment of arrears because the DWP had failed to award you income-based ESA as well as contribution-based ESA.

Many claimants who received such a lump sum will have missed out on passporting to other benefits, such as free prescriptions and warm home discount payments.

What you can do

If you think you were affected you can write to the office which administers, or used to administer, your claim for ESA to ask for compensation.

We have created a simple, downloadable letter which you can use as the basis for your own.

We have kept this letter as simple as possible, with instructions for you in italics. If you know the dates of any award of back-dated ESA or the amounts that you may have missed out on then by all means add them. But, at this point, the most important thing is to begin your claim.

If you don’t receive a reply, do as the letter says and make a formal complaint as well as contacting your MP’s office and asking them to pursue the matter

Download the letter in rich text format

Download the letter as a .pdf

You can read the PHSO’s original findings on the case of Ms U here

You can read the correspondence between the PHSO and the DWP here

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DWP ignores legal ruling to deny compensation to 118,000 benefit claimants

The Department for Work and Pensions has unilaterally decided to ignore a ruling by the Parliamentary Ombudsman that it should pay compensation to 118,000 people who suffered maladministration at its hands.

The decision sets a deeply worrying precedent as it could lead to other people suffering maladministration receiving no rectification or compensation.

Here are the details in a handy YouTube video:

And journalist David Hencke, on his Westminster Confidential site, had this to say:

Since seeing this I have contacted Sir Stephen Timms, Labour chair of the Commons Works and Pensions Committee, to see if, as they promised the Ombudsman, the DWP had alerted him to the decision. Initially he said he could not recall getting this and promised to investigate what has happened.

There is another big issue. This could impact on the Waspi campaign and the all party state pension inequality group of MPs to get compensation for women through a report from the Ombudsman. If after the Ombudsman says compensation is due the DWP follows this practice for the 3.8 million – six people will get compensation and the remaining 3.6 million still alive will have to write individual letters outlining their case to the ministry for any money due which will take even more time to resolve. You have been warned.

Read the full story here: DWP ignores the Parliamentary Ombudsman and refuses to compensate 118,000 disabled people hit by benefit maladministration | Westminster Confidential

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Tory government slammed for bullying and trying to silence the disabled – Dorset Eye

Well done to Dorset Eye for picking up on this:

Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham has accused the government of “using its might” to “bully” and “silence” disabled campaigners in the courts.

People allegedly damaged by the drug Primodos are in a high court battle with both the UK government and the German pharmaceutical company Bayer.
Campaigners say that both the company and the UK regulators were aware of the potential risk of the pregnancy test drug to deform babies in the womb.

Mr Burnham is calling on the government to drop the case and “compensate them for the damage they have suffered”.
Primodos has been described as “the forgotten thalidomide”, however manufacturer Schering, now owned by Bayer, has always denied any association between the drug and malformations, saying there is not sufficient scientific evidence to support the claim.

In 2020 an independent government review found that the drug should have been removed from the market in 1967, a decade before it was, and that UK regulators had been repeatedly warned of the risk.

Read the full article here: Tory government slammed for bullying and trying to silence the disabled – Dorset Eye

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No lessons learned – and no compensation for 118,000 benefit claimants who lost out for years

Habitual cruelty: the Department for Work and Pensions.

The Department for Work and Pensions is refusing to pay compensation to sick and disabled benefit claimants who were given the wrong payments after being moved to Employment and Support Allowance.

The injustice affects 118,000 people who should have received payments based on their income but instead received them only based on their National Insurance contributions.

It was revealed in the case of “Mrs U”, whose payments were cut by £80 per week – and stayed that way for five years.

Her payments have since been rectified, and the whole of the underpayment repaid to her – along with £7,500 in compensation ordered by the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman.

Now the same ombudsman has protested after the DWP agreed to make back-payments to 118,000 other claimants affected by its error – but not to pay them any compensation.

Ombudsman Rob Behrens said: “We don’t know how many more Ms Us there are out there.

“That is why I urge the DWP to allow people affected to claim for compensation in recognition of its error and the potentially devastating impact it has had on people’s lives.”

The DWP said it will not pay “blanket” compensation to all 118,000 people it wronged.

Instead, it said it will consider claims by people who contact it through various helplines that have been set up – or who go through the department’s labyrinthine complaints process.

