A tale of welfare reform destitution

by Ellenor Hutson



I recently spoke to a man, let’s call him John, who, despite serious illness had not received a penny in benefits for over six months.

John had made a claim for Employment and Support Allowance, the benefit for people who have “limited capability for work” a year or two ago.  He was asked to attend a medical assessment and the claim was refused. He had not scored sufficient points on the “work capability Assessment.”

John entered an appeal. The case went to tribunal. He attended the hearing without representation and lost. He made a claim for Jobseeker’s Allowance instead.  After signing on a few times a jobcentre worker told him he was “not well enough” for Jobseeker’s Allowance and closed the claim.

John claimed Employment and Support Allowance again. The claim was accepted but the Department of Works and Pensions (DWP) refused to pay out until he had been reassessed. They were unable to tell him when that might be.

When I started out in welfare rights, a case like this would be unheard of. Now, it’s commonplace. I invite you to read my opening paragraphs over again. Look at the effort John has put in. Imagine how difficult this would have been for a sick man. Ask yourself if there is anything more he could have done. Now imagine how many others are slipping through those same gaps.

To explain how this has happened will need the rest of this article and will take us to the very beginnings of the current run of “welfare reform”.

Welfare Reform Act 2007

Full article at Bella Caledonia