WE are joining forces with Citizens Advice Bureaux across the country as part of a national campaign to help sick and disabled people get the vital support they need!
The Work Capability Assessment, which determines people’s eligibility for ESA, has come under fire for failing to deliver accurate decisions, estimated to have cost taxpayers more than £60m.
Since October, anyone who is at first refused support will have to wait an additional two weeks while their initial application is reassessed, during which time they will potentially be left without income.
In the past six months, advisers and volunteers in the Arun and Chichester CAB have helped 320 ESA clients and, in the past year alone, Citizens Advice nationally, has helped with nearly half-a-million problems.
Since the new reassessment hurdle was introduced on October 28, we’ve helped people in Chichester, Bognor and Littlehampton to deal with 90 mandatory reconsideration issues.
There is a real danger that people who are fully entitled to support are now denied it for at least an extra two weeks as a result of these changes.
This new campaign calls on ministers to:
Ensure independent medical evidence is considered by officials before making an initial assessment about a person’s fitness for work;
Ensure any applicants for ESA are not left without financial support during the new, extra reassessment;
Fine assessors where they are shown to have made an incorrect medical assessment.
Carol Groves, chief executive of Arun and Chichester CAB, said: “Recent changes to ESA (Employment Support Allowance) will make it harder for sick and disabled people to get fair treatment and we must ensure they are not left stranded due to reforms to government support.”
If you need help, email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit one of our centres at Bognor (Town Hall, Clarence Road, 10am-4.30pm Mon/Tues/Thur/Fri, 10am-7pm Wed); Chichester (Bell House, 6 Theatre Lane, 10am-4.30pm Mon to Fri) and Littlehampton (14-16 Anchor Springs, 10am-4pm Mon to Thur, 10am-1pm Fri).
Our advice centres are always looking for volunteers to help us support the community. If this is something you feel able to do, we would love to hear from you on 01903 725960 for Littlehampton, 01243 866233 for Bognor, 01243 776582 for Chichester or visit our website www.arunchichestercab.org.uk.