250,000 disabled people sent 45-page form demanding evidence by DWP bureaucrats following DWP underpayment blunder

Image result for disabled people

The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) have issued ‘senseless’ 45 page forms to thousands of ill and disabled people who are owed £970m in unpaid Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) by the government, leaving people having to provide evidence of details of their lives from up to seven years ago.

More than 250,000 people are being told they must fill out the ‘scandalous’ 45 page form to have their award changed after a government error has left them underpaid by thousands of pounds.

Unreasonably, families are expected to recall intricate financial details and arrangements from up to seven years ago. The form asks claimants to state exact dates they were in hospital and give details of insurance payouts, mortgage payments and savings. 

Campaigners warn it is “passing the buck” to benefit claimants who now face an unnecessary barrier to justice.

Shadow Minister for Disabled People, Marsha De Cordova, branded the form “scandalous”, adding: “People will very often not have kept the evidence the DWP is asking for which could lead to many being denied vital support once again.”

The 45 page form is being sent to thousands of people who are owed £970m in unpaid ESA dating back to 2011, through no fault of their own. 

The government blunder, revealed earlier this year, affects people who moved from older incapacity benefit – Incapacity Benefit to ESA between 2011 and 2014,when the government made fundamental cost-cutting changes to the welfare system. In total 570,000 cases are currently being reviewed, of which 180,000 are expected to receive back payments by the end of 2019.

A DWP spokesperson insists that everyone owed money will receive it. But some claimants expressed bafflement after the ESA3(IBR) form dropped on their doormats.

Carol Willoughby, 73, from Chessington, was asked to fill in details dating back to February 2013 for her 68-year-old husband Michael.

ESA claim form

 A page of the form asks about money set aside for repairs or from a pension.

Questions on her form included “please provide dates that you have been an inpatient in hospital” and requests to state amounts of lump-sum state pension, trust fund income and money set aside for essential repairs.

Mrs Willoughby said: “The DWP were supposed to check all the errors and deal with it.

“Now they’re putting the onus back onto us to provide all the information going back five years, half of which we won’t have any more.

“It will take me hours. They’re asking ‘have you been in hospital, when were you in, how long were you in for’.”

ESA claim 2

Another page asks for details of dates and visits to hospital from years ago.

When they were asked about Mr Willoughby’s case, the DWP said that some 261,000 of the excessively bureaucratic forms have been sent out.

This huge figure is utterly shocking, and it comes just weeks after the Mirror revealed up to 15,000 people caught up in the scandal have already died.

James Taylor, Head of Policy at disability charity Scope, said: “This feels like the DWP is passing the buck onto disabled people and their families.

“They have already been short-changed by bureaucratic errors in the welfare system that go back nearly a decade. 

“The DWP need to make sure that those who have missed out on their full ESA entitlement are payed back promptly with the minimum amount of stress and anxiety.”

ESA claim 3
The intrusive form also asks disabled people to provide details of payments from ex-partners, if relevant

Ayaz Manji, policy officer at mental health charity Mind, said the DWP must ensure “nobody falls through the gaps”.

He added: “Those of us with mental health problems can struggle to navigate a complex application process.

“The DWP needs to do all it can to take responsibility for fixing these errors.

“It’s senseless to place unnecessary barriers in front of those who have already gone through a lengthy, complicated and stressful process.”

Yes, anyone would think that the government have placed this bureaucratic barrier in front of ill and disabled people to make it as difficult as possible for them to be fairly reimbursed the money they were entitled to but not paid because of a government error.

esa claim 4
The form asks for details of property owned in the dates on the form.

A DWP spokeswoman insisted people only need to complete sections that are relevant to their circumstances. Officials claim that anyone can seek help completing the form over the phone, and where needed staff can arrange a home visit.

The DWP are also contacting people who they do not hear from within three weeks of sending out a form.

The DWP spokeswoman said: “We want to have all the information we need to make sure everyone gets the money they are owed and anyone can provide this over the phone with our support.”

I wonder why the DWP bothered with the forms, then, if that’s the case. 

