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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 success
“Dear All, After three months of anxiety and stress, the dreaded brown envelope has just arrived.
My 32 year old autistic daughter has been awarded PIP at the enhanced rate for both daily living and mobility, reassessed in 2029. May I place on record my thanks and appreciation for the guidance and support of this site and the wealth of information that it provides. God bless you all! The very best of luck to others currently engaged in this process.”



USE YOUR 20% OFF ANNUAL MEMBERSHIP COUPON BEFORE MIDNIGHT FRIDAY: 29284

 

Dear [fname],

In this edition we ask for your help with a legal challenge which aims to outlaw the cynical mandatory reconsideration system.

We look at what the political parties are offering sick and disabled claimants in their manifestos.

We learn that only 4 out of 10 universal credit (UC) claimants are given their full entitlement.

But we discover that won’t stop the BBC and Channel 4 from airing positive documentaries about the DWP and UC.

And, finally, we are cheered by a court defeat for the DWP over the bedroom tax.

 

CAN YOU HELP OUTLAW MANDATORY RECONSIDERATIONS?
Benefits and Work members have already pitched in to get a challenge to the cynical mandatory reconsideration (MR) system over its first hurdle.

Success would mean an end to claimants being forced to wait months for the DWP to pretend to review their decision, before finally allowing you to appeal to a tribunal.

But more help is needed to meet a crowdfunding target of £3,000 to cover the costs of the challenge.

Michael Connor has 20 years’ experience as a welfare rights worker and has recently gained a distinction in both his Masters in Law and his Legal Practice Certificate.

He has launched a Judicial review of MRs on the grounds that they breach a claimants human right to a fair and prompt hearing of their case.

A High Court judge has allowed the case to go ahead, saying that there was force in the argument that MRs are “a disproportionate barrier to access to a court”.

Last week the case hung in the balance as £770 was needed to pay the initial court fee, but less than £500 had been pledged, with just a day to go.

Benefits and Work readers stepped in and got the crowdfunding appeal over £800.

Since then it has gone up to just over £1,100 of a £3,000 target.

The additional funds are needed to cover the costs of filing documents and applying for directions.

Benefits and Work readers have taken on similar challenges in the past.

Two years ago you almost single-handedly raised £8,000 – from an initial target of £3,000- towards a High Court challenge to changes to PIP regulations.

That was a human rights case too.

And thanks to you it was successful, leading to 1.6 million PIP claims having to be reviewed and thousands of claimants getting a life-changing award of the mobility component.

Mandatory reconsiderations are a cynical abuse of DWP power. Their purpose is to delay and discourage attempts to challenge benefits decisions.

In the year after they were introduced, the number of benefits appeals plummeted from over 500,000 to just 112,000.

The average waiting time for PIP MRs has doubled in the last year to an average of 69 days.

And the success rate is a miserable 15%, compared to 75% for appeal tribunals.

There are many, many tens of thousands of sick and disabled people who have been refused benefits because of the MR system.

So, if you can afford to donate to the MR crowdfunding, you will be helping to challenge a genuinely wicked barrier to justice.

Follow the Benefits News links below for more on this.

 

THE MANIFESTOS ARE OUT
We’ve taken a look at each of the main parties’ manifestos, with the exception of the SNP which is out too late for this newsletter.

If you are voting solely on what each party is offering, then there is little doubt that Labour have made the most effort to capture sick and disabled claimants votes.

Their undertaking to immediately stop all new transfers to UC, and then scrap the benefit completely when they come up with a new system, would be an enormous weight off many claimants minds.

As would the plan to end the current work capability assessments (WCAs) and PIP assessments and take everything back in-house.

Increasing ESA by £30 for claimants in the work-related activity group (WRAG) and raising carers allowance to the level of JSA are two other potentially popular moves.

Both Labour and the Lib Dems say they would scrap the benefits cap, the two child limit and the bedroom tax.

And, like Labour, the Lib Dems would end WCA’s and reverse the cuts to ESA for claimants in the WRAG.

Both have more offers in their manifestos.

The Green Party take a different approach, saying they will introduce a “Universal Basic Income (UBI), an unconditional financial payment to everyone at a level above their subsistence needs”

The adult rate of UBI would be £89 a week with an additional supplement for disabled claimants.

They would also replace UC and benefits sanctions.

The Brexit Party are not trying too hard to capture the claimant vote. They are simply offering to have a five week maximum wait for payment of universal credit and undertake a review of the benefits system, followed by reform.

The Conservatives possibly get the prize for irony when they say in their manifesto that “. . .we will continue our efforts through the tax and benefits system to reduce poverty, including child poverty.”

