The new DWP minister Mel Stride recently announced that he is happy with the levels of UC (Universal Credit) sanction rates.
Upon taking his new job as secretary of state for work and pensions (DWP), Mel Stride, quickly proved that he will not be making any changes in any harshness inflicted upon the most vulnerable at the hands of the DWP.
Upon answering MP’s questions on the 31 October 2022, Stride made it very clear that he’s happy hat the level of UC sanctions is now double the rate it was before the pandemic.
Stride went on to say “People are sanctioned only if they fail to attend appointments without good reason, and fail to meet the requirements that they have agreed to meet.”
However stride failed to offer any acknowledgement nevermind explanation as to why claimants are now twice as likely to break claimant commitment agreements than they were two years ago.
Upon questioning Stride ignored yet another request to publish a DWP report on the effectiveness of sanctions.
As previously reported in an earlier blog his predecessor also refused to do so.
Stride also claimed there “is a long tail” of 2.5 million long-term sick claimants who want to return to work and that it will be “a prime focus” for the DWP to “support them back into the workplace.”
It’s no coincidence that this figure is exceedingly similar to the total number of claimants that are long-term sick, the majority of whom are not able to work because their condition makes it impossible.
It appears that like his predecessors Stride is either mistaken or believes that every long-term sick person could be moved into work.
Whatever happens there appears to be no plans to treat claimants better, I suspect it will become worse.
A new DWP minister certainly doesn’t bring any changes for the better and until there’s a change of government I very much doubt that there will be.
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As reported by Benefits And Work there are possibly thousands of missing Long Covid PIP claimants that appear to be missing from both the Office for National Statistics. They are also missing from the DWP latest published statistics.
New figures from the Office for National Statistics estimate that 506,000 people have now had Long Covid for over a year. This number is increasing every day yet they’re missing, nowhere to be found.
247,000 Long Covid sufferers say that their ability to undertake their day-to-day activities has been “limited a lot” as a result of Long Covid.
Yet according to the latest DWP statistics on Stat-Xplore record there are just 480 claims regarding Long Covid where it is the the main condition for claiming PIP. This figure has risen from 143 claims three months earlier.
However the success rate for PIP Long Covid claims has fallen from 76%, but is still high, at almost 60%.
A quarter of those who were successful in claiming PIP received the enhanced rate of both the daily living and the mobility components.
It appears that PIP claims for Long Covid do have a better than average chance of success. Despite this hundreds of thousands of people who could be making a PIP claim appear to not be doing so.
Long Covid is exhausting to live with and is likely to hinder any employment prospects. Living with Long Covid also increases everyday living costs.
The reality of having to make a choice between eating or heating, or not being able to afford either is something that Long Covid sufferers and others have to make daily.
The reason for the missing PIP claimants could be because of a distinct lack of information regarding claiming PIP for Long Covid sufferers. This is abhorrent. Everyone that is suffering from this disabling condition should be informed of their right to claim PIP to help with their everyday living costs.
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Well who’d have guessed that the government would find £2 billion from their magic money pot to inflict even more cruelty to disabled and ill claimants.
Thanks to Benefits And Work who have uncovered the first details of the new assessment contracts for PIP, ESA and UC claimants.
These shiny new contracts will split the UK into five regions which will involve over £2.8 billion being given to the private sector over a period of five years. This is supposedly to allow the DWP to decide how these assessments will take place through telephone or face-to-face assessments.
I add that as usual this will be decided ignoring the actual physical and mental needs a claimant might have.
Under the new claimant Functional Assessment Services (FAS) system as it is titled, the UK will be divided into five regions from 1 August 2023:
Lot 1 – Northern England and Scotland 647,600,000
Lot 2 – Midlands and Wales 473,400,000
Lot 3 – South West England 338,000,000
Lot 4 – London, South East & East Anglia 396,800,000
Lot 5- Northern Ireland 105,100,000
In each region, a single company will be chosen to carry out all the PIP, ESA and UC assessments.
So basically money talks regardless of already vulnerable claimants needs. Whoever puts the best tender in wins the contract.
