Granada investigates the benefits system

In a series of special reports, Granada Reports looks at the current benefits system.

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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

The benefits system: a special investigation

Organisations say they're being overwhelmed trying to support people denied benefits and claim the system is in crisis.

Bradbury Fields in Liverpool works with those with sight issues and says too many people aren't being properly assessed.

Phil Longworth is the Chief Executive.

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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."

Daughter's anger after her dad died waiting for assessment

Abbie's father James Harrison was a Community Centre manager in Liverpool for 35 years but his health deteriorated when he was made redundant.

Doctors disagreed when he was declared 'fit for work' after a Work Capability Assessment, even though he had a serious lung condition and depression.

He died of heart failure still waiting for a second medical assessment to prove he was ill after Job Centre staff wrote to his GP telling them not to issue him any more sick notes.

His daughter has been speaking to Elaine Willcox:

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."

'Degrading and cruel' - claimants view of the benefit system

James Harrison who died after being passed 'fit for work'. Credit: ITV Granada

James Harrison died after Job Centre staff wrote to his GP telling them not to issue him any more sick notes.

He was a Community Centre manager in Liverpool for 35 years but his health deteriorated when he was made redundant.

He was declared 'fit for work' after a Work Capability Assessment, something his doctor disagreed with, even though he had a serious lung condition and depression.

He died of heart failure still waiting for a second medical assessment to prove he was ill. His daughter Abbie said he was forced to use a food bank and was made to feel 'degraded and ashamed'.

The film director Ken Loach has made a film to show the harsh reality of applying for benefits in his film "I Daniel Blake'.

In April, the government plan 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.

Ken Loach says the most vulnerable are being targeted by the new 'benefit reform'.

His film "I Daniel Blake' follows two benefits claimants plunged into poverty, its distributor is Entertainment One UK.

This week on Granada Reports we will be taking to claimants who've had their benefits cut, the charities trying to support them and those forced to go to court to prove they are ill.

Mark Atkinson, chief executive of Scope said "We know that reducing disabled people's incomes won't help halve the disability employment gap. It will just make life harder"

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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