This will change my life

"Thank you, Thank you, Thank you, I applied For DLA Back in February 2011, I was awarded low rate Care, and nothing for Mobility. I was so disappointed I cried. . .  I had joined your site in January this year, so I read everything about appeals to the letter and appealed. Cannot believe it, I received a letter this morning from DWP/DLA they had changed their decision and made me an award of higher rate Mobility, and middle rate Care both indefinite. No medical or tribunal and all thanks to you and your step by step guide. This will change my life, Thank you once again."

DLA cuts – who will lose out?

The DWP have now published much more detail about how they intend to assess people for personal independence payment (PIP), the replacement for disability living allowance (DLA) for working age claimants.  And it’s already clear who some of the people most likely to face DLA cuts are.

Current claimants aren’t actually due to be forced off DLA and assessed for PIP until 2013, but the DWP is in a hurry to get the regulations in place and let Atos start creating new software and preparing for the mass migration.  So they have now published a list of the activities and descriptors that will be used to decide who gets an award of PIP and at what rates. 

PIP awards will be based on the number of points you score for the different daily living and mobility activities.  The assessment procedure is very similar to the one used for employment and support allowance.  Unfortunately this will include filling out a questionnaire and then, for most claimants, having to attend a medical at an Atos examination centre where a doctor or nurse will use a computer programme to assess you.

We don’t yet know the scores for descriptors - except for details of which activities will be high, medium or low scoring - but then neither does the DWP.  First they have to try out the new system on ‘volunteers’ who already get DLA, so they can fiddle with the scores until they can be sure that their target of a 20% reduction in payments is going to be achieved. 

But we do know enough to be able to say which current DLA claimants are most likely to lose out under PIP, simply from knowing which activities will and won’t be taken into account. For example, it’s clear that claims where problems moving around indoors are a major factor will be less likely to succeed under PIP.  The same looks to be true of claims that rely heavily on night-time care needs, claims where supervision is the main issue and many others.

It’s important to make it clear that these are only draft assessment criteria. But given that the DWP have already started testing them and intend to have the whole system worked out and published by October, it seems unlikely that they will be keen to make any dramatic changes.

Benefits and Work members can find out more details of who is most likely to lose out on transfer to PIP and download our 17 page guide to the draft assessment procedure.  (Members only)

Also on the subject of changes to benefits, we’ve updated our members’ page on recent and forthcoming benefits ‘reforms’.  (Members only)

It looks like 2013 -2014 will be especially difficult for claimants and advisors alike as a number of ‘reforms’ will all be taking place at once.  Amongst other things, claimants will be being transferred from incapacity benefit to employment and support allowance, from employment and support allowance to universal credit and from DLA to PIP.  Then there’s the possible abolition of the social fund and of council tax benefit too, both being replaced by a babel of individual local authority schemes.

Protest at the cuts is continuing, however, and organisers of the Hardest Hit march last week were very pleased with the 8,000 turnout and hope to arrange further demonstrations in the future.   You can read more on the Hardest Hit website.

Meanwhile, in order to cope with the avalanche of extra work the ‘reforms’ will create, Jobcentre Plus are . . . closing offices and getting rid of thousands of staff.

Perhaps it was this knowledge that there will be so many empty desks in Jobcentre Plus offices that prompted Chris Grayling to tell MPs that he is trying to persuade Citizens Advice Bureaux to move into them.  Could this ever be a good idea?  Tell us what you think.

No doubt in preparation for the huge number of appeals that the enforced transfer of DLA claimants  is likely to produce, the tribunals service will be recruiting disability wing members for DLA tribunals in November.  Anyone who is disabled or who has knowledge of disability through their work can apply.  You need to be available for a minimum number of sessions a year and you get paid a reasonable amount per session – I don’t know how much it is now but I believe it used to be over £100 a session.  You can register to be sent an email when the recruitment process begins.

Before I finish I would like to say a big thank you to the 3,800+ people who have already visited our Facebook page and clicked on the Like button.  If you haven’t already done so, we’ll be very happy to see you on our Facebook pages.

Finally, the forums were closed for the whole of last week but we have now reopened the Benefits Questions forum, but not the more general Benefits Discussion forum, in order to ease the strain on our moderators.  As  a result, instead of feedback from the forums we have collected together some of the feedback we receive in emails in order  to finish on our traditional cheery note. 

“I am just writing to say how worthwhile joining benefits and work is.  I joined in March and recently had my tribunal heard. It took just two minutes for the hearing to be stopped and I was awarded 15 points.  They could have awarded more, but said I had already got enough. . . I urge anyone about to claim ESA to join benefits and work, it's worth every penny. I got back £950 in arrears alone.”

“I would like to say a BIG "Thank You" for the information on this website. Following an ATOS medical I was only awarded 6 points. I have now had my appeal and was awarded 21 points and have also been put into the support group. I can honestly say that the joining fee was the best money I have ever spent. Thank you so much.”

Read more feedback

You are welcome to reproduce this newsletter on your blog, website, forum or newsletter.

You can also read this newsletter online.

Good luck,

Steve Donnison

Benefits and Work Publishing Ltd
Company registration No.  5962666

If you’re not already a member, find out how to subscribe to Benefits and Work and give yourself the best possible chance of getting the right decision.

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