Friday, 16 December 2016

The Scandal of Unsupported Deaf welfare claimants.

Image result for lack of supportVia our sister Blog The Deaf PIP outlet and advice area, mass complaints have been coming in of deaf people being arbitrarily ignored or being left unsupported to apply for their welfare entitlements, with PIP in particular, a new welfare allowance designed to replace the DLA.

It is obvious the new application forms for PIP (Personal Independence Payment), was undertaken with no planning at all as to how to enable the deaf, deaf-blind, hard of hearing, and others with communication impairments, learning/literacy difficulties, poor mental health.

Wales has recently been the latest area where the DWP has begun to assess, interview, deaf and HI as regards to whether or not they can qualify under the new welfare requirements.  We know from anecdotal input already in England 3,000 simply lost their right to DLA, with no, or little recourse to any appeal, prior, DLA was an automatic entitlement for the deaf and HI.

Image result for lack of supportWhat is hitting the deaf and HI in Wales, and the BSL user in particular, is an inability of the DWP to assist deaf claimants who sign, due to a lack, or reluctance on behalf of BSL Interpreters, to cooperate or accept DWP bookings.  It appears a norm in Wales to oversee 2 maybe 3 cancellations per deaf person, with the DWP, (who are legally required to support the deaf to fill in, and understand forms).  

The PIP forms BSL users claim, are not in the format, language or grammar, and often beyond the literacy of some Deaf sign users to fill in themselves.  Because the new forms are so complex and ambiguous only professionals understand how to fill them in.

Image result for lack of supportThere was complete non-access, to advisory services from their own deaf charities, like the BDA, or the AOHL, and even the Deaf legal arm, the RAD, who told deaf they had no-one with experience to offer advice on PIP form filling, and suggested they contact other areas, e.g. the CBA, Disability advice Centres, Local Authority advice centres.  Certainly not on the mass scale the DWP was asking.  Such numbers of professional deaf support workers, did not exist to meet that need.

However, in Wales, those deaf that did approach such areas were defeated by the lack of signed support being available, most advice areas being charities themselves, could not afford to fund the pro-help deaf needed.  Traditionally many 'Deaf' by-passed these areas and attempted to use family help to their detriment, as near 85% then lost all entitlement because family/friends could not understand the vagaries of the PIP form either.

Word got around in S Wales only one area was prepared to offer some support, the RNIB, a charity that exists for the Blind.  This support tended to be arranging the DWP to interview deaf people in home surroundings, and informing the DWP of the interpreter or other support requirement they would need for the interviews to take place.  Albeit they could not themselves provide signed support on such a scale.  

It seems clear the Deaf lack the sign interpreters they need, because of low demand, or a dearth of pros available, and this has seriously affected their ability to claiming support.

Those that did use the RNIB help, often found issues developed, as meeting after meeting was abandoned due to Interpreters failing to turn up to assist.  Other issues emerged that Deaf waiting for support, had ignored the deadlines for the forms being returned, and then lost the claim for PIP by default.  The RNIB help at least ensured extensions were in place for the claims pending such support.

Image result for lack of supportSome Deaf claimants,  had 2 or more meetings abandoned as terp after terp failed to show, the third time then attempted to try and work with the DWP without it, and duly lost their claims, via inability to follow, with the DWP making no allowances for lack of support. The onus is entirely on the Deaf themselves.  It is very clear, in that the state having instigated this new allowance, made no plans as to HOW, deaf were going to comply with filling them in without help.

We asked the DWP via one example we saw, were they really booking terps or making excuses ?  The DWP showed ATR 3 booking forms for one customer complete with names of the terps and dates they were booked, and also explained they turned up, the deaf support did not.  Not their fault.  

Image result for lack of supportEither the interpreters are unwilling to work with the DWP, or, the mass interviewing of deaf people for this allowances has swamped and overcame the ability of the welsh BSL support area to comply. 

We ask urgently the DWP cease this pressured interviewing system to allow for Deaf support to catch up with it, and stop setting unreasonable deadlines the support cannot meet.  At present the DWP is undermining claims for support, and blaming the BSL interpreters in particular for failing to turn up to do the job, so it is their fault deaf people are losing support allowances.

This needs sorting... URGENTLY.    Why did no area set up for the deaf, make plans for this, when there are an alleged 90,000 sign users  ?  and knowing only a few hundred support staff in the area of interpreters are UK available ? and that doesn't include other work outside the DWP, the BSL terps  support, 300,000 claimants in England lost DLA by default, 80% failed to qualify for PIP, it's a catastrophe in support terms.

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