Category: Theresa May

PIP Mandatory Reconsideration Success Decrease Dramatically

Personal Independence Payment (PIP) is a benefit that can help with extra living costs if you have both a long-term physical or mental health condition or disability if you have difficulty doing everyday tasks or getting around because of your condition.

PIP can be applied for even if you’re working, have savings or are getting most other benefits.

A Mandatory Reconsideration is the first step of challenging a PIP decision. This involves asking the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) to look at their decision again. A Mandatory Reconsideration has to be applied for within one month of the decision date (the date that is given on the decision letter).


Reports show that the latest PIP statistics give show that Mandatory Reconsiderations success rates have fallen for almost every single month since October of 2021.
The statistics go on to show that the success rates have dropped from 45% in October 2021 to just 26% in April of 2022.
When questioned the DWP have offered no explanation for this inexorable decline in Mandatory Reconsideration success rates.


In 2019 the DWP implemented a new system of contacting claimants who lodged a mandatory reconsideration in order to collect further evidence. As a result Mandatory Reconsideration success rates rose considerably.


Moving forward to 2022 the DWP are now struggling to cope with an 18% increase in new PIP claims.This has resulted in a 9% increase in requests for mandatory reconsiderations which in turn has caused significant stress on an already overwhelmed system.


There are various reasons as to what the cause is but one notable one is that the DWP appear to no longer take the time to contact claimants if they’ve failed an assessment therefore success rates have fallen back to their previous levels before 2019.

Invariably this has resulted in thousands of claimants becoming disheartened and forgoing applying for a Mandatory Reconsideration. If a claimant makes the decision to challenge the DWPs decision they often have to wait months before going through the ordeal of an appeal tribunal. This results in already vulnerable people in a distressed state unable to continue with their day to day activities that their PIP award enabled them to do.

People living with a disability or illness have long bared the brunt of the governments cruelty being neglected, ignored and often left to cope with relentless cuts to their benefit payments and help that most need to continue with their day to day activities.

The governments relentless targeting of the most vulnerable in society needs to stop but sadly its very likely that this won’t happen whilst the Tory government are still in power. Instead they prefer to have parties and sing on karaokes whilst thousands of people suffer as a result of their actions.

https://twitter.com/Debbie_abrahams/status/1542191173195816960?t=0apkY_BO5YZM-6FiDKydtA&s=19

https://www.disabilitynewsservice.com/dwp-yet-to-sign-claimant-deaths-legal-agreement-with-watchdog/

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f you would like to contribute towards keeping my blog and campaign going and can afford to there is a donate button at the top and side of this blog post.

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Council Tax Arrears Rise Dramatically

A recent report undertaken by Money Advice has uncovered that Council Tax arrears are rising dramatically and are expected to grow exponentially.

As detailed inthe report the total amount of arrears owing now stands at over £4.9 billion, this is an increase of £521 million (12%) on last year (2021).



With the ever increasing cost of living costs and energy bills it comes as no surprise that many are struggling to pay council tax.This has been happening for years and it shows no sign of improving.

The analysis conducted by Money Advice suggests that the problem is worsening showing that in the past 5 years the average CouncilTax bill in England has risen by 24%. At the same time arrears have risen profoundly by 74% over the same time period

This leaves an ever increasing amount of households that are struggling to afford their bills and everyday costs therefore falling deeper into arrears unable to meet the payments.

The truth is that the current system of collecting council tax isn’t working, it often costs local authorities more to implement than they actually are able to collect. Households are already struggling to pay and local councils are trying to cope with the deficit of payments whilst trying to keep essential services going as many rely upon council tax payments to provide such services.

The rules that govern council tax collection are approximately 30 years old and are no longer working for today’s financial climate. The whole council tax system needs to be changed for it to work fairly both for households and local authorities.

Money Advice suggests that the Government needs to urgently take a duel approach both for households and councils.

They suggest that:

The government increases and ring-fence funding for Council Tax Support to stop people falling behind enabling more people to get help paying.

Change and reform collection rules so that households are treated fairly and not met with intimidating behaviour from bailiff sent out to collect arrears. This creates distress and doesn’t actually work to help people pay, instead it increases debt due to having to pay bailiff costs as well.

