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Free ESA, PIP and DLA Updates

With over 140,000 subscribers our fortnightly updates bulletin is the UK's leading source of benefits news. Get the facts about what's changing, how it affects you and how to prepare.   Get your free benefits updates now.

STOP PRESS: NEW SPARTACUS REPORT 'BEYOND THE BARRIERS' - GET INVOLVED
Today Spartacus released their latest report 'Beyond the Barriers', on ESA and the Work Progamme today.  Spartacus want you to know that:

"We don’t just explain what’s wrong with the current system and how we know, but also offer a comprehensive alternative to support everyone with illness, impairment or disability.

"We hope this is just the start of a national discussion of how we can do better for the chronically sick or disabled people in our country.

"You can get involved by tweeting using the hashtag #BeyondBarriers and by sending tweets to our dedicated twitter account, @spartacusreport

"You can also check out our blogspot where we are sharing stories of the difference that suitable support can make."

Find out more about Beyond the Barriers here.


You can read this newsletter online
.
 

Dear Reader,

In this edition, we reveal that a shocking six out of ten employment and support allowance (ESA) claimants hit with a sanction are vulnerable people with a mental health condition or learning difficulty. It’s the hard proof we’ve been looking for that the DWP’s sanctions regime is based on a deliberate policy of institutional discrimination. We also disclose that, as the Atos administered work capability assessment (WCA) continues to fall apart, three quarters of all new ESA claimants no longer have a medical at all.

Capita aren’t doing any better either, it seems, as it’s leaked that civil servants are now being drafted in to try to help clear the backlog of Capita’s PIP assessments.

We also look back at a year of the bedroom tax.  And we examine the vile hypocrisy of Maria Miller and her fellow coalition MPs, cutting benefits for grandparents caring round-the-clock for a severely disabled child whilst richly rewarding Miller for ‘caring’ for her parents in her taxpayer funded second home.

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: 8452

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.

ESA NEWS
Six out of ten employment and support allowance (ESA) claimants hit with a sanction are vulnerable people with a mental health condition or learning difficulty, according DWP figures obtained under the Freedom of Information Act. This figure has rocketed from 35% of sanctioned claimants in 2009 to a massive 58% in 2013. The statistics prove that sanctions are now overwhelmingly aimed at the most vulnerable by a government department which relies on a policy of institutional discrimination to cut welfare costs.

The tragic deaths of Mark Woods and Ms DE are two examples of what happens when a government department allows discrimination against claimants with mental health conditions – by not investing in specialist health professionals to carry out assessments - to become part of its operating procedures.

The recommendation in the fourth review of the WCA that health professionals have “suitable and sufficient previous experience of dealing with people with mental health problems”, was not accepted by the government last month as it wants to find out “whether the DWP would accept or reject the principles underpinning this”.

As the principle is that claimants with a mental health condition should be treated fairly and equally we can be certain the DWP will reject it.

In fact, figures released last week prove that the whole ESA assessment system is on the verge of complete collapse. The latest quarterly statistics show that just 28% of claims for ESA made between nine and twelve months ago have been assessed. The majority of claimants either get better before the DWP gets round to assessing them or are still waiting up to a year later to actually have their work capability assessment (WCA).

Meanwhile, doctors and nurses have united in condemning the WCA, saying that the test is "discriminatory and unfit for purpose" and that it "should be scrapped". The comments from the Royal College of Nursing and the British Medical Association were made in written responses to the Work and Pensions Committee's inquiry into employment and support allowance (ESA) and the WCA.

The government have made it clear, however, that they do not intend to make any changes to the WCA.

And finally, whilst the news that Atos will be exiting its contract to carry out the WCA early is old news now, you might still want to check out our take on the issue:

Atos out. Five things that will stay the same and one thing that will change – but not for the better.


PIP NEWS

The Guardian has obtained a leaked letter which shows that the DWP is having to use civil servants to try to help clear Capita’s backlog of PIP assessments. The DWP hopes to cut down on face-to-face medicals by getting its own staff to decide whether people are eligible for PIP using paper-only evidence.

Whilst this may result in faster decision making, it remains to be seen whether it will mean better decision making.