It’s not good enough. And This Writer wonders how many people died before they could claim the back-pay or the compensation – or because they did not have this money.

Source: DWP denies compensation to 118,000 benefit claimants who lost out for years – Mirror Online

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Why are people who died after having Covid vaccine excluded from compensation scheme?

Jabber Johnson: if the prime minister had suffered ill effects after having the vaccine, you can be sure the Tories would have rushed to ensure that he received financial compensation. But because only ordinary people have suffered and died, it seems they aren’t interested in compensating bereaved families.

This is shocking:

The families of people who have died after being vaccinated against Covid-19 are being excluded from support schemes because the government has not included their circumstances in the relevant forms.

The Mirror has reported on the case of Stephen Wright, who died of a blood clot on the brain that developed after he had the Oxford/Astrazeneca jab.

There is a compensation process for people whose health is harmed after vaccinations – but it is geared towards children who develop a vaccine-related disability.

A law passed in 1979 says people who suffer harm from vaccines can claim damages from the government of up to £120,000 (£470,000 today, adjusted for inflation). But to do so, victims must prove that they are at least 60 per cent disabled as a result of vaccination.

The form does not allow for the possibility of a vaccinated person dying, and family members are therefore unable to use it to claim compensation.

Mr Wright’s wife Charlotte, having been provided with the form after his death, had to create a box in it to say that he had died.

When the Mirror article was published yesterday, she had not received any confirmation that the form was being processed by the government – or even that it had been received.

This is no way to treat people.

The government knows that people have died as a result of Covid-19 vaccination. News stories on this subject have proliferated over the last few months and 65 other families are known to be in the same situation as Ms Wright.

So why hasn’t the compensation scheme been adjusted to provide help for these people?

Is it further evidence of our Tory government’s utter incompetence – ministers simply never stopped to think that they should make sure compensation would be paid if people died?

Or do they simply not care?

Source: Wife of man who died from AstraZeneca jab is locked out of £470k government support – Mirror Online

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Police agree payouts for Hillsborough ‘cover-up’. What about the Tories – and Murdoch?

The disgrace – no, the word ‘disgrace’ isn’t strong enough: this is the Sun story that mentally scarred survivors of the Hillsborough disaster and the families of those who died. It wasn’t ‘The Truth’ at all; it was a pack of lies.

More than five years after a jury ruled that 96 people were killed unlawfully in the Hillsborough disaster – and that their behaviour did not contribute to the situation – police forces have agreed to pay compensation to more than 600 people for mental distress caused by the attempted cover-up.

I have two questions.

Firstly: why did it take so long for South Yorkshire and West Midlands police to agree to pay up?

Secondly: Why aren’t the Conservative Party and Rupert Murdoch’s News International paying compensation, too?

Let’s go into the circumstances:

We all know that the Hillsborough Disaster was a fatal human crush at an FA Cup semi-final between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest, hosted at Sheffield Wednesday’s Hillsborough Stadium on April 15, 1989.

It happened due to gross negligence by match commander David Duckenfield of South Yorkshire Police.

The police service then attempted to hide the fact that its failures caused 96 deaths and 766 injuries – the worst disaster in UK sporting history – by trying to blame it on the fans who were injured and died, saying those people caused the tragedy by being drunk and misbehaving.

West Midlands was the force appointed to investigate the disaster, but has since been accused of malpractices and failures that have been subject to a long-running investigation by the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC).

Not only that, though: the prime minister of the day, the Conservative Margaret Thatcher, refused to release information that made the police look bad.

And The Sun, a newspaper published by Rupert Murdoch’s News International, published a story headlined The Truth that was nothing but a pack of lies, supporting the fantasy created by the police.

This Writer believes a strong argument could be made that the newspaper story – which led to The Sun being boycotted in Liverpool ever since – caused more distress, more anguish, to survivors, and to relatives and friends of the deceased, than the police cover-up on which it was based (although I know it could not have been written if the police and the Tory prime minister had not lied in the first place).

Civil claims for compensation due to malfeasance in public office by the two police forces were submitted in 2015, during inquests into the reasons the 96 died.

The claimants said the lies had caused them to suffer trauma and psychiatric damage, and the compensation is to cover not only those injuries but also the cost of treatment and counselling.

Those claims were made nearly six years ago and the payments haven’t been made yet (at the time of writing). So I repeat: why not?

