Employment and Support Allowance (ESA)
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Possible legal action against the DWP/had enough/advice on next steps please

Peacefull73Peacefull73 Member Posts: 8 Connected
I am new here, came across this helpful forum when looking for some advice.

I am seriously considering legal action against the DWP, I feel that I am left with little alternative. 

In comparison to others on here, I consider myself quite fortunate tbh, but at the same time, the behaviour of the DWP and one advisor in particular who referred to me as a “lying ****” (I have this recorded, she thought she had terminated the call, but she hadn’t and I was still recording)

I am in receipt of PIP, mobility and standard rate, it is primarily the ESA claim that I have had real issues with.

During 2017 I lost my job and subsequently my home. I was forced to go to a refuge and involve the police when my landlord threatened to assault me.  I was already really struggling with physical and mental illness at the time and the trauma of having to flee to a refuge made my health considerably worse.

At the refuge,  I claimed ESA, but it was stopped following my medical assessment. My MH at the time was so poor that I was barely functioning and I didn’t have the strength to appeal. I therefore claimed JSA instead.

my work coach was horrible and after quite a few periods of sickness and breaking down in tears a few days after my lovely Grandmother passed away, she tried to push me into claiming UC. 

I dug my heels in because I would have been £120 a month worse off. 
Eventually she told me that I couldn’t have any more sick periods and was horrible to me. I made a complaint (which I also sent to Amber Rudd several times by email) and claimed ESA (legacy) with severe disability element.

So then in April I made an incredibly important decision to make a formal complaint to the Police of historic sexual abuse that I suffered as a child (over 27 years ago) The decision from the CPS came back a few weeks ago, he has been charged on 9 counts. The trial date has been set, I am obviously very anxious. My depression and anxiety levels are at an all time high atm and I am really struggling. 

This is not helped one bit by the decision from my health assessment, just received (I requested that the assessment was recorded and I have a copy of it) 
I have been placed in the work focused support group. 

I am not only very upset about this, but they have requested that I attend an interview at a Jobcentre in my home town (approx 10/12 miles away) 
I have a few issues with this, first that it is not accessible. I don’t drive and due to mobility issues I would have to get a Taxi to the location (I suffer from severe back pain due to three herniated discs and degeneration of my spine) The DWP are aware of this. 
I have also indicated that I can’t attend my home town because I don’t feel safe in doing so. The area has a lot of bad memories that evoke serious, debilitating anxiety for me. I still experience a lot of trauma, flashbacks etc and I can’t face going there. 
I also have family members whom I am estranged from there, it is a small place and there is a chance I will bump into them. 
I have informed the DWP (recorded call) that I won’t be attending at this location and I am taking legal action. I have done a subject Access request and submitted a formal complaint. 
I really need advice on what the next steps will be, I don’t want to face a lengthy, expensive legal battle on top of everything else that I have to contend with, but I will rather than be forced to accept a decision which is against my human rights and will traumatise me further.

Any help, tips or advice would be so welcomed. Thank you all. I am so sorry that the post is so long. Thank you for reading 

Replies

  • thespicemanthespiceman Member Posts: 6,408 Disability Gamechanger
    Hello @Peacefull73   Pleased to meet you welcome.

    Thank you for joining and sharing.  Sorry to hear what you are going through.

    You have come to the right place for support, advice and friendship.

    I am one of the team of community champions.  We guide, advise and help new members who join the forum and community.

    In response to your question taking legal action. I am afraid I do not know the answers to that. Understand could be worth talking to CAB or a welfare organisation, see what there is on line.

    I know there will be members of our community who may be advise as well a member of our team. Who can give some answers.

    One other suggestion I have is to look at getting support, advice and guidance with your mental health.

    I would look at this something to consider because often they can help and advise with any problems you are experiencing .  Including benefit issues and other problems related.

    Floating support or an outreach worker.  You could get.

    Might be not in all areas.

    I hope that helps and gives you some reassurance.

    Please if we can help with anything else please get in touch.

    Please take care.

    @thespiceman


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  • Peacefull73Peacefull73 Member Posts: 8 Connected
    @thespiceman
    Thank you for your support, it is appreciated. 

    I am already receiving support from a voluntary organisation called ‘Pathways’ in my area. They are a team of Independent voluntary sexual violence advocates. They provide a listening ear, support and assistance with the court process etc. Together with witness care, they have arranged a tour of the court so that I feel more comfortable when the time comes for example. 
    Unfortunately in terms of practical support or advice regarding benefits/mental health etc, the services are patchy at best.

