Tell Your MP No More #Disability CUTS

A new Early Day Motion is tabled in Parliament  asking the Social Security (Personal Independence Payment) (Amendment) Regulations 2017 (S.I., 2017, No. 194), dated 22 February 2017, a copy of which was laid before this House on 23 February, be annulled.

What this means is the more MPs signing this appeal, the more chance the latest Cuts will be halted, and has already been proven they are NOT necessary, just a means to assist “cut the deficit

We already know disabled people have had their money sacrificed on the Austerity alter far more than any other group, and if you agree its time our MPs stood up for us Parliament contact them TODAY and tell them to support EDM 985 – Annul  New PIP Regs http://www.parliament.uk/edm/2016-17/985

Tweet  URGENT Send to MP support EDM 985 – Annul New PIP Regs NO MORE CUTS

penny-mourdant

 

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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.

 

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!

 

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?

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.

More disability benefit data refused for release by DWP.

Back in January I wrote about how my transition from DLA to PIP lost me £140 per month, and in March I posted about the saga I had with my Mandatory Reconsideration; both of these pieces demonstrated precisely what this loss meant to me in real terms. Since then 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.

The reason for raising this is, today a FOI request asking  ‘The percentage of current DLA claimants, who, on conversion to PiP, were reduced in their claims’…was answered by the DWP. Unsurprisingly their response was “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.

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?

The recent outcome of the 18 month long fight by Mike Sivier confirmed that “10,000 people lost their lives” after being determined they were well enough to be placed in the Work Related Activity Group! Will this latest refusal for information, demonstrate yet a further number of disabled people, who although surviving, being adversely affected by the decisions of civil servants

We were warned back in 2012, by the then Minister for disabled people Esther McVey that, “more than 300,000 disabled people will have their benefits cut” under the transition from DLA to PIP, are the DWP refusing to release this data, because this figure is already much higher?