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ESA To UC Forced Migration Rules Announced, Mind Hits Back At McVey, MPs Condemn ‘Pointlessly Cruel’ Sanctions Against Disabled

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Dear Reader,

In this edition we confirm that the mass migration of claimants to universal credit looks all but unstoppable, now that draft regulations for forcing claimants off benefits such as ESA have been published.

We reveal that library staff are “horrified” and “really depressed” about their role in supporting UC claimants.

And we look at how charities, including Mind, have hit back at Esther McVey’s claim that they now consider the DWP to be listening to them over UC.

Finally we hear from MPs who think that sanctioning sick and disabled claimants is ‘pointlessly cruel’ and from the government minister who thinks that sanctions are in the best interests of claimants with mental health conditions.

The government has published the regulations setting out how they will force claimants of ‘legacy’ benefits such as employment and support allowance (ESA) to claim universal credit (UC) instead.

The move comes in spite of strong opposition from many charities and MPs.

A few concessions have been made.

For example, claimants will get a minimum notice period of 3 months, instead of one month, warning them that they must make a claim for UC.

And if a claimant makes a ‘defective’ claim they won’t automatically lose their transitional protection, as had been intended. Instead, they will still be able to make an effective claim, provided they do so within their deadline.

Crucially, however, the government is still insisting that it is up to claimants to make an effective claim for UC, instead of the DWP moving existing claimants automatically onto UC.

Charities are warning that, as a result, many may be left without any income at all.

Following on from our story in the last newsletter about librarians providing UC support, we’ve now heard from two library assistants also required to help with UC as part of their job.

One was ‘horrified’ to discover that colleagues were questioning applicants about their circumstances and providing advice at a desk in the middle of a public library, with no hope of privacy or confidentiality.

The library assistant has found themselves labelled ‘hard and unhelpful’ for refusing to follow their colleagues example. Instead they offer advice solely on computer related issues such as how to use a drop down menu.

The second assistant has yet to have any UC clients. Which is probably fortunate as they have received only one afternoon’s training in UC and said that this left them ‘really depressed’.,

Mind and other charities have hit back at Esther McVey, secretary of state for work and pensions, after she told MPs that the DWP had their support for UC changes, including mass migration of claimants to UC.

In a statement McVey claimed:

“. . . charities have been saying that the Department is now listening to what claimants, charities and MPs are saying. The Trussell Trust has said that. Gingerbread has said that. Mind has said that. Mencap has said that.”

Mind responded on Twitter:

“These regulations have confirmed what we have long feared and argued against – that in the move over to Universal Credit three million people, including hundreds of thousands of people with mental health problems, will be forced to make a new claim. This risks many being left without income and pushed into poverty.”

Gingerbread also responded, tweeting:

“We want to be clear – we support changes to the system that benefit single parents, but this statement does not paint the full picture. We are not complacent and are clear these changes do not do enough to make the system work for single parents”.

Other charities named by McVey, including CPAG and the Trussell Trust, also made clear that they did not agree with her.

It is less than six months since McVey had to apologise to parliament for misleading MPs about UC. Clearly, that experience has not dampened her enthusiasm for twisting the truth.

The House of Commons Work and Pensions Committee has called for an end to the sanctioning of the benefits of sick and disabled claimants.

The MPs found, not surprisingly, that sanctioning claimants who are disabled or have a health condition is not helpful:

It does not work. Worse, it is harmful and counterproductive. We recommend that the Government immediately stop imposing conditionality and sanctions on anyone found to have limited capability for work, or who presents a valid doctor’s note (Fit Note) stating that they are unable to work ”

Frank Field, chair of the committee said:

"We have heard stories of terrible and unnecessary hardship from people who’ve been sanctioned. They were left bewildered and driven to despair at becoming, often with their children, the victims of a sanctions regime that is at times so counter-productive it just seems pointlessly cruel.”

The committee also said it was ‘unacceptable’ that the DWP refuses to evaluate the harsher sanctions regime introduced in 2012, to find out what effect it is actually having on claimants and whether it helps in any way.

Astonishingly, in his response, the employment minister Alok Sharma said that ‘work is generally good for physical and mental health and well-being’ and that it would therefore be doing disabled people ‘a great disservice’ to exempt them from sanctions.

For good measure, he added that exempting claimants with mental health conditions from sanctions ‘may not be in their best interests’.

With McVey and Sharma in charge, the DWP has reached a new level of cruelty and deceit, matched only by its increasing incompetence.

Good luck,

Steve Donnison

Benefits and Work guides covers

Successful PIP appeal
“Went from Lower rate daily living to Enhanced Rate and got an extra year. The judge acknowledged that I am significantly limited by reason of my Borderline Personality Disorder and Complex PTSD and set aside the DWP's original decision. Without the support of Benefits and Work I would never have found the courage to go to a Tribunal.”

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Mind hits back at McVey over support for DWP
The mental heath charity Mind has hit back at Esther McVey after she claimed that the charity supported the DWP's draft regulations for mass migration of claimants from ‘legacy’ benefits such as ESA onto UC.

“Horrified” and “really depressed” library assistants required to give UC support
Benefits and Work has heard from two more library assistants who are expected to support UC claimants as part of their work.

Food bank use up by 13%
The Trussell Trust’s latest figures show that foodbank use is up by 13% on last year. The Trust has called for a pause on all new UC claims.

MPs condemn sanctions against sick and disabled
The House of Commons Work and Pensions Committee yesterday condemned the sanctions regime being used against sick and disabled people as ‘harmful and counterproductive’.

