Written evidence submitted by Advice Services
The ASC partnership was formed in 2005 and includes:
Benefits Advice Line.
& Warwickshire Family Mediation.
Citizens Advice Bureau.
Community Care Association.
Student Union Advice Centre.
End Advice & Information Centre.
ASC is a partnership of agencies who are classified
as providers of independent advice services.
As the migration of people from Incapacity Benefit
to Employment and Support Allowance has only just started we are
keen to share the evidence we have seen from people trying to
claim employment and support allowance, which we believe will
be of value to the Committee.
As the evidence illustrates there are major failings
with current processes which will significantly impact this migration
and we would recommend all migration activity to cease until these
issues have been successfully resolved.
Evidence from our clients illustrates key failings
Assessments carried out by Atos.
makers do not look at all the medical evidence.
processes - inadequately trained staff, poor record keeping.
CLIENT 1 - 1 APRIL
1. Single unemployed male - transferred from
JSA to ESA when he became ill. Client hospitalised, suffering
from Gliblastoma (brain tumour) and is receiving radiotherapy.
2. On initial call by Citizens Advice to DWP
to chase the clients claim, the caller was advised that a claim
had been established and the client now needed to submit a sick
note. Citizens Advice made a follow up call four days later to
chase MI12, advised that we had been given the wrong information
and that a claim had not been established and sent for processing
because it was incomplete. Further visit by Citizens Advice to
the client in hospital had to be made to complete a new claim
form which has delayed payment further.
3. This client has had a very poor service from
the DWP when he needed help and support the most whilst he is
in hospital. There should be a dedicated team to deal with very
sick people; no extra effort has been made for claimants with
life threatening illnesses.
4. ESA has been a place for a long-time now and
we still see cases like this where DWP staff do not know what
they are doing.
CLIENT 2 - 1 APRIL
5. Female client lives with partner, diagnosed
with secondary breast cancer and had to give up work as a result.
Client is having intravenous chemotherapy but has been asked to
complete an ESA50 in order to claim ESA.
6. Client had also recently been turned down
on her DLA application but this decision was overturned following
the withdrawal of the appeal by the Disability Benefits Unit (DBU).
7. A very poor service has been provided to the
client by the DWP. The medical evidence provided does not appear
to have been taken in to consideration in order to make the appropriate
decision. This client experienced additional stress during an
already difficult time and apart from her own health issues, her
mother recently died.
CLIENT 3 - 8 APRIL
8. Male client diagnosed with cancer of the pharynx
in November 2009 which is now terminal. A DS1500 has been issued
and a claim for ESA was made over the telephone by our adviser
as the client has speech difficulties due to his illness.
9. The ESA worker was advised that our client
has been issued DS1500 but continued to discuss with our worker
the fact that the client would be asked to attend work focussed
interviews and medicals. This was questioned by the adviser who
again said that a DS1500 had been issued and that the client should
be placed in the Support Group. Client has not returned yet to
say which group he has been placed in.
CLIENT 4 - 8 APRIL
10. We had been assisting this male client with
a terminal brain tumour for some time. He had claimed ESA using
a DS1500. However, when he died his wife came to the bureau and
it was discovered that he had not been put in to the Support Group
but paid the basic rate. We are waiting for ESA to telephone back
to discuss this.
11. This poor administration at a time of upheaval
in a household is not acceptable. The correct information had
been provided and yet again a poor incorrect decision made. The
household income was very low during our late client's illness
and now extra work has to be carried out unnecessarily.
CLIENT 5 - 8 APRIL
12. This female client with a terminal brain
tumour made a claim for ESA following her SSP entitlement using
a DS1500. Almost immediately an ESA50 was sent to the client for
13. Our adviser contacted the manager of medical
referrals at ESA who looked in to the situation. He came back
saying this was issued in error and should not have been. He was
very apologetic and said it would be withdrawn.
14. Once again, our client was subject to poor
administration by ESA and caused extra distress and stress at
an already difficult time.
CLIENT 6 - 8 APRIL
15. This female client suffers from a condition
called Cyclothymia which is a mild form of Bi Polar Disorder.
She takes medication and is under the care of the Caludon Centre,
University Hospital Coventry and Warwickshire. She was informed
that as of and including 3 March 2011 she was not entitled to
ESA as she scored zero points for mental health descriptors, following
a medical assessment. This seems very unusual given that our client
has specialist medication and psychiatric support. Our adviser
completed a GL24 and drafted a supporting letter. Whilst our client
is awaiting her appeal the ESA will be paid at the basic rate.
When ESA was not awarded her Housing Benefit and Council Tax Benefit
were withdrawn. These should now be reinstated pending the appeal.
CLIENT 7 - 23 MARCH
16. Female aged 50, in receipt of DLA - low rates
care and mobility lives alone in social housing bedsit.
17. Failed Limited capability for work assessment
for ESA, scored zero points for mental health. Client suffers
from bi-polar disorder and has recently been discharged from NHS
mental health unit after a two month stay. Client receives support
from a social worker and NHS mental health support worker. We
are supporting this client to appeal this decision.