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North West charities say benefits system is failing

North West charities say the benefits system is failing the people it's designed to support.

They say they're overwhelmed by requests for help from people applying for what are now called Personal Independence Payments. They were aimed at helping people live as independently as possible.

But a nurse has contacted Granada Reports after our report last night, to say in her experience the system is designed to get as many people off benefits as possible. She trained for a private company which carries out all the governments work capability assessments, and said she was told to try to 'catch claimants out'.

Tonight we're airing our second report in our series looking at the impact of the benefits changes. Elaine Willcox has been talking to someone who was wrongly assessed and to organisations who say the system is in crisis.

ITV Granada Reports has made repeated attempts for the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions to respond to the issues we have raised, and contacted every conservative MP in our region, but no one would be interviewed.

Assessments are carried out by qualified health professionals who combine their clinical knowledge with an understanding of the fact that not everyone with the same disability is impacted in the same way. Under PIP 26% of claimants are now receiving the highest rate of support, compared to 15% under its replacement the Disability Living Allowance.

– Department for Work and Pensions spokesperson

Maximus, the US company which carries out work capability assessments for the DWP, said:

'The role of Centre for Health and Disability Assessments is to provide quality, respectful and fair functional assessments. All our healthcare professionals go through a rigorous training programme to ensure they deliver to the highest standard. We take these types of allegations very seriously. We are unable to comment further on an anonymous case, we can confirm that customer satisfaction ratings are currently at 93% and we are committed to driving continuous improvement to the service we provide.”

– Maximus

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'It's conscious cruelty' - Filmmaker Ken Loach on the new benefit system

The film director Ken Loach says he has spoken to many people who have experienced the harsh reality of applying for benefits, as he portrays in his film "I Daniel Blake".

Ken Loach says the most vulnerable are being targeted and warns most people are just one pay packet away away from needing help, but it won't be there.

"I Daniel Blake" distributor is Entertainment One UK.

In April, the government plans to cut the new Employment Support Allowance (ESA) for ill or disabled claimants who are judged to be able to work in the future.

The allowance will be reduced by a third to £73.10 per week, the same as Jobseekers Allowance (JSA) and is designed to give an incentive to disabled people to find work.

The Department of Work and Pensions says, "Our welfare reforms are increasing the support and incentives for people who move into work, while keeping an important safety net in place for those who need it."

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