Don’t Miss Out On Our PIP Training – It’s Filling Fast!
With 3 months FREE professional membership for non-members and price discounts for current members, our personal independence payment training for professionals and support workers is proving very popular.
The February training day in Bristol is already full, the London February date has just one place left and the March date just six. So, if you want to get your preferred date and location, don’t leave booking too long.
Wednesday 6th March, BIRMINGHAM; Thursday 14th March BRISTOL; Friday 15th March, LEEDS; Tuesday 19 February and Tuesday 19th March, LONDON.
More training details here.
FORCED LABOUR, LIE DETECTORS, DWP LAWBREAKING AND 900 PAGE DLA PACK
In this edition we have news that ESA work-related activity group (WRAG) claimants can now be forced to undertake mandatory work for the good of the community, without time limits. There’s also the hard-faced decision by the coalition to limit ESA uprating to 1% per annum for the next three years.
Plus we learn that the DWP received legal advice two years ago that all medicals should be recorded on demand, not just ESA ones.
We have good news from Carer Watch: Pat’s Petition for a debate on welfare reform has succeeded by an unexpected route and they are now asking for your support. In addition, we have a magnificent 900+ page collection of DLA and AA case law digests for all of those of you who are in the process of appealing.
In other news, we learn that Capita – who will be doing PIP medicals in Central England – have been carrying out lie detector tests on claimants. And we also hear how Atos staff abandoned a claimant in a wheelchair on the first floor of an assessment centre when they thought the building was on fire.
Here on the site, we’re doing a major upgrade of the software this weekend. Access to the guides should not be affected, but it will not be possible to register or subscribe to the site or post in the forum between 10pm on Friday evening and 2pm on Tuesday afternoon.
And finally, everyone here at Benefits and Work would like to wish you a Merry Christmas and, in spite of everything the coalition have planned, a Happy New Year.
FINAL PRICE CUT - ENDS MIDNIGHT THURSDAY
“Just to let you know that my husband has been awarded a further period in the support group without having to go for an assessment. Am overjoyed (it's been so stressful) and very grateful to the excellent advice contained in the guides here on Benefits and Work.”
This will be the last newsletter this year and possibly until well into January. If you’re not already a member, join the Benefits and Work community (open access) before midnight on Thursday and you can get £3.50 off the cost of your annual subscription. Just type the following code into the coupon box when you pay:
to get an annual subscription for £15.95, down from £19.45.
MANDATORY WORK FOR ESA WRAG CLAIMANTS
Private sector work programme providers can now order claimants in the ESA work-related activity group to carry out work experience for the benefit of the community– although this may include working for commercial companies. There is no time limit on how long claimants can be forced to work for, although the DWP claim that it will generally only be for two weeks.
Providers will have to take into account a claimant’s health problems and disabilities when deciding on a placement, but if this is based on an Atos assessment of their abilities this may be of little reassurance to many claimants.
The combination of potential mandatory work placements and the savage new sanction of £71 a week for ESA claimants who refuse, without good cause to do as they are ordered, gives private sector companies enormous power to threaten and bully claimants.
You can read the DWP press release on mandatory work for ESA claimants here (external link).
Members can read more and comment here.
ESA UPRATING TO BE CAPPED
Working age benefits, including ESA but with the exception of the support component, are to be uprated by just 1% per annum for the next three years from April 2013. This will happen regardless of how much prices rise in reality, pushing more sick and disabled claimants into debt and poverty.
Fifty nine charities have spoken out (external link) against the cap on uprating and Labour have said they will oppose it.
Members can read more and comment here.
PAT’S PETITION SUCCESS
In our last newsletter we told you about the continuing efforts of Pat Onions and the campaigners at Carer Watch to get a debate held, and an assessment ordered, on the combined effect of all the cuts and changes being forced on sick and disabled claimants. We mentioned that at Carer Watch “surrender is never an option” and we were right. Even though their petition didn’t make it to the required 100,000 signatures, Pat is getting her debate courtesy of the Labour Party, who are using one of their Opposition Day Debates to raise this issue.
Pat and her fellow campaigners are looking for your support in blogging and posting about the debate, likely to happen sometime in January and in contacting your MP and urging them to attend and take part. A proper cumulative impact assessment would prove once and for all whether we are all in this together or whether the sick and disabled are being forced to bear the brunt of the suffering. And with the latest proposal to cap ESA uprating at 1% per annum, the need for a proper assessment has become even more urgent.
More details from the indomitable Carer Watch.
RECORDING RULES ARE PROBABLY ILLEGAL
Thanks to Jim Otram for spotting a Freedom of Information Act response which shows that the DWP received advice in 2010 that obliging people to hire a sound engineer to record their medical was likely to be unlawful. According to the DWP document, claimants should have the right to a recording not just of ESA medicals, but of all medicals including ones carried out in their home.
So, the fight is now on to get DLA and PIP medicals recorded. Capita have already said they will do so for PIP in the area of the country they’re responsible for, so it’s time to step up the pressure on Atos. Why not fire off a Christmas complaint to your MP about the DWP ignoring its own legal advice and the rights of sick and disabled claimants?
