It has been reported this week by Rightsnet that the work capability assessment contract with Maximus has been extended by two years to 31 July 2023. The continuation of contract will supposedly ‘secure service continuity and stability’ whilst at the same time allowing the transfer of caseloads and services into a unified assessment service trial.
The DWP (Department of Works And Pensions) have also confirmed that they have extended the existing contract with Maximus UK Services Ltd to provide work capability assessments for employment and support allowance (ESA) and universal credit. This will continue for an additional two years to 31 July 2023.
The DWP have had plans to create a unified, integrated assessment service from 1 August 2021.
The DWPs plans to merge the separate PIP (Personal Independence Payments) health assessments and work capability assessments, ESA (Employment and Support Allowance and universal credit, were put on hold last year as a result of the Covid-19 outbreak .
This was confirmed earlier this year in a written statement to Parliament in July 2020, quoting ‘We recognise that it is vital for our claimants to have a safe and stable service. Consequently, my Department intends to explore options to extend the current contracts for up to two years, which will ensure continuity of services when the current contracts end on 31 July 2021.’
In a contract modification notice published last week, the DWP now confirms that it has extended the existing contract to provide work capability assessments – that was awarded to Maximus for the period 29 October 2014 to 31 July 2021 (at a value of £938 million). This now continues until 31 July 2023.
This will add a further £300 million to the Maximus contract value.
The DWP have commented saying that they will -‘Secure assessment service continuity and stability beyond the current contracts end date on 31/07/21’ .This will provide the contractual flexibility needed for any subsequent changes to the ongoing service design necessitated by Covid-19 measures.
This will enable any associated policy changes made during the extension period.
It will also allow the DWP to implement pre-Covid flexibilities and to remove volume and service from the Supplier into a Departmental Transformation Area/to deliver devolution of specific areas of the service (related to specific welfare benefits) if this is required’
‘For more information, see Health and Disability Assessment Services – contract extension from gov.ukSource Rightsnet
I’m sure that we all agree that these ‘medical assesments’ are cruel and unnecessary for disabled and ill claimants. A doctors and/ or evidence from a medical consultant should be more than adequate to prove to the DWP that they are disabled and/or ill. Any government that genuinely cares for disabled and ill people would of course accept this.
This Tory government have proven time and time again that they don’t care. Instead of compassion they issue a relentless barrage of cruel tests and examinations that cause physical and mental distress to thousands of people everyday.
We have a prime minister that happily spends millions of tax payers money on decorating number 10 and suchlike whilst giving huge contracts to their friends regardless of if they can’t do the job they’ve been contracted to do.
It’s easy for the government to target the most vulnerable because they believe that they won’t fight back. However as we have seen from groups such as DPAC (Disabled People Against Cuts) and campaigners like myself they can and do fight back in the quest to change things. They do and have made a difference.
Its exhausting though, constantly fighting against the government machine who’s policies reflect the fact that they want to get rid of us. However they forget that there are more of us than they are of them and we will continue to fight to make changes that we need.
Today is my son’s inquest and as you can expect I’m upset, the pain sometimes can be overwhelming. I have to be strong for my girls and my grandchildren.
Long gone are the flowers that I used to place on the little shrine that I’ve created at home. Flowers are expensive as is everything else these days.
I hate living like this and I hate the fact that my son is no longer with us. He had plans to do lots of things including sorting my oldest daughters gardens out and to do mine that I can’t use because its a mess. Little unimportant things like this always remind me of my son and the wonderful young man that he was.
I will be ok though, it will get better but I’ll always grieve for his loss but I will learn to live with it better. No one ever gets over loosing a child.
I’ll be back next week with another blog post.
Please if you can share, tweet, like and email my blog. This does make a massive difference and it gets the truth out there which is extremely important to do.
I don’t get paid for any of the writing that I do and it’s a struggle to say the least. I want to continue blogging and campaigning because its very important to help people.
For anyone that would like to donate theres a donate button at the top and side of this blog post.
A huge thank you also to everyone that subscribes, shares and has and does help my blog and campaign to continue. It means the world to me.
Dear readers, subscribers and friends, I hope that you are as well as can be. This week has been difficult for me because it’s the first time that I’ve been able to sit down and grieve for my son.
