Oh for fucks sake why don’t we just start hiring witchdoctors. We have the NHS, and as pissed about as it that is where health should be treated, not the job centre. We don’t give NHS treatment under the threat of taking your income away. You won’t cure mental illness by threatening people.
So this cunt would be able to stop someone :
1) throwing herself off a bridge because if the bedroom tax
2) setting himself on fire due to rent arrears.
3) dying from diabetic ketoacidosis, penniless and alone, by a pile of CVs.
Forcing people with serious medical and mental health conditions into the hands of charlatans who will not cure them, but will then blame them and cut their income is not the way forward.
What next homoeopathy for broken legs….
And what is worse is the number of everyday people who agree with this shit because they somehow think it will get chavs into jobs that don’t exist….
Assessing the Assessors
Authors: Rick Burgess, Simon Duffy, Nick Dilworth, Jane Bence, Wayne Blackburn and Mark Thomas
The assessment of disabled people for the Employment Support Allowance has been a national scandal. Much of the focus has been on the private healthcare firm, Atos, who have administered the DWP’s assessment. But the real problem is the culture of contempt which is at the very heart of the Work Capability Assessment (WCA) itself.
This report is based on 884 respondents to an online questionnaire which asked people who were sick or disabled to assess the assessors – to describe how they were treated in the assessment process and what impact the assessment had on their lives.
The statistics are bleak, for instance:
- 95% found the assessment damaged their health, 29% severely
- 95% gave the assessment a mark of 5 out 10 or less, 43% gave it the lowest possible mark
- 80% of the time the respondent felt the assessor did not listen to them
Even more bleak are the moving stories and comments left by the respondents, for example:
- “The process was terrifying, humiliating and degrading…”
- “Tragically, my friend has committed suicide since losing her appeal.”
- “It was the second worst experience of my life after my severe accident.”
This report was developed independently, with no funding or subsidy, but with support from Mark Thomas and the team of disabled people who are now established as New Approach and who will setting out alternatives to the WCA over the coming months.
The data used in this report is also available online at:http://bit.ly/wcasurveydata
“It is not the job of the NAO to scream and shout. But the rest of us can and should make as much noise as possible about how Duncan Smith and his ministers are cheerfully implementing policies that punish the most vulnerable in our society”
THANK YOU CARDS FOR SANCTIONS
Neil Couling, work services director at the DWP, gave what some would regard as outrageous evidence to the Scottish parliament’s welfare reform committee last month. Speaking on behalf of the DWP, he told the committee:
“My experience is that many benefit recipients welcome the jolt that a sanction can give them. . . Some people no doubt react very badly to being sanctioned—we see some very strong reactions—but others recognise that it is the wake-up call that they needed, and it helps them get back into work.”
The Deputy Convener then asked rather sarcastically:
“So, jobcentres across the country have been inundated with thank you cards from people who have received sanctions.”
To which Couling replied:
“Yes—that is not so remarkable.”
Mr Couling also denied the suggestion that the DWP has targets for sanctions, dismissing the allegation as ‘absolute nonsense’.
This may come as a surprise to DWP staff who work in Jobcentres. According to a survey of members published this month by the PCS union:
· 23% of members had been given explicit targets for referring claimants for sanctions;
· 36% of members stated that they have been placed on a Performance Improvement Plan for not making enough sanctions referrals;
· 10% have gone through formal poor performance procedures for not making enough sanctions referrals.
In his evidence Couling also denied that there was a link between ‘welfare reform’ and growing use of food banks, claiming:
‘ . . .people will tell you things in order to maximise their economic choices. In the same way as people will tell you, “I am looking for work”, because they know that if they say that they are not doing so there will be consequences and they will get sanctioned, people will tell you things when they present to food banks. It might not be wilful deceit that is going on; it might well be their belief about the situation.”
Other people, of course will “tell you things” that obscure their role in an increasingly ugly and broken organisation which punishes people for being poor or sick by thrusting them deeper into poverty, despair and sometimes suicide.
They “tell you things” because they know that if they say that there are targets for sanctions and that welfare reform forces people to turn to food banks there will be consequences and they may be out of a job. It might not, of course be wilful deceit that is going on; it might well be their belief about the situation . . . but that doesn’t make it any more true.
