We have been campaigning for some time now to stop the closure of Phoenix House in Barrow. This is the DWP office which – until recently – processed all the fast track claims for Industrial Injuries Disablement Benefit (IIDB). These are made for people who are terminally ill.
In the meantime, the DWP has pressed ahead with changes. An insider, who is alarmed by the damage this is doing, has told us that claims which should be fast tracked are now being delayed for two weeks or longer.
Worse stil, when wrong decisions are made this can cause months of delay. By this time the claimant may have died.
The whistleblower says:
- The offices the work is being moved to are understaffed. And the staff there are inadequately trained to deal effectively and efficiently with claims.
- Priority Cases (D3 Mesothelioma, D8 and D8A Lung Cancers) where customers are terminally ill are being processed as normal claims. This means they are being held up in Barnsley for up to two weeks. This is in spite of all information being available to process them. These cases can and should be processed and paid within 24 hours.
- People will die before the claims are paid. This will result in further distress to the families. Claims made “in life” cannot be processed on death unless an additional protracted process is followed by their dependents.
- There are also occasions when, after these delays, some claims are being sent back to Phoenix House to deal with. This is because the staff at Barnsley don’t know how to process them.
- If this continues it will reflect badly on the current Government. It will make them look uncaring.
- All remaining priority specialist work is leaving Phoenix House imminently so that it is completed before the protest campaign gets properly underway. Despite Barnsley staff not being fully trained the Phoenix Staff are still being told they will be matched to other jobs from early October. They could be moved shortly thereafter. This will hasten the loss of their vast experience and make the closure of the Barrow Office inevitable.
- The insider understands that Barnsley Staff are sometimes informing support groups that they are unable to provide them with information on individual cases. This is happening even though the support groups already have authority from the claimants to act on their behalf.
- Trainees at the Barnsley office are now taking increasing amounts of work from Barrow. Ironically staff at Barrow are still doing overtime to support them!
- Barnsley Management are complaining that staff are suffering from stress and that there is too much workload.
How you can help
Please write to your MP drawing attention to the campaign to save the Phoenix House operation. Explain the urgency of the situation. And send them the whistleblower’s testimony.