Call me old fashioned but the wellbeing and needs of individuals should always be put first. Instead they companies with no medical knowledge and experience to assess already vulnerable people.
They will be allowed to decide if a person disabled enough to claim their rightful payments regardless of having no medical knowledge of their needs.
Basically claimants life’s are once again in the hands of these so called assessors.
The total value of the contracts that will be given is £2 billion firstly to rise to £2.8 billion if the DWP chooses to extend the contract for an additional two years.
You can bet that they’ll choose to extend these contracts, afterall it’s beneficial for the government to extend them.
There’s always room for extending cruel systems such as this. What the government won’t tell you is that they want as many people as possible to be declared fit for work. It doesn’t matter of they’re fit or able enough to do so.
The Scottish government will be taking over PIP assessments itself in advance of August 2023.
There will be some claims that are already underway that will still be dealt with by private sector assessors.
The bid winners will be paid first for a ten month ‘implementation phase’. This will ensure they will have fully trained their staff and have acquired suitable premises. It also will give them the chance to implement their IT systems before going live.
As we already know the DWP never make any system uncomplicated though. To prove this the DWP will provide one IT system for PIP claimants and a separate system for ESA and UC claimants.
The DWP have already warned potential providers that changes might take place place throughout the life of the contract.
These changes may include alterations in the ‘channel mix’ as the DWP call it.
An example being “change in proportional requirements relating to virtual assessments and face to face assessments. They could for example change requirements such as 60% face-to-face to 20% assessments.
It is very clear that the DWP and not the assessment providers that will decide which proportion of claimants receive a telephone or face-to-face assessment.
This makes it clear that assessment providers will be working to meet targets for types of assessment. This will completely ignore the fact that some claimants are obliged to have an inappropriate method of assessment.
As you can see none of this will be beneficial for anyone that claims ESA,PIP and UC.
As these systems are target driven the assessors will be more concerned with meeting targets than the wellbeing of anyone being assessed.
I don’t have to tell you how much distress is caused by cruel systems like this especially if they’re target driven. Who remembers Sandra’s Stars?
We must remain vigilant because as we know from past experience the government will try to put in legislation and plans without our knowledge.
You can do this by sharing information online on your preferred social media provider, emailing mine and likewise blogs to people that might need informing
As we quickly approach Christmas and a cold hungry winter once again the DWP are going to bring back the cruel sanction system.
They never miss a chance to make Christmas even more harder do they.
Sanctions relating to the claimant commitment had been suspended due to the pandemic.
It is very clear that the DWP are now back to business including sanctioning sick and disabled claimants.
According to Touch base the DWP are quoted as saying“This week a change was made to bring the obligations in new style JSA and ESA benefits in line with those in Universal Credit”
“This will mean that, as is the case for Universal Credit claimants, if someone in receipt of new style JSA and ESA fails to do what they have agreed to in their Claimant Commitment without good reason – such as having or caring for a child, or a change to a health condition – their payments may be reduced for a set period. This is known as a sanction.”
“All Claimant Commitments are tailored to a person’s personal circumstances and local jobs market, and claimants affected by this change are being informed of the introduction of the new process. Sanctions are only applied as a last resort when a claimant is not engaging with the commitment they have made. If someone disagrees with a decision they can ask for it to be looked at again.”
This is all rather scary as the government have now passed on the onus of sanctioning decisions to the Job Coaches and not a decision maker.
Sanctions aren’t always a last resort decision and I’m speaking from years of experience helping people to appeal sanction decisions. Also since when have the DWP taken children into consideration… They haven’t.
I’m sure that many of you reading this have had so called Job Coaches that take an obvious dislike you you. I’ve also experienced this and I know exactly what it’s like. It’s soul destroying.
I’ve experienced having a Job Coach that clearly hated me. She would find holes in everything that I did and tried to sanction me at every opportunity that came her way.
Luckily I was able to make a complaint about her which involved my local MP.
I changed Job Coaches but she would glare at me every time that I walked past her. I have mentioned this in a previous blog post.
