The Community Advice Services Association (CASA) does amazing work in supporting people who are struggling to negotiate the complexities of the benefits system.
I know from the work we have done together to support constituents, that they offer a personal service that helps people take back control of their lives. It was good to see the team today to back their latest fundraising drive.
This is a handful of the issues the CASA has dealt with in the last couple of weeks:
- A man with severe and widespread brain damage found fit for work after the Independent Assessment Service scored him zero points in his health assessment.
- A woman who cannot walk after a serious accident at work lost her Personal Independence Payment (PIP) and was told she would have to return her mobility car, despite using it to attend hospital appointments at least three times per week.
- A man in his 50s found fit to work despite heart attacks, arthritis, a frozen shoulder and an injured right arm.
And, of course, there is the appalling story of Stephen Smith who has a progressive lung disease and was hospitalised at 6 stone. He had repeated failed DWP assessments and appeals turning him down for benefits because he was deemed fit to work.
Mr Smith turned to the CASA who contacted me and it was only after this intervention that the DWP took action.
Even the Secretary of State at the Department for Work and Pensions Amber Rudd expressed her ‘indignation’ at his treatment when I raised it with her in Parliament.
The Initiative Factory/CASA was set-up in the aftermath of the Liverpool Dockworkers Dispute to uphold the aims and objectives of the ‘Sacked Liverpool Dockworkers’ in promoting ‘Fairness and Justice’ for all.
From August 2004, a Welfare Rights Caseworker based at the CASA has been available to anyone seeking advice benefits, form-filling, representing people at appeals and tribunals, supporting small businesses with employment law and much more.
However, the CASA is running short of funds to keep this valuable advice service open and will have to start turning people away in the coming months, just as the full impact of the roll out of Universal Credit hits Liverpool. In fact, its valuable advice and tribunal representation service could end on March 1.
Its free legal advice, representation and support for those in the local community who are living with poverty risks being severely reduced in the coming months.
Unfortunately, both I and the CASA know from the casework we deal with every week that there are far too many people in Mr Smith’s situation. They need organisations like the CASA and that is why I am backing its latest fundraising campaign. If you are able to donate, you can do so by clicking here.