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11 February 2014 newsletter

Sobbing Decision Makers Plead With Claimants Not To Appeal; Help Challenge DWP Election Lies

“Very very relieved that we now have the extra £108.00 per week coming in” . . . “This will make my life so much easier as my condition worsens.” . . . “no medical and the money she will receive each week has almost doubled!” . . . “the information enabled my wife to sit down for 2 days and get everything right”
Read detailed feedback at the end of this newsletter

You can read this newsletter online

Dear Reader,

In this edition we reveal that sobbing decision makers are desperately trying to persuade claimants not to lodge appeals following an unsuccessful mandatory reconsideration.decision maker begging please dont appeal

It is the first evidence that DWP staff are coming under huge pressure to meet targets for cutting appeal numbers for benefits including employment and support allowance (ESA), personal independence payment (PIP) and disability living allowance (DLA).

Combined with the dirty tricks we revealed back in December that the DWP use to try to prevent claimants getting a mandatory reconsideration, these latest arm twisting techniques make it even harder for claimants to get the benefits they are entitled to.

We’ve updated our ESA, PIP and DLA appeals guides to tell members about the DWP’s tactics and explain how to make sure you don’t get caught out by them.

Brownie points and cynical denials
Elsewhere in the news, a former jobcentre adviser who says she got ‘brownie points’ for cruelty towards claimants has written a play about her experiences. Meanwhile, a former employee of three separate Work Programme providers has described how staff members were compelled to increase sanctions in order to hit financial targets.

Esther McVey, on the other hand, told the work and pensions committee last week that whilst sanctions are not perfect, they are effective. She also made the deeply cynical claim that once claimants were sanctioned, it acted as a red flag and alerted the authorities that a person was vulnerable and in need of help.

McVey accused Labour committee members of inflaming the situation by asking about the deaths of claimants, with one tory member so upset by the line of questioning that he threatened to leave the hearing. His concern, it should be stressed, appeared to be for the feelings of the minister rather than the plight of destitute claimants.

After the meeting, McVey was handed a photograph of David Clapson by his sister Gill Thompson. Clapson was a diabetic former soldier who died after his benefits were sanctioned.

Another tragic suicide
In another dreadful reminder of how claimants can be crushed by the current wave of ‘welfare reforms’, a retired gardener and former carer committed suicide after he ran up a housing benefit debt of £800 - through no fault of his own.

His housing benefit should have been cut months earlier due to changes to the benefits system, but the council was dealing with a backlog of cases, so failed to reduce his payments for many months. This led to the overpayment which the council then vigorously pursued.

Newham council excused its actions, saying:

“This was at a time of huge government benefit changes while the council was also dealing with some of the harshest cuts to local government anywhere in the country.”

25% cuts for claimants, silence from charities
The truly frightening reality, however, is that current benefit cuts will be dwarfed by what will happen if the conservatives form the next government.

The Institute for Financial Studies ( IFS) has calculated that working age benefits will have to be cut by a horrifying 25% in order for the tories to meet their spending plans. We have still not been given any details of how these cuts will be made, but there can be little doubt that they will lead to many more avoidable deaths.

And if you are hoping that, in the run up to the election, national charities are going to make their members aware of just what is at stake for sick and disabled claimants, then please abandon that hope. A report by the Commission on Civil Society and Democratic Engagement has found that the Coalition’s Lobbying act has largely succeeded in scaring charities into not speaking out on behalf of vulnerable people before the election.

Fight for the truth
The government may have silenced much of the voluntary sector, but you can play your part in silencing the DWP’s worst lies and spin in the run up to the election. The fantastic Full Fact charity have until 27 February to raise £25,000 to fund a six week,

Carlisle majority versus claimant count

18 hours per day election fact-checking project.

If you can make a small donation or simply tweet, blog and email details of their fundraising campaign you could make a real difference to how many lies are told about claimants in the run-up to the election. Full Fact are already well over halfway to their funding target in less than a fortnight.

And, finally, a visual reminder that claimants are far from powerless – there are many seats that could be taken from the coalition by a small percentage of working age claimant voters.

This time we’re highlighting the constituency of Carlisle.

Good luck,

Steve Donnison

PIP success
“Last Saturday… the dreaded brown envelope dropped through the letterbox…I opened it and as I read it my hands were shaking as I had not only been awarded Enhanced Rate of Mobility but also the Standard Daily Living Allowance. To say I am thrilled is an understatement…This will make my life so much easier as my condition worsens…Thank you B&W for your invaluable Guide to ESA mandatory reconsiderations and appealsguides”


Help Full Fact expose DWP election lies
The fantastic Full Fact charity have until 27 February to raise £25,000 to fund a six week, 18 hours per day election fact-checking project.

