Sanctions victory after five year battle

After a five year battle we eventually got the Parliamentary Ombudsman to recommend compensation and changes to DWP practices regarding benefits sanctions.

We worked with Rebecca Long-Bailey MP who referred the case to the Ombudsman.  Incredibly the case was rejected and then the DWP was uncooperative making it KDR's longest running ever case.

The complainant was a severely disabled widow.  Her entire income was removed when accidentally missing a Jobcentre Plus appointment having being wrongly found fit for work. 

This was during a very dark period in DWP history when staff were instructed to sanction claimants with targets widely believed to have been in place.  It is appreciated sanctions still happen, but it is not on the scale it was back in the days when Iain Duncan Smith was Secretary of State. 

KDR's client was severely injured by the destitution inflicted upon her, but thankfully recovered - many victims didn't and some were even killed.  Hence we were relieved to get recommendations made by the Ombudsman to hopefully ensure the sanctions regime cannot be used against disabled people in the future.  The DWP eventually agreed to the recommendations.

Here is the report.  The reason for the delay in getting it on here is we've been swamped with face coverings cases!

Face coverings tsunami round-up

Our main work prior to January 2021 was PIP when suddenly we were hit with a tsunami of face coverings cases. These should be simple disability discrimination claims but law firms advertise to organisations that they will deal with the claims for them on a commericial (for profit) basis. Their tactics are typically to seek to grind claimants down by spinning the claims out as long as possible and making threats of costs along the way.

We referred many cases to Fry Law who went bankrupt showing the lack of money in disability work. Thus we have a situation where large corporate law firms represent the offenders whereas the victims suffer more injustice with no remotely user-friendly route to get justice being available.

As a tiny limited company (2 full time staff and 3 part time) we could not cope with the massive increase in work. Some customers got angry with us when we couldn’t meet their expectations. Others became disillusioned that justice seemed ever further away. For many the intimidatory tactics adopted by defendants caused them to have to give up to protect their health.

Only a tiny fraction of cases (11) were settled informally with most still ongoing having been referred to other firms when Fry Law went bankrupt. An even greater number fell through the cracks where there was just no capacity to take them forward and / or the prospects of success were very limited.

Given all the above it will come as no surprise that we are continuing to have to say that we are unable to assist with all but the most extreme cases. These are where disabled people’s health is put at risk where they cannot wear face coverings and organisations refuse to accept that they must treat people unable to wear a face covering due to disability the same as those fortunate enough to be able to wear face coverings. Our previous news item has self-help resources.

As a company we are prioritising PIP as this is needed to prevent poverty and deprivation that are damaging to health.