My question is this… How many innocent people are going to be wrongfully sanctioned because of this very reason?
It’s also worrying that there could well be even more sanction targets (offloads). Therefore the need to reach these targets will cause the suffering and distress of thousands of people.
Basically the whole sanctioning process could well be ramped up a whole lot more..
Opinion isn’t fact and there are many valid reasons why a claimant has not been able to to fulfill their claimant commitment.
Illness, lack of money for essentials such as no money to top up mobile phones or to have access to the internet at home.
Access to libraries is fast becoming a rarity these days. The DWP demands that claimants have access to the internet at all times.
Essentialy if an Job Coach decides in their opinion that a claimant hasn’t done enough then they’ll sanction them.
Remember once again opinion isn’t always fact and this is a very dangerous precept to use.
The whole sanction system should be abolished. There’s absolutely no reason why a person should have their very basics for survival to be snatched off them by the click of a button. Which is based upon the opinion of a Job Coach. Remember opinion isn’t always fact.
Whilst we are still in the midst of a pandemic the government and the DWP have now returned to normal. Don’t expect them to care because they obviously don’t.
Keep a good written and digital record (if you can) of everything that you’ve done to fulfill your claimant commitment.
If you’ve been ill or suchlike also try to keep a record of whatever you can to prove that you’ve been ill.
It’s important that you do all this because sanctioning you will be a whole lot harder if you keep a good record of everything.
If you are in the Greater Manchester area please have a look and even join in with Greater Manchester DPAC (Disabled People Against Cuts) activities. You can find them here at https:\\manchesterdpac.com
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How am I? I’m ok apart from catching a sickness bug yesterday hence my blog being late. My apologies.
A huge thank you to everyone that has supported my campaign and blog. I really couldn’t have done it without you.
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Dear readers I need to apologize because I’m late publishing my blog this week.
There’s no real excuse for this but I’ve had a stressful week and I haven’t been sleeping well. I find it hard to write when I’m over tired.
This week I was reminded of one cold Thursday morning outside Ashton Jobcentre.
The demo started as usual, we were helping or something and handing out food parcels.
Whilst we were doing this I noticed a woman with three children walk out of the Jobcentre, walk past us and she then approached me.
I asked her if she was ok. Her story was particularly heart wrenching. She was a victim of domestic violence and she was struggling to get help from the DWP because she had to leave in a rush.
As usual the DWP failed to recognise and appreciate her situation. They suggested to her that she should have gone back to her abuser to collect her ID.
Theres no excuse for their lack of caring. There’s no way that she should have to return to her abuser.
I advised her on what to do and I put her in touch with all of the relevant agencies that could help her.
I asked her if she needed a food parcel, she said that she did and that she hadn’t ate for days. She had just managed to feed her kids with the very basics, bread and some biscuits.
I gave her a good parcel, she was so thankful because so far no one had been understanding of her situation.
She then took her kids to the steps outside the old cinema. They all sat down and started to eat some food directly out of the tins.
I’m not lying when I say that this broke my heart. How have we managed to elect a government that is extremely aggressive towards people who are struggling, disabled people and unemployed people.
Let’s move forward to 2020.
Nothing has improved, the hostile environment created by the government is even worse than ever.
People are still dying as a direct result of this uncaring governments actions.
There is no excuse for the government to behave in this manner but they do because they can.
It’s certainly not going to get any better. We are in the midst of a pandemic, more and more people are loosing their jobs as a result of the pandemic.
This week I’ve had quite a few newly unemployed people email me to ask me about how they’re supposed to manage on the meagre payments that they receive via Universal Credit.
It’s horrible that anyone is in this situation. Universal Credit doesn’t benefit anyone except the government.
To say that it’s a huge shock to newly unemployed people is an understatement. So many more people are now struggling to eat properly, pay their rent and survive.
It’s a reality check that they certainly didn’t expect. So many of these newly unemployed people had previously believed the government’s lies about how wonderful Universal Credit is.
