We were glad to see I, Daniel Blake shown on BBC2 on Saturday. It inspired our Welfare Advocacy Service which has supported 122 vulnerable people struggling to cope with austerity and the benefits changes. Many of their experiences are even worse than portrayed in the film.
Evidence from our Welfare Advocacy Service indicates:
- Loss of benefits can be a factor for people with disabilities taking their own lives
- Problems with Universal Credit and Personal Independence Payments can lead to worsening physical and mental health
- Online Universal Credit claim and appeal processes are extremely difficult for people without IT skills or access to a computer, or with literacy issues
- A high percentage of benefit appeals are successful, suggesting poor initial assessments and decision-making about claims
- People with severe disabilities are required to use an electronic system (Universal Credit Journal) to raise queries, only to find no-one at the Department of Work and Pensions is responsible for reading them
- Universal Credit procedures have caused people to go into debt
- Due to Welfare Reform it is now harder for people with significant conditions and disabilities to qualify for disability benefits.
- Welfare Reform has led to unprecedented reliance on food banks