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Free, fortnightly PIP, ESA and DLA Updates

Our fortnightly updates bulletin is the UK's leading source of benefits news. Get the facts about what's changing, how it affects you and how to prepare. Our mailing list is securely managed by icontact in the US.

PIP success!
“Hereby I wanted to send my heartfelt thanks for the support and help offered by this website. My PIP forms arrived at the beginning of the year. I have just received my award for standard living needs and enhanced rate for mobility needs. The Benefits and Work guides as well as this Forum have been invaluable to me!”
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Dear Reader,

In this update we learn about the productivity bonuses paid to PIP assessors by Atos, which Frank Field MP has called ‘an incentive to ride roughshod over claimants’.

In total, it seems that an assessor doing just one additional assessment a day could earn over £2,000 a week in bonuses.

We also look at a slew of stories about sanctions.

Including the latest report to find that the sanctions regime is harmful to sick and disabled claimants.

By way of response the DWP have announced that they are abandoning trials of a scheme that gave claimants 14 days to challenge the decision before sanctions are imposed.

In addition, we discover that the income of the chief executive of Motability has reached £1.7 million per year, as MPs suggest it may be time to end Motability’s monopoly. But will that be good news for claimants?

And we hear again from a benefits adviser turned playwright who would like your help with getting a play about ESA onto the stage.

 

PIP ASSESSORS BONUS ‘INCENTIVE TO RIDE ROUGHSHOD OVER CLAIMANTS
Frank Field, chair of the commons Work and Pensions committee has accused Atos of paying PIP assessors a bonus which amounts to

The bonus scheme was designed to rush through thousands of extra assessments each month from at least March to June of last year.

On top of a £75 fee per case bonus, assessors received a further £50 bonus for each additional assessment above the standard four per day they normally carry out.

So an assessor doing one extra assessment a day five days a week in an assessment centre would seem to be able to earn £2,125 a week in bonuses alone.

Atos failed to tell the committee about the bonus scheme when it gave evidence to their inquiry earlier this year. It only came to light as a result of a letter being leaked to the Mirror newspaper.

Frank Field told the Mirror:

“I am concerned financial incentives to complete assessments quickly may compromise the accuracy and quality of assessment reports - causing further distress to claimants.

“It’s an incentive to ride roughshod over claimants and it can’t be right.”

Atos claim that the £50 bonus system was for a period of high assessment volume and is no longer in use.

 

SANCTIONS
Sanctions are very much in the news at the moment.

The latest DWP figures show that it is now universal credit (UC) claimants who are in the firing line. A shameful 4% of UC claimants were sanctioned in just one month this year. That is 20 times as many as are sanctioned under JSA or ESA regimes.

But whatever benefit you are on, a very detailed, five year long study by six universities has shown yet again that sanctions don’t work.

The study found that the sanctions regime made it less likely that sick and disabled claimants would find work and also made their health conditions worse.

Interviews with claimants include a particularly distressing quote from a disabled JSA claimant who was sanctioned as a result of turning up early for an interview.

But the DWP have been quick to ensure that no-one makes the mistake of thinking they care about the health of claimants or the fairness of the sanctions regime.

This week they announced that they are abandoning the ‘yellow card’ sanctions warning letter that they had been piloting.

The scheme gave claimants 14 days to show the reasons why a sanction wasn’t justified before a decision maker could impose it.

According to Frank Field MP, the initial results showed that it would have given protection to “many thousands of very vulnerable people”.

However, the DWP have ended the trial on the grounds that the scheme placed an “additional burden” on staff.

 

MOTABILITY THREAT
Two powerful committees of MPs have savaged the way that Motability is run and asked the National Audit Office to look into whether it is time to break up the monopoly.

They are particularly unhappy that the pay of chief executive Mike Betts increased by 78 per cent, from £954,000 in 2008 to £1.7 million in 2017, which the MPs branded as “totally unacceptable”

They are also unimpressed that the cash that Motability holds in reserve in case of a financial crisis increased by 328 per cent from £568 million in 2008 to £2.4 billion in 2017.

This is in spite of the fact that Motability is a monopoly trader which pays no VAT or insurance premium tax.

