Petition-Help to stop unfair and unethical DWP assessments for the disabled, sick and terminally ill — Scope | Disability forum

Petition-Help to stop unfair and unethical DWP assessments for the disabled, sick and terminally ill

*ADMINS - PLEASE DELETE/MOVE IF NOT ALLOWED*

If you use social media, you may have seen a recent viral post by Dave Smith regarding the treatment of his terminally ill brother when he was assessed for benefits by the DWP. The post gained Dave so much support and visibility that newspapers such at ITV, BBC, The Mirror and many others (all available with a quick google search) published the story. He then began a campaign to push parliament into carrying out a public enquiry into the unfair practices and treatment of those most vulnerable and in need of government support. 
As this campaign is close to my heart (my late father was treated disgracefully by the DWP when he was terminally ill), I like many others have been in contact with Dave and am trying to help him to gain support to get the issue acted upon.
His petition below needs 100,000 signatures to be discussed in parliament and at the moment only has a fraction of that amount. If you can spare a moment to sign and share on various social media platforms, it may just make it to the 100,000 mark and achieve the goal!
Many Thanks

https://www.change.org/p/therese-coffey-mp-stop-dwp-assessment-companies-discriminating-against-the-sick-disabled-and-dying

Comments

  • david235
    david235 Member Posts: 170 Pioneering
    I understand the tremendous sentiment behind this petition. I certainly understand the fear, anger and heartache so many suffer at the hands of the DWP - I have been there myself, like many in this forum. I also understand the huge difficulty that people have in getting what they are entitled to, and acknowledge that a much higher proportion of assessment reports and decisions are incorrect than should be the case. The high success rates at Tribunal indicate the system is broken and needs to be fixed. The assessment, decision making and appeal processes are all extremely slow, leading to significant financial, emotional and mental distress to many.


    However, I think this petition contains a fundamental misunderstanding that is shared by many other claimants. ESA (and the LCW/LCWRA elements of UC, which use the same tests as ESA) as well as PIP are functional assessments - claimants are points scored for their ability to perform a series of activities laid down in the regulations. It is uncommon for disputes about entitlement to turn on diagnosis. More commonly, the problem is that the claimant has failed to give a full account of their functional problems, sometimes out of a mistaken belief that their diagnosis speaks for itself. It is a tough thing indeed to do, but the claimant (or someone acting on their behalf) must explain the problems they would face because of their illness or disability if they did or tried to do the activities. You can take ten people with the same diagnosis at a similar severity and they will all have different functional problems.

    In the case of the late Mr Oliver, the Facebook page indicates he was terminally ill. It would have been possible for a DS1500 report to be issued by his GP or consultant, which should have led to an accelerated award of the enhanced Daily Living component of PIP via the Special Rules for the Terminally Ill. Perhaps the issue was that he did not meet the rather strict criteria for terminal illness under this system, which is a medical prognosis of death reasonably expected in six months or less. This is an area that perhaps needs re-examination.

    I understand the anger in relation to Mr Oliver's assessor being a paramedic - but the assessor's task is not to rediagnose the claimant. Their task is to report on the claimant's ability to carry out the activities based on the claim papers, supporting evidence and their own conversation with and examination of the claimant.


    The Legal Aid cuts in 2012 made obtaining benefits more difficult. Whilst very little money went to lawyers for benefits work, the Legal Aid system used to channel a significant amount of funding to organisations such as Citizen's Advice for benefits work. This funding was cut completely - the only Legal Aid funding available now for benefits work is for appeals on points of law to the Upper Tribunal and the courts.

    Those advice services still offering assistance with benefit claims are very busy and often swamped. Many claimants have to put their claim forward with no help whatsoever, other than perhaps some guidance notes from major charities and perhaps help from a forum like this one. I fundamentally disagree with the then Government's claim that the benefits system is easy for individuals to navigate. The rules are complex and there is a fair amount of case law on top.


