Government responds to the independent review of PIP

Improving communications with claimants of Personal Independence Payment (PIP) is just one of the recommendations from an independent review of the benefit that has been accepted by DWP.

Department of Work and PensionsPaul Gray was appointed to carry out the first of two independent reviews of PIP required by the 2012 Welfare Reform Act. Findings from the review were published in December 2014 and included 14 recommendations covering:

• Improving the claimant experience, particularly through clearer communications;

• Clarifying and improving the collection of further evidence to support assessments;

• Improving the overall effectiveness of the PIP assessment in delivering the policy intent.

DWP will respond in two stages. The initial response focuses on the review’s short-term recommendations, action that DWP is taking to address them and the wider work that is being done to support PIP claimants through the process.

Significant improvements have already been made to claimants’ experience of the PIP process, the delivery of the benefit and the length of time it takes to process individual claims.

The department has worked closely with the independent assessment providers, ATOS and Capita, to quadruple both the number of health professionals and decisions that were made each month during 2014.

DWP continues to work alongside disabled people and their representative organisations, particularly the PIP Implementation Stakeholder Forum Improvement Working Group, to consider its response to Paul Gray’s recommendations.

DWP intends to provide a full response to address the medium and long-term recommendations in due course. These require further consideration due to their broad scope and wider implications. This includes the recommendation by the Smith Commission to devolve disability benefits in Scotland.

The Government’s response to the PIP independent review is available at Focus on Disability

DWP – Touchbase March 2015

“All the reviews and rhetoric from Iain Duncan Smith and the DWP won’t help our vulnerable disabled people and those who had to find the ‘ultimate’ course of action to avoid the welfare reforms damaging effects.”

ESA and JSA reforms – March & April – people with a health condition

During March and April, there will be a number of changes and pilots affecting people with a health condition or disability who are claiming benefits.

Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) reforms

From 23 March, DWP will deliver three pilots to build understanding about what support works best at different points of the claimant journey. The pilot findings will also inform the development of Universal Credit policy for claimants with health conditions.

• Trialling a Claimant Commitment for ESA claimants will take place in the East Anglia district. Work Coaches will offer on-going support and agree an ESA Claimant Commitment with the claimant, focusing on individual work related requirements. Where appropriate, this will include work preparation activities that will help the individual return to, or move into work.

• More Intensive Support increases the frequency and intensity of tailored support that Work Coaches provide to claimants in the six months after completing the Work Programme. More Intensive Support will be delivered in three districts – East and South East Scotland, Kent and West Yorkshire.

• Voluntary Early Intervention offers emplo yment-related support to new ESA claimants waiting for a Work Capability Assessment. The support will take account of the claimant’s specific needs to help keep them closer to returning or moving into employment. This pilot will be delivered in four districts – Glasgow, Lanarkshire and East Dunbartonshire; Black Country; Birmingham and Solihull; and South East Wales. The pilot will be evaluated in a number of ways to find out whether this policy should be rolled out nationally.

Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA) extended periods of sickness

From 30 March, new legislation will be introduced nationally affecting JSA claimants with health conditions.

This will apply to those whose condition is expected to last less than thirteen weeks and those who have had two previous periods of sickness.

Changes will mean that individuals can volunteer to remain on JSA for any further period of sickness, rather claiming ESA.

Work search activities during this period will be agreed between the claimant and the Work Coach based on the claimant’s circumstances.

JobcentreRepeat claims to Employment and Support Allowance changes

New rules affecting repeat claims for Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) will be brought in from 30 March.

The changes mean that claimants who have been found to be capable of doing some work following a Work Capability Assessment (WCA) will not be paid the ESA assessment rate for a repeat claim, unless they have developed a new condition or an existing condition has significantly worsened.

People can currently make another claim for ESA after only six months even where there has been no change in their health condition, and be paid ESA again. The changes will remove the reference to ‘six months’ and remove entitlement to an ESA payment pending an appeal decision if the claimant has received two consecutive decisions that they ‘do not have limited capability for work’.

Where someone makes a repeat claim without a change in their condition, Decision Makers will be able to reconsider the evidence from the previous WCA when deciding whether to disallow the claim or to refer them for another WCA.

If following a mandatory reconsideration the DWP Decision Maker upholds the original decision, there is a right of appeal.

People who have had their ESA claim turned down should claim Jobseeker’s Allowance or Universal Credit as appropriate. This is to make sure that they get the right advice and support from Jobcentre Plus advisers or Work Coaches.

This change does not prevent someone from making another claim for ESA. It also does not prevent someone whose condition has significantly worsened or who has developed a new condition, from being entitled to ESA during the assessment phase.