For those of you who wish to avoid the electrifying jolt of extreme hardship and hopelessness that Mr Couling’s sanctions can bring, we’ve published advice on how to avoid sanctions and what to do if you are threatened with one – including suing the DWP and work programme providers.
The advice is aimed primarily at sick and disabled claimants forced to claim JSA. But most of it applies equally to ESA claimants forced onto the work programme. It’s an ongoing piece of work, so please do email us your tips or post your comments about your experiences.
ESA Support Group success
“I filled in my transfer from incapacity benefit to ESA form about 6 months ago and got my answer this Monday. ESA support group with no medical. Thanks to the guides here I included a lot more of how my daily life is affected. So, a big thank you and well done.”
There has been a dramatic drop in the number of benefits appeals, especially in relation to the work capability assessment appeals. According to tribunal president Judge Robert Martin, giving evidence to the work and pensions committee earlier this month:
“The figures have just fallen away remarkably. In March 2013, in a single month we had something like 37,000 Work Capability Assessment appeals. In March this year, from my enquiries of regional judges, we think probably less than 1,000 is our estimate.”
The judge suggested that the reduction was due to the reduction in the number of cases going to Atos and also to delays in the assessment process.
Judge Martin also had a lot to say about the what he called the ‘dubious’ and ‘regressive’ mandatory reconsideration and appeals regime.
We also have news of the claimants forced to make an 88 mile round trip for a WCA because their local assessment centre isn’t accessible to disabled people.
Finally, we now have an updated version of our guide to permitted work in the ESA claims section of the members area, which includes a completed PW1 form .
PIP AND DLA/AA NEWS
Thank you for PIP success
“Hello team…I rang DWP today just on the off chance for an update and been told I have got the enhanced rate for care and Mobility…I could not thank you enough for all the help and support you have given me, just thank you so much. Your guides were absolutely fantastic and without you I think I may have totally lost it lol…Thank you again and god bless.”
The DWP are finally coming clean about how long it takes to process a PIP claim. Claimants calling the PIP enquiry line on 0845 850 3322 now get an automated message telling them that:
“It could take up to 26 weeks from the time you claimed to when we write to you with our decision.”
Though even this may be an over-optimistic forecast judging by some of the accounts we have had from members about their attempts to claim PIP.
If you have made a claim for PIP and had a medical and/or a decision we’d be very grateful if you’d complete ourbrief online PIP questionnaire to help us learn more about what’s really happening to PIP claimants.
We’re also still very keen to see more copies of medical reports – not decision letters but actual Atos or Capita reports. We’re paying £10 to cover your costs if you send us one. You are most likely to have a copy of a medical report if you are challenging a PIP decision. Find out more here.
If you are currently challenging a PIP decision then you may still be one of the first four hundred to appear before a tribunal. If this is the case then you are likely to have a DWP presenting officer at your hearing as the DWP have agreed to send staff to the initial 400 PIP hearings
According to, once again, Judge Martin:
“For the first 400 PIP appeals we are going to do, the idea is to send a presenting officer to explain the Department’s decision and the reasoning, see what the tribunal makes of it, go away and learn some lessons, but, again, it is very piecemeal.”
Currently presenting officers are almost never seen at appeals – their presence could be good news or bad news depending on the role they choose to adopt.
Lastly, we have now published an updated guide to claiming attendance allowance on both physical and mental health grounds in the DLA section of the members area of the site.
The Rutherfords take their case to the High Court today, Wednesday. They are the grandparents and carers of a very severely disabled boy of 13 who needs round-the-clock care. They have to pay the bedroom tax because they have a ‘spare’ bedroom which is used by overnight carers twice a week, in order to give the Rutherfords a little respite.
CPAG are bringing the judicial review on behalf of the Rutherfords, in a case first begun by our own Sangeeta Enright, who will be attending the hearing.
For a round up of all the bedroom tax news and tribunal decisions visit Giles Peaker’s Nearly Legal blog.
BLOGS AND CAMPAIGNS
Johnny Void’s blog has highlighted the disappearance from the .gov website of the Benefits Adviser on-line tool which allowed visitors to check their benefits entitlement.
