Big Benefits Row

Ok have just tried to watch the #BigBenefitsRow. I know many others on twitter and other social media have done the same.

I make no secret of my physical ill health and disability nor my mental illness. I refuse to hide it because it’s part of me and I believe in honesty.

I am on benefits, no I don’t like it, yes I’d love to be well enough to get back into work. I do apply for jobs still, I do have a lot to offer but being realistic my health issues make it basically impossible for any employer to give me a chance unless I could do it all from home at times to suit me and my illness/medication.

I like many others want to feel useful and not surplus to societies requirements. I am able and do try to help people via e-mail, telephone, at times to suit me. It pays nothing but i do get that glow of satisfaction that I’ve helped make life a little better for another person or family.

Some people can’t do what I can for many reasons, they do feel down, it can lead to a spiral of depression this is one of the mental issues people want to talk about & get help via sorts of talking therapies such Psychotherapy. Alas access to good mental health help varies throughout the country. With help being so sporadic & ranging from great to being put on a waiting list for years! Surely it is better to treat the person via immediately accessible mental health services then they would be able to get well, have the help and return to some work slowly and eventually they would be able to work full time and not be reliant on benefits. All of these approaches must have a caveat, some people with all the help possible are simply not able to cope in the world of work. So this will work for some but not all.

I am all for working if you are able bodied and not suffering from a severe or mental illness. We have read and seen how people in a coma, in severe kidney failure and on dialysis, people who have had strokes, brain tumours etc who are told they are fit for work because they can lift an empty cardboard box, put a pen in their top pocket and hold a 2litre milk carton. This does not take into account the way the illness/disease actually prevents them from being available to work for certain amounts of time etc.

Yes there are some people who do abuse the system, yes there are some who pretend to be single parents when they have their partner live with them. This is because the rules make it financially beneficial to be “a single parent” rather than valuing marriage, cohabitation etc which is really the best for any kids to live in a two parent family.

Some people are told at the Job Centre they will be worse off by £x.xx if they take this or that job. That is wrong and people should be better off in work than on benefits. However, when we take a view of it like “if I take this job I will lose out on time with my child, most money will go on childcare, the cost of travel to work, and with all taken in to account I will be £3 per week worse or better off”

In the above scenario you will get many people who would rather be in work and will take it because being on benefits and not having a routine, a place to be, a reason to get up and get outside can leave a person really isolated. There are more than just money that is gained when a person takes employment. These other really positive aspects aren’t discussed. I humbly suggest they are.

I think people are brassed off with those people, small minority, who have never worked and seem to have a much nicer lifestyle than the person working on minimum wage. It can get vey upsetting and it can be irksome.

However, those people may have “invisible” health conditions that mean they cannot work, again this aspect is overlooked in any discussions.

I had until I got sick, 5 years or so ago, I had always worked and or been in education. I am only just coming to terms with the steep decline of my health and it’s still no fun and I don’t like being in this position. I’d give anything to be able to control my illness (there is no cure) so that I could maybe work part time. I know lots of others I a very similar situation.

There is no easy answer to this but I do feel that putting pensions into the same calculation does give a very warped view of the money spent on benefits. Maybe it would be helpful if the costs were put into their respective headings. It may help.

We have had a really terrible down turn, recession, double dip recession and during that time many thousands of people have lost their jobs, in some areas they have found it almost impossible to find any other job. Lots of people have moved to find work. Many cannot due to children being in eduction at a critical time such as SATS, GCSE’S or at College undertaking education or training.

Anyway remember 99% of people who are out of work, wish they were in work. We have graduates on the checkout at supermarkets, alas this is a state of the employment market BUT I respect everybody who takes a job they are vastly over qualified for because they would rather have some money coming in rather than being on benefits.

Benefits street as a programme focused on such a tiny microcosm that is it impossible to to actually use that as an example of the norm for all those who are out of work and claiming benefits.

Maybe there should be a programme on showing how hard many people try to get a job, any job. Showing the people who send off vast numbers of applications per day yet don’t even get an email/letter/phone call back to acknowledge their application or to say thanks but no thanks.

Most of all you must for the most part think “There but for the grace of god go I” because sadly illness and injury can change your life over night.

Well that’s my 2p’s worth if it’s worth anything at all?

ESA – jargon explained

I have copied and pasted the reply from the DWP Ministerial team. I thought this would be useful information for those who have been timed out of Contribution ESA whilst in the Work Related Activity Group but who are then successful at an appeal and are put into the support group.

It essentially means that you will be put into the same position you would have been had the Assessors and Decision Makers took into account all of your personal circumstances and care needs.

I know that this may only help a few people but it’s better than none!

Keep up the fight; you’re not chronically sick or disabled for fun & I know more than 99% of those claiming ESA, DLA, PIP etc are doing so because they have absolutely no other choice.

