Terminally Ill ? DWP Gets A Rocket For Delaying Decisions / Payments!

**Ministers urged to speed up review of benefits for terminally ill.

Thousands of people have died before being able to access welfare payments, charities say.**


**_Charities have called on the government to speed up a promised review of welfare support for terminally ill patients after it emerged that 2,000 people have died over the past six months while waiting for benefit payments.

They accuse the government of making practically no progress in the six months since it announced a “fresh and honest evaluation” of the benefit system would ensure it was more responsive to the needs of patients nearing the end of their life.

Campaigners had demanded law changes after thousands of people who had just months to live were unable to access benefits, often finding their claims bogged down in bureaucracy and unnecessary health assessments.

Current benefit rules state that claimants can only get their benefits fast-tracked if a doctor says they have less than six months to live – campaigners argue this is too restrictive, and want the definition widened to ensure benefits can be accessed as soon as a terminal illness diagnosis is made> .

Government figures suggest 10 people a day in England, Wales and Scotland die before receiving their Personal Independence Payment benefits – a sum designed to help ill and disabled people with the extra costs of their conditions.

The then work and pensions secretary Amber Rudd promised in July to review the policy in consultation with claimants and doctors. She said she wanted people “to have confidence in what we do at the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP), ensuring no one is suffering unnecessary hardship at this especially difficult time”.

However, charities are becoming frustrated with what they consider the glacial pace of progress at the DWP, especially as the Scottish government is introducing a law change this year to ensure anyone diagnosed with a terminal illness can get fast access to benefits.

Matthew Reed, chief executive of the Marie Curie charity, said the new government’s clear Commons majority meant it had “no excuse not to act fast to stop 10 more people dying every day without the support they need. It’s time now to get this done.”

Jo Lynton spent months unsuccessfully trying to claim benefits for her husband, Mark, before he died in July 2019 after just 23 weeks with motor neurone disease. “It was very frustrating, very upsetting and emotionally it was a very difficult time,” she said.

“Claiming benefits was horrendous. We were entitled to claim income support of £50 a week and council tax benefits. I couldn’t get either of those because I couldn’t get anybody from universal credit to answer the phone.

“We were on hold for 50-60 minutes and I couldn’t be on hold for 50 or 60 minutes because my husband could choke on his own saliva so what was I supposed to do? Tell him to choke quietly as I’m waiting on the phone to get £50 a week?

“I would just sit and cry because there was nothing I could do. We needed the support and we just couldn’t get it and there was nothing I could do about it.”

Sally Light, chief executive of the Motor Neurone Disease Association, said: “The announcement of the review into access to benefits for people with terminal illness, including MND, gave us some optimism that things would change. But, six months on, we are no further forward and people are still dying without the financial support they need and are entitled to.”
A DWP spokesperson said: “We recognise how devastating dealing with a terminal illness can be, and the impact it can have on families. This evaluation of support for people nearing the end of life is an absolute priority for us.

“This vital work is well under way and we are working closely with medical professionals and charities like Motor Neurone Disease Association and Marie Curie.”_**

Maybe a different approach is needed. If a hospital consultant could have a form from DWP and send it off on the day the terminal illness was given, surely that could cut through all the bureaucracy?

After all, when someone dies there is a “Tell us Once” system for the person who registers the death.
Surely we could treat the living better???

Better still , complete form online … with the DWP within minutes … add NI number to ensure a quicker response ?

**5,000 people died before being repaid over benefits error.

UK campaigners condemn " National scandal " affecting ill and disabled claimants.**


**_Five thousand people died before they could be reimbursed for a government error that left chronically ill and disabled benefit claimants thousands of pounds out of pocket, it has emerged.

Approximately 70,000 claimants were originally estimated to have been underpaid about £340m between 2011 and 2014, after being transferred from older benefits on to the employment and support allowance (ESA) during a government overhaul of incapacity benefits.

But figures released on Thursday, which showed 5,000 ill and disabled people died before receiving the money they were owed, were described as a “national scandal” by Marsha de Cordova, the Labour MP and disability rights campaigner.

The government has been conducting a review of cases potentially affected by the error, which arose when some people who were receiving incapacity benefit and severe disablement allowance had their claims converted to contributory ESA.

However, officials at the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) failed to follow their own legal guidelines governing the transfer process, meaning that in many cases they failed to properly check claimants’ full entitlements.

The ESA failure was overseen by the then Conservative former secretary of state for work and pensions Iain Duncan Smith, who was in post for all but the last few months of the period covered by the report. The current housing minister, Esther McVey, was a DWP minister between 2013 and 2015.

Evan Odell, a researcher at Disability Rights UK, said: “That 5,000 disabled people were denied the proper support to live independently before they died is scandalous, as is the 112,000 people who had had to wait years for these errors to be corrected.

“To make matters worse the problems with the employment and support allowance system that have led to hundreds of millions of pounds of arrears payments are still present. Seventy-five per cent of ESA applicants who appeal DWP decisions to the social security tribunal win; this case is merely one more piece of evidence showing how ESA is not fit for purpose.”

Marsha de Cordova MP said: “It is a national scandal that a decade of delay has meant that 5,000 ill and disabled people have died before receiving the money that they were owed as a result of ESA underpayments.

“The government must now speedily complete the remaining reassessments for the thousands of people still waiting so that everyone who has lost out receives payment as quickly as possible.

“The Conservatives have consistently failed sick and disabled people. The continued delay in righting this wrong is disgraceful.”

In 2018, a cross-party group of MPs criticised the DWP’s “culture of indifference” after it took six years to correct the error .
The cost of fixing the error, which a public accounts committee’s report said stemmed from a string of avoidable management failures, was expected cost the DWP at least £340m in back payments to claimants and £14m in administrative costs.

The figures showing that 5,000 of those affected date from 12 January 2020. The DWP expects them to change as staff continue to work on the exercise to check potentially affected cases.

The DWP has been approached for comment._**