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 

 

DWP probe into tragic six-stone Stephen Smith insists department ‘followed policy’ when repeatedly refusing him vital beneifits

Secretary of State accused of treating tragic Liverpool man like ‘a lost package’ after internal review

This was the condition Stephen Smith was in hospital in December – before he fought and won a tribunal allowing him vital benefits (Image: Liverpool Echo)

An investigation into the treatment of six-stone Stephen Smith – who was wrongly denied benefits before his death – has shockingly found that the DWP ‘followed policy’.

The 64-year-old Liverpool man was repeatedly and incorrectly turned down for benefits while suffering with a number of serious illnesses before his death.

Mr Smith, from Kensington, died a short time after he was forced to get a pass out from hospital to overturn an incorrect decision to deprive him of vital benefits for several years.

His range of debilitating illnesses meant that he had to fight the tribunal against the DWP weighing just six-stone and looking painfully malnourished.

After the decisions were overturned, Mr Smith was eventually paid back around £4,000 that he had wrongly been denied.

But the award came too late – and instead of using the money to live on, it was used for his funeral after his death in April.

Following his death – the ECHO published two doctors notes that had warned the DWP that Mr Smith was not fit for work, but were ignored.

Stephen Smith was taken off ESA benefits despite a range of serious health problems (Image: Liverpool Echo)

There have been widespread calls for an independent inquiry into his treatment, including from Birkenhead MP and Work and Pensions Committee chair Frank Field.

He wrote to Work and Pensions Secretary Amber Rudd who would not grant a full inquiry – instead only ordering an internal DWP review.

The results of that review have now been revealed.

Writing to Mr Field, Ms Rudd states: “This review has now concluded and shows that whilst the policy guidance was followed in Mr Smith’s case, there were crucial safeguarding opportunities which were missed by the Department.

“The review has identified areas where we need to change our policy and we will be implementing these changes to ensure our most vulnerable claimants are protected.”

Work and Pensions Secretary Amber Reid (Image: PA)

The letter states that the changes will include:

– Identifying other trigger points for information sharing between lines to improve, join up and provide more holistic support

-Improving awareness across benefit lines of how new awards to or changes in benefit entitlement can materially affect other benefits in payment or under appeal – and encouraging or requiring staff to look for an act on these these links.

– Identifying the opportunities to embed these recommendations effectively and quickly across multiple customer journeys

Ms Rudd wrote: “The Department will be working at pace to ensure that these are embedded and that vulnerable claimants are receiving the best possible support from the Department. I am adamant that we will learn important lessons from this tragic case and make changes to protect people like Mr Smith in future.”

Stephen Smith died in April – before he had a chance to use the benefits cash he had wrongly been denied (Image: Liverpool Echo)

Mr Field was seriously unimpressed with the lack of humanity and abundance of jargon in a response about the death of a man so clearly failed by the system.

He told the ECHO: “‘This letter heavily disguises the fact that we’re talking about a man who lost his life, not a package that got lost within the DWP.

“I’m coming back to cause a murder”

Council houses being built once again
“It sums up much of what’s wrong with the DWP, which is apparently very short on human sympathy.

“What kind of policy guidance is it that fails to recognise that somebody is seriously ill and dying?’

Stephen was only able to win back the benefits that were rightfully his

With many thanks to the: Liverpool Echo for the original story

Follow this link to find out more how the DWP and the Tory government are treating our disabled: https://www.disabilitynewsservice.com/guards-lock-activists-inside-dwp-hq-during-universal-credit-whitewash-action/