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:  2434

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.{jcomments on}

PIP success -standard daily living component
“I finally got my confirmation letter and the money has come through. So I just wanted to say a huge thank you to the mods and everyone on the forum who has posted…. the help and confidence it gives you seeing other peoples real stories has helped me greatly to try and get the help I need.”

You can read this newsletter online and you're welcome to republish part or all of this newsletter, provided you credit Benefits and Work.


Dear Reader,

The first PIP statistics are finally out - and they make for grim reading. Just 37% of all PIP claims have been successful so far.  And a disgraceful 85% of claimants are still waiting for a decision, as the enormous backlog of cases grows uncontrollably.

But there is something perhaps even more worrying about the statistics - they suggest that the health professionals carrying out the assessments may have been massively nobbled after initially finding far too many claimants eligible for PIP.

Almost as dismaying is the news that, following three Freedom of Information requests, Benefits and Work can now confirm a story we originally published last October: claimants falsely accused of fraud face a strong probability of losing their DLA and being forced to claim PIP instead.   In fact, the DWP have stated that even if they know that allegations are ‘false and malicious’ they will still transfer the claimant to PIP if ‘there remains a suggestion that the existing award is incorrect.’

Staying with the theme of false allegations that ruin lives, many people will be astonished to learn that the former managing editor of the Sun and the disgraced and discontinued News of the World has been appointed as director of communications at the DWP. Does this mean even more references to ‘handouts’ in DWP press releases, we wonder?

One of the first things that the new director might want to work on is the DWP’s social media campaign, after the department failed in its attempts to get a satirical twitter account closed and then take over the account for its own use.

Although the @UKJCP account was suspended by twitter, it has now been reinstated with an increased number of followers as a result of the publicity it has received.  It now has almost as many as the DWP account that tried to get it closed down - and we'd be delighted if our members could push @UKJCP into the lead by following them today, before catching up on all the other benefits news below.


Though in truth, we have almost no ESA news at all.  Except to tell you that the House of Commons Work and Pensions Committee is launching an inquiry into ESA and the work capability assessment.   Will you share your experiences with them?


And also to share the truly awful ESA sanctions figures which have just been released following a Freedom of Information Act request.  45,480 ESA claimants were threatened with a sanction between 3 December 2012 and 30 June 2013, under the new, harsher regime. Of those referred for a sanction decision, 11,400 people had their benefits stopped or reduced. It is hard to see how any reasonable person could fail to conclude that sanctions are being used to harass sick and disabled claimants and, ultimately, to reduce the benefits bill.


DLA renewal & ESA appeal success
“Just want to say thank you for the advice I received from this site. Worth every penny of the subscription fee. Won my appeal for ESA support group, and just sent in DLA renewal for husband. Got it back within 10 days and awarded indefinitely medium care and high mobility with having to see doctor.
Thank you so much.”


For those of you who are about to claim PIP, we’ve updated our PIP guide for members to ensure you are as well prepared as possible.

The guide now gives you much more information about what happens at a PIP medical, including the questions you are likely to be asked and, more importantly, the questions you may not be asked but need to answer if you’re to have any hope of getting the right award. Plus there’s information on what’s in the medical report form and what ‘informal observations’ the health professional is likely to be making whilst assessing you.

We’re still looking for more PIP medical reports to study to help us understand what assumptions about claimants are built into the system. We’re paying £10 for each one we receive, to cover your costs. But please don’t send anything without reading the details here.

If you work for an agency and you have service users who are happy to consent to you sharing their anonymised reports, we’d also like to hear from you.

And we’ve also launched our PIP medicals survey, which we hope will help us monitor and dig even deeper into the truth behind PIP medicals. If you’ve had a PIP medical, please consider sharing information with us anonymously.

Finally, we've published clear information on the latest DLA to PIP reassessment areas which the DWP had managed to confuse everyone with.

DLA success
“After getting heaps of information and help from you mods and guides from this website, I practically helped my father re-write the application form again giving as much information as possible…Today he gets a decision: High Rate Mobility High Rate Care for 3 years.
Wow couldn't believe it. Nor could my father. But thanks to your guilds this has made it possible. He can now start to think about himself and get the help that he deserves. Thank you once again.”


As the government introduces new regulations to close the bedroom tax loophole, a campaigner reveals that the number affected is likely to be massively higher than the 5,000 claimed by the coalition or even the 40,000 suggested by housing benefit specialists.