DWP Touchbase March 2015

“Hope the above helps and the changes won’t affect you detrimentally?”

Remploy Disabled still Jobless – Tory Betrayal

Hundreds of disabled workers axed by the government are still out of work – despite ministers pledging £8million to help them.

Out of 1,507 made redundant at Remploy factories, 733 are still without jobs.

The last three sites shut in 2013 and Welfare Minister Esther McVey said the Government would “do everything we can” to help the workers find jobs.

But Labour MP Pamela Nash said: “Almost half are still out of work. This is a national disgrace.”

However the Department of Work and Pensions said: “Disabled people deserve the same employment choices as everyone else, not being consigned to segregated, loss-making factories.

“There are over 250,000 more people with disabilities in mainstream work this year compared to last.”

“The truth – The Government were more concerned about the loss making factories than the people working in them.”


Iain Duncan Smith has been accused of a cover-up after denying cash has been lost in his struggle to introduce Universal Credit.

The Work and Pensions Secretary told MPs “no money has been wasted” as he rolls most working age benefits into one.

But Labour said: “This is a lie to cover up the failures of the Universal Credit programme.” And they insist that to avoid misleading Parliament Mr Duncan Smith must issue a correction.

Last year’s Department of Work and Pensions annual report said £40million has had to be written off.

And it predicted another£91million is set to be poured down the drain.

Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary Rachel Reeves said: “He has serious questions to answer over the millions of pounds of taxpayers money that has been wasted. It’s time for ministers to give straight answers and to finally get a grip of this failing project.”

A DWP spokesman said last night: “Universal Credit is already making work pay in one in ten job centres and will be rolled out nationally from next year.

“When fully in place the economy will benefit by £7billion each year.”

If and when this welfare reform is “fully in place” what will be the true cost and true price?.”

Nelson N. Sunday People 9th November 2014. p. 20

1m On Benefit Found Fit for Work in Crackdown

We just keep hearing from ‘boys club’ government ministers and civil servants etc, that their reason for getting disabled people back into work is for them to be endowed with a more rewarding and fruitful existence – “rubbish”. To anyone with a modicum of logic and insight, their reason is and always has been, lets try and save some money with a bulldozer attitude, get the unemployment figures looking better, look as though were achieving and totally ignore the plight of those underfoot.

More than one million disability benefit applicants have been found to be fit to work after the introduction of face-to-face assessments.

Since 2008, 1.06 million new claimants for Employment and Support Allowance were deemed able to undertake employment, figures released by the Department of Work and Pensions revealed.

This has helped see the total number of on sickness itself drop by 165,360 since 2010.

Minister for Disabled People Mark Harper said: “This shows how we are helping those with illnesses or disabilities to fulfill their aspirations to provide for themselves and their families.

“As part of the Government’s long-term economic plan, we are looking at what people can do – with the right support – rather than simply writing off those on long-term sickness benefit as has happened in the past.

“There are now 1.8 million more people in work than 2010 and our welfare reforms will ensure that disability benefit support is better targeted at those who need it most.”

The figures also show the number on sickness benefits in Britain who are looking for work has now risen to 730,000 for the first time.

Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith has spearheaded benefit reforms. Earlier this year he said  ending “cycles of worklessness and dependency” had been his “one aim” (admiral Iain, admiral).

ESA claimants can receive up to £108.15 a week from the Government after a 13-week period.

The process has drawn criticism from disability support groups, with claims those carrying out the assessment were under-qualified or overly harsh with their decisions.

There were also claims that appeals against decisions were taking so long, many people were simply reapplying.

One firm providing assessments – Atos – reached an agreement with the Government in March to leave its contract early.

Liz Sayce of the Disability Rights UK charity, was damning in her criticism, and said its “work programme is a massively failing disabled people”

She added: “The problem is being found fit for work is not the same as getting any support for work or getting into work”. The Government need to seriously invest in support for both disabled people and employers so that more disabled people are taken into the workplace.”

There is and will be many supporters of the Government’s flawed approach – mostly those “I’m alright jack’s” and those who would have the Oxford English Dictionary enter “a scrounger” under the entry “disabled”.


The State Pension under a Labour

The Sun newspaper has found that workers could be forced to toll for even longer to get a state pension under a labour government.

Shadow Chancellor Ed balls yesterday (09/06/13) said that spending on pensioners would be included in his cap on welfare payments if the party wins power.

The Government has excluded it from the plan to cap the benefits bill because of it’s “triple lock”, which guarantees pension rise with earnings, inflation, or 2.5% whichever is highest.

