Universal Credit and applying for benefits destroyed my life and led to poverty, homelessness and abuse

OPINION

Universal Credit is advertised as ‘welfare that works’ or ‘making work pay’.

Those slogans couldn’t be any further from the truth.

When I read them for the first time, I laughed.

What else can you do? It’s laugh or cry, and trust me, Universal Credit makes you want to do more than cry. It makes you want to give up completely.

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More than that, it forces you out of a life. It pushes the vulnerable into crisis.

I say this, because it’s what I experienced.

I applied for Universal Credit when I was unemployed last year, and ended up being pushed into homelessness, poverty and abuse.

It’s common for people to think that those who apply for welfare are lazy.

In fact, Victoria Derbyshire recently posted a clip of Jack Monroe, an author and activist, speaking with Toff from Made in Chelsea.

Toff said: ‘You see people that are sat there, that are clever, can go and work, and choose not to. They choose to go and sign on.’

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If that was really the case, I’d understand people’s anger.

Of course, it doesn’t help that shows like Jeremy Kyle depict individuals who perpetuate the stereotype of welfare seekers, that they’re sat around all day, not wanting to work, claiming money from the hard-working taxpayer.

I wish that was true, because it would make the system simpler, and Universal Credit would make sense.

People who can work, but don’t want to, should be given a financial incentive to work, get into employment, and voila, problem solved.

Unfortunately, I’ve seen the reality with my own eyes, and can confirm that it simply isn’t the case.

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I’ve worked since the age of 16, taught myself my A-levels while working part time with my own flat and worked part time jobs throughout my time at university.

After graduating, I became university staff but the funding ran out after six months.

So I applied for new jobs, and received an offer to work at a national publication in London.

I moved across the country to the capital, but the job fell through due to changing business needs.

You’d think it shouldn’t take too long for an experienced young person to find another job pretty quickly, right?

I was in the capital, and had years of retail and hospitality work under my belt, alongside a degree, journalism and graduate experience.

I didn’t want to apply for Universal Credit right away – I didn’t want to take the money when I still had a bank loan to live off.

I applied for 20 jobs a day to start with. Half of them graduate roles, half of them retail and hospitality roles.

I got interviews each week, attended, did my best, but got knocked back because somebody else had more direct or recent experience.

When I looked at the ratio of applications to roles, I saw that, on average, 60-100 people were applying for every job I was.

Before too long, I realised I would have to apply for Universal Credit.

So I filled in the online application form and waited.

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Five days later, I got a call saying that my application had been automatically closed.

Despite giving my current address on my application, the system had a different address on file, so I didn’t read as eligible for Universal Credit.

I was told I’d need to travel to my local Jobcentre Plus, fill in a change of address form, wait for the system to process it, call up again, make a new claim, then await a callback with an appointment.

I asked the woman on the line if she was joking. She wasn’t.

So I turned up to the Jobcentre Plus, spent 20 minutes filling out a form, then got told not to fill in any applications. I was meant to apply for Universal Credit online.

Yeah, tried that. Didn’t work, did it?

After explaining my situation repeatedly over the course of two hours, watching three staff stand and scratch their heads over what a change of address form was and where it could be, I was eventually sent away and told it would be sorted.

Four working days later, I’d heard nothing, so I called back.

I’d been applying to 20 jobs a day, attending three to five interviews a week on average, and my money was running out.

I was told that I couldn’t be found on the system, and I had to reapply over the phone.

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The adviser on the line asked me questions I didn’t know the answer to – such as the full names and dates of birth of all the tenants in my house.

‘I’ve only been living here for a few weeks, I don’t know that information,’ I told him.

‘Well, if you can’t tell me anything, I can’t progress your application, and this whole call is useless,’ he told me irritably.

There was no need for him to be irritable – I was the one paying premium rates for the privilege of listening to his anger.

Eventually, I was told my application was being processed, and I got a call with an appointment a week later.

When I went in, I was told I’d need to wait six weeks until my first payment.

So I was forced to take out another bank loan so that I could afford to eat and keep a roof over my head.

By this point, my credit score was so low, I couldn’t apply for any other loans.

To this day, my credit score stops me from doing a lot of things.

