The DWP boss just got a stark open letter about Universal Credit

Amber Rudd next to the DWP logo
Steve Topple

Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) boss Amber Rudd has received an open letter. It’s a stark reminder that, for many, Universal Credit is a no-win situation.

The DWP: universal chaos

The campaign group BENEFITS NEWS has written an open letter to Rudd. In it, the group details its concerns over Universal Credit. The DWP’s flagship benefit, which combines six means-tested payments, has been dogged by controversy. From a damning National Audit Office report to its links with increased foodbank use and rent arrears, the benefit has been in chaos.

Recently, the work and pensions secretary has made quite a few changes to the rollout of the benefit – even losing a court case on 11 January. But, as the Canary previously reported, these piecemeal changes have done little to really alter anything. Now, BENEFITS NEWS has issued Rudd with a timely reminder that, for many, Universal Credit could put them in an impossible situation.

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“Strong concerns”

The letter reads:

We wish you to take seriously our strong concerns re. Universal Credit and the very sick, incapacitated and disabled people who cannot work at all, but also who cannot comply with Universal Credit requirements due to the various medical/mental health conditions they are suffering with.

 

 

You appear to keep omitting this.

The group tweeted a shortened version:

Forgotten chaos

Under Universal Credit, the DWP will deem some sick and disabled people as being ready to move towards work. This means they will have to do some work preparation activity. Meanwhile, those the DWP says are too sick or disabled to work will still have to have an assessment.

BENEFITS NEWS noted that some people can’t have work coaches or assessors come into their homes due to their mental health conditions. For example, people living with social anxiety may struggle with this.

The group also highlighted that some people find tech or computers difficult. You have to apply for Universal Credit online. But this is a ridiculous situation. In 2017, 21% of disabled people didn’t have home internet access. They would have had to go into a DWP office. This could be challenging for numerous reasons, not least if they live with agoraphobia, for example.

“Harassment and discrimination”

BENEFITS NEWS explained to the Canary why it wrote the letter:

There are too many variants of physical and mental health conditions that interlink. So for the large numbers of ESA claimants or any new sick or disabled claimants… it should never have been a case of implying any could comply with Universal Credit, work coaches, Jobcentres. They should all be exempt from the draconian policy and process,. These are designed to get people into work. It should be a simple case, even to people with no medical training.

W

e deem it harassment and discrimination. This of course follows all that has been found to date, regarding this government’s poor treatment of sick and disabled, especially by UN.

How does Rudd think these people feel, to know their incapacity is being ignored? Many of these claimants worked hard, fo

r years, to the point they couldn’t any longer as their conditions render [them] unable to work. Many sick and disabled people just want to be left alone. But the DWP should award them the monies they need to live on, without the harassment.

Basic flaws

People often forget the DWP’s most basic faults – especially when Universal Credit is in constant chaos. BENEFITS NEWS’s letter is a reminder that for all Rudd’s changes, her department is still effectively questioning people’s illnesses and impairments. That basic lack of trust between the DWP and the claimants hasn’t gone away.

Read the full letter:

Featured image via Good Morning Britain -YouTube and UK government – Wikimedia

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  • Show Comments
    1. What scares me about the ‘assessors’ at these kangaroo courts, where they’ve already made their decision that you’ve scored zero on everything, before you’ve even walked in?
      What scares me more, is that they
      ask someone who’s suicidal, while they haven’t succeeded???
      Apart from the stupidity of the question?
      If a suicide attempt was successful, they wouldn’t be in this room being subjected to what can only be described, as sadistic torture!
      I am 57.
      I have been suicidal since 18.
      Hardly a week has gone by when I haven’t wanted to end it all.
      I was desperate, desperate to escape the hell off cruel parents, and evil brothers and sisters! Yo escape the rage of my fathers beatings, for doing something I hadn’t done??? Dreading every bill that came through the letter box, knowing that I’d be falsely blamed for it being so high?
      Even a high phone bill, I was falsely accused of ringing sex lines? It eventually turned out to be my younger, weird brother. But I still never got an apology?

