Tag Archives: DLA

Man with worsening brain injuries has benefits slashed while Duncan Smith gets a knighthood [VIDEO]


You’re probably sick and tired of me banging on about the way the Tory government has been persecuting the sick and disabled – so I’ll hand you over to one of the victims.

Andy Nicholson runs a video blog under the alias ‘The Brain Damaged Baron’.

Doctors pronounced him lucky to survive a head-first fall down a partially-built stairwell in 1994.

The incident left him with a serious brain injury that means he is partially-sighted, has short-term memory loss, constant headaches, epilepsy and coordination issues, along with chronic fatigue.

These conditions have worsened over time but the Tories have twice pronounced him fit for work, in spite of medical evidence and, indeed, a court order.

Here he is to explain for himself:

It’s powerful stuff; it shows that the Department for Work and Pensions, under the Conservatives, is determined to gaslight people into accepting an unreasonable view that brain injuries can be healed, just because an unqualified assessor says so.

These people have to suffer their way through unnecessarily-complicated appeal procedures, simply to keep the small amount of money they need to survive.

Meanwhile, the man who made to possible for this government department to lie so blatantly and brutally, simply for the sake of holding on to a few farthings, has been awarded a knighthood.

If you live in the UK, you live in a crazed, corrupt country. And if you voted Tory – count yourself among the crazies.

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Tories launch court battle to strip severely disabled people of sorely-needed benefits

How can the Tories justify their determination to retain the discredited Universal Credit ‘benefit’ when the courts have ruled that it deliberately makes disabled people worse-off?

Not only that, but the courts also ruled that the Tory government lied to benefit claimants when they were told they wouldn’t lose money.

Judges ruled that the uneven rollout of Universal Credit makes the benefit system a postcode lottery, with people moving into areas with the new system likely to be seriously disadvantaged.

And – possibly worst of all – why are the Tories determined to waste public money appealing against those rulings in court when it is clear that, in legal terms, they don’t have a leg to stand on?

That is what the Tories are doing to two disabled men – known only as TP and AR.

They had been forced onto Universal Credit when they moved into a local authority area where the new system had been rolled out.

This meant they lost out on the Severe Disability Premium (SDP) and Enhanced Disability Premium (EDP), leaving them suddenly around £180 a month out-of-pocket, despite being repeatedly assured they would not be worse off.

A High Court judge found that this was unlawful because those that moved to a different local authority area were being treated differently to those who moved within their local authority area – the Tory government had created a postcode lottery.

Take note of this:

The judgment in this first case described a “striking” lack of evidence from the [then-] Secretary of State that she had understood or considered the far-reaching consequences for severely disabled people who moved into a different local authority and would be forced onto Universal Credit.

As a result of the case, the Tory government proposed that those who had already moved onto Universal Credit would receive transitional top-up payments – but at a rate of £80 per month rather than the £180 per month they had actually lost.

TP and AR again took the Tories to court, arguing that short-changing them was unlawful as they were being unjustifiably treated differently to those who had not moved onto to Universal Credit and would continue to receive the full amount of SDP and EDP. The High Court again found in their favour.

And now the Tory government is appealing against both decisions.

Rather than accept the self-evident facts that their flagship “benefit” system is deliberately depriving severely disabled people of the money they need simply to survive – and rectify the change…

The Tories are demanding that the courts rubber-stamp this act of governmental daylight robbery.

And they are currently campaigning to win a general election, with a claim that they will solve problems with Universal Credit, when in fact they are actively trying to make it worse.

These are all excellent reasons to vote Labour – that party will abolish Universal Credit once and for all.

Source: Court of Appeal to hear two Universal Credit claims

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Disabled mother wins two-year PIP benefit battle. What happens to those who can’t appeal?

Uncannily accurate: The Conservative government’s genuine policy towards PIP claimants may as well be as it appears in this cartoon from 2017.

How do people survive for up to two years while they are fighting the Conservative-run Department for Work and Pensions’s cruel decision to cancel their disability benefits?

That’s what This Writer wants to know.

Maureen Ringland was lucky enough to have friends who helped her out – and who will be paid back with appropriate portions of the £13,000 payout she has received.