I can’t even apply for rentals that run credit checks and there’s already a housing crisis in London, so my options are severely limited.

On file, I look like somebody who is irresponsible with their money and runs up big bills buying luxury goods.

In reality, I was forced to live off credit to survive.

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I was still expected to travel to my Jobcentre on the train every week, attend interviews and pay for my living costs, despite rapidly depleting funds.

I did so, expecting that my efforts at job hunting each week would be recognised by my work coach.

Two weeks in, he asked me why I was applying for graduate jobs.

‘You need to set the bar lower,’ he told me, handing me an application to be a night cleaner in a supermarket.

I felt like he was telling me to give up on my dreams.

When I told him I was getting interviews, but being told that other candidates had more experience, he told me I wasn’t working hard enough.

I struggled not to cry. I was working so hard and being punished for no reason.

I was applying for 30 jobs a day by this point – spending eight hours a day filling in online forms, emailing CVs to companies, tweaking cover letters, updating my LinkedIn profile with as much experience as I could.

When my money finally came through, it was only a fraction of what I’d been told I would get.

I asked what was going on in my next appointment and my work coach shrugged.

‘Dial the call centre,’ he told me, pointing to a phone.

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The woman on the line told me that my eligibility for housing allowance had been deducted by the assessment team, as I wasn’t eligible under the criteria.

‘What criteria?’ I asked.

‘You don’t meet the shared housing criteria that makes you eligible for the housing element of Universal Credit as you’re under 35 years of age,’ I was told.

‘What am I supposed to do for rent? Why wasn’t I told this sooner?’ I asked.

‘You can apply to your local housing authority,’ she told me.

‘They’ll take weeks to make a decision, and even then the funds aren’t guaranteed,’ I said, panicking.

‘You’re making me choose between having a roof over my head and food. What am I meant to do?’

‘I know it’s hard, trust me I know,’ she told me.

‘I don’t think you do know,’ I told her, anger mounting.

‘Thanks for nothing.’ I hung up, and started to leave.

‘Get back here!’ my work coach yelled from across the room.

I froze, and turned around.

Everyone was staring at me. I was forced to walk across the room, bright red with embarrassment, while everyone watched.

‘Have you stopped complaining now?’ he asked me.

Universal Credit and applying for benefits destroyed my life
(Picture: Getty)

‘I am incredibly angry right now, and our appointment is over,’ I said, struggling to keep the rage out of my words.

‘I would suggest I am given some time to process the latest decision that’s been made about me.’

For once, he didn’t say anything – just shooed me away with a flick of his hand.

I knew I had to spend the meagre funds I’d been provided with on transport to interviews, so my rent went unpaid and I was evicted.

I put all of my belongings in storage, and moved in with a friend I’d met a few weeks previously.

This unemployed man is not giving up until he finds a job

I barely knew him, but it was sleeping on the floor of his bedsit or sleeping on the streets.

His room was filthy. A blackened mattress lay on the floor, next to a sink covered in dust. Spiders nestled in the corner of the ceiling.

I spent the next two months being routinely guilt-tripped into sex, with the unspoken agreement that, because he had housed me, I was to give him my body in return.

I applied for 40 jobs a day.

Universal Credit and applying for benefits destroyed my life
(Picture: Getty)

I’d wake up, sit on the mattress, and spend all of my time filling out application forms, attending interviews across the city, and receiving rejection emails.

Then I’d be abused, go to sleep, wake up and do it all over again.

I attended the Jobcentre, and they repeatedly told me I’d been on benefits for a long time.

They told me I should be trying harder.

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If I stayed on Universal Credit for much longer, they’d need to refer me to a specialist clinic to get me back into work.

I gave up on fighting. It was clear they wouldn’t listen to my efforts. I was just somebody taking up their time, being lazy, not wanting to work, sponging off the government.

Sleeping on the floor of a strangers’ bedsit, going hungry for days at a time, getting repeatedly rejected for jobs in every sector from marketing to hospitality, was not good enough for them.

Universal Credit and applying for benefits destroyed my life
(Picture: Getty)

My spirit was being ground down every day by people who did not care how I felt, or have any desire for me to be happy.

Then I received another cut.

