Shocking treatment by the DWP

As regular readers will know I have had an exceptionally worrying time over the complete cluster by the DWP (Department of Work and Pensions). I have not been paid anything since I came off JSA (Job Seekers Allowance) in July, even though I applied for ESA (Employment and Support Allowance) and sent in a doctors certificate to state I was unfit to work. To my absolute relief I received a letter yesterday morning to say that I am entitled to ESA and will be paid from 23rd July. I have checked my bank account today and thankfully the money is now happily sitting there for me to pay off the debts to my Dad, who has been bailing me out over these last few months. I still cannot believe I wasn’t even receiving a basic pay while the decision was being made, and that fact that every person I spoke to at the call centre gave me conflicting information. I could rant and rave about this for ages but I wont. I’m just pleased that I contacted my local MP (Member of Parliament) and so thankful that they investigated it for me. I am sure that their input had a dramatic effect on the speed of the reply; however, I should never have been in the position to require their involvement. I’m so pleased I don’t still have my own place with a mortgage etc. or a single parent, as I don’t know how I would have coped. You have to ask yourself how many other people are suffering this way and in a worse place than me. That was basically my last outstanding battle and so my life is now as complete as it can be at this time. I have things to do, plans in place and just waiting to get through my surgery and move on, it’s all good now.

Here is the breakdown of the struggle and issues I had with the DWP, so you can see for yourself the how the events unfolded:-

05-05-2012 Received letter dated 3rd May to say ‘following a medical assessment I was no longer entitled to ESA (Employment and Support Allowance) from 1st May 2012’.

Following this letter I claimed JSA (Job Seekers Allowance) and attended two TCHC Enterprise courses with the view to start my own business. The condition in my amputated stump deteriorated quite quickly and as it was over a month since the ESA decision I could not appeal. I was advised by the Job Centre to apply for ESA, which I did straight away

23-07-12 Came off JSA and phoned to claim for ESA

27-17-12 Received a letter dated 25th July, which enclosed the JSA application form. I filled it in and sent it straight back along with a Doctors certificate dated 25th July for three months.

07-08-12 Received a letter from Atos dated 5th August with the Work Capability Assessment form in it, which I filled in and sent straight back.

Mid to late September, after calling Atos as I had heard nothing, I received a letter to attend a Work Capability Assessment Medical

05-10-12 Attended the Work Capability Assessment Medical at Cambridge

15-10-12 Received a letter dated 11th October stating that I was found to have limited capability for work. As the previous decision had not been notified to me (which it had and I did not appeal) legally the decision maker could not change his decision. However, if I ask for a reconsideration based on the assessment on the 5th October they may be able to look at the decision again.
15-10-12 Phoned helpline to get advice on how to get a reconsideration but was told the case was too complicated for them so I was to get a same day call back before 17:30 – No call received.

16-10-12 Received a letter dated 11th October stating in the first paragraph that I could not be paid ESA from the 23rd July 2012. The second from last paragraph said that it had been confirmed that I had limited capability for work, the extra money I would get was shown on the ESA Award page which was not enclosed.
16-10-12 Phoned helpline and explained I did not receive the promised phone call the day before and that I had received another confusing letter. My priority had been increased and I should receive a call from Bury St Edmunds Office within one hour – No call received.
16-10-12 Phoned helpline again and a helpful lady said she could request the reconsideration over the phone. She told me that she had put in the request, it could take a couple of days before it becomes active and she had requested that someone call me to update the progress – No call received.

18-10-12 Sent in a second Doctors certificate, dated 17th October for three months

28-10-12 Phoned helpline for progress and was told I would receive a same day call before 17:30 – No call received

29-10-12 Phoned helpline again to say that I had not had a call so my priority was upgraded for a call within an hour – No call received
29-10-12 Phoned the helpline again where their line manager called Bury St Edmunds line manager. A lady contacted me to say they had received no request for the reconsideration. She put the reconsideration in place and as I have had no money since 23rd July she would ask them to make it a priority. In the afternoon she called me back to say that my records were in a central location so it would take a couple of days to receive the file then I would be a priority.

16-11-12 Phoned helpline and broke down on the phone as I had heard nothing from anyone and was desperate for a decision and money. I was told I would get a phone call from someone same day before 17:30 – No call received

18-11-12 Contacted Mr Stephen Barclay MP by email for help with my case.

20-11-12 Mr Alan Brace, Senior Parliamentary Assistant to Steve Barclay MP, contacted me requesting bullet points of events.

21-11-12 I sent the required information to Alan Brace

22-11-12 A lady from the DWP phoned me to say she had received a communication from my MP about the service I had received. She told me that the enquiry process normally takes about 15 days so I should hear from her again by about mid December. I told her that normally it wouldn’t be an issue but I have had no money since July. She told me that she wasn’t aware of this and would treat it as a priority.

27-11-12 I receive a letter dated 23rd November to say that I was entitled to ESA and would be paid from 23rd July. No apology or explanation for the confusion and lack of support from the DPW.

28-11-12 Money in the back and I can breath easy again.

It’s amazing how many times I had been moved to a priority!

2 Responses to “Shocking treatment by the DWP”

  1. Oh My!!! How familiar is this story? I cannot even type ‘DWP’ without gritting my teeth! Like you we had to involve our MP, just to get a the payments, to which we were clearly entitiled without question, sorted, and like you, feel very strongly that we should never have been in a position to have to do that. i was also advised to get a crisis loan for the interim…yeah right, when they’ve finished questioning you on every outgoing for the past month, and talking down to you as though you’re a criminal, the only course of action there is to put the phone down and plod on with the few pence you have left and hope you don’t starve to death before they make that payment! DLA were ok this time round, once my partner’s amputation was done, but we’d had a lot of hassle with them before, while his legs were both there but bad. Intiially they give mid rate mobility and low rate care, then on review they said, even though nothing had changed, he was not entitled to anything. Reconsideration produced low rate care payment, and nothing for mobility, and appeal had them added low rate mobility to that. Why? Who knows? I also know there are many ‘training issues’ with staff at the DWP as they all seem to give conflicting information, though I do wonder if that is a deliberate ploy to put people off claiming, and if it is, how many has it worked on? I know from the horse’s mouth that the DLA are targeted to turn down a given number of claims regardless, so they just turn down claims indiscriminately first time round. That little snippet was given to me by an agent who had transferred from the DLA offices in Blackpool to our local JCP office. It’s not going to get any better either.

    • I had similar case with the DLA where I was on highest rate mobility and lowest rate care. My condition became worse (before the amputation) but when I reclaimed I was told I wasn’t entitled to anything and lost my mobility car too. My adviser on Pathways to Work helped me appeal and with the amputation confirmed I had it all reinstated. I also had another run in with them when I went to get my Motability car, which I have a blog post about . It will all change again in the next couple of years as they switch from DLA to PIP, who knows what we will end with. The only thing we can be sure of is that it will become harder and harder to get help and financial support. I agree that they have to clamp down and stop people claiming who are not entitled to benefits but they need to make it fair a ensure that the people who genuinely need it get it.

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