Johnny Void claims that visitors are only able to make two benefit checks before being asked to pay for further calculations and tells readers:
“What entitledto have done for this free advert on a busy government website is unclear. It will certainly generate them a tidy sum in google advertising revenue. Entitledto is run by a former DWP economist Dr Phil Agulnik.”
In perhaps the most famous Morecambe and Wise sketch ever, as Morecambe mangles Greig’s piano concerto, Andre Previn protests: “You’re playing all the wrong notes.”
But Morecambe grabs him by the lapels and snaps back: “I’m playing all the right notes . . . but not necessarily in the right order.”
It’s a forty year old sketch. But Benefits and Work can reveal that it was dusted off for use at a televised meeting of the Public Accounts Committee about Personal Independence Payment (PIP) last week.
First Lisa Coleman, senior vice president at Atos, looking opulent in pearls, repeatedly denied accusations that Atos had lied in their PIP tender document about how many assessment centres their partner organisations had made available. References in their bid document to contractual commitments couldn’t possibly be understood to mean that there were any sort of . . . well, contracts, she argued.
Then it was the turn of DWP permanent secretary Robert Devereux, looking dismissive in shirt sleeves, to try to justify the 6-7 month waiting times for medicals.
Devereux was adamant that the neither the DWP nor Atos had got it wrong.
Atos, he insisted, had all the right assessment centres and all the right assessors . . . but not necessarily for the right medicals.
As MPs gaped in astonishment, Devereux explained that “The right number of people have been deployed . . . to do a test which is half as long.”
So, you see, officially it’s nobody’s fault that waiting times for PIP medicals are so enormous.
It’s because no-one could possibly have realised that PIP medicals would take two hours to carry out and write up, instead of the one hour that had been allowed for.
This is the sort of thing that could only be discovered once PIP had been rolled out nationally, not from running a proper pilot, Devereux appeared to argue.
Indeed, he seemed to expect gratitude from the committee because, when he realised that roll-out of PIP wasn’t going quite as smoothly as intended, he had scaled it back to only include every single new PIP claimant in the UK and a lot of others besides.
Like a well-practised double act, Devereux and Coleman were both steadfast in their refusal to admit fault, arguing that it’s early days yet and these utterly unforeseeable medical backlogs will soon be dealt with.
Coleman did reluctantly confess that 40% of Atos’ clients have to travel for more than an hour each way to a medical, rather than no-one at all having to do so, as they had guaranteed in their tender document. But this wasn’t because Atos had failed to provide most of the 740 promised assessment centres. Oh no, it was yet another of those completely unforeseeable things.
Because until PIP was up and running nobody could accurately predict where claimants would be travelling from. Such things are just not possible, apparently.
It was as if Coleman imagined PIP claimants to be some strange hobbity type of creatures, living in underground warrens that are only now being discovered, rather than people on every street in every town.
But there’s no denying that this twenty first century Morecambe and Wise put on a polished performance.
Certainly, anyone hoping for an admission of corporate guilt or a display of appropriate remorse for the misery being heaped on sick and dying people – something the committee heard about from other witnesses – will have been disappointed.
But then one thing we should all have foreseen: for the DWP and for Atos, the disastrous roll-out of PIP doesn’t even qualify as a comedy of errors, let alone a tragedy.
You can download the minutes of the meeting or you can watch the whole Committee meeting on Parliament TV. There’s no sound for the first minute until everyone is sitting comfortably. Atos are on at 10.30am and Devereux at 10.59am.
Or you can do yourself a favour and watch Morecambe and Wise’s original performance instead.
IB – ESA success, THANK’S B&W !
“Good news this week, got letter confirming I will be transferred from Incapacity Benefit to ESA Support Group after medical. Can’t thank you enough B&W !, couldn’t have done it without this site, the incredible people on here and the brilliant guides to filling in the forms and the assessment process. THANK’S !”
The latest official tribunal service figures show that there has been a dramatic drop of 61% in the number of ESA appeals lodged following the introduction of mandatory reconsiderations,
Appeal numbers may climb again as unsuccessful mandatory reconsiderations feed through into the tribunal system. But the likelihood is that many people will drop out at various points along the now greatly extended appeal process, leaving the DWP free to claim they have improved the system whilst actually having made it even more unfair.