I saw that, if I’d still had my own place, I would have had enough to cover the rent – then have 75p remaining for the month.

Eventually, one of my friends worked out what was going on and told me to seek refuge.

‘This is horrific, you need to get out,’ he told me.

By this point, I felt dead inside. I’d had everything taken from me. My money, the roof over my head, my self esteem, my body. Everything.

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Universal Credit had pushed me into homelessness, poverty and abuse, and the trauma is something that remains with me to this day.

When I found refuge, I was picked up by an officer who drove me to a nondescript house, in the outer suburbs of London. She offered me a cup of coffee.

I looked at her, bewildered. Why did I deserve a hot drink? What was the catch? What did I have to give in return?

She showed me into a room, and told me it was mine. I was given a care package, and a bag of food.

The door closed, and I sunk to the floor. I didn’t even know how to cry. I was numb.

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(Picture: Farah Hughes)

Why was I being given an entire room to myself? Why did I deserve this luxury?

Food? For free? Surely it was going to be taken off me. This had to be a cruel joke. That’s all my life had been for the last six months.

That’s what Universal Credit did to me: it destroyed my self esteem and made me think I was worthless. What’s more, that I didn’t deserve to be given food and a roof over my head.

‘I didn’t do anything wrong,’ I told a therapist three months later.

‘I just tried to make a future for myself, like everyone else in this world. I worked hard. I did everything asked of me, and more. I don’t understand why it got forcibly taken from me.’

Yes, I’m in therapy – after the experiences that resulted from claiming Universal Credit, the abuse I went through, and the symptoms of PTSD I’ve started having.

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Obviously I have to pay for it myself each week – getting access to healthcare is a luxury many of us cannot get on the NHS.

Fortunately, I have a therapist who was so horrified by what I went through that the rate for each session is severely discounted.

I became so desensitised to the sexual violence that I would talk about it in a matter-of-fact monotone, face expressionless, sometimes laughing slightly to deal with talking about how disgusting the events were, the shocking nature of the things I was talking about so calmly.

In fact, I didn’t cry at anything I discussed over the following four months, and I’ve been abused over 30 times.

The other day, I went to therapy, and discussed the details of what Universal Credit had done.

‘I applied for 40 jobs a day, and they told me I wasn’t working hard enough. They cut my money, and I was evicted, I was homeless, and I got abused. They gave me 75p a day.’

Universal Credit and applying for benefits destroyed my life
(Picture: PA)

My voice cracked on the last word, and I started crying.

Abusive people, at least in my experience, don’t pretend to be good.

You know what you’re getting with them. That doesn’t make the experiences easier to deal with, but it’s clear cut.

What made me cry is the fact Universal Credit has people believing those on benefits are lazy. Then they make you think you’re worth nothing.

They trot out slogans which, combined with television depictions of those receiving welfare, have people believing that they could walk into a job, should they want to – but they can’t be bothered.

I used to think that, after university, I’d graduate and all the experience I’d gained would guarantee me a job fairly quickly.

What I learned is that, the minute you slip through the net, you get pushed to the floor, then repeatedly kicked, over and over.

Some people give up. I know people who have committed suicide over benefit cuts. 

Universal Credit calls itself a service that makes work pay, when really, all that happens is the most vulnerable people end up paying with their happiness, their security or even their lives.

MORE: America to start drug-testing unemployed people before paying benefits

 

SOURCE

Crunch time for Universal Credit!

The pace of the roll-out of ‘full’ Universal Credit is set to ramp up in a few months’ time.

 

Jo King shakes her head in desperation as Vivaldi’s The Four Seasonscroaks from her phone speaker. She has heard it countless times since she first called the Department for Work and Pensions’ (DWP) Universal Credit (UC) helpline.

“I’ve rung up four times already,” she explains over the garbled concerto. “If my Universal Credit is not there by the close of play, then my direct debits will bounce.”

Ms King, who was born blind and struggles with an array of physical and mental health problems, was told it would be in her account by 2pm. It’s now 3pm and there is no sign of the money. She could be fined £48 by her bank, which is a frightening sum for someone who needs every penny to pay for her care, bills and food.