In an ideal world there would be new, fair system created that is affordable and doesn’t cause increasing poverty and spiralling into further debt.

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You can find a full copy of the report here at https://t.co/WT2vQSzLhA

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DWP Wrongly Forces Universal Credit Claimants To Repay Entire Payments


According to a recent report from Child Poverty Action Group CPAG) claimants are being forced to repay their full Universal Credit (UC) award despite being entitled to it.

Why Are The DWP doing this?

During the pandemic the DWP temporarily changed some of the evidence rules to complete UC claims.

As detailed in the report by CPAG in January 2021 the DWP started to look into the claims that were made during the pandemic.

Whilst doing this the DWP have been changing the entitlement decisions given to claimants declaring that many claims have been wrongfully awarded.

Why This Shouldn’t Be Happening

CPAG have expressed their concerns that the process of retrospectively deciding claimants were not entitled to UC and beginning recovery is unlawful.



In addition, the DWP is asking for evidence of entitlement via the online journal, even from claimants that are no longer getting UC and would have no reason to check their journal.



Some claimants only find out about the alleged overpayment when they receive a letter from DWP Debt Management.

They therefore miss the one month deadline for challenging a decision and often don’t know that they could make a late challenge if they have good cause.


Shockingly, this process is set to be ramped up dramatically.

The DWPs Reaction

The DWP are employing a team of 2,000 staff to look again at 2 million claims over the next five years including, but not limited to, claims made during the pandemic.



The thought that a government department that tramples on claimants’ rights in this way is to be given powers of search, seizure and arrest, as revealed in our last newsletter, is truly frightening.


Conclusion.

It’s very concerning that the government gives the DWP the authority to stamp on a person’s legal rights in this manner.

Not only are they able to stop a claimants payments without any notice they are also set to be given powers of search, seizure and arrest, as detailed in an earlier blog post.

DWP decisions such as these are life changing and literally leave people without the ability to eat, pay their rent and to keep warm.

Combined with this is the mental toll that this puts upon claimants leaving them in a state of distress not knowing where to get help.

Claimants deserve to be treated with respect and should be given the right to reply before any permanent decisions are made by the DWP.

Not only is it morally wrong to change decisions retrospectively, moving the goalposts when it suits the DWP is despicable and should be challenged at all times.

You can find the full copy of the report here https://cpag.org.uk/policy-and-campaigns/briefing/demands-repay-impact-and-legality-dwp-reverification-uc-claims

Please read, share and tweet this article. Doing so raises awareness of the real issues that affect the working class of this country.

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A huge thank you to everyone that reads, shares and supports my blog. I really appreciate it and I couldn’t have got through the last two years without you.

UK Food Prices Set To Rise Again This Summer

Food prices are predicted to increase by 15% in the UK this summer. This is the highest level in more than 20 years. This is predicted to rise alongside inflation which could last until the middle of next year, according to a report by The Institute of Grocery Distribution (IGD)

This is a result of the ever increasing prices of meat, cereal, dairy, fruit and vegetable products caused by the rise in costs of wheat prices as a result of the war in Ukraine.

The Ukraine is a big supplier of wheat to the UK, combined with sanctions imposed upon Russia will undoubtably cause a hike in prices and also a probable wheat shortage. Also predicted by the grocery trade body IGD.com is a rise in costs of food items caused by production lockdowns in China and export bans on food products such as palm oil from Indonesia and wheat from India.

What does this mean?

Food costs are going to rise dramatically again making it extremely difficult for low income households to be able to afford to buy much needed food essentials. According to a survey undertaken by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) there has been an increase in the number of people spending less on food and household essentials which has risen from 36% to 41%.

This figure is set to rise again in the Autumn when as predicted by The Bank of England inflation is predicted to reach to 11%, which is the highest since the 1970s.

Rising energy costs

Households are still struggling to cope with the rise in energy costs with government payments set to be sent out to household in July. This scheme is not without its faults though leaving some low income households and disabled people exempt from this scheme.

After the second payments given by the government in October there are so far no plans to extend this to the winter and beyond, leaving many forced to live in cold homes unable to cook food.

A recent survey also carried out by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) has revealed that 52% of low income households are being forced to use less gas and electricity because they can no longer afford the cost. This in turn will also affect a households ability to cook meals.

