Letters: Disability Online Helps People Receive The Correct Benefit Award

The not-for-profit organisation, Disability Online, receives no government funding or grants for the work they do – and yet they have managed to survive their second year. They have survived another year solely running on small donations from individuals.

Based in the Lighthouse Centre in Morecambe, Disability Online is one of two in the district’s only DPO (Disabled Person’s Organisation) that is fully disabled-run on a day-to-day basis.

Having no paid staff, it is entirely run by an enthusiastic group of volunteers, meaning that it can keep its operating costs to a minimum. Disability Online has 4 volunteer advisors and 2 volunteer administrators.

In the past twelve months, they have helped a total of 203 people receive correct benefit awards – this total does not reflect the total number of clients that they have helped however.

The benefit awards are broken down into the following categories:

 Employment Support Allowance: 159
 Disability Living Allowance: 18
 Personal Independence Payment: 6
 Attendance Allowance: 5
 Carers Allowance: 6
 Housing Benefit: 9

Disability Online has helped administer a staggering 96 appeals in the past year. Appeals are often undertaken when the Department for Work and Pensions have the view that the client is not entitled to a specific benefit or have lowered a client’s benefit based upon the outcomes of medicals undertaken by the outgoing assessment provider Atos.

Disability Online then step in and help the client with the paperwork and represent them at the appeal should it go to court. Of those 96 appeals, 55% of those were successful – the remaining 45% were either withdrawn or lost. An appeal could be withdrawn should there not be enough evidence to guarantee a success or if there is a risk of a further reduction in benefits if it was a review appeal.

With these new statistics, Disability Online has shown that it is possible to run a Disabled Person’s Organisation successfully and with next to no income; since its inception in 2012 it has won a National Diversity Award and has gone from strength to strength – and proving that you don’t need local Council / Government contracts / service level agreements to survive.

It should be the right of the Disabled person to choose who serves them; not the local funders.

 

Wayne Clinton – Disability Online

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