There is a Petition on the Government website that is asking the Government to : To fund free bus travel for all ESA, JSA and Universal Credit claimants. It was created by Maria Nelson who lives with back and joint problems and due to her semi-rural location has a 12 mile circular trip to the nearest jobcentre and a 16 miles round trip for medical and support services. Maria attends various appointments for both health and support, and with a daily bus pass being £7.50, a busy week can cost her over a quarter of her ESA. Realising she is not alone she decided to start the petition
Empathising with Maria’s situation, I am supporting this petition through this post; to give you a proper insight as to its importance, below is the rationale in Maria’s words.
DEAEP Desperately Needs Your Help: Click to Donate: http://gofund.me/deaepleics?pc=tw_cr_n … …
Disability Enabling and Empowerment Project are a group of people who are helping disabled people with the problems that arise from the disgusting treatment from the Ian Duncan Smith and the disgraceful department that he runs.
We give our time to people for nothing but if we are going to carry on helping people then we will need financial help to carry on helping and training people. To date we have funded all admin and travel costs ourselves but our benefits will no longer allow us to do this; to this end we have set up our GoFundMe account.
We have so far successfully won over a dozen cases and helped numerous people with their benefit problems. We have also trained 6 people to be Peer Support workers and are looking to run more courses throughout the UK.
If you can spare even £1.00 this will help us to continue…
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One of the long term cases we are dealing with at DEAEP is Burt, he initially came to us for help in January 2014, a deterioration of his health had left him unable to work and in October 2013 he’d claimed ESA. He received an award in January and he’d been placed into WRAG, his range of physical and mental health difficulties were such it was clear he was in the wrong group, therefore he we supported him submit a mandatory reconsideration (MR) claim to be moved into the Support Group.
In October 2014, Burt received the letter informing him his 365 limit for NI contribution based ESA was ending, so we reapplied for Income based ESA including up to date health information from his specialists demonstrating his further health deterioration. He was immediately re-awarded and the decision maker had again placed him in WRAG, ergo we resubmitted a MR for inclusion into the Support group.
A fortnight ago Burt received a mandatory Work-focussed interview for today, which we arranged to attend at, and everything was running smoothly until Friday when he received another two letters; one for him to attend a conditionality interview on the following day (Saturday) and the second was the start date for him to begin The Work Programme with A4 on Thursday this week!
Burt immediately phoned the DWP and said he could not possibly get to the JobCentre the next day, but he would be attending today; the call centre operator said this was fine and she believed the letters to be duplicates and to ignore them!
We attended Burt’s interview with him this morning, and after the interviewer explained the reasons for the meeting today, (the changes under Welfare Reform) we entered into a debate as to why Burt was not fit for work. We explained how Burt’s Army induced PTSD and Depression, along with his crushed Spine, Osteoarthritis, Chronic Sciatica and Emphysema; meant he is in constant pain and is fatigued from perpetual Nightmares. Fortunately the personal advisor (PA) we met with was not only willing to listen, she was also suffering from disillusionment with Welfare Reform; she shared with us that before the changes, she as his PA, had the authority to decide which group Burt ought to be in, and in her opinion he should be in the support group. When we asked if there were any approximate time scales for MR she said No but the decision makers were still considering our request submitted in January!
She then cancelled the Conditionality interview and completed the Work Programme Action plan, which was due to be filled at Thursdays appointment, with the statement “customer will respond to or attend all appointments booked by work coach or external advisors“; this allowing either Burt or ourselves the option to advise A4 of non-attendance, until such time the decision makers determine the mandatory reconsideration request.
For me there are Three key points arising from this experience:
The Personal Advisor is the one who communicates directly with the customer, therefore they are best paced to determine which group ESA claimants should be in?
There are far too many ‘sections’ (14 according to the PA today) in the JobCentre, all dealing with small parts of the ‘customers journey’, and as with Burt, claimants can be called in for each separate part; this causes major difficulties for sick, disabled and financially vulnerable claimants and obvious confusion for call centre staff. Claimants should have One PA who manages their claims for beginning to end?
Some staff at JobCentre are as sick of the ludicrous outcomes of Welfare Reform as we are, and are trying doing their job; but they’re not medically trained and therefore are not be best paced to make such vital decisions.
If anyone finds themselves in similar situations and would like support please contact us at DEAEP, we’re here to help.
Earlier this week Debbie and I started the latest stage in the TRUTH campaign, and launched a petition demanding Kathryn Hudson Parliamentary Commissioner For Standards investigate #IDS for persistently misleading both Parliament and the Public.
There are two primary reasons for our campaign; the ongoing misuse of statistics is not only a breach of the code of conduct #IDS is obliged as a Member of Parliament to abide by, but they result in the dangerous and inappropriate Policies disabled people are suffering from. The raft of Policies forming the Welfare Reform Act have been built on these distorted truths and the consequences are as numerous as the Polices:
- we’ve witnessed an unknown number of disabled people DYING either through Suicide or other means directly attributed to the reform of Social Security
- We’ve seen a rise in Hate Crime towards disabled people, reportedly as a direct outcome of the negative portrayal from the media reporting the skewed statistics and prejudicial rhetoric coming from the DWP.
- We’ve experienced four years with a vast number of the 11 million of us, surviving an increase in poverty, with the financial cuts resulting in an average loss of f £4,410 per person – 9 times more than most other people.
- Add the loss of services to this figure and we are existing despite bearing a loss of £8,832 per person – 19 times greater than the average person.
The above examples are not the whole picture, particularly when we consider the negative outcomes on our health:
- living with fear of ‘brown envelopes‘
- the stress and anxiety of the whole ESA & PIP Processes – especially if we enter the appeal and Tribunal system
- the draconian way we are treated if placed in WRAG…
I could go on but I think you get the picture, the Joseph Rowntree Foundation got it right when they said “our current welfare system doesn’t work“.