Why does this matter?

Low income households are already burdened with an ever increasing cost of living that they can no longer afford to keep up with. Already overwhelmed with these costs and the lack of affordable food this will undoubtably cause mental distress and illness as a result of not being able to provide the basics for themselves and their families.

The lack of financial support from the government in helping the public with these costs is sadly lacking. In work and out of work benefits such as universal credit, working tax credits, ESA and PIP have failed to rise with inflation leaving households with a huge financial deficit.

The poorest can no longer be expected to bear the brunt of these ever increasing costs. Permanent financial help from the government needs to be offered before winter, if not thousands will undoubtedly become ill or worse as a result of living in cold homes unable to provide food for themselves and their families.

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Please read, share and tweet this article it helps massively to raise awareness about the real issues facing working class people in the UK.

I don’t receive any payment for any of the work that I do, and like yourselves I’m struggling to be able to cope with the increasing costs of everything.

If you can afford to and would like to donate to keep my blog and campaign going theres a donate button at the top and side of this blog post. Every penny makes a massive difference and it really helps.

A huge thank you to everyone that’s helped to support my blog and campaign I really couldn’t do this without you. Thank you.

Doctors with Long Covid Denied PIP Payments

UK doctors suffering from Long Covid have been denied PIP according to a recent report by The Guardian.

Long Covid can be very debilitating leaving sufferers unable to do the most basic tasks without some help and assistance.

The report describes how badly the doctors are being treated by the DWP.

For example a respiratory consultant has described how they were refused PIP (Personal Independent Payments) whilst having urinary incontinence, difficulty standing, preparing food, eating, washing, dressing or engaging with people face to face. They also stated that they can’t stand for more than 10 minutes, find it very difficult to prepare food.

They went on to say “I thought that I had illustrated quite clearly what my disability was.” “When I got the report back, I thought is this about me?’”



The article also reveals that the process of making a PIP claim was so hard and mentally exhausted that it worsened their symptoms leaving them feeling much worse than before making their claim.

Some describing that they’ve been forced to use almost all their savings on private treatments and have considering selling their home as a result of this process.

For example an infectious disease expert that developed Long Covid found that their claim was rejected in part because they can drive a car, the assessor stating in their report that they showed “significant physical function” and “substantial cognitive powers”.

According to the Office for National Statistics from May 1st 2022 an estimated two million people in the UK have reported having Long Covid and it also beggars the question how many people having Long Covid are being refused their PIP payments despite having these symptoms and worse.

For many years now the whole PIP testing system has been heavily criticised and is flawed against the person applying for it. Many give up and try to continue without it because the process is too arduous and painful. It is noted that approximately 70% of PIP claimants win their appeal if they choose to do so.

The whole process urgently needs a huge reform and claims need to be processed correctly and fairly whilst taking into account the true symptoms and difficulties that PIP claimants report. Many PIP claims are refused upon the basis of lies made by the assessors conducting PIP assessments.

Sadly whilst the Conservative government remains in power any changes to the system remain very unlikely.

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A copy of the full Guardian report can be found here https://www.theguardian.com/society/2022/jun/13/uk-doctors-long-covid-say-denied-financial-support

A copy of the Office of National Statistics report can be found here https://www.ons.gov.uk

If you are also finding it hard to claim PIP or/and ESA for Long Covid related illnesses please comment below or tweet your difficulties via this blog on Twitter or Facebook. Let’s get our voices heard!

Please read and share it helps massively to raise awareness .

I receive no payment for any of the work or campaigning that I do and it’s a huge struggle for myself like it is for you. If you can afford and would like to donate to enable me to continue with my work theres a donate button at the top and side of this blog post.

A huge thank you to everyone that has and does help support my work. Every penny makes a massive difference and enables me to continue.

Thank you.

New Regulations For Fit Note Prescribers

New regulations have been issued to enable registered nurses, occupational therapists, pharmacists, and physiotherapists to issue fit notes.

This will extend the categories of people that can issue fit notes.
New statutory instrument

The new regulations will commence from 1 July 2022.

These regulations being Social Security (Medical Evidence) and Statutory Sick Pay (Medical Evidence) (Amendment) (No. 2) Regulations 2022 (SI.No.630/2022) amend the Social Security (Medical Evidence) Regulations 1976 and the Statutory Sick Pay (Medical Evidence) Regulations 1985.

