This is an unreported national scandal….
It is only the mainstream media’s failure to bring this state of chaos to the public’s attention which prevents it from being plastered all over the front page of every single national newspaper.
If this was people stuck in NHS waiting lists, awaiting their passports, unable to travel by train, stranded abroad,struggling to get money out of cash points, marooned in the channel tunnel, affected by adverse weather conditions or by striking public service workers the national newspapers would ensure it was in print for all to see.
Yet here in the UK we have a crisis of unprecedented proportions as thousands upon thousands wait month upon month to get the benefits to which they are entitled to and hardly a word appears in any of the big hitting papers. The British public are being deceived into believing that government’s welfare reforms are achieving the desired results with no unnecessary human suffering.
The mainstream media has a duty to report the mayhem which exists within the chaotic Department for Work & Pensions and must expose this mass maladministration of thousand of benefit claims. What makes this all the more deplorable is the victims are by and large thousands of sick and disabled people who desperately need the right amount of cash to live on.
Chaotic Department for Work & Pensions fails to process people’s claims, leaving tens of thousands of claimants destitute & impoverished for months on end…..
On the 23rd June 2014, the then disability minister Mike Penning admitted in Parliament that the number of claimants awaiting an assessment for Employment & Support Allowance had stood stood at a staggering 766,000.
On the 5th June 2014 the DWP quietly produced statistics relating to the government’s new Personal Independence Payment statistics which showed that from April 2013 to March 2014 out of 349,000 new claims made, just 83,900 had reached the stage where a formal decision had been made on the applicant’s claim – a backlog of 265,100 claims where the claimant hasn’t received one single penny of the benefit for which they have applied.
Between the two benefits, Employment & Support Allowance and Personal Independence Payments, an eye watering 1,031,100 claimants have yet to receive the legal decision which determines their claim. It leaves claimants in absolute turmoil and completely unable to access the help they need.
Problems aren’t limited to ESA & PIP assessment chaos
This one million claimants does not include those who have had a decision, but are in embroiled in thousands of disputes with the DWP & Local Authorities over long drawn out battles which need independent determination by one of Her Majesties’ Courts & Service’s Tribunals.
Since April 2010 no less than 1,698,321 benefit appeals have been lodged with Tribunals, of which 939,100
relate to the Employment & Support Allowance. Nearly 1.7 million benefit appeals is just part of this much bigger chaos.
In March 2014, 78,347 benefit appeal cases remained outstanding. In 2012/13 the number of benefit appeals received by formal tribunals was 507,131 against 465,497 cases which had been dealt with. By 2013/14, whilst the number of appeals had fallen to 401,197 against 545,843 disposals, the fact remains that thousands are still trapped in a chronic backlog of appeal cases which saw 77,931 adjournments and a further 44,021 postponements, collectively accounting for some 22% of all benefit cases. It’s mayhem on a scale which has spiralled out of control. The DWP’s answer is to implement restrictive measures to access Tribunals with the introduction of its new ‘mandatory internal review’ procedure; a procedure which has come under fire for causing even further delays with thousands in limbo awaiting decisions.
One MP in particular stands out, Sheila Gilmore is to be commended for her non stop persistence in calling for government to publish the figures relating to thousands of disputed decisions which are subject to the DWP’s internal review procedure. Sheila Gilmore MP (with a little help from ilegal) has pressed this issue time and time again. Following several complaints to the UK Statistics Authority and calling the government to account at several debates which she has called, she got the then disability minister to admit how he would “love the data to be published now, but it is not ready. As soon as it is ready, I will publish it.” – seemingly we will need to wait until the end of the year to see whether Government keeps its word.
Meanwhile, thousands of sick and disabled people await the right decision for months on end, often having to rely on food banks to survive.
On top of the one million awaiting assessments, who knows how many more thousands are stuck in a cruel and heartless system, having to wait week after week for the DWP to resolve their disputes? – my guess is many thousands await decisions; it’s in the nature of the chaotic epidemic which has broken out in the DWP.
The chronically stretched Department is quite obviously under resourced to deal with reforms of this magnitude. The Public and Commercial Services Union are saying, in the wake of staffing cuts within the Department, that the DWP“needs more staff, not less.”
On top of all this, the DWP have been applying sanctions on a level never seen before. As refute report: “Under the new sanctions regime, introduced on the 22nd October 2012, a total of 1.35 million sanction decisions have been made up to June 2013, of which, 580,000 were adverse decisions”.
Local Councils in meltdown
What few people outside of the benefits system appreciate is how all of these delayed assessments, appeals and sanctions impact upon cash starved Local Authorities. Councils such as Birmingham are struggling, to put it mildly, to see how they can come up with a budget plan when they know they are expected to make of 28% cuts from central government funding by 2015.
1 million delayed assessments, 1.7 million appeals and nearly 600,000 adverse sanctions all have a knock on effect as local councils grapple with revised Housing Benefit awards, Council Tax Support and decide how best to administer limited Discretionary Housing Payment awards. Every delayed assessment can affects other benefits, sometimes tax credits and the worst nightmare begins when an appeal leads to everything being retrospectively awarded. It means going through umpteen awards and re – revising them to reflect the new entitlement. There is also the knock on effect of the bedroom tax, localism of Council Tax support as well as the social fund now being dealt with at Local Authority level.
Few Council’s will speak out for fear of having their funding cut further or being labelled as ‘inefficient’ when compared against authorities in more prosperous areas where deprivation is less of a problem.
A national scandal
The mainstream media is doing no one any favours by glossing over the worsening chaos within the DWP and Local Authorities. Failing to print a the real story as to the true extent of this crisis doesn’t make the crisis go away, the media owes a duty to the wider public to give way to propaganda and needs to out this scandal for what it is.
1 million delayed assessments/decisions, 1.7 million appeals & 1.3 million put through the sanction regime is a collective 4 million exposed to some degree of benefit decision related chaos. How can 4 million people locked in government backed chaos not be a national chaos?
Government’s answer is something it has the raw nerve to call ‘Universal’ Credit. By April 2014, the Secretary of State had promised that 1 million claimants would be on the new ‘single streamlined benefit’ system. He has consistently misled his fellow Parliamentarians and the British public in to believing his flagship benefit system is ‘on track’ to transform the lives of 8 million households. The reality is that the latest DWP figures confirm how between May 2013 and April 2014 6,960 claimants have made a new Universal Credit claim with 5,880 remaining on benefit – an overall reduction of just 1,080. As always with the DWP, there’s no indication as to how many of them found work.
What should worry us all is how the mainstream media, particularly the right wing tabloids, continue to pretend this crisis doesn’t exist.
Burying this outrageous crisis behind good news is no answer, the media has a duty to tell the truth. They should do so without any sense of allegiance to those who have got these welfare reforms so horribly wrong.
With thanks to Nick @Mylegalforum and apologies for tampering a little with the headline
see more from Nick at ilegal.org.uk