PIP – Permanently Irritation Persecution?

Recent experience leads me to ask the question what does is PIP – Personal Independence Payment OR Permanently Irritation Persecution?

In February  I wrote about how following the DWP rules resulted in my health deteriorating, since then it has been one thing after another. The report from Capita following this assessment  was dire, therefore it was back into the Mandatory Reconsideration process once again, and duly into the request for Tribunal.

I duly received my date for tribunal on May 26th and whilst preparing myself to attend at 10.00 am that morning I had a call from the court telling me the panel had adjourned the event as they wanted further information from my GP. This stunned me and I was left dealing with the vast amount of adrenalin coursing through my body, but I tried to focus on how this delay might well be a positive thing.

In regular circumstances I should have heard nothing more until the information had been accessed and the new date set; however this is the DWP we’re dealing with. Last Saturday (and I’m becoming convinced all of these letters are posted to arrive at the weekend), I received a letter from Capita stating as a result of my recent application for PIP I needed to arrange an assessment!! Yesterday whilst I was at my mums, my partner phoned the DWP and eventually was told this new assessment had been requested by the tribunal; he also called Capita who arranged for the assessment to be next Monday 13/6/16 .

Today I received a form from the tribunal  requesting my permission for them to contact my GP, so I called them to ask about the assessment request; only to be informed by the court they had not, nor could they, request another assessment!

I immediately phoned the DWP and after repeating the information to told my partner, was informed by this call centre person (Colin) they could not understand why he’d  been told this, and as far as Colin could see a new case (claim) had been opened on 25/5/16 and this was the reason for the assessment?!  After informing Colin of my Capita appointment he agreed to email the case manager for an urgent call back.

This is just another episode in the ongoing saga of my PIP claim; this causes me to question if the competence levels of the DWP are diminishing ever lower or is PIP merely another way for those in Government to further persecute the sickest members of society? What I do know is this seemingly endless torment is seriously screwing me up.

 

Here We Go Again – DWP to Repeat the ATOS Disaster ?

I’m sure I’m not alone in being totally unsurprised, albeit sick to my stomach at the latest revelation to be leaked from Tory proposals for Benefits, the drastic cutting of  ESA; it appears that new claimants placed in  WRAG will only receive 50 pence a week more than JSA. This has led me to wonder if this extreme reduction has anything to do with the increase in the number of people claiming out of work sickness or disability benefits?

The fact the cut was ‘leaked’ on the same day, and to the same source as the claim, Maximus will be the company taking over the contract from ATOS, also leaves me unsurprised. I can imagine the key players from DWP and Maximus sitting around the table and plotting this decimation of ESA as a part of the contract. The key aim of Welfare Reform has always been to slash Benefits, irrespective of need, and now seemingly wants to privatise all out of work benefits; therefore given Maximus’ existing  involvement in running the Work Programme, and the new Health and Work programme  this pairing seems a perfect match.

However when John Pring initially suggested, Maximus was the preferred bidder to replace ATOS, he also revealed the company’s “chilling” record of incompetence, discrimination and alleged fraud“. Thinking back to when ATOS was initially awarded the contract for WCAs, there were similar concerns around the unsuitability of ATOS, and we all know the outcome of that appointment.

It appears the DWP have completely failed to learn from the ATOS debacle and is planning to enter into another disastrous contract with a seemingly corrupt company, all for Corporate Greed.  Further the DWP seems to be continuing the rhetoric of  blaming us being ill; refusing to acknowledge their attacks on poorest and most vulnerable people through both the continuing  scapegoating and their discriminatory Policies, are in any way responsible.

The ‘leaking’ of these two announcements today suggest the DWP are maintaining their insidious behaviour, softly ensuring their plans emerge into the public psyche in an attempt to build public support:

‘the poorest people are choosing the higher paying benefit to avoid looking for work, because  they are lazy, the DWP are doing the majority a favour by stopping these idlers take the easy option, and are bringing in a company who will stamp this out’

What can we can fight back against this? Johnny Void suggests we gather the information necessary to take Maximus out of the picture and I agree; but I also believe we need to demonstrate WHY sick and disable people need the extra money to survive, lets collect your stories that demonstrates precisely what we do with the difference between JSA and ESA, because if we don’t – We Will Lose it!

