via the Benefits and Work website

Tribunals Service aims to recruit hundreds of disabled claimants and carers

[Our apologies, due to a technical problem this newsletter was not sent on Tuesday evening, as it should have been, we have extended the money off offer until Friday]

Dear Launchpad,

In this edition, as the Tribunals Service gears up for what is expected to be a deluge of personal independence payment (PIP) appeals, we tell you about hundreds of vacancies for tribunal members open to disabled people, carers and people who work in the field of disability.  The daily rate of pay is £192, with a minimum of 15 days’ work a year and the option for ‘significantly more’.

Staying with PIP, we also look at the call by a shadow minister for an independent enquiry into the awarding of PIP medical contracts.  This follows claims that Atos provided misleading information about their links with charities, mirroring claims by Disability Rights UK that Capita misrepresented the links between them.

Moving on to employment and support allowance (ESA), there is the news that 30,000 more sick and disabled claimants are to be forced onto the Work Programme, where they are worth a great deal more money to private companies than the Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA)  claimants who have made up the bulk of the conscripts so far.

But alongside this is the claim by Channel 4 that A4E, one of the main Work Programme providers, is getting fewer people into work than would be expected if they had no help whatsoever.  Yet the company is still being paid £46 million of taxpayers cash for their efforts.  

MONEY OFF ANNUAL SUBSCRIPTION – ENDS MIDNIGHT FRIDAY
“I have been a member of your site for some time. I recently had the dreaded letter about the changeover from IB to ESA. I sent my form in the beginning of August and I had a response today informing me I have been placed in the support group without a medical. I am over the moon as the anxiety has made my illness worse. I just wanted to write and say thank you for the work you do.”
Brooke

If you’re not already a member, join the Benefits and Work community (open access) before midnight on Friday and you can get £3.50 off the cost of your annual subscription.  Just type the following code into the coupon box when you pay:

20327

to get an annual subscription for £15.95, down from £19.45.

“Thank you so much for your excellent guides.  I have just been awarded the highest rate of mobility allowance by following your clear advice. This is going to change my life for the better as I have been virtually housebound for the past 2 years because I can’t get around easily.  I really am so grateful for your help.”
Willow

DLA/PIP TRIBUNAL POSTS FOR DISABLED CLAIMANTS
The Judicial Appointments Committee (JAC) is recruiting 314 disability members to sit on three person appeal tribunals considering DLA and PIP appeals.   

You don’t need to be legally qualified, but if you are applying on the grounds that you are disabled yourself you do need to be getting DLA or AA.  If you work with people who are disabled you can be a volunteer rather than a paid worker, but JAC say that:

‘If you are working with disabled individuals you need actual involvement in dealing with the disability, not simply advising on disability issues such as welfare benefits.’

Disability members will be guaranteed a minimum of 15 days’ work per year, but ‘with the option for significantly more work’,  though not more than three days in any week.  JAC say that carers can also be present and that reasonable adjustments will be made.

Sitting on tribunal panels to help decide whether people pass hugely unfair benefit tests, where it is likely that the majority of appeals will be unsuccessful, may be something you would not be willing to consider.

Or you may take the view that having one person on the panel who understands the claimant’s  daily life and who can bring out the difficulties they face by intelligent and sympathetic questioning is a very positive thing and may lead to a higher number of awards.  We suspect that many Benefits and Work members would be very pleased to have a fellow member on their DLA or PIP tribunal.

If it is something you would be interested in, however, the uncertainty about the number of days available may still be extremely off-putting for many claimants, because of the effect sporadic paid work can have on benefit claims.

Recruitment for disability members has not yet begun, but is scheduled to start on 27 November.  You can find more details, read case studies and sign up for email alerts here.

JAC is also recruiting 241 part-time judges to sit on DLA and ESA tribunals in continuing evidence of the strain being placed on the appeals system even before the expected flood of PIP appeals.

MISLEADING PIP MEDICAL CLAIMS
Claims about links with disabled people’s organisations  made by Atos and Capita, which may have helped them win PIP medical contracts worth hundreds of millions, have had doubts cast on them by those same disability organisations.  A labour shadow minister has now called for an enquiry.

In our last newsletter we reported that the leading claimants charity Disability Rights UK (DRUK) was named as a sub-contractor by Capita in their bid to carry out PIP medicals.  DRUK immediately issued a statement denying that they were planning to work with Capita in areas such as recruiting disabled staff and providing feedback from claimant groups, as Capita had claimed.

