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Free, fortnightly PIP, ESA and DLA Updates

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. Our mailing list is securely managed by icontact in the US.

PIP Enhanced rate awarded
“I have been a member of B&W for 4 years now and can honestly say that I would have got nowhere without you. I have Functional Neurological Disorder ( new name for CFS), arthritis and sciatica. I have just been awarded 'ongoing' Enhanced rates for both elements of PIP. By following your advice on understanding and completing the forms, I am able to continue having use of motability car; without which I would have been housebound. I am truly grateful and at this moment quite emotional as months of distress and worry is over with again ( until of course the time comes round again for yet another reassessment). Joining B&W has to be one of the best things I have ever done.
Sincerest gratitude and best wishes to the Team.”

Read More Feedback

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Dear Reader,

In this edition we reveal the shameful truth behind the overwhelmingly positive feedback the DWP claims it gets from people who have undergone PIP assessments.

And we discover how the DWP is deliberately inflicting hardship on ESA appeals claimants by misleading GPs.

We also learn that 70% of DWP staff think that the roll out of universal credit should be stopped and discover the millions being saved by preventing claimants getting legal aid.

 

POSITIVE PIP FEEDBACK
The DWP has repeatedly defended the PIP and ESA assessment systems from criticism by arguing that over 90% of claimants are happy with their experience.

Even the commons Work and Pensions Committee, which was overwhelmingly critical of PIP assessments, was persuaded by the figures. The committee said it accepted that ‘The PIP and ESA assessment processes function satisfactorily for the majority of claimants’.

In fact, Benefits and Work can reveal that PIP feedback is based on around 1% of claimants being asked just one single question:

“How satisfied were you with your overall experience with Capita / Independent Assessment Service’.”

In most cases the claimant is phoned by a Capita or Atos (IAS) employee and asked this question. Occasionally they are written to instead.

So they know that the feedback isn’t anonymous and many will fear that a negative response could affect the outcome of current or future assessments.

For ESA, claimants are asked 5 questions, but fewer than half a percent are asked to give feedback.

For both benefits, claimants are asked nothing about the accuracy of the report or whether any additional evidence provided was taken into account. Yet it is failings in these areas that cause a great deal of dissatisfaction amongst claimants.

And, because the companies have customer satisfaction targets built into their contracts, there is a real conflict of interest for them: why would they go out of their way to collect feedback that might be negative?

It is time that those with a responsibility for holding the DWP to account looked more closely at the quality of the feedback the DWP relies upon, instead of accepting it at face value and letting the assessment companies off the hook.

 

DWP DELIBERATELY MISLEADING GPs
The DWP is deliberately inflicting hardship on claimants who appeal against ESA decisions by misleading GPs into refusing to issue sick notes.

Claimants who challenge a fit for work decision cannot claim ESA during the mandatory reconsideration stage. They may be able to claim JSA, but many claimants don’t for fear of sanctions.

However, if the mandatory reconsideration is unsuccessful, claimants can then lodge an appeal and reclaim ESA whilst waiting for their case to be heard.

But the DWP have changed the letters that they send out to GPs when a claimant is found fit for work. The letters tell the GP not to issue any more sick notes and no longer say they can do so if the claimant appeals the decision.

The result, as legal advice charity Zacchaeus 2000 Trust discovered, is claimants going hungry because they have no money for food. Claimants may also have to change to a new GP practice to try to find a doctor who will issue them with a sick note.

The DWP have offered no explanation whatsoever for the change in the wording of the letter, except that it was altered as a result of a ‘ministerial requirement’.

That it is a ministerial requirement that claimants be caused as much suffering as possible, regardless of the law, will probably come as no surprise to our readers.

 

OTHER NEWS
A Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS) survey of members working at the DWP has found that 70% want the roll out of Universal Credit to be stopped.

And 79% say that there are not enough staff to cope with demand.

The claims were aired in a Dispatches programme earlier this week.

Meanwhile, the savings to the public purse from preventing claimants getting legal aid for help with benefits have now been revealed.

For ESA, savings of almost 97% have been made, from £2.8 million for help with ESA in 2010/11 down to £92,000 last year.

In 2010 the cost of legal aid for DLA was over £7 million. Last year the combined figure for PIP and DLA had plunged to £50,000 – a drop of over 99%.

And, of course, beyond these savings are the tens of millions more that have undoubtedly been saved.

Because many thousands of claimants will have missed out on benefits they were entitled to because they had no-one to help them through the claims and appeals process.

