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Friday, December 04, 2009

Fighting for welfare rights

A newsletter arrives from the Benefits and Work website, which is a useful resource for all elected politicians. Even though these matters are not devolved I get a fair few queries and make quite good use of the various MPs' hotlines that are available to try and resolve them.

One of the issues that has come my way recently is plans by the Government to cut Disability Living Allowance and Attendance Allowance for over 65s together with a number of other reforms that seem better designed to save money rather than help those who are dependent on these benefits for a decent standard of living and support.

I am pleased therefore that one Liberal Democrat MP, Bob Russell has tabled an early day motion that has been saved by 91 MPs so far urging the Government to drop these proposals.

Early day motions are a way that backbench MPs can show their support for, or anger about, issues of the day. They have no power to force a government to change course, but if enough MPs sign an early day motion against a proposal the cabinet knows it will have great difficulty winning a vote on the issue.

You can check if your MP has signed or not here.

The other story that caught my eye was this one about a Benefits and Work member has had their employment and support allowance suspended, seemingly on the grounds that they are unable to travel through time:

Last week our member, who was in receipt of ESA, received a letter from the DWP dated 25 November 2009.

The letter informed him that his ESA had been suspended with effect from 8th November 2009 because of his failure to return a work capability questionnaire.

The letter went on to tell our member that the questionnaire had been sent to him on 25 November 2009, after which he would have had six weeks in which to complete and return it.

It added that a reminder to return the questionnaire had been sent to our member on 25 November 2009, after which he would have had a further two weeks to complete and return it.

In fact, our member never received any such questionnaire, let alone a reminder or, for that matter, a key to the tardis.

On the face of it, this is an entertaining error by a government department that seems to be falling apart before our very eyes. The reality, of course, is that not only has our member’s ESA been suspended in the run up to Christmas, but that other benefits such as housing benefit and council tax benefit may also be affected.

Any claimant who has had to try to clear up this sort of administrative mess will know just what a nightmare it can quickly turn into.

You could not make it up and yet this is an example of the sort of casework that crosses elected members' desks day in day out.
It's well-known that Peter Black takes up alot of these cases and good to see some opposition from the Lib Dems to welfare reform.

Plaid Cymru have been the main opponents of 'welfare reform' in Wales particularly people like Leanne Wood. If there was cross-party pressure from Wales- where these reforms could have a huge impact on adding more people to the poverty line and increasing child poverty- we might be able to add weight to the case against welfare privatisation and cutbacks.
Interesting, specifically the comment: "...is plans by the Government to cut Disability Living Allowance and Attendance Allowance for over 65s together with a number of other reforms that seem better designed to save money..."

So, can I safely assume that if you've got a long term disability that requires you to have assistance in getting on with your everyday life, that, on your 65th Birthday, you will be cured?
Funny it takes a email from a group you have to pay to get help to make you write a piece, when i said the same things it was sneered at, little wonder people cannot be bothered voting.

two days ago a young French mother working in the UK for a number of years became Pregnant, the DWP in their wisdom decided because she was with child she was not available for work and stopped all her benefits including housing.

She jumped to her death, with her young child in her arms, and the baby she was expecting.

In the old days she would have been transfered to Income support but thats now dead, so she would have sod all, yes we are now told it was an error what a price to pay for that error though.

Little wonder the vast majority of this country cannot be bothered to vote and why people like me are turning to smaller parties to vote in protest
Robert, you should not confuse what is written on this blog with the work I do as an AM and a politician. Nor have I ever sneered at you.

I actually wrote to the relevant Government Minister and my own party spokesperson on this issue over a month ago. I have also taken it up elsewhere.

I am doing my best to represent you and others on this issue even though it is not devolved.
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