Add into the mix the thousands of people that are ill with Covid 19 that are so scared of loosing their jobs that are forced to return to work when they’re unwell.
We’ve also got Long Covid to contend with. I doubt that the DWP will recognise this though. This is another battle that we have to now fight.
We also have thousands of people that have died and will die from Covid 19.
I’m extremely worried that their deaths are being ignored and normalised by society. This is extremely cruel and callous.
Please, let’s not forget about their deaths, most of which could have been prevented if the government had responded correctly when the virus had arrived in the UK.
It’s all wrong, none of the above would have happened if we had a caring goverment, but that’s not likely not happen in the near future.
As the Christmas period looms on the horizon, please spare a thought for all of us that can’t celebrate Christmas because of the expense. Also remember that so many people won’t be celebrating Christmas because they’ve lost a loved one due to Covid 19.
The Christmas period is such a hard time for so many of us. Let’s not forget about them.
The above statistic is horrific but true. This is exactly why the government hasn’t reacted responsibly and stopped the spread of covid 19.
Each and every death is saving them money and they don’t care what people think about this.
Let’s continue to fight for the living and dead. We cannot allow the government to treat people like this.
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Dear readers this week’s blog is going to be rather short and I apologize for this.
The other week my daughter brought a virus home from school. This in itself wouldn’t be problematic but combine this with my long covid and respitory problems because of this it’s been a nightmare.
I was prescribed some meds which have worked to an extent but I still feel terrible. As a result it’s impacted my life dramatically this week and all that I’ve been able to do is nothing. A flat nothing except essential tasks.
I know that I should probably go back to the hospital but I’m putting it off because they’ve got much sicker people than me to deal with.
The reality is that long covid sufferers like myself are left to it with very little or no support. If you haven’t been admitted to hospital then it’s extremely hard to get someone to listen and to help you.
Unluckily I was admitted to hospital so I have been able to access some very basic tests and have been allocated a respiratory specialist that I’m still waiting to see.
I’ve tried all of the alternative remedies out there and none of them work. Some slightly ease the symptoms but the only things that really work are time, antibiotics for any infection lurking and a nebuliser on bad days.
To access any of these you either have to have access to a decent doctor and a local hospital. By decent I mean a doctor that actually recognises that long covid and related problems are an actual thing.
This sadly isn’t as easy as you might think. Often when you get covid 19 you also can get some really strange symptoms that there’s no explanation for.
My strange symptoms have been high temperature but not skyrocketing high, hallucinations in the early stages, really strange aches and pains, fatigue, breathlessness and a crappy immune system that can be set off by the slightest thing.
When the decision to have another so called lockdown not once were people with illnesses, disabilities and long covid taken into account.
The government shuts pubs, restaurants, gyms etc but they refuse to shut the schools, colleges and universities.
It’s a total misconception that children are being adequately socially distanced. The covid 19 and other viruses are running through these establishments at a high rate. This then returns home with the pupils, teachers, teaching staff and school staff and is passed onto any person living with them.
It’s extremely dangerous but so many people are failing to see this. We aren’t even an afterthought we aren’t thought of at all.
It’s also extremely frustrating to see that so many people in my area at least don’t believe that this virus exists or if it does it’s not harmful.
It’s all a conspiracy they say, wearing a mask takes away our freedom! They fail to see that wearing a mask actually does help to give them the freedom that they crave.
Then we have the news of a vaccine that’s on the way. It’s supposedly around 90% effective and it should be welcomed. But it isn’t by many.
Like anything new it’s ok to be suspicious but this vaccination has been tested adequately. I can’t however comment on any side effects but to be honest I’d give anything to feel well again.
Whilst the schools etc are still open the virus will still be spread amongst our communities. Add into this the people that refuse to wear a mask etc and so many more people are going to become ill or much worse die.
This week saw the death total for UK hit 50 thousand. Yes these people died from Covid 19 related illnesses but people still insult the dead and their families by saying that its all a lie.
It isn’t a lie, people are dying and they need to take this seriously.
I’m sorry for repeating myself again but people do need to hear this. It’s extremely important.
