“you help so many people get what they deserve”. . . “ I am so relieved i had a bit of cry”. . . “I couldn't have filled in those forms without your guidance” . . . “Your wonderful guides helped me” . . . “ a huge huge thank you” . . .” Just wanted to say the biggest thank you”
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DWP’s Secret Death Reviews Spare Atos, 500k Sanctioned Claimants Disappear, Three Labour WCA Changes

Dear Reader,

Labour claims it will make three ‘crucial’ changes to the work capability assessment (WCA) if they gain power next May. But how ‘crucial’ are the changes in reality and will the promise make you more likely to support Labour at the general election? Give us your views and we’ll make sure they are passed on.

(Also, see below for how the chances of getting into the support group have been increased by the upper tribunal due to cahnges made to the WCA in 2010).

We can probably guess your views on the fact that an average of two benefits related deaths every month are secretly investigated by the DWP, many following a WCA. But the evidence from such reviews may not be being passed on to coroners courts. Moreover, the DWP are refusing to follow an official recommendation that a medically qualified person should always review Atos medical reports in these circumstances.

Claimant deaths are increasingly being linked both to WCAs and to sanctions. Two weeks ago Labour MP Debbie Abrahams told IDS in a Commons debate that “People are dying because of these sanctions!”. His reaction was predictably dismissive.

Meanwhile, two new reports reveal that welfare reform in general, and sanctions in particular, are fuelling ever greater levels of prejudice against unemployed and disabled claimants as well as causing the current massive rise in food bank use.

In addition, Oxford academics are due to report next month on what has happened to half a million jobseekers allowance (JSA) claimants who were sanctioned but who subsequently disappeared from official employment statistics.

One bit of slightly better news, though is that sanctions against ESA claimants appear to be being overturned in a very large proportion of cases, according to the latest official figures.

And the dark art of sanctioning sick and disabled claimants is about to have a little more light thrown upon it, as the House of Commons Work and Pensions Committee conducts an inquiry into benefit sanctions. The committee is particularly interested in employment and support allowance (ESA) sanctions and why they have increased so steeply in recent months.

Sanctions aren’t the only way to cut the benefits bill, however. A top NHS official has suggested a new way of cutting costs: letting the DWP pay GPs extra cash for sending patients back to work more quickly.

If you’re now in the mood for a little lighter entertainment, but still want to stay with a benefits theme, you can watch a 7 minute Guardian and Royal Court microplay about food banks starring Katherine Parkinson, best known for her role as Jen Barber in The IT Crowd.

Good luck,

Steve Donnison

A recent upper tribunal decision may have significantly increased the chances of ESA claimants being placed in the support group rather than being forced to carry out work-related activities that cause a substantial risk to their health. The decision has come about because, just two months after taking power in 2010, IDS did away with one of the stages of the work capability assessment in order to push through the transfer of incapacity benefit claimants to ESA as hastily as possible.

We've updated our ESA guides to take account of the new decision.

Labour proposes three ‘crucial’ changes to the WCA
A Benefits and Work member has received an email this week from the central office of the Labour Party setting out ‘three crucial changes’ the party proposes to make to the way the work capability assessment (WCA) works.

DWP’s secret death reviews spare Atos
An average of two benefits related deaths every month are secretly investigated by the DWP, it has been revealed.

500,000 sanctioned JSA claimants have disappeared
Oxford academics will report next month on what has happened to half a million JSA claimants who were sanctioned and subsequently disappeared from official employment statistics.

Disgrace of disappearing ESA sanctions
Figures published by the DWP reveal that it is having to overturn a huge proportion of its own sanctions against ESA claimants even before they reach an appeal.

Seetec top sanctions list as private sector breaks promise to spend cash on ESA claimants
Work programme providers are spending less than half the amount they promised they would on ESA claimants as they focus on easier money. Instead, the private sector seems much more ready to sanction ESA claimants than help them, with Seetec being the most likely to refer claimants fo a sanction.

Maximus executive removes details of his Atos past
A senior executive at the company used by the Government to oversee disability benefits has attempted to amend his career history.

Oldham MP tells minister: ‘People are dying because of these sanctions!’
Oldham East and Saddleworth MP, Debbie Abrahams, has publicly lambasted the secretary of state for work and pensions, Iain Duncan Smith, at a Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) Select Committee.