The new regulations also make amendments to sets of regulations which refer to medical evidence as having been signed by doctors or registered medical practitioners.

The explanatory memorandum to the regulations advises that –

‘Currently only doctors can certify fit notes. This is not reflective of modern ways of multi-disciplinary working in healthcare where alternative healthcare professionals (HCPs) such as nurses often lead a patient’s diagnosis and healthcare management.

Expanding certification to a wider group of HCPs will better enable relevant HCPs to undertake health and work conversations to issue and certify fit notes without having to refer patients to their doctors.’

Commenting on the regulations, DWP Minister Chloe Smith said today –

‘The extension of fit note certification is fantastic news for patients, making it easier for them to get the support and advice they need from the right place, ensuring where possible that they are able to remain in work.’

These latest fit note changes recognise the valuable role other professions play in helping manage people’s health, and I hope this will also help reduce unnecessary bureaucracy for doctors and general practice more widely.’

This is welcome news for people struggling to provide fit notes for the DWP which can be a struggle for many.

SI.No.630/2022 is available from legislation.gov.uk

Source Rightsnet

Thanks to Rightsnet for providing this information.

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UK Facing NHS Dental Crisis. Reform Urgently Needed

A recent report by Healthwatch England has revealed a huge crisis looming within the UK NHS system. The report shows that people in the Uk are struggling to find a NHS dentist or be forced to pay for dental care that they can’t afford to pay for.

It has become near impossible for many to access any NHS dental care which forces them to either to pay for private dentistry services or to go without. This leaves many left suffering excruciating pain and also worsening health conditions as an effect of not being able to access dental care.

 Healthcare Watch Report

A recent poll undertaken by Healthcare Watch revealed that of 2,026 adults based in England, nearly half (49%) of respondents, felt that NHS dental charges were unfair. 

The poll also  looked at people’s experiences of NHS dentistry revealed  the following: 

• 54% of people who had an NHS dentist appointment had problems doing so, showing that 63% respondents found it difficult to book an NHS appointment with more than three in ten people (31%) unable to access all the treatments they needed. 

The Report Also Showed That:

46% of people had  problems with the costs associated with their NHS dental care.  

Revealing that(34% of respondents said they had no option but to pay privately to get all the required treatment that they needed, Showing that 24% commented saying that their NHS dentist didn’t explain the cost before starting treatment.

Approximately one in five people reported that their NHS dentist charged them more for their treatment than the advertised NHS charges. 

21% of people that couldn’t access NHS treatment revealed that they  suffered as a result of being unable to access treatment Of this, one in three (34%) respondents said a lack of access to dental care that inevitably led to more serious health problems.

Respondents also revealed that a lack of  dental care made it hard to eat or speak properly leaving 19% of people avoiding people and social situations. 

Why is there a shortage of NHS treatment?

Accessibility to NHS dental services has been gradually worsening over the last 10 years. Some years before 2020, the National Audit Office (NAO) reported that the remuneration system for dentists ‘was purely  activity-based and had done nothing to incentivise tooth decay and care prevention.One of the main causes for the shortage being the Units of Dental Activity system. 

Under the present system dentists are only being paid for Units of Dental Activity (UDA’s)for example doing treatment on tooth problems instead of offering regular check-ups and preventative treatments.

This has resulted in dental problems being  left too long which eventually  in a general decline in oral and physical health.

This along with the fact that the UDA targets for dental practices are notably unachievable has resulted in dentists moving away from offering NHS services and operating private services and no longer NHS treatment. As a result of the present UDA system the demand for public dental services has overtook the availability of NHS treatment for years. 

In 2002, the NAO raised their concerns about the estimated shortage of NHS dentists. This resulted in approximately two million people being unable to register with an NHS dentist, unable to do so.Sadly since 2002 the demand for services  has risen but the availability of services  has reduced leaving a huge deficit. 

The solution

The need for a complete reformation of the UDA system is greater than ever. Dentists should be offered renumeration for all NHS services and the attraction to work within the NHS system should be prioritised. 

Address the funding crisis to ensure that funding is appropriate and adequate for the level of demand expected by the current population.


