Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Atos, DWP & JC+ - the unholy triumvirate, guest blog by @hossylass

Hear no truth, see no truth, speak no truth. Or how the DWP, Atos and the JobCentreplus can’t lie straight in bed together.
 
15 years ago today I got up early, full of joy. I drove to my fantastic job, laughed with my super funny workmates, and then rode my beautiful horse. Ok I wasn’t rich, my car was rubbish, and my income and expenditure were in constant conflict, but I had no debt and I had a career I hoped to stay in for life.

Today I awoke again in tears; nightmares and pain combining to stab my dear friend Fortitude to death. Yep, I knew it was going to be shit. Just like yesterday, just like tomorrow.

Except todays shit was a slightly different variety. Today I was to meet with a nice man who promised that he would help sort out my council tax and prevent me going to jail. That seemed like a mixed blessing to be honest – I only have one unit left of my OU degree to do, and 90 days of solitude may have just swung things in my favour.

I have my doubts – after all there would be a library in jail. Just think, 90 days of clean sheets, cooked meals and library books… and you don’t even have to get up to open the door! Wowzer indeed.

But before the very nice man arrived, I decided to do the thing that had gotten me into Cloaca-Ville in the first place, and open my post. There was the now seemingly twice weekly missive from my MP, but this one was more dismissive than anything else – “I have forwarded your complaint to the relevant person at the DWP”.

Humph. Its irrelevant anyhow now Mr MP, as Atos have seemingly got the message and given me the answer via their website. Bless ‘em – who says that they don’t care? Apart from about 2 million sick and disabled people.

It’s a lie – Atos DO care, especially about getting blamed for stuff that clearly isn’t their fault. A bit like sick, disabled and unemployed people being blamed for the economy, and poor people being blamed for being poor, Atos catches crap for the DWP.

Now Atos are not without their faults. To my mind they have been a ickle tiny bit spineless and rolled over a little bit too much in their fawning to the DWP. And in return for their submission they have been savaged.

Atos DO have to pull it together as a company, they DO have to remove the renegade examiners and they DO have to find and remove the political statement that appeared at the front of their handbook , where “removing sick and disabled people from benefits was the right thing to do for the sick and disabled…” (I paraphrase, but it certainly set the tone).

So after spending a few seconds rolling my eyes about the DWP, I found a scummy brown envelope, from the DWP. Oh deepest sodding joy.

I think at this point I recognised that I must be either pretty low, drained of emotion, or dead, as my heart failed to reach the usual 3000 bpm when confronted by the DWP envelope.

So I did what every sick and disabled person does, and squeezed it a bit.

Now was it a form? Nah, too thin.

A standard letter? Nope, a bit too fat.

Contemplated that it could have been a pizza, but abandoned that idea when no tomato sauce oozed from it.

So mainly out of curiosity, and the fact it was addressed to me, I opened it.

Well what a marvellous surprise – apparently I had been voted the DWP claimant of the year and had been given a pair of first class around the world tickets, stopping at three destinations of my choice!

Well no actually I hadn’t. It was in fact my pre ESA50 klaxon bomb warning.

“Dear Benefit-scrounging-and-probably-faking-it Git. Sorry to ruin your life further, but you better ring us pretty damned quick.”

Or words to that effect.

Now I wish I had recorded the conversation for training and fact verification purposes, because what was revealed was a bit odd…

Going back to my MP, what I had asked was regarding the vague wording on the nice “Help” form from Atos. This nice “help” form is a QR1 03/11 and confused me with its vagaries of sending in medical documents with the ESA50 to support your claim.

However kindly and compassionate Atos have cleared this up for me, so armed with that fact I phoned the Jobcentreplus number as instructed on my letter.

Me: Hello

Them :Hello {dynamic so far}

Further conversation regarding them sending me an ESA50…

Me : what date will you send it, as I am going into hospital for 3 weeks…

Them : that’s ok, just tell us and we will send the form there.

Me: But what if I am there and then you send it here?

Them : tell us when you are going in and we will send it there.

Me: I don’t know when I am going in – this is rehab, so it could be short notice.

Them : we can send it there.

Me: But I might be there and you send it here – can you not give me an idea of when…

Them: No.

Me: If I am in hospital, how will I get the medical evidence I need to fill out the form?

Them : You don’t need medical evidence – you just tell us on the form how your disability affects you.

