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Free, fortnightly PIP, ESA and UC Updates

Our fortnightly bulletin, with over 80,000 subscribers, is the UK's leading source of benefits news. Find out what's changing, how it affects you and how to prepare. Our mailing list is securely managed by icontact in the US.

PIP award – thanks again
“Once again many thanks to bw ,needed your help so often during these last 11 years ,received higher mobility standard care ,two years. I would say that the assessment report was nothing like what was said on the day ,and it shows the system isn't fit for purpose”
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You can read this newsletter online.

Dear Reader,

In this edition we hear from academics who have discovered that one third of DLA claimants with a mental health condition get no award at all, when assessed for PIP.

Far fewer claimants with a physical health condition get zero.

We also learn that, instead of cutting costs by 20% as the DWP intended, the introduction of PIP is going to increase costs by 20%. 

Meanwhile, the Tribunals Service is also struggling financially, after the Ministry of Justice suffered cuts of 40% since 2010. It aims to reduce costs by moving appeals online. But internal documents warn that their antiquated IT systems mean a major data breach is just waiting to happen.

The work and pensions committee is concerned about money problems too. Only in this case it is the DWP’s attempts to encourage universal credit claimants to get deeper in to debt that is enraging them.

Finally, there has been a call by a leading think tank for the DWP to be abolished entirely.

 

1 in 3 DLA TO PIP MENTAL HEALTH CLAIMANTS GET ZERO
1 in 3 DLA claimants with a mental health condition get no award at all when assessed for PIP, academics at the University of York have discovered. The level of zero awards for physical health is much lower.

Using the DWP’s own statistics, the academics showed that, for example, 33% of claimants getting DLA because of anxiety received no award when transferred to PIP.

On the other hand, fewer than 14% of DLA claimants with conditions like back pain and arthritis receive nothing when assessed for PIP.

Overall, the academics concluded that DLA claimants with a mental health condition are 2.4 times more likely than claimants with a physical health condition to be awarded nothing at all when they are assessed for PIP.

Commenting on the report, Professor Wendy Burn President of the Royal College of Psychiatrists, said:

“We can provide the best treatment in the world for our patients but if they can’t afford accommodation, heating or food this will be ineffective.

“It is essential that clinicians know how to support their patients in applying for the benefits they are entitled to.”

We’d be interested to hear from readers about their experience of getting effective help with a benefits claim from a psychiatrist.

 

PIP HAS INCREASED COSTS BY 20% INSTEAD OF CUTTING THEM
The Office For Budget Responsibility (OBR) has revealed that PIP has become the latest in a long line of cost cutting fiascos for the disastrous DWP.

When PIP was first introduced the DWP was shameless in admitting that the intention was to cut the cost of disability benefits by 20%.

However, the OBR says that it is now clear that the introduction of PIP has resulted in an increase in costs of between 15%-20%.

The OBR has listed some of the possible causes of the increased costs.

These include:

More new claims are being made for PIP than was expected. New claims for DLA had been falling, but it may be that all the publicity surrounding PIP has made more people aware of it.

Higher than expected success rates. Based on a tiny sample of 900 claims, the DWP was expecting around 35% of claims to get an award. In fact the award rate is 45%.

Award rates being higher than expected. Awards have been, on average, £10-£14 higher than the DWP thought they would be.

Whatever the reasons, the result is that once again a cost cutting reform has proved to simply be an expensive exercise in creating avoidable misery.

It happened with incapacity benefit, it happened with employment and support allowance, it has now happened with personal independence payment and it will happen with universal credit too.

 

DIGITAL AND VIDEO APPEALS PLANS GO AHEAD DESPITE MAJOR IT CRASH AND DATA BREACH WARNING
The Ministry of Justice suffered a major IT crash for days last week during which courts could not send emails, evidence could not be accessed and jurors could not be called.

And the Guardian has seen a report on the IT system used for employment tribunals which warns that they are so antiquated that there is a ‘significant risk’ of a ‘large-scale data breach’.

