New PIP training date
Both our London PIP training dates are now full, but don’t despair – we’ve now added a third London date in April.  There’s just 4 places left on the Birmingham March date and 4 on the Bristol March date – so don’t leave booking too long. Meanwhile, after a delegate changed courses we also have one available place on the Bristol February date. 

Book now and you are also guaranteed 3 months FREE professional membership of the site for non-members and price discounts for current  professional members.

More training details and booking forms here.

Attacks on DLA and ESA claimants

Dear [fname],

Two days after our December newsletter went out, the DWP dropped a bombshell on disabled claimants.  They suddenly revealed, after all the consultations were over,  that people wanting to qualify for the higher rate of the personal independence payment (PIP) mobility component will have to show they that they are unable to walk more than 20 metres, rather than the 50 metres generally used for disability living allowance (DLA).  The DWP now estimate that over half a million people will miss out on higher rate mobility under PIP compared to DLA.

We’ve published several articles on this issue, including:

PIP higher rate mobility down to 20 metres

Government silent on ‘draconian’ PIP mobility plans (members only)

DWP lies to cover tracks on mobility cuts (members only)

There’s also a report on the changes:  Emergency Stop

 from We Are Spartacus.

Plus the Hardest Hit

are running a campaign to get people to contact their MPs about the change, which is likely to see many thousands of disabled claimants lose their independence.

In one small bit of good news, however, the timetable for moving people with indefinite or lifetime awards of DLA onto PIP has been put back by two years, until October 2015 -  after the next election.
The DWP do not now expect to have assessed all working age DLA claimants for PIP until March 2018.

One other item of good news is that PIP will be paid at the same rate as the DLA equivalents, more details here.

Since the publication of the final draft criteria for PIP we’ve updated our PIP materials on the site – including our introductory guide to PIP in the DLA section of the members area.

We’re also working on our first detailed guide to PIP for claimants.  It will be available for all members to download before PIP goes live in April.

However, we’re aware that professional members will need to begin informing and training staff prior to that date.  So we’re making the 41 page draft guide available to professional members now, on the very  firm understanding that on no account should it be used to advise clients and that you bear full responsibility for checking and ensuring the accuracy of any material you use.

The only thing we have yet to update is the PIP self-test, but we hope to also have that up and running again by the time of the next newsletter.

If anyone out there has access to the ‘How your disability affects you’ form the DWP will be sending out to claimants or copies of guidance being issued to decision makers or health professionals, we’d be very grateful to receive copies in strictest confidence at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

If you’re not already a member, join the Benefits and Work community
join-us  (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.

Over Christmas we also carried out a major overhaul of the site software and we hope you will find it is now easier to navigate and quicker to load.

The result is that we have had very little time to produce news items for this newsletter, so we hope you’ll forgive its brevity.

A large number of changes to the WCA, the test for ESA, come into force on 28 January.  There is one positive change in relation to people receiving treatment for cancer.  But the vast majority are revisions that have been introduced to overturn rulings in the upper tribunal that were favourable to claimants.

We will be updating our WCA guides when the changes come in – though there may be a small delay whilst we wait to see if the ESA50 form is going to be changed as well.

Meanwhile, DWP guidance to the changes is available here.

And the legislation that introduces the changes is available here.

An online campaign with the hashtag #esaSOS (case sensitive) is being launched to challenge the changes to the WCA – more details from  from midnight Wednesday and from 10am Thursday.

Readers may remember that some months ago we were approached by a public relations company on behalf of Atos, who wanted to have the right to reply on the Benefits and Work forum.  We sent them one test question on recording medicals and that was the last we ever heard from them.  Atos have, however, managed to get their ‘Company representative’ a spot on the Money Saving Expert Forums where they are attracting a certain amount of animosity for allegedly producing more PR than genuine information.

You can judge for yourself on the ‘Ask Atos’ thread.

On the subject of recording medicals, whilst Capita have said that they will record all PIP medicals as a matter of course, Atos are still digging their heels in over recording work capability assessments.  A post appeared on their blog last month on the subject of ‘Recording of Assessments – using personal equipment’.

The post says that you can use your own equipment but that: 

“you must be able to provide a complete and identical copy of the recording to the healthcare professional at the end of the assessment.  It should be in CD or audio cassette format only.  Mobile phones are not suitable for this purpose.”

So, in reality, you can only use your own equipment if you happen to own a very expensive dual tape or dual CD recorder.  At least Atos have now dropped the risible requirement that you bring along a sound engineer too. 

But the probability is that Atos’ restrictions are still unlawful, as was revealed in legal advice given to the DWP two years ago

which confirmed that:

“ . . . recording of assessments for claimants must be allowed without unreasonable obstructions. The majority of the claimants who request that their medical assessment is recorded, do not have the financial means the provide the specified recording equipment.”

Whether anyone will ever be in a position to challenge Atos via the tribunals or the courts is another matter, as it’s likely to mean a very long wait for your benefits to be paid.

One result of the fact that the DWP are now planning to take 5 years to transfer all working age claimants off DLA is that the massive recruitment drive by the Tribunals Service that we told you about in previous newsletters is now in doubt.

 An email sent out by the Judicial Appointments Commission explains that, following the government announcement  “Her Majesty's Courts and Tribunals Service is reviewing the requirements of the recruitment campaign for Disability Members. Further information will be available in due course . . .”

Finally, our first round-up of good news from the forum for 2013.

IB to ESA support group
“I would like to extend my heartfelt thanks to all involved with this site and to all the mods who help us through what is a torturous process. I am sure I would not have been successful if it wasn't for all the valuable tips and advice available.”

Support group on appeal
“just wanted to say thanks so much for your guides and info which I used for my esa appeal.”

IB to ESA support group
“I do not think we could have managed to fill in all the forms and would not have provided all of his medical evidence if it was not for advice on this site once again a big thank you.”

From IB to ESA
“thank you so much for your information and form filling tips.”

IB to ESA support group
just to say thank you with help of b&w i have migrated from ib to esa with just filling out the eas50 form. no medical and put into the support group.”

Kept in support group
“I really couldn't have done this without the information contained throughout this site.”

WRAG to Support Group on appeal
“The site has been a great help to me, and I would like to thank the moderators and other members for their advice directly in answer to my questions and indirectly when I have read other people’s posts.”

From IB to WRAG after medical
“Without the guides I would have found the ESA form ten times more stressful to fill in and probably would not have scored enough points.”

IB to ESA support group
“I would also like to take this opportunity to sincerely thank everyone on, and associated with, this web-site and Forum for the fantastic Guides and the invaluable tips and information contained therein.”

From WRAG to support group on reconsideration
“a big thanks for the info from this site which has been a great help to get there”

From income support to support group
“Just wanted to say a big thank you to all who run the benefits and work website and forum.”

From WRAG to support group on reconsideration
“I cannot thank this site enough for the help, and wealth of knowledge it provides.”

IB to support group after medical
“i was awarded support group, thanks I’m sure to the excellent info available on here.”

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

You are welcome to reproduce this newsletter on your blog, website, forum or newsletter provided it is properly attributed to

You can also read this newsletter online
news/2190-16-january-newsleter  (open access).

Good luck,

Steve Donnison

Benefits and Work Publishing Ltd
Company registration No. 5962666



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