Tag Archives: employment

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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Way NOT to Work; it’s claimed Boris Johnson’s flagship jobs scheme was rubbish

Boris Johnson: has he been lying AGAIN?

It seems a scheme launched by Boris Johnson to force people into work by cutting their benefits after four weeks actually saw fewer people into jobs than the average.

The target set for the Way to Work scheme was to get 500,000 people into jobs, and the Department for Work and Pensions made a huge “We did it!” announcement five months after the scheme was launched in January.

But this seems to be untrue:

Figures from the Office for National Statistics released last week show that the number of unemployed people finding work actually fell by 148,000 compared with the six months before Way to Work began, despite record numbers of job vacancies.

The government is also facing questions about why it set a target of 500,000 when, on average, nearly 1 million unemployed people have found work during similar periods each year since 2001.

At the end of January, Johnson announced that a “Way to Work drive” would help 500,000 into employment from Universal Credit intensive work search or jobseeker’s allowance, at a time when there were a record 1.2 million vacancies.

Analysis by the Observer of seasonally adjusted figures from the ONS Labour Force Survey shows that 867,310 people moved from unemployment to employment from January to June, with the majority of them finding work before March. In the previous six months, 1,015,954 people moved into work. The average figure for January to June since records began in 2001 is 948,000.

The DWP has doubled down, claiming that Way to Work did successfully support half a million people into work.

A spokesperson said there had been fewer unemployed people overall in the labour market, so the amount of people moving from unemployed to employed was understandably lower.

But the Office for Statistics Regulation has warned that there is no clear explanation of how the Way to Work target was defined, how it would be measured, and the methods used to support claims that the target had been reached.

It said measuring government programmes in a robust and transparent way is important, and the statistics and data underpinning any measurement should uphold principles of being trustworthy, of high quality and offer public value – but the way the Department has communicated information in this case does not uphold these principles.

Stephen Timms, Labour chair of the work and pensions select committee, was quoted by The Guardian, saying the committee would be looking at the figures as part of an inquiry when MPs return in the autumn.

“The refusal to set out the evidence behind the claim, unfortunately, is par for the course at the moment… To claim that their policy has been a success seems like business as usual. There might be something more that we’re missing. If there is, they need to tell us what it is.”

It seems that, even though he is quitting as prime minister, Boris Johnson’s falsehoods will continue to plague us for some time to come.

Source: Boris Johnson’s flagship jobs scheme was a failure, new figures reveal

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Brexit-caused employment problems leave firms struggling to fill vacancies

Not working: okay, it isn’t quite the right image – unless you think of the trucks all being full of migrant workers returning to their countries of origin – but the message that “Brexit isn’t working” is supported very strongly by the findings listed in the article.

Are these results of Brexit the “sunlit uplands” we were told to expect in the UK economy after leaving the European Union?

Brexit has exacerbated the UK’s labour shortages over the past year, with industries most reliant on freedom of movement hit hard, according to a report led by academics from Oxford university.

The research found that in parts of the economy such as hospitality and corporate support services there had been large declines in the number of EU workers, a substantial rise in vacancies and few opportunities for employers to recruit from non-EU countries.

The academics found no evidence that employers had responded by raising wages to attract UK-born workers to fill the roles previously occupied by people born in the bloc.

So low-wage industries are having trouble recruiting, and won’t increase wages to relieve that pressure.

But increasing the number of visas available to get people from foreign countries back into jobs here won’t work, it seems, because they are difficlt to police and may open workers to exploitation and abuse.

The Tory government – via the Home Office – has stuck its head in the sand, as usual.

It has said employers should look to the domestic labour market rather than foreign recruitment, incentivising people to take jobs with higher wages, training and career options.

But employers have clearly decided not to even try. What’s ‘Plan B’?

Source: Brexit intensifies labour shortages as companies struggle to hire

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The Tory Bill for workers’ rights – just another Boris Johnson lie?

The Tory two-fingered salute: this time it’s for working people across the UK who thought the lying Boris Johnson was ever going to offer them a fair deal.

Simple answer: it’s what they do.

Unions and industry groups were incensed earlier this week when they discovered that the Tory government has not included an Employment Bill to protect workers’ rights in plans for the new Parliamentary session.

Why were they so upset?

Because the Tories had promised it, that’s why!

Boris Johnson had responded to concerns that workers’ rights could be watered down after the UK left the EU, and worries about treatment of employees in the gig economy with a pledge to enshrine rights in law. That was in 2019.

Since then, nothing.

