DWP (Department of Work and Pensions) minister Tom Pursglove admitted that claimants are waiting over half an hour on average for PIP and DLA helpline calls to be answered.
He also claimed that he is going to recruit extra staff to cope with the volume of calls on the helplines but gave absolutely no indication of how many are being employed and for how long they’ll be employed.
Nor has he confirmed if the extra staff he plans to employ are qualified to do so.
At the time of writing the average wait for a PIP enquiry to be answered is 37 minutes and for DLA enquiries it is 33.5 minutes.
However it is imperative that Tom Pursglove reveals the amount of callers that don’t get an answer at all because their calls are disconnected.
Earlier this year the DWP revealed that in March almost 90% of half a million callers to the Future Pensions Centre were faced with being call-blocked because they couldn’t cope with the rising call demand.
Implementing Call-blocking results in calls not being allowed to go on the call waiting queue because the queue is too long and they get cut off.
This is also happening to callers contacting the PIP helpline as reported to Benefits And Work by claimants trying to contact the said helpline.
We cannot ignore the fact that the claimants trying to contact these helplines are all vulnerable and are in great need of getting their enquiries answered.
The question also needs to be answered as to how many of these vulnerable people have given up trying to contact the departments. This could in some circumstances result in their payments being stopped leaving them more vulnerable than they already were. .
There’s no excuse for the DWP’s lax attitude towards the whole situation.
It’s clear that they don’t care about how this can impact upon the claimants lives and it is totally unacceptable.
Thanks to Benefits And Work for disclosing this information.
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Back in the day I remember when the UK had a fully functioning NHS dentistry system that many in the UK were entitled to be given treatment by an NHS dentist.
People are still entitled to this and are dependent on certain benefits, pregnant women, women who had recently given birth and some pensioners had access to the NHS free service.
As a whole the system worked well and appointments to see a dentist and to get treatment was fairly easy. If you had a toothache or dental abscess it was also easy to get a dentist to treat you before complications set in.
Roll forward to 2023 it’s near impossible to find a dentist that’s willing to take on NHS patients and a person’s condition isn’t taken into account.
Many NHS dentistry patients have also found themselves taken off their dentists patient lists. This happened to me, if you get a toothache like I get often or a dental abscess it’s tough and difficult to cope with.
Finding an NHS dentist is near impossible though.
Most doctors and a&es won’t treat people with dental problems and trying to find a local dentistry hospital can be near impossible.
It’s become very clear that the government is actively destroying the few NHS dentistry services that are still available. They clearly don’t care about the public’s health.
Basically as stated by George Monbiot the state of our mouths truly does reflect the state of the nation.
Many people find themselves without an NHS dentist because their circumstances change such as house moves and relationship changes and dentists take NHS patients off their lists.
I live in an area of the UK where there are hardly any, if any at all dentists accepting adult NHS patients I was lucky enough to find a dentist to treat my teenage daughter who needs extensive surgery in the near future. My fear is that she’ll age out before any date for the operation becomes available. She was one of the lucky ones.
Currently at the time of writing 80% of practices in the UK are no longer taking on new child NHS patients, and about 90% are refusing new adult patients.
Sounds horrific doesn’t it and it gets worse. Some dentists do offer a waiting list for NHS appointments but they’re years long and of no use for urgent appointments.
Often accessing emergency services requires finding a dentistry hospital, being able to travel a long distance and being able to afford to do so.
Idon’t know anyone can afford to pay for private treatment. Those that have in the past can’t afford to do so again.
However the reasons why dentists are refusing to treat NHS patients are pretty simple and it’s easy to understand why.
When dentists treat patients on the NHS, they actually lose money, because the government funding package doesn’t cover their costs of doing so.
Since 2006, dentists have worked for the NHS under contracts that are shockingly designed to fail NHS dentists.