“I won’t have much left out of my benefit if I’m charged for the direct debits,” she says when Inside Housing meets her at her homely council flat on the Newbiggin Hall Estate in Newcastle. “I will have to try to put something off until next month. Or it will be less food, probably.”

Universal Credit-Waiting Days Exceptions

Eventually, she is passed to a manager from the DWP’s Grimsby call centre, who promises she will get her money. But Ms King, 43, has every reason to doubt his word. The month we meet, the DWP has already failed to pay her rent directly to Your Homes Newcastle, Newcastle City Council’s 28,000-home ALMO.

Usually under UC, the money goes to the tenant, but tenants are able to make special arrangements to have their rent paid directly to their landlords. “I’ve not had one payment on time, or paid or worked out correctly,” she says, fiddling with her dark hair anxiously.

Ms King started receiving UC –which combines six benefits, including housing benefit, into a single payment – last year. Previously it only applied to single, unemployed adults. The so-called ‘full’ version is now being rolled out to families with children and disabled people.

Since then, Ms King has frequently fallen behind with her rent. “I would get calls from my rent officer all the time saying ‘have you been paid the rent, because we haven’t been paid the rent?’” she says.

She has twice been left without any UC. Instead she relied on emergency food parcels and her disability benefit, which is supposed to pay for her care. “The food bank dropped stuff off for me. And they made me smile because they gave me a bunch of flowers,” she says, still grateful for such a small act of kindness.

Rising pressures

Ms King’s plight is not unusual. Across Newcastle – the government’s official test bed for UC – 86% of the 2,271 council tenants currently claiming UC are in rent arrears, owing a total of £2.5m. Before UC was rolled out, only 53% were in arrears.

Yet in October, the roll-out of full UC is set to increase from five to 50 areas a month. By 2022, more than seven million households are expected to be in receipt of UC. This will include half of all families with children and nearly 60% of households where an adult is disabled or has a long-term health condition.

Nick Forbes, leader of Labour-run Newcastle City Council, warns UC is pushing people into debt and destitution. “We are having to pick up the pieces of a badly designed and badly thought through system, which is leaving people, who are often vulnerable, in serious financially difficulties,” he says. “And that is not acceptable.”

“We are having to pick up the pieces of a badly designed and badly thought through system.”

Rather than evicting tenants waiting for payment, the council is offering advice and support, and, occasionally, emergency payments and food. “Staff in our customer service centre have tins of food in cupboards because people are presenting having not eaten for three days,” says Mr Forbes.

But the council cannot stop private landlords taking matters into their own hands. “We know a number of people are starting to run up significant arrears in the private rented sector,” he says. “And that increases their risk of homelessness through eviction.”

Nor can it keep bailing tenants out for ever. Newcastle has had to cut £221m over the past six years and needs to find another £70m worth of savings by 2020. “Over the next two years we won’t be able to provide the same level of support,” says Mr Forbes.

Rent arrears pose other problems for the council: less money for housing maintenance and new homes. “It is yet another pressure on the Housing Revenue Account at a time when there is a huge drive to build new housing,” remarks Mr Forbes.

The experience of other areas with full UC is equally troubling. A survey of councils and ALMOs by the National Federation of ALMOs (NFA) and the Association of Retained Council Housing (ARCH) found in July that 73% of tenants were in arrears, owing an average of £772.21, up from £611.73 a year earlier. This is far higher than the 31% of tenants in arrears under the housing benefit system.

A separate Citizens Advice survey in July found that 57% of UC claimants seeking its advice had been forced to borrow money while waiting for their first payment, which takes at least six weeks. It also showed that 39% were waiting longer, and 11% were waiting more than 10 weeks.

Evidence of hardship caused by these delays is easy to find. A report for The Trussell Trust, which runs food banks across the UK, found in April that food banks in areas with full UC roll-out had seen a 17% average increase in referrals, more than double the national average increase of 7%.

In the West End of Newcastle, there are already people queuing outside The Trussell Trust food bank at the Church of the Venerable Bede when Inside Housing visits at 9.30am, 30 minutes ahead of its opening. There is a young man in sportswear, an older woman and a young couple holding empty shopping bags. They look sheepish and apprehensive in the morning drizzle – nothing like the Benefits Street stereotypes.

