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 (open access) 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: 68295
Claimants and carers get an annual subscription for £15.56, down from £19.45.
Professionals get an annual subscription for £77.60, down from £97.00. Professionals can pay online or email a completed licence agreement within the deadline, quoting the coupon code in their email.
You can also read this newsletter online
Atos Doc ‘Sickened’ By ESA Recording Plus PIP Mobility Fight Begins
In this edition we urge you to take part in the government’s panic consultation on PIP mobility – even if only to prove that PIP really is all about cuts.
We also reveal that many disabled claimants will have to travel much further for their PIP assessment, as another of Atos’ claims in its successful bid to carry out the medicals turns out to be less than accurate.
There’s a small amount of good news in relation to recording your ESA medical as the DWP have dropped their rule that if Atos can’t find a recorder within four weeks they don’t have to record it at all.
Plus we introduce you to the Atos doctor who is ‘sickened’ by the fact that claimants have the right to have their medical recorded and also saddened that Atos don’t seem to know him, care about him or even pay him as much as they used to. Get your hankie ready.
Staying with doctors, we also hear from the Benefits and Work subscriber who used our information to stand up to a ‘pit bull’ medical member at an ESA tribunal doctor.
Then there’s the grim news of the abrupt closure of Birmingham Law Centre. According to a notice on their website, the Centre is in the hands of the insolvency service having been starved of cash by government cuts to legal aid.
As the Law Centre becomes one of the first victims, we’re asking you to sign the epetition against legal aid cuts which has stalled just a few thousand short of 100,000 signatures. We’d be very proud if our readers could push it over that number before Thursday’s Commons debate on the subject.
Finally – we’re hiring. We’re looking for an experienced welfare rights worker to join our team.
WELFARE RIGHTS SUPPORT WORKER VACANCY
An exciting opportunity has arisen to become part of the team at Benefits and Work.
You will be responsible for helping keep our benefits information updated, producing new information and writing up-to-the-minute news stories. You’ll also provide support to our volunteer moderators and reply to non-benefits related emails.
You’ll be working from home, generally doing 5 x 4 hour shifts on weekdays between 9am and 1pm, though there may be some flexibility in this regard to accommodate other commitments you might have.
There’s more information here.
The DWP has launched a six week consultation on personal independence payment, looking solely at the enhanced mobility component. The move comes after protestors launched a judicial review of the DWP’s failure to consult on changing the qualifying distance from 50 metres down to 20 metres.
Benefits and Work is urging members to take part in the consultation, even though there is a strong likelihood the DWP will ignore its findings.
We believe it is important that the DWP are forced to admit that the changes to PIP have nothing to do with improving the methods of assessing disability and everything to do with cutting costs. In addition, we think it is vital that support is given to the brave campaigners who have forced the DWP to make this embarrassing concession. In addition, the judicial review is likely to be stayed whilst the consultation takes place, but may be restarted once it is over.
The consultation document is available on the .gov.uk website and the consultation will run until 5th August.
Meanwhile Atos has admitted that although its PIP tender document it said it had “contractually agreed” with 22 sub-contractors for them to provide 750 assessment sites across the country, this has fallen to just eight sub-contractors since Atos won the bid.
Atos has refused to say how many of the 750 assessment sites are left. But the changes will mean that many disabled people with significant mobility and care needs will face longer journeys – possibly up to 90 minutes by public transport – to reach their assessments, rather than the maximum of 60 minutes promised by Atos.
The revelation follows on from the d iscovery that Atos’ claim to be working with a number of disability organisation I its bid document also proved to be less than accurate.
PIP HAS ARRIVED . . . DON’T MISS OUT ON OUR JULY TRAINING DATES IN LONDON, LEEDS AND BIRMINGHAM
"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.
A leaked email written by an Atos doctor (members only) reveals the attitude of some within the company to claimants rights. Explaining that Atos managers struggle to find any health professionals willing to be recorded, the doctor goes on to say that:
“although I do them, it sickens me that clients, who apparently have a perfect right to not turn up and to not fill in an ESA50 form, now have the right to demand a recording”.
Having unburdened himself of this fantasy view of claimants rights, the doctor goes on to say that:
“If someone complains, I have to justify my very existence to people at Atos who neither know me, nor support me, nor care. Meanwhile my work load increases and my remuneration decreases as each year goes by.”