According to the BBC,

When first announced, the bill had promised:

  • the creation of a single enforcement body, offering greater protections for workers
  • making sure that tips left for workers go to them in full
  • all workers would have the right to ask for a more predictable contract
  • redundancy protections would be extended to prevent pregnancy and maternity discrimination
  • parents allowed to take extended leave for neonatal care
  • entitlement to one week’s leave for unpaid carers
  • subject to consultation, the bill also proposed making flexible working the default unless employers have good reason not to.

TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady said the lack of the Employment Bill in Tuesday’s Queen’s Speech meant “vital rights that ministers had promised – like default flexible working, fair tips and protection from pregnancy discrimination – risk being ditched for good”.

She claimed ministers had “sent a signal that they are happy for rogue employers to ride roughshod over workers’ rights,” adding it would see “bad bosses celebrating”.

She’s not wrong!

But then, working people and their representatives were wrong ever to believe that Boris Johnson and his gang of asset-strippers and exploiters would ever legislate to ensure proper treatment for them.

In short, it seems clear that the promise of an Employment Bill was another Boris Johnson lie. We should have treated it as such from the start.

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Secret DWP benefits survey cherry-picks respondents – so it can lay blame on claimants?

Too much Coffey: the Work and Pensions Secretary (right) seems to have commissioned a survey of benefit claimants in order to say their failure to budget properly has put them into hardship – not her insistence on providing starvation-level payments and using the slightest excuse to cut them off. Meanwhile, she parties.

The Department for Work and Pensions has launched a secret survey – sent only to specially cherry-picked claimants.

The reason seems to be to blame benefit recipients for any hardship they suffer, claiming that poor budgeting skills are the root of the problem rather than the political decision to fix payments at starvation levels – and then to use the flimsiest excuses to stop them.

The survey asks about debts claimants may have, what effect the debts have had on them and what support they need. It is the last question that has raised concerns, as Benefits and Work, which hoisted the red flag on this apparent scam, pointed out:

The full question and list of options is as follows:

What types of help or support, if any, would be most useful in helping you manage your finances?

  • Help with working out what money I have left to spend each/day/week/month.
  • Advice on how to spread my spending so I don’t run out of money
  • Advice on how to reduce my spending
  • Advice on how to reduce my debt
  • Advice on how to increase my income
  • Help with setting up a direct debit/standing order
  • Help with opening a bank account
  • Other (specify)

In this context, advice to increase my income is most likely to relate to those in employment.  In general claimants cannot increase their income unless there is a benefit they could be claiming that they are not aware of.

What is entirely missing from these options are the ones that would actually make a difference to claimants, such as:

  • Pay benefits at a rate that is enough to live on
  • Remove the 5 week waiting time for UC
  • End the long delays for PIP assessments and WCAs

Because there are no such options, this survey will produce results that say that, of claimants who are in debt:

X% say they need advice on working out what money they have left to spend

X% say they need advice on how to reduce their spending

X% say they need advice on how to reduce their debt

Whilst some people may indeed say in the ‘Other’ box that the help they need is a higher rate of benefits, this will not be listed as a percentage in outcomes as everyone’s answers will be worded differently.

In other words, all the support needs will be around claimants not understanding how to manage their money, rather than it being impossible to manage on the money they receive.

See how it works?

Benefits and Work has made Freedom of Information requests to ask how the claimants taking part in this survey are selected, how many are taking part and whether the results of the report are going to be published.

The logical conclusion to be drawn is that the DWP has been stung by having to reveal the findings of its secret report on how people on sickness and disability benefits are struggling with unmet needs.

Work and Pensions Secretary Therese Coffey had repeatedly refused to publish the DWP-commissioned report on disabled people’s experiences of the benefit system – so the Commons Work and Pensions Committee ordered its authors to provide a copy to Parliament. It has now been published.

The report, received by the government in September 2020, stated that many people are using disability benefits such as PIP, which is intended to meet the additional costs of disability, for very basic needs such as food, rent and paying debts:

“The participant had kidney failure, arthritis in his back, legs and arms, depression and bulimia which caused chronic stomach pains. He lived alone in a flat rented from a Housing Association, using Housing Benefit. He was in the ESA Support Group and received PIP. He made monthly repayments for utility bill arrears and had a £5,000 bank loan which he could not afford to repay. His debt repayments meant he could not afford essential day-to-day living needs and used a foodbank. He found it difficult to wash independently due to his arthritis and needed a walk-in shower but could not afford one and seemed unaware that he may be eligible for support through the local authority. He also needed support with cooking and cleaning and received help from a cousin. His cousin would like to claim Carer’s Allowance but neither of them knew how to make an application. He had no other support networks close by.”