It’s widely assumed that public services are organized and delivered for the benefit of citizens. The reality, however, is very different. The more we scrutinise the role and function of different government departments and programmes, the clearer it becomes that they are being redesigned to bring direct and indirect benefits to private businesses.

Ministers have been accused of creating a “hostile environment for sick and disabled people” following the blunder, which occurred when claimants were transferred onto the main sickness benefit, ESA.

Both PIP and DLA are designed to help people with the extra costs of disability, or long-term health conditions, yet any award is reluctantly made, and all too often people have to go to court to challenge extremely inaccurate assessment reports and enormously unfair decision-making.

Yet the British public are funding corporations as well as government departments, and we should expect and demand that those businesses observe certain conditions of basic fairness. Private companies were hired to fulfil a role of  discrediting disabled people’s accounts of their disability, and to engage in very bad report writing, with an ultimate aim of resource gatekeeping. At the same time, legal aid was withdrawn to prevent citizens from accessing justice and seeking redress.

The Centre for Health and Disability Assessments Ltd (Maximus, who conduct Universal Credit Work Capability Assessments) saw profits double between 2016 and 2017. 

One director got a £373k dividend and £12 million was paid in shares. Thousands of disabled and ill people had their lifeline support cut due to the private companies contracted to gatekeep essential financial support. The majority of ill and disabled people have worked and paid tax. They now need to draw on their social insurance, and are finding instead of support, they face punitive policies and a hostile environment, while big businesses are making obscene levels of profit for inflicting  hardship and utter misery on some of our most vulnerable citizens.  

Meanwhile, the government and media constructed a narrative to demonise and condemn the poorest citizens, labelling them as undeserving “scroungers” and would be “fraudsters.” This was a justification narrative –  an attempt to try and pass the state abuse of disabled people as somehow “fair”. 

Image result for disabled benefit scroungers

The government has awarded at least £1.4billion of outsourcing contracts linked to the roll-out of Universal Credit and the other welfare reforms since 2012.

The 10 highest value contracts awarded by DWP linked to Universal Credit and welfare reforms since 2012

  • £595million to Maximus People Services Ltd for health and disability assessment services. 
  • £207million to Atos for Personal Independence Payments assessment service Lot 1 contract extension (Lot numbers refer to different geographical areas)
  • £184million to Atos for Personal Independence Payments assessment service Lot 3
  • £122million to Capita for Personal Independence Payments assessment service contract extension Lot 1
  • £122million to Capita for Personal Independence Payments assessment service contract Extension Lot 2
  • £90million to Atos for a medical services IT contract
  • £8.2million to Serco to deliver a new claims telephony service for Personal Independence Payments
  • £6million to Advanced Personnel Management Group to provide healthcare staff to conduct work capability assessments for Universal Credit and Employment Support Allowance
  • £3.9million to Pinnacle People Limited for Phase 2 of the New Enterprise Allowance Scheme in the north east to support people into self-employment and to start their own businesses
  • £3.3million to Ixion Holdings (Contracts) Limited for Phase 2 of the New Enterprise Allowance Scheme in London and the home counties

Source: Tussell

It’s about time we had a public debate about the size and uses of the corporate welfare state. And about democratic accountability.

Curiously, none of those private companies that were contracted to profit through disabled people’s loss and distress have received forms that demand evidence and details of their histories.

Corporate welfare is prioritised rather more by the government than citizen welfare. In fact private companies are faced with perverse incentives – to generate profit requires undermining the welfare of citizens.

 


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41 thoughts on “250,000 disabled people sent 45-page form demanding evidence by DWP bureaucrats following DWP underpayment blunder

  1. he government blunder, it was never that they new all part of their sanctions its crime they will get away with im sorry to say aktion t4 hay but then who will believe it hmmm

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  2. That form has been sitting on my table since it arrived and ruined the last few weeks. I can’t see any ‘send back by’ date and I just want to curl up into a ball and ignore it completely. I’d rather not have any extra money I might be entitled to and not have to fill it in. But will they take away what I currently receive if I don’t fill it in? Probably.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. The DWP are saying people can ring and sort it out by phone. Mind you, if that’s the case, why bother with the forms in the first place, if not to intimidate people? And that is what this is about. It’s a kind of nudge. I’ve experienced this kind of thing myself, too. Try ringing them x

      Liked by 2 people

      1. I will but that also takes a lot out of me. Last time I had help on the phone, they got it completely wrong. Think it was to do with getting a blue badge so I was denied in the first instance. Thank you for your post, which actually made me feel better!

