Problems for the least able

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THIS month, Citizens Advice Bureaux across the country are joining in a national Fit for Work campaign to ensure that sick and disabled people are not left stranded as a result of the reforms to Government support.

Recent changes to Employment and Support Allowance mean anyone who is at first refused support must wait two more weeks with no payment at all while their application is reassessed.

It goes without saying that this could leave many people in serious difficulties even if the original refusal is overturned.

The system has not only come under fire for failing to deliver accurate decisions but this problem is said to have cost the taxpayer more than £60million.

We do not wish to judge any Government policy as right or wrong but it is clear that this anomaly could cause serious problems for some of the people who are least able to cope without support.

Citizens Advice nationally is calling on Government ministers to ensure that independent medical evidence is considered by officials before making an initial assessment of a person’s fitness for work, and that any ESA applicants are not left without financial support during the reassessment.

We are also asking that assessors should face a fine if they are shown to have made an incorrect medical assessment.

Here at Lancashire West CAB, we are also writing to the MPs in our area to ask for their support and we hope your readers will back us up in this if they are in contact with the MPs themselves.

In the past year, Citizens Advice nationally has helped nearly half a million people with problems over Employment Support Allowance, very many of these in Lancashire West CAB’s area of Chorley, South Ribble, West Lancashire and Wyre.

As well as urging any readers to back us in this campaign, we are of course ready to help anyone who may be in this position themselves.

As with any other problems, anyone in our area can contact us on 01772 424282.

Chris Church

Lancashire Advice Bureaux