Placed in the Support Group after successful renewal
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Claimants will lose benefits permanently if falsely accused of fraud, DWP decides
In this edition we have the extraordinary news that from next Monday, where a claimant is investigated by the DWP as a result of an entirely false and malicious accusation of fraud, they will automatically lose their disability living allowance (DLA) and be forced to make a claim for personal independence payment (PIP) instead.
There is also the sad, but unsurprising, news that following a hasty and entirely sham consultation, the government is to stick with the harsh 20 metre limit for claiming the higher rate of the mobility component of PIP. Existing claimants whose award is up for renewal from 28th October onwards will be affected. Although as this newsletter was being written, news came in that the roll out of PIP may now happen much more gradually than previously planned. There will be more on this in the latest news section of the site when we get clarification.
If you’re now following us on twitter, you’ll hear as soon as we publish news on this issue.
There is better news in relation to employment and support allowance, however, where the latest figures released by the DWP show a record number of people being found incapable of work and getting into the support group.
Meanwhile Atos continues to take a battering, with MP Dennis Skinner calling on the government to “abolish this cruel heartless monster called Atos” and Citizens Advice revealing that over 150,000 people have raised serious concerns about the work capability assessment administered by Atos.
Finally, for women in need of a holiday because of issues such as poverty and caring responsibilities, we have news of a charity that’s keen to help with up to £350 towards a break.
Being found entirely innocent of fraud will no longer be a defence against the loss of your DLA. Instead, the DWP has chosen to make anonymous hate campaigns against disabled neighbours and work colleagues potentially much more damaging.
The DWP have ruled that from next Monday, if you are investigated because of an allegation that you are fraudulently claiming DLA, you will automatically lose your DLA award and be assessed for PIP instead, regardless of the outcome of the investigation. The change in policy does not appear to be lawful, but that’s not a consideration that seems to trouble the DWP or the government these days.
It means that claimants with indefinite awards of DLA, who may not have been due to be assessed for PIP until 2017, could find themselves forced onto the much harder to claim PIP years early.
This could be especially awful for claimants with mobility awards, given the DWP’s confirmation this week that it is to entirely ignore the results of its hasty PIP consultation and stick with a 20 metre limit for the enhanced rate of the PIP mobility component.
By the DWP’s own estimates, over 400,000 claimants are likely to lose out as a result of the changes to the mobility component and the new disability minister, Mike Penning, has already confirmed that he expects spending on DLA and PIP to begin falling (members only) as early as next year.
However, plans to assess all DLA claimants for PIP by 2017 may already be in trouble. The Disability News Service has revealed that crisis meetings have taken place across the country because Atos has a serious shortage of doctors (members only) able to carry out disability benefits assessments.
"Exceptionally good trainer and great course content" Sheila Stringer, DIAL NW Kent
"Very useful and I have learned a lot." Laura Skorupa, British Polio Fellowship.
"Overall a really interesting, educative day - facilitator a brilliant communicator" Ryan Lodge, West Leicestershire MIND
"Very helpful and well presented." Karin Gray, Scope.
Find out more about our PIP training or:
Download a PIP training booking form for Birmingham 3 December 2013
Download a PIP training booking form for London 4 December 2013
In spite of the continued vicious rhetoric from government ministers, the latest DWP statistics show that, in reality, a record percentage of claimants are being found to be eligible for employment and support allowance and a record percentage of those claimants are being placed in the support group.
Initial assessments of claims started from December 2012 to February 2013 show that 42% of claimants were assessed as fit for work, but 58% of claimants were entitled to Employment and Support Allowance with 23% being placed in the work-related activity group and 35% being placed in the support group.
Worryingly, however, 29% of people who made claims between December 2012 and February 2013 are still waiting for a decision in their case.
With such an enormous backlog, it’s not surprising that the knives appear increasingly to be out for Atos, the multinational that administers the work capability assessment.
During Prime Minister’s Question Time last week Labour's Dennis Skinner called on the prime minister to "abolish this cruel heartless monster called Atos".
Meanwhile, Islington council has passed a vote of no confidence in Atos after 90% of ESA appeals assisted by the council ended in victory for the claimant.
And there was further embarrassment for Atos after Citizens Advice revealed that over 150,000 people have raised serious concerns about the work capability assessment.
Gillian Guy, the chief executive of Citizens Advice, warned: "Atos is failing to do its job properly, failing to give taxpayers value for money and worst of all, failing thousands of sick and disabled people who bear the brunt of wrong assessments."
“The Information on this Web site was invaluable in preparing for this case as I was representing myself, and I thank you very much. Well worth the joining fee absolutely brilliant.”