For members caught up in the PIP system, we have now published a set of sample PIP diary extracts and a diary template you can print and fill in by hand or complete on-screen. Not everyone wants to keep a diary of the effects of their condition, but many claimants do find them useful either to help with completing the PIP ‘How your disability affects you' form or to submit as additional evidence. Our sample extracts covering mental and physical health conditions such as arthritis, fibromyalgia, anxiety and depression and our templates will make sure you do the best possible job of keeping a PIP diary.

 

BEDROOM TAX AND THE VILE HYPOCRISY OF MARIA MILLER
As the bedroom tax completes its first year of imposing more poverty and misery on sick and disabled claimants, we have a round-up of opinions, the latest news stories, recent cases and links to enlightening blogs .

But perhaps nothing better illustrates the real discriminatory viciousness of the bedroom tax than the contrast between the treatment of Paul and Susan Rutherford – themselves disabled - who nonetheless look after their severely disabled grandson in a specially adapted home and Maria Miller who ‘cared’ for her elderly parents by housing them in her taxpayer funded second home in defiance of MPs expenses rules.

Whilst the Rutherfords have been hit by the bedroom tax and also refused a discretionary housing payment, Miller has been let off a £40,000 repayment and allowed to pocket £1million profit on the sale of her taxpayer subsidised home.

Read more about the Rutherfords and the Millers here.


CAMPAIGN NEWS
This month we have been contacted by an organisation that actively seeks out the most pertinent facts and presents them in bite-size proportions for Tweeting and for campaigners to use to support their message.

In Actual Fact says:

“As Government and press propaganda about the cuts and benefit claimants skews public opinion towards division and hatred, we need to answer back with the actual facts – shaping public opinion until governments and would-be-governments have no choice but to address the damage they are doing.

"So far we’ve organised mass tweets to counter programmes such as Benefits Britain 1949 and Britain on the Fiddle… and supported campaigns such as the WOW Petition.

"In Actual Fact is a resource to be used and built upon, our hope is to emphasise our role as a tool in order to fulfil our mutual goals by providing evidence to bolster your campaigns by:

  • providing facts on specific issues that your organisation is interested in;
  • encouraging campaigners to provide us with ideas and resources for creating new facts that would specifically benefit the campaign; and
  • providing an easy to use intuitive platform that you can share with others who have mutual interests.”

Inactualfact.org.uk @inactualfact101 #inactualfact

MORE NEWS ON THE SITE
There are many more news items on the site than we have room for here, including:

Carer’s allowance earnings limit to be increased from 20 May

New chapter in 'bedroom tax' saga - now councils run out of emergency funds to help worst cases

Almost 600,000 poorest families facing second successive council tax hike

Advice to the new WCA contractor


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: 8452

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.

FACEBOOK FEEDBACK
As part of a recent competition, we asked members who also use our Facebook page to tell us what the Benefits and Work website means to them.  Here are some of their repsonses:

"I know I can trust and believe what benefits and work say you guys do a fantastic job."
David

"I would not have got my DLA without the B&W group, I can honestly say it saved my life, literally x"
Lynda

"Benefits and work have helped me navigate the benefits maze that's designed to confuse and frustrate those of us who are chronically ill. Don't know what I'd do without it."
Carol

"I've been a member of b&w since 2009. The website guides helped me to succeed with my esa tribunal in that same year. Since then I've never looked back at the subscription though at times I make my payment late due to lack of money. I've also referred many people to the website and they are as grateful as I'm to the founders of the website."
Rosa

"Benefit and work as given me and my husband the strength and focus to fill in those dreaded forms and with great results thanks."
Melanie

"What I like best about Benefits & Work are their plain English guides that take you through step by step. It feels like they are almost holding your hand through the process, which is very much appreciated when you are feeling so vulnerable."
Ness

"I like the sensible advice. Sometimes when you're not well and trying to understand all the benefit rules and regulations you need to feel someone is on your side."
Chris

"The Benefits & Work site is a wonderful place!! Where else would I find the information I need to fill in the forms for Dla & Esa. The info is so good that when I sent my new DLA form in last year, 24hours later I received word back that my claim was successful. Everything is laid out clearly & the forum is there if you wish to contact others. When I hurt my back 14 years ago, there was no one to help me. Then I stumbled along this wonderful place & I cried. At last I had found someone to help me. You are all wonderful & I thank you most sincerely for helping disabled people everywhere.. The subscription is worth every penny. Now we just need to get rid of the bedroom tax."
Shona