Everyone grieves in their own way and the time it takes for a person to grieve is totally individual. I truly don’t think that I’ll ever get over it and I’ll just learn to live with it.
It’s heartbreaking to know that thousands of people are mourning the loss of a loved one to Covid 19. No one as far as I’ve seen has spoken about their suffering and loss. I cannot comprehend their grief and pain.
The government has done a good job of hiding the true reality of the pandemic, the deaths, suffering, long covid sufferers and those already isolated because of illness and disability.
It’s very easy for the Prime Minister to open the borders, allow travel to countries overseas and to open up shops and businesses, he doesn’t have to cope with becoming ill and having no support, to be isolated in his home due to disability and illness. As most of you already know that he doesn’t care, he doesn’t care about our welfare and he certainly doesn’t want to improve our quality of life.
I don’t underestimate the joy felt by many when they realised that they could come out of lockdown but I do realise that the Indian strain of covid 19 will soon be in most of our communities because Johnson once again hasn’t put much, if any thought into ending the lockdown.
Like many of you reading this I’m fully vaccinated, and many will be awaiting either their first or second vaccination, but I’m a tad worried about the Indian strain coming our way because we just don’t know if the vaccination works with this strain of COVID 19.
What I can say is proceed with caution, wear a mask, wash your hands and remain cautious. It’s a terrible indictment of our government that Johnson thinks that its ok to say ‘Let the bodies pile up’ and still be allowed to continue as Prime Minister. I remember the days when the opposition used to oppose such wrongdoings but now there’s hardly any from Sir Kier Starmer.
I really hope that we start to have some decent opposition soon because thousands of people need this now.
Please read, share, tweet and email my blog. Every share is important to get the truth out there.
I don’t receive any funding for both my blog and campaign. For anyone that would like to donate there’s a donate button at the top and side of this blog.
Thank you all so much for your support, it means the world to me.
Dear readers and subscribers, you I get have realised that Ive been pretty much out of action this past week. I apologise for this, I feel awful about it and I hope that it doesn’t happen again.
Ive been struggling to get through this last rebound due to needing more meds and waiting for them to be processed.
I’ll be honest with you, I’m feeling pretty low at the moment. This past year has been a complete nightmare and so far it doesn’t appear to be easing.
My health is pretty rubbish at the moment, it takes me much longer to do tasks that I didn’t used to think about. My daughters more than fed up with me being ill and I do feel like I am to blame for this. Being a single parent is tough when you’re ill.
Yesterday I learnt that the support that I was getting will be ending next week. This was very difficult for me to process because I’m still needing help.
Ive noticed that many essential support networks and general support services locally are ending next week because apparently everything’s going back to normal.
It’s rather foolish to believe that because this latest lockdown is ending that Covid 19 has ended as well. So many people are still ill with it and are suffering from long covid.
It’s very neglectful of any support network to believe that this latest lockdown ending is the last lockdown that we are going to have.
Already the numbers of children that are infected with covid 19 are rising along with the schools re opening. Combine this with the majority of the population have only had one vaccination leaving others still waiting for their vaccination dates it arrive.
Not long ago Boris Johnson declared that we would ‘have to get used to people dying’. I for one can never get used to that. He should never have uttered those words.
To be honest the only things that have been keeping me going recently are this blog and your support. I need your support more than I ever have before.
I want to be better, maybe these latest meds will work. I don’t want to be in the position that I’m in now. It’s pretty dire tbh and I expect that thousands of other people are feeling the same as I am now.
If any organisations are reading this blog post, please reconsider stopping support just because the latest lockdown is ending. So may of us are, not by choice dependent upon this help.
I feel that Ive been totally honest with you, I needed to get this worry off my chest so to speak and I want people to realise how tough it is for long covid survivors.
One day, hopefully soon this nightmare will be over and I’ll be back to my normal self. It’s been so long since I’ve been there.
Please read, share and tweet my blog. I really want to get the reality of our situations out there for everyone to read.
For anyone that would like to donate to keep both my blog, myself and the campaign going theres a donate button at the top and bottom of this blog post.
I really need your support and I thank everyone that does and has supported my blog and campaign.
Dear readers and subscribers, you may have noticed that I’ve been quiet this week. My aim is to produce at least three blog posts a week. I want to provide more newsworthy content as well as my weekly blog which is personal to me.
