Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Abandoned claims

Woke up this morning to see that a certain right-wing rag has surpassed itself in the propaganda it chooses to spout about ESA.

I'm not going to link to it because it will only upset me and every reader.

The headline asserted that 75% of those who claim ESA are found "fit to work".

This was then broken down that 75% of those who claim ESA were either found "fit to work" or abandoned their claims before testing was complete. The article did not split these figures. It did not differentiate between the Support (never likely to be able to work) group and the Work-Related Activity (may, with help, be able to do some jobs) groups of ESA - from reading the article it seems that they are only counting those who meet the Support group test criteria as "genuine". It proposed that the abandonment of a claim meant that the claimant was clearly "trying it on".

Legitimate reasons why an ESA claim may be started and then abandoned:
  • The claimant dies.

  • The claimant gets better, be it a miracle or a new treatment or being bumped up the waiting list for surgery or getting private treatment.

  • The claimant, having lost their job, is offered support and a place to stay by their parents or their children. They decide to abandon their claim and re-start it once their move is complete.

  • The claimant looks at the highly personal questions on the form and says "you know what, I'll never be this desperate for money, prostitution is less demeaning."

  • The claimant wins an insurance or compensation payout that enables them to survive without benefits.

  • Due to their condition, the claimant is unable to understand the importance of filling in the form or unable to remember that the form needs doing.

  • Due to their condition, the claimant is unable to fill out the forms - perhaps they have a brain injury or learning disability and cannot read and/or write, perhaps they have issues with their hands and cannot physically hold a pen, perhaps they have a mental health condition that causes panic attacks every time they approach the form.

  • Due to their condition, the claimant is unable to access support to fill in the forms - for instance they are unable to go out, they do not yet have formal Social Services support, and their CAB is overstretched with permanently engaged phone lines (I have personal experience of urgently needing to get to the CAB but having to wait until support is available).

  • The claimant completed the form, but due to their condition, they are unable to travel to and from the medical examination centre alone, and they are unable to secure help and/or funding to allow them to attend. Because their level of impairment does not exist until ATOS say it does, this is not a valid excuse for non-attendance. (I had this issue with my DLA a few years ago).

  • The claimant is sitting at home with the heating off, desperately waiting to hear back from the DWP about their claim, which the DWP has lost.

If it was any other publication (I hesitate to use the term "newspaper") I would be shocked and appalled by the deliberate lies and misinformation being used to attack disabled people. Unfortunately, I'm getting used to it, and so is everyone else, and all these little drops of poison are being allowed to drip on into the public consciousness unchallenged.


Nemonie said...

There is also the fact that if you are on JSA and become ill or need surgery, break your leg etc. So that you are considered not able to look for work they will tell you to open a claim for ESA until you are better, which may only be a few weeks. You can also apply for ESA if you work and get ill but don't get statutory sick pay or have run out of statutory sick pay. Again in this case you may only need to claim for a short time.

Mary said...

Good point well made.

Robert said...

The sad fact is of course doctors cannot give you a sick note anymore, they give you a well note.

A broken leg for example would mean one week off and then you would be told your fit to do light duties. if the company says it cannot do this then you will find your looking around for loans while your ill.

Yell in the Dark said...

What they are doing of course is demonising the disabled. Once you do that, society/government can treat them as badly as they like and it won't matter.

People will put up with a lot of injustice provided it is meted out to others.

It's when it starts to hit home that they react - which is often too late.

Mary said...

Er, what?

I stand by the Remploy stuff. I was angered because I wasn't getting support and then got encouraged to falsify evidence to pretend that I had been supported. BOM were angered that their taxes were being used to pay for an organisation whose aims and objectives looked good on paper but whose methods were demonstrably dodgy.

I also stand by my support and defence of the benefits system while I'm sure BOM would cheerfully do away with it altogether.

Just because we're opposed on most things doesn't mean our interests don't occasionally converge. That doesn't make us snugglebuddies forevermore, it just means that we can, sometimes, recognise that the other person is *not always wrong*. Your argument seems very "if you're not an apple, you're a banana."