20% OFF ANNUAL MEMBERSHIP FOR CLAIMANTS AND FOR PROFESSIONALS – ENDS MIDNIGHT FRIDAY
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: 4452
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.
“At last I have been awarded PIP after all this time waiting…Thank to B & W for all your help”
For members only, we’ve now published a collection of sample written submissions to help you create your own if you are involved in a PIP mandatory reconsideration or appeal. As only 37% of PIP claims are successful – excluding terminal illness cases – the probability is that we will be seeing many thousands of PIP appeals in the future. If you are involved in one, as a claimant or support worker, our appeals guide and sample written submissions will give you the confidence to fight unfair decisions all the way to tribunal.
The extraordinarily long waits for PIP medical assessments have prompted Disability News Service to begin a series of stories entitled ‘Life in the PIP queue’ which reveal the human misery behind the failure of Atos, Capita and the DWP to do their jobs at all competently.
Case studies include a family losing their motability car because of PIP delays, a man waiting for a liver transplant who cannot afford the food he needs and a claimant with learning difficulties who hasbeen waiting since August to hear from Atos.
OTHER BENEFITS NEWS
It’s been revealed that you are five times more likely to have your benefits cut than you are to find long-term employment if you are forced onto the work programme.
A shockingly small 48,000 work programme participants have been placed in jobs that lasted two years or more – just 3.2% of the total participants In the three years since the scheme started.
But figures already released by the DWP show that in the 12 months up to October 2013, no fewer than 242,973 sanctions were handed down for alleged failure to participate in the work programme
And to make it even harder for claimants to meet their commitments – and even easier to sanction them – the DWP is removing all the free telephones from Jobcentres. It’s a viciously cynical move which has aroused deep anger, but it’s going ahead anyway.
Meanwhile, it has been revealed that Universal Jobmatch, the jobs site that claimants are forced to use, is so riddled with fake and fraudulent opportunities that the DWP is not planning to renew the contract with Monster to maintain it. Monster are currently demanding a fee of almost a million pounds to remove all the fraudulent ads.
The site is just one example of failures in the DWPs partnership with the private sector which has led MPs on the public accounts committee to warn that the entire department is on the verge of meltdown.
The benefits cap has been in the news constantly following the Budget and continues to cause difficulties for the Labour party . Emsyblog has an interesting take on it. She explains in “The Tories: Making Children Pay” that the policy will push more children into poverty and it will punish children for the acts of their parents whilst punishing parents for not being able to access resources they need.
Following last month’s news that Atos wanted to end their contract delivering the Work Capability Assessments needed to receive ESA, it was revealed the day after the Budget that they were set to co-deliver the new childcare scheme.
Still on the subject of outsourcing, this blogger is ‘keeping an eye on a company whose business is government contracts’ and discusses the problems with procurement in Work Programme stats, and the PAC
If you live in the Chesterfield area you might want to get down to the Market Hall, Assembly Rooms in Chesterfield on Saturday 29th March between 11am-4pm for a meeting organised by the Unite Community membership. They ask: How can we restore dignity to disabled Welfare Benefits? Speakers include Kate Green MP and Debbie Jolly from Disabled People against Cuts.
Back to Atos again. It seems that the tarnished company is also associated with the Commonwealth Games to be held in Glasgow this summer, by becoming an official sponsor, perhaps in a bid to salvage any reputation they have left.
The working class man blog explains why so many are against this and how you can add your name to the “Petition Demanding ATOS to be Dropped as Commonwealth Games Sponsors”.
Following the ‘life in the PIP queue’ series of articles by John Pring featured on our site, we were sent a tweet by Liam with his own #lifeinthepipqueue post. He claimed PIP in May 2013 and was finally awarded it in November 2013, but had to appeal anyway as there was no award for Mobility.
Finally, to spread a little hope, Sue Marsh, disability campaigner and writer, is performing a bit of magic every Monday. She says; “Magic Mondays is a way of trying to convince others – people who may not be familiar with the many social security myths – that things are not as they seem. If we could all just persuade one person a week, we would have made a very significant impact by the 2015 election.” Read the full post here and perhaps think of one person who could be convinced by telling them the real stories behind welfare reform.