MPs to investigate ESA and JSA sanctions regime
The House of Commons Work and Pensions Committee is to conduct an inquiry into benefit sanctions policy, something the coalition government has been desperate to avoid happening.

WCA backlog could take 18 months to clear
The backlog of fitness-to-work assessments for benefits recipients could take as long as 18 months to clear, according to the company being brought in to deal with the problem.

GPs could be paid to get patients back to work, says NHS official
General practice could ask for funding from the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) to ensure patients go back to work quickly, a top NHS England official has suggested.

Welfare reform savings 'less than expected', says IFS
Welfare spending over the course of this Parliament has fallen by just £2.5bn despite reforms aimed at saving £19bn, economic forecasters say.

Welfare reform reinforces growing prejudice against disabled and unemployed, report finds
British society is becoming increasingly intolerant of unemployed and disabled people, according to academics at the Sheffield Political Economy Research Institute (SPERI).

Please keep the feedback coming.

As one member told us when we asked if they would mind us publishing their email feedback:
“No objection at all, I found those comments very encouraging during the dark days!”

Mandatory Reconsideration success – enhanced rate of PIP awarded
“THE brown envelope dropped on the mat this morning. I've been waiting 7 weeks for the result of my request for a mandatory reconsideration of my PIP award…I followed the guidelines provided by B&W and provided good evidence to support my request. I kept copies of everything and made sure it was signed for delivery. Then .........SUCCESS ! The DM increased points for moving around (for planning journeys as I expected) and I now qualify for the enhanced rate for both daily living and mobility. Thank you!”

PIP awarded – no medical
“OMG the brown envelope arrived today, after ESA court tribunal and dla court tribunal we thought the worst, hi rate pip and high rate care awarded no medical.. Justice for once. Thank you B&W you guides were a great help. Pip awarded til 2018. THANKYOU”

PIP appeal success – mobility awarded
Can I first say thank you for all your advice and how grateful I am too for the moderators… I only got pip award for daily living, well they over turned [it at] appeal for mobility and now get it for planning a journey. I followed your guide and also wrote an experience I had and how it affects me with my condition. I was also amazed to how quick it was sorted out but if you hadn’t told me to phone and request my report I don’t think I would have applied for it to be looked at again. So once again thank you - you help so many people get what they deserve.”

ESA Support Group success
“Your wonderful guides helped me to get into the ESA support group. Thanks a million.”

ESA Support Group success
“Just wanted to say the biggest thank you to the providers and moderators of this wonderful site. Without the moderators great wealth of knowledge and expertise and the superb guides I wouldnt have been able to complete the ESA50 giving me the best chance of success. The subscription to this site is money very well spent. Once again a huge huge thank you”

IB to ESA Support Group success
“16 months ago i sent my ESA50 form to Atos , i am being transferred from ib to esa, today i got a phonecall from DWP stating that a decision has been made without a face to face and i will be placed in the ESA support group ...I am so relieved i had a bit of cry , without a doubt if it wasn't for Benefit and work there is no way i would of being able to get through this , thank you so much”

ESA WRAG to Support Group success
“I would like to say a BIG thank you to this forum. Without the guides and tips I would not have been placed in the support group…”

Transfer from DLA to PIP success
“I would just like to thank the team at B&W for all the information provided both on the site and on the forum. It helped to reassure and calm me whilst I was waiting to hear about my claim. I had a medical and was successful in getting PIP at the same rates I had previously been getting my DLA following a medical. It was a very stressful experience but your information helped to make the whole process a lot less scary and unknown and for that I would say a huge thank you.”

PIP award success
“Thank you to everyone in forum for advice and special thanks to B&W for guides, I have now had my decision and been awarded standard daily living and enhanced mobility. You have all helped me on my long journey. Thanks again”

SDA to ESA: Successful outcome
“Yesterday, I received a phone call from the DWP. I have been placed in the ESA Support Group for the maximum term of three years… it’s a considerable relief and I know I’ve been very fortunate... I’d like to thank B & W for making excellent guidance to welfare changes easily available and affordable. I am particularly grateful to the moderators who have always been ready to give advice and have never spared words of kindness.”

 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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