 

Good luck,

Steve Donnison

 Benefits and Work guides covers

PIP - Enhanced rate for both! Used the guide step by step
“Thank you for the brilliant guides which I used to complete my AR1, alongside the pip assessment guide and examples were so valuable within the guides. I can't thank you enough whoever had written the amazing guides. I ended up enhanced for both and 10 year award so delighted is an understatement…Thank you so much”

BOOST YOUR PIP AND ESA CHANCES - 20% OFF ANNUAL MEMBERSHIP – OFFER ENDS MIDNIGHT FRIDAY.
Give yourself the best possible chance of getting the right ESA, PIP or DLA decision, whether you’re making a claim, renewing an existing award or asking for a reconsideration or appeal.

Subscribe now and get instant access to all our guides.

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: 89537

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.
Offer ends midnight Friday

 

BENEFITS NEWS
Scandal of positive PIP feedback
The DWP has been claiming extremely high levels of claimant satisfaction for PIP assessments, based on fewer than 1% of claimants being asked a single question in surveys carried out by Atos (IAS) and Capita themselves, Benefits and Work can reveal. The surveys are not anonymous and take place before claimants know what the assessor has written about them.

DWP deliberately inflicting hardship on ESA appeals claimants
The DWP are deliberately inflicting hardship on claimants who appeal against ESA decisions by misleading GPs into refusing to issue sick notes. The shock finding was published last week by the legal advice charity Zacchaeus 2000 Trust (Z2K).

70% of DWP staff want UC stopped
Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS) general secretary Mark Serwotka called on the government to halt the roll out of Universal Credit during an interview on C4 Dispatches programme: Britain’s Benefit Crisis, last night.

Millions saved by preventing claimants getting legal help
Figures released by the government last week show just how much money has been saved by stopping legal help for most benefits issues.

 

GOOD NEWS FROM THE FORUM AND BY EMAIL
As always, many thanks to everyone who takes the trouble to post in the forum or email us with news of your success. We know it’s many readers favourite, and most encouraging, bit of the newsletter.

Benefits and Work guides coversAppeal Tribunal for PIP success
“Tribunal hearing for PIP yesterday was a success story as my wife was placed in the enhanced rate for living and mobility. She was on standard (10 points ) for living and enhanced for mobility (12 points). The best money I ever paid are to be a member of the site....I have to thank the site for the advice given to us for the bureaucratic minefield laid in front of the disable claimants by DWP in order to make them fail … Thank you for ALL”

PIP success
“wife successfully got full mobility and care on her claim. The guides were really useful especially ensuring explained and gave full detail. I added 7 additional pages…thanks for the guides.”

PIP Enhanced for both
“Thank you so much to all the researchers and forum administrators for all the hard work you have done, and carry on doing for all of us out here. I wouldn't have stood a chance of knowing how to explain my medical problems clearly and what to send to back it up. I have ended up doing two full on face to face assessments in less than 18 months. I was petrified and the first assessors/decision makers awarded me enhanced mobility and standard care. I felt so sick with worry, I couldn't face the thought of doing the M.R. My tummy was in knots, so I was chicken and left it. Them I moved house and instead of getting a short form to fill in they gave me the full form all over again. This time I adhered to your advice to the letter and, HOORAY, I GOT ENHANCED RATE FOR BOTH. . Thank you SO much B&W. You are totally amazing. You got me through two grueling FtoF. In my books you deserve a medal.”

PIP success!
“I have been a B&W member for a good few years now and followed the excellent guides for both ESA and most recently PIP. I have been successful in receiving Enhanced for both Daily Living and Mobility till 2022. I had been on DLA HRM and LRC indefinite award for about 5years. Due to a worsening of my condition over the past 4years I had to apply for PIP. I wished I could have done it sooner but unfortunately I was too ill to cope with the process. Eventually I managed to get through the process by preparing my answers and gathering medical evidence a few months in advance of making the phone call to start the process. I could not have done it any other way… The whole process took about 10weeks (from application, home assessment and PIP decision letter). Anyway thank you so much to B&W for all the invaluable information without which I would not have been successful with ESA50 and PIP”

DLA to PIP transfer
“Many thanks to Benefits and work your guides and advice were fantastic”

“THANK YOU for saving me from years of misery”
“In 2016 you helped me claim for Personal Independence Payment (PIP), getting the enhanced rate for both parts for 10 years ongoing. So in 2018 when I received my ESA50 Questionnaire I looked to your help again.This is to say thank you from the bottom of my heart as I have today received notification that I have been allowed to continue my claim for Employment and Support Allowance and stay in the support group for the maximum of 3 years WITHOUT having to undertake an assessment or medical of any kind. AND the DWP took just over 4 weeks to sort my claim out which is truly unheard of! In fact I've NEVER had any problems with claims since I came across your website in 2015 in preparation for being transferred from DOW to PIP.Obviously, my poor health speaks for itself. But, without your help and guidance I would NEVER have been able to complete both PIP and ESA Questionnaires - EVER!So THANK YOU for saving me from years of misery... I recommend EVERYBODY uses your website as guidance to preparing for making benefit claims.”
Tanya

