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Benefits and Work guides

Re: Benefits and Work guides

Postby admin » Wed May 24, 2017 3:41 pm

In today’s newsletter we reveal the DWP’s unlawful targets for turning down mandatory reconsiderations, look at what the election manifestos offer to claimants and ask for your help in challenging the recent change to the law relating to personal independence payment (PIP).

The DWP have as good as admitted that mandatory reconsiderations are a sham.

In response to a recent Freedom of Information query, the DWP revealed that they have a target of upholding the original decision in 80% of all mandatory reconsideration requests.

Worse still, they managed to exceed that target in the year to March 2017 by turning down 87.5% of all applications.

The DWP have since claimed that PIP is not included in the 80% target.

However, it remains the case that over 80% of PIP mandatory reconsideration requests also fail to get the decision changed – however coincidental the DWP might claim that figure is.

Having a target for the percentage of requests that should fail almost certainly renders the mandatory reconsideration process unlawful.

In legal terms, the DWP is fettering the discretion of decision makers, who should be free to decide every case on its merits, rather than worrying about being disciplined if they fail to hit their targets.

Just how rigged mandatory reconsideration decisions are is made absolutely clear by one other statistic.

63% of claimants who have their mandatory reconsideration request turned down and who then go on to appeal to an independent tribunal, win their case.

So, no matter what the decision is on your initial claim, and no matter how utterly you are turned down at the reconsideration stage, don’t lose heart. You have a very good chance indeed of winning your appeal.

We’ve now all had the chance to see what some of the main political parties are offering claimants in their manifestos.

It’s fair to say that there was nothing at all in the Conservative manifesto to cheer sick and disabled claimants.

The Lib Dems did rather better with offers to, amongst other things:
•reinstate the work-related activity component of employment and support allowance
•scrap the bedroom tax
•scrap the work capability assessment and replace it with a new test administered by local authorities
•raise the earnings limit for carers allowance to £150 a week.

But it is Labour who are trying the hardest to win over claimants, south of the border at least. They say that they will:
•reinstate the work-related activity component of employment and support allowance
•scrap the Bedroom Tax
•scrap the Work Capability and Personal Independence Payment assessments and replace them with a personalised, holistic assessment process
•scrap the sanctions regime
•implement the court decision on PIP, so that there is real parity of esteem between those with physical and mental-health conditions
•End the privatisation of assessments
•End the pointless stress of reassessments for people with severe long-term conditions

A number of people contacted us to complain about our use of the word ‘tiny’ to describe Labour’s chances of winning the election in the last newsletter.

After Monday’s massive U-turn on social care fees by Theresa May, we’re happy to upgrade our estimate of Labour’s chances from tiny to small. Which is not intended to discourage anyone from getting out and voting.

On the contrary, we think it’s vital that claimants do so in massive numbers. A small chance is a great deal better than no chance, which is what many claimants feel they will have if the Conservatives return to power.

Billie, a claimant with severe mental health issues, has launched a legal challenge against the recent changes to PIP. The new regulations have made it much harder for people with mental health conditions to get an award of the mobility component.

In January of this year the DWP lost a case before a panel of upper tribunal judges.

Rather than accept defeat, the government rushed through new regulations which came into force in March.

The effect is to make it much harder for claimants with a mental health condition to get an award of the mobility component of PIP.

Billie (not her real name) has severe mental health problems which mean that she is extremely vulnerable when travelling. She needs a lot of support to do this reliably and safely.

Billie was refused an award of the mobility component of PIP under the new regulations.

She has launched her High Court challenge on the basis that the change in the law discriminates against claimants with mental health conditions and also on the grounds that the DWP should have carried out a proper consultation before deciding whether to bring in the changes.

Billie and the Public Law Project are collaborating with human rights barrister Aileen McColgan of Matrix Chambers, who is working on a no-win no-fee basis.

However, £3,000 is still needed to cover court fees and other expenses.

We know the government is desperate to slash the benefits bill.

This time it was claimants with mental health conditions who were targeted. Next it could be an claimants with an entirely different condition.

Whatever your health condition, everyone has an interest in ensuring that the DWP learns that it can’t just change the PIP regulations whenever it chooses.

At least, not without facing a serious legal backlash.

