Tuesday, 16 October 2012

If they don't know how can we know?

I was at a disability conference today.  Amongst the various different speakers there were two staff members from local branches of jobcentre plus.  They'd been asked to talk about the new Personal Independence Payment or PIP which will be replacing DLA.

I was sitting at the back with the vice chair of a disability group which is very influential within Oxfordshire.  We'd like to think that we're both pretty clued up on the changes that will be coming in the next year or so.  Or at least as clued up as it's possible to be when the exact details of the changes still haven't been decided and/or announced.

Within the first five minutes of that talk we both went "that's not right."  Because not only was the talk highlighting just how badly the changes have been thought out, it was also becoming clear that the speakers understanding of the changes didn't match reality. 

PIP comes in next April.  According to the speaker existing DLA claimants will then be written too to be offered the chance to apply for PIP instead if they are likely to be better off or remain on DLA until their award ends if thats what they'd be better off on.  I have an indefinite award of DLA (I have cerebral palsy - a life long condition that is incurable and doesn't improve) and the way the talk was given it appeared that I have the choice to remain on DLA indefinitely and never move to PIP.  If that was a real choice it's the one I'd make.

The reality of the matter is:  PIP comes in next April for new claimants and reassessments.  She's right about that.
Some DLA claimants may at that point chose to claim to PIP. She's right about that.

 But starting in October next year all DLA claimants regardless of whether their award is time limited or indefinite will be reassessed on a rolling basis until everyone is moved to PIP.  There is no consideration of which benefit suits people better or choice in the matter.  Just like the Incapacity Benefit to ESA migration this is forced upon us.  That wasn't clear in that talk.

I went to speak to the them after and asked for clarification of the situation with an indefinite DLA award.  And after checking their notes they agreed that it has no effect on PIP migration.  I got correct information.  But  we have a room of in the region of 50 disabled people who were given unclear information or which is could even be argued is wrong. 

Changes to benefits mean it's possible fines of up to £50 a time could be levied against people who make mistakes or omit information when filling out benefit forms.  If staff on the front line of benefits services don't know the information that's needed how can the disabled people whose very lives it affects be expected to know?

It's a shame each person at that event couldn't levy the same fine against the jobcentre staff for failing to make their talk clear.  We could use it to fund our next event - and to support each other through these changes in a way that doesn't seem available at the moment.


  1. This scares me! Especially the £50 sanctions. When I had regular dealings with the DWP I refused to use phones with them as TextRelay (phone relay for deaf ppl) introduces a lot of errors.

    Front of house jobcentre staff are often really horrible. In 2005 I went in in person to ask for a face to face appointment to sort out some change of benefits forms as textrelay was just too error prone for it. I had to argue about DDA with an unfriendly aggressive man for 20+ minutes before he would even pick up the phone to his manager to get them to decide if my request was reasonable...

    Nothing's changed! Very recently a deaf mate who doesn't speak was refused communication by front of house staff - I think at the same jobcentre! They refused to read friend's written communication and refused to let friend request access to a Disability Employment Adviser even though this is not allowed.

    The DWP is more and more impenetrable and terrifying to deal with and the DLA to PIP change terrifies me as I also have an indefinite award (my b0rky bits aren't going to grow back and I won't magically get more hearing anytime soon).

    Will the DWP be paying us sanction fines for every time they discriminate against us directly, indirectly, institutionally, systemically and otherwise?

    The fact that the JCP staff gave out incorrect information at a conference is VERY poor and is actually unacceptable!

  2. There are some in DWP & Jobcentre Plus who DO know what's happening & DO care.

    1. If you 'cared' you support the changes and changes, this can only ever be a case of 'i was only following orders', injustice can NEVER be anaswered by 'it's not my fault'. People have died for what's fair,fight and just, people have died because ot 'it's my job*. You DWP and ATOS must hope and pray that while the nasty party and picking on the poor, sick and disabled maybe they will let me keel my job. If memory sdrves, didn't the nazi party start on commumists? Ignorance, (that*s ignore -rance) is no defence. Imagine the dwp refusing to follow orders? While we all curl up and defend our own little corner they will pick us off one by one. I am married to a black south african who grew up under apatheid , her relatives DIED for the right to vote - what is your excuse??! You beleive that if you're the nice ONE all is OK, but one nicey person changes nothing. - from a sick disabled ex-teacher who lost his job for being sick and disabled.

  3. it's torture- the Tories are torturing people who are sick- it is Nazi eugenics- sadism- evil evil sadists- so many living in terror - how very evil - these scum must go

  4. Im 47, Bronchitis turned to double pneumonia, into TB, broke ribs many times coughing. Pain clinic giving monthly epidurals decided to operate and kill the nerve unfortunately they pierced my lung. Now live in constant pain, on 3 forms of morphine, and 2 different anti depressants.

    I was advised to apply for some benefits. I have worked every day of my life from 16 thru to 37. Paid tax etc.

    I was told I qualified for Disability, DLA, upper level mobility (I am in constant pain from broken ribs and failed operation, along with pleurisy and COPD, and pain 24/7.

    I was so relieved, my bills got sorted out slowly, I was able to get a motability car, and get out once a week for a few hours drive.

    I dont leave home ever, once a week for shopping and a 30 minute drive. I have oxygen.

    Im told I will lose all this from PiP, lose my benefits and my life, my car, my support, my housing benefit, everything . Please, stop this PiP to give tax breaks to rich people. Im a real person, HELP ME

    Every day is spent worrying, waiting for the postman to drop that fateful letter.

    It is simply terrible how much mental strain these people put disabled people through. Its wrong.

    1. Do not get to worked up until we know the in's and out's of the new regulations, people are guess some may be right most will be wrong.

      Your not going to get a letter about Pips until late next year and it could be two or three or more years before we are all called in.

      So your getting your self into a mental strain by worrying.

  5. I lost my job for tacking too much time off work because of sickness and disability. I worked for 20 despite my GP suggesting that I stop. Now the nasty (nazi) party are implying that I am a liar, lazy, feckless. This year I lost ESA but am on indefinite disability. So next year I assume ATOSS will remove the last part of my families life line. Making work pay actually means make social welfare to painfull to bear. The nast party are removing welfare, they do not care. They 'listen' but carry on regardless. They deep down beleive that you look after yourself. It's tatcher all over again. They hate the poor beacause for some reason it's the poor's fault for being poor.

  6. I was a bit confused about whether raising the school participation age from 16 to 18 will affect the way young people receive benefits if they have a serious condition or disability, does anyone here have any idea if it will? Thanks!