“I have recommended your website to other friends”
“My husband received the dreaded letter advising him he had to move from DLA to PIP and the first thing we did was subscribe to your invaluable website.Your detailed guidance on the application process and explanation of the descriptors was so helpful and ensured we provided all the information. Your website gave us reassurance during an anxious time. I’m pleased to let you know that my husband was awarded PIP enhanced daily living & mobility and he didn’t have to have an assessment.Thank you for all your advice and I have recommended your website to other friends who are about to go through the same process.”
Faye

“Thank you for your lucid and very helpful guides and advice”
“I just wanted you to know that, with the help of your guides, I recently helped a friend win her tribunal by successfully appealing against her PIP assessment ruling (of zero in both parts). The tribunal awarded her the daily living component at the enhanced rate, with mobility at the enhanced rate – both for an indefinite period. She has had the change acknowledged by the DWP and has received a lump sum ‘back payment’. Thank you for your lucid and very helpful guides and advice.Keep up the good work!”
Charlie

“Thank you all so much for the guidance and help”
“My wife on DLA received the dreaded brown envelope for PIP just before Christmas 2017.What a present!Christmas wasn’t quite as enjoyable as it should have been due to the many hours it takes filling in the form trying to ensure you have put everything down and the anxiety of whether it will be enough. We also had to ask for an extension because it was holiday time and post wasn’t guaranteed, what a farce sending it out over the Christmas period!It is thanks to all of you at benefitsandwork and your excellent guides that we completed our application.My wife then had a face to face assessment and again with help from the guides we got that at home and were very careful in how we handled things during the assessment. Numerous what are essentially traps and trick questions, but the guides armed us well.Then the wait….And finally just found out (March 2018) that she has been awarded not only PIP but enhanced and for 10 years!Thank you all so much for the guidance and help Keep up the good work”
Trevor

“Thank you so much the info you have on site is great”
“I joined your members a few months ago after recieving PIP forms to transfer from DLA. With the help on this site, we filled in the forms and faced a medical at home all of which caused a lot of stress and anxiety however we knew we had filled them in to the best of our abilities. It took 4 weeks to get a decision and have been granted enhanced on both care and mobility. Thank you so much the info you have on site is great.”
Sarah

“Tedious and repetitive, but logical”
“I applied for AA last year, successfully. Although I had some support from CAB, which was invaluable, I completed the form myself. I'm absolutely sure that I wouldn't have been able to do this without your guidance. And I'm pretty sure my application would have failed if I hadn't followed the advice in your guide. It helped me in practical terms, what to write and how to articulate needs etc. It also helped me emotionally, to keep on track, not to give up, as long as I followed the advice. I could do this because I could see it made sense. The suggestions and advice were logical. Tedious and repetitive, but logical.”
Gill

“Thanks for 5yrs of valuable email updates”
“Thanks for 5yrs of valuable email updates. Appeal successful today against dis-allowance of ESA in mental ill-health case & returned to support group”
Nick

“I wouldn’t have been able to express myself in person as well as in my statement”
“I had my tribunal for PIP on a Saturday 10th February , the court official said I was lucky the DWP don’t work Saturdays! He also said that the doctor and disability experts were not like DWP assessors as they were professional! The tribunal didn’t refer to my assessment at all, but paid a lot of attention to my statement that I had sent in following advice on your website, when I told them that the assessor had not listened to my answer on cooking the disability expert said “ don’t worry we know, we know” ! The final question was by the judge, he asked did I have to look for work, I said no I was in the ESA support group, and my assessment for ESA was two weeks after my PIP one and was cut short by the assessor who said she wanted to make a phone call to shorten it for me , no examination and questions about chronic fatigue or fibromyalgia, it was obvious that she thought bowel incontinence was enough! I wouldn’t have been able to express myself in person as well as in my statement, so thank you because the following Tuesday I had the decision that I was allowed standard rate care and standard rate mobility”
Nina

“Thank you so much for all your help and your guides”
“Over a year later I have just received the news I have won my PIP appeal, especially good as I asked for it on the papers alone and a lot of people told me that meant I had no chance but i just couldn't face the thought of a tribunal. Thank you so much for all your help and your guides.I was awarded 4 points for needing prompting to be able to undertake a journey after the assessor had claimed I didn't really have any mental health problems, combined with points for my physical problems, means I now get enhanced mobility.Thanks again”
Rebecca

 

BOOST YOUR PIP AND ESA CHANCES - 20% OFF ANNUAL MEMBERSHIP – OFFER ENDS MIDNIGHT FRIDAY.
Give yourself the best possible chance of getting the right ESA, PIP or DLA decision, whether you’re making a claim, renewing an existing award or asking for a reconsideration or appeal.

Subscribe now and get instant access to all our guides.

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: 89537

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.
Offer ends midnight Friday

Good luck,

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