The same campaigner has also published the first decision by a first-tier tribunal bound by a recent upper tribunal ruling on the bedroom tax. Some commentators have interpreted the upper tribunal finding as meaning that a spare room is only a bedroom if it is actually used as one. It seems that the first-tier tribunal agreed, meaning that successful bedroom tax appeals may be about to skyrocket in number.


Channel 4 has revealed that more than 11,000 jobs on the Universal Jobmatch website which JSA claimants are forced to use may be bogus ones, put there by a businessman who then passes the applicants onto a CV library where he gets paid £1 for every CV submitted.

In some areas these vacancies account for one third of all the jobs advertised.

Whilst we're looking at extraordinary statistics: so far universal credit (UC) has cost £225,000 per person to implement. Just 2,720 people are currently in receipt of UC, rather than the one million who were supposed to be receiving the benefit by April of this year.


If you want to meet other claimants from across the UK, hear inspiring stories, learn about your rights and share tactics that work; the Boycott Workfare Welfare Action Gathering on 15 February being held in a Community Centre near Kings Cross, might be for you. They say “this isn’t a day for speakers from the front. Party political representatives aren’t invited. It’s about people at the grassroots getting together and working out how we can support each other and throw even more spanners in the government’s plans!”.

And if you're keen on putting that knowledge to immediate use, don’t forget that on 19 February protesters will gather peacefully to demonstrate outside  ATOS assessment centres, where the discredited Work Capability Assessments take place. Please check the updates on the website for the list of the 64 confirmed locations.

Regular readers will know that we are supporters of the Wow campaign, which calls for a Cumulative Impact Assessment of Welfare Reform and a New Deal for sick and disabled people based on their needs, abilities and ambitions. Phase one was successful, and triggered the eligibility for consideration by the Back Bench Business Committee (BBBC). The next stage is to obtain the support of as many MPs as possible going into this debate, which will take place on 27 February.  Michelle Maher has asked that Benefits and Work members write to their MPs to gain support. More details and links to standard letters here

Citizens Advice have also launched their own campaign on the Work Capability Assessment which determines fitness for work and eligibility for ESA. They are calling on the Government to make Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) fit for work.

“The Government is now deciding which companies will run the tests that determine people's ability to work. Without significant improvements we risk facing another five years of failure. Change is needed now to make sure the tests are fair, consistent and right first time.”

You can add your own experiences here

Return to Work
“This is just to say a HUGE thank you to Benefits & Work for helping me throughout my recovery. It has been almost four years since my accident. Its been life changing and its taken a while to recover. I might not be as good as new but I'm now able to get back to work.
Thanks guys. Without your help it would have been a complete nightmare.”


The ‘fit for work’ stories shared as part of the Citizens Advice campaign can be read on this blog

Meanwhile, the DWP is setting up a new fit for work “service” offering “advice” to people who are off work with an illness for more than four weeks. This was announced in a tweet on 9 February and the next day by the DWP’s press office . The Health and Work Service will be a privately-run operation covering England, Wales and Scotland, offering “non-compulsory” medical assessments and “treatment plans”. Read more about this in Mike Sivier’s blog post “Private company given contract to harass the long-term sick”

Carers views are often unrepresented, although 1 in 8 adults is a carer. Here is a blog post called ‘On Benefits and Working?’ by a Grandparent Carer and Bedroom Tax campaigner.

Jayne Linney is a regular blogger. A recent post details the response received to a Freedom of Information request on complaints to the DWP. Some of the figures came under the heading of; ‘DWP Staff Don’t Treat Me With Respect’. She is certain that the figures show dissatisfaction with Welfare Reform.

ESA support group
“my partner was placed into the support group in December 2013 we have phoned up to see when she will be reviewed and she has the award for three years she has ms…many thanks for all the advice from this wonderful site well worth the subscription money…


We have come across an interesting issue on twitter concerning DLA for children. Bernadette Horton or @PinkWaferBelle as she is on twitter, is an ordinary Mum of 4 and writes many articles on various aspects of austerity which are published both on her blog mumvausterity.blogspot.co.uk and also in The Morning Star.

Her son is 15 and his age group in school are the first under the Government’s new legislation that requires children to remain in education/ training/apprenticeship until they are 18, which is compulsory. He is autistic and gets DLA but is due to be assessed for PIP as an Adult on his 16th Birthday.

