Nov 072014

DPAC received this email from someone who wanted everyone to know what was going on with ESA and work providers. We have had many similar emails, but we don’t publish unless the person is absolutely sure they are OK with us doing that. All names and dates have been changed to protect anonymity.

Here we see why we cant trust the DWP (again), yet also how disabled people are being used to make money for private contractors (again), and the continuing chaos of ESA (again). A4E hit the headlines a while ago for taking tax payers money in ways that constituted fraud-we see they are still playing this game and still being served with public money to persecute people that should be left alone . But the Coalition continue to focus on disabled people as the fraudulent people- When will the public see exactly what’s going on and how many lies this Government has produced to protect their wealthy corporate friends, while they destroy everyone else’s lives?

November 2013 Began 2nd year Wrag and from  lodged request for Mandatory Reconsideration of WCA conducted on paper by Atos and received appointment to Attend A4e for induction course in December

2014  After various changes to original appointment attended the induction course with an advisor which lasted 3 hrs.  At that time made her aware that I had day hospital appointment for pain management course every Thursday through until end of August 2014 and she stated that she wouldn’t interfere with any of hospital treatment.

Began Pain Management in April and 2 weeks into it received appointment for interview with new advisor.   Attended and was told that regardless of hospital appts  am mandated to attend any appts made.

From then on in addition to hospital on Thursdays I had to go to various appointments at A4e for courses and interviews with advisors.   Being barely able to walk and having extremely limited use of only one hand due to a very rare neurological condition, I needed to take a taxi to A4e offices 12 miles from home at a cost of £26 each time.   Also, as patient transport was not available at times to suit my hospital appointments I paid a driver mileage expenses of £14 every Thursday to take me to the hospital and back.   My consultant at hospital was aware of the pressure from A4e during my time on the pain programme which included 8 weeks pain psychology.

On one occasion I was to attend an A4e Inspire course.  I asked the advisor what this entailed and she told me it was about positive psychology to motivate people and that although doctors tell people they are ill, that’s seldom the actual case.  Having a long career in law, I was immediately alerted to the implications of this especially as the course I was on was subject to my declaration to seek no other psychological (coginitive behavioural) therapy elsewhere.   My consultant was less than impressed with this especially when research revealed that these sessions were run by A4e trainers who had acquired a “qualification” on the internet. However, in the event, the invitation to Inspire never materialised.

At my last face to face interview with the advisor at the beginning of July she made it clear to me that I might as well get on with looking for a job as the dwp “would get me in the end anyway” and a few days later I received 3 appointments to attend their offices within the next 10 days.   At that time the Decision Maker was in contact with me and I advised her of the problems all this had caused  ie that it had indeed interfered with the intense demands of the pain programme, homework for that etc and the need to learn and practise stress management and relaxation and also that the cost of travel to 3 of their appointments and 1 hospital apt  in a week was more than the ESA I was receiving. A couple of days later I was put in the Support Group backdated to November 2013.

Since that time A4e have continued to issue 24 hr warning texts for appointments the following day for various courses and work focused interviews, followed up by telephone calls from the advisor requesting reason for non attendance.  I explained to her the terms of the rules re Support Group but she had never heard of them and stated I was mandated until JCP told her otherwise.   In response I stated that I had the paperwork necessary to protect me from any sanctions and had no intention of attending on a voluntary basis.

This situation has subsisted now but, to date, I haven’t made an official complaint.  The fact that I’m aware of JCP making the same demands on other people leads me to believe a complaint would be fruitless.  I have however made my local MP aware of the situation. I’m now over 60 with a long career in admin, banking and law and HR behind me and also had other skills working weekends prior to leaving school so there is little any work provider could teach me, a point which the decision maker has agreed with.  In the circumstances, I believe that A4e are processing me still as a “voluntary” attender and claiming a fee from JCP accordingly as this will be most lucrative with me being in the group hardest to place.

Other Problems encountered at A4e:
At induction claimants are requested to bring their birth certificates.  If they do not have them or refuse to hand them over A4e merely orders an Extract themselves. Work Program Guidelines state that this is unnecessary for identification (in any case who would want to hijack anyone’s place on the WP !). I was born Scotland where everyone’s birth certificate contains full details including their mother’s maiden name and details of parents marriage etc.   These certificates are kept in the claimant’s folder at A4e together with all other information from the claimant and DWP ie Nat Ins No etc making this a prime target for identity theft and when pointed out to them the advisors appear to have no knowledge of Data Protection Act.  This is extremely concerning but it’s a case of No birth certificate = no benefits.