I have failed to do this because once again I’ve rebounded. I’ve got yet another chest infection that has hit me extremely hard, not only physically but mentally.
I really thought that I’d beaten my long covid symptoms, and for the most part I have. What I didn’t count on was that I could get another chest infection which has made me feel so ill.
I felt the symptoms up to about 14 days ago, I get pains in my right lung which are hard to describe. I stupidly ignored these symptoms because I didn’t want to be ill again, I didn’t want to have to say that I’m ill again because I’m sure that everyone is fed up of me saying this.
I carried on as usual until last Sunday when my body told me that I couldn’t continue like I was doing. My sats dropped to a low level and just doing the most basic chores made me breathless and tired.
I admitted defeat and spoke to my doctor. They diagnosed another chest infection and advised me that I should really go to the hospital. Easier said than done though when you’re a single parent and your child is totally dependent upon you.
I explained my situation and I was prescribed anti antibiotics and more inhalers. My consultant has been notified and I’m waiting for an appointment to see him.
There’s no doubting that I was extremely foolish to ignore my symptoms, don’t ever do this. For anyone in a similar situation to me, please act upon your symptoms and get help. I can’t believe that I was so stupid.
I think the main reason as to why I ignored my new symptoms is because I had such a long run of better health. I wasn’t struggling as much and I was seriously considering the fact that I would be well very soon.
I wanted to hold onto that hope, to become normal once again, to be included in future plans and to have ambitions of achieving my goals.
My goals aren’t particularly hard to achieve for an able bodied person. I love walking, I used to walk miles everyday and I so wanted to walk to Hartshead Pike once again with my daughter. Maybe one day I’ll achieve this.
Luckily I think that my antibiotics have started to work and my sats are much better than they were. Not perfect, far from it but acceptable for both myself and my doctor and consultant.
I know that the Covid 19 virus has damaged my lungs, especially my right lung and I have to accept that I’m more vulnerable to getting chest infections, but it’s impossible for me to live in a covid free environment. My daughter returned to school and with that came the spread of viruses brought home through no fault of her own.
So yes I’m struggling, yes I’m fed up of complaining about my health but this week has certainly been a big challenge for me. I want to do more, to eat more healthily and to have a better lifestyle but it’s impossible when I’m dependent upon such a low income.
I’m not only worried about my physical health I’m worried about how on earth can I juggle things around to provide everything that I need to get healthy again. It’s bloody impossible but I’ll try my best to do this.
For now my goals are low. I would first like to once again achieve my goal of more blog content because I love to write and I love to hear from all of you, because you are important.
As for my health, I’m back to taking it a day at a time, hopefully achieving small goals along the way. I’m grateful to be alive, to have survived Covid19, and to still be here talking to all of you.
Please keep safe, wear a mask and don’t for one minute think that this virus has gone away. It hasn’t and we still need to be careful.
Please read, share, tweet and email my blog. Every time that my blog is shared results in more people reading about the truth of our life’s, our struggles and how shitty life is for us at the moment.
I don’t get any funding for writing my blog and at the moment I’m really struggling financially. For anyone that would like to donate theres a donate button at the top and side of this blog piece.
Every penny enables me to continue to blog and it really helps my campaign. I want to be back to normal again I really do.
A huge thank you to everyone that shares and supports my blog and campaign. I really couldn’t do this without your help. It would be impossible. Thank you all so much.
Most people that claim Universal Credit find themselves in debt through no fault of their own. The five week wait for a new claim to be processed ensures that they’re going to accrue debts.
At the time of writing the DWP can automatically take high level deductions from a persons universal credit payments personal allowance for court fine payments, council tax debts and suchlike.
The DWP has a blanket policy of always cutting benefit by the maximum amount possible which is given regardless of personal circumstances. This leaves already financially vulnerable people struggling to buy food and to pay bills.
Yesterday the High Court has today ruled that this policy and practice of taking high amounts of payments from a persons Universal Credit is unlawful.
In February 2020, Shelter launched a legal challenge on behalf of four people, all of whom had a history of rough sleeping and therefore are hugely impacted affected by deductions being taken out of their Universal Credit payments.
Shelter challenged the DWPs deductions policy and all decisions to apply the ‘maximum deduction rate’ to universal credit. They also challenged this for all court fine payments regardless of the claimant’s personal circumstances.
