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An Email To An MP From A Constituent On EDM 620

October 29, 2013

Spotted here. Reposted with thanks and in the hope it might help some of you when writing to your MPs on this EDM.

 

Firstly I would offer for you to read an article I recently wrote regarding my thoughts on the new rule change and implementation of “Mandatory reconsideration”. Following that I highlight some major points of concern I have regarding this that as yet I have seen neither addressed or commented on elsewhere.

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The ATOS/DWP situation is not getting better at all. the tribunals are overturning ATOS decisions at the rate of just over 40%, that means that the tribunal panels are obviously finding a huge amount of people who were assessed as fit and well for work that are patently not. Secondly, when a person appeals against an ATOS decision they are reduced in benefit to a weekly amount of £71 per week, which is exactly the same as they would get for being on jobseekers allowance, so they are not continuing to get the higher disability premium whilst going through the appeals process. So why when there is still such a large percentage of wrong ATOS decisions and also given the fact that benefit is cut to the same rate as jobseekers whilst appeals are being made is Duncan Smith proposing to remove all benefit from someone who makes an appeal??????

Duncan Smith and cohorts are planning to introduce mandatory reconsideration at the back end of October, a situation where the DWP reconsiders before an appeal can actually be registered as an appeal, there will be no ESA paid during that period of time. So, for that period of time what benefit will be paid and for how long will that period last??????

Now the only alternative I can see would be for the person who lodged the appeal to sign jobseekers, but is not jobseekers a legal contract in which you declare yourself able to work, available for work and actively seeking work, which would run absolutely contrary to the position of a person appealing against the decision in the first place and the 40% who are being found to justifiably not be able to work would be completely unable to comply at all with the terms of jobseekers. So during this indeterminate period of time which the DWP will be reconsidering, which is likely to be weeks or months, how do they live on zero benefit?

This is absolutely about shutting the appeals process down for all but those who are fortunate enough to have money to carry them through those weeks and possibly months of no money. ATOS is now engaged in re-assessing all those who won their tribunals, whilst many had recommendations from the tribunal that they not be re-assessed for in many cases 24 months, ATOS is completely ignoring those recommendations and hitting those tribunal winners in many cases before even 6/7 months have passed…. so….. this new rule of mandatory reconsideration I honestly see as being Duncan Smith and cohorts way of shutting those people out from receiving any justice at all, they will be re-assessed, declared fit and well and then placed into the limbo of mandatory reconsideration where they will not be able to obtain benefits and that limbo is likely to last months.

But…… At the point of mandatory reconsideration the claimant has already made the decision to appeal and has effectively done so in writing. Now as far as I am aware the DWP`s role during mandatory reconsideration is not to actually decide if the claimant can make an appeal, it is to reconsider its position and to decide whether it stands by its initial position or not, which means mandatory reconsideration is nothing more than an integral part of the appeal process and the point where the DWP is doing nothing more than looking back over its role, ATOS`s role and whether it still feels it is justified in the decision it has arrived at.

So even whilst the DWP is engaged in mandatory reconsideration, this in reality is not a different part of the appeals process, the DWP is not deciding as to whether the appeal itself is valid, the appeal is absolutely valid from the point it is made and the DWP has no right to deny that validity and the claimant has an absolute right to proceed to tribunal for a ruling……. so…….

On what basis is Duncan Smith and cohorts actually removing this integral part of the appeals process and defining it as being outside of the appeal process in the first place? It is not outside of the appeal process, a claimant once filing the appeal has filed an appeal from the point in time they file it and that appeal then runs until either the tribunal rules on that appeal or the claimant of their own volition withdraws the appeal, the DWPs role in mandatory reconsideration is merely double checking its own position, it cannot deny the appeal or stop it, its role during mandatory reconsideration is not that at all…. So I would submit that from a legal standpoint and absolutely from a moral standpoint that the appeal period is absolutely from the very day it is filed and runs until the very day that the tribunal makes a decision on it, in which case the assessment rate should apply throughout.

