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Make ESA #FitForWork

If you become sick or disabled and lose your job, you need to know that you will be supported by Government. Help us make ESA #FitForWork

If you become sick or disabled and lose your job you want to know that you will be supported. Poorly designed rules make it difficult to determine who is fit for work and who isn’t. Citizens Advice helps more people with Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) than any other issue, and in Bolton we helped nearly 400 people with problems with ESA this past year – so we're calling on the Government to make ESA #FitForWork.

The Government is now deciding which company will run the tests that determine people's ability to work in the future. Without significant improvements we risk facing another five years of failure. Change is needed now to make sure the tests are fair, consistent and right first time.

In Bolton we are concerned that this system is causing significant detriment to local people and are supporting the Citizens Advice Service’s national campaign to fix three key issues with the ESA claim process:

  • The complex and contradictory way in which medical evidence is used to inform eligibility decisions.
  • The lack of quality in reports and poor customer service during assessment.
  • The withdrawal of benefit during mandatory reconsideration which leaves many claimants reliant on emergency support.

We are doing this because of the issues faced by our clients which are unfortunately not uncommon.

Please click here to get a copy of our ESA #FitForWork report

We are calling on the Government to make ESA #FitForWork

  • The Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) should listen to evidence from the health and social care professionals who know the individual best.
  • The medical evidence required to make your case should be provided free of charge.
  • A tougher new contract so the new company providing work capability assessments will be held accountable for poor reports and bad customer service.
  • The DWP should continue to pay people ESA while a second opinion is given on their application.

Take Action ...

  • Sign our petition calling for the Government to pay claimants while a second opinion is given on their application.
  • Show your support for the campaign via social media and help us spread the message. You could use the below social media messages to let your friends and followers know about this important issue.
  • If you have experience of ESA, either as someone who has made a claim, as a GP, from working in a Jobcentre or for Atos, , tweet your story using the hashtag #FitforWork or share it on our Facebook timeline.

Use Social Media

  • Atos quitting is a chance for @DWPgovuk to make work capability assessments #FitForWork says @BoltonCAB: http://bit.ly/1fnmMHa
  • Know anyone who’s experienced problems claiming disability benefit? @BoltonCAB want their story: http://bit.ly/1fANAGN #FitForWork

Colin's Story

Colin is a single parent with a son aged 16 living in Social Housing and receives Housing Benefit, Council Tax Support, Child benefit and Child Tax Credits.

He suffers from a shoulder injury for which he is awaiting surgery and takes pain killers which cause drowsiness. He cannot use his left arm due to a dislocation with the slightest movement causing pain. David also suffers from a long standing knee injury which cannot be operated on.

Colin was claiming ESA and had a Work capability Assessment carried out on 10/02/2014 where he was found fit for work with 0 points. At his previous work capability assessment he had scored 21 points Colin sought advice from Bolton CAB and was recommended to request a Mandatory Reconsideration which are supposed to take no more than 14 days. This was submitted in March and was still outstanding 3 months later.

Because of the need for money to live on Colin has registered for JSA in the meantime. Whilst claiming JSA David has attended job interviews as required to do so and appears to have been declined due to his unsuitability as a result of his health.  When the outcomes of his interviews were subsequently discussed with his work adviser he was told to go and get a doctors certificate and claim ESA due to his condition.

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