DRUK did admit to the Disability News Service to having worked for, and been paid by, Capita in relation to PIP, but only “to ensure people got good advice on their rights”.  

Capita, however, continue to insist that the information in their bid was accurate.  

Atos, meanwhile, made a number of claims about their engagement and potential engagement with ‘claimant representative groups’ in their successful PIP bids, which are now being called into question by those same groups.

The company has already admitted that their claim that Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC) was an organisation they had engaged with was a ‘mistake’. DPAC have, in reality, been extremely active in organising opposition to Atos around the UK.  They are very angry about having been linked with Atos and have threatened legal action.

Atos also suggested that it would be working closely with organisations “such as” Greater Manchester Coalition of Disabled People (GMCDP), Disability Cornwall and ECDP (formerly Essex Coalition of Disabled People) if it won the contracts.

But, according to the Disability News Service, these organisations have denied that they have any intention of working with Atos.  The multinational now claims that working with these organisations represented “future intentions with regards the development of PIP” rather than any actual agreement with any of them.

Anne McGuire, the shadow minister for disabled people, told DNS:

“Ministers must now explain exactly how these claims got through unchecked, and they must urgently appoint external auditors to get to the bottom of what on earth is going on, before we have another West Coast Mainline fiasco on our hands.”

Benefits and Work members can read more about DRUK and Capita here and about Atos here.

WORK PROGRAMME RIP-OFF
Approximately 30,000 employment and support allowance (ESA) claimants in the work-related activity group are being referred to the work programme for ‘personalised and intensive support’ in relation to returning to work

ESA claimants with a three or six month work capability assessment (WCA) prognosis and who have previously received support from the Pathways to Work scheme are to be forced onto the work programme ‘if it is appropriate to do so’.   

The decision to make additional referrals has been taken because of lower than expected numbers of ESA claimants being referred to the scheme.  Work programme providers make much greater profits from getting sick and disabled claimants back into work than they do from JSA claimants.

However, Channel 4 News claim to have obtained figures that show that Work Programme providers A4E have got only 4% of claimants referred to them into work.  This is fewer than would be expected to have found work without any help at all.  In spite of this, A4E are alleged to have received £46 million in taxpayers cash for their efforts.

More details and an excruciating interview with former A4E boss Emma Harrison here.

Benefits and Work members read more and comment here.

VERY LAST CHANCE FOR PAT’S PETITION
We’ve written before about the petition launched by Pat Onions on the Directgov website, which calls on the coalition to “Stop and review the cuts to benefits and services which are falling disproportionately on disabled people, their carers and families.”

Pat and her supporters have worked tirelessly to get 57,000 signatures so far.  But the petition closes on Thursday morning and needs 100,000 signatures to have a chance of forcing a debate on the issue.  So, if you haven’t already signed, or if you know people who may not have, please help give it one last almighty shove:

http://epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/20968

MORE NEWS
As always, there’s much more news in the members area than we have room for in this newsletter. Many thanks to everyone who has sent in news stories over the last fortnight, including: Beverley Hymers, John Pring, originaldave, bro58,  Jim Allison, papasmurf, Crazydiamond.

GOOD NEWS EMAILS
Usually at this point we publish some recent good news posts from the forum.  But we also get lots of emails with positive feedback, so in this edition we’re publishing a small sample of those instead.  You can read lots more emails here (open access).

Placed in support group – many, many thanks
Many, many thanks for the fantastic information you provide to all claimants of these benefits, they have been invaluable to my husband who has just received the decision today that he has been placed into the support group. This has taken a great weight of our minds thank you again, now all we have to do is wait and see what happens next with his DLA!! To be honest we are not as worried as we would have been because we have the access to all your wonderful helpful literature! thanks again
Leah

Always turned down for DLA before Benefits and Work – a great big thank you
I owe you all at Benefit & Work a great big thank you.

I have made a number of DLA claims in the past and all have been rejected, but a couple of months ago I put in another new claim. I filled in the claim form over a week or two, following your guide to the letter, and sent it off but expecting nothing.