Yet the Tribunals Service is pushing ahead with plans to switch to a system of ‘continuous online resolution’ which will see case papers uploaded to servers, where all the parties involved can access them without the need for hard copies.

In many cases face-to-face hearings will be replaced by video hearings, which the Tribunals Service is currently trying to find a method of recording.

Continuous online resolution may lead to the DWP admitting defeat earlier in some cases.

And video appeals may make tribunals more accessible for some claimants.

But, for many, the risk of having their most confidential data breached because of government cutbacks will far outweigh any possible advantages of a digital appeal system.

 

DWP TRIES TO ENCOURAGE CLAIMANTS TO TAKE ON MORE DEBT
The DWP has been condemned for trying to persuade universal credit claimants to get further into debt by taking out a ‘budgeting advance’, whilst wrongly insisting that the advance is not a loan.

The commons work and pensions committee expressed ‘deep alarm’ that the DWP had suggested that parents trying to find up-front payments for childcare, so that they could get back into work, should take out a budgeting advance.

The committee said:

‘. . . persistent debt can prevent claimants from finding and staying in work, and the extra costs and pressures of debt can quickly spiral out of control.

‘DWP's aggressive approach to collecting debts can compound matters further, leaving claimants "swimming against a tide of unmanageable repayments" which "pile debt upon debt, trapping people in a downward spiral of debt and hardship".

But a policy of encouraging claimants to get into debt and then punishing them for doing so sounds exactly like what most claimants would expect from the DWP.

 

CALL TO ABOLISH DWP
And it is that reputation for the harsh and ruthless pursuit of struggling claimants that has helped convince the Demos thinktank that the DWP ought to be abolished.

Tom Pollard who previously worked for Mind, but went on secondment to the DWP, has argued in a report for Demos that the reputation of the DWP is now so bad amongst claimants, and the level of distrust so high, that nothing can be done to repair it.

As a result, Pollard says, responsibility for helping sick and disabled claimants into work should be taken away from the DWP and, ideally all its other duties shared between local authorities and HMRC.

Pollard claimed that the DWP is incapable of coming up with new and radical ways of supporting people into work.

When asked to do so, the best they came up with is getting job coaches to sit next to claimants, instead of opposite them.

The truly radical suggestion that claimants be offered a cup of tea was shot down on health and safety grounds.

According to Pollard, the DWP sees claimants in the support group as impossible to help simply because they can’t sanction them back into work and they have no other ideas about how to ‘help’ claimants.

Sadly, splendid as Pollard’s idea is, we won’t expect to be reading about the demise of the DWP anytime soon.

No harm in dreaming, though.

Good luck,

Steve Donnison

 

ESA success
“Thankyou ever so much for your guide to filling in the form as i found this hard to understand. As i have ms recovering from breast cancer and tunnel vision i found this form hard to fill in without your help. I have been put in the support group and this has taken a lot of stress off my shoulders. Thankyou again”

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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: 87756

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
Plans for digital and video appeals announced whilst MoJ IT system crashes for days
The Tribunals Service was busy announcing the ways in which social security appeals are to go online, including video hearings and live streaming of appeals, at the same time as the Ministry of Justice’s antiquated IT system was out of action for days.

DLA to PIP discrimination, 1 in 3 mental health claimants get zero award
32% of claimants with mental health conditions end up with no award at all when they are moved from DLA to PIP.

‘Perverse’ DWP discriminated against disabled employee
A judge has labelled the DWP ‘perverse’ and ‘blinkered’ after they sacked a disabled woman, the Guardian has reported.

Call for DWP to be abolished
The Demos thinktank has called for the abolition of the DWP in a report, Pathways From Poverty released today.

DWP tries to encourage claimants to take on more debt
The commons work and pensions committee has condemned the DWP for trying to persuade universal credit (UC) claimants to get further into debt.

