Thursday, 5 November 2020
B - Benefit Entitlement
Many factors affect entitlement to benefits, even if you think you're not entitled it's worth checking. For any information or help regarding this please contact our advisers on 03004568437 or on our website www.nedcab.org.uk
Tuesday, 3 November 2020
Our campaign to bring about change to the Personal Independent Payment (PIP) and Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) system
This year at Citizens Advice North East Derbyshire we are campaigning to raise awareness of the issues with Personal Independent Payment (PIP) and Employment and Support Allowance (ESA), with the aim of bringing about change to the current system.
One of our roles at Citizens Advice is to provide support to people entitled PIP or ESA, and we have witnessed increasing numbers of people who are struggling with the claims process. It is not uncommon for us to hear from clients who have been reduced to tears during the assessments and the whole process has a serious impact on the mental health of claimants with existing mental health problems, many of whom describe feeling suicidal due to the experience.
There are several main problems with the current system:
1) * Both PIP and ESA assessments involve a medical assessment carried out by a third party contracted to the DWP, and these ‘Health Care Professionals’ (HCPs) are the source of many of our clients’ problems with the process. The major issue is the frequent disparity between the report produced by HCPs and our clients’ experiences in the assessment. Our clients often tell us that issues have been overlooked, exaggerated or misconstrued, and claimants are often made to feel as though they are in the wrong or lying about the severity of their condition. Resultantly, reports end up failing to provide an accurate reflection of how a condition effects the claimant.
* We also have concerns regarding the process for challenging and appealing unfavourable PIP or ESA decisions. The initial stage, called mandatory reconsideration, often feels like a pointless exercise designed to reduce the number of people take complaints further. We have found that in the majority of cases, a full reconsideration is not given. This means that the original decision is usually left unchanged.
* It can take as long as six months before an appeal is heard due to the backlog in the tribunal service. During this time, our clients have severely reduced income, driving them into debt and poverty. Clients frequently have to rely on food banks and charitable assistance because there is no quick resolution to their problems, and this can result in a deterioration to their health conditions, particularly in the cases of those with mental health problems.
The Department for Work and Pensions must improve the current system. We are appealing to our local MPs to bring attention to these problems in the House of Commons and bring about change to the PIP and ESA system, which will make a real difference not only to the lives of our clients in North East Derbyshire, but to claimants all over the UK as well.
Monday, 2 November 2020
A-Z Advice (A)
Monday, 26 October 2020
Q: I have been made redundant but my employer is advertising my old job, was my redundancy fair?
A: Redundancy is when a job no longer exists; this may be for a number of reasons, for example if the employer needs to restructure and the job is abolished, new methods mean that the position is no longer required, or the employer changes the work they do. Employers must do what they can to avoid making staff redundant; this includes offering employees at risk of redundancy an alternative role within the business.
If a role is the same as, or similar to, one which you were performing you may be able to claim unfair dismissal because it may be the case that the employer failed to find you alternative work rather than make you redundant.
It is possible that the circumstances within the company have changed since the redundancy took place, which meant that the redundancy was genuine at the time but the company are now able to take on additional staff.
Regardless of how long you were employed for you should always ensure that you were not made redundant because of discrimination (based on race, age, sexuality, disability or other protected characteristics), if you are concerned that you were you should challenge the redundancy and consider a discrimination claim.
Before beginning an employment tribunal claim you need to speak to Acas (www.acas.org.uk) to start the early conciliation process.
Friday, 23 October 2020
For Black History Month, we are highlighting the great work done at a national level by Citizens Advice in the past. The following article was originally published in 2018 by Sue Edwards of Citizens Advice national office.
In August 1972, General Idi Amin, the then president of Uganda, ordered the expulsion of the Asian minority population of Uganda. As many were British citizens, Idi Amin insisted that the UK Government help him with the expulsion. In the end about 30,000 came to the UK.