Other than that they have little to say to claimants, except that they will “reduce the number of reassessments a disabled person must go through” and “publish a National Strategy for Disabled People before the end of 2020”.

Will the manifestos influence your vote?

Post a comment in our manifesto round-up (see Benefits News below) and let us know what you think.

 

ONLY 40% OF UC CLAIMANTS GET FULL AWARD
Every bit of news about UC seems to add to the impression that it is set up to punish claimants.

We have now learnt that only 40% of UC claimants get the full amount they are entitled to.

Freedom of Information data shows that the other 60% of claimants are having their UC cut to pay off debts and loans, including advance payments.

This means that over a million of the current 1,759,000 UC claimants are having to survive on less than their already low UC entitlement.

 

BBC AND CHANNEL 4 DOCUMENTARIES
The BBC and Channel 4 are airing similar ‘fly-on-the-wall’ documentaries based inside jobcentres, which are likely to cover-up the misery caused by UC.

The Disability News Service reports that Channel 4 is filming a six part documentary at Southern House jobcentre in Leeds over the next five months.

Jobcentre staff have been told by the DWP that it will follow “the journeys of customers, the relationships between customers and Work Coaches, and showcasing the breadth of support we offer”.

Meanwhile, the BBC is filming a three part documentary in Liverpool jobcentres which will “take a fresh look” at the support provided under universal credit, “as well as exploring the human stories of some of the 78,000 people who work in the DWP” and “the personal stories of the claimants and their families contending with their claims”.

Will the fact that most people are getting less than their entitlement get a mention, we wonder?

 

BEDROOM TAX DEFEAT FOR DWP
The supreme court has ruled that, for a small number of cases, the bedroom tax is a breach of human rights and should be ignored by tribunals.

The court ruled that where a claimant has a need for an extra bedroom to store medical equipment, it would be a breach of the Human Rights Act to force their partner to pay the bedroom tax.

It is believed the ruling will apply to 155 partners of severely disabled people who need an extra bedroom.

The ruling is important not just for this case but also for others where human rights breaches are at issue, because it gives lower courts the right not to apply regulations which breach the Human Rights Act.

Here’s hoping it’s a good omen for the MR case we were telling you about earlier.

Good Luck,

Steve Donnison

 

PIP Award
“Got my brown envelope today i sat looking at it dare not open it but i did i want to thank everyone for the help i got just reading posts i was awarded standard rate daily living and enhanced rate for mobility love your site”

 

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: 29284

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 20% DISCOUNT
Thursday 27 February, Birmingham

“Excellent course. Feel more confident in completing PIP forms.” Andy Smith, Futures Housing

“Really enjoyable course and trainer.” Maria Taylor, Lincolnshire Partnership NHS Trust

“Covered everything I needed to know.” Paula Halkic, Lancs & Morecambe MS Society

Places are now available for our next PIP open training day for professionals.

Book before the end of November and get a 20% discount on the advertised price.

Get more details and download a booking form.

Birmingham too far away? Complete our brief training request form and let us know where you’d like us to run a training day and what subjects you’d like covered.

 

BENEFITS NEWS
Only 40% of universal credit claimants get their full entitlement
Figures released under the Freedom of Information Act show that only 40% of universal credit (UC) claimants get the full amount they are entitled to.

Fight to outlaw mandatory reconsiderations has begun – can you help?
The fight to outlaw mandatory reconsiderations has begun, thanks to Benefits and Work members, but more help is needed.

The manifestos are out, but will they influence your vote?
Well, with the exception of the SNP, all the party manifestos are out now. Will their offers to claimants make a difference to how you vote?

BBC and Channel 4 both to air Jobcentre friendly documentaries
Campaigners have criticised the BBC and Channel 4 for airing similar ‘fly-on-the-wall’ documentaries based inside jobcentres, which are likely to cover-up the misery caused by Universal Credit (UC).

UC fraudsters becoming bolder in targeting claimants
A housing association in Teesside has issued a warning to tenants about universal credit fraud scammers who are going door-to-door offering bogus loans to tenants.

Bedroom tax supreme court defeat for DWP
The supreme court has ruled that, for a small number of cases, the bedroom tax is a breach of human rights and should be ignored by tribunals.

 

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.

Mandatory reconsideration success
“Firstly thank you for this website, the best £20 I’ve ever spent. I recently had a PIP assessment and was down graded one level on mobility to standard rate and the care level kept the same at standard rate. I followed your website and asked for a mandatory reconsideration. After send lots of evidence I got a phone call from DWP upgrading both elements to enhanced rate. Approx a few weeks later I got my certificate of entitlement and was shocked to see the enhanced care had been backdated to December 2016.”

