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Dear Reader,

In this newsletter we highlight a BBC report on a claimant who secretly recorded his PIP assessment and won back his Motability car as a result.

We also have the DWP’s guidance on who will be exempt from repeat work capability assessments (WCAs). We explain why many metal health claimants will miss out.

We invite you to join over 500 people who have already posted a comment about their PIP or ESA assessment on the Parliament website.

Plus we have the grim confessions of a universal credit (UC) case manager, an update on the roll out of UC and the DWP’s desperate attempts to keep the truth from getting out before today’s debate on the subject.

The BBC have published a story about Nev Cartwright, a DLA to PIP claimant who secretly recorded his PIP assessment on his mobile phone the day after seeing a documentary about how bad PIP medicals can be.

As a result of his assessment, Nev lost his Motability car. He appealed against the decision.

When he read the PIP assessors report he realised that there was vital information missing and crucial details, such as his peak flow reading, had been altered. The effect was to make Nev seem much more mobile than he actually was.

So Nev got his secret recording professionally transcribed and submitted it as part of his appeal. The DWP’s squeals of protest were ignored by the judge, the evidence from the secret recording was taken into account and Nev got his Motability car back.

We’d be very interested to hear from readers who have considered secretly recording their PIP assessment and what decision you made in the end.

If you decided against it, what was the reason? If you went ahead, did it go smoothly and did you make use of the recording?

We now have the criteria that the DWP are using to decide which claimants will be exempt from repeat work capability assessments.

Only claimants in the support group will be considered.

In addition, claimants will have to have a condition that will last for the rest of their lives with no realistic prospect of recovery including by way of interventions such as transplants.

Also, their condition must always cause them to meet one of the support group descriptors.

However, this means the DWP are deliberately excluding claimants who are placed in the support group on the grounds that their mental health condition means that there would be a substantial risk to themselves or someone else if they were not placed there.

This is in spite of the fact that the DWP will be aware that these are some of the claimants whose health will be most put at risk by the stress of repeated reassessments.

There’s more details about who is and isn’t likely to qualify in our full article.

The work and pensions committee is asking claimants to post their comments about PIP and ESA assessments as part of their inquiry into the process.

So far over 500 people have responded, but we’re sure Benefits and Work readers could greatly increase that number.

Given that the committee is chaired by Frank Field, who has this week accused the DWP of either “deliberately concealing information” about universal credit (UC) or being “simply incompetent”, you can be reasonably sure that adverse comments will not be just ignored.

Universal credit has been very much in the news of late, with a furore over the charges for calling the UC helpline widely covered in the national press.

There has been rather less coverage of the fact that, following the announcement that the accelerated rollout of UC has begun, the DWP have now published a timetable detailing which areas will be affected and when. You can now find out when your area will go “full-service”.

Also in the news, as mentioned above, Frank Field, chair of the work and pensions committee, has accused the DWP of either “deliberately concealing information” about UC or being “simply incompetent”.

This comes after the DWP have failed to respond to no fewer than four letters from the committee seeking more information about various aspects of the benefit.

According to Field:

“For the Secretary of State not to answer letters shows either a huge discourtesy to Parliament or a sign that the Government knows the game is nearly up in trying to present this mega-reform as a success.”

And finally, the Independent has published the confessions of a case manager which give a grim insight into the cruelty and incompetence at the heart of UC.

The DWP employee explains how staff are overwhelmed by a caseload of 300 claimants each and often need charity workers to explain the regulations to them, instead of the other way around.

Alarmingly, he claims that if a case worker goes on holiday, no-one else is allowed to ensure his clients get paid.

He also says that software ensures that case managers are informed only when a claimant has actually missed a deadline “allowing us to cruelly close claims and stop that person receiving any money. Tens of thousands of very vulnerable people have their lifeline switched off with a click.”

The degree of heartlessness is well illustrated by his allegation that claimants who state that they are facing eviction are “a penny a dozen. We are told that legal proceedings can take months so a claimant is ‘never really facing eviction’. That’s how we’re told to justify it.”

With such a degree of callousness embedded at the heart of UC, which also has much higher sanctions rates than other benefits, it’s no surprise that David Gauke is reluctant to answer questions about it.