As for me, I’ve not been able to go out anywhere except for my local post office which isn’t far.
I struggle walking there and back, breathing isn’t easy when your mobile but it is what it is.
I wear a mask whenever I do go to the post office and I’m very strict about using anti bacterial hand creams etc.
I stay away from any crowds of people because I realize the risk of catching something else.
I’m not contagious anymore but so many people are vulnerable and we all need to look after each other.
What I do want is a proper lockdown with the full support of the government for workers and self employed people.
I want people to realise that long covid is a serious thing as is having a weakened immune system thanks to covid 19.
I want people to realise that we don’t get well overnight. It takes a long time and its a struggle to do so.
For some catching covid 19 is the only way that they’ll start to realise how awful it is.
As for the vaccine. It’s going to take quite a while for it to be rolled out to the general public. It’s being offered to vulnerable groups of people first and quiet rightly so.
Please don’t become complacent because a vaccine is on the way.
Please keep safe. I know that as a single parent it’s doubly hard to do so but it’s so important.
Continue to look out for each other, help and support each other.
I’m going to end this blog here but please know that you’re all in my thoughts.
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A huge thank you to all of you that do this already.
There’s a donate button at the top and side of this blog. I receive no funding for anything that I do. Every penny helps me to continue with my blog and campaign.
A massive thank you to everyone that has and does support my blog and campaign. Your support means the world to me.
Dear readers I’m writing this blog post from my bed, I’m trying to put off the inevitable hospital visit that will have to happen if I get any worse.
I thought that I was getting better but sadly my daughter unknowingly has brought home a virus from school. The said virus is now having a good time rampaging through my body whilst making me feel dreadful.
I haven’t stopped coughing for two days now, my whole body hurts and I’m not capable of doing much. But I am trying to get better.
Covid 19 and other viruses are rife in my daughters school, children have tested positive and the school remains open.
There’s no way that any type of virus can be controlled in a school environment. It’s impossible, an endless task of trying to make the best out of a very bad situation.
I realise that all children need and deserve an education but it comes with a huge risk to other family members.
For anyone with a weakened immune system like mine and a compromised immune system regardless of the cause are being put at a huge risk of becoming ill with Covid 19 and other viruses.
It’s not a case of if we catch it, it’s more like when we will catch it.
I’m knackered, fed up and my body feels like it’s been in battle for a long time now.
I can’t stop coughing, my temperature is high again and I have to admit that I’m a tad scared.
You see I don’t know if I’ve caught covid again or if this is another evil virus piggy backing on top of my weakened immune system. I don’t want to be admitted to hospital again either. I just can’t win.
I have sent off another covid test and I should get the results soon. Sadly the tests aren’t reliable and have only a 70% rate of accuracy.
The area where I live will be being put in the level three category later today. Whilst I agree that this is needed it isn’t enough.
The government have so far offered no support to any of the businesses that will be affected by this. There’s zero real life support.
I agree that health comes before business, but people have to survive.
I also agree that the whole country should be put into an at least two week lockdown and real life working track and trace systems put in place locally to monitor the situation.
We can’t rely upon the government to devise any system that would work properly in the best interests of the public. All that they’re interested in are making their friends rich.
I also believe that schools should be shut for a short period of time and all schools should be given a deep clean to get rid of any viruses etc.
When our children return stricter measures should be put in place and more home schooling implemented temporarily.
We need to keep out teachers safe as well.
None of what I say is easy but we can’t continue like we have been doing. I’m ill because of a virus brought home from school.. Can you imagine how many people could die as a result of this?
Not one decision is going to make everyone happy but we need to control this virus. It’s the government’s lack of taking correct action is why we are in this situation now.
Please keep safe, I’ll update my blog and social media as soon as I get my results or if I have to go to hospital.
It’s been a struggle for me and thousands of other people but we need to get rid of this virus.
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I’m not able to get out so everything is so much more expensive.
A huge thank you to everyone that supports my campaign and blog. I really do appreciate it. It means the world to me