If any of the above offends, upsets or concerns you, might I remind you these real life issues are ALL the responsibility of one man Iain Duncan Smith, as the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions has overall responsibility for the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP); I’m not suggesting he personally designed the policies but he DID sign then off, he DOES regularly defend them with Lies, and it is this behaviour we are challenging.
Please SIGN our Petition, SHARE, BLOG, and TWEET #IDSTimeForTruth about this Campaign
We may have started it but…it belongs to YOU.
Disability Enabling & Empowerment Project, DEAEP, is a relatively new company run by disabled people and carers; we enable other disabled people to develop the confidence to regain control of their lives, supporting them through benefit claims and also training others to do the same.
Our Courses are aimed at disabled and chronically ill people, affording them the opportunities to expand their skill base and potentially improve their quality of life through enabling them to make positive steps towards Further Education and, or possible employment.
DEAEP has the capacity to offer not only, training and links to employment but we also aim to employ our successful trainees to act as peer supporters to others and potentially as other trainers.
DEAEP are currently running a Level 3 Peer Support in Action course which consists of 5 core modules aimed at anyone who wishes to train to help others. We also develop bespoke courses for other professionals engaged in working with disabled people and other disadvantaged groups
All the above is available in further detail on our website
DEAEP also run a professional representation service supporting people to complete benefit application forms, PIP/ESA, appeals etc; we will also attend assessments/ formal appointments with disabled or other disadvantaged people who find themselves needing support. DEAEP can support individuals from the start to completions of benefit claims.
If you or your company require any help whether it training or representation please contact us via our website.
DEAEP has the advantage of being the only company that aims solely to empower the disabled community and employs people with personal experience of the difficulties that disabled people face every day.
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!
This is my first official post for Deaeper, the blog site for DEAEP (Disability Enabling And Empowerment Project), and wearing my professional hat, I wanted to share my experience of working with 3 other disabled people, collectively utilising our skills and experience to become financially viably self employed. The following has been adapted from a letter I sent to Kate Green MP in response to Labour’s plan to turn around £8 billion overspend on disability benefits, and the suggestions at the end are specifically aimed at Government.
DEAEP is a charitable social enterprise that offers training and support to sick and disabled people, unemployed, and other vulnerable individuals. Our training experience enables participants to, knowledgeably and confidently, actively support others during times of extreme stress; this could be attending ATOS assessments and, or to participate in social and community engagement.
Our training programme has been specifically designed by sick & disabled people to enable others develop necessary the skills, ability and confidence, to actively empower others to self advocate when needed. We can also offer the opportunity for participants to train as a skill sharer, thus enabling them to impart this learning to others. Alternatively participants might utilise this programme to go onto other further education or into employment. There is a the supervised practice element of the programme wherein participants will provide supervised advocacy for others.
This year we have supported over a dozen users through their varying claims, and issues with the DWP, we have helped people write successfully ESA & PIP applications, supported others with mandatory reconsiderations and represented people at tribunal, we have also enabled people manage their issues with job related training programmes. We have piloted out training programme and from this gained five volunteers skilled to offer this type of support to their peers. All of the which has been at personal cost to ourselves both financially and in terms of health.
Our overall aim is to enable chronically sick and disabled people participate in society through the provision of an appropriate range of training opportunities, which allows participants to either enrol on Further & Higher Education, gain the necessary skills to confidently enter Community Engagement enter employment or, fully re-engage in Society; and to enable those too ill to work access the social security the are rightly entitled to.
We are experiencing several primary issues :
Our target group have no access to finances to pay for this essential service
There is no money to help us ‘sell’ our corporate training to the people who want/need it; despite having hard evidence of demand from Unite the Union and several solicitors offices.
We have no way of paying for the administration costs of running the course.
The fact we are all disabled creates problems for us personally with the DWP
An acknowledgement by DWP that disabled people often require more time to complete tasks and their energy levels are low due to fatigue.
We believe the following would make a huge difference
A loosening of the earning on benefits regulations would allow people to continue receiving ESA/JSA until such time they become financially independent
Access for small companies to government grants/contracts which offer direct provision to disabled people
A government funded grant programme enabling disabled people develop the confidence and self awareness to allow them access further opportunities
Changes to access to FE opportunities specifically aimed at disabled adults thus removing the current barriers
This is a précis of our experience to date and I would welcome positive feedback and comments from others on this post.
Thanks for reading – Jayne x
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 :
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
It would appear the DWP are up to their tricks again – threatening sick and disabled people with withdrawal of benefits unless they attend Work Focussed Interviews – Even those of us in the Support group!
Below is a Calling Notice from DPAC –
DPAC have been getting information that people in the ESA Support Group are being required by JobCentre Plus offices to attend Work Focussed Interviews, under threat of benefits being withdrawn if you don’t go.
According to the DWP Webpage, if you are in the Support Group you “You don’t have to go to interviews, but you can ask to talk to a personal adviser. “, which should mean that they cannot require you to attend.
We are going to look closely at this and do whatever we can to get this stopped, but in order to do that we first need to gather information about how widespread this is, which areas it is happening in and how long it has been going on.
DPAC are asking for people to come forward – if you are in the ESA Support Group and have been contacted by your Jobcentre to attend an interview, they would really like to hear from you, please email firstname.lastname@example.org and they will get back to you.
DPAC will deal with all emails in Complete Confidence. If you or someone you know has been called for a Work Focussed Interviews Contact DPAC as soon as possible.
Don’t let the DWP Bully you