People claiming benefits to help them cope with their disabilities are facing a new obstacle, from a government determined to demonise welfare claimants.
Ever since the Tory government employed private firms such as ATOS to carry out health checks on people with disabilities, the benefit system designed to help them has been in chaos. People unable to look after themselves or to work were routinely told their claims would be denied.
With the help of advice workers in Somerset and elsewhere, huge numbers of people appealed against unjust decisions. The majority of appeals were successful – a damning verdict on the unfairness of the new system.
Now, the government has taken a cynical step to stop the flood of successful appeals.
No Right of Direct appeal
From this week (Monday October 28th) there will be no right of direct appeal for people not awarded Employment Support Allowance (ESA) or Personal Independence Payments (PIPs) Claimants will have to ask for a review by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP).
No appeal will be allowed until the claimant has received a “Mandatory Reconsideration Notice” from the DWP. This could take months. And then, the claimant will get no help from the DWP in making a claim to the independent appeals tribunal.
Most shockingly: benefit will be stopped for as long as it takes the DWP to reconsider the case.
Andy Lewis of West Somerset Labour Party says he will be writing to the Bridgwater and West Somerset MP, Ian Liddell-Grainger, to ask if he supports this attack on vulnerable people. Andy said:
“People with disabilities have been cruelly targeted by a government that would like us to think all benefit claimants are scroungers. The only comfort has been that time and time again, independent tribunals have overturned the callous decisions of the private companies now carrying out assessments.
“This crude attempt to deter people from making appeals show that the government is desperate to shore up a discredited policy that has caused hardship to many – and will now cause hardship to many more.”