Good luck,

Steve Donnison

Benefits and Work guides covers

ESA renewal without medical
“I received a text message from DWP to tell me that my payments in the ESA support group will continue. I am happy to say that I did not have to attend a 'medical' which was a great relief… Thank you, the guides were invaluable.”

Thanks B&W – placed in ESA Support Group without a medical
“Just wanted to thank you for your help when I needed you, as I found out i have been put in the support group without a medical.”

Give yourself the best possible chance of getting the right ESA, PIP or DLA decision, whether you’re making a claim, renewing an existing award or asking for a reconsideration or appeal.

Subscribe now and get instant access to all our guides.

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: 67943

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.
Offer ends midnight Friday, 20 October

Post a comment on the Parliament website about PIP and ESA assessments
The Commons Select Committee on Work and Pensions would like to hear from you if you have had an assessment, or are waiting for an assessment, for PIP or ESA.

DWP hides evidence about UC
The DWP has been accused of either “deliberately concealing information” about UC or being “simply incompetent” by Frank Field , chair of the parliamentary Work and Pensions Committee.

Grim confessions of a UC case manager
A Universal Credit (UC) case manager has confessed to the Independent that DWP staff “cruelly close claims” of “tens of thousands of very vulnerable people” and that threats of suicide are a “frequent occurrence”.

When will your area become full service universal credit?
The DWP have published a timetable of when they expect different areas of the country to switch over completely to universal credit (UC) for fresh claims and changes of circumstances.

Secret PIP assessment recording leads to appeal tribunal win
A claimant who secretly recorded his personal independence payment (PIP) assessment and provided a transcript to a tribunal has won his appeal against a disability living allowance (DLA) to PIP transfer decision, the BBC has reported.

End to repeat WCAs – many mental health claimants will miss out
The criteria that the DWP are using to decide which claimants will no longer have to have repeat work capability assessments (WCAs) in order to continue receiving employment and support allowance (ESA) or universal credit have now been published.

As always, many thanks to everyone who takes the trouble to post in the forum or email us with news of your success. (Names have been changed where we received feedback by email). We know it’s many readers favourite, and most encouraging, bit of the newsletter.

Benefits and Work guides coversPIP success
“Hi folks, I have today been informed that my claim has been successful and that I have been awarded higher rate in both components for an ongoing period. I'm over the moon because it will enable me to take pressure off my Wife to do all the household chores that I used to . . . Joining this forum is the best thing that I could have ever done. Reading the guides helped me to be successful and I thank all of the people who have bothered to pass on their experiences to help others.”

PIP success first time
“I was on DLA Mob enhanced and middle care. Was invited to apply for PIP but can no longer write. I reproduced the questions in ' Word' on the computer and returned with blank PIP Application plus Doctors letter from 4 years ago. I was invited to a f2f at a local centre. I took myself in my car. A 90 minute interview. I requested to see the assessment form with their recommendations that arrived two weeks after the assessment. The decision letter arrived two weeks later confirming that I'd got enhanced care and mobility. Better results than I thought. Reviewed in 10 years.”

ESA ‘success’
“After a gruelling 6 month wait after submitting an ESA50, during which I had NIL contact from DWP or Maximus - not even an acknowledgement of receipt of my form - and zero constructive information when I contacted them - I was put in the support group without having to endure a "medical". I would like to thank the benefits and work team for their guides and tireless support via the forum. Especially thank you to Gordon and Mrs HurtyBack! I hate to put success in quotes, but I take no joy at being validated by a process that nearly destroyed me.”

ESA reassessment success
“Just to let people here know that after an ESA re assessment last week I have been moved from wrag group to support group. Thank you for all the info on this web site and to those that showed me support.”

DLA to PIP success
“want to say a big thank you to all who gave advice and support on benefits and work . I truly believe because of you all I was able to get through the tribunal, representing myself and winning , being awarded my mobility component again for 4 years. this now means I can apply for a mobility car and no longer be house bound. Thank you again… for those of you still going through it stay focused hang on in there and stick it out its worth it.”