DWP’s PIP disaster, costs have gone up instead of down
A report released today by the Office For Budget Responsibility (OBR) reveals that far from cutting the cost of disability benefits by 20 per cent as the DWP intended, personal independence payment (PIP) has resulted in an increase in costs of 15 to 20 per cent.

 

GOOD NEWS FROM THE FORUM
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.

Thank you – from the bottom of my heart
“Thank you, thank you, thank you – to all the advisors & others who give really good, useful, advice on this forum. I am so glad I paid for a year’s membership; this has given me the advice needed and courage to enable me to ‘take on’ the DWP (and Atos) with a successful outcome without having to go to Tribunal. Firstly I obtained a copy of my PIP Assessment; then I filed a complaint about my (Atos) medical assessment, enclosing a copy of it to DWP with my Mandatory Reconsideration application. There were 7 (yes, seven) breaches of the PIP Assessment Guide Part 1 which I outlined to Atos… I concentrated on 5 sections where the advice from the Paramedic from Atos conflicted with the evidence given in the older DLA reports… With my husband’s help, we went through the Atos report paragraph by paragraph, pointing out what was wrongly stated, together with any breaches of the guidelines… I have now received the result of the Mandatory Reconsideration – my PIP has changed from daily living 9 points to 16 points; and mobility from 10 points to 12 points. This has reinstated my money to what I was receiving under DLA: high care/high mobility. I have today received a 7-page letter full of apologies regarding my PIP Assessment. Some of it is obviously standard text but it is interesting to note ‘Unfortunately the HP is no longer employed by us and therefore unavailable to speak to’ and ‘On discussion with the DWP amendments have been made to the recommended scoring of some activities’. Once again, my heartfelt thanks to everyone on the Forums and the excellent guidance leaflets you produce.”

DLA to PIP success for son
“I have finally got around to posting for the first time here to give a good news story to others. I used the great guidance from this site as well as some other descriptors from specific Autism guides. I was successful in getting awarded enhanced for daily living and mobility for my son. He previously got high care and low mobility for DLA for years. I did spend a long time and stress filling out these horrible forms and sent his school review papers and other information with form. He didn’t need to go for a face to face they made the decision from the paperwork but I don’t know if this is relevant he already gets ESA. I just wanted to say thanks to this great site and give hope to others, that sometimes the system works and that PIP has been better than DLA for him. Good luck to others going through this stressful time, it is not through choice we do this but necessity”

A Big Massive Thank You
“A BIG MASSIVE THANK YOU TO Gordon and the Team for all your hard work and the help Guides to do for the members. After having my first ever Face to Face assessment for my ESA and using the info and Guides available to members on this FANTASTIC Website. I got my letter today saying i am still in the support group for ESA. I cannot thank Gordon and all on this site for your invaluable help you give. Once again a BIG THANK YOU ALL.”

ESA & PIP success
“Despite getting myself into a terrible state, just before Christmas I got the brown envelope from ESA and I am sill in the support group. I had the assessment for PIP before Christmas I rang for a copy of the assessors report, and the young girl read it out to me over the phone so I wouldn't worry over Christmas, (although I did a bit). Yesterday I plucked up the courage to ring and ask for a decision and was told a letter was on its way and I have been awarded Enhanced for both which is more than was getting… Thank you all for your support.”

Huge provisional thank you
“Just wanted to add my voice to those thanking Gordon and co. for this absolutely fantastic website. I put off applying for PIP for a long while because I was terrified to go through the process due to my mental health conditions. My assessment was cancelled and rescheduled which caused yet more immense stress. I read and reread every single resource on this website and many forum answers too. Today I got my PIP report back. It's strange because my assessor called me 0 points, but the score was queried and reviewed, and I was reassessed as scoring 13 points for daily living i.e. the higher rate! Obviously I won't count my chickens until I have the decision letter (and frankly the money in my account!) …In any case thank you so much for creating this wonderful resource. It was the best investment I could have made!”