The premises at their office at Clinton are accessible only via a heavy glass place aluminium door into a block of offices and once in there  a heavy wooden door is pulled outwards.  Accordingly, invariably disabled people have to hang around outside until a non-disabled person comes along to let them in.    New claimants are not made aware of any fire safety and during a training session there can be 50-60 people in their office at a time.

It was plain from things said to me and demands made by the advisor and from hearing conversations about other people when I was there (an open plan office with absolutely no privacy) that the staff have absolutely no awareness nor requirement for reasonable adjustments and merely treat those in WRAG and Support Group the same as a non-disabled 16 year old.

The Work Providers Guidelines give A4e and other companies the opportunity to flout the law and to treat claimants however they wish  by allowing them to “encourage and help them obtain employment “by whatever means reasonable to their circumstances”.    Unfortunately, most claimants have absolutely no idea about their rights in such a situation.

I can only speak to what goes on in A4e but, given my experience of them, I would welcome an investigation in the practises of all work providers who have the power to sanction claimants who can’t or won’t jump through the hoops they set up.


[suffusion-the-author display='description']
 Posted by at 21:59

  5 Responses to “The Great Scam:work providers, ESA and A4E”

  1. The corruption at A4e and the DWP knows no ,bounds! Someone has been on my UJM a/c, ticking boxes, `job doesn’t match my interests’. So to cover myself, I write in activity log for that job: I DID NOT TICK THIS BOX.

    Every time this has happened, I have recorded this in activity log. I tried to get some answers today from, yet, another adviser. Guess what, my comments have been removed. There is some highly dodgy goings on.

    Truly, it is about time, the DWP and A4e and all the other private work programs are exposed! Why? and how in god`s name, is this being allowed to happen?

    Sign the 38 degrees petition now:

  3. I was psychologically battered, bruised and abused by the DWP and state services in the UK for many years after I was seriously injured during a bungled NHS op. No remedial healthcare, no diagnosis, continual ‘assessments’ by mental health and then snatched, locked up, drugged then dumped. I was forced to sell my home (my savings/pension pot) because nobody, let alone a disabled person, can live on benefits – excluded from education, TV, net, social life, leisure activities = everything.

    One day after being on the phone with mortgage company (threatening repossession) and the DWP (who sent me round and round and unintelligible ‘information’ letters) I was driven out of my mind with stress and fear and committed a crime (graffiti on a public building,law court, trying to write NO ACCESS TO JUSTICE but they stopped me) and was arrested. Yes: me, not those who drove me mad, they are protected and hide in offices somewhere, can’t ever get at them because the law says things and whatever they do is right and I’m wrong. Black is white and we must believe it and obey.

    I left the UK hoping to find peace in France but am still being pushed around here. I’m sick of being told to go there, do that,provide this, I dread every letter (as in UK), my heart thumps, I can’t breathe properly and I feel sick and faint. Same as UK: don’t know what to do, try my best to comply but it’s never good enough and anyway begging so hard year after year for not enough to live on so get further into debt is no future at all.

    I have been forced to move 8 times in 3 years which has exhausted me: the most massive stress, hassle of packing, my muddle of labelling (I’ve got brain damage from op and get very confused/memory awful, don’t always understand what I see or hear) and being forced (no choice because no job) to live in places which are totally unsuitable for me,my disabilities and injuries = get injured more) I am now totally psychologically destroyed, have lost trust in everyone and everything and to top it all have totally lost confidence in myself: I can’t trust myself any more nor protect myself. I am in complete meltdown.

    The place I’m living now is really unsafe for me: I fell on the stairs and have injured my (already injured but undiagnosed) cervical spine more. I can’t find a mattress that is soft enough and am in pain in bed, all the time, but now can’t be comfy on either side due to my neck problems. I don’t understand the electricity or plumbing and am sure the electrics aren’t safe. I have no privacy unless I keep the shutters closed all the time (no curtains and too hard to open/close shutters anyway). I feel like I’m living in a goldfish bowl if I open them and whenever I leave the place: everyone can see as I go out and lock up that the place is empty.

    I’m afraid there’ll be a fire or flood (because it’s all so cack) and more of my precious things (irreplaceable) will be destroyed and I won’t even be insured because landlord hasn’t complied. I couldn’t get elp in UK before I signed lease, didn’t understand it and no choice. Couldn’t do (here neither) the inventory properly and anyway you only discover awful things after a while, I can’t do lists (memory). Agent in UK kept sending rubbish trades to ‘fix’ things but broke more and was left with no cooker or washing machine that worked but they refused to take away/replace them.