You can download a copy of the DWP document from this link.
Members can comment on this story here.
CAPITA LIE DETCTOR
Just in case anyone imagines that Capita are a caring, claimant friendly company whilst Atos are the dastardly villains, it’s worth bearing in mind that it’s only Capita who are happy to use lie detectors on claimants without their knowledge or permission.
In their latest foray into the world of deeply dodgy pseudo-science, Capita are using their Voice Risk Analysis software – originally created by Israeli intelligence for use on terror suspects -to check on council tax claimants in the London Borough of Southwark.
You can read the full story in the Telegraph.
ATOS ABANDON CLAIMANT IN FIRE PANIC
In the interests of balance, if we’re going to be critical of Capita then we feel we ought to do our best to find something hurtful to say about Atos too. Their staff very obligingly made that easy for us by taking a claimant in a wheelchair up to the second floor of the Neasden assessment centre and then legging it when the fire alarm went off,
According to the claimant, who has early onset Parkinson’s: “The doctor held the door open for us to come out but then ran down the stairs and left us there,... We weren't allowed to use the lift and asked a security guard for help - he said he'd send someone but no one came. Eventually another security guard came past and stayed with us, even though he had been told to evacuate.”
You can read the whole sorry story in the Independent.
NEW FREE DLA AND AA CASE LAW PACK
Benefits and Work is pleased to be able to provide a copy of the Ninth Edition of the DLA/AA Case Law Pack (June 2011) as a resource for members involved in disability living allowance and attendance allowance claims, revisions and appeals.
The 900+ page guide provides a digest of over 850 DLA and AA case law judgements/decisions covering the main disability-related and adjudication issues surrounding DLA and AA.
The pack contains two case law tables. One enables readers to research and find case law according to topic e.g. bodily functions, continual supervision, cooking test and virtually unable to walk. The other provides a chronologically ordered reference which can be used to find judgements/decisions by designation.
If you are involved in a DLA or AA appeal yourself, or supporting clients who are appealing a decision, this pack is a great resource for discovering the correct legal line for successful claims and for assisting in the preparation of written submissions.
The pack is compiled by Mark Perlic who is an experienced welfare rights practitioner currently working at Wolverhampton City Council's Welfare Rights Service. Before that he was the Training Officer at Birmingham Tribunal Unit and prior to this he worked as a Welfare Rights Officer for Derbyshire County Council.
Advanced orders are now being taken for the latest Tenth Edition ‘January 2013’ of this publication which, whilst including the write-ups of all timeline-relevant judgements/decisions which have featured in all earlier editions, brings the publication fully up to date.
Copies of the latest Case Law Pack edition (both in traditional book or pdf format) can be obtained direct from Mark Perlic. See his website - www.mnptraining.com - for details.
The new 10th edition retails at £52.50 book form and £25.00 in pdf form. This includes postage and packaging to mainland UK and Northern Ireland.
The website also provides more information about Mark, his plans to produce an ESA case law pack surrounding the Work Capability Assessment and the training courses he holds in London and Birmingham aimed at benefits advisers.
Member can download the 9th edition of the case law pack from the DLA Appeals section of the members area.
STOP PRESS: LEVENSON REPORT PROTECTION BEING NOBBLED
The Levenson Report recommends that representative groups should be allowed to lodge complaints on behalf of minorities who are the victim of prejudicial reporting in the press. This would potentially cover rabid tabloid attacks on sick and disabled claimants. However, newspaper editors are taking legal advice on this clause, presumably in the hope of watering it down or ditching it altogether. Black Triangle have produced an open letter to the Guardian protesting against this attempt to leave disabled people unprotected, which you can sign here (external link).
As always, there’s much more news in the members area than we have room for in this newsletter. Many thanks to everyone who has sent in news stories over the last fortnight, including: Beverley Hymers, John Pring, Jim Allison, papasmurf, Jim Otram.
Finally, our last collection of good news post from the forum for 2012.
Moved to Support Group for on appeal from ESA WRAG
“Thank you so much for all of your help on this website, I certainly could not have done it without your assistance. The information is superb.”
IB to ESA Support Group without medical
“Thank you so very much Benefits and Work ,both for fabulous guides and to the forum volunteers who give so much time and knowledge to help us through the benefit maze.”
Moved from IB to ESA Support Group without medical
“Many thanks to all for the site.”
Transferred from IB to ESA Support Group for 3 years without medical
“I am so grateful I became a Member of Your Website.”
Migrated from IB to ESA Support Group without medical assessment
“My grateful thanks to the moderators and contributors to this site and forum.”
Placed in ESA Support Group for 2 years
“Thank you for providing me with the guides and advise with my ESA.”
Placed in ESA Support Group
“First of all thank you so much for your help.”
Placed in ESA Support Group without medical
“I am so glad I found this web site for I read through all the help & advice. Thank you to each & every one of you.”
Transferred from IB to ESA Support Group without medical assessment
“Many many thanks to the B&W community.”
Moved from ESA WRAG to Support Group after requesting appeal
“A very big thank you to work and benefits forum.”
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10 December Newsletter
Don’t Miss Out On Our PIP Training – It’s Filling Fast!