We have 1 PIP training place left in Bristol on Thursday 14th March and one in London on Tuesday 19th March.  Otherwise there’s availability on our April dates in Bristol, Birmingham, Leeds and London.

More about PIP training here.

Although we don’t cover universal credit on the site, we’ve had a number of request for universal credit training, so we’re running our first course in Bristol in June, to be followed by more in the Autumn.

More about universal credit training here.

As a minister misleads charities about who will be eligible for the enhanced rate of PIP mobility, the prime minister misleads MPs about who will be exempt from the bedroom tax and the DWP tries to mislead everyone about the rise in the number of DLA awards, it’s clear that the coalition is having problems selling its ‘welfare reform’ agenda.

Add to this today’s multiple u-turns on the bedroom tax, top level staff being ditched over at Universal Credit (UC) HQ and the rumours that most of the IT contractors have stopped work on the project, and it seems likely that the problems are more than just presentational.

Not sadly, that claimants can draw much comfort from this, as it’s equally clear that the DWP intend to plough on regardless of the misery and chaos they will be heaping on sick and disabled people.

But, while charities content themselves with writing stiff letters, claimants are not going down without a fight as they take to the courts to try to overthrow some of the worst aspects of the current changes.

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.

According to disabled people’s organisations who were at a meeting with Esther McVey on 28 February, the minister was very clear that not only would claimants who cannot walk more than 20 metres get the enhanced rate of the PIP mobility component but that:

“the enhanced mobility rate of PIP will be paid to those disabled people who cannot stand and move up to 50 metres unaided or aided safely, reliably, repeatedly or in a reasonable time period.”

This is, of course, completely at odds with the law, which states that people who can walk between 20 and 50 metres will only get the standard rate of PIP.

Disability Rights UK, who were at the meeting, wrote to the minister (external link) on 1st March asking for clarification, but are still awaiting a reply.

Members can read more and comment here.

Meanwhile, rather than just writing strongly worded letters, disabled claimants have taken to the courts.  Following an appeal via Benefits and Work, campaigners have gathered sufficient disabled candidates to mount a legal challenge (external link) to the reduction from 50 metres to 20 metres for PIP enhanced mobility.  

We hope to have further news of a judicial review in the next few days.

In another cause for concern for some Motability customers, new rules make it much harder for disabled claimants to be driven by a personal assistant who is a foreign national  (members only).

As the DWP try to fan the flames of prejudice against claimants, Disability News Service has discovered that they issued statistics which showed that DLA claims had increased between February and May 2012, but failed to mention that the number of working age claimants had actually gone down.  Given that one of the main justifications for the introduction of PIP is an allegedly out-of-control increase in claimants, the fact that it is only awards to children and the elderly, who are not eleigible for PIP, that are increasing is something the DWP would much rather nobody noticed.

Members can read more and comment here.

David Cameron, meanwhile, utterly misled MPs at last Wednesday’s Prime Minister’s Questions by claiming that ‘anyone with severely disabled children is exempt’ from the bedroom tax.  In fact, a Court of Appeal case that would – against the government’s wishes -  prevent some carers of disabled children from having their housing benefit cut where their child is unable to share a room for medical reasons, is being challenged in the Supreme Court by the DWP, who are trying to ensure that carers of disabled children do lose out.  

 The DWP have even advised local authorities to suspend the part of a housing benefit award that relates to a spare room, until the case has been decided by the Supreme Court.  There’s more details from CPAG (external link) and from Channel 4’s Factcheck (external link).

Members can read more and comment here.

Stop press:  the DWP have today withdrawn their appeal to the Supreme Court, meaning that local authorities should allow an extra bedroom for children who are unable to share because of their severe disabilities.

The government did announce a partial climb down on the bedroom tax today, by allowing foster carers and soldiers serving abroad but planning to return home to be exempt from the bedroom tax.  But no such exemption is to be introduced for disabled people, many thousands of whom are expected to lose out under the changes due to be introduced in April.

More details from the Guardian.

Meanwhile disabled people are fighting back, with the We Are Spartacus group having mounted a legal challenge against the bedroom tax which had its initial hearing on 5th March.  The judge gave the DWP 14 days to come up with reasons why he should not allow the case to proceed.

Work and Pensions minister Mark Hoban has denied claims that contractors have stopped work on the massive universal credit IT project.  

But the DWP have already admitted that, when the pilot goes live in April, at least some of the claims will be processed with a pen and paper rather than using the multimillion pound computer system that is still allegedly on time and on budget.  They have also greatly reduced the range of claimants who will take part in the pilot.

In another sign that things are not going well, UC director Hilary Reynolds has ‘stepped down’ just months after taking over the post.  Her job is now being covered by David Pitchford, the trouble-shooter recently brought in as chief executive of the project.

With so few claimants involved in the pilot, there is the beginnings of a possibility that the whole UC fiasco will be allowed to drag on until the election is over before being dropped, either quietly or with great fanfare depending on who wins power.

We know how much feedback from other members means to people who get this newsletter, so please do keep your good luck stories coming.

ESA tribunal support group success
“I would like to thank everyone on this site for their help and advice”

DLA award in 9 days
“Without the benefits and work guides I would not have had the confidence to make the application, so many thanks!”

Support group on reconsideration
“Thanks to all the help from Benefits and work.”

0 points to support group
Thank you to this site for the support and helpful guidance

Support group after 2 years in WRAG
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WRAG on appeal
“Many thanks to you all for your help and support”

WRAG to Support Group on reconsideration
“I would like to say how useful this site was, in the initial stages, and for giving me the courage to appeal.”

WRAG to Support Group on reconsideration
“Thanks to the support of the forum and the B&W guides - what a wonderful site this is!!!”

IB to support group without a medical
“Thank you so much for all the advice found on this site”

Support group without medical
“Thanks for all your hard work, and its nice to know, we are all going through it together.”

Support group without medical
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Support group without medical
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IB to support group without medical
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0 points to support group on appeal
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ESA support group
“in no small part to the helpful guides off B & W, many thanks.”

0 points to support group on reconsideration
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“Thanks to this wonderful site and my CFS/ME Specialist I have been awarded ESA without a medical.”

Join the Benefits and Work community now (open access) and discover what a difference we can make.

You can also read this newsletter online (open access).

Good luck,

Steve Donnison

Benefits and Work Publishing Ltd
Company registration No. 5962666


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