650,000 PIP disability benefit claimants have money cut by DWP

The new figures were released hours after Boris Johnson’s majority was announced

The Prime Minister said he “understood people’s frustrations” with traffic in Bristol (Image: Dan Regan/BristolLive)

More than 650,000 disabled people living on benefits had their payments cut or stopped totally after moving to a new Tory system.

Official figures – released hours after the election result on Friday – show 46 per cent of all those who have moved from old system DLA to Personal Independence Payments (PIP) lost out financially.

Some 351,000 former DLA claimants had payments stopped altogether since PIP launched in 2013. A further 306,000 had payments decreased.

Just 200,000 people had their award unchanged and 556,000 saw it rise after moving from DLA to PIP.

Geoff Firmister of the Disability Benefits Consortium, which represents more than 100 groups, said: “These figures are very worrying and we suspect many of the decisions are wrong.

“We would urge the new Government both to commission research to determine the extent of incorrect decisions and step up its efforts to get things right in the first place.

“The criteria for PIP should also be reviewed, in full consultation with disabled people.

“These are often life-changing amounts of money being withdrawn from people with disabilities and long-term health conditions.”

MS Society spokeswoman Georgina Carr said 100,000 people live with multiple sclerosis and “the PIP process is failing many of them at every stage”.

She said: “Over the course of the election more than 21,000 of us called on the new PM to fix PIP once and for all.

“The fact nearly half of those relying on the benefit have had their award reduced or stopped when moving from DLA to PIP shows just how desperately this needs to happen.

“We need a system that recognises what life with a fluctuating condition is like, without arbitrary and unfair measures like the PIP 20m rule, and we need it soon. People with MS can’t wait any longer.”

James Taylor of disability equality charity Scope said the figures were “extremely worrying”. He added: “Consistently high levels of PIP decisions are being overturned, which demonstrates the assessment is not fit for purpose.

“The new government urgently needs to set out how it will overhaul the PIP assessment to make sure it works for disabled people, not against them.”

Marc Francis of the welfare advice charity Z2K Trust added: “These statistics lay bare the devastating impact of ‘welfare reform’ on hundreds of thousands of disabled people.

“The new Government must make it an absolute priority to reform the discredited assessment processes for both PIP and ESA.”

Everything you need to know about the changes
The change from DLA to PIP has hit hundreds of thousands of people with physical and mental disabilities across the UK.

The worst-hit were people with psychosis, 87,824 of whom either failed a PIP assessment entirely or had their money cut since 2013. By comparison, 63,395 saw their payment rise.

Some 86,042 arthritis sufferers had their PIP cut or stopped when they moved from DLA – while 68,256 saw it go up.

Epilepsy sufferers were also badly hit, with 23,640 losing some or all of their benefits compared to 12,344 who received more.

And 10,247 people with MS, 2,188 with AIDS and 960 with cystic fibrosis saw their money either cut or stopped.

Since 2013, even 69 double amputees have had their money cut when moving from DLA to PIP – while 161 saw their award go up.

Some groups were better off on average. 6,533 blind people saw payments cut or stopped but 23,098 saw them rise. Likewise 39,020 people with learning difficulties lost out but 86,567 were better off.

These figures only relate to claimants who were already on the old DLA system when they claimed PIP. And they do not include people who lost their benefits before an assessment, failed to attend an appointment, or withdrew their claim.

In total, of the 1.424million DLA claimants reassessed by October 2019, 306,000 (22%) had their benefit cut, 293,000 (21%) had it stopped after an assessment, 58,000 (4%) had it stopped before assessment and 9,000 (1%) withdrew their claim. 556,000 (39%) saw their award rise and 200,000 (14%) had it unchanged.

The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has been contacted for comment.

With many thanks to: Bristol Live and Emma Grimshaw for the original story 

Man with brain tumours who can’t leave home alone is deemed ‘fit to work’ by DWP

Philip Jewitt, 22, has chronic headaches which cause him to vomit and he has problems with his vision, vertigo and weakness

Philip Hewitt has a number of health problems related to his condition(Image: Media Wales)

A man with brain tumours has scored a tribunal victory over the DWP after benefits bosses told him he was fit to work.