It said claimants with invisible disabilities such as mental health conditions often struggle even more than those with physical conditions to meet their basic needs:

“Participants with mental health conditions tended to report a wide variety of basic needs, health and care needs and social needs that were unmet. In comparison, those with profound learning disabilities and severe physical disabilities were typically in the group that identified having fewer unmet needs. While the latter group experienced a high level of need across a range of areas, these were usually being met through a combination of local authority support and informal support networks, usually parents who provided a high level of care.”

And the wellbeing of disabled claimants often depends primarily on being in a household in which another member has a well-paid job:

“The participant has recently moved in with her mother and sister, she had previously lived alone in a council-rented flat but had begun to feel isolated and found paying the rent and bills difficult so decided to move in with her mother. She has a range of health conditions and disabilities including Asperger syndrome, anxiety, ADHD, joint stiffness and IBS. She works 28 hours a week and receives PIP. Before moving to live with her mother she was concerned about how her income would cover essential day-to-day living costs. She also struggled with maintaining her personal hygiene and found it difficult to leave the house as she did not like going out alone. Moving in with her mother has helped her to meet all of her health-related needs.”

The reason Coffey and the DWP kept the report secret seems clear when one notes that last October – more than a year after receiving it – the Work and Pensions Secretary was lying to the public about the system it damns.

As Benefits and Work (again) details:

Coffey was telling the Conservative party conference that:

“PIP has certainly grown in a way that was not anticipated when it was introduced.

“To give you an example, three out of four young people who claim PIP have their primary reason being mental ill health.

“That in itself is 189,000 young people who currently receive benefit focused on that. There may be other benefits they receive as well.

“. . . people can think the benefit system is fair.

“And I think by being able to target that even more so to people who really need that support, may improve that prospect of public perception.”

Having been forced to release a report that shows – even in its watered-down form – that the benefit system is forcing hardship and related physical and psychological torture on claimants, including those who already have significant mental health problems (leading to a threat to life itself?), it seems Coffey has commissioned this new survey in order to manufacture a false justification for herself.

I think I’ll write her a letter. Let’s see how she justifies this web of deceit.

Source: DWP secret survey set to blame claimants for going cold and hungry

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MPs bypass #DWP to publish controversial report on claimants’ experience of #benefits

Boris Johnson isn’t the only Tory minister facing serious consequences for their actions this week. It’s looking bad for Work and Pensions Secretary Therese Coffey too.

Coffey has repeatedly refused to publish a DWP-commissioned report on disabled people’s experiences of the benefit system – so the Commons Work and Pensions Committee has given orders for its authors to provide a copy to Parliament, which will then be published.

The report, The Uses of Health and Disability Benefits was received by the Government in September 2020. The National Centre for Social Research (NatCen) had interviewed disabled people about their experiences of receiving PIP, ESA and Universal Credit.

The committee last month gave the Secretary of State one final chance to publish the report, which she herself admitted fell within the Government’s own protocol for publication.

But Coffey said she would not be reconsidering her decision.

Why not? It seems likely that researchers at NatCen, who wrote the report, found that people on disability and other health-related benefits were overwhelmingly negative about their experience of the system under Tories including Coffey and her forerunners, going right back to Iain Duncan Smith.

NatCen has been ordered to provide a copy of its report by January 27.

“After repeated obstruction from the Secretary of State to keep from public view a piece of work that falls within the Government’s own protocol for publication, we have reached the end of the road,” said Work and Pensions Committee chairman Stephen Timms.

“We would have much rather the DWP had done the right thing and published the report itself, so it is with regret that we must now take the highly unusual step of using our parliamentary powers to obtain a copy from NatCen and publish it ourselves.

“We have been forced to do this to ensure that the reality of disabled people’s experiences of the benefits system can see the light of day.”

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#RishiSunak writes off £4.3 billion that he gave to ‘Covid fraudsters’

I didn’t claim self employment support from the Tory government during the first wave of the Covid-19 crisis – and even in the light of the latest revelation, I’m convinced I was right to do so.

That’s because, even thought Rishi Sunak has admitted he won’t be able to collect £4.3 billion of the £5.8 billion he mistakenly (?) dished out to fraudulent claimants of self employment support and the furlough scheme, you can bet he would have been chasing me for a share of the £1.5 billion he thinks he can get back – even though I would have claimed it legitimately!

I’ve had too much experience of the Tory benefit system to get involved in that. I managed to survive by my own means.

But the failure to recoup the money that was claimed by fraud raises serious questions – like this one:

Well? Rishi Rich and his friends have managed to give our cash away to their buddies with all their other schemes – why not this one?

