The Independent London Newspaper
25th March 2017

Vulnerable woman has benefits stopped after being late for back-to-work medical assessment

    Job Centre

    Published: 9 August, 2016
    by TOM FOOT

    A VULNERABLE woman has lost all her benefits after she arrived late for one of the government’s back-to-work medical assessments.

    Elaine Dyer, from Kentish Town, rang ahead of her Work Capability Assessment (WCA) appointment in May to say she had missed her bus and was delayed.

    The 59-year-old was told she would not be seen and later received a letter saying one of “the conditions” of keeping her benefits was being “on time” for assessments. 

    Her weekly Employment Support Allowance (ESA) – her only income – was immediately stopped and so has her housing benefit. It will not be reinstated until an appeal is heard in a process that often takes several months.

    Ms Dyer said: “You wouldn’t treat a dog like that, would you? You wouldn’t take it out into the street and leave it there, with nothing to eat, and say, ‘go on then’. It’s madness. I feel like I’m back at school – they say, ‘sorry, you’re late’, that’s that, then.”

    Ms Dyer was declared unfit for work by the Department for Work and Pensions following an assessment by contractor Atos in 2014. Because of a combination of physical and mental ailments, she was put into the “support group”, which is the DWP’s most vulnerable group of benefit claimants. 

    She said she has struggled with depression for most of her life following a severe trauma as a child and cannot walk far without stopping because of her Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD). She said her conditions often mean she is in pain during the night and does not sleep well, meaning it is hard for her to reach some early-morning appointments. 

    Under government welfare reforms, introduced by former work and pensions secretary Iain Duncan Smith, disabled and long-term sick residents are assessed by the DWP’s contractor Maximus, to see whether they can are fit for work. Recent Maximus decisions reported in the New Journal include a man with just one functioning arm being told to find a job, and another man being ordered to return to work after suffering four heart attacks in a year. 

    Being taken off ESA leads to housing benefit and council tax relief being stopped and Ms Dyer said she had fallen into arrears.

    Claire Glasman, who is helping Ms Dyer with her case at the Kentish Town women’s group  Winvisible, said Camden council “could be doing more” to protect people who are left with nothing through this “cruel system”. 

    A DWP spokesman said: “We notify claimants in advance of their Work Capability Assessments; if they fail to attend their benefit may be affected. 

    “If a claimant has good cause for being unable to attend an assessment, a further appointment will be arranged.” 

     

    Comments

    dwp...maximus health cear...tribunal doctors....jobcentre plus

    These people don't give a dam what they say or do even when you have lung disease....they will strip you of every penny you have and put you in poverty....they thrive on playing with people's health...

    Correction required on Housing Benefit

    The major error here is that the council has no right to end Housing and Council Tax benefits. If anyone has payments stopped by DWP, they should contact their local council and advise the change leaves them with zero income.

    It is sadly true that DWP will stop payments for showing up late for the assessment appointment. They are not supposed to keep sick and disabled people waiting more than 30 minutes, but often do. DWP and their corporate henchmen only care about getting people off benefits by any means fair or foul. DWP actions go beyond illegal - the figures show that thousands have died because of this process that often claimed they were fit to work. go look up 'Aktion T4' from 1930s Germany and see the similarities. Even if you never get ill or lose your job, they may be coming for you next

    She got her Qualification off a back of a fag packet.

    I've been targeted for the assessment, I've suffred with mental health for most of my life due to childhood abuse, and being a victim of a serious crime. Anyway I went to my assessment 2 months ago I told how my mental health affects me on a daily basis and she put what she felt was good to her. She lied on her report and has now told dwp I'm fit again. And that I have to now claim universal credits, after having huge amounts of medical reports stating I'm not fit for any kind of work.
    . Well now I've been cut off all my benifits I have debt that are getting worse, I'm at risk of losing my home how can they keep doing this and getting away with it. They are playing monopoly with people's lives. Dwp said in finding we know you suffer with mental health but we believe there is jobs you can do. I bearly function and if I don't go I will be sactioned again. It's a huge fight to put right the damaged.

    Early

    Due to mental problems as well as physical, I have to get out of the house before the panic attack starts, which means I am always an hour or two early for my appointment. Sadly I am usually one of the last to be seen (usually after lunch and just before they close) The stress is enormous I end up in tears which is even more mortifying. I get there as soon as they open so you see the wait is horrendous.

    i have just come back from my

    i have just come back from my INTERVIEW spent about 45 minutes sat there waiting then got told sorry but we dont have your paper work here so we will have to send you a new appointment letter out so wat about the taix fare to get there and back only £6-00 in total but ...........
    one very unhappy lady !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    What makes it worse is when

    What makes it worse is when my son was on time for his appointment they kept him waiting for over an hour!! Works both ways. Especially when you suffer from social phobia and ate made to sit in a crowded room full of strangers. He had gone into total non verbal meltdown by the time they called his name. Shame on them!

    The triumph of a power tripping clerk

    No UK judge would ever sentence anyone to utter destitution, no matter what they had done. How does a minor clerk get more power than top judges?

    Destitution a Just Sentence?

    She was going to be LATE, not miss the appointment entirely.

    Is it reasonable, just and fair to punish her lateness with total destitution? Murderers and terrorists get securely housed in prisons where they get bed and board. A sick elderly lady suffers a worse fate for being LATE?????