Philip Jewitt has chronic headaches which cause him to vomit and he has problems with his vision, vertigo and weakness.

The 22-year-old, from Porth in South Wales, is unable to leave the house on his own and a neurosurgeon has described him as being unfit for work due to “physical and psychological disabilities”.

But his Employment Support Allowance application was rejected last year following an assessment by the Department for Work and Pensions, which ruled that he could work despite his condition, WalesOnline reports.

Mr Jewitt with his mother Rita Curtis, who helped him appeal(Image: Media Wales)

Mr Jewitt, with help from his mum Rita Curtis, appealed the decision and a tribunal ruled in his favour.

His ESA has been reinstated and backdated.

But the ordeal has aggravated his existing anxiety and panic attacks.

Ms Curtis, 48, said: “It’s really demoralising, we were only trying to claim what he was entitled to but they make you feel like you’re lying and the amount of forms you have to fill out is ridiculous.

“The one set of forms was half an inch thick and Philip had to to fill them out but it would give him headaches so he had to do a little bit each day over the course of a week or so.

Mr Jewitt has undergone a number of operations recently(Image: Media Wales)

“I felt they had an answer they were looking for and the questions were repetitive, asking the same questions in different ways, like they were trying to catch him out.

“Of course, I work as well as being home and cooking for Philip and myself and having to fill in this paperwork on my day off, that was time-consuming to sit down and read through them and work out what they wanted.

“The stress of having to go through this and the paperwork and Philip got tired a lot and felt down.”

Mr Jewitt has had brain tumours since he was born and in the last few years has undergone five major operations to have three of them removed and to have vents put in his head.

His tumour is benign and it keeps growing.

After he travelled to the ESA assessment by public transport he spent the next two days in bed recovering because the journey took so much out of him.

Ms Curtis has hit out at the DWP assessment(Image: Media Wales)

His mum said: “You can’t determine if someone is fit for work in 30-40 minutes if they’re sitting in a chair and answering questions.

“Philip was so tired he went straight to bed and was in bed for two days afterwards.

“They’re saying he’s fit for work – what sort of place would let him work for two to three hours and let him sleep for two days? They don’t know how much he was affected.”

Mr Jewitt’s case will not be reviewed again until September 2020, the tribunal ruled.

He said he feels less stressed now that his payments have been reinstated and backdated.

He added: It’s been a lot easier and a lot less stressful by not having to go to the main town where there’s lots of traffic and having to do that every few months to get a sick note from my doctor to get temporary ESA so I can pay my mum rent.

“I was pretty sure they would reverse the decision because of the way I am and the way I have been.

“I still consider myself worse off back then. It was a relief to have that financial stability but I can’t go out and make money for myself.”

Ms Curtis said she hopes her son will fully recover from his condition.

She added: “My aim for Philip is for him to be how he used to be before this operation. He’s a qualified gym instructor and a personal trainer so he’s got a career waiting for him when he recovers fully but he just need that help.”

A DWP spokesman said: “Decisions are made following consideration of all the information provided by the claimant, including supporting evidence from their GP or medical specialist.

“Claimants can appeal any decision to the Appeals Service which operates as an independent body and sets its own timings for hearings.”

With many thanks to the: Daily Mirror and Philip Dewey for the original story 

Investigate Atos PIP assessments. – Petitions

PLEASE SIGN THIS PETITION – THANKYOU

https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/241560?fbclid=IwAR3bLIhAIxOgso2MGqKTCmL8-oLIS9akWvHNwmthc3-dlltDL3U1spGAD0Y

New figures raise fresh questions over Atos PIP assessments – Disability News Service

https://www.disabilitynewsservice.com/new-figures-raise-fresh-questions-over-atos-pip-assessments/

 

Capita drops court appeal over benefit claimant death

https://welfareweekly.com/capita-drops-court-appeal-over-benefit-claimant-death/

Fury as Benifit assessment firm Capita heads to court to reverse ‘reputational damage’

Capita condemned for ‘abuse of public funds’ as hated benefit assessment firm attempts to overturn court ruling.

Photo: Paula Peters

 

A private firm is heading to court in a bid to reverse a legal decision that is says has caused the company “reputational damage”, following the tragic death of a disabled benefit claimant.