Inside, washed-out light comes through a broken window. The hall was broken into the week before but staff managed to open the food bank, which featured in Ken Loach’s acclaimed film I, Daniel Blake.

SOURCE

In a sickening insult a woman with dementia praised by David Cameron has had her benefits cut by Tories

Joy has worked hard to show people it is possible to enjoy life with dementia and help others

A woman praised by David Cameron as an ‘ambassador’ for people living with Alzheimer’s has had her benefits stopped.

Joy Watson, from Eccles, has been left struggling to pay bills after an assessment by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) decided she was able to look after herself. This means she has £400 less each month.

The 59-year-old, who was diagnosed four years ago, was forced to give up her job as a carer. But showing remarkable fortitude she became a champion for people with dementia giving lectures raising awareness, teaching nursing students and showing local businesses how to help those with the condition. Her efforts earned her a doctorate and praise from the former Prime Minister Mr Cameron.

Her husband Tony says he and his wife can’t understand how anyone could think she could look after herself. Joy is unable to cook meals or even hold a cup of tea properly and mixes up vital medication if left to manage on her own.

He and Joy have worked hard to show people it is possible to enjoy life with dementia and help others.

Husband and wife Tony and Joy Watson
Husband and wife Tony and Joy Watson (Image: Joel Goodman)

They worry now that their efforts to keep Joy well and living the best life she is able have led directly to the benefits cuts which have left them struggling to pay their bills. They have been told it is likely to be next year before a tribunal will hear their appeal – leaving them in a desperate situation.

Speaking haltingly as she struggles to remember the right words Joy said: “I had to give up the job I loved and I don’t see any sense in this decision. I feel really as if I’m being penalised for trying to live well, I don’t think [the system] is geared up for understanding people with dementia and their needs.

“They don’t see me when I’m fretting, when I can’t do the thing I want to do.

“I have had these benefits for four years since I got the diagnosis – do they not know that dementia is a progressive disease? I try to keep well but I’m not going to get better.”

Joy was assessed by a health worker from the DWP at her home in April following the recent government changes to move claimants on Disability Support Allowance to Personal Independence Payments. (PIP).

After this assessment, Joy’s support payments were stopped.

She appealed, but was rejected and returned an even lower score than the original decision. Joy’s Personal Independence Payments were stopped, and the Carer’s Allowance her retired husband Tony received for supporting Joy was also rescinded despite him caring for her round-the-clock.

It has come as a bitter blow to the couple who after the initial shock of her diagnosis at just 54 made a decision to be as positive as possible.

Joy used her own difficult experiences whilst out shopping to create a booklet for staff in shops and banks and gave one to each business in Eccles, signing up hundreds to a dementia friendly scheme.

Although she tries to live as independently as possible Tony says Joy is unable to look after herself. When she has tried to cook she has forgotten to turn the gas on, or not put water in the pan with vegetables and most worryingly she also forgets to turn the gas off.

A couple of years ago she went away with a carer for a few days and took her evening pills in the morning leaving her like a zombie all day.

Tony said: “The assessment lasted about an hour and Joy did not move from the sofa once.

“She struggled to remember her words, her hands shook and although we explained she can’t make meals because she forgets to turn off the gas and she can’t manage her medicine – she mixes up her evening and morning tablets – their report said she is able to look after herself.

“I have tried to help Joy to be as independent as possible, to live as well as possible, she has always wanted to help others and I believe that going out and talking to people about dementia has kept her brain working – it is her passion and we are so proud of what she has achieved.

“Joy is an amazing woman and she has worked so hard to keep herself well – she looks great, people can’t always tell she has dementia and I can’t help feeling if she had sat on the settee and stagnated, we would be getting all these benefits now.”

Last year Joy was made an Honorary Doctor of the University of Salford, and was recognised with the Prime Minister’s Points of Light Award.

At the time the former Prime Minister had said: “Since being diagnosed with Dementia, Joy has worked tirelessly to help people understand how we can all support people in our communities with dementia and Alzheimer’s.

She is an incredible ambassador for the Alzheimer’s Society, reaching a huge number of people and businesses with information and advice that will help them join the Dementia Friends movement. I am delighted to recognise Joy’s service by making her the UK’s 457th Point of Light.”

