Q. What is your preferred way of getting in touch with DWP and what is important to you when you get in touch with them?
As an autistic person, online communication is absolutely preferable. Using the phone is hugely disorientating, overwhelming, and likely to trigger a meltdown. I avoid phone conversations at all costs, and if forced into it, really struggle to communicate that way. Being able to re-read messages, plan and prepare my communications, and ask for my husband to help explain anything I may have misunderstood/miscommunicated is really helpful. That being said the journal needs improving. I’d much prefer to be able to simply email one consistent person who knows me and my case. Sending a message on the journal feels like you’re sending it into the ether. I don’t know who it’s going to and if they ever get it. Sometimes I’ve found that what I want to communicate on the journal can not be discussed or answered through it. For someone who struggles with other forms of communication this is a big problem. The journal often seems like simply a way for the DWP to send demands rather than a way for us to ask questions or ask for help. As soon as you do you’re signposted out of the communication. I’d really like to see Universal Credit claimants have case workers, a little like social workers, who know individual circumstances and needs, with a direct email address for communications. As an autistic person inaccessible communication systems and rules (eg. that can only be sorted in person or on the phone) are a huge barrier to me engaging with the service.