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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.

Award of PIP
“Friday morning, the dreaded brown envelope made an appearance through the letterbox. To our surprise, it stated that my wife had been awarded the enhanced rates of both components as an "ongoing" award. This was the last thing we expected as she did not have to attend a face to face meeting and the only health professional i could mention on the form was her GP.......and she is new to the practice & i would imagine not fully aware of her health condition. Having been on the lower rates of DLA for over 20 years, this is the last thing we expected. Thanks to all at B&W for the assistance over the years.......could not have done this without your guides and help.”

USE YOUR 20% OFF ANNUAL MEMBERSHIP COUPON BEFORE MIDNIGHT FRIDAY: 26857

 

Dear Reader,

Welcome back to the first update of the Autumn.

In this edition we reveal that success rates for new PIP claimants who get as far as being assessed by Atos or Capita have hit an all-time low – and in suspicious circumstances.

In quite possibly related news, appeal success rates for both PIP and ESA have hit a new all-time high of 75%.

We have yet more statistics, this time showing that over 50% of new ESA claimants are placed in the support group.

And, another revealing number, the latest secretary of state for work and pensions voted no fewer than 52 times to reduce benefits spending.

Finally, abandoning numbers, we flag up the latest online innovation by the Tribunals Service, a webchat service for answering queries.

 

PIP SUCCESS RATES HIT ALL-TIME LOW
The success rate for new PIP claimants who had an assessment has fallen to 50% according to the latest DWP statistics.

Overall, since PIP was introduced the success rate for this group is 58%.

But it’s not just the fact that the award rate is falling that is cause for concern. It’s the way in which it is decreasing.

In January 2018 the success rate was 57%.

Since then there has been only a single month when the award rate went up.

Apart from March this year, for every successive month the award rate has either remained the same or fallen.

So in May 2019, for this group the award rate was 52%, in June 51% and in July 50%.

Award rates for benefits which depend on assessment usually fluctuate a good deal

This remorseless fall raises questions about whether pressure is being exerted to ensure that results move in only one direction.

 

PIP AND ESA APPEAL TRIBUNAL SUCCESS RATES AT ALL-TIME HIGH
It’s probably not a coincidence that as success rates for PIP claims plummet, the success rates at tribunals for PIP appeals rise.

In fact, the latest statistics from the Tribunals Service show both PIP and ESA appeals have now reached 75% upheld.

It seems incredible that, three out of four times, when a PIP or ESA decision is looked at by a tribunal they decide the DWP got it wrong.

On the down side, whilst success rates are rising, the number of appeals is falling.

ESA appeals have fallen by 35% compared with a year ago and PIP appeals by 15%.

And appeals are taking longer to be heard.

The average wait is up by 3 weeks compared to a year ago. It now stands at 30 weeks.

Combined with a waiting time of 10 weeks for a mandatory reconsideration, this means that PIP claimants are now waiting an average of 40 weeks for justice.

 

ESA SUPPORT GROUP NUMBERS RISE
Whilst PIP success rates are falling, new claimants for ESA are having increasing success in being placed in the support group.

The latest DWP statistics show that for initial claims in the quarter to March 2019:

53% were placed in the support group. This is an increase of 5% since the previous quarter.

21% were placed in the work-related activity group, down 1%.

26% were found fit for work, down 5% since the last quarter.

Less cheering is the ongoing massive increase in largely pointless ESA reassessments.

These had fallen to just 35,000 in December 2015 as the DWP used almost all its ESA resources to catch up on a backlog of initial claims.

But since then the DWP has returned to the mass retesting of existing claimants.

In the most recent quarter, repeat assessments increased from 160,000 to 190,000.

Yet the proportion of ESA repeat claimants placed in the support group has increased from 72% last quarter to 75% this quarter.

This suggests that hundreds of thousands of claimants are still suffering the stress of utterly unnecessary reassessments.

 

NEW DWP SECRETARY OF STATE
They come and go so frequently that it seems pointless to even learn their names.

But, for the record, following yet another Brexit-related resignation by a secretary of state for work and pensions, the latest replacement is called Therese Coffey.