Rebecca Long Bailey, MP for Salford and Eccles, and Shadow Secretary of State for Business, said: “It is disgusting to hear what Joy and her husband are having to go through. Not only having to adjust their lives with the continuing degenerative condition that dementia brings, but to have the safety net of Personal Independence Payments and Carers Allowance pulled from under them.”

“I have written to the DWP and the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions to request they look again at the decision made. Unfortunately, having seen so many cases come through my constituency office this is not a rare case. “

She called on the government to “urgently review” their policy of assessing those with dementia and stopping benefits for months leaving many with little or no money to live on.

A DWP spokesperson said: “Decisions for PIP are made following consideration of all the information provided by the claimant, including supporting evidence from their GP or medical specialist.

“Anyone that disagrees with a decision can appeal.”

People may get the daily living part of PIP if you need help more than half of the time with things like: preparing or eating food;washing, bathing and using the toilet; dressing and undressing; reading and communicating; managing your medicines or treatments; making decisions about money; engaging with other people.

Meanwhile Joy is trying to remain positive; throwing her energy into a plan to raise money for Alzheimer’s Research by getting sponsored to riding the longest zipwire in Europe.

Where to get help…

Caring for a loved one with dementia can be incredibly tough but there are a vast range of services out there to help.

As well as practical advice, many of these services also offer much needed clinical and emotional support to families and carers.

In the UK, support charities include the Alzheimer’s Society, Dementia UK and Alzheimer’s Research UK, all of which feature essential information on their websites. Alzheimer’s Research UK also has an infoline on 0300 1115111, which is open Monday to Friday from 9am to 5pm.

Other support services include online forums, such as the Alzheimer’s Society’s Talking Point, the Carers UK forum and Carers Trust forum.
Further details of ways to access support can be found at www.nhs.uk/Conditions/dementia-guide/Pages/dementia-help-and-support.aspx .

ANOTHER PIP ATROCITY RIGHTED

Disabled woman told she showed ‘no evidence’ of any issues receives apology from PIP assessors

1

The woman, from Llanelli, will now receive the full PIP entitlement

Wheelchair-bound Charlotte Jukes was told she showed ‘no evidence’ of any illness.

Healthcare assessors have apologised after a Llanelli woman was turned down for a Personal Independence Payment (PIP) claim despite having left her job due to a disability.

Former teacher Charlotte Jukes, of Tumble, is bed-ridden, and had applied for a PIP claim after suffering from severe anxiety and depression.

Capita represented the Department of Work and Pensions in assessing the claim.

She was turned down for the payment following an assessment, and immediately disputed the report’s findings. She then appealed claims that she showed ‘no evidence’ of any mental health issues.

Following media reports over her plight, Mrs Jukes was contacted by the DWP and informed that they believed there were some “discrepancies” in her original report.

Speaking following the verdict, Mrs Jukes said: “After learning that there had indeed been discrepancies in my report, I had to go through assessment again with somebody different.

“The second assessment lasted around two and a half hours, while the first was only about twenty minutes. The latest one was very thorough, and made me carry out physical tests.

“I’ll now be able to afford the electric wheelchair I need, meaning I will be able to go out more.

“The payments have been backdated back to January, when I first made the claim, so they have confirmed that I will receive them in a lump sum.

“We’ll also have a better quality of life financially, although I was shocked to find out that it will only allow me to have £3 a week in housing benefit because my husband works.

“The benefit advisor said we’d be better off if he stopped working and claimed jobseekers’ allowance, which is ridiculous – why would he want to sit at home all day doing nothing?

“I also find it strange that I can go from being deemed as having nothing wrong with me, to being assessed as eligible for the higher rate of both the daily living and mobility components of PIP. It seems very unfair that I have had to fight the process to get what I should have had in the first place.

“At least I won’t have to go to court, which of course would be a challenge not just mentally but physically too, and I’ve avoided the ordeal of going to a tribunal.”

A Capita spokeswoman said: “Our assessors are healthcare professionals who are committed to delivering high quality and accurate reports in line with Department for Work and Pensions guidance. a

“If a claimant has queries about a report they can contact us by phone, text phone, email or post so that we can look into their concern.

“We apologise that on this rare occasion our high standards weren’t met.

