Sickness worsening? Beware following DWP rules

Before Christmas I attended an emergency interim appointment with my psychotherapist, (I’m still waiting regular appointments 2 years after referral); this was due to my continuous depression and dissociation becoming dangerous, I was constantly fighting thoughts of suicide . Because the S word was used, my therapist was obliged to write to my GP, which then led to my carer being compelled to inform the DWP of a change in my circumstances; what amazed me was, this reported change resulted in me having to complete a new claim!

Why the DWP feel a deterioration in mental health would be helped by having to go through the process of a new claim I’ve no idea? Anyway my carer duly filled in the form, and on page 31, other information, he stated HE was both my full time carer and would be acting as my representative, this was then sent off along with the appropriate report from my therapist.

I received a home visit fairly quickly from a pleasant man, who after numerous requests as to his qualifications, reluctantly admitted he was a paramedic; when it came to him asking me about my mental health he decided it would be a good idea to tell me of his experiences of dealing with people who had taken their own lives. In truth all this did, was inform me where not to carry out my thoughts, and in no way made me feel any more positive; if anything it caused me to focus on my suicide plan even more.

Two weeks ago the dreaded brown envelope arrived with the decision; which along with the usual errors of the decision makers (DM) not reading the information, this unknown DM had in their wisdom, determined, because I am still on the waiting list for regular therapy, my mental health wasn’t too bad!

As if this wasn’t enough to deal with, the same day my daughter phoned and said she had also received a copy of my decision; I went ballistic. The whole reason for Tony, my partner dealing with everything was because I didn’t want my daughter knowing just how ill I was.

As this was a Saturday, I stressed until the Monday morning when Tony rang to request a copy of the assessors report, he also asked why my information had been sent out to another person; the call centre operative checked and apparently a decision maker had decided to change him as my rep and add my daughter instead?!!

A complaint was immediately written and sent off and we’re awaiting the response; so be warned, if you have a change in circumstances be prepared to go through yet another claim and hope your info doesn’t get sent to anyone else.

I’ll update this when the reply arrives.

 

PIP Assessment; Traffic could cost your award

Steve, a fellow campaigner was asked to support a PIP claimant who had been instructed by the DWP to attend an assessment in Walsall despite living in Birmingham; Steve raised this with his MP, the subsequent correspondence regarding is below:

Subject: Capita Assessment Centres
 Date: Thu, 8 Oct 2015 08:23:02 +0100
 To: richard.burden.mp@parliament.uk

Mr Burden,

 I have been made aware that people are being asked to travel from Birmingham all the way to Walsall for their PIP medical assessment.
As you can fully appreciate some of these people have severe mobility issues as well as mental health issues and the distance they are being asked to travel will have a profound affect on the health.
 Could you please ask the minister for the disabled Rt Hon Justin Tomlinson to look into this further.

A rather interesting response was received

As part of the specification for the PIP assessment service, Assessment Providers must provide sufficient suitable accommodation for face-to-face consultations. The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has set clear requirements in terms of geography, travel, security and the claimant experience in relation to the sites used for PIP consultations.

The DWP requirement is that claimants do not have to travel for more than 90 minutes by public transport (single journey) to a consultation. However, this limit is an absolute maximum and for the majority of claimants their journey will be less than this.

The appointment letter includes a map and directions to the Assessment Centre. Where the claimant has a medical condition that makes travel difficult the claimant should discuss this with the Assessment Provider.

The DWP have specified circumstances where a home consultation will be offered, in particular where the claimant is unable to travel to a consultation as a result of their health conditions or impairments. More specifically home consultations could be offered when the claimant provides confirmation from their health professional that indicates they are unable to travel on health grounds.

When a claimant travels to a face-to-face consultation they are able to claim travel expenses for themselves and a companion, carer or young children who would otherwise be left unattended.

Payments can be made for public transport fares, travel by private motor vehicle and other costs relating to the journey to and from the consultation such as parking. There are circumstances in which taxi fares can be reimbursed. This should be discussed with the Assessment Provider before attending the consultation. Payments relating to other costs of the journey such as parking, tolls or congestion charges can also be met. Travel expenses will be reimbursed within 14 days of the claim but cannot be paid in advance or at the Assessment Centre.

Should a claimant have any difficulties attending a consultation they should discuss it with the Assessment Provider as soon as possible. If a claimant contacts the Assessment Provider in advance to advise they are unable to attend their consultation, they will be offered a second appointment. This may enable them to arrange for a companion to assist with their travel arrangements.