    Judging by the Facebook posts, it seems that Mr Oliver fell far short of the level of support he needed despite the best efforts of those who loved him. That is a tremendous source of sadness and the whole country should be ashamed. Worse still, his story is far from unique.


    My problem with this petition is that I do not know what it is calling for. Is it calling for reforms to the assessment system? Is it calling for a more fundamental redesign of the benefits system?

    I beleive there is much that is wrong with the system, but struggle to see what this petition can do other than be a mark of respect for the late Mr Oliver and underline that his treatment was less than it ought to have been.


    I hope Mr Oliver will rest in peace and those who love him will find some sort of resolution.
  • chuffchuff
    chuffchuff Member Posts: 5 Connected
    edited September 2019
    I'm not going to say what I really think to that response as I think it's an insult to every single one of the claimants who has had to go through and I'm sure they can speak for themselves

    I think the petition aims are clear that we don't want or need the assessments whatsoever

    The verdict of the claimants own medical specialists is enough.

    The assessments are filled will lies, miss out important facts, ignore known medical facts and everything is biased. Even turning up counting against you because you managed to get there. Many people are forced to do physical exercises which hurt them, that's abuse.

    I could honestly rant for England on this but I won't

    If the Government stopped paying £51 million to Citizens Advice not to criticize it (which is strangely how you are behaving though you say you get no government funding) and scrapped forking out to Capita/Atos for their so called professional medical reports we would probably have claimants alive today who committed suicide and those like my brother who chose to accelerate their end. 

    I'll just reiterate I don't want reforms to the assessment system , I want an end to it ! It isn't working, it never has, and it's never going to. 

    The NHS is said by HM Government to have the best specialists and GPs in the world. If that's the case then trust their diagnosis as happened in the past. It is not up to a complete stranger "assessing" you on eye contact, handshake strength , happiness level and similar rubbish like that for less than an hour to map out your future finance level.

    I don't think you really have the faintest clue about these assessments or what goes on in them, not a clue. 

    For a charity like Scope to support these assessments happening at all is completely beyond belief. The mental health impact on claimants is massive.

    Having disabilities myself from a subdural brain hemorrhage I know a charity I won't be relying on for impartial support if I ever have to face one of these bloody assessments. 

    Dave (Smith)


  • david235
    david235 Member Posts: 170 Pioneering
    I am speaking as an individual disabled person - and nothing more. I have no connection whatsoever with Citizen's Advice and certainly do not speak for them. I mentioned them solely as an example of an organisation who lost out in the Legal Aid cuts in 2012. I am a participant in the Scope forums and have no other affiliation with the organisation.

    Anyone is free to campaign to move from a system with any sort of assessments or qualification criteria in favour of one that goes solely on the word of a claimant's own medics - but I very much doubt it will happen. The direction of travel has been towards removing the last word from the claimant's own medics to remove conflicts of interest - for example, Blue Badges are now issued based on an independent mobility assessment for those who do not qualify automatically.. The GPs I have spoken to do not want to be the sole arbiter of entitlements to concessions and benefits, as that places them in a position where they can feel forced to sign something so as not to endanger the doctor/patient relationship. Other GPs will perhaps feel differently.


    KIndly do not presume to speak for me, @chuffchuff. Of course I have a clue what goes on in these assessments - I have faced them myself (and the predecessors of the current suite of assessments) for over twenty years. I have done my best to support others going through the system as well.

    The system is massively flawed - but I think the chances of going back to the days before the old Incapacity for Work assessment (which was arguably the first independent assessment for a mainstream benefit - though some might say it was the percentage disability assessment for the old Severe Disablement Allowance) are negligible. There is a widespread false perception amongst the wider public that disability benefits are a soft touch and far more is being paid out than is justified. Anything that looks like a dilution of standards will simply not attract broader political support.

