Friday, September 11, 2009

More tales from the benefit queue

Has the Department for Work and Pensions run out of money for paying benefits? I'm left wondering. For the second time in a month, my ESA has failed to arrive in my bank account on the due date. The last time it happened, I called the DWP and was told ' it's a national computer problem - we don't know why or what causes it'. They said they knew about my missed payment and had already manually rescheduled the payment. It arrived 5 days late.

I asked what would happen if I had no money whatever and could not fall back on savings till the money was in my account. "You can go to your Job Centre and get a crisis loan". Oh yes, more bureaucracy.

WHY is this happening? WHY are people who rely on benefits to pay bills and feed themselves, be treated in such a throwaway manner? What are the problems with the payments system and when are they going to be fixed - Yvette Cooper you should tell us, it's your ship and your watch!

I also received the paperwork about my ESA appeal. When I read what the so-called health professional said I was incredulous. Was this the same medical assessment I attended or did this report talk about someone else?

For instance, one part of the medical assessment procedure referred to my ability to squat and kneel. I can kneel and get up again only with difficulty because of pain in my knees. I demonstrated at that assessment that I could only kneel and get up by leaning on the furniture and not taking all the weight on my knees. I also said I could not squat or sit cross legged at all. In the report I was stated as having no problems with these movements.

On my original form, I had left a number of boxes blank - probably due to the depressed state I was in. The assessment did not re-visit those questions, it simply made assumptions about the answers.

Statements were made about my hypothyroidism which demonstrated clearly that the assessor had no detailed knowledge about this condition, its symptoms or its effects and therefore was inadequately qualified to make any accurate assessment of my ability to work. She was a nurse, not an endocrinologist, or even a GP. The vet I take my cat to would have done a more competent assessment.

The most telling part of the whole report was the part that replied to my challenge that the assessor was incompetent to do the job, that it was not necessary to have a doctor's qualification to become an assessor making judgements about someone's ability to work. How long before we return to having butchers as NHS surgeons to save money?