Good news – from WRAG back to ESA Support on Reconsideration
“After being ESA re-assessed from Support to WRAG, I have just found out that with B&W's help, I put in an appeal, and have now been put back into Support.

DLA to PIP Latest Plus Will Secret Recording Save Your ESA?


In this edition we have a link to our free ESA mandatory reconsideration FAQs and more information on whether you’re still scheduled to be caught in the drastically slowed-down DLA to PIP transfer.{jcomments on}

We ask if it’s time to start recording your phone calls with the DWP and also reveal that some ESA claimants are now being forced to have regular appointments with a welfare to work provider’s ‘doctors’.

Plus, there’s news of a physical and virtual lobby of parliament you can join on 12th November to protest about the bedroom tax.

There’s lots more news below, as well as a 20% off membership coupon and plenty of cheery feedback from our members.

You can also read this newsletter online and comment.

The nightmare that is mandatory reconsideration has now begun and the first decision letters to be covered by the new system are being sent out. We have updated our DLA and ESA appeals guides in the members area to take account of mandatory reconsiderations.

We’ve also published a detailed set of Mandatory Reconsideration FAQs particularly aimed at ESA claimants, where the changes will cause by far the most difficulties and hardship.

And with the introduction of reconsideration phone calls for ESA and other benefits, we ask: should claimants now start recording telephone conversations?

What you are alleged to have said to the decision maker in the course of your reconsideration phone call will be used in the decision letter about your reconsideration and will be given in evidence to the tribunal if you go on to appeal. But it seems that in many cases the decision maker will only make notes about what is said, rather than tape recording the conversation. So . . . do you trust the DWP to fully and accurately reproduce what you told them? If not, what is the best way to avoid getting caught out by misleading evidence?

We’d like to hear from you in the comments section , especially if you’ve ever recorded conversations with DWP officials.

Staying with ESA, we can also reveal that in a pilot scheme, claimants in the WRAG are to be forced to have regular meetings with health professionals employed by a multinational welfare to work provider. Would you trust such health professionals to have your best interests at heart?

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: 4739

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. Professionals can pay online or email a completed licence agreement within the deadline, quoting the coupon code in their email.

Moving on to PIP, we can now confirm the news that was just coming in as we sent out our last newsletter: PIP for renewal claims is only being introduced in the Wales, West Midlands, East Midlands and East Anglia areas, as yet another bit of IDS’ master plan starts to fall apart at the seams.

You can see the new PIP rollout timetable here.

As yet, the DWP has no idea when you will be reassessed if you are not in the Wales or central England area.

We also don't know for certain, because the DWP information has been so imprecise, what would happen if you were to report a change of circumstances if you are not in the initial reassessment area. We believe that you will continue to be assessed for DLA in these circumstances but, at this stage, we can’t be absolutely certain.

Atos deny that a shortage of health professionals has led to them being removed from the DLA to PIP transfer process but, whatever the reason, their monopoly of the medical assessment gravy train appears to be well and truly over.

Meanwhile, Macmillan Cancer Support are reporting that hundreds of terminally ill patients are waiting 10 weeks for a PIP award compared to the 10 days they would have waited for a DLA award. As ever the compassionate DWP deny everything and make the spurious excuse that:

"Macmillan aren't comparing like with like as DLA and PIP are completely different benefits with different claim processes.”

"Exceptionally good trainer and great course content" Sheila Stringer, DIAL NW Kent
"Very useful and I have learned a lot." Laura Skorupa, British Polio Fellowship.
"Overall a really interesting, educative day - facilitator a brilliant communicator" Ryan Lodge, West Leicestershire MIND
"Very helpful and well presented." Karin Gray, Scope.

Find out more about our PIP training or:

Download a PIP training booking form for Birmingham 3 December 2013

Download a PIP training booking form for London 4 December 2013

Already renowned for its abject failure, universal credit suffered another blow as it was leaked that £120 million is likely to be written off as the DWP tries to save the almost terminal project.

And the bedroom tax is not faring much better, as it suffers defeat after defeat at first tier tribunals. As a result, a rattled DWP is now bringing in the big guns to take on individual bedroom tax appeal winners, reports the Nearly Legal website.

Instead of leaving local authorities to decide whether to appeal when they lose at first tier tribunals, the DWP is now insisting that councils must always ask for a statement of reasons. The DWP will then decide whether to ‘join’ the appeal with the council or even lodge an appeal themselves. The result will be DWP funded solicitors and barristers turning up to try to crush claimants’ cases.

If you are facing an appeal to the upper tribunal after winning at an appeal about the bedroom tax or any other issue, you may be able to get legal aid to help fight your case. Contact the legal aid telephone gateway on 0845 345 4345, to ask to be referred to one of the few agencies who hold a contract to provide this kind of work.

As you may know, Benefits and Work has taken on two new welfare rights workers, Karen Sharpe and Sangeeta Enright, to help us cope with the exponential speed of change in the benefits system.

They’ve been with us less than two months but have already made an enormous difference to what we are able to accomplish.

Next year Karen and Sangeeta will be working on a training course for new moderators, which we hope will help ensure there’s always someone around to answer your queries or offer support. In the meantime, however, if there’s anyone out there with good knowledge of ESA, DLA and PIP, who would like to volunteer as a moderator for the site, we’d love to hear from you. (If you’re a former professional or a current freelancer, we can offer you the opportunity to keep your hand in and raise your profile, as well as having access to online professional resources).

