Monday, 11 February 2013

The letter from Newcastle. (Thank'ee kindly, Sorr, 'tis more than Oi deserve.)

At first glance, this second letter (see previous post, "DWP don't only decline to answer...") looked like good news. While I'm waiting for my appeal, I'm still being paid a benefit allowance, although at not much more than half the rate I was getting before DWP & ATOS got their teeth into me: the good bit is that this benefit is being increased in April.

But, by less than the 1% announced in Parliament. Only a penny less - they've rounded the increase down to the nearest 10p. But that really is penny-pinching. Of course, they'll say, 'what's one pee?' Well, in the light of how much they're deigning to let me have, quite a lot...

At least the increase will cover my costs, I thought... the cost of all the letters I have to send recorded delivery so that I have some evidence when DWP tell me that I didn't send this or that letter; the amount ATOS decided not to pay towards my fares (when I went for my assessment) without explaining why; the amount I'm going to have to pay for a SAR because I'm clearly being mucked me around. Of course, it'll take a lot of weeks...

Then I came to the second part of the letter. Later in the year my benefit (contributions based ESA, I think) is going to stop dead. If the letter is to be believed, the payments will stop even if my appeal goes in my favour... heart-attack time - it took quite an effort of will to realise that DWP only implied that, and that in fact they have no right yet to make such a decision. However does look like the benefit will stop if - even if - my appeal hasn't been heard yet.

There is a law which applies to DWP about how they treat the mentally ill (2010, I think). It includes not springing sudden unpleasant financial surprises. They've ignored that law far worse than this with me already, but even so... how to save the mentally ill from stress, Not.

But I forgot: ATOS' physiotherapist (I still can't believe that...) has decided that I'm fine and dandy. So they can't possibly be breaking any law designed to protect the mentally ill.

I restate: my invalidity benefit was due to me as a matter of contract. You, and the state, may believe that that counts for nothing. But breach of contract by a government remains a serious matter.

This crash-stop of my benefit came as a chilling shock. Because I'm not so well, keeping up with everything do with WCA on the net and elsewhere is not always so easy: I had no idea that the same sudden stop is happening to hundreds of thousands of people who are presently on the same benefit. How are they, we, all going to live?????

Anyway, the immediate point of this post is that the increase is so small, and will last for such a short time, that it'll come nowhere near covering the costs that DWP are inflicting on me... and I don't really know what to do...

Forgive the language, but, Bugger.

DWP don't only decline to answer...

On Saturday, I got three letters, all at once, from DWP. (That makes five since January, all from different Jobcentres hundreds of miles apart.) The first two were simply contradictory and confusing, but each of Saturday's three was a pain, on a Chinese Water Torture sort of level.

About the letter from Hyde BDC, for now, (which wasn't spell-checked)... story so far:

In my post "DWP decline to answer", 2nd. February, (bottom of column to right of page until I work out how to do internal links), I copied a letter of complaint I sent to DWP in January.

It was delivered to DWP and signed for on 7th. January. On the 'phone a fortnight later, DWP confirmed that they had the letter.

Last week I wrote again, escalating my complaint because they hadn't responded.

In Saturday's letter, they told me they don't have my letter of complaint and I'd better send another.

As the citizen said in my previous post today, below: "Anyone would think they were trying to put people off complaining."

Surreal Pt 2: Complaint to ATOS requires FoI submission?

Before Christmas I half wanted to escalate a complaint to ATOS (about travel arrangements).

I was ill, and my heart wasn't really in it, so I was easily dissuaded when ATOS faffed about the procedure. It's a good thing I was dissuaded, because I wouldn't have coped too well with what follows.

A citizen wanted to escalate a complaint and asked ATOS what to next. They said (s)he'd already exhausted the process (almost certainly incorrectly - there is an independent tier, it seems).

Citizen asks for copy of procedure.

Response? That'll require a Freedom of Information request...

To which was added, after more correspondence: ...from DWP, since DWP are ATOS' Data Protection Officers.

Citizen's dry comment: "Anyone would think they were trying to put people off complaining."


(See next my next post).

Surreal Pt 1: Banned from her own tribunal.

Woman turns up for her tribunal hearing at Acorn House, Basildon, but isn't allowed in. (She's been without payments since 2011). She was by no means the first - it had been going on for months...

Reason: she's in a wheelchair, there might be a fire, health and safety...

The interesting questions never get answers:

1. Had anyone noticed that this had been going on for months? Remember, failure to be in attendance at your own tribunal reduces your chance of a favorable outcome by 85%!

2. The paperwork connected with her case was available before the tribunal hearing. Did it mention that she would be in a wheelchair? I bet it did... and no-one took any notice.

So she's had to travel to this place, and is now told she can wait another 2 months (and travel further for the next hearing). 2 months without her money.

Was this nonsense arranged by Department for Work and Pensions? or by HM Courts and Tribunals Service? If it's the latter, that really boosts my confidence that I'm going to get a competent appeal hearing!

