PIP claimant set to take DWP to court over refusal to allow him to use email : DNS.

A disabled benefit claimant is set to take the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) to court over its refusal to allow him to communicate with its civil servants via email.

Mark Lucas is facing a reassessment of his personal independence payment (PIP) claim next month, but is refusing to return his claim form by post because he does not think a paper-based system is secure.

He has asked DWP to allow him to communicate via email as a reasonable adjustment under the Equality Act, but says he was told this was not possible.

Now he expects to lose his PIP next month – he currently receives the standard rate of the daily living component – because of his refusal to submit a written claim form.

He has secured legal aid and a lawyer to fight his case and seek damages for disability discrimination.

Lucas, from Staffordshire, told Disability News Service (DNS) that he does not trust DWP to deal with benefit claims by paper because it previously altered a written statement he had submitted in 2013 as part of a jobseeker’s allowance (JSA) claim while he was at university, and then accused him of fraud and fined him £2,500.

DWP eventually agreed that he would not have to pay the fine, he said, after he proved that a DWP officer had added a paragraph to the statement, but he also took the case to tribunal – and won – so he could clear his name.

Lucas, who used to work in IT, said there are ways to check that the contents of an email have not subsequently been altered.

Another reason for his wish to communicate via email is that one of the side-effects of the epilepsy medication he is taking is memory loss, and it is much easier for him to keep track of communication if done by email.

With communication via post, DWP can claim that a page of a letter was missing or the letter itself never arrived, he said.

Lucas said DWP used such tactics to “target people who cannot fight back”, by making it easier to force more disabled people off benefits, and so cut the social security bill.

He said: “They would not be able to get away with what they have been able to get away with if they allowed email.”

He added: “They are providing a service for disabled people. They should make the service as inclusive as possible.”

And he pointed out that he was able to provide all of his documents safely to the tribunal service via email.

He said that the way he was treated following the JSA fine led to a “mental breadown”.

He was denied PIP at the same time, as a result of the fraud claim, and was left “destitute” for a year while he cleared his name, forcing him to live off an overdraft and building up about £500 in bank charges that he is still trying to persuade DWP to reimburse.

He only had his PIP reinstated in December 2015.

Lucas said he is hoping that other disabled people who take medication that effects their memory will benefit from his court case if he is successful.

A DWP spokeswoman said in a statement: “We do not recognise this version of events. If Mr Lucas requires a reasonable adjustment he can raise this and it can be implemented for future correspondence.

“Claimants are entitled to request to receive all communications from the department by email on the grounds of disability under the Equality Act 2010.

“When such a request is received, it must be for a valid reason which relates to the individual’s disability, that is, the customer finds it more difficult or they are unable to communicate and use our services through usual communication and contact routes because of their disability.

“We would also seek to explore whether alternative adjustments (eg large print/Braille) may suffice, but if this is not possible then email communications may be agreed.

“We don’t email claimants as a matter of course due to the potential risks these pose to citizens and DWP.

“In addition DWP must operate within its legislative framework and follow our business processes including records management. Therefore email correspondence must be carefully managed.”

The spokeswoman was subsequently told last night (Wednesday) that DNS had heard a recording of a member of staff in DWP’s PIP department telling Lucas: “We will not communicate via email.”

The DWP spokeswoman had not responded to this further evidence by noon today (Thursday).

Link : DNS.

13 thoughts on “PIP claimant set to take DWP to court over refusal to allow him to use email : DNS.

  1. jeffrey davies

    hadnt we been here before about dwp jcp the post office openning our letter for them but emails we use to get intouch with them dwp got a bee in its bonnet having him winning a goal against them they now poo poo email from him

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Reblogged this on campertess and commented:
    How many times have we read about the dwp not receiving forms? Even registered post that needs to be signed for goes astray as does forms that are handed in to the jobCentre where it’s scanned. At least if it’s emailed, as the gentleman said, it cannot be tampered with as there are ways to check .

    Liked by 1 person

  3. There is a way to communicate by post but it it expensive for the claimant, every communication you pay for proof of postage and proof of receipt but at about £2 a letter or form it is expensive in that it is the claimant who must pay these costs. A simple inventory of the contents is all that is needed and the claimant to keep a copy of everything sent, I do this now with all forms sent to them along with supporting evidence. The thing is that when I do an SAR asking for everything it should include the inventory list but never has!
    The DWP want claimants to do stuff online so they should be providing email addresses, not online forms that when sent give no proof. All their online forms are nor fit for purpose as they don’t allow for the addition of supporting info, and the DWP never contact anyone named in the forms. I know the 2012 ESA50 of mine they sent an ESA113 to the wrong surgery, who informed them I left in 2010, information they could only get by the 2010 ESA50.

    But if the DWP sanction a person, I.E. remove the benefit because they claim they sent a letter or form it is a simple matter of asking for a watermarked, copy or duplicate, and proof of postage and receipt, even if they manage a proof of postage, VERY UNLIKELY, the proof of receipt is not going to happen as they would have to forge either your, or another family members signature, a clear case of fraud by the DWP.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. was going to say, unless you are unable to complete forms by hand (i.e. have severe arthritic hands and no one to fill form in for you) there is no real reason for not filling in paper forms. if, as wildthing666 says above, you copy every single form, piece of evidence, or whatever you are sending to DWP then there is no way they can add anything or miss out anything from those documents/forms. i would be more biothered about the post office handling of such documents. plus the fact anyone can sign for post if/when needed and its a lengthy process trying to prove any of this which could lead to time outs, loss of benefit etc. let alone the stress caused by all this.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. forgot to say…i do appreciate the memory problem, i have a son with fybromalgia which frequently causes “fibro fog” and as an elderly person, i too can get forgetful and/or get a foggy brain. however, it seems to me this man has a case if what the 2nd DWP officer said was true about being able to use email. his case is against the first officer who told him no.

      Liked by 1 person

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