PIP award
“Just recieved my pip letter and have been awarded enhanced rate care and high rate mobility. Thanks to the advice on the forum I managed to get a home visit. Although I waited since June the journey has been much easier following the posts. Thank you”

Been re-awarded mobility component
“To Gordon &team, after beginning the transfer from DLA to PIP in May, going into M.R. Sept I finally received the wonderful news today that’d had my points for mobility increased, been awarded
the mobility component - I get to keep my car phew! I’m so elated, in shock, the sheer heartache this process has caused me & my family is indescribable - I know I’m very lucky to have had them to support me through this. Lastly I would like to thank you G for your kind and invaluable advice, the benefit guides and also the forum. Your stories spurred us on to continue & challenge my 1st decision.......I hope this helps anyone now in the positive I was to find the strength and courage to keep going.”


DLA to PIP decision by phone
“Good Evening to you all: Around 6:35 this evening i got a call from DWP asking to talk to my husbands re: DLA to PIPS, she wanted to talk about our ESA claim when we asked why she told us that a decision has been made about the MR she said that they have awarded enhanced rate daily living and standard mobility, also with no end date. We were totally taken back to find out from ESA and not pips first lol. So thank you to you all for your help and putting up with me during me doing the MR. I really didn't think he would be awarded it coming from DLA to PIPS but must say happy its all over again for a few years I hope 7months in total not to bad I thought. Please don`t give up if your waiting for your decision, I spent so much time reading this site before i sent anything off for this change. Thank you”

DLA to PIP success
“I have received the decision of my move from DLA to PIP, I was awarded enhanced for both with no review for 10 years. Thank you so much for your guides, without which I would not have coped.
I wasn’t awarded points for things I should have been but I am too scared to challenge them in case I lose what I have been awarded but I have the result I needed so thank you, the guides helped me stay calm and say what I needed to say. I’m so grateful! Worth every penny of subscription which I will keep up although I’m hoping to not need it for a long time to come, it feels like a safety net to me and very well worth the money.”

PIP success
“I just got the awful brown envelope this morning. Laying there on the doormat, my fate wrapped in brown paper… I have been transferred to PIP , both enhanced rates for ongoing period.
I can’t thank you enough. It’s because of you being here that I was able to fill out my form accurately, because you are here I trusted that I had given myself a reasonable chance.”

“thank you for your invaluable help”
“I just wanted to say a massive thank you as I have received PIP (higher rate on both criteria) after my assessment. Without your guides I wouldn’t even have been able to even fill out the PIP form. As I’m now over 65 I’m praying that I won’t have to go through the whole assessment process again. So thank you for your invaluable help.”
Charlotte

“I can’t thank you enough”
“What a year this has been. I have my invitation to apply for PIP in the move from DLA. The journey started in MAY 2019 and I got a result back in NOVEMBER.
My DLA award was high rate care and low rate mobility. I sent all the paperwork off and was granted a paper based review. I was informed today I have enhanced care and Mobility until 2023. I would not have been able to do this without your site, I can’t thank you enough.”
Ian

“Thank you so much”
“It was 2014 when I last wrote to you saying thanks for your invaluable help in completing my wifes first ESA application after changing from Incapacity benefit resulting in her being put straight into the support group with no need for a medical.
Well, its that time again as we have just had a review of the esa closely followed by our first application for PIP transferring from DLA and she has been put into support groups for both with no need for medical at all and no review on pip before 10 years!
There is no way I would have known how to fill out the questions so completely without your invaluable guidance. Even when it seemed like I was saying the same or similar things over and over again (which I would never have done myself as far too much English literature training! ) I trusted your advice and it proved to be totally correct and it is such a weight off our minds!
Thank you so much and best regards!”
Will

“thank you for giving me the information and confidence to stand up to the DWP”
“Just wanted you to know that I’ve had a successful result with my appeal against a DWP decision, in no small part due to your organisation.
My daughter is autistic and was awarded PIP enhanced care and mobility some 5 years ago. She was then reviewed some two years ago and her PIP reduced to lower rate daily living only.
I carefully read your forums and information sheets before applying for a mandatory review… which was of course, a waste of time.
After taking advice from my welfare advice service and studying the excellent Perlic welfare rights pack, I appealed to tribunal. After a long wait (about a year) I had my daughter’s benefit restored to the original award of maximum care and mobility allowance, with no recommended review period in recognition of the fact that autism is a lifelong condition.
So thank you for giving me the information and confidence to stand up to the DWP.”
Courtney

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: 29284

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

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