And how much are these people getting, to make one of the claimants describe the payout as “insulting” in The Guardian‘s news article about it?

The behaviour of the police was shocking, and undermines public faith in the reliability of our law enforcement officers across the UK – not just in the forces concerned.

But – as mentioned above – they weren’t the only organisations caught lying; they weren’t the only people who deliberately caused further distress over Hillsborough.

Margaret Thatcher withheld information – which was as bad as lying because it presented a false impression that the police were blameless.

She was able to do so because she was prime minister at the time – and she was prime minister because she was leader of the Conservative Party that had formed the then-current government.

She died in 2013 but it seems perfectly reasonable to hold the Tories responsible for putting her in a position where she could distort the facts.  Why has the Conservative Party avoided compensating these people?

And that Sun headline has gone down in the history of journalistic infamy. The disgust of the city of Liverpool – in perpetuity – is not enough. Why has News International not offered compensation as well?

All three of these organisations should have offered payouts voluntarily, considering the enormity of the harm they have done, but they didn’t.

The police are only paying up because they were forced to.

Perhaps that aspect of this tragedy is the most damning of all.

Source: South Yorkshire and West Midlands police agree payouts for Hillsborough ‘cover-up’ | Hillsborough disaster | The Guardian

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Hancock pledges payouts over infected blood scandal – like those the Windrush victims are still awaiting?

Matt Hancock: would you believe a promise by this man?

Matt Hancock has promised that the government will pay compensation to people infected by contaminated blood products – and their families – if a public inquiry into the scandal demands it.

What a pretty promise!

Here it is:

The health secretary told the inquiry: “I respect the process of the inquiry and I will respect its recommendations, and should the inquiry’s recommendations point to compensation, then of course we will pay compensation.”

This Site has reported on the infected blood scandal before, and the Guardian‘s account of it is as good as any:

As many as 30,000 people became severely ill after being given factor VIII blood products contaminated with HIV and hepatitis C imported from the US in the 1970s and 80s. Others were exposed to tainted blood through transfusions or after childbirth. On average one person is dying every four days, with approximately 3,000 haemophiliacs having died to date.

The question is: why should we believe Hancock?

His record hardly speaks for his honesty.

And as for his government’s record on payouts… here’s the National Audit Office, discussing another recent scandal:

If the death rate really is as reported, then considering the government’s tardiness in stumping up compensation cash…

I wonder if any of the victims will see a single brass farthing before they die.

Source: Infected blood scandal: Hancock pledges payouts if advised by inquiry | Contaminated blood scandal | The Guardian

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Disabled benefit claimant sends in the bailiffs after suing Atos for negligence

More people need to do this.

A benefit claimant whose partner recorded her Personal Independence Payment assessment interview successfully sued Atos for negligence and failure of its duty of care after her payments were stopped.

She then sent in the bailiffs to enforce the country court’s ruling after the outsourcing giant refused to pay up.

The claimant, known as Rebecca, had to spend two years fighting to get her PIP reinstated after it was wrongly stopped on the basis of false information provided by the assessor.

Rebecca has epilepsy and a resulting heart condition, anxiety, depression and memory problems but her entitlement to the enhanced daily living component of PIP, along with her claim to the benefit itself, was removed by the Department for Work and Pensions on the basis of the assessment.

Eventually she was able to put her case before an appeal panel who listened to the recording of the assessment, compared it with the assessor’s account of the interview, and promptly restored her entitlement to PIP – and to the enhanced rate of the daily living component – until 2023.

Rebecca was so angry at the way she had been treated by Atos and the DWP that she decided to take the assessment firm to court, suing for “mental distress, anxiety and hardship”.

Atos did not bother to defend the claim, which resulted in an award of £2,500 for Rebecca, in compensation and damages.

Perhaps the firm simply thought it could shrug away her attempts to claim the money?

Not so. When Atos failed to pay, she sent the bailiffs in to its London offices, creating a further cost of £2,000.

This is a huge victory – not just financially but morally – for benefit claimants whose claims have been cancelled under false pretences, based on inaccurate assessment reports.

It happened because the assessment was recorded – something that the DWP has resisted for years. Now we know why: it stops that government department from wrongly knocking people off its books. This is a strong indication that every benefit claimant should record their interview.

Atos may wish to consider that the award against it was enlarged because of the length of time it took Rebecca to win her case.

