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.

 

Mental Health – Talk or Stay Silent?

Also at http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/jayne-linney/mental-health-talk-or-stay-silent_b_9416632.html

Today Mind have launched their “Take Off The Tape” Campaign which focusses on Anxiety; their website states “Do you talk about what’s most worrying you? Or do you keep your mouth shut about things that make you anxious?… Stop being silenced by your anxiety“.

Whilst as a mental health sufferer and counsellor  I welcome this recognition of the dangers and devastation of living with poor mental health, and can understand how talking openly about their anxieties and concerns might be of some help in some cases. The relief of ‘getting things of your chest’ can help you feel lighter and may for  while,help with the symptoms but faced with a personal trigger and you’re right back where you were, because talking does not help deal with the cause of your mental health.

Mental Health is currently being widely acknowledged, from the media to government  as a real problem, This may have something to do with the growing numbers of people experiencing poor mental health, this rise is being witnessed in children, employees, new mums and the Armed forces, to name just a few of the recognised groups , but whatever the reason, most reports concur the rise is down to  cuts to services and the pressures of the Austerity agenda; even the Governments ‘pledge’ for a revolution in mental health treatment and the accompanying investment in services,  accepts poor Mental Health is to do with poverty.

Living in Poverty from the real fears of not being able to manage financially to the social isolation it causes is extremely stressful, and excessive stress is an established trigger for depression (i). Add to this ill health, another one of the biggest causes of stress , and you regularly have a situation for mental melt down; and we at DEAEP are seeing numerous examples of this. People are coming to us trapped in this viscous cycle of poverty & depression, most of them are experiencing benefit cuts and are being offered no option other surviving with less than they need; and in the most extreme cases or being institutionalised. Is it any wonder these people are finding themselves experiencing extreme pain, exasperation of existing conditions and Mental Health problems?

What I find most disconcerting, is whilst mental health as a health issue, is experiencing the benefits of publicity and recognition;what is less acknowledged is the associated rise in penalisation of those of us with poor mental health. We are at a much higher risk of being detained against our will, with a 9.8% increase, almost Double the figures for 1013/14,  of people being detained under the Mental Health Act; We are more likely to be sanctioned if we claim benefits with a 600% rise over the past four years, and whilst 6,122 of us over the age of 10 committed suicide in 2014, the rates for both women and men outside of  institutions rose.  Given this it seems we’re equally damned if we do admit our vulnerabilities and Talk.

 

 

 

i Makosky, V. P. (1982) ‘Sources of stress: Events or conditions? ‘ In: D. Belle (ed.) Lives in stress: Women and Depression, pp. 35–53. Beverly Hills, CA: Sage

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!

 

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?

IDS Lies to Tory Party – Time for him to GO?

Warning – The post below contains swearing

Just what the Fuck has Iain Duncan Smith on fellow members of the Conservative Party? Thanks to John Pring at Disability News Service, we know this excuse for a man in charge of the DWP has LIED AGAIN.  This time not only to us the people and the media, but also to his own Party!

This round of Lies is regarding the ‘success’ of the Disability Confident Campaign which, claims” the government is working with employers to remove barriers, increase understanding and ensure that disabled people have the opportunities to fulfil their potential and realise their aspirations.” John, via freedom of information requests has revealed, contrary to IDS claims at last years Tory Party Conference that more than 1,000 employers” had ‘signed up’ to the campaign, the reality is fewer than 400 actually joined, and only 68, are currently “active partners”!! The article is a must read, exposing as it does many other examples of the Minister being extremely selective (to say the least with the Truth).

Debbie Sayers and I are fully aware of the length of time IDS has being getting away with lies and exaggerations, and as regular readers know, we have been running our Truth Campaign for over two years. From our open letter to Esther McVey (remember her), to our petition to the Work & Pensions Committee which went to Parliament, and we are still going, with our current petition IDS – TIME TO STOP THE LIES.

It is the breadth of Lies issued by each of the various Ministers under IDS along with his own, and if you’re feeling masochistic and want to read more, search Lies on this blog alone, that makes me ask the question I began with – what the Fuck has IDS over the Tories?

