11:56, April 19 94 0 theguardian.com

2019-04-19 11:56:06
Benefits claimant 'disgusted' by DWP after 'lying bitch' comment

A woman called a “lying bitch” in official tribunal papers by welfare officials has criticised her “disgusting” treatment at the hands of the Department for Work and Pensions.

The woman, who wants to remain anonymous, appealed against the removal of part of her disability benefits. This week she was awarded a “consolatory” payment of £250 by the DWP, in recognition of the humiliation and distress to which she had been subjected. The department has also offered to restore her benefits.

However, the woman told the Guardian the payment could not make up for what she called constant mistreatment by the DWP. It was the third time in five years she has been forced to go to appeal to overturn incorrect decisions relating to her entitlement to personal independence payments, a disability benefit.

Being called a “lying bitch” was devastating and made her feel belittled, she said. “It’s not about the money. It’s the principle. I don’t want the money. They can keep it. They are trying to buy me off to keep me quiet. It’s disgusting, the way I have been treated.”

The mother of small children has a degenerative condition affecting her heart and lungs that leaves her prone to infection and in constant pain. She said it was frustrating that she kept being re-assessed, despite accumulating piles of doctors’ letters in evidence. “I’m never going to get better,” she said.

The “lying bitch” insult was found in a passage of the DWP’s submission to her PIP appeal tribunal. In it, an official implied she could not genuinely have mobility restrictions because she was in receipt of carer’s allowance, a benefit for people who care for another person for at least 35 hours a week.

The official wrote: “In this lying bitches [sic] case she is receiving the mid-rate carers [sic] allowance component for providing day time supervision to another disabled person. The tribunal may wish to explore this further.”

A redacted version of a letter she received from the DWP this week offering her the special payment was published with her permission on the Rightsnet website on Friday by her legal adviser, Derek Stainsby of Plumstead Community Law Centre.

The letter said: “After considering the circumstances of your case I have awarded a special consolatory payment for gross inconvenience of £250 in recognition of the failure of our customer service standards. In reaching the decision I have taken account of the severe distress and hurt caused to you by the unprofessional comments made in the appeal submission.”

It adds that the special payments are limited and are not intended to put a value on the distress and inconvenience caused to the recipient as a result of official error, but are “a tangible recognition of a mistake and expression of apology”.

Stainsby, who previously labelled the DWP’s behaviour as “evidence of a canteen culture of contempt”, called the £250 consolatory payment “derisory”, in a post on the Rightsnet website. He added: “There is a pattern of behaviour here from the DWP that does not look very pretty.”

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