DVLA’s check your neighbours benefits website continues, in spite of ICO warning

PIP enhanced daily living and mobility
“I also wanted to thank you for this website as it helped me be aware on the assessment and also helped me with ESA support group Tribunal last year. I have just received notification that I have been awarded enhanced PIP for living and mobility. I know I wouldn't have got this result without your guides so would like to thank you very much for providing this website. Now I can get a blue badge, create parking in my garden and hopefully leave my house more than 6 times a year! I will also be able to get someone to go shopping with me (only been shopping once this year) so the difference this will make is amazing. Thank you so much.”{jcomments on}

You can read this newsletter online.

Dear [fname],

The DVLA is still letting visitors to its website find out if their neighbours, friends or relatives are receiving the higher rate of the mobility component of disability living allowance (DLA) or either rate of the mobility component of personal independence payment (PIP).

The ICO have told both Benefits and Work and DVLA that “releasing this information unnecessarily reveals the personal circumstances of individuals using their vehicle”.

Initially DVLA denied there was any breach of data laws but, following multiple complaints from Benefits and Work readers, subsequently assured the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) that it had removed the information.

But, in spite of changes, the DVLA’s online vehicle check service still reveals who is getting mobility benefits and it is now receiving a massive 1.5 million visitors a month. There is no way of knowing how many of those visitors are snooping on their neighbours.

Readers who are concerned that their personal data is still being made available in this way may want to contact DVLA and the information commissioner’s office and insist that this matter is looked into again immediately.

Elsewhere in this edition we have stories on the continuing dramatic rise in ESA sanctions, the 200,000 signatures demanding an enquiry into death by sanction, the three former DWP employees offering a free sanctions appeal service and the Lib Dems plan for yellow cards before sanctions.

Plus psychological profiling of claimants, the Lib Dems bedroom tax u-turn, the lingering death of universal credit and the DWP’s tacky, taxpayer-funded Buzzfeed list that aims to further prejudice people against claimants.

Good luck,

Steve Donnison


The coalition’s war against sick and disabled claimants is becoming ever more intense. The latest statistics show that sanctions against ESA claimants have risen from 1,104 in the month of March 2103 to 7507 in March 2014, an increase of 580%.

Meanwhile, further statistics published last month show that the number of people claiming ESA/IB has risen for the second quarter in a row, in spite of all IDS’ posturing and claims to be cracking down on benefits claimants.

More damaging still for IDS, the DWP’s early estimate for June 2014 is that the ESA/IB claimant count will rise even more rapidly. This will be the first time in over a decade that the IB/ESA claimant count has risen for three consecutive quarters.

The main reason for the increase appears to be incompetence rather than a new found sense of fairness. There is a massive backlog of assessments, meaning that claimants are remaining in the assessment phase for much longer and are very much less likely to be reassessed once they have been awarded ESA. Just one in four ESA claimants now receives an assessment within what is supposed to be a 13 week assessment period.

In other dismal ESA news, the waiting time before you are eligible for a payment of ESA or JSA is to increase from three to seven days from 27 October, in spite of the hardship this will cause. The government announced its decision last week in defiance of criticism in a report from the Social Security Advisory Committee.


JSA sanctions also continue to be in the news.

Back on 6 August we wrote about over 70,000 people signing a change.org petition demanding an enquiry into the JSA sanction that caused the death of a diabetic ex-soldier David Clapson.

The petition was started by David’s sister. The number of signatures has now passed the 200,000 mark.

There is no sign of any concern on the part of the DWP, however.

The Lib Dems have also come out against the current extraordinarily harsh and unfair sanction system – which they helped to create as part of the coalition. In their ‘pre-manifesto’ released this week they suggest that claimants should be given a yellow card before getting a sanction.

There are a number of other suggested changes in the document, including taking WCA’s back into public hands and improving the speed of DLA and PIP assessments.

