A traumatised benefit claimant has accused the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) of “sheer malice” after it again broke its promise to stop harassing him while he waits to give vital evidence in a child abuse trial.
DWP’s contractor Maximus sent David* a text message last month telling him that his employment and support allowance (ESA) could be at risk if he failed to attend an assessment set to take place just two days after Christmas.
Disability News Service (DNS) has been reporting on DWP’s continuing harassment of David* since 2016, when former minister for disabled people Justin Tomlinson threatened to stop David’s benefits if he failed to co-operate with an Atos personal independence payment (PIP) reassessment.
David has been told by police that his medical file is sub-judice and cannot be discussed with anyone while the legal process is ongoing, and so he cannot allow DWP or Atos or Maximus access to his medical records.
He has severe post-traumatic stress disorder, caused by the horrific sexual abuse he suffered as a child, and which has led to several suicide attempts.
In 2017, DWP broke its promise not to harass David when Atos asked him to attend a face-to-face personal independence payment (PIP) assessment.
Last year, DWP broke its promise again, when it contacted him to tell him he needed to fill in a new PIP form, before later accepting its error and extending his PIP award.
But the harassment has continued.
On 20 December, he received a text message from Maximus – which carries out assessments under the name of its subsidiary, the Centre for Health and Disability Assessments – warning that his ESA was at risk if he failed to attend a work capability assessment (WCA) on 27 December.
When he rang DWP to complain, he was even told by a civil servant that he was fabricating his claim that his medical evidence was sub-judice.
David said DWP’s continuing harassment was “completely draining”, “dehumanising” and “extremely distressing”, and he could not understand why the department continually ignored the fact that his medical records were crucial evidence in ongoing child abuse proceedings.
He said: “It’s like I can’t escape their gravity of sheer malice and hubris.
“I would ask why they repeatedly seek to interview a proven child rape victim.
“I’m tired of people thinking I’m a lab animal to be cut open alive.”
A DWP spokesperson: “We are sorry for any distress felt by [David].
“We are all doing everything we can to ensure he continues to receive the benefits he is entitled to.”
The spokesperson said the WCA had now been cancelled, and David had been allocated a member of staff to be a single point of contact with his PIP and ESA.
Asked how this latest harassment had happened again, another spokesperson said: “We’ve addressed [David’s] case and a staff member is working with him to ensure he gets the right support.
“We don’t have anything further to add but do look into any issues which are raised by claimants, including on their experience with DWP staff and contractors.”
A Maximus spokesperson said: “As soon as the case was withdrawn by DWP, we cancelled the appointment and immediately ceased our attempts to contact the customer.”
*He cannot be named for legal reasons
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