Report and Experience.
Alan Hartman vice chair of MUN gives a report of a patient who for confidentiality reason we have not used his name. The report is part of “It’s Time to be Heard”
About a month ago, I was walking home from Park House Hospital, when I saw a fellow User CB who seemed quite happy telling me that his benefit is safe after a Work Capability Assessment (WCA). I was a little bit concerned, attending the WCA on his own, because apart from him suffering from Severe Depression, he has moderate learning difficulties (Caused in a road accident as a teenager Obtaining brain damage) also some physical disabilities. Manchester City Council have assessed him being Severe Mentally Impaired (SMI) He had no money and was not receiving housing benefit, which could make him homeless, due to his lack of capacity, impairment, he did not understand the result of the WCA. They informed him to claim Job Seekers allowance (JSA). Every day he went to the Post Office to see if his benefit arrived.
CB had no help whatsoever no support worker, Care Manager Etc. He agreed for me to advocate for him. I applied for reconsideration though this would take up to a month. They strongly advised CB to claim JSA. We attended Cheetham Job Centre. They wanted him to fill in a 28-page form. I said to the officer he is disabled and he needs help he has a problem with reading and understanding the questions. They refused to do this, which I claimed was Disabled Discrimination. I filled in the form on his behalf as best as I could. He saw another officer to draw up a contract, which was unfair apart from being unrealistic. CB last worked 27 years ago and now 52 years old. The main condition was that he obtains a job interview once a week and show evidence of this. If he does not he will be sanctioned and his money will stopped. I did express myself and said he is not fit for work and he is forced to claim JSA otherwise, he would starve and became homeless! CB had no qualifications, but he told the officer he did, thinking that attending subjects at school were qualifications. The officer unrealistically and wrongly said he would get a job, giving CB false hope. I asked the officer if someone was obviously unfit or ill could you refer him or her back for another assessment no his said. I also asked for advanced payment, he replied might be in a couple of days. He gave me a list of food banks. The Officer explained 16 hours or over is full employment at the minimum Wage. I now can understand why employment figures say unemployment is going down. How can you call someone employed 16hours per week on the minimum wage and the figures also include part-times jobs under 16hours also forcing people to work in many cases is force labour.
Many people with disabilities especially mental illness or other mental conditions have been excluded from the Welfare State if they are refused
ESA which we all know is a very unfair assessment and not fit for the labour market they will be refused JSA.( They would not meet the basic requirements in their working contract) No benefit, No Housing Benefit means no food, no shelter, no clothing. Suicides and premature deaths are inevitable!
Not only People with Mental Health Problems and others with disabilities but people unemployed have a right to live and any country that makes a law stopping that right via a monetary system or any other system is a pure social evil and should be considered as a social crime by the state against it own citizens
Fortunately I managed to at least to turn the decision via Reconsideration for CB to ESA (Work related Group) and is now receiving benefit, but without support like so many are at serious risk.
ALAN HARTMAN (VICE-CHAIR)
MANCHESTER USERS’ NETWORK.