    DLA - which was replaced for working age adults by PIP in 2013 - used more abstract legal tests, which led to the problem of people being unclear how to put up a case for award of the middle and higher rates of the Care component. The boundaries of those legal tests were explored in a great deal of case law from the Upper Tribunal (and its predecessors) also, in some cases, the courts. Most individual claimants would have little idea how to access that sort of information even though various organisations produced helpful guides.

    The PIP and ESA tests suffer from a silo mentality - they assume that all disability neatly fits into a closed list of activities which is, of course, nonsense. However, at least these make it more clear what you have to show in order to qualify for benefits. People slip through the cracks who are deserving - and that bothers me greatly, but I'm not sure there is an easy fix by simply moving the medical decision making to the claimant's own medics. What happens if the claimant disagrees with their GP over entitlement to benefit? What objective standards would a Tribunal use to rule on that sort of dispute?


    If your petition wants an end to all independent assessments in the benefits system, I suggest you make it clear in the petition what is proposed in its place.

    I will probably not respond further in this thread out of respect for your late brother and in acknowledgement that we disagree fundamentally about the way ahead. I hope that we will simply join together in lamenting the many deaths that have come about because of the stresses of the system, acknowledge its many flaws - and disagree on what should be done next.
  • chiarieds
    chiarieds Community Co-Production Group Posts: 11,043 Disability Gamechanger
    @chuffchuff I am saddened to read about your brother, as I'm sure anyone else that reads about him will be. I'm also sorry that you are upset by @david235 's initial post, as to my mind he clearly showed that he understood where you were coming from, & acknowledged that the current PIP system had failings which can have dreadful consequences for the most vulnerable, & certainly anyone terminally ill.

    Altho' I have only been a member of this forum for a short while, I have read several of david235's replies to others queries & can vouch for the fact that he shows he's truly trying to help, advise & support. He often does this objectively which I feel may often better help someone.

    Being objective is the hardest thing to do following the death of a loved one, & sadly I speak from experience. Our eldest daughter asked me find out what medical problems her younger sister had had (which had remained undiagnosed), in case she herself had an affected child as it was thought we had a genetic disorder. Going through medical papers researching, then finding, the likeliest cause of our youngest daughter's problems was heart wrenching but I had to be objective in order to help our eldest daughter. I also hoped that what I found would help not only our family, but others.

    Your sentiments appear to be the same.....you want to help others, & I'm sure you will by the awareness you're raising. But, with the greatest respect, being objective about it may better help. I think david235 was just trying to help in that regard with his understanding of the law, benefits, etc.
  • chuffchuff
    chuffchuff Member Posts: 5 Connected
    Fair comment guys,

     I am a bit touchy at the moment for anybody who appears to support the assessments from hell and I apologize for overreacting David .

     April2018mom thank you for signing.

    David I will certainly revisit the wording on my petition to clarify things.

    In the meantime I'm trying to clarify the legal situation as to whether I can take the government on over disability discrimination and human rights breaches if I manage to get appropriate funding. Not on behalf of my brother, but other claimants too.

    Sorry again David

    Dave
  • chuffchuff
    chuffchuff Member Posts: 5 Connected
    edited September 2019
    Guys, especially David, following your comments yesterday I decided to speed up a clarification of the aims of the petition.

    I also referred it to a friend with legal qualifications to see if the aims were reasonable 

    I am actually very pleased with the wording now, which includes some interesting facts on how much could be saved with changes.

    It must have gone down well with sympathetic readers because I noticed a surge in signers immediately I finished, this has continued.

    I'm sick of this government taking advantage of the worst off in society. This needs to change and to have maximum chance of this I need the 100,000 signatures. Given we've picked up around 500 more in 24 hours this is more than possible 

    Please can you sign the petition and share anywhere and everywhere and encourage your friends to sign? You can also point them to my brother's page if they want to see what the government are like.

