Tag Archives: JSA

Will ‘legacy’ benefit claimants get £1,500 in backdated Covid-19 ‘uplift’ after High Court challenge?

The High Court has begun to consider whether it was unlawful of the Conservative government to deny claimants of ‘legacy’ benefits the £20 uplift it gave to people on Universal Credit.

The court granted permission for a judicial review on April 27, but the case has been much-delayed, with the hearing postponed from September to November 17, and then the second day being moved to November 19 – but it is happening.

The case has been brought by two recipients of Employment and Support Allowance who used Legal Aid to instruct law firm Osbornes Law.

A press release from the firm states:

Despite them having an equivalent entitlement to the ‘standard allowance’ of UC, simply because they were in a different part of the system, 1.9 million people on Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) have been without this increase, which many have called a ‘lifeline’.

Claimants of Income Support and Job Seekers Allowance have also been excluded.

Many have argued that this is unfair, including the Chair of the Work and Pensions Select Committee: “It’s simply not right for people to miss out on support just because they happen, through no fault of their own, to be claiming the ‘wrong’ kind of benefit.”

We are pursuing this legal challenge based on the proposition that the pandemic means those dependent upon basic allowances are facing higher basic living costs, and yet despite their very similar circumstances, only some of them receive a Covid-specific uplift to help meet those costs.

This unfairness calls for a properly evidenced justification, particularly as almost 2 million disabled people are disproportionately affected by this decision and the pandemic generally.

Thus far the Government has failed to provide any objectively verifiable reason for the difference in treatment of people in essentially identical circumstances.

If the Department for Work and Pensions loses, the more-than-two-million people affected could each be entitled to up to £1,500 in backdated extra payments.

The start of the case was marked by a huge show of support for the case outside the High Court, by groups including Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC) and Unite Community, the MS Society, SNP MPs Marion Fellows and David Linden, and Labour MPs Debbie Abrahams, Marsha de Cordova and John McDonnell:

The outcome of the case is unlikely to be announced on Friday (November 19).

Let’s hope it doesn’t take as long coming out as the judgement in the libel case between Rachel Riley and former Jeremy Corbyn aide Laura Murray. That was heard in May and the verdict is still unknown, half a year later.

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New DWP sanction system could have TOUGHER punishments for claimants

[Image: www.disabledgo.com]

This is extreme, even for the Department for Work and Pensions.

It seems there are moves to toughen up the sanction system for people on New Style Employment and Support Allowance and Jobseekers’ Allowance, even though sanctions were only introduced a few days ago.

The DWP has a new watchdog organisation, the Social Security Advisory Committee (what happened to the Bonfire of All The Quangos?) that reckons the system isn’t harsh enough.

Apparently it is possible for people to claim both Universal Credit and JSA or ESA – but if they are sanctioned, it can only be applied to UC.

This means that such claimants would be in a better position financially than people on only one of the benefits; if the sanctioned amount was more than the value of the UC element of benefit payments to a particular claimant (it could be zero), then the total sanction could be as low as zero.

The SSAC wants the penalties to apply to both benefits that are being claimed.

Considering the arbitrary nature of the sanction system, This Writer considers the current situation to be a valuable protection for claimants. We have all heard horror stories about people who were sanctioned and subsequently died because the DWP got its decision wrong.

It seems the problem lies in the fact that sanctions are decided on the advice of a DWP work coach – a single civil servant – whose attitude to the job may vary between very extreme positions, depending on who it is.

Work coaches are supposed to help claimants write a “claimant commitment” that sets out their obligations as claimants of the state payments.

The commitment should be accessible, clear, tailored to the claimant’s needs and the state of the local labour market, and agreed by both the claimant and the DWP, and claimants should be properly informed.

In fact, research has shown that some work coaches aren’t using their discretion fairly or reasonably and opt for generic, rather than tailored, actions. Some work coaches were found to be copying and pasting actions from a shared document which had become standard in their local Job Centre.

There were examples of lone parents not being informed of their right to reduced work searches, and re-assessment interviews lasting just 10 minutes.

If brutal sanctions are applied to people on two benefits, on the say-so of the people responsible for such abuses of the rules, then hideous injustices may result.

Suggested examples include sanctions being applied to elderly disabled claimants now looking for work in their 60s and suffering poor health. How would they survive if their work coach turns out to be a “power maniac who enjoys putting the disadvantaged down”?

Ministers have not (yet) approved any suggested changes but we all know the DWP’s reputation for bloodthirstiness. How long will it be before this new opportunity to cause misery is seized?