"The guides from Benefits and work are excellent and we have been able to help and encourage many people not to give up in their quest for what is rightfully theirs. We have also encouraged many people to join."
Jacqueline

"Benefits and work have helped me through both my ESA forms, medicals and to win the almost obligatory appeals. I have also used it for my PIP application and the forum is a great place to find others with similar problems, making this housebound woman feel less alone in the fight."
Jo

"Benefits & Work website was invaluable when I appealed the decision to be placed in the Support Group rather than wrag for ESA. The information gave me the confidence to pursue an Appeal. At the Tribunal I was moved into the Support Group. I help to run an ME & Fibromyalgia Support Group and we regularly recommend the website to people in need of advice. Thank you for all the information you provide."
Sue

"Benefits and Work means a great deal to me. As it has opened up a whole new world to me. Because of Benefits and work I now receive all the benefits and awards that are relevant to me. God knows where I would be without this brilliant and informative website. People share their uphill battles and I am always elated when someone else has won their appeals etc. I am sure I am not alone in my views. I cannot thank you enough for what you have taught me and countless others.....Keep up the good work so not just myself but others can share other members advice and views."
Steve

"What a benefits and work subscription means to me? It's what keeps me able to work part-time, when I'm well enough (because DLA award passported me to WTC which made up the difference I lost in hours), meaning that I don't have to choose between "work full time" or "not work at all"."
Emma

"Want to thank everyone at Benefits and Work. They've been invaluable to me! Without their insight and knowledge, I would've been lost. Their info helped me through my appeal, and making a new claim, because without that I would now be claiming JSA, and be worse off. So thank you to Steve and his colleagues."
Karen

"They provided valuable and essential information to help everyone get through the mountain of red tape that gets thrown at us. I have used information off the site to enable me to win my appeal that I had been fighting for over the last 2 years. I have past details of benefits and work to my friends who have also benefited from the information. B & W keep up the good work."
David

"Benefits & Work is literally a life saver. It helps people makes sense of a vicious, senseless system."
Suzie

"I like benefits and work because their advice is so well presented and I can find my way around their website etc easily. it has really helped me to find out my entitlements and rights and it also cheers me up to see the testimonials from people that have got through the battle of the benefits system and won. its great that they are on fb - I share posts all the time with friends I know are struggling and will find what they need to know there."
Jean

"Have been with Benefits and Work for some years now and though I live in N.I and sometimes feel a bit out of the Loop over here the site has kept me informed and helped me a lot with my disability "issues". The advice has been invaluable, the news section has often alarmed me, but at least I felt less helpless than I would have otherwise been. As my mother often said "forewarned is forearmed" How true this is for people having to arm themselves against their own "welfare" system, yet what a terrible indictment on a so-called civilized first world country. Thank you folks and keep up the good work."
Edna

"B&W has helped me and my daughter so much, we have been able to win tribunals for ESA & DLA and put in an official complaint to Atos about the lies the EMP wrote at my home assessment for DLA which Atos actually upheld(!) and sent to the DWP which must have helped my appeal. I think your website is literally a life saver and I've been wanting to thank you so much for all your advice, help and support and am glad for this opportunity to do so now. Thank you!"
Jayne

"Benefits and Work are a safe haven to me in the middle of any storm. However dire the situation, I have returned countless times to the guides and the forum pages for advice and support. I am eternally grateful, as without them I would be lost at sea, without the faintest idea where or how to start fighting my corner. Thank you."
Hannah

"Benefits and work has been invaluable to me and many more people who are on benefits. Long may they continue to help and advise the ordinary man in the street."
Maggie

"Its a great site full of useful information...which I really need..have my medical on Friday and am so scared..Atos has made my life a misery..and feel much more empowered now thanks to Benefits and work..Thank you."
Lisa

"I have been a member for a number of years and without your guidelines the whole family would have suffered. Both my husband and son have DLA because of your advice and my son is in the esa support group. I have been able to give people sound advice and sent them to your site and seen them benefit too. What I like best is that you give power back to people who have been thrown to the dogs (Atos etc...) and enable them to fight back and win! Keep it up please you are all we have!"
Yve

Join the Benefits and Work community now and discover what a difference we can make.