OTHER BENEFITS NEWS
The Claimant Commitment has begun its roll-out to 100 jobcentres a month, where it will supersede the current system of jobseekers agreements for new claimants. The claimant commitment imposes a greater burden and a greater possibility of sanctions on claimants, including sick and disabled claimants forced off ESA and onto JSA.
From 28th October the system of mandatory reconsiderations will apply to ESA claimant who are challenging a decision that they are capable of work made on or after that date. ESA claimants will not be eligible for ESA at the assessment phase rate whilst they are waiting for a mandatory reconsideration decision. They may need to claim JSA until the result the reconsideration decision is made and thus be subject to the claimant commitment.
Finally, not entirely a benefits story, but one which may be of interest to some of our readers. We have recently heard from the Mary Macarthur Trust, which exists to provide holidays for women who are in need of a period of rest or holiday by reason of age, poverty, infirmity, disablement or social or economic circumstances. The Trust aims to provide a break needed at a crucial time and provides financial help towards the cost of a holiday.
The Trust tries to help as many women as possible each year. Therefore the maximum available for any holiday is normally £350.00, although this may be increased very slightly in exceptional circumstances. Grants are available now.
Our Campaigns page is now online, listing some of the most important benefits campaigns currently taking place.
GET THE MOST OUT OF THE SITE - FOLLOW US ON TWITTER
Many thanks to the almost 3,000 additional people and organisations following us on twitter since the last newsletter.
We know that twitter will be a valuable and instant way of communicating any urgent information, including any technical issues with the website or newsletter.
Just as importantly, we’re now using twitter to alert people to new articles on the site and we’ll let you know every time a guide is updated – there’s going to be a lot of updating over the next few weeks
So, to make sure you stay absolutely up-to-date, start following us on Twitter now.
And if you’re completely bewildered by the whole world of twitter and ‘retweets’, there are lots of beginners guides out there, just Google ‘twitter for beginners’ and take your pick.
Our Facebook volunteers are delighted that so many people comment and visit the Facebook page
They told us:
“Thank you for supporting the page and helping us share information and news. We get such a variety of comments from members and visitors alike. It’s nice to feel that the page can, at times, make people feel less alone and very encouraging to hear good news items from members like this.
“You can message the page with stories of your own. We are a small team but do read all the comments on the page.”
MORE NEWS FROM THE MEMBERS AREA
Benefit claimants become filmmakers to challenge stereotypes
GOOD NEWS FROM THE FORUMS
We’ve had lots of good news on the forum since the last newsletter, especially from people getting into the support group for ESA. Please do keep your good news coming, we know from feedback it makes a huge difference to other people and encourages them to carry on even when things seem truly desperate.
Support Group without a medical
“All due, I'm quite sure, to following the Benefits and Work guide. Thank You.”
Placed in the Support Group before appeal heard at Tribunal
“A BIG thank you to Mrs HTB, bro58 and Gordon for all your help you have given me along my journey, without your advice and the guides on this site I would never have got this far. I can only say thank you and please don’t stop we NEED you all.”
ESA form completed
“just want to say thank you to everyone on this site for they help and support, just have to play waiting game now .thank you could not have completed it without your help.”
From IB/IS to ESA support group
“a big thank you. The membership fee was worth every penny as your guide helped me be put straight into the support group without a medical”
Support Group from IB without medical
“Thank you Thank you and I Thank you…I feel my success is down to BW and the supportive letter from my GP….Muchly relieved and thankful”
ESA award success
“Hi this is our first post, but would like to thank Benefits and Work for their excellent guides that have resulted in my husband being migrated from IB to the ESA Support Group”
Thank you – IB to ESA Support Group
“I just wanted to thank Benefits and Work guides, as well as [the mods] for their advice - my daughter just got her ESA decision letter, and she has been moved to ESA Support Group, without the need for a medical, which is fantastic news.
The guides and advice posted here surely contributed greatly to helping fill in the convoluted forms and her successfull transition.”
Successful transfer to ESA
“I have recently been transfered from IS to esa… Great info Benefits and work team.”
Placed in the Support Group for 3 years without a medical
“ the support and advice being offered by yourselves at Benefits & Work has proved to be an absolute LIFELINE..”
In the Support Group until 2016 with no assessment
“I could not have got through the form without your help so I do thank you ALL”
Higher Rate Mobility awarded after DLA renewal
“Many thanks to B & W for the useful advice here which helped me to win higher mobility from previous lower rate for ME/CFS”
Placed in the Support Group for the second time for 2 years
“So thankful. Just to let people know that it is possible..”
High Rate Mobility and High Rate Care awarded indefinitely on reconsideration
“Thank you for all your help and advice - it makes a difference”.
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