In this edition there’s news of cuts to the kinds of cars available through the Motability scheme – and who can drive them .  We also have news of a cut from 6 weeks to 4 weeks in the time allowed to complete and return an ESA50 questionnaire for employment and support allowance.

But before we get to the news, we’d be grateful if you could take the time to help us reach a decision on whether to launch a new service for claimants – you don’t need to be a member of Benefits and Work to take part.

With proposed cuts, especially in legal aid, there may soon be a lot less free advice available and many more welfare rights workers made redundant. In view of this, we are considering setting up a separate website where welfare rights advisors can advertise their freelance services to claimants.

The new service will have a number of safeguards built in, which you can read about at the start of our survey.

But, before we decide whether to take this idea any further we really want  to hear what you think of the idea, [fname].  If you do decide to complete the survey,  you’ll also be entered intoa draw for a prize of £50 of Amazon vouchers, unless you’d prefer to remain anonymous.   

The survey is open until 6pm next Friday, or until we have collected 1,000 responses, whichever is sooner.  The project will only be continued if there’s a clear majority in favour.

If your interest in benefits is a professional one – you are a welfare rights worker, housing worker, social worker or similar – we’ll be asking for your views in a future survey.

News articles are accessible to Benefits and Work members only, but anyone can read the forum posts at the end of this newsletter.

The time allowed to complete and return an ESA50 questionnaire form is being slashed from 6 weeks to 4 weeks, which will be particularly bad news for anyone intending to send in supporting medical evidence.  The more preparation you can manage, even before you are sent the form, the better placed you will be to make sure that Atos and the DWP are presented with all the evidence they need to make the right decision.

Those who manage to make it into the work-related activity group of ESA will now be forced to attend an information session about the Work Programme.  This applies even to claimants who are more than six months away from any health improvement and so can volunteer for the programme but can’t be forced onto it.  This latest move adds to a growing impression that the work programme is failing to deliver.

Something else which many people would consider is failing to deliver is the Professor Harrington’s review of the work capability assessment, the medical test for ESA.  Six months after a pilot programme of tape-recording medicals was carried out by Atos, at the recommendation of Harrington, no results have been announced. A Benefits and Work freedom of information request for the results has been  refused on the grounds it would not be in the public interest for us to know.  Not that we’re letting it rest there . . .

The latest statistics for ESA claims have just been published, so many claimants are bracing themselves for more hostile tabloid headlines. 

In preparation for this, Steve Griffiths of the Informed Compassion website  has produced a briefing paper on DWP Data Releases.  This highlights the misleading statements in the press following previous statistical releases, along with the a more accurate assessment of the figures.

Glasgow  University has also published a report on the ‘deeply offensive’ coverage of disability and benefits issues in the press.

There have been significant changes to the Motability scheme, including a £2,000 limit on the maximum advance payment, which will limit the range of cars available, and changes to who can be a nominated driver.

This follows utterly misleading articles in the Daily Mail claiming that the families of thousands of children with ADHD were getting free cars and also alleging that many claimants were using Motability to acquire top of the range BMWs.  The Daily Mail did provide a correction to one article in its new page two correction column.  But this was only after much pressure was applied, and many will see the correction as utterly pointless.

There have also been minor changes to the disability living allowance claim form, primarily to the page dealing with giving consent to allow the DWP to share information with other agencies.  We’ll be updating the guides next week to take account of the changes, but meanwhile the information on completing the claim pack all still applies.

There are more stories in the Members Only News section.

Thanks to everyone who has submitted items,  including:  pata1, pete17971, RachelPotter and Gordon.
Even if your story didn’t get published we are very grateful to everyone who takes the time to contact us.  There’s more information on how to submit a news story here.

A special thanks too, to A Way of Seeing who look after our Facebook page.  They are currently holding an exhibition of photographs, On The Waterfront, at the Botanic Garden Cafe – Durham University. The proceeds are being used to support free Art Photography Workshops for children.

Finally, as ever, some good news from the forum that we hope will cheer you on your way.

And remember:  subscribe before 10pm on Friday 30 September to save £1.95 on your annual subscription.  Just type NEWS22A in the coupon box when you subscribe to the site.

DLA for 6 year old son and ESA for me

Incapacity benefit to support group without medical

From 0 points to WRAG on appeal

Higher rate mobility and middle rate care DLA without medical

Lower rate mobility and higher rate care from nil, on appeal

Lower rate mobility and higher rate care DLA without medical

WRAG on appeal

Incapacity benefit to WRAG without medical

WRAG following medical

Support group on appeal

Incapacity benefit to support group without a medical

DLA increased to higher rate mobility and higher rate care on renewal

WRAG before tribunal

Lower rate DLA care on appeal

WRAG without medical

The more people who subscribe to this free newsletter, the more people who know the truth about benefits and who may help fight for claimants rights. So, please do forward this newsletter to anyone you think might be interested.

You are also welcome to reproduce this newsletter on your blog, website, forum or newsletter.

You can read this newsletter online.

Good luck,

Steve Donnison

Benefits and Work Publishing Ltd
Company registration No.  5962666


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