This is a woman with severe autism, Reynaud’s Disease and Hypohidrosis – the last of which may cause hyperthermia, heatstroke and death. Her condition means she cannot cope with simple daily tasks.

But when she was tested for Personal Independence Payment in 2017, she was told her £83 per week daily care allowance and £58 per week mobility allowance was cancelled.

She had to go through the DWP’s immensely convoluted procedure for challenging adverse benefit decisions – first a request for a “mandatory reconsideration”, then an appeal before a tribunal.

It was two years before the government department relented, reinstated and backdated her PIP.

The DWP has claimed the decision was reversed because the family submitted new information.

But this is a transparent excuse; when anyone appeals against a disability benefit decision, they include as much information as possible. This may include medical details from their GP or a specialist doctor, for example, including the kind of details that they may not have believed was necessary when they submitted their original application.

When Mrs Mike was transferred from DLA to PIP last year, I recall we included everything but the kitchen sink (as the saying goes), with this in mind.

We may conclude that the DWP tried to cancel the money this grandmother needed to survive, in the belief that she would not be able to challenge the decision; either she would not be able to gather and provide the necessary information to mount a challenge, or her debts would mount to such a degree that she would have to abandon her claim.

That has not happened, it seems, because she has a capable husband and friends who were able to support her financially.

Few people can say the same.

In its own comments on the case, the DWP pointed out that only five per cent of PIP refusals have been overturned by a tribunal.

What the department’s spokespeople do not say is that those five per cent also total 65 per cent of appeals that have been made.

All in all, an extraordinary 70 per cent of social security appeals are successful.

But only 10 per cent of PIP decisions are appealed – and 56 per cent of new claims, together with 28 per cent of claims by people who have been transferred from Disability Living Allowance, are refused.

With 1,542,000 reassessed DLA claims and 2,649,000 new claims handled between its inception and March 2019 (the most up-to-date figures available to This Writer), and 175,000 in progress, that leaves 1,585,000 rejections uncontested.

What happens to those people?

Source: Disabled mum wins £13k payout after two-year benefits battle

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Labour will hold an inquiry into all the benefit-related deaths overseen by Tories. VOTE LABOUR

Bring out your dead: This is how it has felt under the Conservative (and Liberal Democrat) governments since 2010. The death toll has been colossal. It is long past time the authorities who inflicted an early death on vulnerable, sick and disabled people were brought to justice. Labour has announced an intention to do so.

At least 130,000 people have died as a result of victimisation by the Department for Work and Pensions – on the orders of the Conservative government (helped by the Liberal Democrats during the Coalition).

That is the bare minimum as the Conservatives no longer respond to Freedom of Information requests on the subject and those responses we have are incomplete.

I have been writing about the deaths incurred as a result of Tory/DWP benefit denial, practically since I started This Site nearly eight years ago.

I knew there was never any prospect of an inquiry under a Conservative government – and to be honest, I despaired of seeing Labour promise it until Jeremy Corbyn was installed as leader. Remember when Rachel Reeves was shadow Work and Pensions secretary? Dark days!

It must be obvious that I’m leading up to this:

“A Labour government would set up an independent inquiry into the deaths of disabled benefit claimants linked to the actions of the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) and its private sector contractors.”

The details are on the Disability News Service website and, by all means visit and read them.

But they don’t really matter.

Under Labour, we may finally find out the real death toll – although I warn you now, it will probably be horrifying.

Under Labour, we might just be able to see those responsible for this years-long atrocity brought to justice.

So if you don’t have any other reason to support Labour, do it for this.

The families and friends of the dead need this.

Vote Labour for justice.

Source: Election 2019: Labour pledges inquiry into seven years of DWP benefit deaths – Disability News Service

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Did you think the Tories would stop hurting children just because there’s an election? Think again

Kori: This eight-year-old boy had a heart transplant last year, but his body is rejecting it. The Tory-run DWP doesn’t care, though. It has cancelled his disability benefit and left him to fend for himself.

Say hi to Kori.

Kori is eight years old. Last year he had a heart transplant – but it wasn’t a wonderful success.

His body is rejecting the new heart and he is fighting for his life in hospital.

And what have the Tories done?

