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Staffordshire Moorlands Advice Partnership joins national campaign to help sick and disabled people get vital support and fair treatment

By Leek Post and Times  |  Posted: July 09, 2014

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Staffordshire Moorlands Advice Partnership has teamed up with Citizens' Advice Bureaus (CABs) across to country as part of a national campaign to ensure sick and disabled people are not left stranded due to reforms to Government support.

The partnership is made up of Leek and Cheadle CABs, Age UK, Support Staffordshire and Your Moorlands.

Cheadle and Leek CABs have helped 349 clients in the past year with the controversial Employment Support Allowance (ESA).

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.

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Since October 2013, 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 could be left without any income at all.

The 'Fit for Work' campaign calls on ministers to:

Ensure independent medical evidence is considered by officials before making an initial assessment about a person's fitness for work;

Ensure any applicants for ESA are not left without financial support during the new extra reassessment;

Fine assessors where they are shown to have made an incorrect assessment.

Thérèse Davall, Project Co-ordinator for Staffordshire Moorlands Advice Partnership said: "I am pleased to be a part of this campaign – it needs to be a joint effort between ministers, officials, charities and health professionals to make sure sick and disabled people get quick and fair treatment out of this system, which right now is simply not working.

"We need to collect more evidence of the problem locally.

" I would ask residents who have been affected by the changes to contact their local CAB via their open door sessions or to contact advice@cheadlecab.cabnet.org.uk, so that we can advise you of your rights but also use your stories to help influence change."

Gillian Guy, Chief Executive of Citizens Advice, added: "Far too often, sick and disabled people are caught in a catch-22 where they are forced to pay for a doctor's help to appeal against a decision which was wrong in the first place.

"The extra red tape hurdle recently put in place by ministers before people can get much-needed support will mean thousands are wrongly forced to go it alone with no source of income.

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