Read more here: Exclusive: Benefits watchdog wants tougher punishment for jobless and disabled claimants after DWP bungles new sanctions system | Westminster Confidential

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Benefit sanctions: if you’re on new-style JSA or ESA, brace yourself!

Sanction centre: people on New Style ESA and JSA are about to be hit by the most arbitrary and unreasonable process ever foisted on large numbers of the public by a cruel government – the DWP’s sanctions regime.

The Department for Work and Pensions has decided that people on New Style Employment and Support Allowance, and Jobseekers Allowance, have life too easy.

So the DWP has introduced sanctions for those benefits. They came into effect on November 3 – did anybody notice?

The DWP says the rule change means that New Style JSA and ESA claimants who do not meet the responsibilities agreed in their Claimant Commitment, without having a good reason, will lose some or all of their payment.

But those with experience of how sanctions work in other benefits will know that claimants are likely to face unreasonable demands from the DWP that will be followed by a loss of benefits.

Sometimes they may be informed that their benefits are being sanctioned for transgressions that they have not committed or for failing to attend interviews to which they were not invited.

They may also be sanctioned for failing to attend interviews, even if they have provided good reasons. Being admitted to hospital – and therefore unable to communicate with the DWP – is never accepted as a good reason.

Of course, the DWP has not mentioned this. Its statement said: “As is the case for Universal Credit claimants, if someone in receipt of new style JSA and ESA fails to do what they have agreed to in their Claimant Commitment without good reason – such as having or caring for a child, or a change to a health condition – their payments may be reduced for a set period.”

This is particularly amusing – in a bitter way: “Sanctions are only applied as a last resort when a claimant is not engaging with the commitment they have made. If someone disagrees with a decision they can ask for it to be looked at again.”

Experience suggests that sanctions are less likely to be applied as a last resort than as a first response – especially if you are claiming ESA.

Of course it is entirely possible that the DWP will actually police its new system fairly…

But This Writer will believe it when I see it. I may have a long time to wait.

Source: DWP sanction rules will now apply to New Style ESA and Jobseekers Allowance claimants – Daily Record

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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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Loach heads campaigners calling for benefit assessment ban after job centre death

Pointing the finger: Ken Loach joined the call to end unfair benefit assessment interviews after the death of a man in Llanelli.

A campaign to ban benefit assessment interviews has been launched after a 65-year-old man with diabetes collapsed and died after being found ‘fit for work’.

Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC) has called on the DWP to halt assessments for Personal Independence Payment and Employment and Support Allowance after the man died while waiting for an interview to discuss his future benefit options.

Discussing the death, This Site stated: “He would have been old enough to retire if the Conservatives had not decided to raise the retirement age for both men and women in an attempt to save a few pennies.”

I wrote: “Yes, he was obviously ill. But that doesn’t mean a thing to a Tory government… They call it a ‘positive benefit outcome’.”

Others compared the tragedy to a similar scene in left-wing film-maker Ken Loach’s I, Daniel Blake.

Now Mr Loach himself has spoken in favour of DPAC’s campaign.

Unconsciously paraphrasing my words, he said (according to the Morning Star): “What has happened really was disgraceful. The man was only 65 — he only had a few more months to go and he would have been retired anyway.

“Such is the brutality of it, but it’s clear that the Tories have no intention of changing their harsh system.”

And he said: “We have to vote them out — we may as well start with Iain Duncan Smith, the architect of this misery, who is as callous as he is sanctimonious.”

That is already well in hand – as you can read here.

Demanding an end to PIP and ESA assessments, DPAC activist Jennifer Jones raised the relevant point – that a man has died in a manner that could have been prevented.

It happened because a benefit assessor “lied about his fitness levels and abilities and he wasn’t given the support that his individual needs deserved”.

She’s right – and it makes a nonsense of repeated attempts by the DWP to claim that it does provide support tailored to the needs of each benefit claimant.

So far – in this case – the DWP’s only comment has been a message of sympathy to the deceased man’s family and friends.

DPAC – and Mr Loach – have demanded an end to benefit assessment interviews, for the obvious reason that they have now been proven to do more harm than good.

But there is no way the DWP – run as it is by a Conservative government – will take such action willingly.

Labour has promised to overhaul the benefit system completely, though.

The only way to be sure this does not happen in the future is to elect a Labour government.

