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Unjust DWP Causes Help Requests To Rise, Says Martlesham Charity

January 9, 2023

    A charity for people with disabilities has blamed “unjust benefit decisions” and rising living costs for an increase in requests for help.

    Disability Advice Service, based at Martlesham Heath, Suffolk, helped 463 in 2022 compared to 29 people in 2019.

    Trustee Rob Gibson said the “Department for Work and Pensions [DWP] is the enemy as far as we are concerned”.

    The government said it was “protecting the most vulnerable” and it “recognises the extra costs disabled people face”.

    As reported by the Local Democracy Reporting Service, Mr Gibson said: “It is not untypical to get a call from someone who says ‘I haven’t eaten for four days but I have been able to feed the dog’.

    “These were people who were just on the verge of not being able to manage – then along came energy bills and the rising cost of living and they were tipped over the edge.”

    The charity supports residents in East Suffolk with disability-related problems.

    Mr Gibson said: “Over the past three years, the Disability Advice Service has had a 100% success rate in the appeals we’ve supported for unjust benefits decisions by the DWP.”

    A government spokesman said its disability assessors were “all qualified health professionals”.

    “Decisions are made using all the information available to us at the time, but if someone disagrees with that decision then they have the right to ask for a review,” he said.

    East Suffolk Council had provided £33.5m, from a government grant, “to help those who come to us in poverty”, said Mr Gibson.

    The charity uses the grant to provide people with essentials like a week’s worth of food, topping up electricity bills and making sure people are getting the benefit payments they are entitled to, he added.

    The grant originated with the DWP, which Mr Gibson described as “ironic”.

    The government spokesman said six million people with a disability or health condition had received an extra £150 payment last year and low-income households had “received at least £1,200 of direct help, including £400 towards energy costs over 2022-23”.

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