But is this a genuine change of heart by the Lib Dems or mere election posturing – tell us what you think.

In one bit of positive news, three former Jobcentre workers have set up a website offering free help with sanction appeals. Not surprisingly, they have been inundated with requests for help.

Current Jobcentre staff, on the other hand, DWP started carrying out psychological profiling of benefits claimants to decide whether they are “determined”, “bewildered” or “despondent” about taking a job, according to the Telegraph.

The less optimistic will be forced onto intensive coaching regimes at Jobcentres.

Just how intensive those regimes may be is revealed in another pilot in which claimants are being forced to spend 35 hours a week in the Jobcentre sending off CVs that will almost certainly end up in the bin.


Universal credit (UC) continues to be an embarrassment to the coalition..

The number of UC claimants rose from 5,180 in February 2014 to just 6,570 in May 2014, an increase of only 1,390 in three months.

Little surprise then that parliament's public spending watchdog has accused the DWP of hiding the failings of universal credit scheme.

The public accounts committee said the decision by the major projects authority to devise a new category of "resetting" projects could have been a way of preventing scrutiny and obscuring problems.

Meanwhile, the treasury are still refusing to agree funding for the full UC programme, five months after Iain Duncan Smith asked them to. Last week, IDS told MPs that he expects the treasury to sign off the funding for the project ‘very shortly’ . . . the same answer he gave two months ago.


A Lib Dem private members bill to water down the bedroom tax cleared its first hurdle this week after being backed by Labour and Lib Dem MPs. The bill was passed by a majority of 75 votes, with 306 in favour and 231 opposed. It is still very unlikely to become law or have any effect on tenants prior to the election, however.

Meanwhile, IDS has cast doubts on whether bedroom tax victims are really disabled, desperately trying to discredit his own departments figures as he fights to defend his increasingly discredited ‘reform’.

Could the appointment of a former Sun editor as manager of communications at the DWP have any bearing on the startlingly unpleasant Buzzfeed list created last month at taxpayers’ expense?

Headed the ‘7 Most Obscure Excuses Given By Benefit Fraudsters’, the introduction tells us that ‘The government has released some of the most stupid excuses for committing benefit fraud.’ In reality it’s part of the continuing DWP project to incite hatred towards benefits claimants, dressed up as anti-fraud information. It’s also rather pathetic.

So, for the sake of balance, here are the Independent’s ‘11 most senseless benefit sanction decisions known to man’ and ‘Nine stories that expose the utter idiocy that is the bedroom tax’.

Do send your ideas for any other DWP related list you’d like to see to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Many thanks for all the good news stories we’ve received over the summer break. Please do keep sending them – they really cheer everyone up.

PIP enhanced mobility and daily living
“Letter arrived Saturday, awarded mobility and daily living at enhanced rates. Would like to thank all those involved with this site for their knowledge and help.”

Support Group without a medical
“After last 2 years of constant worrying, finally I have been moved from IB to Support Group without a medical. I cried from happiness... at least for couple of hours I forgot about my physical pain and the fact that i can hardly move… I feel grateful to you guys for all the support this site and its users have given to me. Without your guidance and all the help I don't think I would manage to be where I am now. I am also very grateful for all the feedback from other members that helped me to stay sane and realize that I am not alone. THANK YOU SO MUCH”

Support Group success
“Hi all, well the brown envelope arrived, and yes im in the support group. Well that's a surprise, I didn't expect it. Big thank you to all the mods, and the bw web site, I could not have done without you.”

DLA and ESA success
“Today I received the dreaded brown envelope. I have been awarded HRM and HRC indefinitely…I was previously on HRM and LRC and would have been more than happy with MRC, I am so relieved that I can relax for the next year or so. So thanks once again to Benefits and Work for your invaluable information, which has helped me complete a recent ESA50 renewal where I was awarded Support group again but this time without the medical assessment. And now DLA success too. Thank you so much”

PIP mandatory reconsideration and JSA sanction success
“First want to say thank you to you all. I could not and indeed would not have done it without your factual, helpful and prompt replies. I did chase my MP and received a reply from them almost by return with an apology from DWP…Today I got a large back pay and standard rate care award and enhanced level mobility unchanged.