I don’t have the full details but I’m willing to bet this was due to the “mandatory reassessment” malarkey imposed by the DWP, which means claimants have to wait – with no cash to live on – while officers of the department consider whether the decision to cut their benefit was right.

Usually they decide it was, and it is only then that claimants can appeal to a tribunal. Most appeals are won by the claimant.

This Writer would therefore urge anybody who has recorded their assessment, lost benefits, and had to appeal to get them back, to follow Rebecca’s example: don’t just take the money – take legal action!

Once Atos and the DWP have lost a few more cases, they might actually give up and agree that their system is unfair and has to change.

Source: Claimant Successfully Sues Atos And Sends In The Bailiffs When They Don’t Pay Up | Same Difference

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All Windrush victims to get at least £10,000 – including those who’ve died or been wrongly deported?

The Empire Windrush brought many people to the UK to help rebuild the country after World War II. As I never tire of pointing out, if it had still been in service a couple of years ago, the Tories would have been trying to use it to deport them all again.

People are reacting to this announcement with scepticism – and who can blame them?

Here’s what the government has said:

The government is to give more money to victims of the Windrush scandal, which saw hundreds of people wrongly threatened with deportation.

Home Secretary Priti Patel announced that the minimum payment will rise from £250 to £10,000, and the maximum from £10,000 to £100,000.

The figure will be higher still in “exceptional” circumstances, with money coming through quicker than before.

In the analysis inset by Westminster Hour‘s Jack Fenwick, though, he said

One person [told] me they won’t believe it until a cheque is in the post.

Who can blame them?

The big scandal of the Windrush compensation scheme so far is that people have died before receiving compensation. Did their descendants get the cash? That would have been reasonable, in the circumstances. Taking it back would not.

And what about people who were wrongly deported. Has the Home Office made any effort to contact them, apologise, and ask them to come back? Many of Priti Patel’s deportation victims have suffered terrible ill-treatment since deportation, so that is a can of worms that needs to be opened.

So it’s a nice announcement. But we need to action, not just pretty words.

Source: All Windrush victims to get at least £10,000 – BBC News

Did ‘activist lawyers’ tell Home Office its Windrush compensation scheme was a disaster, too?

The Empire Windrush brought many people to the UK to help rebuild the country after World War II. If it had still been in service a couple of years ago, the Tories would have been trying to use it to deport them all again.

How unfortunate for the Home Office that it should fall foul of the lawyers twice in one day.

Or is it perhaps a sign of the Johnson government’s disregard for the law?

The Tory government’s much-maligned Windrush Compensation Scheme has been trashed by – one would expect – activist lawyers from no fewer than nine separate firms.

They say it is failing to provide access to justice – a claim that can only have gained validity after it was revealed that the HO tried to rush-deport 23 people illegally, because it had not allowed them their right to appeal.

The – activist – lawyers also said that while the Windrush scandal traumatised its victims, the compensation scheme is only worsening the trauma.

The HO has already confirmed that at least five people who applied for compensation died before receiving it.

Lawyers say they have experienced significant delays and difficulties filing claims for clients who were wrongly classified as illegal immigrants and lost their jobs, housing or pensions as a result.

The letter says many applications appear to be “appear to be lost in a kind of bureaucratic limbo”, with some people forced to wait more than a year for decisions.

Look at this:

The decision to put the Home Office in charge of processing of claims was particularly problematic, they write, given the criticisms of the department made in Wendy Williams’ official inquiry into the scandal. Williams’ report identified a “culture of disbelief and carelessness” within the Home Office and “institutional ignorance and thoughtlessness towards the issue of race”.

And now let’s all remember that the Home Office is carrying out its own inquiry into the death of refugee Mercy Baguma. What chance does justice have in a “culture of disbelief and carelessness” with “institutional ignorance and thoughtlessness towards the issue of race”?

Coincidentally (or is it?) yesterday HO permanent secretary Matthew Rycroft announced:

Perhaps inevitably, this was one of the responses:

Source: Windrush payout scheme not fit for purpose, say lawyers | Windrush scandal | The Guardian

Have YOU donated to my crowdfunding appeal, raising funds to fight false libel claims by TV celebrities who should know better? These court cases cost a lot of money so every penny will help ensure that wealth doesn’t beat justice.

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