Battling for Benefits
One of BCUIM’s team members provides help and advice from a charity shop, which also operates a food bank branch, “Bridging the Gap” in Willenhall. Here’s a brief report he prepared, which others working in the same context will certainly recognise. The government’s austerity agenda finds very little support amongst economists, and its effects on individuals and families are long lasting.
“The supposed ease of moving from benefits to work and back on Universal Credit is not very evident. For someone only earning sporadically the impact of earning in one month also affects the following month's U.C.
We have also been impacted by the withdrawal of welfare rights services by Walsall Council at the same time as disability benefits such as PIP and ESA are frequently being assessed incorrectly, and having to be referred to Tribunals, with in excess of 70% of decisions being overturned at the tribunal stage. The knock on effects can be devastating, with the loss of a Motablility car possibly resulting in a person not being able to get to work. It is taking over 6 months to get to a tribunal so even if the benefit is reinstated, people may have lost jobs or fallen into debt.
I presently have over 10 clients waiting for tribunal hearings and have been involved with 4 since Christmas, 3 of whom had their benefits reinstated.”