If you can afford a small donation, Billie’s Crowdjustice page is here
https://www.benefitsandwork.co.uk/news/ ... newsletter
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Re: Benefits and Work guides

Postby admin » Wed Jun 07, 2017 12:13 pm

This newsletter really has only one message: please vote.
Different polls are making dramatically different claims about how much the Tories’ lead has shrunk, with some even suggesting the possibility of a hung parliament.
What all the pollsters do agree on, however, is that it’s turnout which will decide this election.
The polls which put Labour almost neck and neck with the Tories all assume a very high turnout, especially amongst young voters. Something like the turnout for the Brexit referendum.
The polls which give the Tories a comfortable majority assume a turnout similar to that of previous general elections.
Whether you believe the polls or not, there’s no question that the Conservative campaign has not gone to plan and the election may be a lot closer than most people expected.
Of all the elections of recent times, this is one where the outcome may have the most dramatic effect on the lives of sick and disabled claimants.
So, we would urge you to vote and to encourage everyone who cares about you to do the same.

In the run up to the election Labour have published ‘Nothing About You, Without You: A Manifesto With And For Disabled People’ which sets out their aims for the support of disabled people.
The 28 page document is signed by Jeremy Corbyn and two shadow ministers. It lists a range of ways in which Labour claim they would support disabled people if they are elected.
Many of the measures, such as reinstating the work-related activity component and scrapping the Work Capability and Personal Independence Payment assessments have been widely publicised already.
Others, such as halving the disability employment gap and new rights to flexible working for people with an impairment or chronic condition have received less publicity.
You can download a full copy of the manifesto from our article link below.

In our last newsletter we told you about Billie, a claimant with severe mental health issues, who has launched a legal challenge against the recent changes to PIP, which make it much harder for people with mental health conditions to get an award of the mobility component.
We also asked you to contribute to Billie’s crowdfunding appeal to cover her legal expenses, if you were able.
And you came good in the most impressive way.
Billie was looking for £3,000 to cover initial legal costs. At the time the Benefits and Work newsletter went out Billie had received £750 in donations from supporters.
Within just hours the £3,000 target had been passed.
And dozens of positive comments have also been left for Billie, such as:
“Good luck, Billie. You are brave and you are right.” Yvonne
“I stand in awe of your courage and determination!” Paul
Billie has been very touched and encouraged by the hundreds of donations and supportive comments. She told us today:
“I’m utterly overwhelmed by everyone’s generosity and support.
“The speed with which your readers pledged money and their comments made me realise just how many people are angry about these changes, and are behind me.
“I was literally crying with relief watching the pledges flood in from so many strangers.”
Billie has now been pledged almost £7,000 towards her ‘stretch’ target of £8,000.
The additional money will protect against the risk of paying the Government’s legal costs in the event she is ordered to do so.
We’ll keep you updated on Billie’s progress. And it’s still not too late to contribute if you can. Follow our article link below.
Good luck,
Steve Donnison
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Re: Benefits and Work guides

Postby admin » Mon Jun 19, 2017 10:09 am

The number of disability living allowance (DLA) claimants being forced to apply for personal independence payment (PIP) has plummeted, DWP statistics released this week show. The DWP have said only that they are “managing capacity within the system.”

The DWP PIP Official Statistics, published on 14 June show a massive drop in the number of claims registered in April 2017. Claims are registered either when a new claim is made or when a current DLA claimant is informed by the DWP that they have to transfer to PIP.

For the current year, the number of PIP registrations was:
January 104,333
February 92,327
March 83,578
April 49,409

That means that there was a huge fall of over 50% in the number of registrations in April as compared to January.

The explanation given by the DWP is that:

“In recent months reassessment registrations have decreased due to DWP managing capacity within the system.”

The DWP also claim that the number of new claims made in April was low due to Easter and a high number of weekends in April.

Nonetheless, the main reason for such a drop has to be that dramatically fewer DLA to PIP cases are being sent to Atos and Capita.

To find numbers of PIP registrations as low as they were in April, you would have to look back to 2014, before the DWP began migrating claimants with indefinite DLA awards to PIP.

We cannot know the precise number of DLA reassessments that took place in April, because the DWP do not give a monthly breakdown of how many registrations are new claims and how many are DLA to PIP reassessments.

However, the DWP do give quarterly breakdowns. So we do know that in the three months to the end of October 2016, 158,400 DLA to PIP reassessments were registered.

In the three months to the end of January 2017, 178,300 were registered.

In the three months to April 2017, just 100,900 were registered.

So, there was a fall of 44% in the number of reassessments in the quarter to April 2017, compared to the quarter to the end of January.

Most of that fall appears to have happened in April itself, meaning that reassessments must have plummeted by at least two thirds, if not more.

