THE boss of Burton’s Citizen’s Advice Bureau (CAB) has hit out at the failings of a Government scheme which has left many sick and disabled people losing out on money they are entitled to.
Dawn Green, chief executive of East Staffordshire CAB, said the work capability assessment, which dictates whether people receive Employment Support Allowance (ESA), left people ‘stranded’ when the tests were processed inaccurately, leaving many without income while a review took place.
She spoke out as the organisation joined with bureaux across the UK in a campaign supporting improvements in the system to stop ‘unfair treatment’ of those receiving the benefit.
She said: “Far too many of our clients are having stress piled onto unfairness as a result of this system. I’m worried that the early signs since changes were made have only made a bad situation worse.
“Since the new reassessment hurdle was introduced, we’ve helped people in East Staffordshire deal with mandatory reconsideration issues. There is a real danger that people who are fully entitled to support are denied it for at least an extra two weeks as a result of these changes.”
In the last month alone, the Burton-based organisation has dealt with 38 clients having problems with ESA, including Heather, who won an appeal over the issue four months ago and still has not received the benefit.
Another client, Claire, was deemed fit to work despite suffering from a catalogue of health problems including arthritis and a deteriorating lung condition. The CAB is supporting her through an appeal, but she has been charged £99 for medical evidence.
Mrs Green said: “This system is failing far too many people. Anyone could suddenly become sick or disabled and it’s vital that we have a strong system in place to help people cope with the unexpected. The extra red tape hurdle recently put in place by ministers before people can get much-needed support will mean thousands are wrongly forced to go it alone with no source of income.”