 

DWP Breaks its Own Rules when threatening Support Group Members

Further to my post earlier this week, today another example of the most seriously ill disabled people being told they must attend work focussed interviews or else be sanctioned; never mind this is in direct conflict with the DWP’s own guidance which states :

Support Group

If you have a condition that severely limits what you can do, you’ll be in the support group. You’ll not be expected to look for work and we won’t expect you to take place in any work-focussed interviews”.

How the DWP are going to Spin this is yet yo been seen; what I do know is this is yet another time this unelected Government has deliberately broke it’s own rules and then Lied about it!

This ongoing Discriniation against Disabled People is  Totally Unacceptable & I can only hope people say ENOUGH

It is Time to Join the Truth Campaign and Sign the Petition  to STOP The SPIN.

#NOWPetition #Impeach DWP

Another Government ‘Fag packet’ proposal for Benefit Sanctions & Cuts ?

Rarely do I come across a Tory Policy proposal that makes me both Smile (albeit at the irony) and Shudder (with fear); but today’s report in the Telegraph does exactly this; “Hundreds of thousands of benefit claimants face being stripped of their state allowances if they refuse to undergo treatment for anxiety and depression“, this worries me on several levels.

The article quotes their source as saying “We know that depression and anxiety are treatable conditions. Cognitive behavioural therapies work and they get people stable again but you can’t mandate people to take that treatment“; I totally agree with the closing proviso but the apparent claim CBT works for depression and anxiety is False.

Firstly Depression is not a ‘one size fits all’ disorder, there are different types of this debilitating illness, and a notion it can be conveniently summed up to enforce potentially damaging treatment is downright dangerous as well as being futile.  This position applies equally to Anxiety, again there are different types of Anxiety disorders which require different specialist treatments; therefore this all embracing decision, being discussed by Politicians based upon saving money is, to me, terrifying.

Cognitive Behaviour Therapy works to enable people understand the relationships between their feelings, thinking, behaviours and environment, and to identify ways in which these can become problems; ergo CBT only works when depression and, or anxiety arises from internal conflict. Personally I have found CBT to be of little or no use when clinical issues, i.e. schizophrenia, is  the primary causes of the disorder; further where external factors are reinforcing the disorders, I personally have found CBT only has limited benefits.  I am not purporting CBT has no use in supporting depressive or anxiety sufferers, but it is not the only form of treatment necessary for enabling improved mental health. Given the mandate for this scheme is the ” loads of people who claim ESA (for Depression and Anxiety) who undergo no treatment whatsoever“, it is difficult to understand how the Government is to utilise fully trained CBT workers anyway?

Minsters are already piloting different ways of implementing this scheme, four JobCentres are currently “combining “talking therapies” with employment support“; soon we will witness  “group work” to help build the “resilience” of individuals who are out of work and suffering with poor mental health” the “hiring specialist private organisations outside the NHS and welfare system to take control of providing a combination of psychological and employment support to claimants” and finally “online tests and therapies at improving individuals’ health and job prospects“. These four trials will then be assessed, presumably with cost effectiveness, being the primary focus’ so no prizes for guessing which ‘approach’ the Government will adopt – more work for the nudge unit coming up?

These trials are a joint effort between the DWP & Dept of Health, and emerge from the report Talking Therapies: a four year plan of action  and initially was targeted at people 18-65  as an “economic case on which it was based showed that providing therapy could benefit not only the individual but also the nation, by helping people come off sick pay and benefits and stay in or return to work“. There we have it another quick fix based on Finance First and presumably will form the basis of yet another area of Cuts in Welfare; but once again aimed at sick and disabled people

As I acknowledge at the beginning of this post, the Government Ministers making these decisions about how mental health sufferers should be treated, deny participation in these trials will be mandatory, seeming to recognise willingness to participate is central any talking treatment working. However the Telegraph states “Conservatives could include the proposal for mandatory treatments in the party manifesto next year as part of the next phase of reforms to the welfare state” and I can’t help but think they are probably accurate in this.