    I am trying to seek out more publicity for our cause nationally but I need you all to share and share again on social media... ANY social media

    Also if there are other places on the Scope forum this should be shared please do so. I've only just joined so I'm unfamiliar with the place at the moment

    100,000 signatures within 6 months needed ....... we can do this if we really want to and I REALLY want to for all those 17000+ who have died waiting for benefits at the hands of this government

    Link to the petition http://bit.ly/stop_dwp
    Link to Jamie's story http://www.facebook.com/JamesOliverRIP
    Link to my Facebook page (lots of public info) https://www.facebook.com/davesmith.1965

    Thanks to everybody for the amazing support !

    Dave (Smith)
  • buzzer
    buzzer Member Posts: 106 Pioneering
    Guys, especially David, following your comments yesterday I decided to speed up a clarification of the aims of the petition.

    I also referred it to a friend with legal qualifications to see if the aims were reasonable 

    I am actually very pleased with the wording now, which includes some interesting facts on how much could be saved with changes.

    It must have gone down well with sympathetic readers because I noticed a surge in signers immediately I finished, this has continued.

    I'm sick of this government taking advantage of the worst off in society. This needs to change and to have maximum chance of this I need the 100,000 signatures. Given we've picked up around 500 more in 24 hours this is more than possible 

    Please can you sign the petition and share anywhere and everywhere and encourage your friends to sign? You can also point them to my brother's page if they want to see what the government are like.

    I am trying to seek out more publicity for our cause nationally but I need you all to share and share again on social media... ANY social media

    Also if there are other places on the Scope forum this should be shared please do so. I've only just joined so I'm unfamiliar with the place at the moment

    100,000 signatures within 6 months needed ....... we can do this if we really want to and I REALLY want to for all those 17000+ who have died waiting for benefits at the hands of this government

    Link to the petition http://bit.ly/stop_dwp
    Link to Jamie's story http://www.facebook.com/JamesOliverRIP
    Link to my Facebook page (lots of public info) https://www.facebook.com/davesmith.1965

    Thanks to everybody for the amazing support !

    Dave (Smith)
    Why would someone flag this post? Everyone has an opinion a view and the right to post in this community, If you don't like or agree with a post pass by or block the original poster, no need to flag that’s just unfair.

    Try & be kind to one another even if we may have different views. 

  • chuffchuff
    chuffchuff Member Posts: 5 Connected
    I'll just update you all on the petition situation.

    Some of you may be aware our dear Government will now not accept change.org petitions. As they can't verify the signatories apparently. They will only accept petitions through the government's own website.

    If you think that's biased well that's only the start.

    Wording is limited to just 800 characters and all petitions are subject to government approval which takes up to a week.

    A week to assess just 800 words!!

    Anyway that's the current situation. Having submitted a petition I am 3 days into the waiting period..... utterly ridiculous but I don't have much choice. Welcome to the government who are totally incapable of making anything easy!

    If this petition ever gets agreed I'll let you know
  • April2018mom
    April2018mom Posts: 2,869 Member
    Thanks for the update!
  • chuffchuff
    chuffchuff Member Posts: 5 Connected
    chiarieds said:
    @chuffchuff I am saddened to read about your brother, as I'm sure anyone else that reads about him will be. I'm also sorry that you are upset by @david235 's initial post, as to my mind he clearly showed that he understood where you were coming from, & acknowledged that the current PIP system had failings which can have dreadful consequences for the most vulnerable, & certainly anyone terminally ill.

    Altho' I have only been a member of this forum for a short while, I have read several of david235's replies to others queries & can vouch for the fact that he shows he's truly trying to help, advise & support. He often does this objectively which I feel may often better help someone.

    etc. etc
    I agree and I have apologized , hopefully we can move on from that. I realize I took what was said a bit out of context 

Brightness

Do you need advice on your energy costs?


Scope’s Disability Energy Support service is open to any disabled household in England or Wales in which one or more disabled people live. You can get free advice from an expert adviser on managing energy debt, switching tariffs, contacting your supplier and more. Find out more information by visiting our
Disability Energy Support webpage.