        Liked by 2 people

      2. The entire D.W.P. is ran on intimidation, how letters are worded, what bits they highlight.
        Unrecognisable from how they could be up until 2008.

        Liked by 4 people

      1. The DWP are claiming they will send someone to help, or that you can do it over the phone. You could try, but I can understand that makes it stressful. Some councils have a welfare department now, and it may be worth seeing if your local authority has one. My own helped me greatly with my PIP claim last year.

        Liked by 1 person

    2. There Is a sendback date – it’s about 3 weeks after the date of the letter that accompanied the form. Apparently if you don’t fill it in, they’ll send another one!! God knows what it all costs in trees, printing and postage.
      I hear you on curling up into a ball, but in my case, I think it’s the £30 a week they docked from my money one year in – probably yours, too – that’s a Lot of money – and why should they keep your money?

      Liked by 1 person

    3. I received one before Xmas and it said you need to return within 1 month of the date printed on the enclosed letter. I sent it back by signed and registered post

      Liked by 2 people

  3. I had this in june confusing form so completed over the phone then sent evidence was told they didnt recieve evidence then told they found it after i explained it was sent recorded delivery, was then told it was being processed should be done by end of september but when i called them in November they said they couldnt tell me what was going on heard nothing since. Dwp just fobbing us off.

    Liked by 3 people

  4. The bosses of the DWP are utter bastards and spineless lackeys of this cruel Conservative government. These forms are deliberately designed to present a barrier to all of these 250,000 disabled claimants to dishearten and discourage them from recovering what they are due. The DWP made the errors… let them sort it out without putting these disabled claimants through more pain and anxiety. The United Nations has already condemned this government on two counts of breach of human rights in respect of the disabled and the poor… anyone who supports the Tories now are complicit in this cruelty towards our most vulnerable citizens. A change of government is long overdue and when that change occurs.. as it surely will soon… criminal charges should be brought against those currently in government and their collaborating DWP lickspittles.

    Liked by 4 people

  5. I received this form on November 12th 2018, it’s still sitting on my table, as I really can’t face anymore multi page forms again! Incidentally, they haven’t phoned me.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. The form is a reprint of the DLA one they used to send out, when you have the strength to look, you’ll recognise it – it’s impossible to complete, in it’s current form – do you aggregate all the ‘savings’ you might have had every year for 6 years? even although it was the same money each year – that’s how politicians magic money, but then it looks as though you were over their thresholds. As far as I can see, even with my copies of what I told them back then (assuming I can find them) it’s not possible. And anyway – where are THEIR copies of the forms that I (and you, and everyone else) so laboriously and meticulously completed? Why is it My job (our job) to rewrite it all yet again?? They “need to look again” ~ fine ~ Look as often as you like, (it will keep people in jobs!) ~ I gave you all the info then – did you lose it? So how do you know you need me to look it all up, recalculate everything and copy it all out again? How do they know what dates they cover, if they don’t already have the information they need?? They know how much they paid us – they know what the rate actually should have been – all they have to do is calculate the difference!
      So I shall phone them, when I’m feeling up to it, because £30 a week for 7 years is a lot of money, and life was desperately hard without it…. and it should be mine, not theirs!
      Only promise me it won’t count against what award I might get now!

      Liked by 2 people

  6. Every time I think this evil Tory government has sunk to the lowest point possible, they prove me wrong and come up with some other nasty idea.