I fail to understand why, they tolerate someone who alone, demonstrates every reason why this Government can’t be trusted; further I can not comprehend why the public aren’t screaming about it either?

I am fully aware of how difficult it is to keep on fighting when you’re suffering. I’ve not written, or done anything other than the bare minimum, for almost 2 months, due to very poor physical health and an exceptionally dangerously dark state of mind!

BUT, I can not and will not stop, pushing to have the Lies of all Ministers of the DWP Exposed – it is these Lies and Spin that drive the Policies which, according to coroner Mary Hassell, Triggered the suicide of Michael O’Sullivan, and most likely many many more.

If this bothers you as much as it does me, please let’s have a HUGE push to have #IDS Indicted.  No matter how futile it would be to ask Kathryn Hudson the Commissioner for Standards to investigate IDS; gaining a large number of signatures should afford us with enough media coverage to help actually get rid of IDS from the DWP; and that would make me feel better, how about you?

SIGN IDS – TIME TO STOP THE LIES, Share it and keep on sharing until the mainstream media can ignore it no longer.

#IDSIndicted  #TRUTHCampaign 

DWP again refuses to release data on disability benefits….

From The Independent –   Are the Media finally catching up?

The Department for Work and Pensions has again refused to release data about the impact of changes to the disability benefit system after a request under the Freedom of Information Act.

Last week the DWP was forced to reveal how many people had died shortly after being found fit to work by disability tests.

Ministers and officials had resisted the demand for months and only accepted it after a warning from the Information Commissioner and a campaign that went all the way to Parliament.

But on Tuesday DWP officials refused another request for basic information about disability benefits using the same “Section 22” exemption they had tried to use before.

The Department had been asked under the Freedom of Information Act to disclose how many Disability Living Allowance claimants had been made worse off after being moved onto the new Personal Independence Payment benefit.

The Department refused the request, made by a user of the WhatDoTheyKnow website, a tool which helps people scrutinise the Government’s record.

Some claimants have lost out from the move from DLA to PIP. The reason given for rejecting the request is the same as that given in the case of the death statistics – under section 22 of the Act, data which officials say is reserved for future publication can be blocked from release.

The Department also previously stalled on responding to the request based on the fact that the person who made it had initially used a pseudonym.

The civil servant who answered the reply ultimately said that thought there was a public interest in the data being released, they should be allowed to publish it “in a manner of form and at a time of their own choosing”.

“I can confirm that the Department holds the information you are seeking. However, Section 22 of the Freedom of Information Act exempts this information from disclosure. This is because the information is intended for publication at a future date,” the Department said in its reply.

“This exemption requires the public interest for and against disclosure to be weighed in the balance. There is a public interest in information being released as soon as possible. However, I am satisfied that there is a strong public interest in permitting public authorities to publish information in a manner and form and at a time of their own choosing.”

Disabled people are being transitioned by the Government from the Disability Living Allowance benefit to its placement, the Personal Independence Payment. Some people lose out from this change because of the new way in which the PIP is calculated.

One person affected by a payment cut, Jane, wrote in her blog about the difficulties the changes had made for her and criticised the DWP’s lack of transparency.

“I have found myself so behind with bill payments, I now am past ‘robbing Peter to pay Paul’ and am at the bailiffs knocking on the door stage,” she said.

“Once again the DWP hide behind Section 22, but fail to indicate when these figures are to be produced; could this be because the data once revealed, will show another proven case of how the Welfare Reform Act is persistently failing disabled people?”

In the case of the benefit death figures, the Information Commissioner said the Government had no good reason to withhold the stats under Section 22

Mr Duncan Smith at one point caused confusion when he told Labour MP Debbie Abraham in Parliament that the stats did not exist.

“She knows very well that the department does not collate numbers on people in that circumstance,” he told her in Parliament.

The block comes after ministers announced a crackdown on the Freedom of Information Act, which Justice Secretary Michael Gove needed to be “revisited”.

Civil servants have long complained that disclosing information can be time-consuming and costly, and that ministers and officials should be allowed to discuss things in secret without the public knowing.

Campaigns say any attempt to water down the act would make it more difficult to hold the Government to account when things go wrong.