Incidentally your support gave me the courage to take DWP JSA on after a spiteful sanction and also won that yesterday, I know you don't deal in JSA but I got the courage from here.

ESA Support Group success after 1 year
“Today I was told I will be placed in the support group of ESA…by keeping going and not giving up it has finally reached a successful conclusion. My message is to just keep trying and use this website for help, guidance and advice. So thank you Benefits and Work.”

ESA Support Group
“My relative is now in the support group (which is truly where he should be). Thanks again to everyone involved in this website. Things have been stressful, but with the support and expert knowledge from this site, I felt confident about dealing with all the paperwork and challenging the decisions. You have taken a lot of pressure off for me. Thanks again everyone.”

ESA Support Group success
“Just a little update with the good news ! My young relative has been accepted into the support group by the DWP… They also agreed all the back pay - a full years worth! But it gets better - I have just checked the bank balance and there is a huge credit from ESA. This will make the world of difference…he will be able to buy all those things he needs to make his life much better. Thanks again for all your help, you have been truly wonderful.”

PIP reconsideration success
“After reading my support letter as well as my report they have decided to award me the extra 2 points giving me a total of 12 for the Enhanced care on daily living component. It is with only reading this great web site, that give great advice that I decided to pursue this further. Once again thanks for all your valuable support and advice.”

Severe Disability Premium
“My daughter is now in receipt of severe disability premium…Thank you so much for the wonderful support you give to us, best money I’ve ever spent on a membership!!”

IB to ESA support group
“I finally got a decision letter today from the dwp today re. my transfer from long term IB to ESA. The whole process has taken 14 months…thank you to everyone on the site for their invaluable help and the guides, without which the whole process would have been much worse.”

PIP enhanced care and mobility
“A few days ago the brown envelope dropped through the letterbox, and I am very relieved and pleased to report that my husband has been awarded enhanced care and mobility for 3 years.
I cannot explain how we both felt in fact we were quite dazed. I cannot believe it is all over for at least 3 years…The site is worth every penny of your membership fee, and I , as before will keep up my membership, even though, we have been successful this time, I may need their help along the way again…I am so grateful to you all for your wonderful informative site and cannot thank you enough for your help.”

ESA support group success
“Today the dreaded brown envelope arrived…and this time Reassessment ESA SG - and again No Medical - and Award for 3 years! Such an ENORMOUS relief!! I couldn't have done it without advice from this site…Thanks to all involved with this great site & good luck & love to all going through the same ordeal.”

Successful DLA renewal
“I cannot believe that my DLA Renewal went so smoothly. I had followed all the advice from the site and had typed out sheets of extra information…Today I had a letter back from DWP stating that my claim is now for an indefinite period and that I have the same rates as before, Higher rate mobility and Middle rate care. So I would like to say a big thank you to Benefits and Work for their invaluable guides which I am sure helped me.”

ESA Appeal victory
“Thanks to the fantastic advice from the people on this site my sister has just won her ESA appeal. Thanks to everyone for all their help.”

ESA Support Group success
“Received my ESA forms in May this year, have been put into the contribution based support group, really pleased about that…Thanks to this site and excellent advice help I don't know how I would have coped with it all…Thanks to a great team”

Successful transfer from IS to ESA support group
“…I had a call from the Job Centre stating I had full ESA and placed in the support group and a letter would follow. ..All this in a matter of 3 weeks…So the real reason for this is to thank the Benefits and Work for their help with my claim with the information which is provided on this web site.”

Join the Benefits and Work community now and discover what a difference we can make.

You're welcome to republish part or all of this newsletter, provided you credit Benefits and Work.

Good luck,

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


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