Coffey has the distinction of having voted to cut spending on benefits no fewer than 52 times between 2012 and 2016.

Coffey also consistently voted for mass surveillance of people’s communications and activities.

And she generally voted against laws to promote equality and human rights.

Plus, she was one of 72 MPs who are also landlords who voted against an amendment that would have obliged all landlords to ensure that their properties were “fit for human habitation”.

Looking on the bright side, Coffey may well be only a placeholder who will lose her post after the next election, regardless of who wins.

 

TRIBUNALS SERVICE WEBCHAT
As part of its ongoing, cost-cutting plunge into online appeals, the Tribunals Service has launched a webchat provision.

Webchat is in addition to telephone support.

It means that claimants completing an online form to lodge an appeal, for example, can get support in a pop-up window without having to leave the page they are working on.

People using paper forms connected to their appeal are also free to use webchat, by visiting the gov.uk site.

Questions about why waiting times are growing whilst the number of appeals is falling will probably not be appreciated, however.

Good Luck,

Steve Donnison

 

ESA success
“Thank you for all the support from the guidance notes. Pleased to say that I received a letter this morning saying that I will remain in the Support Group with a review in three years. Biggest surprise was that I did not have to attend a f2f health assessment. For all you fibromyalgia sufferers out there, keep fighting!..Thank you again”

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: 26857

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

 

PIP Training Day, Wednesday, 6 November, Nottingham
There are just 4 places left on our PIP training day for professionals and support workers.
More details and booking form here

 

BENEFITS NEWS
Over half of new ESA claimants placed in support group
Over half of all initial claimants for employment and support allowance (ESA) are placed in the support group, but claims are taking longer to decide, according to figures released by the DWP last week.

PIP and ESA tribunal success rates hit all-time high of 75%
The success rate for both PIP and ESA appeals has risen again to an all-time high of 75%, according to figures released by the Tribunals Service last week.

PIP mandatory reconsiderations now take almost 10 weeks
The time taken for a PIP mandatory reconsideration decision has more than doubled. It now takes an average of 69 days, up from 32 days a year ago.

PIP new claim award rates hit all-time low
The success rate for new personal independence payment (PIP) claimants who have an assessment has fallen to an all-time low of 50%, according to figures released by the DWP last week.

Appeal tribunals webchat service launched
The Tribunals Service has introduced a live webchat service for queries, in addition to the telephone support already available.

Therese Coffey, new DWP secretary of state, voted 52 times to reduce welfare benefits spending
Therese Coffey, who today replaced Amber Rudd as secretary of state for work and pensions, voted to cut welfare benefits spending on 52 separate occasions between 2012 and 2016.

44% of disabled people have to go without food says Citizens Advice
New data shows that 44% of disabled households have gone without essentials such as food and toiletries because of the benefits freeze, introduced in 2016, Citizens Advice claimed yesterday.

 

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.

PIP appeal success
“Hi I won my appeal for both parts of pip now get enhanced thanks mainly to this site and all the great info in guides and on forum.”

Successful PIP Review
“Thanks to all the advice here I obtained a ten year extension for my daughters PIP, (previously only awarded three years. What I think helped according to the letter I received was , re- submitting new or previous medical evidence, where I had to put no change I backed it up by saying why there was no change. I would say put as much as you can into the review. Hope this might be helpful. good luck to all who may be re-applying via a review”

Thank you
“I am writing to say Thank You for your guides. By using your PIP guide, as my adult disabled daughter was moved from DLA (lifetime award) over to PIP. My adult daughter was awarded Enhanced rate for both parts of PIP .Thank You. I also previously used the ESA guide and she get this also. Thank You for this also.”