They have cancelled Kori’s claim for Disability Living Allowance and his family’s Motability car.

Their reason: Kori is “as fit as any other child his age”.

Take a look at the photograph. Do you think that’s accurate?

Friends of Kori and his family have launched a crowdfunding page to help them cope with the loss of their means of support.

You can contribute to it by visiting this website.

Please do – you can be sure the Tories won’t want to help at all.

They won’t care what happens to Kori – despite the fact that they have a duty of care towards him.

They’re too busy planning new tax breaks for their rich friends – if we’re stupid enough to elect them again.

Read more on this Facebook page: Kori’s Fight for Life

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Tories got HALF A MILLION sickness and disability benefit assessments wrong – in five years

Logical conclusion: The Tory-run DWP’s persecution of benefit claimants has been implicated in the deaths of many thousands of people.

Research has shown that new benefit assessment techniques imposed by the Conservative government have led to more than 500,000 wrong benefit assessments in the last five years.

The evidence also shows that other measures introduced by the Tories have served to hide the facts from the general public.

The research covered benefits including Employment and Support Allowance, Disability Living Allowance and its replacement benefit Personal Independence Payment.

The good news is that appeals against bogus decisions are at their highest success rate yet – the article on Teesside Live (link below) shows an increase in successes in North East England from 41 per cent in 2013 to 63 per cent in 2018. Across the UK, the success rate stands at around 76 per cent.

But the number of appeals reaching tribunals has fallen massively since the Conservatives axed legal aid for such cases – pricing such action out of benefit claimants’ capabilities.

The Labour Party has vowed to restore legal aid if it wins the election on December 12, to restore fairness to the system.

The research made it clear that the main reason for appeals against benefit decisions was “poor decision-making” and “obvious inaccuracies” by the private asessors hired to carry out interviews with claimants.

One way to challenge such issues is to record assessments, but it was recently revealed that the Tories have insisted on PIP claimants buying hugely expensive recording systems in order to do so – in what seems an obvious attempt to make it impossible. What benefit claimant has that kind of money?

Note also:

Daphne Hall, the vice chair of the National Association of Welfare Rights Advisers, said: “… The DWP tend to base their decision purely on these assessments and disregard other evidence sent in by the claimant.”

Yet this evidence is always demanded – and further evidence is always demanded when a claimant appeals.

The DWP’s claim that “appeals represent a small percentage of all benefits claim it handles” is unconvincing because of the obstacles the government has put in the way.

Since 2013, people seeking to overturn a benefits ruling must complete a written challenge within a month, known as a mandatory reconsideration. If unsuccessful, people can then appeal against the decision at tribunal.

The problem is that most people run out of money long before the initial process is concluded and are forced by financial necessity to seek an alternative benefit (usually the nightmare that is Universal Credit), even though it is entirely inappropriate.

The denial of legal aid means most people are left unable to navigate the UK’s labyrinthine legal system. For most sick or disabled claimants, it may be impossible to gather together all the information required by a tribunal without help from a legal professional.

The DWP has claimed that any suggestion of a decline in appeals due to legal aid cuts is “pure speculation”. It would, wouldn’t it?

But its further claim that only four per cent of ESA decisions and five per cent of PIP decisions are overturned at appeal rings hollow in the knowledge that this constituted more than 70 per cent of all appeals.

Doubly hollow, in fact, in the knowledge that the number of appeals fell massively after the axing of legal aid.

This is darkly humorous, too: “It says it expects the ‘highest of standards’ from assessment providers and continually monitors performance, while PIP and ESA assessments are carried out by health professionals ‘who receive a variety of training in physical and mental health conditions and have the right clinical experience’.”

Oh really? And did the PIP assessor who happened to be a physiotherapist but ended up examining a person with multiple sclerosis have “the right clinical experience”? Of course not.

Oh, and: “It says PIP was introduced to ensure mental health conditions were given the same parity as physical conditions.” Oh really? This seems strange, considering the fact the mental health conditions are not mentioned even once in the points-based system on which PIP awards are based.

As This Site has demonstrated many times before, the Tory benefit system is a mockery.

Labour has promised to reform the system, dissolving the DWP altogether and replacing it with a new Department of Social Security.