    So sad

    She was maybe getting another WCA REASSESSMENT. I wondered if she can access food banks or salvation army or other charity organisations. You think of how much food is wasted and this lady will Gabe nothing. Hopefully a charity can help her

    Cruel and Inhumane Treatment

    This is such a cruel and inhumane treatment of those most in need and most vulnerable, especially considering after over 20 years of disability legislation there is still a lot of discrimination against disabled people and the government contributes to this in so many insidious ways. They should hang their heads in shame.

    The sad thing is, if she had

    The sad thing is, if she had not rung ahead and had just chanced it, she would probably have been all right. Those appointments typically run up to 2 hours late, and are often cancelled on the point of arrival. I hope her MP will get involved to make sure that she gets the support she needs. The Work Capability Assessment is failing many ill and vulnerable people.

    Been on this one my self.

    I'm feeling this one! Same thing happened to me a little while ago! I got abusive texts and calls from a private back to work scheme that they DWP were forcing me into, right after my back op, ( I had two slit disks, L4/L5 ) so I could not go and they said, if I didn't go, they would stop my benefits. Luckily, my doctor made a clear statement on my med certificate and after a few calls to management at DWP, it was reinstated pretty quick! The private company the job center send you too (Different for different boroughs) Was really abusive, 4-6 texts a day and maybe 2-4 calls a day! Even after I blocked their number, they would do it for other numbers. Very unprofessional and was very stressful! I'm looking into making formal complaints, with the help of my doctor and specialist at guys. Who said they would support my complaint! As it got so bad and I got so stressed, I almost overdosed! As I had to go and they would not say no, so I ended up taking more meds than I needed, just to get there with my crunches and went to one of these meetings. I don't now, even with the demands. I rang them up the other day and told them, that I was making a formal complaint and that I was seeking legal advice for harassment and the damages they caused! They soon stopped complaining to me, but they are still really bad all round! The system is so broken! Even with doctors notes, they try and force you back into work, even if you're not able! And the experience is horrible. Very stressful and painful.

    Harassment

    If it was me, I would press charges of harassment and all applicable charges and sue. What these people did is beyond acceptable. I am sorry to hear these jerks did this.

    Did you trace the calls? You can and the telephone company, even mobile companies, do report the traces to the police. Keep a log of when/time/date and call event.

    Phone harrassment

    You do not have to provide a phone number or email address to any Back to Work scheme. It is personal data and you can refuse to provide such information. Google Freedom of Information request to DWP My CV and my consent Steve Palmer.

    I never give my phone number out and have a free Android App called Calls Blacklist that works like a charm. They can call you as much as they like and your phone won't make a sound or take a message. It is hard enough managing a serious illness and work activity without being harassed. It is bullying, so saying NO is empowering.

    The DWP's Actions are UNLAWFUL and a criminal abuse of authority

    I have lost track of the morons of DWP running for cover as their incompetence and dictatorial unlawful treatment of claimants, not clients, is exposed as unlawful.
    Employing for profit private assessment companies to decide who is able to work, or not is unlawful. Assessors are not medically qualified and paid bonuses to reduce, by any means, the number of claimants. These companies are sharks preying on our most vulnerable fellow citizens, for profit.
    But the law is quite specific. All Government Departments are bound by the Queen's Coronation Oath to govern us according to "our laws and usages of the land."
    One of those usages is to prevent injustice by not denying anyone accused of any offence incurring any punishment the right to face his/her accuser and offer a reasonable, or lawful excuse.
    Causing homelessness, hunger, and distress because someone is late for an appointment and not allowing an reasonable excuse is a crime. Do those same agencies who keep those who have arrived on time waiting lose their pay - do pigs fly?

    Something doesn't add up here...

    People in the support group are exempt from work focused interviews!

    Please get the MP involved.

    They go thru enough. U

    They go thru enough. U obviously are not in the support group because if u was u wouldn't be saying a dicky bird would u? Leave them alone!!!

    in answer to your comment.

    It wasn't a work focused interview, it was a back to work assessment. I am in the support group but will be sent for the assessment next year as was only given 18 months. The dole can review cases at any time they like, they may not be nice but they need doing to ensure the right people are receiving the help. The woman in the article can ask for her benefits to continue being paid while the appeal is ongoing.

    Yes it doesn't make sense if

    Yes it doesn't make sense if in the support group she would not be attending work focused interviews I suspect she is in the WRAG! It's very hard to get into the support group. Also the council can do a nil income assessment for her Housing Benefit so it shouldn't be stopped! I would like to know if she has done a mandatory reconsideration of the sanction and if anyone is helping her to apply for PIP. She says she has mobility problems and mental health issues so sounds a candidate for this to me!

    They are exempt from work

    They are exempt from work based activity interviews. They do However still have to have WCA medical in the odd often to check they are still entitled to the money and check they are in the correct group still. This is what the interview was.

    Read the piece again...

    this wasnt a 'work focused interview', it was a 'work capability assessment'. Which everyone, including those in the support group, even those in the support group with degenerative conditions, have to go through regularly(ie 6mnthly, yearly or 2yrly maximum), whether their condition has changed or not.

    late

    they were later and missed mine 2 yimes are thier wages stopped ??

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