The transfer of all working age DLA claimants to PIP was supposed to have been completed by April of this year. In fact there are still around 500,000 DLA claimants waiting for the dreaded reassessment letter to drop through the door.

The DWP are clearly keen to get the transfer of DLA claimants completed, given that they are already so far behind schedule. The fact that they have had to call a temporary halt to the mass transfer of claimants suggests that the assessment providers may be failing to keep up with demand.

It now seems likely that the transfer of all working DLA claimants to PIP will not be completed until some time in 2018
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Re: Benefits and Work guides

Postby admin » Wed Jun 21, 2017 11:05 am

It’s hard to believe how much has changed since our last newsletter, which went out the day before the election.

There have been terrible events, mostly outside the scope of this newsletter.

Although the depths of the DWP’s inhumanity were graphically revealed when JSA claimants who lost their homes in the Grenfell Tower fire were warned that they might be sanctioned if they failed to sign on as normal. Only after the media got hold of the story did the DWP promise payments would be made without the need to meet usual job seeking requirements.

But many readers will have been cheered by the Conservatives losing their majority.

At the time of writing, we don’t even know for sure whether they will be able to come to an arrangement with the DUP in order to cling to power.

What is certain, however, is that the Tories don’t need a big majority to cause more misery. Their freeze on benefits has already begun and, with inflation on the rise, it will create increasing hardship.

In addition, more unfair changes to PIP and ESA regulations can be made by ministers without any need to put them to a vote.

So, unwelcome though yet another election might be, it is the only way that change for the better can happen.

The number of people being summoned to go through their DLA to PIP reassessments has plummeted in recent months.

The combined number of PIP new claims and reassessments has plunged from 104,333 in January of this year to 49,409 in April. Most of the fall is due to a huge reduction in DLA to PIP reassessments.

The DWP have offered no explanation for the fall, saying only that “reassessment registrations have decreased due to DWP managing capacity within the system.”

Anecdotal evidence from our members suggests that waiting times for assessments have risen in recent months. So the reason may simply be that a large backlog has once again built up and the DWP are doing their best to cover up the truth.

We’d be very interested to hear from you about how long you waited for your face-to-face assessment.

Atos Healthcare has changed its name.

The company has now become Independent Assessment Services.

Atos – sorry - IAS is very clear that the reason for the change is that their new name “better represents the work we do and explains that our role is to independently assess and process Personal Independence Payment (PIP) cases passed to us from the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP).”

Clearly it has nothing to do with trying to shake off the dreadful associations that the name Atos has amongst so many members of the public.

And it most definitely isn’t connected with the fact that photographs of people bearing placards saying ‘Atos Kills’ invariably feature alongside any article about the company.

No, this is just an innocent attempt to clarify what the company does.

Continuing with the subject of leopards and spots, many readers will be outraged to learn that Iain Duncan Smith (IDS), is to spend next week standing in for Jeremy Vine on BBC Radio 2.

Ed Miliband is standing in this week, in the interests of impartiality.

However, there is an enormous difference between Miliband, who simply failed in his attempt to lead Labour to an election win and IDS, who has caused so much misery and hardship to so many people.

IDS was feared and despised by many sick and disabled claimants, not just because of his role in introducing Universal Credit and Personal Independence Payment.

It was also the rhetoric which IDS used, and allowed the DWP to use, which inspired ever greater hatred of claimants. The increasing dehumanisation of sick and disabled people helped to ensure that the vicious ramping up of sanctions against claimants under IDS met with public approval.

There was also his misuse of statistics to try to imply that many DLA claimants might not be entitled to their benefits.

And his desperate avoidance of the sister of David Clapson, the diabetic former soldier who died after his benefits were cut.

We’ve included contact details for the show in our article, if you want to share your thoughts on this issue with the BBC.

David Gauke, the new Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, is a former solicitor at a City tax avoidance law firm.

Yet, as a Treasury minister, he was happy to tell people it was “morally wrong” for householders to pay tradesman cash-in-hand, because it allowed working people to avoid paying tax.

He argued that “ . . . if people do that they have to do so with the recognition that means taxes will be higher for the rest."

Gauke has been criticised in the past for claiming £10,000 in expenses to cover stamp duty on a second home in London, even though his own home was less than an hour’s travelling time from Westminster.

He was also reported to HM Revenue and Customs, after advertising an unpaid six-month “training” post at his constituency office. At the time HMRC had launched a crackdown on employers not paying the minimum wage.

Claimants will be reassured to know that a man of such high principles has taken over at the DWP.

Good luck,
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