Anyone who cannot see what is going on here is either completely dumb, in denial or being wilfully evasive, this mandatory reconsideration is degenerate, designed to suppress individuals ability to appeal, punish them if they do and I am pretty sure is designed to address those who have already attended tribunals and won in a second round of ATOS/DWP/Duncan Smith and cohorts culling.
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The further thoughts I have on this are as follows.

I am certain that ATOS is re-assessing many individuals that were already assessed, had been to tribunal and obtained decisions in their favour. As those people have already been through the process before, plus that many of them are being dragged back into the process very quickly following their tribunal hearings, it stands to reason to assume that many of them are truly ill and there will absolutely be amongst those many that contest and appeal against decisions that they are fit and able to work. I do not believe that ATOS is getting its assessments right at all, the alarmingly high proportion of tribunal decisions ruling against those assessments, nearly 40% of them, is absolutely a clear indication of this. Let`s be frank, I do not believe that those tribunal panels are made up of bleeding heart types who are overturning those assessments emotionally, tribunals do not work that way at all, they are overturning them because they are wrong, simple as that. These people, who are considerable in number, are going to be discarded and destroyed under the new mandatory reconsideration rule change.

The many tens of thousands that are put in this position and who would go on to successfully challenge those assessments in tribunal are going to be genuinely and severely ill, they will be cut off from ESA and absolutely unable to comply with the stringent parameters of jobseekers, we are talking considerable numbers of ill and vulnerable people who at very low points in their life could absolutely do without the extra stress that the removal of every single penny of benefit will bring.

Now correct me if my understanding of this is wrong, but to also have state assistance to certain other benefits requires initially for the individual to be on either ESA or Jobseekers. So, council tax benefit will be removed for those who find themselves in this position will it not and whilst they have absolutely no money coming in at all, they will be accruing council tax debt at the full rate will they not? The vast majority if not all of these will also be on medication and in many many cases multiple types of medication, to obtain free prescriptions again an individual must I believe be on ESA, Jobseekers or have some form of exemption, again these considerable amount of people are going to be placed in a situation where they have no money at all, yet for their health and maintained well being they somehow have to find £7.85 per prescription item, then we also have rent and mortgage relief which I believe will be the same and finally off the top of my head, this would also affect ophthalmic tests and prescriptions too would it not?

From the perspective of the 40% who are being found unfit for work by the tribunals this is a very ill thought out rule change. The trouble is I suspect that the driving notion behind this rule change is to push people off of ESA, onto jobseekers and into work, which is a ludicrous proposition and more importantly, callous in the extreme for that 40% that even the tribunals are declaring unable to comply with that. Mandatory reconsideration is going to trap that 40% in an impossible and un-survivable position, mandatory reconsideration is highly likely to be a process that lasts months in duration and this rule change is going to destroy tens of thousands of people, highly likely kill quite a few and no doubt at all we will see suicides, total mental collapse of many and even homelessness too arising from it…. It should urgently be stopped and returned to the previous position where those that appeal against their decisions travel through uninterrupted due process of appeal to tribunal on the assessment rate of £71 a week at is has been until now.

One Comment leave one →
  1. sharon permalink
    October 29, 2013 9:04 am

    I AGREE and have been through all of IDS rules and regs I was stopped High Mob even though the ATOS Doctor said I would get high and high. I thought from January this year and am just getting all the back pay as after appealing they said they changed their mind and I could get High Mob back and low care. Due to 7 years of mobility and a MRI in Dec 12 proof of degenerative spine etc etc I said no I am appealing again and before tribunal got reconsidered to High and High woop woop. This took 10 months of credit card housebound
    absolutely broke Husband working every hour god sends.
    I Won the only thing is thank god I had the fight in me. The Savvy to fight and my M.P ??? who sent a couple of letters which did give me the edge but he only wrote when I demanded. A fantastic charity V.A.W.K who backed me 100% and the Fight back team on face book for template letters and guidance to the laws of IDS.
    Finally you can get a zero income which won’t feed you but will keep the housing benefit and council tax going. You might die of starvation or hyperthermia but you will not be homeless yet.
    I loathe the evil coalition for their snidely laws they push through and only to stop us the sick and disabled fighting. I think more money is spent on appeals than the actual benefit.
    Hold the government to account and punish them for their dictatorship and propaganda.
    RAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA

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