The people at Creative Seed Studio who voluntarily run our Facebook page tell us that

“Lots of you liked and shared news of the new Benefits and Work Campaigns section.

“Something a little different: we posted Russel Brand's interview with Jeremy Paxman. This brought many comments and shares, some of you changing how you thought about him on hearing his very strong views on the disparity of income and how poverty is neglected in the UK.

“We know there are people struggling to get their benefit claims completed and processed so it is always good to hear from members with news of successful claims on the Facebook page. Thank you Selina and Egon amongst others for these comments:

SELINA “Just want to say that both myself and a friend have been placed straight in the support group, migration from IB, with no face to face assessment thanks to your guide.”

EGON “I have also been placed in the Support Group without a medical (helped by the B&W guides). But what's the point of reassessing me in 2yrs time?”

If you follow us on Twitter,

you’ll have heard about many of the items in this newsletter as they were published. You’ll also have had the chance to read some kind comments about the site, such as:

@benefitsandwork think DWP need to update their information so it matches Atos I'm always being told different things! Your site is God send

@benefitsandwork thank you - I'm personally very grateful for your website, so this means a lot

@benefitsandwork to all interested in Benefits and Welfare, vulnerable, follow this Company for sound advice

Labour is calling an Opposition Day debate on scrapping the Bedroom Tax on the afternoon of 12th November. According to Sue Marsh at the Diary of A Benefits Scrounger blog

“Rachel Reeves MP has booked a wheelchair accessible room in Portcullis House (Boothroyd Room) from 10am-12.30 on the morning of the debate – the idea is to orchestrate a mass lobby from there - and she'll also be able to come and meet as many of you as possible.

“We've also been told they'll try and get tickets for as many people as possible to attend the debate in the afternoon over at the Commons.

“For those who can't attend in person, we're told there'll be a mass "virtual lobby" at the same time and the Mirror are supporting the last minute calls to MPs.”

Staying at Westminster, a vote in the Lords on the most controversial part of the gagging law, which features on our campaigns page, has been put on hold for five weeks as the government struggles to avoid defat over its attempts to prevent campaigning by charities in the run up to elections.

Campaigning website 38 Degrees is continuing to encourage people to write to their MPs about this issue.

The WOW petition, calling for a Cumulative Impact Assessment of all cuts and changes affecting sick and disabled people, their families and carers, is up to 76,000 but only a month left to go to reach 100,000.

Below are just some of the articles from our News section we didn’t have room to cover in this newsletter.

Work Choice provider in government probe over job outcome ‘scam’ (members only)

New questions over Seetec Work Choice 'scam’ allegations (members only)

Council vote means Glasgow 2014 faces direct action over Atos sponsorship (members only)

The UK’s highest court rules that the ‘Back to Work’ schemes are ‘legally flawed’ but are not ‘forced labour’

WCA survivors return to court to continue fight for justice (members only)

As always, many thanks to the members who take the time and trouble to email or post their good news about claims and appeals. We know from the feedback we get that this is one of the most popular parts of the newsletter.

Personal independence payment (PIP) success
“finally, after waiting 20 weeks, I had a decision at the first attempt at pip. I got enhanced rate after a face to face with a very nice ex nurse. it was a good experience, i wish you all the very best, and a big thank you to all at b and w.”

ESA Support Group
“I just wanted to say thanks all on this site for your help and support. My son finally heard today in the support group.”

IB to ESA Support Group without a medical
“Just wanting to thank you so very much for all your support and the excellent advice and work you do. I have today received a letter saying I have gone from Incapacity Benefit to the Support Group of Employment and Support Allowance without a face to face assessment.”

IB to ESA Support Group no medical
“Just got the phone call and was told I am put into the support group without a medical. I have no doubt this is solely due to the guides on here . . .“

ESA Support Group for 2 years after 3 months wait
“.. like to say thank you ..couldn't have done it without the advice and knowledge from the forum ...”

2nd Revision, now in Support Group
“Thank you Benefits and Work, The MODS who gave me advice and links to follow with more advice. You have kept me going.”

Successfully placed in WRAG after Upper Tribunal appeal
“It has taken me two years but I got there in the end, many thanks to all at benefits and work,
keep up the good work. Soooooooooo Happy”

DLA reconsideration just before appeal!
“…it may seem a struggle to complete all the appeal forms, worry about the appeals process etc but if you persevere using the excellent guidance from this website you can get the right result!”

ESA Support Group at review and DLA indefinitely
“I have ME/CFS and over the past few months I've had to renew both my ESA and DLA… I was moved to the support group from WRAG… I've recently renewed (DLA) and my award has been kept the same (HRM & MRC), but this time I have been awarded DLA indefinately! . . .”

Incapacity to ESA
“Just wanted to say thankyou for all ur help, I've gone from incapacity to ESA and just been informed I'm in the support group. So thank you so much.”

Support Group without medical
“…my wife called the DWP and they confirmed she would not have to attend a medical and will remain in the support group…Thanks again to your wonderful website and the support it gives to us all.”

ESA Support Group
“Twenty weeks after submitting my ESA50, the dreaded brown envelope arrived yesterday informing me that I have been placed in the Support Group, without being called for a medical. . . Thank you to everyone at B&W for providing such comprehensive guidelines”

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

Good luck,

Steve Donnison
Benefits and Work Publishing Ltd
Company registration No. 5962666

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