The DWPs policy of deducting the maximum amount of 30% from the Universal Credit standard allowance leaves claimants with as little as £51 per week to live on., that is unless they have more deductions taken from their payments for other debts such as DWP loans etc.
These payments ensure that claimants cant afford to heat and or eat, pay for transport to get themselves to appointments and to buy essential phone credit to fulfil their required Universal Credit job searches.
Shelter argued in court that the DWP’s deductions policy and approach to deductions unlawfully removes an important discretion prescribed by law. Regulation 4 of The Fines (Deductions from Income Support) Regulations 1992) provides the DWP discretion to deduct a minimum of 5% from peoples’ UC to pay back court fines (and a maximum of £108.35).
The DWP’s blanket policy removes this discretion by setting a fixed maximum deduction of 30% and doesn’t allow claimants to request a lower deduction even in exceptional circumstances where they’re facing hardship.
The DWP’s defence of this policy is that in theory Universal Credit claimants can return to the magistrates’ court to request a direct repayment plan.
In reality this is impracticable. Most claimants aren’t aware that they can do this and the DWP aren’t exactly helpful if a person wants to do this.
The deductions regime is an effective means of repayment of debts, however as it stands the high level of repayments pushes a claimant even further into debt and poverty because repayments aren’t set at a reasonable level, taking into account a claimants financial circumstances.
Shelters case was heard at the High Court before Mr Justice Kerr via a remote hearing on 12 and 13 January 2021. Shelter’s claim was also heard together with a second claim brought by Hackney Community Law Centre acting on behalf of a disabled UC claimant.
The court found that DWP’s deductions policy is unlawful because it ‘fetters discretion’: i.e. it prevents decision makers from taking a UC claimant’s personal circumstances into account when setting the deduction rate.
The court ruled that by setting a fixed rate for deductions from UC for fines, and the DWP’s inflexible approach in making decisions on these cases, removes the discretion provided for in the relevant legislation. This is unlawful.
Responding to the DWP’s defence of an ‘alternative route’ through the magistrates’ court, Mr Justice Kerr states:
‘The deductions regime is paternalistic: the debtor cannot be left to pay off court fines voluntarily; they must be made to do so, for their sake and society’s. The Secretary of State’s passivity leaves unperformed the duty upon her to make that happen in appropriate cases.’
The High Court ruled that the DWP’s policy and practice in its present form was not lawful. The judge ordered that the relevant section in the deductions policy relating to fines be amended to reflect the judgment.
This judgment means that the DWP will have to change the deductions policy and their guidance must include discretion for DWP decision makers.
This will mean that Universal Credit claimants will be able ask the DWP to lower the amount deducted for court fine payments if they are struggling financially to pay them.
In reality nothing is changing regarding this legal decision yet because the DWP are as usual appealing the courts decision, but I will keep you posted about this.
This ruling has the opportunity to change Universal Credit claimants financial situations for the better, but you can bet that the DWP will drag this out for as long as possible.
My apologies for the lateness of this weeks blog. Yesterday was so busy for myself and my daughter and I’m once again unwell again.
I will endeavour to do my best to not let this happen again.
I’m so fed up with being unwell, not only does it impact me health wise it impacts my relationship with my children and it hits me hard financially.
I am doing my best to get well again because I hate feeling like this.
Please take care, keep safe and be kind to yourselves.
Please read, share and tweet my blog. Every time that you do this helps the truth to get out there which is extremely important.
A huge thank you to everyone that supports both my blog and campaign.
For anyone that would like to donate toward my blog and campaign theres a donate button at the top and side of this blog post. Every donation makes a huge difference and enables me to continue with both my blog and campaign.
Once again Thursday has crept up again so quickly and I hope that you’re all as ok as you can be.
Health wise I had a couple of bad long covid days most likely brought on by sorting my house out after being ill for so long. I am trying to do it in stages but it got the better of me this week.
Anyway enough about me. This past year has been a huge struggle for so many of us. We are still having it choose between eating and heating and more and more of us are dependent upon food parcels..
The need for food banks is growing every day. More and more people are being pushed into a never ending spiral of poverty, and they might not ever be able to get out of this situation.