Dentists undertaking NHS work are paid in units of dental activity’ which is shortened to(UDA). This method of payment doesn’t take into account the cost of treatment which bears no relation to the costs of treatment. Under this system treating a patient earns a dentist three points regardless of the length and expense of each procedure.
Under this contract each and every NHS dentist also has to meet annual UDA targets
Absolutely no regard is given to dentistry prevention work which is in great need.
Dentists are paid at the UDA rate no matter how skilled they are and their experience.
Add the above to the government cuts that are hitting hard.
In reality NHS dentists as well as other health systems The NHS as a whole requires approximately 4% a year to keep up with it.
However NHS dentist services receive 1.2%. Add this up that they are requiring 4% to function but funding for NHS services have been cut by 4% a year.
It’s also important to take into account rising costs of energy, , energy, wages and materials which accounts to about 11% a year.
Dentists working for the NHS simply cannot stay in business unless they use their income from private practice to subsidise their public practice.
Parliament’s health and social committee stated in 2008 “it is extraordinary that the public health department did not pilot or test the UDA payment system before it was introduced.”
Rather typical isn’t it.
Since then successive governments have apparently tried to change an already broken system but haven’t made any improvements.
In 2022, the government produced a so called reformed contract in England which apparently is supposed to allow better access to NHS dental services. This however hasn’t prevented the decline of NHS dentistry because they’re still going to be losing money when treating NHS patients.
Rishi Sunak recently told parliament that there are now more NHS dentists across the UK with more funding, making sure people can get the treatment they need.
He’s got the nerve to even suggest this. The number of NHS dentists is decreasing daily. If you need a dentist you’ve got virtually no chance of seeing one.
As a result of this most if not all dental practices treating NHS patients have found themselves unable to reach NHS contract targets. . If dentists deliver fewer than 96% of UDAs that they are contracted, they find themselves in a position similar to being fined by the government.
It look’s as if they will take a record hit. The dentists undertaking NHS work were forced to pay back as much as £400m from a total English dentist budget of some £3bn. This is effectively destroying remaining NHS dentistry, obviously they can’t afford to work at a loss and on top of having to pay back the government.
It’s hard to believe that as the UK is in one of richest nations that people can’t access dentistry services.
It’s horrific that people are so desperate to get rid of their pain they’re resorting to pulling their own teeth out, buying temporary fillings and suffering in pain.
People are also accidentally overdosing on painkillers which is very dangerous both to health and life. We must also take into account the adverse health effects of dental abscess and suchlike which at worse can cause death.
Cruelty is what the conservative government does best though, most of their systems are designed to punish working class people for their very existence. How dare they ask for dental treatment.
Something needs to change and soon before more people suffer and also unfortunately die.
Will this happen though? No not a chance and it’s pointless trying to appeal to them for sympathy and help because the government clearly don’t care.
This is Mike’s comment about his quest in finding an NHS dentist.
There are two dentists where I live but, after extracting all of my own teeth and wanted dentures, I could only find one NHS dentist within 20 miles that accepted new patients. York and Leeds are both within 20 miles! Reason I wasn’t previously registered was returning from Australia where I didn’t need to register.
Thanks for telling me about your experience Mike and for your continued support of my blog also sharing it. I appreciate it.
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After many months of waiting and pressure from organisations and campaigners the DWP finally relented and published the secret sanction report that I’ve reported on previously.
This report concerned itself into the effectiveness of DWP (Department of Work and Pension) sanctions, afterall it’s a cruel tool used by them for a long time.
However in true DWP style they released it hours before the UK was closed to business for the Easter bank holiday.
The report shows that sanctioned claimants do take longer to move into paid employment and when they do so they’re most likely going to accept lower paid jobs than claimants that haven’t been sanctioned.
It also reveals that there’s no evidence that sanctions are effective in any way at all.
According to the report claimants that have been sanctioned also have 8% shorter UC claims than claimants who were not sanctioned.
The report proves that the majority of claimants with shortened claims disappear, they do not move into paid employment which is very worrying.