And do remember: you're welcome to republish part or all of this newsletter, provided you credit Benefits and Work

Good luck,

Steve Donnison, Sangeeta Enright and Karen Sharpe

The Office Team
Benefits and Work Publishing Ltd
Company registration No. 5962666

<p>Benefits &amp; Work website was invaluable when I appealed the decision to be placed in the Support Group rather than wrag for ESA. The information gave me the confidence to pursue an Appeal. At the Tribunal I was moved into the Support Group. </p>

< p>I help to run an ME &amp; Fibromyalgia Support Group and we regularly recommend the website to people in need of advice. Thank you for all the information you provide</p>

< p>Sue</p>

< p>Having only just found the benefits and work site I can see that it is a fantastic aid for those that need the assistance to get the benefits they are entitled to removing the hurdles they fear they need to jump. A warm inviting site with friendly people, there to help and assist others. I am glad I found the site.</p>

< p>Adam</p>

< p>Benefits and Work means a great deal to me. As it has opened up a whole new world to me. Because of Benefits and work I now receive all the benefits and awards that are relevant to me. God knows where I would be without this brilliant and informative website. People share their uphill battles and I am always elated when someone else has won their appeals etc. I am sure I am not alone in my views. I cannot thank you enough for what you have taught me and countless others.....Keep up the good work so not just myself but others can share other members advice and views.</p>

< p>Steve</p>

< p>What a benefits and work subscription means to me? It's what keeps me able to work part-time, when I'm well enough (because DLA award passported me to WTC which made up the difference I lost in hours), meaning that I don't have to choose between "work full time" or "not work at all".</p>

< p>Emma</p>

< p>Want to thank everyone at Benefits and Work. They've been invaluable to me! Without their insight and knowledge, I would've been lost. Their info helped me through my appeal, and making a new claim, because without that I would now be claiming JSA, and be worse off. So thank you to Steve and his colleagues.</p>

< p>Karen</p>

<p>I know I can trust and believe what benefits and work say you guys do a fantastic job</p>

< p>David</p>

< p>Benefits and work have helped me navigate the benefits maze that's designed to confuse and frustrate those of us who are chronically ill. Don't know what I'd do without it.</p>

< p>Carol</p>

< p>It has proved invaluable in this time of change</p>

< p>Jacqui</p>

< p>Benefit and work as given me and my husband the strength and focus to fill in those dreaded forms and with great results thanks</p>

< p>Melanie</p>

< p>What I like best about Benefits &amp; Work are their plain English guides that take you through step by step. It feels like they are almost holding your hand through the process, which is very much appreciated when you are feeling so vulnerable.</p>

< p>Ness</p>

< p>Benefits and work have helped me through both my ESA forms, medicals and to win the almost obligatory appeals. I have also used it for my PIP application and the forum is a great place to find others with similar problems, making this housebound woman feel less alone in the fight.</p>

< p>Jo</p>

< p>They provided valuable and essential information to help everyone get through the mountain of red tape that gets thrown at us. I have used information off the site to enable me to win my appeal that I had been fighting for over the last 2 years. I have past details of benefits and work to my friends who have also benefited from the information. B &amp; W keep up the good work.</p>

< p>David</p>

< p>Success in offering people who have no energy through illness to claim help that will enhance their life.</p>

< p>Elaine</p>

< p>Benefits &amp; Work is literally a life saver. It helps people makes sense of a vicious, senseless system.</p>

< p>Suzie</p>

< p>I would not have got my DLA without the B&amp;W group, I can honestly say it saved my life, literally x</p>

< p>Lynda</p>

< p>I like benefits and work because their advice is so well presented and I can find my way around their website etc easily. it has really helped me to find out my entitlements and rights and it also cheers me up to see the testimonials from people that have got through the battle of the benefits system and won. its great that they are on fb - I share posts all the time with friends I know are struggling and will find what they need to know there.</p>

< p>Jean</p>

< p>I like the sensible advice. Sometimes when you're not well and trying to understand all the benefit rules and regulations you need to feel someone is on your side.</p>

< p>Chris</p>

< p>The guides from Benefits and work are excellent and we have been able to help and encourage many people not to give up in their quest for what is rightfully theirs. We have also encouraged many people to join. Many thanks and kind regards </p>

