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: 8387
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.
Support Group without medical
“I filled in his ESA50 for him using your excellent guides. This shows how much worth B & W is as this is my third success story.”
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Could claimants choose the next government?
Yes they could. We’ve done the research and there are more than enough working age claimants in marginal constituencies to make it entirely feasible.
The real question is whether claimants are so appalled by the current administration that they will turn out in large numbers to vote – or so disgusted by all politicians that they will stay at home. Leave a comment to tell us what you think you will do.
Judging by some of the things that have been happening over the last few weeks, however, a change of administration is already desperately overdue.
We have news of the DWP heavily subsidising jobs in the ‘adult’ industry and giving the power to private sector companies to force young people to apply for them. Spam filters prevent us from giving more details here, but you can read all the astonishing details on the Benefits and Work website.
Then there’s the DWP Press Office deciding to use the term ‘welfare hand-outs’ instead of benefits payments. We’re outraged, and if you are too, we’d like you to consider making a complaint.
Plus, within hours of the Court of Appeal upholding an Upper Tribunal ruling that the work capability assessment for ESA disadvantages claimants with mental health conditions, the DWP sent out a memo to all staff telling them nothing was going to change and that it was ‘Business as usual’. We publish the memo in full.
And that’s just for starters, there’s so much more below . . .
Following the fourth annual review of the Work Capability Assessment, it has come to light that Professor Harrington had previously advised the then employment minister Chris Grayling that the WCA was not fit for purpose or for roll-out to Incapacity Benefit claimants.
Despite the advice given during discussions in the summer of 2010, Grayling began the programme of reassessment in February 2011, earlier than planned.
Since then it has been evident that many claimants have become more distressed, anxious and suicidal as a result of the ineffective and, some consider, degrading assessment process. Relapses in mental health conditions have been widely reported. Sadly, in December a coroner ruled that yet another man who took his life did so as a direct result of having his benefits stopped.
Mind, the mental health charity, has produced a video showing three scenarios of how work capability assessments affect claimants with mental health conditions.
Standing by his policies, Iain Duncan Smith decided not to engage in the debate in the commons about foodbanks and the increased reliance on them by benefit claimants. As his Tory colleagues jeered at those who use foodbanks, IDS ducked out of the House and later refused to meet with the charity the Trussell Trust, choosing instead to insist that the charity is merely scaremongering and publicity-seeking and claiming that welfare reform is having no effect on the increased use of foodbanks.
Along with other austerity measures aimed at punishing the poor disproportionately, funding for the replacement to crisis loans (now allocated to Local Authorities for emergency payments and support) is planned to be scrapped in April 2015.
No doubt reliance on other forms of charitable help, as well as foodbanks, will increase as people struggle to survive.
Proposals to reduce the benefits bill by £12 billion due to be introduced at the same time as crisis loan funding disappears do not make for a rosy future for the groups being targeted, especially as this is nearly half of the overall £25 billion spending cuts needed after the 2015 election. Cracks are appearing within the coalition as Nick Clegg criticises the proposals
PIP AND DLA NEWS
This month (from 13th January) PIP is due to be introduced in the DG, ML, EH and TD postcode areas, so people whose DLA is due to end on or after 17th March 2014 will be invited to claim PIP instead.
On 3rd February this is due to be further extended to LA, CA, DL, HG and YO areas.
It’s not clear whether claimants in those areas will have received DLA renewal forms in the meantime, as it is standard practice for renewal forms to be sent out 20 weeks prior to the end of an award.
See our PIP Timetable for more details.
If you live in these areas and your award of DLA is due to end on or after 17th March and you have received a DLA renewal form we would like to hear from you.
We have also published the contact details of Atos and Capita for making a complaint about your PIP medical following the discovery that the DWP themselves have admitted they have been giving people the wrong details.
Finally, the DWP have at last come clean and admitted that 34% of PIP claimants will lose out because they have changed the qualifying distance for PIP enhanced mobility from 50 metres to 20 metres.
IS YOUR ORGANISATION READY FOR PIP?
"Trainer clear, knowledgeable, relaxed, humorous. It's rare for me to find a day's course such a hit and meeting my expectations". Annie Lewis. People in Partnership.
“Got news over Christmas period of successful PIP claim, high rate care and mobility for 3 years after face to face with 'Atos/Salus'. Could not have done it without following B&W guides on how to apply correctly.”
Is your agency ready for PIP and all the problems it’s likely to bring? If not, prepare yourself to help your client group by signing up for a Benefits and Work PIP training course in March 2014.