According to Frank Field, MP:

“The levels of pay pocketed by its executives and the cash reserves it is hoarding are totally out of whack with reality of its position in the market.”

The committees have argued that Motability could afford to lower its prices or make higher charitable donations.

The real fear, however, is that opening the scheme up to competition might also be seen as an opportunity to worsen the terms on which vehicles are offered to claimants – privatisation often seems to work out badly for consumers.

 

SICK STORIES
Can you help get a play about ESA which features the experiences of Benefits and Work readers into production?

Several years ago we were contacted by a former benefits adviser turned playwright, Christina Katic.

Christina wanted to hear from ESA claimants who were willing to be interviewed about their experience of claiming employment and support allowance (ESA).

Chris has been back in touch with us. She tells us that “You put an item in your newsletter - and I had all the people I needed instantly!”

Now Christina needs help to publicise a Crowdfunding appeal to run workshops for the play. Christina isn’t asking for donations from claimants, but she would be grateful if you could publicise the funding appeal or email her to express an interest in the play to help secure further funding.

Good luck,

Steve Donnison

 Benefits and Work guides covers

DLA to PIP award
“I would like to thank Benefits and Work for all the information I needed to go to my first Pip from DLA assessment. I was awarded higher than DLA. The information on this site made me think exactly what I needed help for. You go through life and get used to things so this site was invaluable.”

 

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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.

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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

 

BENEFITS NEWS
Most extensive report yet finds sanctions regime is harmful to disabled claimants
A group of six universities has today produced the most extensive and damning report on the harmfulness and ineffectiveness of benefits sanctions.

Motability scheme monopoly under threat over huge salaries and reserves
Two powerful committees of MPs have called for the National Audit Office (NAO) to investigate the way the Motability Scheme is run after condemning the £1.7 million salary of it chief executive and the £2.4 billion cash reserves it holds.

Can you help publicise Sick Stories?
Can you help get a play about ESA which features the experiences of Benefits and Work readers into production?

DWP abandons plans for yellow card sanctions warning letter
The DWP has this week abandoned plans to introduce a sanctions warning letter which an MP has said would have protected ‘many thousands of very vulnerable people’.

Claimants 20 times more likely to be sanctioned on UC than JSA or ESA
Figures released by the DWP this week show that claimants on universal credit (UC) are 20 times more likely to be hit by a sanction than claimants on JSA or ESA.

PIP assessors paid bonuses for getting through more assessments a day
PIP assessors for Atos have been paid an extra £50 for each additional assessment above the standard four per day, or three if they were home visits, the Mirror has discovered.

20% of UC claims fail due to ‘non-compliance’
20% of universal claimant (UC) claimants never receive a payment because they have failed to follow the complex rules, the Guardian has revealed.

 

GOOD NEWS FROM THE FORUM AND BY EMAIL
As always, many thanks to everyone who takes the trouble to post in the forum or email us with news of your success. We know it’s many readers favourite, and most encouraging, bit of the newsletter.

Benefits and Work guides coversDLA to PIP success
“Had the official notification today to inform us that my wife had been awarded Higher rate of care and mobility on transferring from DLA to PIP.
Had already got a copy of the assessment report which scored 17 points for care and 12 for mobility. Surprised when we got the final decision and it showed 19 points for care. The award is ongoing up to 2028 so well pleased with the result.
Needless to say our success is down to this excellent site and all the information contained here. I was out of my depth before finding this site, but was able to take all the information on board and submit everything needed for our successful application. Thanks to all the team for all the hard work that goes into this site..”


PIP success
“I would just like to thank you all for the great advice and guides as i would have never have got through my first f2f without you. I have been on DLA and for the past 10 years low rate dla due to mental health and not feeling in my right state of mind to be able to contest the award although i knew this was wrong. This time thanks to your great site I asked for a MR and after reading all your guides i have just been awarded enhanced both for mobility and daily living I could not have done this without you thank you all so much .”


