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TOPIC: U-Turn On Sickness While Awaiting Appeal

U-Turn On Sickness While Awaiting Appeal 27 Mar 2017 01:24 #73

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Almost missed this with all the excitement::-

Ministers forced into sickness benefit u-turn over ‘sanction fodder’ measure

Ministers have been forced to scrap a drastic change to benefit rules that meant seriously ill claimants found unfairly “fit for work” were no longer allowed to take an extended period of sickness absence, even if they had a sicknote from their GP.

Under the new rules – introduced through a Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) memo to jobcentre staff in November, and without notifying parliament – claimants forced to claim jobseeker’s allowance (JSA) faced having their benefits sanctioned if they were too ill to look for work.

They were previously entitled to up to 13 weeks of an “extended period of sickness” (EPS) if their doctor felt they were too sick to work or look for work, despite being found fit for work by DWP.

This meant that those appealing against being ineligible for employment and support allowance (ESA) – with the latest figures showing that more than two-thirds of ESA appeals are successful at tribunal – had a way to continue claiming benefits to pay for food, energy bills and other essentials if they were too ill to look for work and were waiting for their DWP mandatory reconsideration*.

But the government quietly removed that option by issuing a memo on 7 November last year.

It stated that EPS was not intended for claimants who “claim JSA when found fit for work, following a Work Capability Assessment and potentially may be appealing that decision”.

The memo meant that JSA claimants who had never tried to claim ESA could be able to use a sick note successfully, but someone who had failed with an ESA claim would not be given time to recover from the same level of illness.

The new rules meant that someone kicked off ESA after being found fit for work could only submit a sick note successfully if their GP was willing to state that their condition had worsened significantly or that they had a new condition.

DWP admitted last night (Thursday) that the memo had been revised earlier this month to show that JSA claimants previously found fit for work can claim an EPS.


A DWP spokesman said yesterday (Wednesday): “The memo you highlight was issued in November, which excluded claimants who had been found fit for work from taking an extended period of sickness (EPS). This has since been revised.

“Questions were raised about the policy internally, which led officials to revisit and revise the guidance on 1 March.”


A rare climbdown but it was indefensible.
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U-Turn On Sickness While Awaiting Appeal 27 Mar 2017 06:17 #79

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There is nothing at all honorable about The Rt Hon Damian Green MP or any of the ministers who preceeded him in the post of Secretary of State for Work and Pensions.

Notice how the full force of the Tory attack is levied particularly heavily upon the the disabled (benefits) and the old (pensions).
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