“I am shaking and crying but for once with happiness and relief . . . I cannot thank you all enough for what you do”
Linda after the news that she had been awarded DLA high rate mobility and high rate care indefinitely following a supersession.
“Without the help of the guides and advice from members I would have been totally lost. I am a 51 yr old bloke but I cried when I put the phone down after getting the news yesterday.”
nyorks1961 on being placed in the ESA Support Group after a medical assessment
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£71 A Week ESA Fines Plus DWP and Tribunals in Secret Project
In this edition of the Benefits and Work newsletter we warn of £71 a week sanctions to be imposed on employment and support allowance (ESA) claimants who don’t do as they are ordered by profit driven work programme staff. Plus, we reveal how the DWP and the Tribunals Service are secretly working together to improve the DWP’s ESA appeal submissions.
There’s also a great deal of news about Atos, including your last chance to join over 1,000 Benefits and Work readers who are trying to influence the way they carry out medicals for both ESA and the soon to be introduced personal independence payment (PIP).
In addition, there’s the shameful spectacle of a mainstream newspaper quoting a slogan from the Nazi concentration camps with something approaching approval.
We also have an update on forthcoming demonstrations and petitions plus a bumper crop of good news from the forum.
£4.00 OFF AN ANNUAL SUBSCRIPTION - ENDS MIDNIGHT THURSDAY
If you’re not already a member,join the Benefits and Work community (open access) before midnight on Thursday and you can get £4.00 off the cost of your annual subscription. Just type the following code into the coupon box when you pay via PayPal:
to get an annual subscription for £15.45, down from £19.45
£71 A WEEK ESA SANCTIONS
The Guardian newspaper claims to have evidence that the DWP is planning to increase the amount that employment and support allowance (ESA) claimants can be sanctioned, from £28.15 a week to £71 a week from 3 December.
At present, claimants in the work-related activity group of ESA can lose their work-related activity component of £28.15 a week if they fail to follow orders issued by private sector work programme providers or fail to attend work-focused interviews.
But according to a draft letter to claimants obtained by the Guardian, the sanction is set to leap to £71.00 a week for as long as a claimant fails to follow the orders. The Guardian is also reporting that the DWP has not ruled out introducing unpaid work experience of an indefinite length for WRAG claimants by 3 December.
Full story in the Guardian (external link)
DWP WORKING IN SECRET WITH TRIBUNALS SERVICE
Benefits and Work has been sent a copy of a ‘restricted’ DWP document which reveals that the DWP have been working in secret with Her Majesty’s Courts & Tribunals Service (HMCTS )to try to improve its appeals submissions and to set up a fast track service for some appeals. The document raises once again the question of just how impartial the top management of the Tribunals Service really is.
The document also tells DWP staff that mandatory revisions before appeals, which had been due to be introduced for all benefits in April 2013, will now only go ahead for personal independence payment on that date due to IT problems. For all other benefits it will not be introduced until October 2013.
The document reveals that the plan to introduce £50 fines for claimants who make mistakes in their claims is disparagingly referred to as the ‘hokey cokey’ by the DWP. That plan will now come into force in October, just a month after Lib Dem David Laws is made a minister again Laws fraudulently claimed housing costs as an MP in a way that would undoubtedly have seen him jailed if he had been a housing benefit claimant instead.
YOUR LAST CHANCE TO INFLUENCE ESA/PIP MEDICALS
Following last month’s news that Atos have won the biggest share of the contracts for carrying out personal independence payment (PIP) medicals it is more important than ever that you join the 1,000+ Benefits and Work members who have used
our online Harrington review form (open access) to make their views known.
PIP is due to start replacing disability living allowance (DLA) for working age claimants from next year. Many fear that Atos getting most contracts means that PIP medicals will be carried out using a computerised system similar to that used for the work capability assessment (WCA) for employment and support allowance. If you have any concerns about this – or indeed if you are a fan of the current methods – this is your last chance to pass on your views about the WCA to Professor Harrington.
The deadline for responses is Friday 7th September. You can read more about the review and fill in our online version of the questionnaire on the Benefits and Work website (open access).
ATOS IN THE NEWS
If the theory that all publicity is good publicity then Atos should be very happy right now, as it’s been a bumper few weeks for them, especially since the start of the Paralympics.
As well as protests outside the Atos headquarters (external link) there has been the revelation that the National Audit Office claims that the DWP has failed to penalise Atos (external link) for "underperformance", and has not set "sufficiently challenging" targets.
This has led to the setting up of a petition to Make Atos Pay on the 38 Degrees website – more details below.
There has also been astonishment at the amount of public money now being handed over to Atos. Tom Greatrex MP, has discovered that the company now has over £3bn of government contracts (external link), one third more than under Labour.