< p>Jacqueline</p>

< p>Have been with Benefits and Work for some years now and though I live in N.I and sometimes feel a bit out of the Loop over here the site has kept me informed and helped me a lot with my disability "issues". The advice has been invaluable, the news section has often alarmed me, but at least I felt less helpless than I would have otherwise been. As my mother often said "forewarned is forearmed" How true this is for people having to arm themselves against their own "welfare" system, yet what a terrible indictment on a so-called civilized first world country. Thank you folks and keep up the good work.</p>

< p>Edna</p>

< p>B&amp;W has helped me and my daughter so much, we have been able to win tribunals for ESA &amp; DLA and put in an official complaint to Atos about the lies the EMP wrote at my home assessment for DLA which Atos actually upheld(!) and sent to the DWP which must have helped my appeal. I think your website is literally a life saver and I've been wanting to thank you so much for all your advice, help and support and am glad for this opportunity to do so now. Thank you!</p>

< p>Jayne</p>

< p>Benefits &amp; Work makes everything clearer and easier to understand</p>

< p>Shaun</p>

< p>Benefits and Work are a safe haven to me in the middle of any storm. However dire the situation, I have returned countless times to the guides and the forum pages for advice and support. I am eternally grateful, as without them I would be lost at sea, without the faintest idea where or how to start fighting my corner. Thank you.</p>

< p>Hannah</p>

< p>I've been a member of b&amp;w since 2009. The website guides helped me to succeed with my esa tribunal in that same year. Since then I've never looked back at the subscription though at times I make my payment late due to lack of money. I've also referred many people to the website and they are as grateful as I'm to the founders of the website. </p>

< p>Rosa</p>

< p>The Benefits &amp; Work site is a wonderful place!! Where else would I find the information I need to fill in the forms for Dla &amp; Esa.</p>

< p>The info is so good that when I sent my new DLA form in last year, 24hours later I received word back that my claim was successful.</p>

< p>Everything is laid out clearly &amp; the forum is there if you wish to contact others.</p>

< p>When I hurt my back 14 years ago, there was no one to help me. Then I stumbled along this wonderful place &amp; I cried. At last I had found someone to help me. You are all wonderful &amp; I thank you most sincerely for helping disabled people everywhere..</p>

< p>The subscription is worth every penny. Now we just need to get rid of the bedroom tax.</p>

< p>Shona</p>

< p>Benefits and work has been invaluable to me and many more people who are on benefits. Long may they continue to help and advise the ordinary man in the street.</p>

< p>Maggie</p>

< p>Its a great site full of useful information...which I really need..have my medical on Friday and am so scared..Atos has made my life a misery..and feel much more empowered now thanks to Benefits and work..Thank you</p>

< p>Lisa</p>

< p>I have been a member for a number of years and without your guidelines the whole family would have suffered. Both my husband and son have DLA because of your advice and my son is in the esa support group. I have been able to give people sound advice and sent them to your site and seen them benefit too. What I like best is that you give power back to people who have been thrown to the dogs (Atos etc...) and enable them to fight back and win! Keep it up please you are all we have!</p>

< p>Yve</p>

Comments  

#4 Bill 2014-04-10 07:47
Hi Guys,
The Diary ideas and Templates are an excellent idea, very helpful I am sure to many of your members.
Nice job!
Bills wife
xx
#3 Colin Roberts 2014-04-09 15:39
last year I saw IDS on the tv being interviewed on the news and he spoke of "the temerity" of some internet site to show claimants the bet way to make a successful claim being paid for "by the Taxpayer".

It seems he thinks we have no right to seek help for the vile laws hes made against us. and he also seems to think the we, the claimants are not "The taxpayer" too!
#2 Colin Roberts 2014-04-09 15:28
I write to the government on a weekly basis, especially to that vile grinning IDS, it means nothing.

Remember years ago, when he was leader of the Tories for a short time, he was being heckled and he said "DO NOT UNDERESTIMATE THE CAPABILITIES OF A QUIET MAN"!... I didn't know what he meant then, but I certainly do now... does anyone else remember him saying this?
#1 papasmurf 2014-04-09 12:27
I have already emailed the report to my MP.

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