Me: I’m not that disabled, I am incapacitated with a condition that makes me ill and disabled.

Them: Just fill out the form

Me: But I can’t cart my entire medical evidence around with me, and I don’t know if I will be able to fill the form out in rehab…

Them : we can send it anywhere and you have four weeks to fill it out.

Me: But you may have sent it, and I may then get the rehab, but the form may be in the post. I will be in rehab for three weeks, and then there is the delay in posting, and I won’t have my medical evidence with me.

Them: Look, you don’t need medical evidence; just give us the name of your GP and any consultant if you have one.

Me: I do need medical evidence. Both Atos and the DWP state that people need medical evidence.

Them : You don’t.

Me: Are you sure, because both the DWP and Atos talk about submitting medical evidence on their websites, and I wouldn’t like to get it wrong…

Them : No, just fill out the form, telling us about your disabilities and how they affect you.

Me:OK

So no medical evidence needed according to JC+.

(Do you know, for ages I thought that was some Christian reference?)

But I had seeded it, on that QR1 03/11 form… it said “If you have any medical documents that you think will support your claim, send them in with your questionnaire. For example, this could be a medical report from your Doctor, Consultant or Support Worker.”

So in an act of faith in the new shiny Atos I checked their website;

If you are claiming Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) or you have been notified that your Incapacity Benefit claim will be reassessed under ESA guidelines, you will be sent a medical questionnaire (ESA50) which is your opportunity to explain how your medical condition impacts on your daily life.

The questionnaire is a DWP document and is an important part of your claim so you should try to fill in as much detail as possible.

If you have any medical documents that will help Atos Healthcare with its assessment or the DWP Decision Maker to understand how your condition affects you, please forward copies to us, with the completed questionnaire in the envelope provided.

For help in completing the questionnaire, or if you have questions about it, please contact the office of Jobcentre Plus handling your claim.


But, but, but… I have got medical evidence, but the nasty lady said I didn’t need it!

The nasty lady was quite clear about that. (She wasn’t that nasty, she was just adamant that I didn’t need medical evidence, even if I had it).

I am assuming that the JobCentre Plus recorded the call for training and fact verification purposes. In fact I am really, really hoping they have. I am also hoping that tomorrow, when I phone them again, I get the same message.

So whilst Atos, clutching a white dove in their teeth, have offered up a clarification, it appears that the Job Centre is still trapped in 2008 and not updating their scripts.

After all, they wouldn’t chose to misinform their clients now – would they?

15 years ago I woke up to a beautiful, simple, rewarding world.

Today I had to beg a stranger to keep me out of jail, and listen to another treat me like a muppet, in the full expectation that the next few weeks are not going to be in any way life enhancing, and possibly incredibly, phenomenally, a rogered-up-the-arse-by-an-angry-elephant-type vile experience.

And I have yet to search for the truth of the official DWP line, the Grayling line, The Miller line, the IDS line, the Circle to District line, the line in the sand, the line I have crossed and finally the scum line around the bath – though I suspect that elusive Scarlett Pimpernel “Truth” has fucked off round the world on my prize winning tickets.

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

Got my letter a week ago saying my esa50 will be with me shortly. In the words of tossed Hughes gis a job.
Jurid

Anonymous said...

yosser ??

jurid

Tony said...

You were lucky, I got the letter warning me I was about to receive a Letter containing an esa50 two days after I received the letter that contained the esa50.

hossylass said...

Tony, thats interesting.
yet another example of the "glitches" to the system.
I encountered another one when I rang them again - I shall blog the entire journey and as much of the conversations as possible.

In the face of evidence of "glitches" we will be able to present a case that the system is still not working.

If you want to join me on this journey and keep a very detailed record of all that happens it would certainly add to anything we may question in future.

Solidarity in adversity!

Anonymous said...

Using the term cloaca instead of s**t is really offensive, you lost me as soon as you did that. My friends daughter was born with cloaca, she's had far too many operations to count and lives with two stomas. She doesn't need adults thinking its clever to make fun of wht is an extrem.y serious and life changing congenital condition.

hossylass said...

Dear Anonymous,

Apologies for my lack of awareness.
I was using pidgin Latin - no offence was meant.

It doesn't actually mean shit, it means toilet or sewer, or a part of anatomy.

Maybe its badly named, given that naming a condition after a sewer is hardly tactful either.