Remember also in the support group you are allowed to undertake permitted work without it affecting your benefit (up to a certain earnings level).

If in the support group & receiving contribution based benefit then the earnings of your spouse/partner are not taken into consideration. This will only become relevant if you have to claim Income based/means tested benefits.

I have put it into words we all understand rather than the DWP Language only understood by the Sir Humphrey types of this world!

**(Watch ‘Yes Minister’ on you tube or on a satellite channel; it is very true to what goes on in the Civil Service etc; a more sedate version of ‘The Thick If It’ – both equally worth watching)**

Let me know if this is useful….. Thanks 🙂
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ESA & PIP – Info via Benefits And Work : Systemic Failures!!!

IF YOU’RE ON ESA, DLA, JSA, PIP OR ANY OTHER BENEFITS THEN YOU WON’T GO FAR WRONG IF YOU Click This Link

—– Forwarded Message —–
From: Benefits and Work
To:
Sent: Wednesday, 4 June 2014, 13:48
Subject: More PIP Medicals By Phone Plus Huge ESA
*******************************
Dear martin,
PIP is in a mess. We all know it and only the DWP try to deny it.
But the surest signs that panic is beginning to set in is the fact that Capita have now more than doubled the pay they are offering to assessors in their attempt to get on top of the backlog. Capita health professionals now have a ‘new incentive scheme’ which means they can earn up to £900 a day. Not bad for physiotherapists more accustomed to earning £40 an hour.
In addition, the DWP have rewritten their guidance to assessors in the hope of persuading them to carry out fewer face-to-face medicals and assess more people just on paper evidence, backed up by a telephone call to the claimant to get additional information where necessary. Currently 98% of PIP assessments are face-to-face, but the DWP is aiming for this figure to drop to around 75%. This means a big increase in the number of PIP claimants who will be getting a call out of the blue from an Atos or Capita health professional.
We’ll be updating our guide to claiming PIP with more information about how decisions will be made about who gets a face-to-face medical and also with suggestions about how to deal with a phone call from a PIP health professional, by the end of the week.
In some cases the changes will mean claimants with substantial impairments getting an award of PIP without having to attend a medical, which can only be a good thing.
But in other cases the guidance makes it clear that assessors can refuse to make any award of PIP based simply on the claim pack completed by the claimant, with telephone clarification of specific issues if required.
It makes it even more vital that PIP ‘How your disability affects you’ forms are completed in as much detail as possible and that you get medical evidence if you can.
Unfortunately, Citizens Advice have discovered that half of all GP surgeries are now charging for evidence for ESA appeals and there’s no reason to suppose that things are any different when it comes to PIP.
In this edition we also have news of more truth-bending by the DWP, unsubstantiated rumours of changes to the PIP criteria, a dramatic rise in ESA sanctions, plans to cut the income of new ESA and JSA claimants and the truth about what Professor Harrington thought about Atos and the DWP.
Plus we have news of new DWP ESA documents available in the members area.
Oh, and we reveal how many of our readers would recommend us to others.
*******************************
20% OFF ANNUAL MEMBERSHIP FOR CLAIMANTS AND FOR PROFESSIONALS – ENDS MIDNIGHT FRIDAY
If you’re not already a member, join the Benefits and Work community before midnight on Friday and you can get 20% off the cost of your annual subscription
Just type the following code into the coupon box when you pay: 9742
Claimants and carers get an annual subscription for £15.96, down from £19.95. Professionals get an annual subscription for £77.60, down from £97.00.

WHAT’S NEW ON THE SITE
For some years now we’ve published a collection of around 20 documents which allegedly contain the information loaded onto LiMA about different conditions – LiMA being the software that Atos uses to carry out work capability assessments.
However, as a result of a recent freedom of information request we have now obtained another 26 documents allegedly used in LiMA, covering conditions such as epilepsy, hypertension, low back pain, osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, stroke and lupus. These have all been published in the ESA members area of the site, in the ESA DWP guides section (you’ll need to be a logged in member to access this page). They can help to give you some idea of how Atos believe your condition should affect you.
From the same page you can also download a 15 page document relating to how the DWP works with claimants with drug or alcohol dependency. It covers both ESA and JSA claimants, particularly in relation to treatment programmes and to the work programme. If you work with this client group, it’s definitely worth downloading.

95% WOULD RECOMMEND BENEFITS AND WORK TO OTHERS
Many thanks to the more than 6,000 people who completed our survey which went out instead of a newsletter at the end of last week. We really appreciate your feedback and we are working our way through all of your many thousands of comments.
We were delighted that when asked ‘Would you recommend our site to other claimants or professionals’, no fewer than 95.3% of you said ’Yes’ you would. Fewer than 1% said ‘No’, with the rest being undecided.
We were also very interested to learn that, when asked which benefits you are receiving or trying to get, 58% said ESA but 7% said you are still getting incapacity benefit. If those figures are representative of the country as a whole, then by our calculations over 10% of IB claimants have still not been transferred to ESA. Considering that migration was supposed to be completed by April of this year, that’s another impressive failure by IDS.

