‘Callous Penalty’ On Disabled

Neath MP Peter Hain has hit at what he called ‘a callous penalty’ on disabled people who will have their allowances blocked if they appeal against decisions reducing their incomes.

From last Monday 28th October anyone who appeals an Employment and Support Allowance decision will no longer be eligible to receive payments during the reconsideration period for which there is no time limit. Previously those appealing the decision would receive ESA at the lowest rate until the decision had been reviewed.

Mr Hain described changes to payments during the reconsideration period as ‘disgusting’ and is ‘tantamount to the Government abandoning all responsibility for the most vulnerable in our communities.’

Neath MP Peter Hain has condemned on the change saying ‘this is an appalling way to treat those most in need causing greater and greater hardship in our towns and village. People now face the prospect of an indefinite period without money if they seek to appeal the decision. What on earth are they supposed to live on. Appeals can take months and months.

‘The situation is compounded by the private company ATOS which conducts medical tests on disabled claimants for the Department for Work and Pensions getting so many decisions wrong in the first place and which means there are loads of appeals. Nationally four in ten decisions are overturned at appeal and Neath Port Talbot Welfare Rights Unit, currently with over 600 appeals waiting, are operating on an 80 per cent success rate of overturning original decisions – that means almost all of the original decisions on local disabled residents handled by the Unit were wrong.’

‘The Government seems to be deliberately trying to put people off from appealing the decision by manufacturing a situation where they either don’t have any income for significant periods of time and are forced to turn ever more to foodbanks and switch the heating off or apply for Jobseekers Allowance for which you have to be fit to start work right away and which plainly they cannot do or they wouldn’t be on the ESA disability allowance in the first place.’

Mr Hain has signed a parliamentary motion demanding that the Government bring forward legislation to ensure ESA claimants can continue to receive the benefit at the assessment rate while the decision is being appealed or reconsidered.