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13 October newsletter

Hopeless, petrified and then . . .  DLA appeal true story;  plus more forced onto work scheme

We thought, for once, instead of just  a good news post, you might like to have the full story.

What it’s really like preparing for, and turning up at, an appeal.

We’ve chosen an example of dramatic loss – a member who went from getting disability living allowance  higher rate care and mobility components to getting nothing, after an Atos doctor’s visit.  They posted the news along with a heartfelt plea for help and a confession that they felt like just giving up.

But, like many people, their feelings of hopelessness turned to grim determination when they saw what had been written about them by Atos.  Their dander was up and they began to muster their evidence.

As the day of the hearing drew near, however, anger turned to terror at the imminent prospect of arguing their case in front of a judge and two wing members, with only a relative for support.

And finally, the day of the hearing arrived . . .

Whilst our members have been fighting for their benefits, we’ve been  busy on the freedom of information front.

We’ve obtained and published copies of the last six confidential weekly updates sent out to Jobcentre Plus managers (all news stories are Members only).  These reveal that more ESA claimants are to be forced onto the work programme by a change in the criteria for immediate referral.  They also disclose that £300,000 pounds of taxpayers’ cash is wasted every year because Jobcentre Plus staff can’t be persuaded to turn used envelopes inside out.

We’ve also acquired and published copies of the last six confidential Decision Makers Exchanges (DME).  The DME is issued to disability living allowance (DLA) decision makers, primarily to tell them what they’ve been getting wrong  . . . and it seems to be quite a lot.

Finally, we’ve obtained information that answers a question that has come up both on our forums and on Rightsnet:  do claimants in the work-related activity group who are appealing to be placed in the support group have to attend work-focused interviews or join the work programme?

Staying with the work programme, last week we reported that charities involved in delivering it were being forced to sign a gagging clause preventing them from revealing how well - or badly - their project is doing.  At the time the DWP claimed it was a precaution in case there were ‘teething troubles’ with the scheme.

We can now reveal that one of the real reasons is that most of the charities are being stitched-up by the private sector.  Only about a third have managed to sign a contract because the terms being offered are so unfair. And many of those who have signed are still waiting for any claimants to be sent their way.

More bad news for the charity sector, and for the residents of Cardiff, as it’s been announced that the city’s CAB is to close down at the end of October.  In this case it is not the result of government cuts.  Nonetheless, all the staff there will be losing their jobs whilst other bureaux in the area try to provide a skeleton service.

Possible bad news for Atos, on the other hand, is that Radio 4 want to hear from people who are having a work capability assessment for employment and support allowance this month.  Radio 4 are making a documentary about  the Atos assessments and have said they will only record anything if you are “100% happy to take part in the programme”  You can read more on the Disability Alliance website or contact the producer direct at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Mostly however, as we are only too well aware, the media are not claimant-friendly. So we’re grateful that the excellent Full Fact website regularly dissects and disproves the vicious allegations about claimants made in the press.  Full Fact are now asking for people to tell them, or the Levenson inquiry, about their experiences and opinions on the effects of media lies about claimants.  You can email:
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or read more here.

THANK YOU

Many thanks to everyone who clicked on the +1 links as requested in our last newsletter and also to everyone who responded to our request for your experiences of trying to obtain medical evidence for ESA claims.  We’ll be publishing an article on this in the near future, but we’d still be happy to hear from more people.  Just drop us an email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

CAMPAIGNS
Not long to go now until the protest  against the cuts to disability benefits organised by Hardest Hit on 22 October.  Check the Hardest Hit website for details of the nearest event to you or ways to participate online. 

MORE NEWS
There are more stories in the Members Only News section.

Thanks to everyone who has submitted items,  including:  Evaness, Crazydiamond, Pete17971, Gareth, Jima1, Pata1, Ricia and Heather.

Even if your story didn’t get published we are very grateful to everyone who takes the time to contact us.  There’s more information on how to submit a news story here.

FEEDBACK FROM THE FORUM
Finally, as ever, some good news from the forum that we hope will cheer you on your way.

Incapacity benefit to ESA support group without medical

WRAG to support group

DLA renewal success

18 points after 18 month appeal

Incapacity benefit to ESA without a medical

WRAG to support group on reconsideration

DLA higher rate mobility and middle rate care returned on reconsideration

Support group without medical

Incapacity benefit to ESA support group without medical

If you’ve got good news to share, please do post in the forum, it’s a big encouragement to people who are struggling.

Good luck,

Steve Donnison

Benefits and Work Publishing Ltd
Company registration No.  5962666

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