Big thank you B&W
“Hi all, just signed up for my eight consecutive year, so a big thank you, for all the help over the years, to all at B+W for such a great site and a happy new year to all…”

PIP result
“i just wanted to let you know that it is worth fighting ,,i have been going through this now with all the waiting and worry for yrs now,since they first started all this pip thing,iv been making myself sicker with the worry and stress this has given me, to have an end to it is just bliss.i recieved my awnser from my f2f last week,and i can happily say that i was given enhanced for both for an ongoing period,,so it says after end of 2028.i just couldent believe it,the letter said that they have used the best eveidance they have to ditermine how much care i need,and wow,i got enhanced for both,many times i was going to give up,and on every occasion i turned to bennafit and work,i read everyones cases and followed a few too and when i needed a question awnsering then gordon or one of the other monitors or members would help me..i made a member of this group in 2012 i think and although i hadent needed them untill just lately it was money well spent,this site is amazing and just becouse i (for now),have finished my claim,(i just carnt believe it is over and with this outcome)i certainly will still stay a member becouse you never know when you will need the help of everyone here,,thankyou very much bennafits and work you are a light in a very dark night,,,,keep up the great work,id like to give gordon a big thank you for talking me through and listening,,this site is priceless”

From zero points to Standard PIP
“For the past year I have been helping a family member through the minefield that is the transfer from DLA to PIP. I’d like to say a massive thank you to this site for the helpful guides and information taking you through the appeal process step by step. I also want to encourage other people fighting to get the benefits you are entitled to. It’s worth it to keep trying even if at every stage doors appear to be shut in your face. The DWP turned us down at every stage, we had to go through the stress of a tribunal. I never thought we would get points for mobility as well. And to be awarded PIP indefinitely so we never have to go through this again, a welcome bonus. My advice is to get as much help, advice and information as you can to work through the process step by step. And don’t give up.”

PIP success at first shot
“THANK YOU FOR SUCH A HELPFUL SITE. EVERY MINUTE SPENT STUDYING THE GUIDES AND CHECKING OUR ANSWERS WAS WELL WORTH IT. HIGHER LIVING AWARD AND HIGHER MOBILITY.”

Enhanced PIP Mobility achieved
“Great news – enhanced mobility PIP achieved with 12 points ‘scored’. Also an unexpected additional standard daily living component was granted. The DWP letter was received on the 24th of December, 2 months after my Capita face-to-face. A great big thanks for all the advice and opinions shared on the B&W forum.”

ESA won at appeal!
“I just want to thank all of you at Benefits and Work for the support I've had from your website. At the appeal yesterday I was put back into the ESA support group, with a recommendation that I shouldn't be reassessed! I wouldn't have got that without you - your advice and guides have been as good as having my own solicitor!”

PIP Enhanced rate awarded
“We were appealing middle rate on both components decision. As mandatory reconsideration didn't change the verdict, we appealed to the tribunal. All of a sudden we got a letter from DWP, saying that they reconsidered their decision and awarded me with enhanced rate for both components "based on new evidence"… My thanks to all the information and detailed advice that Benefits and Work have provided. You have been a great help.”

PIP Tribunal success
“With the help of B & W I was successful with my tribunal appeal. I really appreciate the information and help I found here and want to thank all those involved”

I have been awarded PIP!
“Firstly, BIG thank you to this site md everyone on here for helping me. I have found it a huge help to me and the resources on here have been invaluable. Thanks so much. I checked my online banking this morning and seen a back payment from PIP. I haven't had a letter yet so rang the contact number earlier and it has been confirmed. I have been awarded the lower rate for both components. To say it is a massive relief to me is an understatement. Months of worry and added anxiety and that feeling that I was not being listened to about my MH issues. I'm still waiting to hear if my ESA mandatory reconsideration (had a text message to say i will hear by the 27th of dec) has been successful or not, but for now, I feel a huge weight lifted. I couldn't have got through all that form filling without the guides on here. Thanks.”

 

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: 87756

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