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DLA AND OTHER BENEFITS (Read 17,498 times)
kevin b
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DLA AND OTHER BENEFITS
Mar 27th, 2013 at 1:58am
 
THIS MAY BE OF INTEREST TO YOU.I HAVE JUST HAD THIS EMAIL SENT TO ME  Angry.Sanction A Claimant and Win An Easter Egg –DWP Hits Sick New Low

Dear kevin,

In this edition, as the scandal of targets – and even Easter egg prizes - for sanctioning JSA claimants  unfolds, we warn that the same tactics will soon be aimed at ESA claimants challenging a decision they are fit for work. 

Staying with appeals, we have news of 145 vacancies for disabled members on DLA and PIP tribunals at a rate of £145 a day.  Plus, we look at one website that is urging victims to use the appeals system to fight back against the bedroom tax, due to begin next month.

We also have the truly pathetic reason why ministers are refusing to meet disabled campaigners, links to the new PIP and universal credit decision makers guidance plus much more news in the members area.

MONEY OFF ANNUAL SUBSCRIPTION - ENDS MIDNIGHT THURSDAY
If you’re not already a member, join the Benefits and Work community (open access) before midnight on Thursday and you can get £3.50 off the cost of your annual subscription. Just type the following code into the coupon box when you pay:

65638

to get an annual subscription for £15.95, down from £19.45.

CHOCOLATE EGG PRIZES FOR STOPPING CLAIMANTS BENEFITS
The news about benefit sanctions is increasingly grim.  First, we learn that Labour joined with the coalition in approving fast-track, retrospective legislation (external link) that prevents people on workfare who were illegally sanctioned getting their illegally sanctioned benefits repaid.

Now, whilst ministers continue to deny it, there is incontrovertible proof that Jobcentre Plus staff are being told they must sanction 5% of JSA claimants or face disciplinary action.  One office has allegedly even offered Easter egg prizes (external link) to the team which sanctions the most claimants.

A leaked letter from Walthamstow Jobcentre (external link) warns staff they will be disciplined if they don’t  move their Jobcentre up the sanctions league table by sanctioning 5% of JSA claimants.  The letter gives handy hints and tips on how to catch claimants out,  including targeting claimants who have shared child custody  arrangements.  It also explains how to get ‘an easy win’:

‘An easy win is a JSD [jobseekers direction].  Set one, if the customer doesn’t comply then action the direction!’

It’s hard not to wonder whether the DWP, as an institution, even sees claimants as entirely human anymore.  Stopping people’s benefits for between 13 weeks and three years has a devastating effect on claimants’ lives and potentially on the wellbeing of small children and disabled dependents as well.  For some people, unfair benefits decisions are the last straw that moves them to take their own lives.

To turn sanctions into a game with chocolate for prizes or to threaten staff with disciplinary action if they don’t meet targets – as if they were selling double glazing rather than destroying lives – is astonishingly cruel and has nothing to do with helping people find work.

When compulsory reconsideration before appeals begins, pretty much every ESA claimant who is found capable of work and wants to appeal will be forced to claim JSA or starve.  We know that around 40% of those who appeal will win, and that a large proportion will be so severely sick or disabled that they will be placed straight into the support group.  But before that they may prove very easy targets for the JSA sanctions regime and some of may not survive the experience.

Labour claim that they supported the retrospective legislation for workfare victims in return for getting an inquiry into sanctions, including targets.  As it turns out, there will be an inquiry into sanctions (external link) but it will not look at the use of targets and it will take a year to report back.   

Meanwhile, the head of Jobcentre Plus has already said, before the inquiry even begins, that he believes that the Walthamstow letter was an isolated one, despite the increasing evidence that this is not the case – including a Jobcentre Plus newsletter from Malvern (external link) also threatening disciplinary action if staff don’t meet 5% sanctions targets.

How many claimants believe for a moment that an inquiry will get to the truth or make the tiniest scrap of difference?  And how many claimants will continue to suffer hardship and even death as a result of this vicious regime?

You can read the leaked letter that began the scandal on the Labour list website (external link)

TRIBUNAL APPOINTMENTS
The Tribunals Service has finally begun recruiting 145 Disability members for first-tier DLA and PIP tribunals in preparation for the expected surge in appeals once PIP starts to bite.  The posts pay £145 a day and appointments last for 5 years.  You will need to be prepared to work a minimum of 30 days a year, but there will be the opportunity for ‘significantly more work’.

According to the Judicial Appointments Commission (JAC):

“You do not need to be legally qualified. You will need to be experienced in dealing with the physical or mental needs of people with disabilities through working with them in a professional or voluntary capacity, as a carer or because you have disabilities.”
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