Claimants who are sanctioned and who eventually move into PAYE work then take longer to do so than those were not sanctioned and earn an average of £34 a month less than those not sanctioned.
The DWP rather unexpectedly argue in a ‘context note’ within the report that the research cannot be relied upon because it did not take into account the value of the ‘deterrent effect’ of the sanctions regime.
The DWPs ongoing theory is that claimants are more likely to meet their obligations because they fear being sanctioned thus sanctions are an effective tool.
In the three years since the draft report was created the DWP have chosen not to commission any independent research to test the truth of their deterrent effect theory.
Instead they intend to introduce a much harsher sanctions regime, when the only hard evidence they have about sanctions proves that they don’t work.
DWP Sanctions can and should be appealed however this takes a great deal of strength and determination of which not many have due to being completely worn down by the system.
So there we have it, the DWP once again ignoring important information that have a direct negative effect upon sanctioned claimants and their well-being.
The amount of people that decide to take themselves off the system when sanctioned is very concerning.
Don’t expect the DWP to care though, this is exactly what they want to happen and a claimants well-being isn’t even thought about let alone be a concern.
How many more deaths will there be as a result of being sanctioned before the cruel sanctioning system is forced to stop.
I predict thousands because not one political party is willing to campaign against this and apart from a few good MPs such as Debbie Abrahams they’re silent
Sanctions do kill and this report needs to be acted upon ASAP. One death is a death too many.
No one should be forced to suffer in this manner it’s inhumane and cruel.
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I really couldn’t do this without you though. To say I’m struggling at the moment is an understatement.
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This week I’ve heard some truly awful stories of people suffering and I’ve done everything I can to help those that need it.
Fitch Ratings a top credit ratings agency has warned the government that mortgaged homeowners in the UKare now more at risk of falling into arrears than in any other major developed country.
They also warn that the share of mortgaged homeowners missing more than three months of mortgage payments is most likely to double in 2023 to 1.5% as a result of high rates being charged to borrowers.
These figures are based upon the current number of residential mortgages in the UK which adds to approximately 135,000 households facing mortgage repayment arrears.
Research conducted by Fitch reveals Thar banks in the UK are more exposed to the housing market than in any of the 10 developed markets ranked by Fitch which include Canada, the USA, Germany, Australia and Italy.
A statement issued by Monsur Hussain at Fitch reveals “The UK scores the worst in terms of borrower risks.”
Fitch have also forecasted that the Bank of England will most likely raise the Bank Rate to a peak of 4.75%, up from 4% currently by May this year.
Jessica Hinds, director of economics at Fitch, said: “We have seen much bigger increases in mortgage rates, the Bank of England started tightening much earlier, and we have shorter mortgage terms than in other countries.”
Rather shockingly British borrowers fix for short periods of time either two or five years, buyers in the US commonly fix for around 25 years.
Mr Hussain from Fitch went on to say that in the year to November 2022 the average mortgage rates in the UK jumped by 4.5 percentage points compared to 3.5 points in the US.
As a result of this the UK’s housing market has come under immense pressure after mortgage rates increased dramatically when Kwasi Kwarteng’s mini-budget was revealed inciting chaos in financial markets.
Even though rates have since started to fall concerns about the cost of living crisis and ever increasing energy bills have deeply impacted employment stability and less money available to pay mortgage and everyday household costs.
This has already had a massive effect upon mortgage repayments and is undoubtedly resulting in many being forced to sell their homes with many being repossessed and then becoming homeless.
Although this might not be seen as an important issue for some it is indeed a massive problem for not only people becoming homeless but for local authorities that are already massively underfunded being forced to bear the burden of this.
I can’t see this getting better and a housing recession could well be on the cards in the near future.
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According to statistics released by the DWP (Department of Work and Pensions) the rate of universal credit recipients hit an all-time high of 6.86% in October 2022.
This total decreased slightly to 6.51% in November 2022.
The statistics released by the DWP show that sanctions have risen by 4.16 percentage points in the last 12 months.
