Personal Independence Payment Training

Tuesday 19th February, LONDON
Wednesday, 20th February, BRISTOL . NOW FULLY BOOKED

Wednesday 6th March, BIRMINGHAM;  Thursday 14th March BRISTOL;  Friday 15th March, LEEDS.

Includes 3 months FREE professional membership for non-members, price discount for current members.  No previous benefits knowledge required. Suitable both for advice workers and for support workers who need to understand the possible effects on their clients of the DLA to PIP transfer process.

More details here.

No more wasting time waiting for your medical – start work preparation immediately, says Freud

Dear [fname],

In this edition we warn you of the extraordinary plans to force claimants to begin to prepare for work whilst they are waiting to be assessed to decide . . .  whether they are fit enough to be begin to prepare for work.

There’s also news of the dismal failure of the Work Programme, the even more complete failure of Professor Harrington’s third review of the work capability assessment (WCA) and the utter and entirely humbling refusal of Pat and her petition team to ever, ever accept failure.

Plus, on an altogether happier note, we are giving away the opportunity for one reader’s child to experience the magic and joy of horse therapy in Somerset – it’s wonderful.

All this and more, after our traditional fortnightly money-off offer.

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

The Telegraph is reporting that claimants waiting to be assessed for ESA will have to take steps to prepare for work whilst they are waiting, often for many months, to have their work capability assessment (WCA). 

This means that many thousands of people destined to be found eligible for the support group, and thus considered too sick or disabled to undertake work related activities ,will already have been forced to undertake such activities or been subject to extremely heavy financial penalties for failing to do so.

According to Lord Freud, minister for welfare reform and former banker:

“The overall aim of our welfare reforms is to ensure that people who can work get the support they need to find a job. This simple step will give people access to employment support months sooner than under the current system, so that the time spent waiting for a sickness assessment is not wasted.”

This measure, due to be introduced in 2013, along with much harsher sanctions for claimants who do not do as they are instructed, could mean a serious risk to the physical or mental health of many sick and disabled claimants.

You can read the full story in the Telegraph.
Motability has admitted that up to 100,000 disabled people could have to hand back the vehicles they lease under its car scheme, because of the government’​s cuts and reforms to disability living allowance (DLA).

Motability currently has about 600,000 customers, who all use their higher rate mobility component of DLA to lease a vehicle.

But the government’​s reform of working-age DLA, which will see it replaced by a new personal independence payment (PIP), will involve cuts of 20 per cent to spending by 2015-16, with an estimated 500,000 working-age disabled people losing their right to DLA/PIP.

Disabled people will only continue to be eligible to lease a vehicle through the Motability scheme if they are awarded the PIP enhanced mobility element.

Motability admitted for the first time this week, during a workshop at a conference organised by Disability Rights UK, that an estimated 100,000 of its customers –​ based on government forecasts –​ could lose their eligibility for the scheme over the three years to 2016.

Members can read more here


Figures published today by the DWP reveal that people are more likely to find jobs with no help at all than they are via the Work Programme, which has already paid out hundreds of millions of pounds in fees to private sector companies.

The DWP had set a minimum target of just a 5.5% success rate for Work Programme providers in the first 12 months, instead they managed an average of just 2.3% of jobseekers in sustained work.  The cost of their failure so far has been £435 million in handouts to companies such as Ingeus and A4E, who get up to £13,700 for every person they move into long-term employment.

You can read more about the work programme figures in the Guardian and on the BBC website.

Professor Harrington’s third and final report on the work capability assessment discounts virtually all the evidence it collected and places almost no new demands on DWP/ATOS to improve the their service.

750 organisations and individuals responded to this year’s call for evidence, up from 425 last year.  Many hundreds of these were Benefits and Work members.

Astonishingly, individual responses to the call for evidence seem to have been largely discounted by Harrington on the basis that individual respondents “​cannot be considered a truly representative claimant sample”​. Like the DWP, Harrington seems to prefer claimant’s evidence to be fed through the medium of a charity.  But even he has to admit that “both the level and ferocity of ongoing criticisms remain worrying”.

Unfortunately for Harrington, even the evidence provided via charities shows that few people have experienced  any improvement in the way they are treated in the course of their WCA.  In some regards things have even got worse.  For example, 60 per cent (compared to 55 per cent in 2010) disagreed that the assessor had asked about all the symptoms/aspects of their impairment or health condition that affect their ability to work.

In spite of this, Harrington feels able to claim that “Real progress has been made but the pace and scope of the improvements has been slower than the Review would have hoped.”  In view of this, he makes few further recommendations for change, instead hoping that the DWP will quicken the pace with which it is supposedly implementing the actions set out in his two previous reports.

Harrington has carried out his last review, the coalition having decided to hire someone new for the final two years.  Nonetheless, Benefits and Work will be less than astonished to see Professor Harrington’s name in the forthcoming New Year’s honours list.

Members can read more and comment here and also here.

The Harrington review can be downloaded from the DWP website.