      Every girIfriend I had , I REALLY thought she was THE one?
      I was desperate, desperate to escape the hell of my parents home. So I set up home with my girlfriends.
      But all three relationships ended, and the last ended very badly.
      Even after 20 years, I still relive the night she had me beaten up by her new boyfriend?
      I loved her so much! So much!
      I couldn’t help smiling whenever I met her!
      Yet she stood there,after three years together, and watched me being beaten and kicked???
      A girl I had been with, and lived with for 3 years?
      After all this time, I still don’t know what I did to deserve it?
      I was kind, thoughtful and romantic. Yet this is how she wanted rid of me? It’s been two decades now, and I still don’t know what I did to deserve such cruelty and callousness?
      Also, I was facing the choice, that I had no choice, but to return to my parents and siblings house.
      It wasn’t long before the torture started again.
      Eventually, I went to my doctors!
      I begged her, begged her to help me escape before I kill them, or they killed me?
      And she helped me get a housing association flat.
      All I had, was a cooker and a table. Nothing else.
      But I was free.
      I have gone hungry many times!
      During the days of the Poll Tax, (another callous and cruel policy thought up by the Tories), I went hungry frequently.
      One Christmas, all I had to eat, was two small pies? And I had to make them last two weeks?
      I was so hungry, I considered eating soap as I read that when mice raid your homes, they can eat soap as it has a fat content?
      But I survived the Poll Tax.
      I have had many bad and dark days since.
      I once tried to hang myself by the door frame, but the rope snapped. I took an overdose of pills. And went to sleep. But I hated it when I awoke many hours later.
      I have sat, with my feet dangling over a bridge.
      But slowly, I rebuilt my damaged life as best I could. I replaced all my second hand furniture over the many decades with new cookers and fridges, still with the fear, that Poll Tax bailiffs could come and take it all away?
      My first fridge/freezer? A kind lady gave it to mess she was chucking it out!
      I didn’t know you could slice corned beef?
      I survived, but still get very dark days?
      I have since, somehow damaged my back? Probably caused by years of heavy lifting working in warehouses?
      I have been in constant pain for over 13 years now!
      I get days, when I can’t even move?
      My GP’s, have been dreadful!
      I had to wait 7 years for a MRI scan!
      But still nothing?
      No diagnosis?
      Nothing!
      Just take more pain killers and go away?
      I swear they think I’m making it up?
      I am at my wits end!
      One small light in my tunnel though!
      At 55, I met and married someone. She’s very sweet and kind, and cares for me when I am bad.
      But she works full time, and she isn’t well either, and has health problems and a heart condition.
      I can’t work and I worry about her losing her job? I feel awful saying it!
      Not because we will have little or no money to live on, but she’d have to go through the same assessment hell that I have been through three times!
      I got married last year, and I was in agony, the whole day!
      I thought I’d ruined our big day as the pictures showed me making ‘funny’ faces?
      But I was in agony the whole day! And I kept telling people not to squeeze me around the waist?
      But they did!
      It took me months to get my benefits sorted!
      I was hospitalised twice.
      I even passed out in the job centre after another of their ‘interrogations’ and I ended up in hospital. They sanctioned me because they said I was being ‘aggressive’?
      I wasn’t!
      I was in pain, especially after walking miles on sticks, as I had no money for bus fares, and I hadn’t eaten for two weeks.
      After months of waiting for my benefits to be sorted, (and in the meantime, I got married and my new wife moved in with me), and after waiting months, I was then told by the DWP, that as I was now married and living together (and I did inform them), her £12k salary was enough to support us both, so I wasn’t entitled to ESA or JSA?
      All I get now, is £55pw PIP. Two thirds of what I used to get.
      I never leave the flat now, as I can’t afford to use the busses. And walking is too painful. The shops are just too far to walk. I have no friends to visit and I only leave the flat once a month to get my PIP from my local post office.
      And every step is painful!
      I get £229 a month.
      This all goes on the electricity, council tax and water.
      It leaves me with £29.
      I/we have no money for a social life or luxuries like clothes. I put what’s left towards food.
      My wife pays all the other bills.
      But I still get my nightmares at night?
      I dread going to sleep because of the nightmares!
      I hate waking up as my life Is a nightmare, thanks to the DWP!
      And there seems no escape?
      I constantly think about ending it, but I have to try to be strong.
      It wouldn’t be fair on my partner.
      I wouldn’t want her to come home and find me hanging?
      It upsets her when I tell her how I feel. But I have no one, no one else to talk to?
      I only hope, that if there is a heaven, I hope I end up there one day, and I’ll truly be free, of stress, pain and fear!
      And I hope (and pray), that I can live long enough, for the day to see justice done, when these Conservative Party bastards, such as Duncan Smith and McVey, are held responsible and face a court for the hundreds, maybe thousands of deaths they have caused?
      I just hope I can keep going, so I am not another one?

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