“This was swiftly resolved and the claimant has since had a second assessment.”

SOURCE


OTHER PIP ATROCITIES

 

  1. Daughter’s fury after DWP tell doctors not to write sick note for dying father  
  2. VULNERABLE Man tells of eviction fears after losing crucial benefits
  3. Mum who suffers from MS has benefits cut – because she can squeeze someone’s thumb
  4. Tories admit PIP assessments are a meaningless charade
  5. As An Unpaid Carer For My Disabled Husband, I Fear ‘Just Managing’ Is A Cliff Edge From Poverty
  6. Tories attacking disabled people ‘in every area of their lives’, says campaigner
  7. Heartache as disabled woman is hit by benefits cut 
  8. Man crippled by cancer for two decades loses life award after being forced into PIP assessment
  9. Mum recovering from brain tumour is hit by benefits blunder
  10. Mum who suffers from MS has benefits cut – because she can squeeze someone’s thumb
  11. Grandfather told to get a job has decision reversed by DWP after Daily Record story
  12. In excruciating pain. Unable to sleep. Yet John is still ‘fit for work’
  13. Woman has disability benefits axed for having life-saving open-heart surgery
  14. I’ve had a heart attack, two strokes and my kidneys are failing…but I’m “fit” for work’ 
  15. Diabetic man blames DWP benefit sanctions for leg amputation
  16. Conwy mum with MS made to feel she’s ‘not disabled enough’ after losing mobility car
  17. As a thalidomider, ‘I feel I’m being treated like a scrounger’
  18. Diabetic man has leg amputated after health problems spiralled out of control when benefits were stopped
  19. Cruel government tests that literally leave people dying for help
  20. Boy born with half a heart has disability benefits taken away – on his 8th birthday
  21. Woman has disability benefits stopped – despite not being able to climb her own stairs   
  22. AND THE PIP ATROCITIES GO ON AND ON: PIP investigation 200 cases of dishonesty
  23. ANOTHER DWP ATROCITY: Gran found “fit” for work two weeks after a stroke!
  24. Double amputee in constant agony faces losing disability car
  25. Wheelchair-bound pensioner has benefits slashed by £242 a week
  26. Disabled war veteran rode mobility scooter on 60mph road for 20-mile trip to attend benefits test
  27. Disabled woman felt “dehumanised” after being forced to crawl up stairs for benefits appointment 
  28.  

ANOTHER DWP ATROCITY: Gran found “fit” for work two weeks after a stroke!

‘I can’t breathe and can barely walk’ Shock as gran who is in pain 24 hours a day ruled fit for work only weeks after suffering a stroke

Pauline Pike has battled cancer, uses a nebuliser to help her breathe and has just suffered her second stroke – but hardhearted benefits bosses have ordered her to find a job.

A shocked gran who battled cancer and suffers chronic breathing problems has been told she’s fit for work – just weeks after having a stroke.

Pauline Pike has a history of health problems stretching back more than 30 years including cancer, diverticulitis, chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder and asthma.

She has also had a kidney removed and suffered her second stroke six weeks ago.

Yet hardhearted benefits bosses have just told her they’re taking away her benefitpayments and ordered her to find a job.

Pauline Pike has been ruled fit to work despite suffering from a catalogue of health problems (Image: Daily Record)

Pauline, 59, who has to use a nebuliser to help her breathe, said: “I just got a call this week and I could not believe what I was hearing.

“I had been to a medical assessment a few weeks back and they found me to be fit for work.

“When I was forced to go for the medical, that was the first time I had been out the house in ages.

“I went along and I felt as if the woman was putting words into my mouth.

“She was asking if I could walk around the shops if I was with my husband and whether I could use my arms.

“I felt harassed and as if she had made her mind up before I was even finished.

“I was shocked to be told I was fit to work and flabbergasted when they then rang me and told me my benefits would stop next month and I would need to get a job.

“Who is going to take me on? I can’t breathe and can barely walk about the place. It’s not right to
put me through all this especially when I am trying to recover from my second stroke six weeks ago.”

After the test in Kirkcaldy , the Department of Work and Pensions told Pauline that her income support and severe disability allowance will end on August 17.

