Jan 9, 2017
Our agents told us of a lady, that although she owned her own home and wasn't therefore claiming Housing Benefit (there is a claim for council tax relief though), she was unable to afford to pay for any heating in her home at all. Her hot water was heated using the gas boiler, so without gas, there was no heat nor hot water for washing even. The lady is in the process of applying for a Mandatory Reconsideration of her Employment Support Allowance, which she was kicked off after her last assessment and forced to claim Job Seekers Allowance while this is being looked at*. We agreed to send across £50 to top up her gas and electricity meters so she could at least have some heat again.
*Currently when a person is assessed for Employment Support Allowance (ESA) a large number of people are refused, even if they had been claiming ESA before. You cannot claim ESA without a fit (sick) note from your doctor, so your own doctor deems you sick/disabled/mentally unwell enough to not be working, yet individuals are still refused ESA. Their only alternative is to apply for Job Seekers Allowance (JSA), while they apply for a Mandatory Reconsideration (MR) where a Decision Maker at the DWP (Department for Work and Pensions) looks at the claim again. If the first decision is overturned, then the claimant can be put back on to ESA, and any monies due to them is paid, less the amount they have been paid in JSA. There are currently no guidelines as to how long a MR can take, and it can be weeks. Many times the case is overturned at the MR stage, if that fails, then the claimant has the right to take the matter to Tribunal, where a great many of the cases are overturned, and the claimaint is then paid what is owed to them, again, minus the amount they've been paid in Job Seekers Allowance. Many of these claimants would not be safe to be employed in a work situation, for their own sakes and others around them, yet the DWP states they are when they are refused ESA.
There is a great deal on TV in the UK where those on disability or out of work benefits are demonised. Yes, you will see individuals that 'milk' the system, but those individuals are few and far between. Many people stuck at home, looking at four walls on disability benefits would love to be able to go out to work again and miss that work environment. To have individuals like that on TV though, wouldn't 'up the ratings' for the TV producers, so they go with the sensationalised cases instead, and quite possibly edit the programmes to make things look even worse than they really are. Many illnesses are invisible, just because a person doesn't look sick, doesn't mean they aren't. Many people put a brave face on depression, not wanting to drag others down to that pit of despair they find themselves in, because knowing how bad it feels for them, they wouldn't wish that on their worst enemy.
So please, be kind, you are not walking in that person's shoes and don't necessarily know how they feel.