Join the Socialist Party Join us today!

Printable version Printable version

Facebook   Twitter

Link to this page: https://secure.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/1020/28345

From The Socialist newspaper, 28 November 2018

End "poverty, ill health and despair":a benefits adviser speaks out against the cuts

photo Ryan Melaugh/CC

photo Ryan Melaugh/CC   (Click to enlarge)

Becky Polain, welfare benefits specialist adviser, Hastings Advice and Representation Centre

I have worked, since leaving college - 22 years - solely in benefits. I have witnessed the systematic destruction of a support system meant to help those who need it most, creating a widespread situation of poverty, ill health and despair.

The bulk of our work currently revolves around three benefits: Personal Independence Payment (PIP), Employment and Support Allowance (ESA), and Universal Credit. Of these cases, the majority concern poor assessments that need to be appealed. Over 95% of the cases we take on are won at tribunal with an increased rate of benefit.

We are finding that the private companies who carry out these assessments - Atos for PIP, and Maximus for ESA and Universal Credit - regularly complete reports that are inaccurate at best, and contain lies at worst.

They twist claimants' words or write down things that were never even said or done. The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), which sends out the decision letters, bases its decisions on these reports.

This process, and the devastating decisions, leave people feeling desperate and undervalued. They are made to feel as if they are lying or being targeted.

Despite most appeals being successful, a claimant may have to wait over a year from the initial decision to their case being heard at a tribunal. The knock-on effect cannot be underestimated.

HM Courts and Tribunals Service, in charge of hearing appeals, has seen its caseload triple over the last few years, with little or no extra resources to process it.

There needs to be a complete overhaul of the assessment process. Both Atos and Maximus profit through their contracts with the DWP. These assessments need to be brought back in-house, like they were 20 years ago when the Benefits Agency Medical Services carried out the assessments.

That could be a step towards accountability and a better monitoring process, as well as saving money - something the Tory government claims it is keen to do. Better assessments would mean fewer appeals, costing the government less on that front at least.

Many decisions are more favourable to claimants when heard at appeal, due to more detailed evidence and a chance for the claimant to be heard fully.

The human cost is the greatest. Health deteriorates due to poor assessments. Claimants suffer financially, having to make choices between rent, food and bills with what little they have, often falling into debt or becoming homeless.

This puts greater strain on already overburdened public services that have all seen cuts in their budgets. Some will resort to crime, or turn to self-medication with legal or illegal drugs.

It is widely reported that many have died by suicide due to these decisions, leaving behind bereft families and friends. There is a downward spiral of poverty, illness and deprivation.

It is no coincidence that demand at the Hastings foodbank has increased by 87% over the last few years. It is time for change!

The Socialist Party says

Donate to the Socialist Party

Coronavirus crisis - Finance appeal

The coronavirus crisis has laid bare the class character of society in numerous ways. It is making clear to many that it is the working class that keeps society running, not the CEOs of major corporations.

The results of austerity have been graphically demonstrated as public services strain to cope with the crisis.

The government has now ripped up its 'austerity' mantra and turned to policies that not long ago were denounced as socialist. But after the corona crisis, it will try to make the working class pay for it, by trying to claw back what has been given.

  • The Socialist Party's material is more vital than ever, so we can continue to report from workers who are fighting for better health and safety measures, against layoffs, for adequate staffing levels, etc.
  • Our 'fighting coronavirus workers' charter', outlines a programme to combat the virus and protect workers' living conditions.
  • When the health crisis subsides, we must be ready for the stormy events ahead and the need to arm workers' movements with a socialist programme - one which puts the health and needs of humanity before the profits of a few.
Inevitably, during the crisis we have not been able to sell the Socialist and raise funds in the ways we normally would.
We therefore urgently appeal to all our viewers to donate to our special coronavirus appeal.

Please donate here.

All payments are made through a secure server.

My donation

 

Your message: 

 


In The Socialist 28 November 2018:


What we think

End Tory misery - general election now!

For a socialist alternative to the EU - mobilise to kick out the Tories!


International socialist news and analysis

Eyewitness: French protesters seize streets against President Macron

San Francisco Bay Area's toxic smoke crisis and capitalism's mismanagement

Workers at the forefront of the new wave of protests in Iran


News

Haringey 'Corbyn council': end the secrecy and confusion - lead a fight against the cuts

The Tories' letting fee ban is full of holes - we need rent controls and council homes!