Living in poverty isn’t exactly living, its about existing, trying to struggle through each day whilst hoping that the next day is better for them.
This week I’ve spoken to some of the people that I’ve been helping for a long time now. When we first met almost all of them had that spark of hope that they’d find a job and wouldn’t be dependent upon social security for long.
Sadly this didn’t happen. Being dependent upon a system that was created to systematically take away any self esteem that you might have isn’t easy, nor is it conducive to a good healthy life. Hence why I say that this isn’t living, its existing.
For me the word living implies that there still is some joy, being able to eat healthier and not having to make the choice between eating or heating.
Ive lost count of the amount of times that I’ve bought people some prepaid gas and electric, handed out food parcels and when we ran out of them taking a person shopping to help them get through a very difficult time.
This is what really annoys me, angers me and and at the same time upsets me. No one should be forced to live like this, to survive from day to day with no hope. The Universal Credit and ESA and PIP systems were all created to make people suffer, to make people be grateful for every crumb of hope given to them.
No one should be forced to endure the awful ESA and PIP medical assessments. Not only are they extremely damaging to a persons mental and physical help, they are also conducted by a so called medical representative that often hasn’t got a clue about how hard life is for the claimant. They also really don’t care about how damaging their false reports can be for the person being assessed.
There’s no excuse for such cruelty. The government chose to do this because they don’t care about us, working class and disabled people. There’s also little point in appealing to them for help because they often refuse to.
As I write this blog the gap between the have’s and have nots is widening hugely every day. Self isolating when you have the financial means to do so is much easier than when you haven’t.
Worrying about how you can feed your children and how to keep warm and safe is what’s worrying most of us.
I’m concerned about everyone forced to make the horrible decision between heating and eating, trying to make clothing last because they can’t buy anymore, walking in shoes that have holes in the bottom of them.
This is the reality for so many of us and we do need to talk about it more than we do. This is exactly why I started to write this blog and also why I started campaigning against this cruel, heartless system.
We can get through this though. Never, ever forget that you are important and you are loved. I’m always here if you want to talk.
Please read, share and tweet my blog. Every time that this is done raises awareness for so many. There are still people out there that don’t realise how cruel the system is.
A huge thank you to everyone that supports my blog and campaign. I really couldn’t do this without you and I can’t thank you enough.
I don’t receive any funding for the work that I do and to say its a struggle at times is an understatement.
If you would like to donate to keep the blog and campaign going theres a donate button at the top and side of this blog post.
The pandemic has hit the poorest extremely hard both health wise and financially pushing the financially insecure into a seemingly never ending spiral into worsening poverty. Financial and social inequality highlights health inequalities which prevents people from living with both security and dignity that they deserve.
From the 2008 global financial crash, which was followed by the ten years of cuts that followed this fortified proved beyond all doubt that there is a strong link between peoples health and their social circumstances.
In February 2020, the Marmot review reported the impact of the public health crisis in great detail. It reported that life expectancy in the UK had stopped improving for the first time in 100 years.
The government’s responses to Covid 19 pandemic highlights and continues to exacerbate this cruel injustice.
Thousands of people are still being forced to work whilst have Covid 19 symptoms because they can’t financially afford to take time off work.We must not blame someone who continues to work, despite having symptoms of covid-19, because of financial difficulties.
The blame lies at the feet of the government who are still excluding so many by not recognising their financial worries.
Without adequate financial and practical support for self-isolation, not everyone can afford to do this. Their needs are still not being met proving that being better off financially Wealth can be the best shielding strategy from the pandemic.
More than a million people who have applied for Universal Credit since March 2020. Many have waited months for their payments to start which barely covers basic necessities. Leaving them in a much worse financial state.
The government is still continuing to not commit to extending the £20 weekly uplift which is extremely worrying for millions of people that are reliant upon these payments.
The government has failed to keep people safe during the pandemic which has in turn affected the economy. This has resulted in the UK having one of the highest Covid 19 mortality rates in the world, coupled wit one of the biggest economic recessions amongst the G7 nations.
The government fails to understand that both physical health and economic wellbeing are intertwined.
Instead of prioritising the welfare of the public, the government prioritised schemes such as the ‘Eat Out To Help Out which failed to help the economy but also resulted in the ill health and deaths of so many.are impeccably encapsulated by the £849 million “Eat Out to Help Out” scheme.