Sobbing decision makers plead with claimants not to appeal
Sobbing decision makers are desperately trying to persuade claimants not to lodge appeals following an unsuccessful mandatory reconsideration, a senior welfare rights worker has revealed.

Grieving relative confronts DWP minister Esther McVey after benefit sanctions inquiry
The sister of a diabetic who died after having his benefits cut wept after hearing the minister say there is state support for vulnerable people.

Benefit sanctions are effective, employment minister says
Esther McVey says international evidence points to effectiveness of sanctions but concedes ‘no system is perfect’

Work Programme staff were told to increase sanctions against clients, says former employee
A former employee of three separate Work Programme providers describes how staff members were compelled to increase sanctions in order to hit financial targets.

As a jobcentre adviser, I got ‘brownie points’ for cruelty
Former jobcentre adviser Angela Neville has written a play to expose the harsh reality of the benefits sanctions regime.

Retired gardener takes his own life after change in benefits system, inquest hears
Malcolm Burge was left owing more than £800 to Newham council in London, after backlog in implementing government changes to welfare.

Charities gagged by Lobbying Act
The Coalition’s Lobbying act has largely succeeded in scaring charities in not speaking out on behalf of vulnerable people in the run up to the election, a report by the Commission on Civil Society and Democratic Engagement has found.

Working age benefits to be cut by almost a quarter
Benefits for working age claimants will be cut by almost a quarter if the Conservatives win the general election, according to the independent think-tank the Institute for Fiscal studies (IFS).

Below is a selection of recent email and forum feedback we’ve received from members. Please do keep your feedback coming either in the forum or by email. It really does make a difference to people.

ESA Support Group with no medical!
“Just wanted to give feedback on my situation. ... I called DWP this morning and they informed me that based on my completed form and evidence I submitted they have placed me in the Support group for 24 months!. I'm so relieved and the whole process has been really quick. I used the guidance notes on this website which really helped.”

PIP award! Thanks B&W
“Hi, I have just received standard care + low rate mobility. So many thanks for help as haven't had the care rate before.”

Finally on ESA Support Group
“After 3 years of stress and worry, 2 medicals and 2 appeal tribunals my partner has finally made it onto the ESA Support Group. Information from B&W has proved invaluable.”

ESA Support Group success
“After a ten week wait my husband has been accepted for the ESA Support Group, which in my opinion he should have been placed in when his ESA ended in October 2014, we would not have known about this had we not 'signed up' to the brilliant Benefits and Work site, so Thank You for all the advice…Very very relieved that we now have the extra £108.00 per week coming in, once again Thank You Benefits & Work, will be using the guides again for PIP in July this year”Guide to DLA mandatory reconsiderations and appeals

ESA success
“I received my renewal forms for ESA just over a year ago, I had been placed into WRAG after transfer from IB, wrote to say I wanted to appeal that decision & was then placed into Support group without any need to go to tribunal…I got my decision today…and have been placed, once again, into the Support group. I know I could never have got this far without the help of this site. The applications are tough and at times almost unmanageable but the way you have broken down each and every section of the forms is invaluable… I would advise anyone contemplating an application to really read and carefully take on board the guidance that you provide… guidance is very much what you need. Thank you.”

DLA renewal success
“I just wanted to say thank you for the information this site gave me in fill in my DLA renewal form. Not only was it successful on first application, they have awarded me the highest rate for both care and mobility. (Before I only had the highest rate for mobility). But it has also been awarded indefinitely, whereas before it was only awarded for 2 years. So I am very relieved.”

DLA to PIP success
“Today…I have received the PIP result and have got Enhanced DL and Mobility so am very satisfied…
Many thanks to B&W for if it hadn't been for your guides I would have struggled to have the success that I got.”

Thank you Benefits & Work - good result for ESA
“Hi, we just wanted to say a big thank you to the site for the helpful guides we used to complete the ESA application for my sister...We found out today that she has been placed in the Support Group - contributions based ESA. Even better that was with no medical and the money she will receive each week has almost doubled! Amazing and way beyond what we had hoped for…Please pass on to all involved with the site our thanks and recommendations to anyone in a similar position to read the guides and seek support to complete to forms! In true DWP style the award letter today was one of the most complicated things to read in itself but with the support of this site we were able to wade through the quagmire and come out the other end. Thank you!”