ESA NEWS
There’s been a dramatic rise in ESA sanctions – up by over 300% in a year. They rose from 1,102 in December 2012 to 4,789 in December 2013. The vast majority of ESA sanctions are for alleged failure to participate in work-related activities.
ESA sanctions are still dwarfed by JSA sanctions, but with more and more ESA claimants being forced onto the work programme – where staff appear to have little interest in claimants health issues – the number is likely to go on climbing.
Please make sure you read our tips for avoiding and fighting sanctions, which includes advice on suing the DWP and work programme providers.
Our sanctions advice has provoked some discussion on Rightsnet, where one welfare rights worker is attempting to take similar cases to an employment tribunal, for which legal help is more readily available.
Still on the subject of ESA, it’s not just claimants who have problems with Atos. Professor Malcolm Harrington, who carried out the first three independent reviews of the work capability assessment, told the work and pensions committee last month that he ‘did not trust Atos’, that the DWP team set up to implement his recommendations was ‘disbanded’ and that the system was ‘wrong at every stage’.
Harrington called for a “more humane and more individual-focused” assessment system.
It’s just a shame he didn’t say all of this whilst he was actually in the job and in a position to make a difference.
Trying to get evidence from a health professional not employed by Atos is becoming increasingly expensive, however. Citizens Advice have published the results of a survey that shows that half of GPs surgeries that provide evidence for ESA appeals charge for doing so. We’d be very interested to hear about your experiences of trying to get medical evidence in the comments section of this article.
Finally, ESA claimants will lose on average £50 and JSA claimants £40 if the government goes ahead with plans to increase the number of waiting days from 3 to 7 before individuals can make a claim.
The Social Security Advisory Committee has launched a consultation on the proposals as experts warn that they will push more people into the clutches of payday lenders.

PIP AND DLA NEWS
Last week, Benefits and Work heard from a number of people who were very distressed at a claim circulating on the internet that the PIP assessment criteria have been made much more severe and that some people who have had an award may have to repay it. The information allegedly came from a source within Atos.
If you haven’t already seen it, we published our response to this story, which we don’t believe was accurate and which has not since been substantiated in any way.
The DWP meanwhile, has yet again been caught out twisting the facts to justify the introduction of PIP. The official statistics watchdog has found that the DWP repeatedly made false claims about the numbers of people living on disability benefits.
In addition, ministers at the DWP repeatedly and misleadingly claimed that the majority of people on disability living allowance (DLA) were given benefits for life without any supporting medical evidence.

OTHER BENEFITS NEWS
The grandparents and carers of a very severely disabled boy of 14 who needs round-the-clock care have lost their bedroom tax appeal. They have to pay the bedroom tax because they have a ‘spare’ bedroom which is used by overnight carers twice a week, in order to give the Rutherfords a little respite.
The case was brought by CPAG and we understand that they intend to fight on.
Finally, universal credit, has had to be reorganised so fundamentally that the Major Projects Authority has judged that it is now an entirely new project. Given that the DWP have so far signed up fewer than 1% of the more than one million claimants that should have been on UC by April 2014, it’s surprising it counts as a major project at all.

FACEBOOK AND TWITTER NEWS
Both our social media accounts have reached major milestones since the last newsletter.
We’ve now passed the 10,000 mark for Facebook ‘likes’ and our Facebook page is really taking on a character of its own, with a community of individuals supporting each other and discussing issues reported on the main site and elsewhere. Many thanks, as always, to Studio Pookini for running the page for us as volunteers.
Meanwhile we have now got over 6,000 followers on twitter, which continues to be an excellent source of breaking news for us. Many thanks to Sangeeta, the only socially savvy member of the office team, for being the only one who knows how to tweet.

MORE NEWS ON THE SITE
The real cost-of-living-crisis: Five million British children ‘sentenced to life of poverty thanks to welfare reforms’

The DWP must explain how it will adjust Atos WCAs for mental health claimants
MPs meet their match at St James’ Park

Ministers urged to publish more accurate figures on benefit fraud that show it is 0.7% of claims

20% OFF ANNUAL MEMBERSHIP FOR CLAIMANTS AND FOR PROFESSIONALS – ENDS MIDNIGHT FRIDAY
If you’re not already a member, join the Benefits and Work community before midnight on Friday and you can get 20% off the cost of your annual subscription
Just type the following code into the coupon box when you pay: 9742
Claimants and carers get an annual subscription for £15.96, down from £19.95. Professionals get an annual subscription for £77.60, down from £97.00.

