Get out and do something!

Get out and do something!

Loneliness and isolation are linked to poor health and wellbeing, especially in the colder months, older or disabled people can get quite isolated and go for days without seeing or speaking to anyone. Family carers also often do not get out and take some social time for themselves. You can help yourself to make sure you are not isolated by getting out of the house and meeting people at free events in Wolverhampton.

The City council puts on events in Wolverhampton parks and open spaces throughout the year.

You can find out what is on, here>

Or if you want to go for a walk, with others, sign up to Walks for Health, and meets some new people. Find out details here>

If you would rather be indoors, how about a visit to one of local galleries? Bilston gallery has a great rocks and fossils exhibit on all year.
Featuring objects from many of the town’s industries, including cut steel jewellery, bicycles and the world-famous Bilston Enamels, you’ll learn about famous Bilston companies including Sankey, Beldray and Sunbeam.

At Wolverhampton Art Gallery you can Bagpuss, the Clangers and other puppets from TV are the big draw. You can look at the original puppets, sets, and filming equipment. See how characters developed, and learn how the tv programmed did their stop-frame animation and have a go yourself. Its free, its fun, and it runs until the end of April.

If you speak a bit of French or Spanish, and want to practice it with others, there are meet-ups at the Lighthouse cafe.



Benefits Sanctions

Benefits Sanctions

In the last 10 years, over a million disabled people have had their benefits stopped with sanctions.

If this is you, and you had good reason to miss an appointment, appeal right away. You must ask for a Mandatory Reconsideration, and explain why you missed the appointment and why you should not be sanctioned.

If you miss an appointment, ring them as soon as possible to let them know why. Delay will mean it is much harder to get your sanction overturned.

While you are waiting for them to consider your mandatory reconsideration, you can apply for a hardship payment. This is a loan to help you pay basic expenses, like rent, food, heating.You have to show that you have tried to get money from other sources, and you have stopped spending money on all but the most essential things, in order to succeed. You will have to pay the Hardship Payment after the sanction period.

You should also make sure you let creditors know of your situation immediately – that means housing benefit, mortgauge lender, council tax, power companies, and any company you usually pay money to. If you dont do this, your debt will mount.

You can get some model letters to help you with all this here>

If you still need a bit of help with this, contact our advocacy service, by telephone, email or contact form, here>

Remember, DON’T DELAY with any of these things, or you will pile up the problems.

Carers under stress

Carers under stress

According to research published this month, almost 8 million informal carers across the UK are under significant stress and financial strain, – 15% of the population see themselves as informal carers, and 10% have been informal carers in the past.

So a quarter of the population is or has been involved in caring for someone without being paid for it, or with limited financial support. If this is you, and you are struggling financially or feel you have limited leisure or educational or personal time, you may be able to get services from the Council through a Carer’s Assessment. If you need some help with applying for Carer’s Allowance, or with going through a carer’s assessment of your needs, or with getting a food parcel, or managing debt, we can help you with this.
We can also directing you to cheap or free products and services you can use to help make ends meet.If you think we may be able to help, Contact us.
Check out Wolverhampton’s Carer Support website and service to see how they can help you. You can find carer’s support here>

New Blue Badge Rules proposed

New Blue Badge Rules proposed

The Department of Transport is considering widening the scope of Blue Badge scheme, so that people with less obvious impairments like autism and dementia are able to get blue badge parking.

They are also looking at increasing the type of professionals who can assess for a blue badge.

You can have your say in this consultation here>>

Benefit Appeals – what is the cost?

Benefit Appeals – what is the cost?

The cost to the mental health of disabled people who have had their disability benefits removed has been high. Many have experienced poverty, depression, and worsening health as a result of DWP decisions. Many have given up and accepted the decision because appealing is a lengthy, time consuming and emotional process.

The Government has maintained that changes to disability benefits, and reviews of eligibility have been about targeting the correct people, and removing from those benefits people who dont meet the criteria.

The problem is, as countless disabled people have have told us and others, the DWP do not look objectively at your needs. If they did, why are so many decisions overturned at tribunal? How can disabled people be awarded 0 points for personal independence payment by the DWP “because they do not require help with day to day living”, and at tribunal be awarded 12 points and the highest rate of benefit because their needs are so great?

A freedom of information request has revealed that the DWP has spent £108.1million on direct staffing costs for ESA and PIP appeals since October 2015 for mandatory reconsiderations, internal DWP review,s and appeals to tribunals.
During that same period 87,500 PIP claimants had their decision changed at mandatory reconsideration, and a further 91,587 claimants won their appeal at tribunal.

Would it not be better for disabled people and cheaper for the tax payer, if the DWP looked objectively at facts and made the right decision in the first place?

DWP not defending PIP Challenge

DWP not defending PIP Challenge

Last year, the DWP changed PIP rules for people with mental health problems, which meant that people who “cant follow the route of a familiar journey unless they have someone with them, due to overwhelming psychological distress” could no longer get high rate mobility – losing £1,872 a year in benefits.

In a recent post (found here>) we told you that a judge ruled that this was discriminatory, and not in the spirit of the law. The decision was stayed (on hold) depending on a case about the same kind of thing, brought by the DWP and to be heard in June this year.

Excellent news is that the DWP have decided not to appeal the decision, so now people with mental health problems are able to be considered for high rate mobility. According to the Government Minister Esther McVey, about 220,000 claims are affected.

People who only got 10 points – standard rate mobility – for being unable to “follow the route of a familiar journey unless they have someone with them, due to overwhelming psychological distress” will now be given 12 points and high rate mobility.
If this is you will be getting a letter from the DWP in the next few months telling you of the change, and backpaying the extra benefit to you.