    There is citizens advice and a service that signposts to various organisations, but they are both very well used and there are long waiting lists. 

    I am ‘ok’ in terms of my MH at the moment, I know how to access help or what to do if it deteriorates to a point where it is unmanageable, I am generally pretty resilient considering all I’ve been through, but this is another battle that I could definitely do without at the moment. 
    Unfortunately the DWP are money focused, idiots who don’t care, have zero accountability and think that we will all accept their behaviour and ineptitude, not me. I won’t put up with it.  
    Thank you again for your post 
  • Peacefull73Peacefull73 Member Posts: 8 Connected
    Anyone help, please?? Any advice, info or tips would be welcome. 
    I have requested all of my information via a Subject Access Req, made a complaint and I am in the process of preparing a Mandatory reconsideration, any further help or advice regarding potential legal action would be so appreciated. 
    Thank you 
  • mikehughescqmikehughescq Member Posts: 6,546 Disability Gamechanger
    I think your focus needs to predominantly be on your abuse case and it will be far too easy to get involved in a case against DWP which goes nowhere. Language is really important so I’m not clear whether you’re in the work-related activity group OR the support group. There’s nothing called the work focused support group. The difference is  huge so please clarify. 

    Being sworn at is not acceptable but under the circumstances you need to weigh up the merits of pursuing this aspect. At worst you get a denial and a long dispute . At best you get an an apology. None of that changes the decision. 

    As regards travel to an appointment that’s simply a conversation or a letter. You’ve told us all what the issue is but, taking your post at face value, you’ve only told DWP you won’t be going and then threatened legal action. If you haven’t already done so then they need the full story. It certainly doesn’t need legal action. At worst it’s an Equality Act request for a reasonable adjustment. It is not a human rights issue. You’ve already made a complaint but that needs to be framed by giving them the full story and re-framed by making it an EA10 complaint. 
  • Peacefull73Peacefull73 Member Posts: 8 Connected
    @mikehughescq
    They are aware that I am currently involved in an historic sexual abuse case, with a criminal trial pending. I informed the assessor and the DWP on the telephone of this (recorded call) 
    I have also informed them of the reason/s why I am unable to attend a work focused interview at my home town (mobility issues as well as the trauma) 

    I am in the work focused group for clarification purposes. 

    I am hopefully going to get a letter from my GP and request that I am placed in the Support Group under Regulation 35.2b of the Equality Act. 
    It is placing me at risk of significant harm placing me in the work focused group and expecting me to attend interviews at a location where I am not able to attend because of my mental and physical health. The reason why I considered taking legal action is because they don’t listen and there is no accountability. 
    I am obviously very focused on the abuse case, unfortunately it is making me extremely anxious to say the least, but I also won’t allow the DWP to treat me unfavourably and ride roughshod over my rights and traumatise me further. 

    Thank you for your post. 
  • Peacefull73Peacefull73 Member Posts: 8 Connected
    What is a E10 complaint please? 
    The work coach can not deny what she refereed to me as (“lying ****”) because I recorded it. 
    I am potentially looking into having the audio transcribed and sending it to the DWP. 
  • Peacefull73Peacefull73 Member Posts: 8 Connected
    For anyone in a similar situation to myself. 
    I contacted the Equality and Human Rights commission last week. 
    I was provided with a number for the Disability Law Service. 
    I rang them and they returned my call 2 days later.
    The advisor I spoke with was incredibly helpful, he knew what he was talking about and quoted the particular part of the Equality Act that were relevant.
    He advised that I obtain a letter from my GP for the DWP and put in a Mandatory Reconsideration with the letter.
    He stated that the letter must include “significant risk to health”. 
    So I got a letter yesterday and posted it to the Complaints dept (after making a copy) so fingers crossed they will change their (incorrect) decision.

    For anyone who wants to do any further research, it is Section 35.2b of the Equality Act. 

    I hope that this is useful for some of you and I hope that it’s enough for me because I certainly don’t want another fight or more stress. 
  • Chloe_ScopeChloe_Scope Scope Posts: 10,653 Disability Gamechanger
    Thank you for sharing this with us @Peacefull73 and I've got my fingers crossed!
    Scope

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