DLA to PIP success at 16
“Our granddaughter with learning disabilities was required to apply for PIP when DLA ended at 16. Thanks to your brilliant guides, this was successful. After all the horror stories about ftf assessments, I would like to record how professional ours was. Our granddaughter has a tendency to exaggerate what she is actually capable of. By detailed questioning, the assessor was able to discover just how her disabilities affected her. Maybe we were lucky, but just to let you all know there are some good assessors out there!”

Thank you B&W
“Just wanted to thank B and W and everyone who has posted on the forum regarding filling in ESA's. I was sent a reapplication in the summer and was very concerned that I would have to undergo an assessment. I spent a lot of time reading your notes and more time filling the form in, getting a letter from my doctor, counsellor and my husband to give them the full picture. Luckily for me no reassessment physical and I will continue in the support group. Thanks again!”

“. . . best money ever spent”
“I would like to say thank you on behalf of my daughter. She has mental health problems and multiple allergies. I used the information on your web site and filled in the form in more detail than I thought possible. The assessor was able to see how my daughter is suffering and we were awarded the Daily Living element. We had virtually no other evidence. Joining your web was the best money ever spent. Thank you so much.”

“I'd simply never have made it”
“I cannot begin to express my thanks and appreciation to you and your organization for the helpful material I have been able to use in putting together a PIP claim. I've just received a letter awarding me the standard living allowance and the enhanced mobility allowance, without having to go to a second face-to-face or a tribunal. Without your comprehensive guidance in such a clear and systematic way, I'd simply never have made it. I shall of course recommend you to whomever I can. May you go from strength to strength, and be helped in all you do for those in need.”

“I am now £60 a week better off”
“I just wanted to say thank you for all your info on pip. got brown envelope today. awarded enhanced rate for help with care, was only getting lowest rate mobility on dla. I am now £60 a week better off. could not have filled in the forms without your help.”

“Your guides are brilliant”
“I would like to thank you for your very helpful and informative guides. My wife was transferring from DLA to PIP. I spent considerable time completing the forms, but, without the invaluable guides I'm sure the process would have taken longer. My wife successfully transferred to PIP and didn't even have a face to face interview.....which my wife was dreading. She now receives the top rate of enhanced care and although she was refused the mobility rate she is receiving more money than previously. Your guides are brilliant and without the detailed explanations for each question in the application form I really don't think my wife's transfer would have been as smooth. Thanks again.”

“. . . at last I don’t have to fight to get by”
“I’ve not messaged before but wanted to thank you all for the really useful guides. I’d been turned down for all benefits before I discovered you. I’ve now used your valuable resources and received ESA (placed in the support group) without a face2face, and now just discovered I’ve been awarded pip after an assessment. I’m not sure yet what award I’ve received for pip as I’ve not received an official letter; only found out as I wanted to check how much I had left of my overdraft (I’ve had to manage on my £750 overdraft to live) only to find I was in credit! It’s taken two long years to get this far, but at last I don’t have to fight to get by. Thanks so much once again!”

“It would not have been possible without your guide”
“I have just heard back from Blackpool that our son (8) has been awarded Low Rate Mobility and Mid Rate Care backdated to May. It would not have been possible without your guide to child DLA on mental grounds.”

“. . . have spread the word about your site to anyone who will listen”
“Just wanted to say thanks to everyone who helped compile the ESA guidance notes. I was recently asked to reapply for my ESA , this was about a year before my review date so I was expecting all sorts of complications might arise. After reading and using your guidance notes I was able to fill in and complete my form on time and then less than 4 weeks later I got word that I have been successful in my application for ESA plus I was retained in the Support Group . There was no medical, no face2face , the relief was almost measurable! Not sure how common it is to get granted ESA without having a medical but thank to everyone in Benefits and Work, as your hard work helped make filling in those awful forms just about bearable. Thanks again , have spread the word about your site to anyone who will listen.”

Give yourself the best possible chance of getting the right ESA, PIP or DLA decision, whether you’re making a claim, renewing an existing award or asking for a reconsideration or appeal.

Subscribe now and get instant access to all our guides.

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: 67943

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.
Offer ends midnight Friday, 20 October

Good luck,

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


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