Benefits system let Teresa down badly
Benefits claimants are understandably rigorously scrutinised because there are those who would, and do, fraudulently exploit it. We’re sure the bureaucracy can sometimes seem onerous to the genuine majority who must feel it’s like a mountain to climb to get the support they are entitled to.
But it’s a complex system and it’s only to be expected that from time to time things will go wrong.
However, in the case of Teresa Geale, the system not only let her down badly, but rubbed salt in the wound.
The disabled 63-year-old, who suffers from many conditions which now prevent her from working, was put through 10 months of hell by the Department of Work and Pensions after it withdrew her employment support allowance.
It claimed she had failed to attend an assessment. In fact, staff had cancelled her appointment as she travelled to the centre on a bus because they were running behind.
Despite Mrs Geale’s protestations that she had not missed the appointment officials would have none of it – even though she could produce the bus ticket and had screenshots from her phone of the voicemail cancelling the session.
It finally took the intervention and support of Kent Law Clinic at the University of Kent, which fought her case, to see justice prevail.
And the tribunal judge was clear who he thought was at fault. After hearing the evidence, he took just five minutes to find in her favour and order she receive the back payments.
But it beggars belief that in the face of such evidence, the DWP were so obstructive and put Mrs Geale through such a sorry saga.