ESA to UC managed migration regulations published
The government has published the proposed new regulations for managed migration of claimants from ESA to UC.

As always, many thanks to everyone who takes the trouble to post in the forum or email us with news of your success. We know it’s many readers favourite, and most encouraging, bit of the newsletter.

PIP success
Benefits and Work guides covers“Hi, having subscribed to B & W to help my husbands claim, I used the info to claim for my son in April 2017, he was assessed at home by an ex nurse …as you can probably guess, assessor said he was capable of living without help. After a tribunal meeting on 23rd Sept 2018, he now has PIP both, I then found out he can get server disability from ESA as he lives alone...All being back paid to April 2017 with no more assessment until 2020. Keep up the good work.”

ESA review success
“I was sent an ESA50 form to fill in 20th July; returned it 2nd August; had an assessment on 3rd October; and received my result today, two weeks later - staying in the support group…Thank you again for all the support and advice you offer.”

PIP award
“I have just been awarded Enhanced rate pip and enhanced rate mobility… thank you to the group for the guides”

Lower rate DLA to Enhanced PIP thanks to this site
“Just wanted to say thanks a million to everyone involved with the production of the awesome PIP guide. After years of being on the lower rate of both DLA components I had resigned myself to losing out when I was told my DLA was ending and I was to apply for PIP. But after thoroughly reading the guide prior to both filling in the form and again before attending the assessment, I was able to ensure I properly communicated how my conditions impact on me, with reference to the descriptors. I know for sure that understanding the importance of concepts such as "reliably", the importance of bringing someone to the assessment etc, which I learned from the guide, was pivotal in me getting a PIP award of Enhanced Daily Living and Standard Mobility. So thanks again”

ESA Support Group without assessment
“Happy but confused today as received an unexpected payment from ESA as my regular payment was only last week, so I called the ESA helpline to query as didn't want to spend the money if it was an error… I am at the moment in the assessment stage of the my application and sent completed ESA50 forms with the help of the guides on here which was approx 8 weeks ago so was awaiting contact re medical assessment to see if I qualify for ESA. Well I spoke to a very helpful lady who advised me that the payment was indeed mine and it was arrears owed to me from an increase in benefit from mid September, she then confirmed that it was my ESA and the application had been processed, was successful and that I had been placed in the Support group and it was from mid September and for 36 mths. To say that I am over the moon is an understatement but am still shocked and confused as to how this has happened without me having to go to a medical assessment… feel very fortunate to have had a some what stress free ESA application as I know others are not so fortunate …just passing on some positive news that it does appear that if you are genuinely entitled and complete the forms fully and most importantly use the guides on this site you should have a relatively straight forward application process”

PIP claim success
“Once again Benefits and Pension advice by you guys have been successful. Having been reassessed back in March 2018 and losing the mobility part of PIP completely, My mission was to at least to get back what I was awarded prior the reassessment. Having down loaded everything from the site, my work started. In 2 weeks time I was due to appear at a tribunal, today I received a call from the DWP explaining my case had been reviewed and my award had been changed. Basic rate for living and enhanced rate for mobility. All to be back dated to March 2018. Needless to say I'm delighted. Its taken nearly 9 mths. ATOS have a lot to answer for. So make it clear to them your in for the long haul. Go through every sentence of the decision makers explanation and take it apart bit by bit without making personal attacks on the assessors. We know the system is far from perfect, which is why we need to support this Webb site. I'm sure there work is far from over as we all move on to Universal Credit. My thanks once again.”

ESA success
“After applying for ESA (CB) in August 2017 I’ve finally been awarded the support group. I had to wait 11 months for my face to face and didn’t hear anything after that apart from getting a letter asking me to update what my works pension amount is. I sent them the details. I phoned up and seemingly they forgot to send me out the letter in August telling me the DM had put me in the support group!! They also didn’t act on the figures I sent them for my pension. I finally got it sorted out by getting a call back. Although the woman I spoke to was very nice, she said my income was over the amount which would give me any ESA. Because of your advice I knew this wasn’t true and I should be receiving a reduced amount. Three times she repeated this, with me questioning it each time. She then said she would run it through the computer and again it came out as zero. I insisted she work it out and she quickly realised I was correct! If I hadn’t persevered I would have ended up with nothing! I can see many other people not realising or giving up when told the incorrect information. I am now getting some money, as my pension does reduce the ESA as I thought. I also got £2000 in back pay. I’m hugely relieved it has worked out well. Thanks for your guides and also the support you give on the forum.”

DLA to PIP success for 16 year old
“My daughter hit 16 & having been on DLA for 10 years with severe learning difficulty, ASD, sensory proprioception, incontinence & a host of other issues, was being moved to PIP. I used the guides on here... We waited 9 weeks before finally getting an award letter. My daughter got 25 points for personal care and 12 points for mobility, awarded for 3 years. Without a doubt your guides helped me”

Thank you all who run this site
“I have just renewed my subscription. This is not because I need help at the moment, it is to support this site so they can continue to help others. Thanks to everyone who runs this site. You are amazing, compassionate people”

Give yourself the best possible chance of getting the right ESA, PIP or DLA decision, whether you’re making a claim, renewing an existing award or asking for a reconsideration or appeal.

Subscribe now and get instant access to all our guides.

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: 7437

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.
Offer ends midnight Friday

Good luck,

The Office Team
Benefits and Work Publishing Ltd
Company registration No. 5962666


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