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“My support worker called JCP and was passed to at least 3 different people ... We were given the name of a new adviser, who wasn't available to speak to us.We asked if she could give us a call to explain the situation but I’m not hopeful” she says.“I'm not able to call them or deal with them without experiencing symptoms of panic.” That Sarah is now physically unable to even get to her work programme provider’s offices due to Seetac moving to an area that’s inaccessible to her by public transport is only adding to that stress.
120 disabled people receiving JSA have had their benefits stopped for three years.
I reported in October the Work Programme’s failure to help disabled people gain employment; things as basic as making an effort to find them suitable work or understand that, when you’re dealing with claimants with health conditions, some days an appointment will be missed as they will be too ill to get up.
There’s also concern that the disabled and long-term sick having to enter a system not designed to cope with claimants with poor health will leave them vulnerable to sanctions.
As Sharon Brennan points out on her blog ‘Diary of a NHS buff’, statistics of sanctions against JSA claimants show that every month 12% of job seekers are referred for sanction. Long-term sick people are having their benefits sanctioned ...
This means the number is set to have doubled from the year before.
11, 000 sick and disabled people had their ESA penalized in just seven months – either for not participating in work related activity or missing a meeting with the Job Centre.
“Seetec has rarely if ever returned my support worker’s call or emails.” She adds she’s normally able to use the phone herself but due to the stress of sanctions and inappropriate work activity, she now needs her support worker to make contact for her.
“I developed an anxiety disorder because of the treatment I've received at JCP and Seetec,” she says.
Put this together with an increase in sanctions, and the system’s failings are now seeing sick and disabled people losing parts of their benefits.