Archive for the ‘Benefits’ Category

DWP Hires Miracle Lifestyle Guru Who Claims 95% Success Rate In Curing Mental Health Conditions!

July 18, 2015 Leave a comment

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….

DWP Hires Miracle Lifestyle Guru Who Claims 95% Success Rate In Curing Mental Health Conditions!

Categories: Abuse, Benefits, Tooth Fairy

Centre for Welfare Reform: Assessing the Assessors

July 4, 2014 1 comment

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:


Categories: Benefits

This is why the profit motive has no place in our public services

July 3, 2014 Leave a comment


“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”

Categories: Abuse, Benefits

Via Red Labour On Question Time, Iain Duncan Smith called Salma Yaqoob a liar when she said he’d put a £39 breakfast on expenses. Here’s the proof.

June 15, 2014 2 comments
Categories: Abuse, Benefits, Tooth Fairy

Benefits and Work Newsletter: Thank you cards for sanctions

May 14, 2014 2 comments

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 .

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.

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.

Instead, the government website now refers visitors to the private sector website EntitledTo rather than, say, the voluntary sector calculator at Turn2Us

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.”

Benefits and Work Newsletter: DWP Use Morecambe and Wise To Defend PIP Disaster

March 26, 2014 7 comments

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.

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.

PIP awarded
“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.


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.

The £2000 scheme which will replace childcare vouchers will be run partly by Atos, who will not be responsible for assessing eligibility. Jayne Linney and Mike Sivier have written blogs on the story.

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.

As always, there’s more news on the site than we can squeeze into the newsletter, including:

MSPs suggest five changes to Iain Duncan Smith on improving the Work Capability Assessments

Urgent action needed on PIP, say MPs

Changes to benefits announced in the Chancellor’s Budget statement

MPs criticise DWP for ‘spin’ on official statistics and benefit claimants

Credit check plan to crack down on benefit cheats

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.”

Support Group
“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”

ESA success
“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.”

Thank you
“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.”

ESA50 completion
“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.

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

Private Eye: Number Crunching

March 14, 2014 Leave a comment

£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

Categories: Benefits Tags:

Benefits and Work Newsletter

February 13, 2014 Leave a comment

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 oflosing 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 hijack a  satirical twitter account

@UKJCP now has an increased number of followers as a result of the publicity it has received.  It now has almost as many as @dwpgovuk which tried to hijack it – 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 very little 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 sanctions figures for ESA 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 theirbenefits 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 andWorking?’ 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 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 ourbenefits 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 Benefitsand Work

Good luck,

Steve Donnison, Sangeeta Enright and Karen Sharpe

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

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