As a result of countless governments cuts and benefit reforms the UK now the weakest safety nets in its own post-war history, yet public support for an improved welfare system is, according to The Guardian newspaper the highest for twenty years.
The government needs to give people greater social protection and to give people the means to live healthy and dignified lives.Those that need to self isolate should be given the financial means to do so.
It’s a terrible indictment of the governments attitude that millions of people are now forced to rely upon food parcels and making the choice wether to eat or heat.
Will the government answer our calls for this to happen? I doubt they will but we should never stop reminding them of this need.
Please read, share and tweet my blog and my articles. It’s extremely important that we continue to get the truth out there which os important for so many.
I don’t receive any funding for both my blog and campaign. If anyone would like to donate to enable me to continue with both there’s a donate button at the top and side of this blog post.
A huge thank you to everyone that has and does support my blog and campaign.
I really couldn’t do this without your support and you have all helped me to get through this tough time in my life.
It’s Thursday again and where has the time gone? I hope that you’re all as ok as you can be. The government certainly doesn’t make it easy for us do they.
You may have noticed that I’ve started to upload more articles. I want this blog to remain relevant to our struggles and I’m trying my best to get our truth out there.
I will however still be uploading at least one personal blog piece like this one. I truly believe that our voices do need to get out there and we need to be doing this as often as we can do.
Like you I struggle and yesterday was a particularly hard day for me health wise. Long Covid hit me hard again, most likely because I’ve been busy this week. I’ve learnt that when this happens its best to just go with it and not to fight it.
I also realise that I’m one of the lucky ones. I survived and my thoughts and prayers are with everyone suffering with Covid 19, and for everyone that has died and their families and friends.
I’m sure that many of you are feeling the same way, there are many similarities between Long Covid and other long term illnesses that cause tiredness and other symptoms.
Whilst I welcome the research into Long Covid with open arms, I find it disgusting that other long term illnesses like this haven’t had the same amount of research. Everyone despite their illness are important therefore are deserving of the same treatment.
As you’ve probably seen in my last blog I explained my frustrations with the budget announcements. I really do wish that the £20 Universal Credit and Working Tax Credit uplift had been extended to legacy benefit claimants.
I do believe that this has been done purposely to try and make legacy benefit claimants move over to Universal Credit. Not only is this dangerous to their health and well-being, it would also ensure that they’re worse off financially.
Call me old fashioned but I believe in equality for everyone, its simply not fair to exclude people especially those that are extremely vulnerable both health wise and financially.
Of course the government doesn’t want equality though, they want the working class to suffer and therefore they devise policies to ensure that they’ll always be worse off both health wise and financially. They want us to become so desperate for money that we’ll do everything that they say so that they can keep their benefit payments.
The DWP created ‘Workfare’ specifically designed to make big businesses and charities better off financially whilst dragging vulnerable people into a viscous cycle of subservience and poverty.
Long gone are the days of job security and financial independence. The pandemic has highlighted this fact more than ever. We are seeing record numbers of unemployment, thousands of workers having to rely upon furlough pay that only pays 80% of their wages and thousand of people forced to wait five weeks or longer for their first Universal Credit payments whilst we are still in the midst of a pandemic.
Absolutely no thought was given to the effect of the pandemic upon new Universal Credit claimants. It’s hard enough to survive on UC as it is without having the worry of waiting so long for their first payment.
So far theres been radio silence about this issue, and of course I didn’t think that they’d change this because this would admit that they were wrong and the five week wait isn’t the right thing to do.
I could write about this for hours so instead of subjecting you to a lengthy blog post I’ll keep updating this blog on a regular basis.
I’ve said this before, but I wish that I had a magic wand to make everything better for you all but I don’t. I only have this blog, my Facebook and Twitter accounts and the odd TV appearance to help to highlight your struggles.
Please read, share and tweet my blog. Everyone that reads my blog and shares it helps others to hear our voices. It shows others that they’re not alone and that we do care.
I don’t receive any funding towards my blog and campaign and its been a struggle to say the least. If anyone would like to donate or to buy me a coffee theres a donate button at the side and top of this blog post.
Every penny makes a huge difference and I’d like to thank everyone that has and does support my blog and campaign. It means the world to me.