Under the new legislation a child is most definitely a child until 18 and so should be treated as such under our benefits system. She says: “I seriously believe no one has taken into account that children staying on until 18 need the support as children and not as adults at 16 under the current system”.

We know that PIP was designed to target support towards the most vulnerable as well as save money, and it has more stringent conditions for claiming than DLA, but taking support away from children at 16 was surely not the policy intention? We look forward to hearing how she gets on with her letters to MPs.


Our Facebook page is run by volunteers who want to let you know how important and appreciated it is that members contribute to the page. Doing so adds to the weight of internet traffic that surrounds the issues we deal with and they ask that you keep liking and sharing. That way we do collectively have a voice. Our politicians do take notice of that despite the rhetoric they spout to the contrary. We have almost 9000 likers so we will be releasing some free subscriptions as soon as we reach that next milestone!


As always, there's much more news on the site than we have room to squeeze into the newsletter, including:

UN expert says UK disabled people are 'between a rock and a hard place' (members only)

Heart-attack victim in cash-axe shock

Iain Duncan Smith Spent £75,000 On Media Training For Lord Freud And DWP Staff

Atos boss accused of 'living in a parallel universe' after claiming hated benefits assessor is popular with public


As always, we're very grateful to all those who take the time to share their good news on the forums - we know it makes a real difference to people.

ESA success
“My transfer from Incapacity to ESA had been a success! I relied heavily on the guides from this website, both for mental and physical illnesses, as well as info from the forum, and the DWP have put me in the Support Group! I really couln't have done it without you. I found the guides and site very supportive, as well as knowledgeable and informative, and that 'added ingredient' was so important and much appreciated. So thank you all so very much”

IB to ESA Migration Many Thanks to You
“with the help of benefits and work site and the Mods, I heard today that I have been placed in the Support Group from I/B…again many thanks for all your help and advice”

Success before appeal

“…I duly had a phone call later in the afternoon saying yes they… had changed their decision. This sounded too good to be true!! Saturday's mail brought more post from DWP…confirming they had changed their decision & the appeal would lapse. Wow!!
Without the information on this website, comments from the moderators, on this thread & others, & the support of a good GP we would never have got the decision reversed.”

ESA Support Group success
“… my ESA decision came today and I have been placed straight into the Support Group this time without the need for a medical.
Thank you for the continued support of this forum, and to the people that make it possible to help provide others with help when they need it most. I'm sure everything you do is very much appreciated by many members who have found your guides and comments invaluable when they are at a very anxious time in their lives.”

IB to ESA result
“I used the guides and sought some advice about medical evidence when completing the ESA so thanks to this site I have had the best possible outcome. Thank you once again to the site owner and the mods”

ESA support group
“Hi good news today with your help I have been put into the support group received letter today…”

IB to ESA support group without medical
“I wanted to say a huge thank you to everyone at B&W for their invaluable guides (which I also used years ago for a DLA renewal) as I have just heard I have been put in the Support Group for contribution-based ESA. I could not have done it without your wonderful guides.
Thanks also for the great advice from the moderators on this site and also for the regular Newsletters which kept me informed and reminded me I wasn't alone.”

ESA success on reconsideration
“A very big thank you to you all,I received a letter on Xmas eve, 3 years in the support group, given after reconsideration. no appeal what a relief. I could not of done this without your help. Once again thank you.”

Support group without medical
“With the help of this site and the WCA handbook, together with outside support, I got in to the Support Group without a medical.
This has made me feel as if a good force has pulled me away from the 'cliff-edge' that I felt I had been hanging off.”

Successful Appeal
“I should like to thank you all at Benefits and Work. Your excellent advice and the comfort that you have given me has been, and is, invaluable.”

Join the Benefits and Work community now and discover what a difference we can make.

And do remember:  you're welcome to republish part or all of this newsletter, provided you credit Benefits and Work

Good luck,

Steve Donnison, Sangeeta Enright and Karen Sharpe

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



Write comments...
or post as a guest
Loading comment... The comment will be refreshed after 00:00.

Be the first to comment.

We use cookies

We use cookies on our website. Some of them are essential for the operation of the site, while others help us to improve this site and the user experience (tracking cookies). You can decide for yourself whether you want to allow cookies or not. Please note that if you reject them, you may not be able to use all the functionalities of the site.