Carer told must go to work despite wife's injuries from fits

Tracey from Tredegar in South Wales had her PIP dailiy living component arbitrarily removed after a faulty "assessment by a health care professional".   This meant her husband was faced with the end of his carers allowance, which would have forced him to seek work.  Tracey has epilepsy and has sustained multiple injuries from fits. 

The DWP decision to remove Tracey's PIP daily living component was despite information readily available to it showing Tracey's safety could only be protected by her having a full time carer. 

Fortunately a single Kester Disability Rights letter resulted in PIP daily living being restored at the enhanced rate.  And this means her husband can continue to get carers allowance.  This was achieved so quickly that arrears were under £125!

Thousands of claimants in similar situations have to endure the full appeals regime (typically taking around a year) to get benefits restored.  This is a national scandal involving substantial risk and damage to disabled people and massive waste of tax payer's money.

First year earnings are £7,000

Kester Disability Rights (KDR) made £7,000 in its first year.  That is my total pre-tax profits for the first full financial year of operation - my earnings for the entire year.  When setting up KDR I committed to only ever making a modest salary and all the surplus would go into expanding the service, but perhaps not that modest!  Although business people say to make any money at all in the first year is a bonus.  Fortunately I had redundancy money to subsidise it with.

When agonising over whether I should set up a charity or company I thought long and hard about what to do for the best.  Both models have reputation problems.  Charities sometimes pay very large salaries to people not doing very much whilst those doing all the work get very little, and companies have the same tendency.

So I went for the company option as I can't stand committees.  And I've come up with an imaginative new name and had a sign made for my office.


DWP reducing reassessments of pensioners for internal reasons

Here is a story showing the recent announcement that pensioners would no longer be repeatedly reasssessed for PIP could be less to do with compassion and more to do with expediency.

The simple truth is Parliament never voted for claimants in deteriorating health to be repeatedly reassessed, which makes it all the more astonishing that people under pension age with chronic and deteriorating conditions are still going to be!

Challenging “health care professionals” (“HCP”) reports – average points increase from last three cases is 16

The vast majority of personal independence payment (PIP) appeals boil down to whether the claimant or the DWP’s agents are to be believed. 

My run of recent cases illustrates the point:

  • A man with renal failure going from 0 points to 20 points at a tribunal
  • A deaf man going from 2 points to 18 points after a simple complaint letter
  • A woman with complex physical and mental health issues going from 0 points to 13 points after a formal request for reasonable adjustments.

The agents are currently Atos and Capita who employ a range of registered nurses and other health professionals such as physiotherapists to write the reports.

The reports are largely based on “informal observations” – i.e. looking the claimant up and down and deciding if they’re worthy of PIP.

Bizarrely, the DWP frequently says the HCP reports are independent, even though the agents have a financial interest.  I.e. they have tendered for a contract to deliver PIP assessments and a key policy intention of PIP is to save £1.5 billion in payments to Claimants each year, as stated in the Parliamentary record.

The DWP insists the victims of these reports must report to the agents themselves instead of to the DWP, even though it is the DWP that is actually responsible.  It is little known that another option is to complain to the professional body of the person carrying out the assessment.  This can be the Nursing and Midwifery Council or the Health and Care Professionals Council.  At least this gives some independence to any investigation of malpractice in PIP assessments or, for that matter, ESA or Universal Credit.


The touch of evil at the DWP

A man with severe mental illness made homeless for not attending appointments he didn’t know about.  A deaf man unable to speak and with learning disability having his benefits removed after a “consultation”.  A woman recently sectioned having her benefits removed in similar circumstances.  And a victim of savage sexual assault having her benefits removed for no real reason at all.  And that's on top of Dave Boyce and Tina Leslie.  These are just a few examples of my cases where the claimant’s entitlement is obvious, but where administrative devices are used to remove entitlements and enforce destitution.

Having been in regular contact with the DWP, and its predecessors, over more than 20 years I've been forced to the conclusion there are now people at work deliberately hurting disabled people.  It’s like child abusers getting jobs in children’s homes, but the DWP does not appear to check its staff, nor those of its agents, for hatred of disabled people.  This, despite there being reported increases in disability hate crime of between one third and one half in a single year.  It would be naïve to think that such people could never get a job at the DWP. 

Many, if not most, people faced with this proposition will think something like, “That’s going much too far, it’s just the system and staff are forced to do it etc”.  But there’s no legal basis for most of the benefits removals I see – it’s driven by the custom and practice of the DWP.  And how does that custom and practice come about?  Because of those within the DWP – a mixture of politicians and officials, not many of course, but some and the number of those sorts of people seems to be growing, despite the vast majority of Officials of course not being in this bracket at all and doing their best etc.

But, nevertheless, there are some actions taken that only seem to me explainable by this deeply disturbing current of evil.

Looking at history, the parallels are terrifying.

Recording your PIP or ESA assessment

That DWP agents who do the personal assessments for ESA and PIP cannot be trusted.  Although some assessments are carried out properly, many are not, and some are fabricated to justify the removal of benefits.

As such it is essential that anyone having one of these personal assessments gets it recorded.  If you have to go to an assessment centre they should have recording equipment available.  If you have one at home then you should have the same opportunity to have your interview recorded as if you went to an assessment centre.  So insist on the same and get advice if they refuse.

To have your ESA examination recorded call the "Health Assessment Advisory Service" on 0800 288 8777.  The guidance is here.

For PIP you can also get your assessment recorded and you are strongly encouraged to insist on it.  If this threatens to delay your claim and you cannot afford the delay then record it yourself as happened here.

If you do not have it recorded it could be your word against theirs and you run the risk of being stitched up.



Kester Disability Rights Ltd., The Archway Centre, 6 New Road, Ludlow SY8 2NX. Registered in England number 11917856.