Former trawlerman battling lung disease hits out at benefit bosses after being declared fit for work

From Eastern Daily Press: A Suffolk man has hit out at benefit bosses after being declared fit to work, despite battling COPD and severe back pain for nearly four decades.

David Macalpine, 62, moved to Lowestoft, Suffolk, from Coventry aged 17 to begin a fishing career as a trawlerman, but has not worked for more than 35 years after suffering a deformed disc in his back.

Yet the Department for Work and Pensions have declared him able to return to work.

Mr Macalpine said: “I am suffering with COPD and it is a long-term illness. The council recognise COPD as a disability but the DWP look at it differently which is just stupid.

“I have also been diagnosed with a muscular disorder because I have a deformed disc in my back since I was fishing and I have been told not to lift anything. I do push myself and just get on with it but I get severe back pain and shortness of breath and I am not fit to go back to work.

“I have got a sicknote from my doctor which lasts until the end of November. They are going against the doctors professional advice.”

[Read full article on Eastern Daily Press website…]

Atos threatens to call police after claimant questions PIP assessor’s mental health training

From Disability News Service: Staff working for discredited benefit assessments contractor Atos threatened to call the police after a claimant asked about the mental health qualifications of the nurse who was assessing his eligibility for personal independence payment (PIP).

She appears to have wrongly blamed the decision to refuse him a home assessment on the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), when such decisions are taken by the assessment companies, Atos and Capita.

The assessor can then be heard leaving the room after Weston began asking about her experience and qualifications in mental health.

She told Weston that she was “not happy to sit in this room with you” because she said he had questioned her qualifications and was “being difficult for no reason”.

Weston, who did not raise his voice or threaten the assessor at any point in the conversation, told her: “You seem to have had a bit of an attitude from the start, a bit of a blasé attitude.

“You didn’t look at me, you didn’t say hello to me, you didn’t treat me like a human.”

Despite the lack of any aggression or threats from Weston, a colleague of the assessor then told him he needed to leave the building “or we’ll call the police”, before repeating: “We’ll call the police if you don’t leave.”

Read more

DWP ignores concerns from disabled people who shun activity over benefit fraud fears

From Disability News Service: The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has refused to offer a solution to disabled people who say they are fearful of taking more exercise in case they have their support cut or are branded benefit cheats.

A new report by the disability sports organisation Activity Alliance found that four-fifths (83%) of disabled people they surveyed would like to be more active, but nearly half (47%) feared losing their benefits if they took more exercise.

More than a third (34%) had either had their own benefits sanctioned or removed because of being physically active or knew someone this had happened to.

The Activity Trap: Disabled People’s Fear Of Being Active – which was commissioned by the Dwarf Sports Association – says that “ambiguity remains a problem in terms of what level of physical activity is acceptable and what might lead to removal of support”.

One of those surveyed said: “I have a lot of concerns when it comes to benefits and the constant fear of them being taken away or worry of being reassessed.

“It then impacts my life and any involvement in sport and physical activity which is none at the moment due to the concerns I have and not wanting my benefits to be taken off me, as DWP are not known for being understanding or nice and will try and find any reason to remove someone’s #disability benefits.”

[Read full article on Disability News Service…]

PM refuses to scrap work capability assessments despite link to suicides

From Welfare Weekly: Theresa May has refused to scrap her government’s controversial Work Capability Assessments, despite reports almost one in two women taking part in the assessments say they have attempted suicide before or after the process.

Ian Blackford, Commons leader of the SNP, congratulated the Prime Minister on her appointment of a Minister for Suicide Prevention, but said if the Prime Minister was serious about the issue, she would eradicate polices that lead people to believe suicide is their only option.

A series of secret internal inquiries into the deaths of people claiming social security revealed that UK government ministers were repeatedly warned of shortcomings of their social security policies.

Nearly one in every two women (47%) claiming incapacity benefits and undergoing the WCA have attempted suicide.

[Read full article on Welfare Weekly…]

Revealed: Half of DLA claimants lose higher mobility rate support when moved to PIP

From Welfare Weekly: Nearly half of sick and disabled people who were in receipt of the highest mobility rate of Disability Living Allowance (DLA) were denied the equivalent level of support when moved to Personal Independence Payment (PIP), a Freedom of Information (FOI) request has revealed.

In response to an FOI request, the DWP state that 471,000 DLA claimants who were receipt of the higher mobility rate of DLA had been reassessed for PIP by 31 October 2017.

Of these, 241,920 (52%) were awarded the enhanced PIP mobility rate, 65,200 (25%) had their benefit reduced to the standard PIP mobility rate, and 65,200 (23%) lost their mobility rate entitlement altogether.

“Those disabled people whose entitlement has been reduced to the standard mobility rate of PIP have lost £37.10 per week (the equivalent of £1929 per year)”, says Disability Rights UK.

They have also lost their entitlement to the Motability scheme, because it is restricted to only those receiving the enhanced mobility rate of PIP.

Those sick and disabled people who have lost all entitlement to mobility support when moved to PIP have lost £59.75 per week, or a staggering £3107 per year.

[Read full article on Welfare Weekly…]

‘Indifferent’ DWP took six years to correct error depriving disability claimants of £340m

From The Guardian: A cross-party group of MPs has criticised the Department for Work and Pensions’ “culture of indifference” after it took six years to correct a major error which left chronically ill and disabled benefit claimants thousands of pounds out of pocket.

An estimated 70,000 claimants were underpaid by between £5,000 and £20,000 between 2011 and 2016 because the #DWP failed to ensure they received the correct amounts when moving them from incapacity benefit on to the employment and support allowance (#ESA).

