Edinburgh Coalition Against Poverty organises 3 or 4 advocacy stalls every month outside Jobcentres to give solidarity to claimants. Recently we have met several claimants who were ill and had been through the benefits medical examinations.
One man could barely mount the steps to the jobcentre. He was in significant distress from severe breathlessness caused by Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease. Almost in tears, he told us how he had been found fit for work by the notorious Work Capability Assessment – despite the fact that some days he could not even walk.
A claimant recounted how his partner’s mum was being subjected to frequent disability assessments, despite the fact that she was very ill and would never be fit for work. But his partner always accompanied her mum to the assessments and so far they had managed to maintain the benefits. We gave him our leaflet on Work Capability and PIP assessments and told him there was more important info on our website.
Never go to a PIP or work capability assessment alone ! Solidarity accompanying is vital. It is important to prepare well beforehand with your accompanier, working out which descriptors you qualify for. Then at the end of the actual assessment your accompanier should check that the assessor has written down all the descriptors which will win the points for the benefit.
Even better, get medical evidence so that an assessment is made on the paper evidence without the need for a face-to-face assessment. ECAP has recently successfully supported claimants to win this right.
We advise claimants to exercise the right to ask for your full medical history from the NHS. Someone we are currently supporting did this and obtained a large amount of very useful material. See here. In our recent experience the patient was able to get a copy of the form from their GP practice and returned the completed form to the practice.
We need more people to participate in our stalls – could you help with this vital solidarity work? No particular knowledge of the benefits system is needed, as there are always at least one or two experienced ECAP activists present. But it’s important we have at least 3 people at each stall so that if needed we can immediately accompany claimants into the Jobcentre, and still have at least 2 people outside to staff the stall. Plus the more people present the better, to put
more pressure on the Jobcentre.
Upcoming stalls are on Thursday 5 December 2.30 – 3.30pm at Leith Jobcentre, 199 Commercial Street. You are very welcome to just turn up, or if you would like more info contact email@example.com. The stalls are always advertised on our Facebook events page – there will be more stalls in December, January and every month….. until the overthrow of capitalism makes all Jobcentres redundant!