We were asked to help meet planeloads of refugees at Stansted Airport to help them with documentation and ensure that they had a roof over their head. The first flight, which arrived on 17 September 1972, was full of people who had been subjected to harassment, maltreatment and theft on the way to Entebbe airport. They were in a state of shock when they landed.
During the first days over half of the refugees arrived with the intention of proceeding to private destinations and the CAB teams had to find out whether families could be collected, if they had enough money for fares and enough English to enable them to travel independently. Most of the planes arrived in the early hours of the morning and many of them were full of people who were in a state of shock, so it was hard and stressful work.
For example,CAB workers had to meet people from a plane which had been loaded with passengers and luggage at Entebbe when the Ugandan authorities objected to something concerning the last family who should have joined the flight. All the passengers and luggage were taken off the plane and searched again with consequent delay. On another occasion the women and children were all put on one plane and the men were held and then put on a second plane, with the result that the women were completely hysterical with fear on their arrival.
One of the CAB workers who helped at Stansted said, "These were people who had been frightened and intimidated, lost their homes and possessions, often their businesses and livelihoods, many even told of being stripped of their personal jewelry. We tried to make the bureaucratic process as human and as friendly as possible - just CAB on a large and concentrated scale.”
Many refugees ended up in resettlement camps where other CAB workers were involved when they arrived. CAB workers in camps in Lincolnshire found most urgent need was for maps. “These people had been snatched from their homes, transported across continents, bundled into coaches and trains, and now they wanted to know where they were!” British Rail supplied rail maps - useful for workers to point out relative position of camps and where their relatives might be living.
As a person of mixed race ethnicity (my dad is black and my mum is white) I have experienced racism throughout my life; probably not what you’d expect however. Through my personal dealings with prejudice and general negativity towards the colour of my skin I’ve learned that racism isn’t straight cut, it comes in many forms and effects more than just the person with the darker skin it’s being thrown at.
The most noticeable and frequent situation I have found myself in is the negative opinion many people carry towards my mum when they see us together. I can see people staring at us with disgruntled eyes and disappointed frowns as if the fact a white woman had a child with a black man is an issue of her lack of self-respect. This is not the case, if you believe this awful preconceived idea please try your best to let it go and understand that mixed race children are not a result of a ‘tacky’ women and ‘lesser’ man letting go of morals and respect. It may sound dramatic but it’s true, because of me simply existing people hold my mum in a lower regard. Sometimes people can’t even bring themselves to believe I’m her biological daughter; assuming she adopted a disadvantaged child from a life destined for nothing very impressive.
The assumption I am not my mum’s biological child has always hurt me. At times I’ve felt as if I’m not good enough to be wanted, mostly though it just leaves me confused- no one doubts the legitimacy of my biological relation to my dad so why is it a difficulty to accept and understand when it comes to my mum?
If a person was to ask me how racially motivated negativity affects me personally I would have to say guilt. People’s stereotypes that influence the respect they have for my mum ultimately makes me feel guilty because in their eyes it’s my fault that they can’t respect her. You see racism isn’t just shouting abuse or throwing punches it can be more.
In school whenever topics of race are discussed all eyes are on me. It’s never enjoyable to be stared down for any reason and trust me this equally as horrible. I understand there is no malicious intent but it makes me feel as if my personality traits, interests and opinions are not the things that define me- my skin tone is, because no eyes are on me when my favourite film is brought up. It’s as if what makes me who I am is stripped away and gone unrecognised because the only important fact is my ethnicity. It makes me feel like just another one of many, I’m not an individual. I want to be more than the person who’s ‘allowed’ to answer the questions.
I know a lot of what I’ve spoken about has been in the past tense but that’s not the case. I experience these few of many acts of prejudice often and I don’t expect it to stop but I hope that with everything happening at the moment for the Black Lives Matter campaign the less known problems can be unsurfaced. At the end of the day everyone in and connected to the black community simply wants to live their lives with equal respect, consideration and opportunities; I included.