Pauline suffered her first stroke at the age of 36. She said: “I am still suffering. I am in pain 24 hours a day.

They don’t care. I am just a number to them. I’ve been on morphine for at least five years and yet I am expected to just go out and get a job.

“I have never heard anything so ridiculous. I have asthma and have to use a nebuliser several times a day just to breathe.

“I have COPD which restricts my airways and I had cancer, which led to my kidney being removed.

“I don’t care what they do to me, I am just not going to play along.

“There’s no way I can work – I can barely walk. There always has to be someone with me, either my husband or my daughter.

“When I first went in, the doctor was okay but she was asking me to do things like moving my arms and I could hardly do even half of it.

“I have high blood pressure and this is making it go through the roof. I can’t believe they are putting me and my family through all this.

“It is an utter scandal – the way the Government are treating people is a disgrace.”

Last month, campaigners called on the UK Government to end humiliating benefit assessments after a disabled woman was forced to crawl up stairs to attend one.

Maria Quinn, who is partially sighted and walks with the aid of a wheeled frame, said she felt “panicked” after finding there was no other access.

With her solicitor carrying her mobility aid and her sister holding her breathing equipment, Maria, 32, managed to enter the disability benefits centre on Glasgow’s Cadogan Street by “crawling up the two split-level stairs”.

She said she was refused the portable ramp which can cover the entrance stairs as it was intended for wheelchairs only – and if she had returned to her flat to collect her chair, she would have been late and missed the appointment.

Disability charity Scope said her case highlighted the difficulties disabled people face in trying to attend assessments, and called for an overhaul of the system.

A DWP spokesman said: “The decision on whether someone is well enough to work is taken after an independent assessment, including all available evidence provided from the claimant’s GP or medical specialist.

“Anyone who disagrees with the outcome of their assessment can appeal.” source

Why don’t the DWP say: anyone that wants to claim any benefits have to go through the appeal courts first?

JUST HOW MONSTROUS CAN THE TORIES GET? #rapeclause

Tory government rejects petition to scrap the ‘rape clause’ for women on tax credits

More than 25,000 people had signed the bid to halt changes to tax credits which make women provide evidence to show they have had a child by rape

The Tory government has rejected a petition to scrap a policy dubbed the “rape clause”.

More than 25,000 people had signed the bid to halt changes to tax credits which make women provide evidence they had a child by rape – forcing them to revisit their ordeal.

But the petition was rejected by the government in a lengthy statement today by the Department for Work and Pensions.

Despite running to nearly 500 words, the statement did not include a key word – “rape”.

Instead it stuck to using the term “non-consensual conception” and talked of claimants “not being able to make the same choices” about having children.

The rule was introduced as part of a new regime that means claimants can only be paid tax credits for their first two children.

The petition was on the government’s website

There are exceptions for twins, disabled children or children born of rape. But that means raped mums must prove their ordeal by providing “evidence” in an 8-page government form.

That prompted anger, with the SNP leading protests against the policy and raising it in Parliament.

The petition called for the entire policy to be scrapped because the rape exemption “cannot be delivered in a way that does not breach women’s rights and undermine women’s equality and safety”.

In its statement on the petition, the DWP said the policy overall “encourages” families to make the same financial decisions as those not claiming benefits.

It added: “Some claimants are not able to make the same choices about the number of children in their family as others.

“For that reason, there are a series of exceptions to the restriction.”

It said the implementation of the clause had already been consulted on with 50 organisations – and includes victims whose abuser has never been convicted in the courts.

For those claimants, the government will accept third-party evidence from a counsellor or case worker.

Female rape victim
Women who have had a child by rape are exempted – but forced to revisit their ordeal(Image: REX/Shutterstock)

“The intention is to strike the right balance between ensuring claimants in these circumstances get the support they need in a not overly intrusive manner whilst at the same time providing the right assurance that the additional support is going to those for whom it is intended,” the DWP said.

But Lib Dem leader Tim Farron said: “A good Government also has a duty and responsibility to care for the vulnerable and treat its citizens with respect and dignity.

“Theresa May’s government has trashed that duty with the rape clause which shame’s women and condemns their children to poverty.

“The Prime Minister seems committed to bringing the nasty party back.”

source