Sanctions given to universal credit recipients can be and are not excluding other reasons for failure to attend or participate in a mandatory interview, failure or inability to complete their online journal or being seen as not to be looking for work enough in their time allotted to do so.
Over the last year over half a million claimants were sanctioned which includes a total of 98.4% of all sanctions given for not attending an in-face or telephone interview.
Needless to say most universal credit recipients do not purposely miss important interviews and there is usually a good reason for doing so which are often not taken into consideration by the DWP.
At a time when most people are struggling because of the current cost of living and energy cost crisis the DWP continues to financially punish the most vulnerable.
It’s abhorrent that the DWP continues to do this, they extend a person’s punishment to such an extent that they can’t see a way out.
It needs to stop before even more people die as a result of the DWPs actions and decision making.
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A huge thanks to everyone that does this!
A huge thank you to everyone that reads, subscribes to and supports my blog and the work that I do.
I really couldn’t do this without you and I can’t thank you enough.
If you like my work and would like to donate to keep my blog and campaign going there’s a donate button at the top and side of this blog post.
I’d like to say I was surprised upon hearing about a new sanction trap for Universal Credit (UC)) claimants but I’m not, afterall it’s not exactly the first time they’ve done this to unsuspecting claimants.
This time it’s been disguised as supposed help to move claimants into work.
The new scheme which has surprisingly been condemned by members of the DWP staff union PCS despite jobcentre workers are being offered a £250 ‘incentive’ to implement it.
The newly named Additional Jobcentre Support scheme requires UC claimants being forced by the DWP (Department of Work and Pensions) to attend their allocated Jobcentre 10 times over a two week period.
Claimants that are unable to attend or failing to participate in one session will highly likely to lead to a sanction.
Undeterred however by the cruelty of this new scheme the DWP are being ‘trialed’ at 60 jobcentres across England and Scotland.
As already proven by myself and many other like-minded campaigners these so called trials are usually the start of a national roll out regardless if they’re successful or not.
To add incentive to roll out this terrible scheme the DWP are offering a £250 bonus in the form of a voucher “to recognise and reward jobcentre teams who furthest exceed their aspirational targets.”
These vouchers will be given to each member of staff in the best performing jobcentres.
No explanation has so far been given as to what the alleged “aspirational targets” consist of and if this involves taking people off benefitif claimants have failed to comply for whatever reason. Nor has the DWP commented if it involves sanctioning claimants or forcing claimants into unsuitable and insecure work.
The PCS union, which represents DWP staff commented saying that they have no doubt that the main purpose of the scheme is to make life harder for claimants, saying:
“Our members will see through this pilot for what it is – a government hellbent on making it more difficult for people to claim benefits and which will increase the risk of poverty for those customers who fall foul of this pilot. Asking more customers to travel more often into jobcentres does nothing to help our staff or their workloads and does nothing to help the customers find the work that they need.”
However as I have already stated this isn’t the first time that the DWP have issued financial targets to incentivise cruelty.
Previous examples of this are ‘Sandras Stars’ which consisted of a Jobcentre manager giving DWP employees a star on a leaderboard for every employee that ‘offloaded’ sanctioned a claimant.
The charity the Dogs Trust has reported a huge rise in the number of people trying to rehome their pets.
The RSPCA have also seen that animal shelters and rehoming organisations have also seen a massive rise in animal rehoming saying that they are ‘drowning’ in animals as the cost of living and energy crisis continues to hit hard.
According to figures given by the Dogs Trust the number of pet owners attempting to rehome their dogs had risen hugely last year and continues to do so. Many shelters are now experiencing long waiting lists. Also seen is an increase in setting up pet food banks to help prevent people from having to re-home their pets.
Between 1 January 2022 and 31 October 2022 the Dogs Trust received 42,000 inquiries from dog owners about rehoming which is a rise of almost 50% on the same period in 2021. Sadly these figures show no sign of decreasing.