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  7. I also have that said letter that the DWP kindly sent me. Not bothered as much to get it filled in, as I think from past correspondence I have had what was due to me…

    I wrote to them asking for correcting payment I was due. Along with a snip from Hansard…

    Esther Mcvey confirms ESA can be paid and backdated to date of termination decision:

    ‘Where an employment support allowance award terminates because someone does not have limited capability for work following a work capability assessment, it will be reinstated only after there has been either (i) a successful application for mandatory reconsideration or (ii) the mandatory reconsideration is unsuccessful and the claimant has lodged an appeal with Her Majesty’s Courts and Tribunals Service (HMCTS). For the former reinstatement will be from the date of the termination decision; for the latter, once the Department has been advised by HMCTS that an appeal has been made, ESA can be reinstated in which case it would be backdated to the date of the termination decision. In either situation, if any other benefit has been received in the meantime, for example, jobseeker’s allowance, this will be offset against the employment and support allowance due.’

    https://www.publications.parliament.uk/ … 4108000053

    So I belief I have had what I was owed.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think I’ve got all I’m due. What worries me about not filling it in is the DWP using that as an excuse to cut my money entirely. ‘If you didn’t fill it in, you can’t possibly have needed the money in the first place’ or some such.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yes. The DWP tried to intimidate me when I got my PIP award. They didn’t pay my ESA and said I should claim ESA again… I knew that was rubbish as PIP is not a means tested award. But I had to have a conversation on the phone that as taxing and unpleasant. Very anxiety provoking – which I am sure is intended. It’s a kind of nudge that is used to keep people’s expectations low and to ensure they never feel secure with the support that they have, after all paid into when they worked. It’s disgusting that UK citizens are being treated by the state in this way.

        Liked by 2 people

    1. Bill Kruse ~ ask them what they already have? wow, that’s a good wheeze – then I can just copy and paste instead of trawling old diaries and such. Thanks for this.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. A word of warning to those who receive this form – check the date they are asking you to provide the information from. On my accompanying letter they wrote four times ++ January 2018, but only once ++ January 2014 (which was the correct date). The one place that had the correct date ‘seemed’ to have suffered from an ink shortage when being printed out as it was barely legible. Mysteriously, this “admin error” (their excuse when challenged by my support worker) did not occur the four times the incorrect date was written. Of course, I MUST be paranoid, if I think this “mistake” was a deliberate attempt to get out of paying me four years of back payments, should my claim be successful!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. In 2015 I had my E S A stopped which left me with £88.00 per month to live on. This caused a great deal of stress in my relationship with my x partner and we stopped being partners but she had nowhere to go and I couldn’t afford the rent on my own, Then 6 months ago I had to go for the PIP assessment and as usual got turned down. As a consequence I have had my little bit of money stopped and I had to return my car. So now I have got back onto the DWP about reviewing my ESA all they do is keep putting me off and sending me the wrong forms. They still say that I am in a relationship and will not admit that they are wrong yet again. In the meantime I am getting more heavily into debt and have had a notice of possession from my local council, Mind you if I was made homeless they wouldn’t be able to contact me about my utility bills

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    1. I’m so sorry to read about your distressing circumstances. No one should have to live with so much uncertainty and loss. You can ask for a mandatory review of any decisions about both PIP and ESA, and if that fails, you can appeal, though the Tribunals take months to happen at the moment. You can claim housing benefit, if you aren’t in a Universal Credit area by informing the council of your nil or very low income, which may be a way of saving your tenancy. You should also make a formal complaint about how the DWP are treating you. It’s not good enough to treat you the way they are, leaving you without a means to address the problems they have created.

      Some councils have a welfare advise service, mine has, which was very helpful when I claimed PIP. Have a look to see if they have. You could try citizen’s advice too.

      I know trying to get sorted out is wearying, especially when you are so ground down with the problems that you face, but it can help.

      I hope your circumstances improve very soon.

      Very best wishes, Barry. Good luck.

      Like

  10. how do you get the form i care for my disabled daughter, I have rang a few time in the past and cant get anywhere on the phone with them, the issue is that I was getting cares allowence for looking after her, then i retired so cant have cares anymore but her rate never when back up after i stopped being her carer. I do beleive as been taking advangte off as she cant talk due to her condition, any help would be great

    Like

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