Anonymous said...

I think you are being naive. He openly allies himself with this bunch:
Their intention is not to valiantly expose waste so more money can be spent on improving the lot of the vulnerable or the average person and society in general. Their aim is to erode public confidence in tax and the way taxes are spent, thus leading to weakened opposition to cuts in public services and less taxes for rich people and corporations and others who do not understand why they should have to part with even a fraction of their cash to support the vulnerable.

In short, TPA and your friend BOM would like to see all welfare benefits removed. They claim the rich will support the poor voluntarily through charitable and voluntary contribtutions alone. Is this something you think is realistic and would support? Should the vulnerable be at the mercy of the lucky/wealthy?

What Remploy did was shocking and you are right to be angry and to want people to know about it but the wiser thing to do would have been to write a formal complaint to them, to take this up via your MP and / or raise this via a group which would not use it as ammunition for their campaign to dismantle the state (e.g. perhaps a disability rights group, who could at the same time point out why the service which was not being provided adequately by Remploy was necessary and right rather than a "waste").

Have a dig around here:

Mary said...

Goodness, what a lot of assumptions! Too bad you didn't do any research before slinging the insults.

I am and was aware of the BOM/TPA connection - they're fairly upfront about it and I'm not sure why you think it would have passed me by. And as I already said, I know that they would cheerfully dismantle the entire welfare state. As should be obvious from just about every other post on my blog, I totally disagree with that. Ideologically, BOM and I are pretty much as opposed as can be. Remploy was one issue where there was crossover, we were angry about the same issue from different angles.

It's verging on offensive that you insist this one crossover, three years ago, means I condone their opinions - does anyone think it means they condone mine? I'd like to ask you to please stop doing it.

As for the "wiser" course you feel I should have taken, obviously you didn't bother to read the full story. If you type "remploy" into the search facility for this blog you'll discover how things panned out.

I DID ask Remploy to advise me on how to make a formal complaint - they told me it would be ignored.

I then DID contact my MP. His response took about three months to arrive and basically consisted of "oh, how regrettable."

Meanwhile, due to the increased exposure via BOM, Remploy's own PR department found my post while ego-googling - which they would not have otherwise done for a personal blog as low-traffic as this one - and began their own internal investigation, although unfortunately this clashed with my MP's ineffective enquiries.

I also shared the documentation of the whole episode with a journalist who contacted me (although he didn't do anything with it in the end) and with such disability organisations as I am affiliated with.

I'd like to remind you that at the time I was struggling with a job that was slightly too much for me to cope with. I was also preparing for a DLA appeal. Frankly I feel I could be forgiven for not mounting a full-scale campaign against a non-departmental government body by myself at that time in my life.

Anonymous said...

I see you were provided with an explanation and the correct people were made aware.

If you then think it's a good idea to provide ammunition to people who want to destroy the welfare system because remploy haven't bowed and scraped enough then that's a matter for your own conscience.

Mary said...

Yes, that's what I just said. As a direct result in me making fuss in every way I and my blog commenters could think of, the correct people were eventually made aware and after a gap of several months I was given a half-baked "explanation" of the shocking way that Remploy were cooking their figures.

I still stand by everything I said and my conscience is clear.

If anything, I have provided more ammunition to the people who want to destroy the welfare state by going out and getting a job, when I could have stayed on IB for another two years. Several people have, to my face, come out with the line "well you got a job, why can't all those others?"

Would you like to berate me for that next?

Anonymous said...

I made my claim about 18 weeks ago. Went to medical accessment 2 full months ago. Still no result. No contact. No reply. Not even a fail or success letter, nothing from them. I rang their hotline over and over again and all they can do is read what's shown on their computers - not helpful. First phase should only be 13 weeks and now it's already 18 weeks here with no reply, no help from their hotline, no contact, nothing. I am exactly as said in your post - living on "sick loans" and things couldn't be any worst having to turn the heater off during these cold months.