ESA and all the rest…
“I thought I'd leave a, rather long I'm afraid, message on here, as I actually have some good news, for a change! On 2nd March, my husband died of heart failure and, as he was claiming ESA for us both, I told the DWP of his death. They immediately sent me a letter, demanding the payment back that they'd only just put into our account and, because I wasn't thinking, I did so. They then allowed me around £25 of it back - and that was the last ESA money I saw for almost 11 weeks…
If it wasn't for the fact that I'd had my PIP examination last year, and had been awarded it again, I wouldn't have had anything at all to live on over the next 6 weeks… Anyway, I filled in the ESA50 form sent to me… I managed to get the form completed by week 3 of the 4 weeks given to me - but only because I used a lot of the details from my PIP form to answer the questions, and also the wonderfully detailed advice from here, too as, I'm sure you can imagine, I was unable to think properly, let alone try and remember the dates and details that they were demanding!
A good friend took me the 22 miles to the nearest Jobcenter, so I could hand in the questionnaire…

By week 10 after my husband's death, things were going badly for me, financially, and I hadn't heard from the DWP, and so I phoned them yet again, to find out what the hold-up was… Almost a week later, I got a letter from the DWP, telling me that i had been put in the Support Group! . . . But, the fact is, I would probably have been made to have a medical, if i hadn't had all the info you wonderful people have put on this site, so I could fill in the form properly - including info from your recent email, which came in so very handily for me. So, I owe it to you all for making my life that much easier, and am so very thankful that I came across your site some 6 years ago now!
Many, Many Thanks for all your helpful advice..”

DLA to PIP
“Thanks to your guides and info on this site my Wife has successfully moved from higher Rate DLA to enhanced PIP for care and mobility. We seem to have managed to be lucky enough to avoid all the pitfalls that we were quite apprehensive about having read others comments and experiences.”

PIP success
“A massive thank you to the organisers of this forum for all their advice and guidance. After twelve months of living with anxiety and frustration, the tribunal has awarded me the enhanced mobility component, the award I previoulsy had under the DLA for many years. I can say with all certainty that if I had known about this forum before applying for the PIP, my application would have been successful right from the beginning and I would not have had the hassle of going through the long and painful appealing process. The forum has been invaulable in helping me articulate my difficulties in moving around in the best possible way. I found out about this forum accidentally through a colleague of mine and I really feel so sorry for people who do not get to know about this valuable forum when applying for PIP or cannot access it for whatever reason. The PIP allows me to continue having access to motability car, without motability car I would be absolutely housebound. I cannot thank the forum enough. Well done the forum organisers and good luck to everyone who is still waiting for their PIP result.”

PIP success – thank you
“Just wanted to thank you & the B&W site, for all the help & advice I received... And of course the brilliant help guides, which helped me enormously when completing my 1st ever PIP form…
I rang the PIP helpline last Thursday, asking if a decision had been made - a decision was made the day before! I was told over the phone I had been awarded Standard Daily Living and Standard Mobility... I honestly didn't expect to get Mobility. Was given info on when PIP payments would begin & that it would be backdated…”


DLA to PIP – so far so good
“Within 8 days of submitting PIP forms my wife was offered a F2F assessment. Took the appointment for the next day to get it over with... Assessed on 26 Apr and I requested a copy of his report from DWP a few days later. Received the assessment report yesterday (9 May). Like a lot of others on here I was surprised at some of the comments that my wife moved her arms behind her head and behind her back and down to her knees - this did not happen of course. Big surprise in that the HP has marked my wife`s assessment a lot higher in points than we actually did. Has marked a total of 17 points for care and the 12 points needed for mobility. Also surprised at the fact that he noted "Based on the available evidence, I consider there are no requirements to arrange a review of this claim as significant change is unlikely", Just have to sit and wait now to see what the final decision will be - but looks favourable.
I would hasten to add that I would not have been able to get this far had it not been for joining Benefits and Work. I am a retired police officer and have been used to preparing complex reports, but PIP was way out of my league. Thanks to the fantastic way everything is explained in your guides I was able to prepare the necessary case for my wife. I must have changed the file dozens of times after picking up on more advice/information over the weeks, but all credit goes to this fantastic site. Keep up the good work. Here`s hoping for a happy result.”


PIP mobility success
“My sister has just found out that she has received the enhanced rate of mobility. Thank you for this website.”

BOOST YOUR PIP AND ESA CHANCES - 20% OFF ANNUAL MEMBERSHIP – OFFER ENDS MIDNIGHT FRIDAY.
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: 46532

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

Good luck,

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