A while ago our team started thinking about the issues raised by Ken Loach’s film ‘I , Daniel Blake’. We are still worried about what happens to people who are not fit for work, if the DWP assesses that they are. In this situation, if they have applied for Employment Support Allowance and been turned down, they can challenge the DWP assessment. This is called asking for a ‘mandatory reconsideration’. While this is going on the person needs to either find a way to fund themselves without claiming a benefit – being reliant on family or friends or charity or claim Job Seekers Allowance and sign on as available for work. They can explain that there are restrictions on what they can do and/or they may be allowed an extended period of sick leave if they have a note from the doctor to say they shouldn’t be working. However, the fundamental issue of signing to say you can work when you aren’t is really difficult for some people – it can feel like telling a lie, or people may be worried that it will affect the outcome of their challenge – ie if I say I can work at the same time as saying I am not fit for work – what will they believe?
We are doing some work locally with RBK staff and Job Centre Plus staff to see if we can dispel some of the myths around this process and give people the support they need to keep them safe and well during the period of consideration of their claim. This will involve briefing our various teams about the rights and responsibilities and options and consequences in this situation and making sure that claimants know what they can do and where they can go for help. We also hope to make sure that all the different agencies who help people who may be affected by this know how important it is that each individual gets the tailored advice for their situation – there really isn’t a ‘one size fits all’ solution here, but experienced and knowledgeable advisers can help people to work out what they need to do next to stay well and healthy in this situation.
A good first step is to contact Advice Kingston – the Single Front Door for local information and advice on 02031660953 or check out the information on this website for more ideas and help