This one is a bit more self-opinionated than usual. So the Work and Pensions Secretary — Damian Green has said it is pointless to re-assess recipients of Employment and Support Allowance for those with severe conditions and no prospect of getting better — well that is certainly a long overdue step in the right direction.
I would imagine that anyone who has been looking at this area of British Social Justice for that past decade would be pissing themselves with laughter about the whole business.
To refresh — you assess someone — say with Huntington’s disease — you find indeed that they cannot work and place them in the Support Group.
Medical sciences informs us that Huntington’s disease is degenerative and treated mostly palliatively — treating only the symptoms.
Sadly for so many illnesses — be they physical or mental — they can only be treated palliatively, the sufferer won’t get better.
Some know first-hand and others are fortunate enough only to be able guess at the stresses and strains placed upon the sufferer their families and friends during the management of a major illness or disability.
Never-the-less someone in DWP decides that they should be reassessed again anywhere between 1 and 5 years later.
And so they are — only this time they are found fit for work — Yes we all know this happens — but we can only guess the reasons why.
So they now, in addition to managing their illness they have to drag themselves through the Mandatory Reconsideration process and then the HMCTS Appeal process — only to win their case but at such a cost to themselves and to the Crown to the tune of several thousands of pounds.
Not only having to suffer the indignity of being dragged through what is one of the most degrading processes known to man — they nearly get evicted.
This because of the “Internal Link” between DWP and Housing Benefit — yeah that is correct any cessation in any DWP benefit will automatically cause the cessation of Housing Benefit if it is in payment and in most cases it will be.
So Mr Green if you want to keep that common-sense ball rolling how about introducing a delay here say of 1 month here to at least allow the unfortunate to get their act together and get a ‘Nil Income Letter’ to their local Housing Benefit office — and while I am on my soap box — this time regardless of cause — a shift from ESA to JSA can cause the loss of 3 days allowance — talk about kicking someone when they are down. — And can we make the pubic more aware of the rules like an individual can return to ESA once an appeal has been lodged and is in process.
Incidentally the Tribunal Judge — limited by law — can only recommend a number of years between 1 and 5 to DWP before the person could again call that person forward. Well hopefully this will now be a thing of the past.
Methinks there is more at play here — I note there is to be no let up on the planned cessation of additional premiums for those in the WRAG.
Could it be that this grouping is for the scrap heap (long overdue) — Great Idea — provide a training opportunity for those who genuinely need it — but award contracts to those of questionable capabilities and not truly accountable — anyone who has visited these so called back to work trainers will understand what I mean when I say Groundhog Day.
I am all for a hard headed approach to ESA — it is used so wrongly and abused and this is what Mr Green and DWP needs to sort out — there needs to be a better way to help people who truly qualify for the allowance and a better method of treating them– let’s face it they are far worse off than most of us.
Oh and Damian if you are on a roll can we sort out this JSA Sanction crap — clearly it is not working and causing much hardship.
But three cheers for what you are proposing!