Labour also intends to pilot a Universal Basic Income scheme, in which everybody receives an amount of money deemed enough to support them – making assessment interviews unnecessary.

People with illnesses and disabilities would receive appropriate top-ups.

Considering the huge number of deaths that have been connected with bogus benefit refusals, this is to be welcomed.

So the choice for people claiming – or dependent on – benefits is between an ever-more-draconian Tory system that penalises those in genuine need – often to death, and a return to justice under Labour.

That isn’t even a choice, is it? It has to be Labour all the way.

Source: DWP: Disabled Teessiders wrongly denied benefits are increasingly beating the government at appeal – Teesside Live

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How Tories have fun: Trying to starve and evict a disabled man

Christopher Brasil: The Conservative-run Department for Work and Pensions fabricated reasons to cut off his benefits and have him thrown out of his home, it seems.

This story tells you all you need to know about the benefit system under the Conservative government:

Rachael is right. The story of Christopher Brasil illustrates every cruelty that the Conservative government can inflict on you – and I mean you, because it could happen to anybody, given the fact that the trigger was an accident, and we can all be prey to them.

Check out the details, according to iNews:

Mr Brasil was a lorry driver for 30 years, until he fractured his hip after he was hit by bicycle four years ago. The incident left him relying on walking sticks, and diabetes caused his eyesight to deteriorate, so the DVLA revoked his heavy goods vehicle licence and his employers dismissed him on grounds of ill health.

Now, suffering from blurred vision, vertigo, poor hearing and epilepsy, he says he is “unemployable”.

But the Department for Work and Pensions disagreed.

After three years in which he claimed first Disability Living Allowance and then Employment and Support Allowance, the DWP started messing with Mr Brasil.

First, Job Centre advisors lost his sick note and stopped his payments for four weeks. He says he brought it to the office in January, when staff took it off him and said they faxed it to someone else. But then he was told he had not provided it; it was not recorded on their systems. They imposed a four-week sanction.

The lesson for all benefit claimants who need to hand in sick notes to prove benefit entitlement is: Get a receipt for them, signed by the staff member you are booked to see.

One month later, he was made to take a work capability assessment, told he was fit for work and ordered to claim Jobseekers’ Allowance.

He said the assessment report was “blatant lies.” It said he attended the assessment on his own, but he was with a social worker from a charity. In addition, they report said he did not use walking sticks and was fit and capable.

Then he was told Universal Credit was being rolled out in his area and he was switched to it. This meant he was forced to endure the standard five-week wait for the first payment – meaning Mr Brasil was left without payments for a total of two months.

That is when Mr Brasil, who lives alone and has no family, was forced to go to a soup kitchen and food bank. With his gas and electricity cut off, he had taken out a credit card and considered resorting to pay day loans.

Finally, after his Universal Credit claim began in September, Mr Brasil was told he was no longer entitled to housing benefit. He ran up rent arrears and was served with an eviction notice.

Who’s going to tell me all that is purely accidental?

I think this man was targeted. His sick note was deliberately mislaid; his work capability assessment was deliberately rigged.

The intention was to torment him. It didn’t matter whether he became homeless, starved, succumbed to his illnesses or became suicidal and tried (or succeeded) in killing himself as a result (see this article for information on how this can happen).

The comment the DWP provided is formulaic rubbish. I doubt if anybody checked the details of Mr Brasil’s case; they certainly would not have spoken about it or admitted any wrongdoing.

I wonder, though – what was the name of the Job Centre advisor who took Mr Brasil’s sick note in January? What did they do with that sick note? And can either of them be traced?

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It doesn’t matter which theory underpins Tory disability jobs strategy – they’re both awful

[Image: Lisa Norwood via photopin cc.]

So the Tories have moved from trying to make people with disabilities believe their health problems are all in their mind to trying to make them believe society is stopping them from getting a job?

Neither seem helpful ways of getting these people to live a useful life, if you ask This Writer!

And to be honest, I don’t see much effort made to get society to adjust to help people with disabilities. Look at Philip Hammond’s comment that disabled workers were holding back productivity in the UK economy.

He was saying there’s no point employing people with disabilities because the adjustments they require cancel out any usefulness they have.