Pat’s Petition ended on 1st November.  It didn’t manage the 100,000 signatures needed for a debate, but it did get 62,581. This was achieved without a penny of funding, relying instead on the efforts of a tiny group of claimants and carers based in their own homes.  It was an extraordinary achievement and the campaigners never gave up, even getting an extra 5,000 signatures in the last 48 hours before the petition closed.

Now they are back again, asking everyone to support their call for an assessment of the way in which all the various benefits changes – such as the introduction of PIP, the benefit cap, changes to housing benefit and many more – are likely to affect sick and disabled claimants when looked at as a whole.  This Cumulative Impact Assessment is something which any responsible government would undertake as a matter of course, instead the coalition hope to do away with impact assessments altogether.

To find out what you can do to help Pat Onions and her fellow campaigners, please pay a visit to Carer Watch, where surrender is never an option
Here at Benefits and Work, we know from the experience of a child very dear to us about the joy and improvement that even one session at Special Horses for Special Children can bring to someone who struggles to cope with the world. 

The Somerset based charity provides sensory therapy for autistic, neurologically challenged or emotionally struggling children – for example, children who have been in care.  Founder Lilias Ahmeira is both an experienced clinician and a practised horsewoman.  Sessions can involve grooming and riding ponies, riding a full-sized horse and even painting ponies!

The spectacle of a tiny child cantering astride an enormous horse (with an adult rider), helpless with delight as they pursue their parent in ever decreasing circles is truly unforgettable.  But the experience can also deepen relationships and unlock emotions in ways that really make a difference.

Special Horses for Special Children is a relatively new charity and we’d like as many people as possible to hear about it.  So we’re offering a free session as a small Christmas gift to help spread the word.  If you care for, or work with, a child who you think would benefit from a visit to the centre please take a look at their website and then drop us an email and let us know why, in just a few sentences,  you think it would be helpful.

We’ll then have the almost impossible job of choosing the winner in time for the next newsletter – they won’t be identified by name though we’d like to be able to give readers a few details about why we chose them.  All submissions will be treated as strictly confidential and we’ll delete all emails once a winner has been chosen. 

Meanwhile, if you’re looking for a magical gift that a group of you can club together to give to a child, you really couldn’t do better than a visit to Special Horses for Special Children.


In our 31 October newsletter we told you that the Judicial Appointments Committee (JAC) is recruiting 314 disability members to sit on three person appeal tribunals considering DLA and PIP appeals.  

Recruitment for disability members was due to begin on 27 November, having already been put back once.  It’s now been put back again, with no reason given, and is expected to start in March 2013. 

You can find more details, read case studies and sign up for email alerts here.

In the last edition we failed to make it clear that we are looking for experienced welfare rights workers who also work as freelance trainers – our apologies for not making this apparent to more general freelance trainers.  We are still looking for experienced and confident trainers in many parts of the UK to deliver our personal independence training course, beginning in March 2013.  We pay higher rates than most other agencies for reliable and experienced trainers.  For more information, please email us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. giving brief details of your training experience and current, or most recent, employment.


As always, there’s much more news in the members area than we have room for in this newsletter. Many thanks to everyone who has sent in news stories over the last fortnight, including: Beverley Hymers, John Pring, Jim Allison, papasmurf, Crazydiamond.

We know how much feedback from other members means to people who get this newsletter, so please do keep your good luck stories coming.

From 0 points to Support Group on appeal after secretly taping medical on mobile
“A HUGE THANK YOU“ to all moderators and members on the site who aided me in this outcome”

Placed in ESA Support Group after medical with no ESA50 form

“I am so grateful to the moderators on this site for all their help.”

Transferred from IB to ESA Support Group without medical
“I really, really want to thank this site for it's guides which enabled me to highlight the areas that count”

10 year old’s DLA increased from middle to high rate care, low rate mobility continued
“Please accept our heartfelt thanks for all the information, for the Guides (updated along with the forms), for the encouragement in the newsletters & forums”

Placed in ESA Support Group seven and a half months after submitting appeal
“The words "sincere thanks" seem rather an understatement in conveying my gratitude to
all Mods' , Members' and Owner of Benefits and Work.”

ESA decision reconsidered after request for appeal, placed in Support Group

“thank this site for the help and support with the guides and information from other members in the forum.”

Moved from ESA WRAG to Support Group after requesting appeal
“Would like to thank Benefit and Works for valuable information on form filling initially and for the appeals process”

Placed in ESA Support Group without medical

“Thank you so much for the help from the information on this site, I couldn't have done it without you!”

ESA decision reconsidered, moved from WRAG to Support Group until 2014

“Many thanks to BW for the guides and assistance in these matters”

Moved from ESA WRAG to Support Group after request for revision, no medical assessment
“Thanks so much to the website and everybody who has taken the time to post extremely useful advice.”

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 (open access).

Good luck,

Steve Donnison

Benefits and Work Publishing Ltd
Company registration No. 5962666


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