Thank you!
“I can’t thank you enough, got the dreaded brown envelope in March, DLA indefinite award member being invited to claim PIP. Followed your guides and have spent all these months waiting, have lost around 4 stone in weight and the fear of f2f made me suicidal. I got a brown envelope today..........enhanced rate on both care and mobility and an ‘on going’ period. Still can’t believe it and feel numb, as it has deteriorated my health with worry. Just can’t believe it’s real ! I want to thank you with all my heart, I most certainly couldn’t have got this without your help. I hope this gives hope to others in my situation , your advice is invaluable.....THANK YOU X”

PIP Review success
“I had to fill in a PIP review form to be returned by 25th August. I took Gordon's advice about still including a lot of information rather than just state "no change". I was very stressed about it as I have just lost my Mum and it couldn't have come at a worse time. I sent it back recorded delivery on 12th August and got a text from DWP on 14th August saying they had received it. Today I received a letter saying they hadn't yet had my form so in a panic I rang them. I am now in a state of shock. Not only had they received it, they had made their decision by 15th August (so 2 days!) and a letter is on it's way saying I have again been awarded Enhanced Rate for both Mobility and Care until 2025!. I won't actually believe it until the letter arrives but the lady at DWP checked and rechecked and was astonished herself at the quick decision. The relief is huge and I'm so glad I took Gordon's advice and spent a lot of time on the form even though it was the last thing I felt like doing. Thank you!!!!”

ESA Support Group success
“I have not posted in 6 years but wanted to give Benefits & Work and everyone an update… As a background thank you to Benefits and Work for their guidance on Mandatory Reconsideration , which I used 6 years ago. I was able to sucessfully be moved from WRAG to Support Group after getting a copy of the report showing the assessor completely lied and did not refer to evidence given… In June 2019 I had my first reassessment since 6 years ago (being in the Support Group - Contribution Based). I filled in the form and sent copious medical evidence. I requested my f2f be recordeded based on last fiasco I went through. I was seen by qualified nurse who had my claim form and documents (big difference from last time). Astonshiingly at the end of the interview, she advised "you will get a letter and we will review you in about a year or two! Just do what you did this time and submit all your medical documents"! Sure enough received my letter dated 29/07/19 and I have remained in the Support Group!. So thank you once again Benefits and Work for your INVALUABLE advice and Guidance on how to fill in these forms and what my rights are for face to face assessments!”

DLA to PIP success
“I would like to thank everyone on this website and forum for the advice I have been given. I did not know where to start in completing my daughters PIP form, I followed the advice given, using the suggested wording and downloaded the guides. My daughter has a severe learning disability and was on middle rate care and low mobility. Thanks to you all she has been awarded enhanced daily living and standard mobility for an ungoing period. Also she did not have to have a face to face and the decision was a paper based one.”

PIP awarded!
“Thankfully my sister has been awarded enhanced rate at 13 points.I am so grateful for the advice notes guidance Notes they are so helpful.!”

So delighted with PIP result
“Would just like to say a big thank you to everyone on here who have answered my questions on PIP.... I just had a letter from my local council, council tax support telling me there has been a change in my benefits... and it clearly states Daily living standard and Mobility enhanced rate... My local council obviously work quicker than the DWP at getting the letters out... the copy of my pip form recommended no assessments for four years... im absolutely delighted”

ESA Success!
“Just wanted to say a big thank you! I've just been reassessed for ESA (I have Aspergers Syndrome and anxiety/depression) and with the help of your wonderful guides I've been placed straight into the Support Group with no need for a 'medical'. This is the third time I've had to go through this appalling process, and your guides have helped me to success each time. Thank you again!!!”

DLA to PIP success
“I got the dreaded brown envelope this morning, but thanks to all the help and advise on your fantastic site, I have been awarded standard care and enhanced mobility until 2023. I can’t tell you what pressure this has put myself and my family through, having a Lifetime award of DLA and still being put through the stress of a face to face medical, but I was determined to see it through, and would like to thank you all again for the help and advice that this great site provides. I may even be able to sleep tonight!!!” 

PIP award after appeal lodged
“Through using this forum I lodged an appeal last week and have been compiling paperwork in readiness. I received a call this morning from DWP and the gent apologised for all I had been put through and if I was in agreement my award would be standard rate living and standard rate mobility… so have agreed. I was too shocked to even get the breakdown on points.”

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: 26857

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