Attract newly qualified practitioners into the industry through apprenticeships, links with universities and advanced training programmes.


Incentivise practices to commit to NHS dentistry by reviewing targets, penalties and credit units.


Add dental health roles to the list of national shortages to ease accessibility into the industry for EU citizens.

Conclusion

The UK is experiencing a NHS dental crisis which at the same time is risking the health of thousands of people suffering from dental problems.

Not only does the lack of NHS dental services cause dental problems it can also affect a persons physical health which can deteriorate as a result of not being able to access dental services. 

Resolving this crisis is more important now than ever.

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Are you experiencing dental problems and unable to access any NHS dental services? Feel free to comment below and tell me about your experiences.

You can find a full copy of the report over at https://www.healthwatch.co.uk/news/2022-05-09/lack-nhs-dental-appointments-widens-health-inequalities

Please read, share and tweet this blog post it’s important to raise awareness.

I don’t receive any payment for any of the work that I do and to say its a struggle is an understatement.

If you can afford to and would like to donate to keep both my blog and campaign going you can find a donate button at the top and side of this blog post.

A huge thanks to everyone that has and does support my blog and campaign going, I really couldn’t continue doing this without you.

Whilst The Queen Celebrates Jubilee Record level Of Universal Credit Sanctions Published

A record level number of Universal Credit (UC) sanctions has recently been published by the Department of Work and Pensions on the 22nd May 2022.

It is reported by the DWP that the amount of UC sanctions had reached a record high in January 2022 this is according to statistics released by the DWP in May.

This follows the restrictions during the the pandemic when the DWP had been pressurised to remove work search and availability requirements for UC claimants also suspending face-to-face interviews due to the health risks involved. Work search and availability requirements were reintroduced gradually and are now fully implemented.

According to the latest figures released by the DWP UC sanctions prior to the pandemic consisted of 2.51% of UC claimants being sanctioned. In February 2022 sanction levels had risen dramatically to 3.90%.

According to the report in January 2022 there were reported 38,200 adverse sanction decisions showing the highest number of adverse sanction decisions on UC full service ever recorded, leaving many claimants dragging claimants further into poverty.

According to the DWP statistics released in February 2022 36.3% of UC claimants were in the conditionality groups that could be subject to sanctions, this includes claimants in the “searching for work”, “planning for work”, “preparing for work” or “unknown” conditionality groups.

It appears that the DWP have wasted no time in hitting claimants with sanctions and this is what they do best. Instead of helping claimants they find it more beneficial to unfairly sanction some of the most vulnerable people.

The conditionality requirements are confusing especially after the pandemic with many claimants not realising that their requirements had returned to normal. It’ll also be interesting to find out how many of them were affected by long Covid or indeed Covid itself and of course they wouldn’t have been able to reach out for sympathy from the DWP.

Not only will these sanctions have a terrible affect upon a persons health and well-being they will also put even more pressure upon already over subscribed food banks that were already struggling before the pandemic.

Whilst the nation is supposed to be celebrating the queens jubilee, a woman with an immense amount of privilege and wealth, thousands will be left suffering in extreme poverty unable to afford even the most basic things. It’s time that we should highlight their plights instead of celebrating the jubilee.

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You can find the full report here at https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/benefit-sanctions-statistics-to-january-2022-experimental/benefit-sanctions-statistics-to-january-2022-experimental

Once again thanks to Benefits And Work for inspiring this weeks blog.

Please share it really helps massively to raise awareness about the suffering of many people totally abandoned by the government.

I receive no payment for any of the work that I do and to say that I’m struggling is an understatement. Every penny donated helps me to continue blogging and campaigning and I would really like to be able to do so.

A huge thank you to everyone that has and does support the blog and campaign. The past two years have been a nightmare for me and I really couldn’t have done this without you.

Energy prices expected to rise by £830 to £2,800 in October.

The current price cap, which is set to rise in October, is £1,971 a year which was already a £693 rise (54%) from the previous cap six months earlier.

Ofgem chief executive Jonathan Brearley told the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Committee that in October it will increase to “in the region of £2,800”.

With this announcement comes the question of how people are going to be able to afford this extortionate price increase.