It would certainly fit with the pattern of behaviour we have seen from the Tory government.

And it raises questions about Sunak’s integrity…

And where’s the outrage from the mainstream media?

At the end of the day, it’s another £4.3 billion that Rishi Rich has spaffed up the wall without carrying out due diligence. By rights, he should be resigning from his job because he has wasted public money for no good reason.

He won’t, obviously. No integrity, remember?

What he might do is tell us we can’t have particular service anymore, or he’ll be reigning back on them so that, for example, people in the North can’t have the NHS care that people in the Southeast get – because “northerners are tougher than soft southerners, right? That’s what they’re always saying”.

Seriously, the justifications would probably be sillier than that.

I think we need to take a closer look at the books, here.

Why can’t Sunak get the money back? What’s stopping him? We need to know.

Because from here, it’s not looking like he is unable to recoup that cash.

It seems more likely that he simply doesn’t want to.

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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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Secret #disability #benefits report WILL be published whether #ThereseCoffey likes it or not

Therese Coffey: it seems she’s been too busy having a good time (in line with many of her Cabinet colleagues, we’ve learned) to publish a report on the quality of her work as it relates to people with disabilities who claim benefits.

Tough luck, Therese!

The Tory Work and Pensions Secretary has been sitting on a report on how claimants are affected by the way she runs disability benefits – presumably because it is damning, even though (allegedly) watered-down.

The benefits concerned are those received by people with long-term illnesses and disabilities: Personal Independence Payment (PIP), Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) and Universal Credit (UC).

Well, she won’t be able to warm her backside on it for very much longer because the Commons Work and Pensions Committee, sick of waiting for her to pull her finger out, has given her an ultimatum.

It is: publish the report by January 11 or we will publish it in spite of you.

The report falls within the government’s protocol for publication so there really is no legitimate reason for any delay.

Committee chairman Stephen Timms (Labour) said:

The Secretary of State has consistently failed to give the Committee a good reason why this piece of research should not be made public. She even admits that it falls within the Government’s own protocol for publication.

The continued refusal to publish the results of the research, as promised to the participants who gave up their time, will do further damage to disabled people’s trust in the Department—which is already in short supply.

The Secretary of State now has a final opportunity to think again and publish the research. If not, the Committee is firmly agreed that we will be left with no choice but to publish the report ourselves.

Source: Coffey ordered to publish secret disability benefits report or MPs will do it for her

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Why IS the #DWP refusing to release report on claimants’ experience of #PIP, #ESA and #UC?

[Image: Black Triangle Campaign].

The Department for Work and Pensions is stalling for time to bury important information on the way its benefit regime treats recipients – again.

It is now six years since I won my battle for the DWP to honour a Freedom of Information request on the number of people who have died after being denied ESA (thousands within two weeks; they hadn’t bothered to collect information beyond that time limit) – and still its officers obstruct requests.

Currently the DWP is refusing website Benefits and Work‘s request to see a report on 120 claimants’ experiences of receiving Personal Independence Payment, Employment and Support Allowance and Universal Credit.

The department is also refusing to allow the Commons Work and Pensions committee to see the report, even in complete confidentiality, raising questions over what ministers are trying to hide.

It seems even the interviewees themselves have not been allowed to see the report, which leads This Writer to question whether its information is accurate. Disability News Service has suggested that it isn’t, after being told by a whistleblower that, after the first draft was produced, ministers told the authors to cut the number of references to “unmet needs” and delete some analysis.

I tend to agree with Charlotte Hughes, who reported on this in her blog The Poor Side of Life:

So even the diluted final version of the report is apparently too scandalous to see the light of day.

From years of past experience we know that the DWP don’t put the needs of disabled people first or even anywhere. Their target is to force people into work regardless of them actually being able to do so.

In the past I’ve seen disabled people forced onto Universal Credit by deception and then forced onto DWP courses with the aim of getting them ‘ready’ for work.

We can’t let the government and the DWP get away with ignoring report requests and also implementing rules that are at best cruel.

We need to remember that the government and the DWP are masters of deception and we must continue to see past their lies. There’s more of us than there are of them and I alongside others will continue to hold them accountable for their actions.

Charlotte’s blog runs entirely on donations and if you want to contribute, follow the link to her site and press the “Donate” button.

With the DWP trying to hide a potential harm to people with long-term illnesses or disabilities, or who are unemployed, all social commentary sites have a responsibility to keep the facts of this matter within the public gaze, which is why I am publishing this information.

Please feel free to pass it on to as many people as possible – either by sharing this article or by referring to the information in conversation, should you get the opportunity.

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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