You can imagine the shock when I got a letter giving me Higher Rate Mobility and Middle Rate Care, both indefinitely! No medical, no appeal, no tribunal; ‘gobsmacked’ doesn’t even come close. The letter actually came about 3 weeks ago but I was expecting them to retract it, (as they have done with 2 other benefits this year), so I didn’t want to count my chickens. However I now have a blue badge and no letters from the DWP saying they have made another mistake – yet!!

Again, many thanks for your help. I’m in no doubt that it was information in the B&W guides that got me here
Ashton

From IB to support group with no medical – thank you
I heard today that I have moved from IB to the ESA support group without a medical. I was particularly worried as I am on contributory benefit and could not ever have requalified if I had lost my benefit.
 
I could not have done it without your advice. I put in detailed information: medical reports and other evidence, which got me through the initial screening.
 
I am so relieved. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.
Caitlin

Successful tribunal and then support group – a very valuable service
My daughter has been unable to work for the past 13 years due to mental health problems.  In 2006, my daughter filled in her IB50 without any help; she was turned down.  We appealed and it was in the period before the Tribunal that we discovered Benefits and Work.  Your advice was very helpful in preparing for and submitting evidence to the Tribunal which found in her favour within a few minutes.

We were told that it was due to be reassessed in 2011 but the ESA50 came in April this year.
 
The receipt of the form had an immediate impact on her but we set about responding in a systematic way, beginning by downloading your Guides. 
 
The process was obviously stressful but the guidance in your guides gave us confidence that we were doing all we could to present her case in the best possible way and thankfully it enabled the Decision Maker to come to the right decision.  She was put into the Support Group without a medical.
 
You provide a very valuable service.  Thank you.
Charlotte

Support group on appeal – thank you so much
I joined B&W last June and TODAY I WON MY APPEAL!!!!  I went from WRAG to SUPPORT GROUP.  I travelled to the Tribunal and just before I entered I had a telephone call from the Tribunal Clerk saying I did not have to attend as the tribunal had re-read my case and agreed to place me in the support group, I couldn’t believe my ears!!  I didn’t even enter the courtroom. 
 
Thank you so much for all of your very helpful information, I couldn’t have done it without you.
Lacey

Support group on reconsideration – thank you
My Husband was migrated from Incapacity Benefit to ESA earlier this year. He was placed in WRAG without a medical. After talking it through/reading various on your website and checking out descriptors for the groups we decided to ask for a reconsideration/appeal if not overturned.

I am delighted to let you know that on Saturday morning of August 25th just gone we had a letter from The ESA to tell us they had overturned the decision at reconsideration and my Husband is now in the support group.

You will know how much of a relief this is been to us, because of the invaluable work you do. I have been a member of B & W for just over 4 years now and the amount of help your site has been for wording, updates, form filling and so on is beyond words.

I always recommend your site to others looking for help. Once again thank you.
Evelyn

Middle rate care, higher rate mobility – a godsend
Just thought I’d let you know that my appeal for DLA was held yesterday.  I was initially awarded nothing despite having severe stroke like symptoms following removal of a massive brain tumour plus some additional smaller health problems that just made living that bit trickier.  I have now been awarded middle rate care and high rate mobility, backdated for 62 weeks with a 3 year award in total!  The information and pointers on the website have been a godsend for swotting up at various stages of the claim!  Thanks guys!!
Amy

Support group without a medical – thank you, thank you, thank you!
thank you, thank you, thank you!

For the price of £20, I can honestly say that you saved my life!

Having followed every bit of your amazing advice, today I found out that I have been moved directly to the support group from IB – without a medical!

I can’t quite believe that all the months of living in terror are actually over! I will sleep easy tonight, for the first time in over a year.
Maya

Join the Benefits and Work community now (open access) and discover what a difference we can make.

You are welcome to reproduce this newsletter on your blog, website, forum or newsletter provided it is properly attributed to www.benefitsandwork.co.uk

You can also read this newsletter online (open access).

Good luck,

Steve Donnison

Benefits and Work Publishing Ltd
Company registration No.  5962666

One thought on “via the Benefits and Work website

  1. When the government ‘bleat’ on about where to save money it isn’t unusual for them to cast the search light into the lives of the weak, vulnerable, disabled, sick and dispossessed. Looking for specific sections of society to blame they move in with policies that change entitlements, cause confusion, worry and panic amongst those who have the least ‘fighting’ voice. I was pleased to read your advice to subscribers, at least Launchpad can provide a place for individuals to pose questions and get unbiased answers.

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