As well as losing out on thousands of pounds through underpayments, the DWP’s failure to check claimants’ entitlements meant some were also denied their rights to help with dentistry costs, as well as free school meals and free medical prescriptions.

The report criticised the DWP for rushing into the transfer without taking legal advice or making basic checks, brushing aside evidence that people were being underpaid, and ignoring warnings from its own policy advisors that it should pause and fix the process before proceeding.

Read more

DWP silence over ‘thousands of ESA claims lost in IT black hole’

From Disability News Service: The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has told a disabled woman whose benefit claims repeatedly went missing that thousands of other claimants have lost their applications in the same departmental black hole.

Vicky Pearson, from Lincolnshire, had to survive for nearly two weeks without food over Christmas and the new year, a distressing experience that she believes caused significant long-term damage to her health.

When she asked a DWP civil servant what she should do over Christmas, she was told to “rest a lot and drink a lot of water”.

[Read full article on Disability News Service website…]

Tories’ access to work cap unlawfully discriminates against deaf people, High Court hears

From the Morning Star: A Tory Government cap on the amount paid to help cover the extra costs of working with a disability unlawfully discriminates against deaf people, the High Court heard today.

Action on Disability chief executive David Buxton uses British sign language as his first language and requires full-time interpretation, historically provided under the access to work (ATW) scheme, to do his job.

When he joined Action on Disability, a “hearing-led organisation,” from a position at the British Deaf Association, Mr Buxton required increased support.

But the Department for Work and Pensions’s £42,100 cap on ATW payments means Mr Buxton could only be supported by an interpreter three days a week.

Earlier this year, the government announced it would raise the annual cap to £57,200 from April — but Mr Buxton requires £67,500 a year.

Read more

Luke on Twitter: I was sanctioned by DWP for missing appointment while in hospital for seizures

Read more

Woman with epilepsy so severe she set herself on fire sees benefits removed

From Metro: Pippa Hammond’s epilepsy is so severe that someone has to wait in the room with her every time she has a shower, goes to the toilet or even blow dries her hair. Despite this, she has been denied any disability benefit under the Personal Independence Payment (PIP) scheme, with her application scored zero in every category.

[Read full article on Metro website…]

More than a million benefits sanctions imposed on disabled people since 2010

From The Guardian: Disabled people receiving state benefits have been hit with a million sanctions in less than a decade, according to alarming new evidence that they are being discriminated against by the welfare system.

A comprehensive analysis of the treatment of unemployed disabled claimants has revealed that they are up to 53% more likely to be docked money than claimant who are not disabled. This raises serious concerns about how they and their conditions are treated.

The findings, from a four-year study by academic Ben Baumberg Geiger in collaboration with the Demos thinktank, will cause worry that a government drive to help a million more disabled people into work over the next 10 years could lead to more unfair treatment.

Sanctions – the cutting or withholding of benefits – are applied as a punishment when claimants infringe the conditions of their payments by, say, as missing appointments or failing to apply for enough jobs.

[Read full article on Guardian website…]

Theresa May refuses to reveal any details of disabled benefit claimants’ suicides, instead says “work is the best route out of poverty”

From Daily Mirror: Theresa May has refused to reveal any details of suicides by disabled benefit claimants, instead cruelly declaring: “Work is the best route out of poverty.”

[Read article on Mirror website…]

Attempted suicides by disability benefit claimants more than double after introduction of fit-to-work assessment

From The Independent: According to new analysis of NHS data from surveys taken in 2007 and 2014, nearly half of people surveyed on out-of-work disability benefits said in 2014 that they had attempted to take their own lives.

[Read article on Independent website…]

Philip Hammond: UK productivity rates low because more disabled people are in work

From Huffpost: Philip Hammond has been criticised after suggesting low productivity rates in the UK could be linked to the employment of more disabled people.

The Tory Chancellor made the claim while giving evidence to the Commons Treasury select committee on the 2017 Budget.

Asked about a fall in productivity rates earlier this year, he said: “It is almost certainly the case that by increasing participation in the workforce, including far higher levels of participation by marginal groups and very high levels of engagement in the workforce, for example of disabled people – something we should be extremely proud of – may have had an impact on overall productivity measurements.”

Anna Bird, director of policy and research at disability charity Scope, said: “These comments are totally unacceptable and derogatory.

[Read full article with video on Huffpost website…]

Inquiry into disability benefits ‘deluged’ by tales of despair

From The Guardian: A House of Commons inquiry into disability benefits has heard from more than 3,000 people in despair at the system, including dozens who say they have been driven to suicidal thoughts by the process.

The evidence includes testimony from many saying their mental health had deteriorated as a result of trying to claim the employment support allowance (ESA) for daily living costs and/or the personal independence payment (PIP) to cover the extra costs caused by long-term disability.

It comes after longstanding concerns among mental health groups, medical professionals, user groups and MPs about the operation of both benefits, which see claimant assessments run by outsourced providers and final decisions made by officials at the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP).

The submissions included more than 100 people reporting that they or someone they care for feels their suicidal feelings have worsened or been triggered by the process. Read more

Minister: Rest of world should be learning from Tory disability policies

disability news service mordauntFrom Disability News Service: The Tory minister “for” disabled people has dismissed a damning UN report on her government’s disability rights record, arguing that the rest of the world should instead be learning from the UK’s policies.

Penny Mordaunt was speaking weeks after the UN’s committee on the rights of persons with disabilities said the government’s social protection policies had caused a “human catastrophe” for disabled people.

Read more

1 2