Already we are seeing thousands of people unable to use their gas and electric because they can’t afford it, no longer is they’re going to be a choice of heating or eating, they won’t be able to do either.

Whilst campaigners such as Martin Lewis are questioning the government as to how the public are going to cope, their words fall upon deaf ears and are ignored by the government that clearly appears not to care.

The truth is that we are dependant upon being able to heat our homes. It’s essential to have an electric supply to get by on a day to day basis, especially if disabled and have additional needs. Being forced to live in cold dark homes puts people at a very high risk of becoming ill or even dying.

It makes no difference how much you can budget and save when every penny is having to be spent on the ever increasing energy prices, although the likelihood is that bills won’t be paid because of a lack of ability to do do.

Not only will this affect the consumer it will also affect the energy suppliers that are dependant on their customers paying their bills to continue trading. I suspect that many more will be forced to shut therefore leaving both the consumer and the economy in a very precarious position.

The truth is that yet again the obscene energy price increases are yet another devestating choice that’s been made by the government. It’s pretty obvious that they don’t care how the average person will suffer and what a detrimental affect this will have to the public and to the economy.

It’s a ticking time bomb waiting to explode and something has to give before we start to see the serious ramifications of the ever increasing energy costs. I and others predict that thousands are at risk of becoming seriously ill or dying. We must do everything that we can do to prevent this from happening.

Please read, share and tweet my blog posts, its essential to raise awareness and doing this really helps to do so.

I don’t receive any payments for the work that I do. If you can afford to and would like to donate there’s a donate button at the top and side of this blog post.

A huge thank you to everyone that shares and supports both my blog and campaign. I really couldn’t dp this without you.

DWP To Be Given Power To Arrest Universal Credit Claimants

In a recent report by Benefits and Work the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) will be giving their officers the power to mass-request bank data more efficiently to enable them to conduct more spot-checks to see if people are committing benefit fraud..

The new powers to be given will enable DWP officers to make arrests, execute warrants, conduct searches and seize evidence themselves instead of informing the police and involving them.
This will allow the DWP to dish out civil fines similar to those issued by HMRC even if a case does not make it to court.


It is estimated that approximately two million claimants will face having supposed fraud cases dredged up and to be given fines for fraud even if they’re not convicted of a crime. New and existing claims could be flagged as being potentially suspicious over five years.


It is believed that Conservative ministers will be perceived to be appealing to their voter base because at the time of writing no timetable for these new laws has been made. It’s likely to take at least a year for these plans to commence. Many of these planned new powers will need an Act Of Parliament and is thought that if these plans are to commence they will be introduced from May 2023 at the earliest.

The proposed benefit fraud crackdown will have the potential to save the government £670m a year.

Giving DWP officers the power of arrest for supposed benefit fraud even if a case doesn’t make it to court has the potential to persecute innocent claimants is extremely worrying . For many years now I’ve assisted claimants in supposed benefit fraud meetings, the majority of which showed absolutely no evidence of fraud being committed.

I found these meetings to be yet another way for the DWP to intimidate and harass claimants and I have no doubt that if I hadn’t been able to represent these claimants they would have falsely been accused of fraud and would have faced their benefits being stopped or greatly reduced.

Given the fact that that benefit overpayments were estimated to be approximately £8.3bn in 2020/21 many of which were errors made by the DWP and not claimants, accusing them of fraud as a result of this would be totally wrong and immoral.

Claiming Universal Credit is already difficult and demeaning punishing claimants for being guilty before being found to be innocent. To allow DWP officers these powers would add to the pressure that claimants already feel whilst not knowing if their benefit advisor will report them for potential fraud which could result in their payments being reduced or stopped.

I suspect that the real reasoning behind these new proposed powers is yet another way for the government to save money whilst putting the well-being of the poorest and most vulnerable at risk.

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Many thanks to Benefits and Work for once again being the inspiration for this article.

Are you interested in joining a group of likeminded people for solidarity and maybe some campaigning? You can’t go wrong if you join Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC). They have lots of local branches that you can join.

Head over to https:manchesterdpac.com to find out more.

Please read, share, tweet and email my blog. Every share will raise awareness and we desperately need to do this.

Huge thank you to everyone that has supported my campaign and blog.

I don’t receive any payment for the work that I do and every penny really helps. Thank you!