Oct 5, 2016
A couple finding themselves without their expected Employment Support Allowance payment rang the DWP to find out why this hadn't been paid in, only to discover that their ESA payments had been stopped on the 22nd September, a form for them to fill in had been sent to them on the 26th September, along with a reminder to fill in the form on exactly the same day! To stop the ESA payments without allowing adequate time for the claimant to fill in the extensive form (usually a month is allowed to complete and return this) let alone before they'd even received a form to fill in is not normal DWP policy. They admitted to the claimant that this should not have happened, but the decision to reinstate the payments and allow time for a new form to be sent, completed and returned would be up to a decision maker to decide on, not the person that answered the phone at the DWP. Unfortunately, this meant the claimant would be without any money to be able to buy food. Both the claimant and her partner are diabetic and have to take their medication with food, otherwise it would cause them problems. To not take the medication would be worse as it could case them further complications
Thankfully the claimant had had the sense to contact her Housing Association for a nil income form, to cover her housing benefit and council tax relief payments, as the ESA payments stopping, would have triggered these payments to stop also.
We decided this was a critical case and needed an urgent decision, so we agreed to send them £150 to allow them to purchase some food and have some money available until the DWP could sort this mess out and reinstate their payments. She and her partner were both moved to tears to the generosity of strangers, willing to step in and lend a hand at such a scary time.
This case for us was very alarming as many people do not have a buffer of money to fall back on as most are living from one benefit payment to the next.