ESA Support Group without a medical
“I have just received a letter from the DWP about my ESA claim. I have been put in the support group for three years without a medical. To say I'm pleased would be an understatement! I'd like to say thanks for your very helpful guides and for the help and support I received in earlier posts.”

DLA to PIP success
“I've used the guides a lot and really appreciate all the time and effort that is put into them - thank you…Today I received the dreaded/longed for brown envelope. I 'scored' 23 points for the care component so have been awarded enhanced care and 14 points for the mobility component so awarded enhanced mobility. The award is for 3 years…Thank you so much to B&W again, and to the members who post on the forum…it's been very reassuring reading of others successes”

DLA to PIP success
“I'm really pleased that today I received the brown envelope and I have in been awarded PIP until 2019 enhanced rate for both daily living and mobility. I have been sick with worry waiting for this but its such a relief to finally have the decision. Thank you to Benefits and Work because the information enabled my wife to sit down for 2 days and get everything right and helped me to deal with the face to face part.”

“the outcome of both these benefits would of been very different without your guides”
This year I had to renew my DLA and with your help I have successfully done this for the next two years and received the higher rate for both mobility and care. Previous to using your site I always had to appeal against the decision to get my benefit which was very stressful.
Last September I completed the forms for ESA again using your resources. Two weeks ago I received the decision and have been placed in the support group.
I know that the outcome of both these benefits would of been very different without your guides.
Clare by email

“Thank you so very much for all the effort and work you do to help us out here”
Having been unsuccessful with my DLA application in the past I subscribed to your website in 2014 as my Functional Neurological Disorder of 20+ years has deteriorated and I have been unable to work for the past18 months.
I followed your advice fully; it took 4 weeks of exhausting and intense effort to prepare my application and supporting papeGuide to PIP mandatory reconsiderations and appealsrwork. I had my assessment at home and the gentleman attending was very pleasant.
I feel as if I have won the lottery as I have received notice that I have been awarded PIP at the enhanced rates for Daily Living and Mobility and they are even backdating it to March 2014! I read the letter numerous times and got my partner to read it as well to make sure I was correct as I honestly thought I would have to go to the appeal stage.
Thank you so very much for all the effort and work you do to help us out here, who have no idea, how to complete forms and attend appointments.
Trevorby email

“Your guides really made this claim easier than the first time”
A big thank you for your guides, just got my letter today same level Mobility and an increase from low rate care to middle rate. Your guides really made this claim easier than the first time.
Thank You.
Dan by email

“Your guides were invaluable”
Your guides were invaluable, and helped me feel like I had a chance of making a successful claim. There was no doubt that I was entitled to it on the medical facts, but knowing how to express those facts in a way that would be clearly understood by the people making the decisions was something I really couldn't have managed on my own. I have had months of worry.
I received a letter today telling me I've been signed to the support group without the need for a face to face medical.
Thank you to you and everyone who contributes to the articles and forums. At I time when I felt like I'd just been left to get on with it by family and friends, the advice and guides were really a life saver.
James by email

“Cannot thank you enough really!“
Many many thanks for your wonderful help with applications.
ESA from SDA has been successful - with entry to support group and no wrag - and this was decided without having to have a "face to face" assessment.
That battle in the war over for the time being, we are now getting ready to battle away with DLA to PIP when the time comes - knowing that we have your excellent guides to help us through relieves us from great anxiety.
Cannot thank you enough really! We constantly recommend you to others via Twitter.
Miriam by email

Good luck,

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


+1 #1 zybbok 2015-02-13 05:03
Why has this current Tory government made such a massive part of its debt restructuring fall upon the welfare bill? It could have upped taxes, reduce the Foreign Aid budget, now 12bn and growing so fast that the government is struggling to spend it. Or better still get the tax owed from the dodgers e.g. Starbucks, Amazon and Google to name but a few. HM Revenue & Customs has identified £25bn of unpaid taxes that may have been wrongly withheld by corporations, of which almost 44pc are overseas companies. But all of that would have upset its core vote of the rich and well heeled classes who support it. This almost total assault on welfare and local authority services for the old and disabled people to meet their financial target (though they have missed it every month since they announced it) is driven by pure political targeted discrimination against specific groups of voters they consider unlikely to vote for the Tories at the May election.

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