GOOD NEWS FROM THE FORUM
As always,we’re very grateful to everyone who posts their good news in the forum.
PIP success
“I’ve had a decision letter and it’s great news. Standard rate for daily care and enhanced rate for mobility. Both ongoing and to be reviewed in 2025…I’m happy with the outcome and the Capita assessment…I hope this result gives some encouragement to those still going through the process.”
ESA Support Group
“…well decision letter finally came today – DWP did go with ATOS recommendation for the support group – thanks so much for everyone’s support here and all the info provided! Couldn’t have managed without it.”
PIP award
“Thank you so very much for all the help and advice I received from your guides. I applied for PIP. My assessment was in March . I finally had a result on Tuesday this week. More surprisingly all the back dated money was in my account yesterday. Enhanced care and standard mobility. Thanks so much”

DLA awarded on renewal
“…a massive thank you to this website for all the help and support given to help complete these complex and often misleading forms…I filled the form out and gathered all my necessary supporting documents and sent it off… within a few weeks I had a letter to say I had the same DLA award but for an indefinite period.”

PIP success
“Just to let you all know that today I’ve received a letter saying I have been awarded enhanced daily living and mobility! I cannot thank enough Benefits and Work because you all have been such a great support for me. I am so lucky to found you and cannot imagine what would I do without your great information and guidance. Thank you so much! I wish everyone who is applying PIP good luck! Its a very hard and stressful process but Benefits and Work moderators are absolutely brilliant!”

Support Group success
“Have just been told via the phone, that I’ve been placed in the support group for three years. Cannot thank benefits and work enough for all their support and invaluable guides, you all do a sterling job, and I would like to thank you so much. Hope this gives encouragement to others who are playing ‘the waiting game’ that there can be light at the end of the tunnel.”

ESA support group
“Good news! As a result of being put into the ESA Support Group, my local Council informed me that Housing Benefit would now pay all my rent and Council Tax Support would pay all my Council Tax”

Support Group without medical
“Having used your site I was placed in support group without medical, although it took 42 weeks to get a response!”

DLA renewal award
“My DLA was due to expire in July 2014 – I was invited to renew. Imagine my absolute surprise to receive a new award of Higher rate care & Higher rate mobility for 5 years!! No medical or other enquiries. Thank you so much Benefits and Work, I’m sure the success was due to following your guide to the letter.”

IB to ESA support group
“After receiving a form to change from IB to ESA…I have at last received a letter putting me in the support group of ESA without a medical. Without help from Benefits and Work I do not think this would have happened…I couldn’t be happier, it is such a weight off my mind.”

Join the Benefits and Work community now and discover what a difference we can make.
And do remember: you’re welcome to republish part or all of this newsletter, provided you credit Benefits and Work
Good luck,
Steve Donnison, Sangeeta Enright and Karen Sharpe
The Office Team
Benefits and Work Publishing Ltd
Company registration No. 5962666
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Letter To DWP Ministers

Dear Sir/Madam

Please would you clarify a point for me and countless others regarding successful appeals.

Many people make their appeal as per the rules and time limits. Many of these claims are made by people who are initially assessed as being in the Work Related Activity Group.

The appeals can take a very long time. In my personal situation I had the assessment in March 2012, I was put into the WRAG on Contribution Based ESA as I have worked until I became to sick to continue with my career in Law. My first appeal to the decision maker was unsuccessful so I did as advised by my Personal Adviser and made an appeal to the HMCS Tribunal. The appeal was lodged and I waited for a response.

During the time between the the tribunal service receiving my appeal I kept them updated as to my continuing deterioration. I waited over 6 months and still no date. My contribution based benefit was coming close to 260 days. My ESA contribution based was due to end in March 2013, still no appeal date received. Unfortunately my husband was made redundant and I was advised to claim for my husband and he claimed Carers Allowance. I was then on means tested benefit as my 365 days were up on my contribution based ESA.

This was at the end of March 2013, still no date for the tribunal.

I then received my appeal date in May stating I would have my hearing on 13th July 2013. I was successful in my appeal and was put into the Support Group with a recommendation that I was not assessed again for at least 18 months.

The day I received the confirmation of my successful appeal I also received an ESA 50 form to complete. I telephoned my local JCP and was told I must complete it and to mention the appeal result in the section where any further information can be written.

My query and that of many others is this; as the appeal tribunal assess and decide the appeal based on how you where on the day of the initial assessment and if the appeal is granted there will be a back payment of any benefits you should have had. Does this also in turn put you back into the Contribution based benefit as though you had been put in the support group originally and thus had not been through the means testing?

If ones partner then whilst you are in the support group obtains new employment will the claimant thus retain their ESA on a Contribution based calculation?

I look forward to hearing from you with clarification of the above.

Kind Regards

I will post their reply when & if I receive one

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