Best not tell the doctor that his boss at Atos has just had a pay rise of £280,000, taking his total pay to £2,329,250.
Still, many readers may be surprised and encouraged to learn how painful some Atos doctors find it to be complained about – it’s certainly an incentive not to just give up quietly if you feel you’ve been unfairly treated.
Meanwhile, one of our members had an unpleasant time at an ESA tribunal where he was appealing to be moved from the work-related activity group to the support group. But, with tactics gleaned from our appeals guide, he stood up for himself with heartening results, as he explains:
“I have to say, the Tribunal was bizzarre. There were 2 'judges' one of whom was a Dr. who behaved like a pitbull! I didn't manage to form one complete sentence from the beginning to the end of the session. They wanted one word answers. The Dr even shouted at me and openly implied I was presenting false information, so as they were taping the Tribunal, I took your point and asked for it to be noted I objected to being accused of presenting false information. I was so angry, I missed how embarrassed the senior 'judge' was by her colleagues behaviour. It was my friend and helper who picked up on that.
“Anyhow, with your help, I not only got put in the Support group, it's backdated to Feb '12 and they have recommended I am not reassessed again.
“Thank You, Thank You, THANK YOU BENEFITS AND WORK. You're life savers. I'll be recommending you to anyone who needs help applying for benefits. The best £20 I've ever spent.”
You can read the full post here (open access).
OTHER BENEFITS NEWS
Birmingham Law Centre closed without warning earlier this week. The centre recently lost £160,000 in funding as a result of legal aid cuts. It employed four solicitors, eight caseworkers and three support workers and will be very badly missed by claimants in Birmingham.
A notice on the centre’s website tells clients that they will receive a letter explaining what will happen to their file and advises creditors that they will receive a letter from the insolvency service.
There’s more on this on the Legal Action Group website.
With the demise of Birmingham Law Centre in mind, we’re asking readers to sign a petition against the legal aid cuts. The petition is just 3,500 signatures short of 100,000 and we’d be delighted if our readers could be the ones to take it over that figure before the Commons debate on the subject of the cuts on Thursday.
It won’t change the world, but 100,000 signatures will give opposition MPs a little more evidence of the opposition to the cuts amongst the public, not just amongst so called ‘fat-cat lawyers’.
You can sign the petition here.
MORE NEWS IN MEMBERS AREA
There’s more news in the members area, including:
GOOD NEWS FROM THE FORUM – OPEN ACCESS LINKS
We know how much feedback from other members means to people who get this newsletter, so please do keep your good luck stories coming.
Support group on reconsideration
"Many thanks for your guides - I followed them to the letter."
Support group on appeal
"So from the bottom of my heart thank you to you all at B&W"
ESA support group without medical
"I can't thank you enough for seeing me through this difficult time."
DLA increased on renewal
"Thanks again for the site and peoples help"
From WRAG to support group on renewal
"Without any doubt this successful outcome is due to the help and guidance provided in the B & W guides and the superb moderators who give so much of their time"
ESA Support group with no medical and DLA increased
"Thank you so much to Benefits and Works your guides are fantastic.
IB to ESA support group
"Just to say a massive thank you to this site for all of the information available."
Higher rate mobility and lower care DLA for ME
"Just to say a quick Thank You for the very helpful info contained in the Guides for claiming DLA."
Support group on appeal for fibromyalgia
"I just wanted to say a huge thank you for all the guidance, help and support"
IB to ESA without medical
"Just like to say a big 'thank you' for all the help and guidance that your 'How to fill in ESA forms' has given us."
DLA reinstated on renewal
"I would like to say a massive thank you to your site as if I did not join it I would not have processed in the way I did. Thanks."
IB to ESA support group without medical
"I have to thank you guys for this site as it gave me so much information and helped guide me through the form."
IB to ESA support group without medical
"Thank you again so much, the relief is enormous."
Put in support group for ESA
"Thank you for all your hard work and would recommend joining your group the joining fee has more than been repaid."
IB to ESA support group without medical
"I'd like to thank everyone at B&W for the invaluable help both via the forum and the guides."
Higher rate mobility and middle rate care DLA on reconsideration
"I couldn't have done this without the advice from B&W so I want to say a big THANKYOU! This is going to make such a huge difference to my life."
DLA higher rate mobility indefinitely
"I would like to say a GREAT BIG THANK YOU to all on the team at Benefits and Work."
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