Amanda Sands, centre manager at Dogs Trust Leeds, said she had never seen such high demand in three decades of working at the shelter.
There’s people bringing in their dogs that at one time would’ve said: ‘I will never give my dog up.’ And they meant it,” she said. “And now they’re faced with the situation where they have no choice. To have to say goodbye to your friend, it’s unbearable. It’s unthinkable.”
The Association of Dogs and Cats Homes (ADCH), in conjunction with ITV’s Tonight programme, surveyed more than 60 animal shelters across the country about how they were responding to the cost of living crisis.
The figures showed 92% of shelters were seeing more people wanting to hand over a dog compared with pre-pandemic levels, and 88% were seeing more people wanting to hand over cats.
More than half were planning on opening pet food banks to respond to the crisis, and 30% were thinking about providing low-cost or free veterinary care.
Sadly these numbers are increasing as people can no longer afford to buy food for their pets. They are also finding it near impossible to pay for any vet bills that may occur.
The RSPCA also reported in 2022 a 24% increase in pets being rehomed as shelters report that they can’t keep up with rehoming requests.
Also back in 2022 75 families were using a food bank at the Blue Cross Animal Hospital in Grimsby every week.
Mark had been using the food bank for several months to help pay for specialist dog food for his staffordshire bull terrier Roxy. This has helped him save £60 a month on food. “She’s part of the family. We’d sooner go without ourselves then give Roxy up,” he told the Tonight programme.
Meanwhile a YouGov and Dogs Trust poll that was made in conjunction with the Tonight programme found that 48% of dog owners were saying they now are now finding it more difficult to provide their pets everything that they need because of the cost of living crisis.
Understandably vet bills topped the list of concerns which was followed by the rising cost of dog food and pet insurance costs.
Roll forward to 2023 I can only imagine that these figures are rising. It’s difficult to find a foodbank that provides dog and cat food although there are some that do.
No one wants to rehome their pets, it’s a decision that is usually made when they’ve exhausted all other means of providing the essentials for their pets.
As the cost of living and energy cost crisis continues there’s no doubt that the most vulnerable will undoubtedly pay the highest price.
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First published a few years ago but nothing much has changed.
I notice a young homeless girl living on the street. She has her blankets and bags next to her ready for the night ahead. She should be excited about life but instead she looks lost. She has a can of beer next to her, she says to numb the pain and cold.
She’s sat with a group of men, also homeless but seems detached from them. I ask her if she is ok, and she says that she is and that there’s safety in numbers. She needs to keep safe. As a woman living on the streets life can be very dangerous. Even if you don’t like the people you are sitting next to you stay with them she says. They are her protection.
She wants to make enough money for a b&b for the night, but says she has given up all hope of finding a permanent home because she has addiction issues and feels unable to deal with them. She will one day she says. After saying this her facial expression changes as worry weighs down heavily on her mind. A weight that she feels can’t be lifted at the moment.
Whilst we are talking a young man rushes past, earphones on looks anxious. Perhaps late for an appointment. He doesn’t notice the homeless girl sat near him. He’s self consumed with himself and his journey. She says that she sees this all the time.
Her wish, she says is that people would be nice to one another. She would like more people to say hello, but they don’t and she looks down again.
A lady walks past walking her dog. People stop and compliment her on her dog. They don’t notice the young girl, but they notice the dog. I feel that this is rather sad. A vulnerable human life appears to be less important.
A teenage boy stands next to the homeless girl. He says hello to her and asks her if she would mind if he plays some music and starts rapping. She welcomes it.
His rapping consists of the story of his life, that he has encountered prejudice, loss and also some lovely things. People start to give him money, but instead of keeping it himself he gives it to the homeless girl. He tells her that she is important, that she is loved and not to give up.
He tells her that one day, life will get better because his did. She smiles and thanks him. Maybe, just maybe that one act of kindness gave her the strength to carry on. I’d like to think that she kept warm for that night.