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SALFORD BENEFIT ARMY TO TAKE ON DWP OVER UNFAIR DISABILITY ASSESSMENTS
 

Star date: 17th August 2017

VOLUNTEER ARMY TRAIN TO HELP DISABLED FIGHT UNFAIR ASSESSMENTS

A new army of volunteers has been trained this week to accompany people going to DWP disability assessments to ensure they are treated fairly and gets their rights to state help.

"I think it's very important that people are there to stand up for those who are not necessarily best able to defend themselves in a benefit system that is set up basically to catch people out; force them off benefits" explained Ben Clay, who was one of the volunteers at the training course organised by Salford Unemployed and Community Resource Centre.

Full details here...


Stop Benefit Sanctions Salford UCRC Benefits Leaflet
click image to enlarge

There's been numerous reports about unfair Government assessments of people with disabilities, and protests in Salford outside the PIP Consultation Centre (see here).

Many people have had legitimate benefits stopped after going through, what Alec McFadden, manager of Salford Unemployed and Community Resource Centre, calls the "Frankenstein nightmare of going to a tribunal and being told they are totally fit to work and not getting a single point..."

This week, the Resource Centre, together with Unite Community, decided to do something about it by running a one day training course at Eccles Community Fire Station to build an army of volunteers to try and re-balance things; to attend assessments with people to make sure everything is above board...

"I think it's very important that people are there to stand up for people who are not necessarily best able to defend themselves in this new system of sanctions, and a benefit system that is set up basically to catch people out, force them off benefits and to criminalise and de-legitimise the welfare state" said Ben Clay, one of those who trained as a volunteer in the Salford benefit army.

"People have certain rights, and that includes a decent standard of living, being able to afford to pay their bills, their rent, and to eat food to a healthy standard" he added "Basically the Government is disregarding this, and it's got to the stage where people are signed off as being fit to work and are basically dying. And that's totally unacceptable in a civilised society."

The training involved learning about how assessments are run and the criteria used...

"All we're doing is ensuring that the Government applies its own rules and regulations to the system" Ben explained "What's been happening is that people are being thrown off the system through very arbitrary decisions which often don't fit their own criteria. Unless these things are challenged and those who make these decisions are held to account you're going to see many more injustices where people who are rightfully entitled to benefits are thrown off benefits and have no means of supporting themselves."

29 people attended the day from all walks of life, from a lorry driver to a caretaker, to people who have been through the process of assessments themselves, and now Alec McFadden is hoping that, as a result, there will be volunteers from the army to attend disability assessments with around one hundred people per week.*

"It isn't just a question any longer of people having their benefits stopped" said Alec "People are not even applying for the benefits that they are entitled to because they are too terrified of going through the process.

"You've got to judge a society by the way it treats vulnerable and disabled people, so what we are doing here is creating an army of advisors" he added "We've given them some information and skills to take it forward, and I'm really lifted by the enthusiasm and confidence, and some really articulate people working together with people who have suffered mental health problems. They're becoming a team.

"My advice to anyone facing an assessment is to never, ever, go alone..." he insisted.

All the volunteers were already members of the Unite Community branch or have since joined, and the idea is to recruit those they help to also join the trade union, to massively increase its membership and influence.

In the meantime, those who have to face 'Frankenstein' DWP assessments will have the benefit army fighting alongside them in the disability trench warfare that the Government has created...


*Anyone who would like a volunteer to accompany them to disability assessments is urged to ring 0161 789 2999. They would like two or three weeks notice of appointments.


Also see previous Salford Star article: Severely Disabled People Losing £Millions in Benefits as Salford UCRC Launches Claim Campaign – click here

T Lewis wrote
at 11:08:22 on 20 August 2017
I attended an ATOS interview some years ago. I was askedtge fatal questions- Have you travelled here on your own? Where did you walk from to the office- Considering there is no public access toAlbert Bridge House a fatal response if you said you walked. The assessor and I disagreed on Diabetic control, and the consequences of Diabetic problems. He refuted the Neuropathic condition. He requestedi raise my arms - considering that I had just undergone 2 cortisone injections in my frozen shoulders the prievious week under anaesthetic this was impossible and I refused to comply - fully explaining the reason why I was requested to sit on a bed and accept my knees to be tested with a hammer- when I refused advising that I was recovering from an Arthroscopy operation which had not been successful and meant that my knee was in considerable pain he told me I had failedtge examination. I then requested him to explain how he could realistically fail me considering that I had taken documented proof from various consultants of my incapacity which I had presented on entering the room and he had just thrown onto his desk without looking at? Then I suggested that the £150 per 30 minute assessment he was receiving from 8-30 am until 5-30 pm was considerably more than the £50 he was removing from my Incapacity benefit per week. At that point I was informed tersely that the interview was over and I could leave as he had deceided I was an uncooperative candidate and subsequently failed ATOS criteria. I received zero as a score , mybenefit has been stopped I am unable to claim any help because I have not paid NI contributions in the last 2 years despite over 35 years of contributions, this is not the society we fought for - this is hat the rich riding roughshod over the poor.
 
Salford Star wrote
at 14:15:18 on 19 August 2017
See Mary's comment below...Hi Mary - there's a phone number at the bottom of the article - give them a ring, we're sure they will help
 
Mary kitt wrote
at 14:13:39 on 19 August 2017
I would be most interested in learning your technique do you run courses. I used to work for a charity called disability can do. I still fill in forms and go to tribunals when I can and have been to assessments. Can you advise if you run courses. All my services are free of charge
 
Joanne Stothers wrote
at 16:44:06 on 18 August 2017
Thank God for people like you :)
 
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