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Sunday, 27 November 2011

Welfare Benefits Sting

Anyone claiming Disability Living Allowance (DLA) has their medical condition assessed by ATOS – a private company contracted to the DWP. Their refusal rate is alarming. According to a report in the Guardian complaints are made by some disabled claimants that their centres have no or little disabled access!

But a more disturbing matter is the number of wrong decisions.

According to the same Guardian report; as many as 40% of appeals succeed.

Another site has a success rate as high as 70%

What is this costing the taxpayer?

But something far more disturbing is on the horizon. When the infamous Legal Aid Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Bill (LASPO) becomes law in 2012, it will no longer be possible to get any publicly funded legal advice for welfare benefits. Such advice is entirely removed from the scope of legal aid under the bill. This can be a very complex and technical area of law. The removal of legal aid will cover all benefit related advice and assistance including appeals to the Supreme Court!

So we have a major problem. There is the classic inequality concern – the state has the unlimited resources of its legal departments. A claimant refused DLA by an agency that has a remarkable ability to get it wrong, has no recourse to advice.

Far be it from me to suggest that there is agenda here…

So what do we do LASPO had a severe mauling in the House of Lords last week. So might there be concessions – possibly.

But the only other advice is – don’t get sick or injured for the next few years at least.

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