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County’s sick and disabled could be denied support

Published date: 21 March 2014 |
Published by: Shane Brennan
Read more articles by Shane Brennan


 

DENBIGHSHIRE Citizens Advice Bureau has joined a national campaign to ensure sick and disabled people in the county are not left stranded due to reforms to Government support.

Recent changes to Employment Support Allowance (ESA) will make it harder for sick and disabled people to get fair treatment, the top officer in Denbighshire CAB has warned.

The allowance is the financial support and help given by the government to those who are too ill or disabled to work.

The Work Capability Assessment, which determines people's eligibility for ESA, has come under fire for failing to deliver accurate decisions.

Lesley Powell, chief officer of Denbighshire CAB, said: “Far too many of our clients are having stress piled onto unfairness as a result of this system. I'm worried that the early signs since changes were made have only made a bad situation worse.

“Since the new reassessment hurdle was introduced, we've helped people in Denbighshire deal with 96 mandatory reconsiderations. There is a real danger that people who are fully entitled to support are denied it for at least an extra two weeks as a result of these changes.”

Since October, anyone who is at first refused support will have to wait an additional two weeks while their initial application is reassessed, during which time they will potentially be left without any income.

Advisers and volunteers in Denbighshire CAB have helped 680 clients in the past year with the ESA.

The new Citizens Advice Fit for Work campaign, launched last month.

The campaign aims to see a number of measures to ensure people do not miss out on ESA.

The campaign also wants to ensure independent medical evidence is considered by officials before making an initial assessment about a person's fitness for work; and ensure any applicants for ESA are not left without financial support during the new, extra reassessment.

Mrs Powell added: “We are pleased to be a part of this new campaign to get the problems sorted out for our clients. This needs to be a joint effort between ministers, officials, charities and health professionals to make sure sick and disabled people get quick and fair treatment out of this system which right now is simply not working.”

Rachel Williams, CAB admin assistant, added: “We would encourage people to contact us for help and support at the earliest, challenging these decisions requires specialist help and knowledge.”

For more news from across the region visit newsnorthwales.co.uk

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