Will this turn out to be yet another example of how the Government says one thing and then does another? If you agree with me in this Join the TRUTH campaign

#NOWPetition #ImpeachDWP

Real Issues with Welfare reform – Part II

On April 8 I wrote my first official DEAEP Blog, regarding the support we offer, this week Alex & I attended his Tribunal. we arrived at the venue, in a central hotel, to find the tribunal receptionist was extremely chatty; he happily informed the room that there were people from all over the UK, booked to attend, he went on to state every one of the claimants had waited for well over a year to get a hearing! He also informed us that for the day the Tribunal service had paid for 6 meeting rooms –  for hearings, waiting rooms and a room for the court clerks; add the expense for this to the salaries of at least 6 panellists (possibly 8), 3 clerks and the receptionist; and I shudder to think how much this must have cost?!

We were called in on time and given that the DWP had already agreed that Alex should be in the Support group in February 2013, we were expecting this to be a open & shut case but…NO. Firstly the DWP had failed to inform the panel they had AGREED they’d made a mistake, luckily the accepted the letter we had as full evidence; however instead of recognising that the DWP had already accepted Alex was too ill to work, and therefore he had every right to receive the back pay, the judge of the panel grilled Alex for 45 minutes on his inability to work in November 2012. We were made to explain, against each of the ESA qualifying points, that how for a whole 3 months, before the DWP agreed Alex’s health made him unable to work, this was the case. The Dr on the panel on at least four occasions referred to how, in his medical opinion, Alex’s handwriting on the appeal letter clearly indicated Parkinsons, as did his observation of Alex’s body; but the judge persisted in her questions, reducing Alex to tears on one occasion! Why was this – for MONEY – and for a far less amount than the 2 panellists earned in hour we were in there, never mind the the costs of the day’s Tribunal as outlined above; but for an amount that means Alex can afford to live a little more comfortably.

The good news is Alex WON his tribunal but…surely as the DWP had already conceded, wouldn’t it have been far more cost effective, never mind humane, for them to have merely paid him the money he was owed? According to Channel 4 Employment and support allowance (ESA) tribunals cost the taxpayer £66m in 2012/13, and this fails to consider the hidden costs of anxiety and stress to the claimant, both personally and in terms of the Health/support services, consider all of this and what a ludicrous situation this proves to be.

I don’t presume Alex’s case to be unique and given the number of successful tribunals by sick and, or disabled people, this is yet more evidence the current ESA/WCA process is severely flawed.

 

 

 

Real issues with Welfare Reform

Wearing my DEAEP Company hat, last week I met with a lovely man, I’ll call him Adam; Adam is in his 60s and worked all his life until last year, when his health deteriorated to such a point he could no longer physically manage. At this time he completed his claim for ESA, he heard nothing and then, out of the blue last month, Adam was called for an appointment with ATOS. He initially asked about home visit as he loves 12 miles outside the City centre but was told he needed a letter from his Dr to support his request; as this was not possible, Adam informed them he was happy to attend but he wanted the assessment recorded, ATOS assured him this was fine and he arranged a date.

He contacted me wanting support for the assessment and, after Adam struggling to make his way into town for 10.30 we met prior to the assessment to discuss his requirements. We sat at a coffee shop 3 doors away from the assessment centre, and in the time it took us to finish our drinks Adam received 2 phone calls, both from the same Nottingham number and each time he answered his phone the line went dead. We both recognised the area code and knowing the regional ATOS office is based here, Adam returned the second call, only to find the call could not be completed at the receiving end.