Capita, who were recently awarded an extension to its contract with the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) despite widespread criticism, conducts assessment for the disability benefit Personal Independence Payment (PIP), which is replacing Disability Living Allowance for all disabled adults.

The widely hated and condemned benefit assessment outsourcing company was ordered to pay damages, after the mother of a benefit claimant who died shortly after being refused PIP accused a Capita benefits assessor of effectively lying in a report sent to the DWP.

Victoria Smith, 33, who suffered from Fibromyalgia and agoraphobia, as well as other medical issues, died of a brain haemorrhage in July 2018, but doctors said her health deteriorated soon after the cruel decision to stop her disability benefit.

The court agreed that Capita were guilty of ‘maladministration’ and ordered the private assessment firm to pay £10,000 in damages to the deceased woman’s family.

But Capita says they weren’t able to properly defend themselves during the court hearing due to problems with its own internal mail system, and that because of this the original decision should be reversed and the case reheard.

Photo credit: Knox O (Wasi Daniju) via photopin cc

 

BBC News reports that Capita “acknowledges that it has not been able to explain the default and therefore cannot provide a good reason for it” in papers submitted to the appeal court.

They add that the firm’s apparent failure to respond to court requests/messages were “entirely innocent and inadvertent”, because of issues with its internal mail system.

The papers also suggested that the court may be guilty of “prejudice to Capita” if it failed to consider the company’s appeal.

“Capita has been on the receiving end of significant negative press which suggests that it has been held liable following a successful claim by the claimant,” the court papers said.

“This causes significant reputational damage to Capita’s business.”

Duncan Walker, a welfare rights adviser from Unite the union, who has been supporting Victoria’s mother Mrs Kemlo in her ongoing legal battle, blasted Capita’s crude attempt to overturn the court ruling.

“In the tragic case of Victoria, this was just one more example of shocking maladministration by Capita at public expense”, he told BBC News.

“Every PIP case undertaken by Unite members in Stoke-on-Trent with the specific health care professional in Victoria’s case has been overturned by the social security tribunals.

“It is an abuse of public funds and plainly wrong that such reports are presented as fact and a shameful indictment of the government welfare reform ideology clearly persecuting disabled and vulnerable people.”

With many thanks to the: Welfare Weekly and Stephen Preece for the original story 

Outsourcing giant Capita handed £145m for UK.gov’s (Tories) Personal Independence Payment (PIP) extension

Part of plan to ‘transition’ to a new IT system

The UK’s Department for Work and Pensions has handed Capita £112m for a two-year extension to the controversial Personal Independence Payment (PIP) assessments contract.

The outsourcer has also been awarded £33m to extend its PIP assessment contract with the Department of Communities in Northern Ireland for the same amount of time.

PIP, which replaced the Disability Living Allowance in 2013, is designed to help people with a long-term condition or disability lead independent lives by providing additional financial support.

Along with Atos, Capita was first awarded the deal in 2013 estimated to be worth a total of £512m to mid-2017.

However, along with the Employment Support Allowance (ESA) contract, PIP has repeatedly come under fire for making inaccurate and incomplete assessments.

Last year, the House of Commons Work and Pensions Committee said the decision to contract out both PIP and the ESA was driven by a perceived need to introduce efficient, consistent and objective tests for benefit eligibility.

“It is hard to see how these objectives have been met. None of the providers has ever hit the quality performance targets required of them, and many claimants experience a great deal of anxiety over assessments,” it said.

In June 2018, minister of state for disabled people Sarah Newton said the government was seeking a two-year extension to “better allow for a stable transition” to a new provision. In a ministerial statement, she acknowledged there is “still more to do to deliver the high quality of service those claiming PIP rightly expect”.

She added: “At the same time we will look to enable more providers to deliver PIP by developing a DWP-owned IT system.”

The government accepted the key finding by the Work and Pensions Committee (PDF) to make video recording of assessment interviews a standard part of the process. It also recommended greater online support, including chat and interactive media, or a “dashboard” to keep claimants updated on their claim.

Jon Lewis, chief executive of Capita, said of the contract win: “These contract extensions are testament to the commitment of our healthcare team, our consistently strong operational performance, and the strength of our longstanding relationship with government.”

With many thanks to: The Register and Kate Hall for the original story