Workplace

PCS Left Unity election: All votes should count

Cammell Laird shipbuilding workers strike against job cuts on merseyside

College lecturers in Wales strike against low pay and workload

Black Friday day of action against Amazon


Environment

We need system change to halt climate change


Socialist Party reports and campaigns

Islwyn Labour Party calls for council no-cuts budget

Scrap the Tories' Universal Credit now!

Reclaim the Night marches condemn violence against women

King George A&E faces closure again

Southampton: Join the pledge to resist cuts

"Horrendous" - Bristol's privatised buses

Nat West's benefit-claimant eviction policy


Opinion

Wonderful socialist play finds Edwardian poverty not in past

End "poverty, ill health and despair":a benefits adviser speaks out against the cuts

Trump is capricious and dangerous - but is he really in charge?


 

Home   |   The Socialist 28 November 2018   |   Join the Socialist Party

Subscribe   |   Donate   |   Audio  |   PDF  |   ebook






Related links:

Poverty:

triangleUniversal Basic Income: not a solution to insecurity and poverty under capitalism

triangleFurlough scheme extended - workers need 100% of wages

triangleJD Sports: Shut up shop and give us full pay!

triangleCardiff East Socialist Party: Is Universal Basic Income the solution to poverty?

triangleAusterity kills

Health:

triangleEerily quiet before second wave - don't reopen schools!

triangleMore blunders and profiteering in Tory track-and-trace scheme

triangleBlack and Asian Covid-19 deaths: an indictment of capitalist inequality

triangleContract tracer speaks out: Tories' plan is outsourced chaos

Cuts:

triangleStrong union response needed against job cuts

triangleSafe protests against Tory corona chaos continue

triangleJohnson's plan terrifies me - readers react to lifting lockdown

Benefits:

triangleFight for safety, staffing and services - Covid chaos for benefits claimants

trianglePCS union demands better deal for benefits claimants

Universal Credit:

triangleUC stopped without warning

Public services:

triangleMore than ever, we need accountable union leaders

Claimants:

triangleNew BBC series - Insight or whitewash?

DWP:

triangleUnsafe Workplace? "It's up to you" PCS tells reps and members

Atos:

triangleThem & Us

ESA:

triangleDWP to outsource more work to Capita

Minimum wage:

triangleThe minimum wage must go up! Fund coronavirus workers, not bosses' profits!

Employment and Support Allowance:

triangleUniversal Credit could trap women in violent relationships

Reviews and comments

Reviews and comments

27/5/20

Letters

Going viral - Socialist comments and letters

20/5/20

Obituary

Obituary: Rob Crabb

20/5/20

Letters

Going viral: letters to the editors

20/5/20

Upton Sinclair

The Jungle: capitalism's remorseless attack on workers' safety and conditions

13/5/20

Letters

Going Viral: Socialist comments and letters on the corona crisis

6/5/20

Letters

Going viral: Socialist comments and letters on the corona crisis

6/5/20

Review

TV Review BBC Panorama: PPE shortage - how many lives will be lost?

27/4/20

Coronavirus

Going viral: Socialist comments and letters

22/4/20

Letters

Going viral: Socialist comments and letters

15/4/20

Letters

Going viral: Socialist comments on the corona crisis

8/4/20

Socialist Party

Labour leadership election: Starmer wins but the fight for socialism goes on

7/4/20

Coronavirus

Going viral

31/3/20

Coronavirus

Going viral - Socialist letters and comments on the coronavirus crisis

25/3/20

Letters

Going viral: Socialist letters and comments on the coronavirus crisis

18/3/20

TV

TV: Noughts and Crosses

triangleMore Reviews and comments articles...


Join the Socialist Party
Subscribe to Socialist Party publications
Donate to the Socialist Party
Socialist Party Facebook page
Socialist Party on Twitter
Visit us on Youtube

LATEST POSTS

CONTACT US

Phone our national office on 020 8988 8777

Email: info@socialistparty.org.uk

Locate your nearest Socialist Party branch Text your name and postcode to 07761 818 206

Regional Socialist Party organisers:

Eastern: 079 8202 1969

East Mids: 077 3797 8057

London: 07748 534 891

North East: 078 4114 4890

North West 079 5437 6096

South West: 077 5979 6478

Southern: 078 3368 1910

Wales: 079 3539 1947

West Mids: 024 7655 5620

Yorkshire: 077 0671 0041

ABOUT US

ARCHIVE

Alphabetical listing


June 2020

May 2020

April 2020

March 2020

February 2020

January 2020

2019

2018

2017

2016

2015

2014

2013

2012

2011

2010

2009

2008

2007

2006

2005

2004

2003

2002

2001

2000

1999