Experience called us both to speculate if ATOS actually had organised for the recording equipment to be there, and chatting about this we entered the building ATOS use to carry out the ESA assessments for Leicestershire. ATOS are based on the first floor of a sixties office building which has no access/egress for wheelchair users in an emergency; knowing this we were both on sticks. Using the lift we emerged on the first floor to be met by a door with no automatic functions, causing us to engage into some form of strange dance to pull open the door when neither of us have full use of our arms/hands; achieving access we were then met with a second, this time fire retardant door, again with no automatic function. Having recreating our dance anew we proceeded through into a small space with a third non automatic door, thus we repeated our caper finally emanating in the reception area for ATOS.

Noting how extremely quiet the waiting area was, with only one other person in the room, we made our way to the desk, where we were met by a very friendly woman who after taking Adam’s details said he was “more than welcome to have the assessment but…”; yes, the recording equipment wasn’t there! She apologised and said they had tried to call him to which we both explained what had happened at our end. She went on to say as Adam didn’t want the assessment without it being recorded, he would receive another phone call in the next 2/3 weeks to rearrange it.

By this time we were both exhausted and in pain, so much that before we left Adam was forced to resort to his default position for managing extreme pain on his hands and knees; when Adam’s pain had returned to its regular level, we made our way our of the building, this time going backwards through the three doors, our backsides providing the impetus required to push them open.

The real irony of all of this is Adam retires in July, that’s correct, he has to go through all this again just to receive ESA for three months!

I met with a second DEAEP customer today, who I’ll call Alex; Alex is going to Tribunal next week, the reason being having fought for two years to be placed in the support group due to the progression of Parkinsons, the DWP decreed the were wrong and have done precisely that; but they insist he must continue with his appeal and attend the hearing. It seems the purpose of the Tribunal, which is being held at a local hotel instead of at the Tribunal centre, is for 17 months worth of Back pay, the difference between basic rate and the enhanced rate Alex is now receiving in the support group! I’ll report back on this next week.

What the DWP and the Politicians who have devised the immoral and unjust Polices ignore is the anxiety and stress both of these men are going through, as they are forced to fight their way through the broken Welfare Reform process; and what really sickens me is the total amount of money involved in these two cases is far less than the pathetic amount Ms Maria Miller has been instructed to return following her fraudulent expense claims!!

 

 

 

Will there ever be poetic justice in this world?

This is a joint post with Chris Wayne; who like myself, as  I’ve previously disclosed  suffers from a range of illnesses, including depression and other mental health disorders; this results in our moods being erratic (at least).

And …

Some days I feel like sunshine
Some days I feel like dirt
Some days I live life to the max
Some days my head just hurts

I also have a range of physical disorders and these seriously impact on my mental health, which is summed up wonderfully…

Some days I feel I’m floating
Some days I feel I’ve crashed
Some days my mind feels very free
Some days my mind feels trapped

Add the above to the reality that as mental health sufferers, living in the UK today with an unelected Coalition Government who have decimated our Welfare State, we are very concerned that …

Services in the UK 

Are slowly being cut

But Cameron and his chums

Just don’t give a f*ck

Although they provide the public

With a vital need

They’re being sacrificed

For the government’s own greed

They give the country

A much needed stable core

They help those who struggle

Like the vulnerable and poor

So it’s no wonder we and thousands of others are feeling

Anger’s an explosive emotion

That’s the physical embodiment of wrath

If unable to be controlled

It destroys everything in its path.

Having said this, we recognise the power of such feelings and..

 if harnessed in the right way

We can use its energy

To bring positive changes to all

In this squalid society

This acknowledgement doesn’t however stop the frustration that

Yet while it’s now so obvious

How government policies have caused hurt

Most people still ignore it

And deny that it’s occurred.

This is despite the vast amount of information and hard evidence this Government is repeatedly lying, cheating and basically using this short time in Power to rob the Country and its people of all resources possible; therefore we both feel…

Though more people are becoming ‘awake

It still isn’t enough

When will people stop sleeping

and bloody well wake up

Anyone know the answer??