Our Facebook page, run by volunteers, is thriving with lots of regular discussion on our news stories. Tweets are also regularly shared there and you may find it a place to discuss news and to seek support from others dealing with similar benefits hurdles.
It’s also a place where people can share their thoughts about Benefits and Work. As one recent entrant in our Facebook subscription competition told us:
“I like benefits and work because their advice is so well presented and I can find my way around their website etc easily. it has really helped me to find out my entitlements and rights and it also cheers me up to see the testimonials from people that have got through the battle of the benefits system and won. its great that they are on fb – I share posts all the time with friends I know are struggling and will find what they need to know there.
So please consider joining us there too.
MORE NEWS ON THE SITE
As always, there’s more news on the site than we can squeeze into the newsletter, including:
GOOD NEWS FROM THE FORUM
Thanks to everyone who has sent us their good news. It cheers us up enormously in the office and we know it means a great deal to our members. So please keep it coming.
Support Group renewal
“Thank you and everyone who has given their support to me over the last year. Without you giving your time to help when you are also ill yourselves is remarkable. I have been put in the Support Group again…Thank you all so much for your help.”
“Just to give some hope to all those waiting months to hear from DWP with reassessments.
After 8 months I finally heard that they have kept me in the support group – and no medical either.
Many thanks to B&W for the excellent guides.”
ESA appeal success
“Thanks for all the info / support that your site offers! Got the letter today, I won my appeal.”
IB to Support Group success
“I would never have been able to fill the forms in without your help and Wonderful Guides and Knowledge ,I know I only posted a couple of questions for help but the answers I got helped me a great deal but I come on here every day to read up and keep up to date and read other peoples queries and this is the best money I have ever spent and I will continue to be a member of B&W for many years to come … once again thank you all very much and good luck to every body else who is going through this”
Son won appeal after two year wait
“..(my son) had appeal heard for previous claim and was put into support group, this is mainly due to your guides and help once again a big thank you. just have to wait and see what atos say about new claim he put in in jan. Thank you again”
ESA appeal won!
“… just won my appeal from wrag to support group of esa and its all your advice and support over the past few months that helped me through this nerve racking … b and w is a must for all people on benefits and i will be renewing my subscription thats for sure thanks again for being there when i needed some support”
“Well, if I had a hat I would take it off to you guys…. thanks a million, couldnt have done it without you, and I will remain a member for life, thats how important this site is, in my opinion. Fantastic job you guys are doing, next stop PIP for me so I will be keeping an eye on things here every day that I am able to. Thanks again all, you are superb!”
IB to ESA transfer
“I was transferred from Ib to esa support group, which took seven months in total. Many thanks to B&W for your help, you gave me confidence to both fill in the form and attend my medical knowing I had a fair chance of success.”
“a big thank you to the mods on this site…after a mandatory review using the info off this site I have been moved up into the Support group (2 years)…thank you”
DLA appeal success
“HI I have just had my DLA appeal today and I have been granted high rate mobility and low rate care which is being backdated to 6/3/2013 It helped enormously reading your papers so thank you so much”
Advice re PIP
“Again, many many thanks to you guys for all ur info and insite, this website is awesome!..”
ESA Tribunal success
“I attended my ESA Tribunal yesterday and won!..Thank you to those of you at the B&W website for all this wonderful information.”
“I would never have been able to make detailed replies to the descriptors by myself, so I want to thank B+W for their fantastic guides.”
Join the Benefits and Work community now and discover what a difference we can make.
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Steve Donnison, Sangeeta Enright and Karen Sharpe
The Office Team
Benefits and Work Publishing Ltd
Company registration No. 5962666
£3m Households the Department for Work and Pensions insists will be better off after ongoing welfare reforms
£3m Amount councils have spent subsidising food banks over last two years as demand for their services has tripled
- Nursing regulator finally clarifies stats on benefit assessment complaints
- Disabled man worried by benefit cuts killed himself by setting himself on fire in front of horrified shoppers – U R THE VOICE
- Counterfire: What are the Tories going to do about taxes, asks Lindsey German
- What ‘Snowflakes’ Get Right About Free Speech
- Labour easily beating Tories among under-40s despite being 20 points behind overall
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