How are we to expect employers to offer them any opportunities after that?

The Biopsychosocial model has been explored at length on This Site, and I am grateful to see that it is supposed to be discredited.

But I haven’t seen any evidence that the questions in assessment interviews have changed, or that the decisions made by assessors are based on criteria that are any more sympathetic.

According to Welfare Weekly, more than 220,000 people have been awarded zero points after being assessed for Personal Independence Payment, in the last 18 months.

The same article claimed 180,000 people have been denied PIP after being told to transfer from Disability Living Allowance, again in the last 18 months, despite having been in receipt of the other benefit.

These are people who have been told that there is nothing wrong with them – or at least nothing that would justify them drawing benefit money to help them cope with their disabilities in everyday life.

That seems to bear out the claim that the BPS model is still being used, and people are still being told their disabilities are all in their minds – and blamed for it, rather than helped.

The civil servant who leads the government’s work and health unit has sparked fresh concerns that the new disability employment strategy could be heavily influenced by the discredited “biopsychosocial” (BPS) model of disability.

Tabitha Jay told a meeting of the all-party parliamentary group for disability (APPGD) … that the social model of disability underpinned the strategy, which has an aim of seeing one million more disabled people in work over the next 10 years.

But she also appeared to suggest that the BPS model was “running in parallel” to the social model within the strategy.

The BPS model places blame for being unemployed on the individual disabled person and their supposed negative attitudes towards working, whereas the social model explains that it is the barriers in society – and not people’s impairments.

Source: Civil servant sparks fresh concerns over ideological basis of jobs strategy


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Sickness and disability benefit assessments: Has anything changed in the last five years?

Unhealthy: Theresa May insists on employing private contractors Atos and Capita to assess benefit claimants’ fitness for work according to criteria that are not fit for purpose, and this has caused huge problems.

The video clip below resurfaced on This Writer’s Facebook page today; apparently I posted the link to it five years ago.

Has anything changed – other than the fact that Atos has been joined by Capita in carrying out the assessments?

Comments from people who have had assessments recently will be illuminating, I think.


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We all thought this kind of ignorance from disability benefit assessors had disappeared but here it is again

Michael Gibson, 36, said his Parkinson’s symptoms were made much worse as he was being assessed for personal independence payments [Image: PA].

As recently as Tuesday (September 12), This Writer was talking about the bad old days of disability benefit assessment to an acquaintance.

I referred to the infamous incident in which a claimant who happened to be an amputee was asked how long it would be until their limb grew back.

I said: “Thank goodness that doesn’t happen any more!”

How wrong I was.

The following happened to – of all people – a TV producer.

Now, you might think somebody working in television would have all the money they need in any case, but it turns out not to be the case.

Besides, Disability Living Allowance (DLA) was intended to provide extra help for people with disabilities and long-term conditions to get on with their lives, and we were all told that the Personal Independence Payment (PIP) served the same purpose.

Clearly, that isn’t the case, because Mr Gibson showed a clear need for a mobility car, and his assessors took it away.

PIP is clearly a step backwards and I would urge any future Labour government to scrap it.

It isn’t intended to help the disabled; it seems clear that it is about harming them instead.

Michael Gibson was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease when he was just 18.

But despite Parkinson’s being a serious, progressive neurological illness with no known cure, the 36-year-old from Chorley says assessors who were deciding whether he could keep his mobility car asked him when his condition would clear up.

TV producer Michael says he relies on his mobility car to get to work at MediaCity in Salford because he cannot manage the 30-minute train and 20-minute tram journey because of his condition. Parkinson’s can affect movement and can leave him stiff and struggling to walk.

When his wife was on maternity leave, he was reassessed from the old Disability Living Allowance to the new Personal Independent Payments and was told he would lose his car.

Mr Gibson said he had a “terrible” experience with his PIP assessors, adding: “At one point I was asked how long would I have Parkinson’s for, and another assessor told me that I wouldn’t be eligible before she’d even started the assessment.

“Assessors are determining people’s futures with very little or no knowledge of the conditions people are living with.”

Source: Disability assessors asked: ‘how long will you have Parkinson’s for?’ – The i newspaper online iNews


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