Last week we illustrated a blog about reasonable causes for missing DWP appointments/actions with a picture of a hospital. This week we met someone who had actually been sanctioned for missing an appointment when he was in hospital. Turns out that although the DWP accepted this as a ‘reasonable excuse’, they were not happy that he hadn’t informed them at the time. May be other things were on his mind… He has put in for a Mandatory Reconsideration, and we encouraged him to continue to an appeal if that fails.
This last stall before Christmas was otherwise pretty uneventful, though we talked with Rick, who had been waiting a long time for his PIP claim to be processed because the DWP had lost his application for months, and with an older woman who told us that her daughter works in the buroo and is under constant stress.
A lot of the people we meet have health problems and have difficulties getting these recognised. At the previous week’s stall we came across two cases of the DWP refusing to accept doctor’s lines. One young man had lost benefits when the DWP had refused to acknowledge his depression – a situation that could almost be relied on to make depression worse. We suggested he take his case to his MP, which also keeps the MP informed about what I happening. Another person had just been told that his doctor’s note might not be accepted so he would have to wait and see whether his benefits were paid or not. We suggested that rather than wait in fear of having no money, he should go and see the welfare advisors at Shelter.
This time of year is always hard for those on benefits, and will be especially hard for those waiting for their first Universal Credit payment. The only positive is that public awareness of what is happening is growing – though it looks as though it will still be some time before we need to find a stockist of yellow vests.
3 thoughts on “Don’t get ill on benefits”
I hope readers of the blog will indulge this slightly off-beat commentary at this weird time of year; certainly the worst time of year to be poor and vulnerable as most support services shut down; one reason why any politician or trades union who advocate for more public holidays (c.f. additional personal leave to be taken throughout the year) should think again! Firstly, seasonal congrats to SUWRN for their blogs and activity which are invaluable. When JSA was first introduced in the 1990s it started a definite trend of isolating and stigmatising the non-working poor, i.e. the unemployed, the sick and the disabled (in that order). In welfare rights terms there have been relatively few political campaigns or judicial challenges on JSA/unemployed rules whereas more activity challenging things like ESA and PIP etc? It is only since sanctions started being applied more widely that attention has focused on how the unemployed (and sick) are treated. Now that UC lumps everybody in one big benefits box, it will be interesting to see how political campaigning and judicial challenges move forward. Secondly, what about the “yellow vests”? I must confess that whilst I consider myself as an “anti-poverty campaigner” I am more socially conservative and am uncomfortable with chaos and disorder which may result in innocent people being harmed including a general dislike for being caught up in crowds and mass demos etc. However it does feel like society is going through some fundamental paradigm shifts as it is obvious that the “normal” economic, political and administrative/legal structures which underpinned UK society since the end of WW2 are disintegrating at an alarming rate. The Brexit fiasco is indicative of how much the political classes have failed to do what they are paid generously (by us) to do. The Grenfell fire was a human tragedy but it was also a manifestation of a crumbling state which is no longer able or willing to perform even the most basic function of ensuring that public housing is actually safe for people to live in; in a city which is marked by grotesque, artificial (and in some cases criminal) manipulation of land and property values. the uncontrolled inflow of foreign capital (from dubious sources) has done more damage to the UK economy and social structures than any inflow of people, willing to work, from other countries. So, perhaps now is the time for yellow vests and more direct action? Certainly it looks like many environmental groups have lost faith in the political process and we will probably see more direct action by some groups which will seek to disrupt business activity? Even in Scotland, where we have a more enlightened political class, it seems that the wheels of change at Holyrood grind too slowly and perhaps the traditional lobbying approaches by CPAG and other worthy groups needs an extra ingredient to make the Xmas Pudding sparkle a bit? Festive greetings to all who made it to the end of this nonsensical blog!
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PS: For those of you concerned that I may spend the festive season researching welfare rights, I am also using this new-fangled internet contraption to catch up on things I have missed in the past 30 years of over-seriousness! Candi Staton “you got the love” 1986 version on U tube is inspirational and more groovy than my comment above!
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