Austerity Assault On Poor, Sick & Disabled

From Organized Rage Mick Hall asks:

When will the victims of austerity, especially the least well off, sick and disabled receive some respite from these wicked measures?

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Personal Independent Payments, (PIP) which replaced Disability Living Allowance (DLA) for working age claimants is not working for those sick and disabled people who relied on DLA to help them get out and about.

This is especially true for those who have a very serious physical health condition that can only get worse.

If you fall into this category, statistics obtained by the BBC’s Victoria Derbyshire by using the Freedom of Information Act, show: under PIP claimants are up to two thirds less likely to get an enhanced mobility award than they were under DLA.

These figures show that for multiple sclerosis (MS), 93% of DLA claimants got the higher rate of the mobility component, but under PIP this has dropped hugely to 50%.

For Parkinson’s, 82% of DLA claimants got the higher rate of the mobility component, but under PIP this has more than halved to 40%.

For rheumatoid arthritis, 83% of DLA claimants got the higher rate of the mobility component, but under PIP this has plummeted by more than two thirds to 24%. The same is happening with other serious illnesses which can only get worse.

It's been clear for sometime PIP was never as Iain Duncan Smith and his successor claimed about helping sick and disabled people to manage their disability more effectively, and getting them back into work. It's a cost cutting exercise pure and simple, and one I might add that takes money out of the pockets of the disabled and puts it into the coffers of private healthcare providers. To put it bluntly it's been a total charade, a damn disgrace.

As Steve Donaldson reported on his excellent web site Benefits and Work, it's now equally clear that the DWP don’t care who has to pay the price for those cuts.

“We are sorry but all our customer service agents are busy at the moment. Please hold.”

These are the words that callers to DWP helplines dread. And for some of those on the lowest incomes, with access only to a pay as you go mobile, they come at a serious cost.
Mobile providers charge up to 45p a minute to call an 0345 number – like the PIP enquiry line.
And the average wait before you speak to someone about your PIP claim, according to a government minister last week, is six minutes and 25 seconds.
So that’s getting on for three quid before you’ve said a word. And many people spend a great deal longer than six and a half minutes on hold.

Steve continues:

The Social Security Advisory Committee have urged the DWP to provide free 0800 numbers for lines used by vulnerable and low-income claimants. But the DWP, in a response published last week, have refused on the grounds that it would cost them £7 million to do so.
But there’s another reason that they also let slip in their reply to SSAC. In relation to universal credit, their policy is to “redirect people to digital channels through cost incentives.

In other words, as Steve points out, they want claimants to manage their claim online and they will punish those who are unable to do so by making them pay a small fortune for phone calls. Mrs May's government on the side of the workers my arse.

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Anthony McIntyre

Former IRA prisoner, spent 18 years in Long Kesh. Free Speech advocate, writer, historian, humanist, and researcher.

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