Justin Tomlinson MP

Minister for Disabled People

This raises an issue I’d not considered before, the DWP state “claimants do not have to travel for more than 90 minutes by public transport”  and as Steve says, and having lived in the area for over 8 years I concur, the problem with getting to Walsall from Birmingham is not the distance, which at around 13 mile should be within the DWP criteria. However the fact that  “getting to Walsall for an early morning appointment is “at a best a nightmare” even when the M6 is  “at its quietest”; thus as Steve points out “potentially you could lose your award because of traffic problem”.

Steve raised the case thinking of using a private car but by public transport it is an even worse problem – consider you need a use a bus to get to train station (or as close as possible) then the train journey itself and finally the bus (if there is one) to the assessment centre. This could easily take more than 90 minutes, therefore your PIP award could rely on traffic?

Just to add final insult to injury you arrive at Walsall Assessment Centre to find it is  inaccessible for disabled people!

 

Tory Housing Transformation Nothing more than another attack on the poorest

Sadiq Khan was in yesterday’s Mirror offering his opinion on the Tories “plan to transform sink estates“;  he speaks of how “having a secure and affordable home meant my parents could build a better life for me…”; this was also my experience.

My mum when widowed January 21 1965, was in the process of moving home, with my dad they’d bought a new bungalow  and sold the terraced house they’d lived in for a decade, completing on Saturday 16/01/65. Due to the insurance documents not being signed at the same time, when my dad died of an unknown chronic heart disease on the Thursday, she and I were made homeless.

After two years of ‘making do’ at my grandparents we moved into a maisonette, on a new and at the time, state of the art council estate. Over the past 49 years the same estate has gone from being the flagship for Leicester City Council to so-called sink estate, now surrounded by  iron bars. Yet it was that estate where I grew up, went to grammar school and ultimately university and on to post-grad education.

In 2012 “St Matthews Estate in Leicester is classed as the second most social deprived estate in the country” and yet despite this, my now 85 year old mum, still lives there out of choice. She has friends who have also lived there for decades and she receives support and help from the now majority Somali community; when she had a fall five month ago it was a young Somali man, who she didn’t know, that helped her home.

Given mums home is on ‘the second most deprived estate” it is likely that St Matthews will be one of those estates Cameron will want to transform. Some people will hearing/reading about this will think it a good idea, but my experience and that of  Sadiq Khan, and perhaps more surprisingly The Economist, this transformation will destroy far more than it builds.

Not only will the residents be moved away from where they are comfortable and have the support networks vital for safety; as the Economist points out “Unnervingly, poor children seem to fare better in poor neighbourhoods.” The article ‘paradox of the ghetto‘ shows that “poor boys living in largely well-to-do neighbourhoods were the most likely to engage in anti-social behaviour, from lying and swearing to such petty misdemeanours as fighting, shoplifting and vandalism”. As a long term youth worker I suggest this has to do with the need to be accepted, rather than these boys being inherently ‘bad’. The need to fit-in is well documented and experience has shown me that where acceptance is not an option, being feared is the next best thing, and thus young people from these so called ‘sink’ neighbourhoods become the self-fulling prophecy.  This theory is also supported by Professor Tim Newburn who says ” Living alongside the rich may also make the poor more keenly aware of their own deprivation”; therefore in order not to become the victim of the bullying being the outsider often results in, the poor child acts out. Further living in a community where families know each other and communicate, results in young people knowing any unsocial behaviour will be reported back; in my experience this makes you police yourself for fear of the wrath of mum.

Given the above I would suggest the Governments plan has far more to do with their aspiration to abolish social housing, rather any real  “ambition” to enable the families living there. Reading the ‘Notes to Editor’ on the official press release, it claims ‘successful regeneration’ has already occurred at Woodberry Down in Hackney and Packington Estate in Islington However it does not address why both estates have been rebuilt with only 50% social housing, nor what happened to the other half of tenants?   I can only imagine what will happen if Leicester City Council allows St Matthews to be ‘transformed’ (and the legacy of previous decisions made by our City Mayor strongly suggests it will); will my mum be forced into an unsuitable poky flat away from her network of friends and the close proximity of family, and it so how will she cope? This terrifies me as I’m only too aware of her attachment to her home.