Mr Balls told the BBC that cash paid to pensioners is too much to ignore.

“Many people will not realise that the clear, large bulk of welfare spending is, in fact, going to people over 60,” he said.

Mr Balls failed to rule out blocking rises in pensions under the triple lock, saying “that is not our intention”. opponents seized on his remarks, which came days after the Shadow Chancellor said Labour would scrap winter fuel allowance for comfortably off pensioners. The Tory Treasury Twitter feed claimed: “Ed Balls has revealed what labour really mean when they talk about controlling the welfare bill – cutting the state pension”.

That was rejected by a Labour spokesman who said “Labour supports the triple lock on the state pension. But, as Ed Balls said, it would be perverse to exclude overall spending on pensioners and the impact of an ageing society from any sensible and long-term fiscal plan to monitor and control structural social security spending.”

However, the party did not rule out fresh rises in the state pension age – which has already been hiked by Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith.

It will rise to 66 in 2020 and 67 from 2026 under the Tory Cabinet minister’s plans, which hit the poorest hardest because they die younger than the better-off.

Mr Balls played down the prospect of scrapping pensioners’ free bus passes and TV licences.

But he insisted that payments to the elderly cannot be excluded from the cap.

Mr Balls said: “For the cap to work vigorously we have got to be looking ahead and I have got to be saying to these spending ministers, “Look three years ahead. You are going off track – do what needs to be done now.”

We agree with the Sun that Ed Balls and Ed Miliband should stand up for hard working families, not require them to work harder for longer causing obvious potential health problems for them.
Occupations such as lawyers and stock brokers mightn’t worry about a few extra years but it could kill manual workers.
We seem to be drifting slowly in the coming years where it’s a case of “lets save money possibly but ruin and lose lives along the way”.

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Assessment of Welfare Reform – online petition

If you feel strongly about some of the effects of the governments welfare reforms there is an online e-petition that is a must for you to sign. please support this as there is little that can seemingly be done to stop the already appalling degradation and treatment of the sick and disabled in the UK.

It calls for:

1. A Cumulative Impact Assessment of all cuts and changes affecting sick & disabled people, their families and carers, and a free vote on repeal of the Welfare Reform Act.

2. An immediate end to the Work Capability Assessment, as voted for by the British Medical Association.

3. Consultation between the Depts of Health & Education to improve support into work for sick & disabled people, and an end to forced work under threat of sanctions for people on disability benefits.

4. An Independent, Committee-Based Inquiry into Welfare Reform, covering but not limited to: (1) Care home admission rises, daycare centres, access to education for people with learning difficulties, universal mental health treatments, Remploy closures; (2) DWP media links, the ATOS contract, IT implementation of Universal Credit; (3) Human rights abuses against disabled people, excess claimant deaths & the disregard of medical evidence in decision making by ATOS, DWP & the Tribunal Service.

Sign the Petition

£500 benefits cap will apply to parents of disabled children reaching adulthood

Surprise, surprise after repeated denials that disabled people will be exempt from the £500-a-week benefit cap that is due to come into force in April, there has come to light a mistruth . It applies to carers looking after their disabled children when they reach adulthood.

Last week in the Commons pensions minister Esther McVey said: “In practice most carers will be exempt from the cap because their partner or child is in receipt of disability living allowance “. When pressurised by  Labour MP Andrew Gwynne to look at the rules again Ester McVey then admitted: “Should there be another adult in the house, that is then a separate household, so both have to be assessed separately.”

Ministers have now accepted that if a parent is still looking after a disabled child after they reach adulthood, even if the child’s mental age is as low as eight, the parent and the child will be treated separately, and the parent will be subject to the benefits cap.

This now makes it possible that some parents may have to move out of their home or put their child into care. Letters are already being sent to carers with offspring aged over 20 confirming the change in the rules.

Discretionary payments are claimed to be available to prevent hardship in government documentation with regard to welfare payments changes. The introduction of Personal Independence Payment (replacing DLA) and Universal Credit coming in to force in stages from April 2013 hopefully provides this safeguard.

Anxiety has now been thrust upon some parents/carers who thought they would not be affected by this cap as another welfare reform nightmare sufaces.

It is quite possible that lives will be shortened and even ended by a simple and silent killer  – STRESS – because some of the most vulnerable in our society are being scared to death. The reason for wefare reforms may have be unavoidable (the nations skint) but it’s been sickening hearing the goverments justification for changes supposedly fairer, more empathetic and simplified as they are clearly not going to be. Everybody’s personal circumstances define how they will cope with these changes – lets hope most do!.

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