We need a welfare system based on needs not moral judgements

Helen Duddy
Helen Duddy

#stuc19 Congress condemned Universal Credit and called for a welfare system based on needs and not moral judgements.

Supporting this call, UNISON’s Helen Duddy gave a moving account of her own family’s harrowing experience of Universal Credit, when her 21 year granddaughter Leanne was diagnosed with terminal cancer.

This really brought home to delegates the insensitive and uncaring approach of those delivering universal credit.

Helen explained that Leanne was issued by her GP with a form to confirm her terminal diagnosis – this was then sent to DWP and on to the Universal Credit Department. Despite this, the DWP wanted to interview Leanne, even suggesting they could use a wheelchair when they were told she could not leave her bed.

Helen continued, “An experienced social worker at Beatson Oncology Centre and my daughter, Leanne’s mum, contacted the Universal Credit Department where they had to endure a long and complicated assessment/interview process.

“They had to explain that Leanne was not fit to complete the assessment herself and that due to poor internet service at the hospital they could not complete the online assessment.

“They had to repeat several times that Leanne would not be able to attend a work capability assessment as she had a terminal diagnosis.

“It was finally agreed that Leanne’s mum could speak on her behalf and they met with her and the social worker at the Beatson.”

Helen went on to say that sadly Leanne passed away just three weeks after that meeting and they never did receive any communication of any sort from the Universal Credit Department.

Helen is from a strong close family with strong UNISON ties, and she told Congress that she is determined that no other family should go through this kind of scenario.

She also drew our attention to social media reporting only this week that the Universal Credit Department is still visiting patients in hospital regarding work capability assessments.

Congress backed the campaign for a replacement of Universal Credit, ending the sanctions regime and offering an accessible and easy to use application system which removes the need for people to apply online, an end to the outsourcing of contracts to the private sector, an end to all benefit caps, and an end to the DWP’s target based culture.

Meantime they will press for improvement to the existing system including an increase in benefit levels and replacing the Work Capability Assessment with a better form of medical assessment.

Click here for more information on the STUC website.

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