Volunteer column: CAB campaign to help sick people

The CAB in Littlehampton
The CAB in Littlehampton

ARUN and Chichester Citizens Advice Bureau is joining a campaign to help give sick and disabled people the support they need.

The Work Capability Assessment, which determines people’s eligibility for ESA, has come under fire for failing to deliver accurate decisions which are estimated to have cost taxpayers more than £60 million.

Since October, anyone who is at first refused support will have to wait an additional two weeks while their initial application is reassessed, during which time they will potentially be left without any income.

In the past six months, advisers and volunteers in the Arun and Chichester CAB have helped 320 clients with the widely-criticised ESA and, in the last year alone, Citizens Advice nationally has helped with nearly half a million problems about ESA.

Since the new reassessment hurdle was introduced on October 28, we have helped people in Chichester, Bognor and Littlehampton to deal with 90 mandatory reconsideration issues.

There is a real danger that people who are fully entitled to support are now denied it for at least an extra two weeks as a result of these changes.

This new campaign calls on ministers to ensure that independent medical evidence has been considered by officials before an initial assessment is made about a person’s fitness for work.

The campaign also aims to ensure any applicants for ESA are not left without financial support during the new, extra reassessment.

The CAB also wants assessors to be fined when they are shown to have made an incorrect medical assessment.

Carol Groves, chief executive of Arun and Chichester CAB, said: “The recent changes to ESA (Employment Support Allowance) will make it harder for sick and disabled people to get fair treatment and we must ensure they are not left stranded due to reforms to Government support”

Those wanting help with ESA or more information about the campaign should email fitforwork@arunchichestercab.org.uk

Alternatively, visit the group’s centre in Anchor Springs, Littlehampton, between 10am to 4pm from Monday to Thursday and 10am to 1pm on Friday.

The CAB is always looking for volunteers to help at its advice centres, in Littlehampton, Bognor Regis and Chichester.

Those who would like to volunteer should phone 01903 725960.