Perhaps most dispiriting of all is that the DWP have said that Atos and Capita’s successful PIP bids “demonstrated strong evidence of working with a range of partner organisations such as health groups and the voluntary sector, and of close working with disabled people’s representative groups.” When Disability News Service asked Atos to reveal which disability organisations had helped Atos win the contracts for PIP (members only), Atos refused on the grounds that the charities did not want to be named.
WORK SETS YOU FREE
The Daily Mail has set new standards in despicable journalism by publishing a piece in which the author argued that:
“The German slogan “Arbeit Macht Frei” is somewhat tainted by its connection with Nazi concentration camps, but its essential message, “work sets you free” still has something serious to commend it.”
Many Benefits and Work commenters have said that the current government work programme and the deaths associated with the work capability assessment put them in mind of that phrase. But this is the first time we have seen the slogan quoted with anything like approval in a mainstream publication – even one with a history of supporting the Nazi party and Oswald Mosely’s British Union of Fascists in their early days.
The offending paragraph has been taken down a month after publication, but a screenshot can still be seen on the New Statesman site (external link).
DEMOS AND PETITIONS
Boycott Workfare are organising a national day of action on Saturday 8 September against charities involved in Workfare – something that may affect claimants in the ESA work-related activity group if compulsory work placements are introduced. More details from Boycott Workfare (external link).
The TUC are organising a mass demonstration and march from the Embankment in central London to Hyde Park on Saturday 20 October to protest against government cuts. There’s also the opportunity to take part in online action for those who can’t be at the march. More details from A Future That Works (external link).
Pat Onion’s petition (external link) on the epetition site against the cuts being forced disproportionately on disabled people has now reached its last two months.
Over 45,000 people have signed, so there’s still a lot more support needed if it’s to reach 100,000 and the chance of a parliamentary debate. As Pat points out:
“Virgin Trains achieved their target within one week. The changes impacting on disabled people will affect far more people. Now is the time to act.”
As mentioned earlier, a petition on 38 degrees asking for Atos to be fined (external link) when it misses targets has already received over 22,000 signatures, with a target of 25,000.
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, Jc, bro58, AndrewPatrick, Gordon, Jim Allison, papasmurf, Crazydiamond,.
GOOD NEWS FROM THE FORUM – OPEN ACCESS LINKS
Finally, we have a bit of a bumper selection of good news from the forum following our break from newsletters over the summer:
Successful ESA appeal
“Just wanted to say a BIG thank you for this amazing site!”
Successful claim for DLA – higher rate mobility, low rate care
“Thank you so very much for your wonderful site!”
DLA awarded at renewal for 2 years and at same rate, low rate mobility and middle rate care
“Would just like to say a massive THANK YOU for all your help”
Decision revised to ESA Support Group after appealing against IB to WRAG
“First of all i would like to say a big thank you to benefits and work”
Placed in ESA Support Group
“Thanks to the guides on the site they made filling In the ESA50 form a lot easier.”
Successful DLA claim, high rate mobility and high rate care awarded for 5 years
“I just want to thank everyone here, and especially the people who wrote the guides, for my DLA application being successful.”
Migrated from IB to ESA Support Group without medical assessment and DLA increased from low rate care to middle rate care and high rate mobility
“Thanks to everyone on the team at Benefits and Work.”
Unable to attend, but went from 0 to 15 points at ESA appeal
“Thank you for all the information and advice given by everyone at B&W.”
ESA reassessed without medical, staying in Support Group for another 18 months
“Thanks to all on this site - Steve, the wonderful Mods and all members.”
Success at ESA appeal, an extra 12 points awarded
“I just want to thank the creators of the site.”
Remaining in ESA Support Group for two years following reassessment, no medical
“A big thank you to all Mods for their invaluable advise, and also thank you to all members for their support.”
Moved from ESA WRAG to Support Group after requesting appeal
“Thanks to benefitsandwork for their great help.”
Placed in ESA Support Group after medical assessment
“Thank you so much to all at B&W.”
Placed in ESA Support Group for 18 months
“Please pass my thanks on to steve for this site, we would all be lost without it”
Successful migration from IB to ESA Support Group, for 3 years after recorded medical
“A huge heartfelt thanks for your dedication to helping members cope with an unfair and mean-spirited system.”
ESA decision revised after request for appeal, placed in Support Group
“Many thanks to everybody on the team”
DLA awarded indefinitely
“Could not have managed without your help.”
Placed in ESA Support Group without medical assessment
“would like to thank benefits and work forum for such good info.”
Migrated from IB to ESA Support Group without medical assessment for 3 year period
“I just wanted to say thank you for your excellent guides and moderators who have helped me get what I am entitled to.”
Moved from IB to ESA Support Group, no medical assessment
“I would like to thank the forum mod's and members for their support and the authors of the excellent b&w guides.”
Placed in ESA Support Group without a medical
“I could not have done it without the help from the guides on your website”
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