    Here I have no cooker (had to choose between fridge-freezer big enough for me and how I am (cooking very hard and often too tired to go out and shop) and cooker, I had to choose former. So for 10 months I have lived on salads, cereal and microwave meals. Yes I have money now to pay the bills (what was left after paying all my debts and mortgage off = not enough to buy another smaller place and I need the money to live on) but I can’t buy the help I need, still no diagnosis so not eligible for state help with my disability = I can’t DO all this,living in filth (too tired to clean, hurts neck/back too much), chaos, muddle and drowning in papers.

    Can’t sleep because of the stress and constant noise, I need quiet and to keep my own hours not have to try fit in with everyone else’s. Woken before 6am some days by council workers. Noiseconstant and I can’t think, over-stressed, brain overload. Living out of boxes (over 3 years now), can’t find things, get exhausted trying and dizzy when turn round to look. Eyes hurt, struggling do it all in french but no easier in UK, all gobbledy-gook to me, none of it makes sense and social security gives no benefit only heartache, fear and dread. Here and UK.

    The costs of all the bureaucracy must be astronomical, what are the totals, does anyone actually know? Why don’t they turn it round: believe us and they must prove we’re lying instead of all up to us to scurry round when they command us to? Why aren’t GPs trusted to just say to DWP yes, we need X benefit? Don’t they trust NHS GPs or what? There’s no way clerks, DWP and state should get our very private medical info. And they pass our secret info onto private companies who act as fake doctors (they aren’t disability experts nor are the computer programmes) and judge and jury on our eligibility to access our state insurance, our rights. And to appeal there’s no help and exhausts us, can’t do.

    I tried 7 times to write to DWP but drove myself into the ground, such a waste. Wonder if I can send them to you/other to go through in case any of it of use? Spent weeks trying but failed, memory and fatigue, can’t see what’s in and what forgotten. ?

    The losses to society of our further ill-health (and mental breakdown in my case) is criminal let alone the losses to us, our friends and family. But only WE get sanctioned, those who mistreat us,neglect our needs and abuse us don’t care. They claim it saves money but it doesn’t because of all the hidden costs (but which are paid from different pots?? and later, and our suffering has no value apparently, we have no voice,no power and no access to legal help and advice. They know what they’re doing and it has utterly destroyed me, I thought about suicide several times and in that place again now. And all they offer is drugs which change nothing at all but might give me a heart attack and get me off the earth. It feels like they want me to die or else they’d save me from what’s happening. I hate myself, I can’t take this any more and have no hope of anything better, way too long now. Feel unwanted, not good enough, don’t fit in, not useful, old, scarred and ugly and in constant pain. What’s the point of being here? I’ve tried but can’t escape this nightmare.

  4. Similar things are happening with Avanta.

    I was sentenced to WRAG despite the fact that I am pushing 60 and seriously ill with a degenerative autoimmune condition that is likely to kill me sooner rather than later.

    After the stress of the ESA/WCA process forced me to stop claiming at the beginning of this year (it was literally killing me, including triggering a suspected heart attack while being bullied in my local Jobcentre), I informed Avanta that since I was therefore no longer required to participate in the Work Programme I was withdrawing.

    Up until then I had been granted telephone interviews due to being housebound and substantially bedbound, however they had left me ‘parked’ for the best part of a year with their never bothering to call, and leaving it up to me to make contact should I feel the need for their ‘help’.

    From the time that I withdrew from the WP, I have been deluged with letters summonsing me to travel (about 18 miles return by taxi, the £20 fares for which are non-reimbursable) to attend interrogations and courses an a monthly, and even daily, basis. In ever case sanctions have been threatened should I fail to attend.

    Despite responding to each of these demands in writing, sent by recorded delivery, reiterating that I was no longer required to participate, (and pointing out their previous agreement of telephone contact only), each and every one of my communicatios have been ignored, and instead I am just be sent another computer-generated appointment, citing my ‘failure to comply’.

    Another curious thing about these appointments is that the letters are sent out by second class post and timed to arrive on a Saturday, and ALWAYS the appointment will be at 9.00 a.m. on the Monday morning following. Avanta is closed on Saturdays with their answering machines set so that messages can not be left. Thus they carefully ensure that I am left no opportunity to seek advice/advocacy (which they know I would do otherwise) and can also not make direct contact to discuss the matter.

    Due to this, if I had still been in ESA a sanction would have been guaranteed, as they are well aware that I am too ill to travel and it is physically impossible for me to keep such appointments. In other words I am being set up.

    So not only does it appear that Avanta is now deliberately targeting the most vulnerable as ‘sanction fodder’, but it would seem that if they are retaining my name on their books and misrepresenting me as a voluntary participant, (including generating bogus paperwork to support that appearance) then there is nothing to stop them from fraudulently claiming public funds in respect of this.

    I wonder how many dead people are also still receiving these letters?

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