Source: Campaigners call for benefit assessment ban after man dies in jobcentre | Morning Star

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Elderly man – with long-term illness – dies at Job Centre after being found ‘fit for work’

Protest: This is the most appropriate image I have for the story below. It shows a protest by an artist known as VoidOne. More information is available here.

If this does say everything about why we need a change of government, I don’t know what does.

A man collapsed and died while he was waiting for an appointment to claim unemployment benefit at a Job Centre in Llanelli.

We are told he was diabetic, and must have been receiving some form of sickness or disability benefit until recently because his appointment was a consequence of being found “fit for work” after an assessment interview.

We are also told he was 65 years old, which means that he would have been old enough to retire if the Conservatives had not decided to raise the retirement age for both men and women in an attempt to save a few pennies.

Metro quotes a witness who said: “The man next to me told me that the poor guy had diabetes and had been declared fit for work by the job centre earlier in the year but he was obviously ill.”

Yes, he was obviously ill.

But that didn’t mean a thing to a Tory government that would rather see you dead if you can’t be made to work for a pittance to increase the profits of the super-rich.

That’s why so many people are refused sickness and disability benefits, even though they clearly qualify; without the money they need to support them, either their condition will kill them, or stress, or they may take their own life in despair.

It’s all the same to the Tories; they call it a “positive benefit outcome”.

There is only one way to end this barbarity – and that is to vote a Labour government back into office.

Source: Man dies at Llanelli Job Centre while claiming Jobseeker’s Allowance | Metro News

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The brutal difference between what Tories say and what they do

What Tories say:

Today – November 11 – is Remembrance Day. To mark the occasion, the Conservative Party announced a series of policies for ex-servicepeople.

Here’s one of them:

They have also announced extra childcare for military families and a law to protect veterans from “vexatious” legal action connected with their activities in the Armed Forces.

You may think that seems like a nice package.

What they do:

This is David Clapson:

He was a Lance Corporal in the Royal Signals serving in Belfast at the height of the troubles before leaving the army to work for BT. After working for the telecommunications firm for 16 years he became a carer for his elderly mother.

He suffered with Type 1 Diabetes and relied on regular insulin injections to survive.

Ordered to claim Jobseekers’ Allowance by the Tory-run Department for Work and Pensions, his payments were stopped after he missed an appointment and he died three weeks later, of diabetic shock, on July 20, 2013.

He had been unable to pay for the electricity to keep his insulin at the right temperature, meaning it had become unusable.

He had less than £4 to his name, and died with an empty stomach.

The Tories can say what they want and it won’t mean a thing.

This is what the Conservatives do to our ex-servicepeople. 

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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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Where have all the benefit claimants gone?

The DWP says anyone who thinks they are entitled to out-of-work benefit should contact Jobcentre Plus. But what happens to them then? [Image: Danny Lawson/PA.]

This is a question that deserves an answer – and a properly-researched, evidenced one at that.

For those who find it hard to read images, the text below reads:

“Isn’t it amazing?

“In between November 2013 and October 2017, 6,928,682 claimants took up a claim for Jobseeker’s Allowance and 7,649,611 came off Jobseeker’s Allowance – so we have 720,979 fewer jobseekers?

“However, in the same period 569,000 Employment & Support Allowance claimants registered a ‘Mandatory Reconsideration’ (MR) dispute. Most would be expected to claim Jobseeker’s Allowance until their dispute resulted in a decision.

“But still this massive reduction in Jobseeker’s Allowance?”

Can anybody explain this apparent miracle?


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Let’s find out the facts about people who have died under benefit sanction

“Dear DWP…

“I am writing to request information regarding people on benefit and under sanction. If the information is available, please indicate where I may find it. If the information is not currently available to the public, please consider this a request under the Freedom of Information Act 2000.

“Is it possible to see month-by-month details (from May 2010 onwards, where applicable) of the number of people on Jobseekers’ Allowance, Universal Credit, Employment and Support Allowance, Incapacity Benefit (until it was discontinued), Disability Living Allowance and Personal Independence Payment, satisfying the following criteria:

  • The total number of people on the individual benefits in each month?
  • The number who have died during each month?
  • The number under sanction during each month?
  • The number who died while under sanction during each month?

“I shall look forward to your response.”

I sent the above FoI request today (September 10), so we can probably expect the first evasion attempt in early October.

No doubt any answer will be accompanied by a claim that correlation between a sanction and a death does not imply causation.

Perhaps not, but any such correlation does imply that investigation is required to ascertain the exact cause.

So, depending on the reply, you can tell what my next step will be.


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