The plan will also destroy the real community that exists on the estate, a community of former refugees who have already been forced from their homeland and yet have come together to create a neighbourhood of safety and opportunity. This is what precisely what the designers of St Matthews Estate desired 50 year ago and demonstrates exactly what Cameron’s Transformation plan ignores.

 

 

 

Consultation as government seek to limit disabled people’s eligibility for Personal Independence Payment

The Importance of this consultation is – it SHOWS how Tory #Austerity CUTS Impact on those in MOST NEED

Politics and Insights

358-burden-of-cutsThe government is considering ways of reducing eligibility criteria for the daily living component of Personal Independence Payment (PIP) by narrowing definitions of aids and appliances. Other suggestions for cuts include:

  • Targeting resources through a lump sum payment for claimants who meet or exceed the eligibility point threshold for the daily living component but score all of their points from aids and appliances. The value of this lump sum could be less than the cumulative value of the equivalent monthly payments. It could be discretionary and could be restricted, for example through the use of vouchers. It would not act as a passport to any other benefit or benefit premia and would not exempt claimants from the benefit cap.

  • A monthly payment below the equivalent weekly rate for claimants who meet or exceed the eligibility point threshold for the daily living component, at either rate, but score all…

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Hello Darkness my old Friend

Apologies to those of you not old enough to remember the opening line of the the song “sound of Silence”; I heard this on the radio today for the first time in years and it resonated in a way it never had before. This has been (and still is) my world for the past few month, but I’m making a special effort to wish all of you happiness and peace of mind for this time of year.

lightevident

 

 

 

Asking a Question, the Challenge open to us all

UPDATE – received replies from both  and @realbritainros and positive conversation – THANKS to both

I know I’m not alone in becoming more ill, month by month, particularly hard is the growing feeling of defeat; don’t get me wrong I’m still striving, hence this post but…the slowness of publications speaks volumes.

I still try to read the news every day, I still work to support people with their disability issues through DEAEP, but the feeling of proverbially banging my head increases; when reading the columns of those journalists I still value, they also seem to feel fighting the Tory onslaught is futile.

What brought this home is the Mirrors 16 of the scariest things we just learnt about benefits reform, it writes of Sanctions, Hunger, Homelessness, Health, IT (crap systems) Debt and touches on Tory Lies; yet it fails to mention the ever-lengthening list of people who have DIED through Benefit Reform?

This is despite the growing evidence of what we all know, these deaths ARE related to said government Policy – “Nearly 90 people a month are dying after being declared fit for work ” according to DWP figures, “One in five benefit-related deaths involved sanctions,”also from DWP stats and when a Coroner finds “Suicide was ‘triggered’ by ‘fit for work’ test“, the proof surely is conclusive.

Yet this loss of countless lives fails to makes the scariest things – Why?

Have we all become so inured to these deaths, the fact Benefit Reform Kills is no longer news; or is it more like the reasons purported for the Lords U-Turn last night? Are the press so afraid of backlash from the Tories, they report the data that affects the smallest group, especially when they are the scroungers?

I’m fully aware this is nothing new, but each time another journalist goes for the ‘softer’ option is another kick to my seriously depleted energy; as is every scrap on social media with us targeting each other – and the question why bother continuing, screams in my head.

This is not a request for neither do I need sympathy for my personal position; I’ve accepted its unlikely I’ll be here to witness the end of the fallout, which has to follow the demise of the cruellest and most brutal Government in the past 50 years. However, hopefully in 15 years or so, my grandchildren will be privileged to live as young adults in a world where, having a warm home with a full cupboard, won’t depend on them winning a lottery. This is my reason to keep on banging my head, to scrape up enough energy to occasionally write, or most importantly keep challenging.

Given this I’ve asked the article writer via  and @realbritainros who promoted this piece, WHY the 16 Scariest things don’t include DYING? Now Will You?

Capita assessors STILL refusing to disclose qualifications

Despite the DWP informing Capita it is a “requirement” that PIP assessors must reveal qualifications, it transpires that in Leicester at least, this information has not been passed down.

Last Tuesday Nicki, one of DEAEP’s Peer Supporters went along with a customer to the local Capita Assessment centre; when she asked for the medical qualifications of Stuart the assessor, she was told it was Capita policy this information was withheld?

I’m making no suggestion this will have any influence on the decision, but it does make me wonder how much the DWP requires of assessors, is communicated to them?

I’d be interested to know if anyone else has had this experience?