Find out more about our PIP training or:
BEDROOM TAX NEWS
It seems the government is failing to follow its own legislation in as many as 40,000 cases, where claimants have been incorrectly penalised by the “bedroom tax”. In a loophole that has only just come to light, people who have claimed Housing Benefit continually since 1996 should not be subject to any reduction in the Housing Benefit award.
OTHER BENEFITS NEWS
Now, for some positive news! We have been contacted by The Calvert Trust as they have recently been awarded substantial funding to enable more people with disabilities to experience their residential outdoor activity breaks in the Lake District. The grants and funding are available nationally to help support people with disabilities who could not otherwise afford to visit. The Trust caters for people of all ages with sensory, learning or physical disabilities, including those with the most complex needs for which most outdoor centres cannot cater.
Visit their website for more information.
CAMPAIGNS AND BLOGS
We are contacted with details of campaigns and petitions quite regularly. We will share those where you could help or those of interest to benefits claimants. We will be adding some to our website soon, so please e-mail us or tweet us if you want them included. We can reach a wide audience and together we are stronger.
Who Benefits? has added this Petition to their website, against the negative portrayals of benefit claimants and calls for greater balance and accuracy in broadcasting.
In addition, as part of our research and trawling through Social media, we regularly come across fascinating views in blogs. We want to share these with you too.
Read the blog post of Joe Halewood here. He keeps an eye on Supported Housing and how it affects people. He gives an insider’s view of just how badly some local authorities and social landlords behave in relation to tenants’ benefits – and what you can do to fight back.
The blog of Sue Marsh provides an insight into the impact of Welfare Reform on disabled claimants and on much more besides. It can be found here
Tom Pride's blog always provides comment and food for thought on very recent benefits news
Our twitter profile continues to attract new followers daily and we like to interact with you there too. It is interesting when you share your benefits experiences and send us the latest news stories to delve into. We cannot advise directly on twitter but will try and suggest where you could find the information you need. We asked our followers how we could help and here is a summary of the response
Happy New Year to all our Facebook members, we wanted to say a big thank you for all the positive comments so many of you made, when we asked you what you liked about Benefits and Work. Many of you liked the idea that we are now posting news and views in several ways with our Facebook, our Twitter feed and the main website. It was heart-warming to know that people come to the pages and find the information and support they are looking for.
Just to say, we will continue to post articles and information in the coming year. Come and join us on the page, have your say, let us know what you are experiencing, vent your frustrations, celebrate your successes and support each other where you can.
The bedroom tax on bereavement: Grieving families to face spare-room benefit cut within three months
DWP launches advice on getting a job and ‘dressing for success’ on Social Media
Benefits overpayments being targeted by new campaign
DPOs face election campaign 'gagging risk', says disabled peer
GOOD NEWS FROM THE FORUM
Thanks to all of our members who send us their stories on the forum or by e-mail. It gives encouragement to others who are struggling to meet all of the demands of illness and distress when battling the complex and difficult benefits system. Here are some more good news stories:
“You've managed to steer us in the right direction a few times now, give us that vital piece of information we were missing. I know for a fact that key things that we've learned here on the Benefits and Work Forum have helped us get my dad in to the rightful Support Group.”
DLA renewed at the same rate
“Thanks everybody at B&W for your excellent guides and information.”
DLA renewed until 2016
“Many thanks to the site for all the up to date info.”
ESA Support Group without a medical
“I want to say a big thank you to the advisers on this site I went from sda to support group without medical, I would never have been able to answer questions on forms without your help.”
ESA Support Group without a medical
“With the help of this site and the WCA handbook, together with outside support, I got in to the Support Group without a medical.”
DLA Appeal allowed
“a huge thank you to B &W as without the information obtained from your site I'm not so sure we would have been so successful. The judge actually commented on our submission stating that it was one of the best he had heard. This was all down to B & W in our opinion as without it we could not have done such a good representation without using some of the case law we had obtained.”
“Thank you so much for the guides and the forum support. I've heard today that my DLA remains the same and has been renewed until 2018!”
Transfer from IB to ESA
“I had a phone call today from the DWP telling me that I had being put onto ESA from IB without a medical for 3 years thank you so much for all your advice and help Its the best news ever. THANK YOU SO MUCH AGAIN.”
Join the Benefits and Work community now and discover what a difference we can make.
Steve Donnison, Sangeeta Enright and Karen Sharpe
The Office Team
Benefits and Work Publishing Ltd
Company registration No. 5962666