Sunday, 10 February 2013

I've realised I'm fighting the wrong battle.

ATOS assess me on behalf of DWP. I'm there on the basis of mental illness, and the decision by DWP that I'm swinging the lead is made on the basis of ATOS' physiotherapist's report; but never mind, I have to live with that... I can appeal, and do, and will be heard eventually.

As I appeal, I give DWP a statement forming the basis of that appeal. I give it to DWP because DWP tell me that's what I've got to do... an odd idea of fairness, that you have to give all the substance of your defence to your accusers... but that's what the law in this country has required since the present police caution was introduced...

I have to live with that too but, again, never mind.

What I do mind is that I have been misdirected by DWP - and I have been completely taken in.

I have been complaining - or more often remaining silent, since I really don't complain - of mental illness since I was a child. Recently I have declared that I am no longer fit for work and have claimed benefits (for which I'd paid a great deal and to which I was entitled by law and contract). I have a considerable medical history to back up my claim but, as it happens, that should be neither here nor there at this point.

The point is that DWP has found me, effectively, guilty (I must be guilty, because they are denying me my legal and contractual rights and they could only do that if I wasn't telling the truth). They found me guilty without any evidence to support that finding. They haven't shown wrong facts in my assertions - they've just ignored them,

So I'm trying to defend myself, in my appeal, by trolling out all the medical and quotidian evidence that, in fact, DWP already have or have access to. This is what they want me to do [and all their guidance, rules, etc, tell me that the appeal must be fought on the basis of what I can do (or can't do, though they don't want to hear about that)] because then the battle is being fought by their rules.

They have misdirected me into fighting on their battlefield.

The real battlefield is of course the issue of their contentions - that I'm lying - which they should prove. It's not my job to disprove their contentions, certainly not until they come up with some meat  (no-one can tackle a will-o'-the-wisp). Nor is my job to keep proving my contentions. Innocent until proved guilty and all that... My contentions, despite DWP's misdirection, are not the issue until they can establish at least the beginnings of a case that I've been lying or at least mistaken.


I write this for my own sake - I feel I'm on the edge of an important realisation, but the trouble is that I don't have the mental resources to follw through the implications.

I offer it in case it helps someone else's thinking, and in case you have any comments to offer to help me. If I'm behind the curve, and I've been stating the bloomin' obvious, my apologies.

Saturday, 9 February 2013

Buckingham Palace Taser.

The other day I speculated about the guy who was wielding knives who was tasered outside Buck House. I mentioned that the event was widely reported.

Now that the reasons for his distress are in the public domain (he wants the queen to help in after he was ripped off and went bankrupt - nothing to do with ATOS after all), I googled 'Buckingham Palace Taser' to see what the press take would be. After 10 pages I got fed up.

Almost all the results I found were dated 6 days ago. A few were 5 days old (a bit slow off the mark!). The only exception, precisely ONE result (not shown 'til page 4), was more recent, reporting the name of the guy and his family's feelings.

All that noise and kerfuffle, but nobody'll actually give the poor guy the time of day.

My prayer, after World Peace and Home Rule for the Chagos Islands, is that the press would make at least a token attempt not to be simple leeches.

Wednesday, 6 February 2013

Mr. Grayling and the Cycle of Violence. Part 1.

It came as very little surprise to hear that Mr. Grayling hit his children*. But after that it came as no surprise at all to hear that he had been hit by his own father**.

* (out of love!)  ** (which did him no harm!)

It’s no secret that many of us, perhaps most, have smacked our children once or twice in extremis. Most of us wouldn’t shout about it, let alone boast, but it no longer surprises me that a member of the front bench extols smacking as a normal and useful part of family life.

What does come as a surprise is that Grayling’s children are content to have it published abroad that they are smacked. Have they, like their father, decided that ‘it never did me any harm’? Or do they just have go along whatever their father decides?

I wonder why the last of those seems the most likely...

It is appalling to use children as pawns in an argument, at any time, including by me now; but Grayling cannot bring his children forward in debate and then hide behind them as a defence; so, with apologies to Grayling’s children, I here use them in the spirit which Grayling has introduced. I console myself with the knowledge that they’ll almost certainly never know about my part...

(I understand that his children are 17 and 21.)

Two broad questions spring to mind:

1) Will Grayling’s children hit their children, as a matter of policy, in turn? If they do, will it be because they were hit, and ‘it didn’t do me any harm’? If they don’t, will it because they were hit and have realised how damaging a thing it is?

2) I know nothing of Grayling’s children, but I do know that when I was at boarding school, there was a very high correlation between the most troubled and the most frankly unpleasant contemporaries on the one hand and a culture of beating/smacking/threat in the homes of those same contemporaries on the other. Might we be better able to judge the efficacy of Grayling’s hitting if we knew what sort of people his children are turning out to be?