New ESA And PIP Dirty Tricks Campaigns

In this edition we reveal that the DWP have resorted to new dirty tricks to cut ESA and PIP numbers. These include alleged mass reporting of ESA claimants for fraud and attempting to change the law by the back door to reduce PIP mobility awards.

We also report claims that the Tories are planning to make mental health treatment mandatory for ESA claimants in the work-related activity group.

Plus we have news of the DVLA look-up service that allows anyone to check online to see if their neighbours are claiming mobility benefits.

 

JOIN BENEFITS AND WORK NOW AND GET 20% OFF ANNUAL MEMBERSHIP – ENDS MIDNIGHT FRIDAY
Improve your chances of getting the benefits you’re entitled to and, at the same time, help us to carry on discovering the truth about what the DWP are up to.

Plus, 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: 9548

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.

 

ESA NEWS: SANCTIONS
In the last newsletter we revealed that ESA sanctions had increased fourfold in the space of a year, up to December 2013 and are particularly targeted at claimants with mental health conditions . Whilst we had no doubt that the reason for this was to cut the cost of ESA we had no evidence to support this.

Now, however, the first shred has appeared with Polly Toynbee claiming in the Guardian that she has had discussions with an anonymous jobcentre manager:

“She told me how the sick are treated and what harsh targets she is under to push them off benefits. A high proportion on employment and support allowance have mental illnesses or learning difficulties. The department denies there are targets, but she showed me a printed sheet of what are called “spinning plates”, red for missed, green for hit. They just missed their 50.5% target for “off flows”, getting people off ESA. They have been told to “disrupt and upset” them – in other words, bullying. That’s officially described, in Orwellian fashion, as “offering further support” . . . In this manager’s area 16% are “sanctioned” or cut off benefits”

Members can download a detailed guide on how to prevent and overturn ESA sanctions from the ESA section of the members area – it might be a good idea to have a quick look through it in the near future, particularly if you are in the WRAG.

The manager also claimed that:

“Tricks are played: those ending their contributory entitlement to a year on ESA need to fill in a form for income-based ESA. But jobcentres are forbidden to stock those forms. These ill people’s benefits are suddenly stopped without explanation: if they call, they’re told to collect a form from the jobcentre, which doesn’t stock them either.”

Although we have found copies of the ESA3 form online, there does not appear to be a downloadable version of the current form, suggesting that the DWP is indeed making it as hard as possible for people to make a claim.

These targets and tactics come as no surprise. What Toynbee claimed that was new to us, however, was the manager’s allegation that:

“As all ESA claimants approach the target deadline of 65 weeks on benefits – advisers are told to report them all to the fraud department for maximum pressure.”

The idea that all ESA claimants are now being reported to the fraud department when they have claimed for 65 weeks seems preposterous and almost inconceivably discriminatory. Yet the ugly lawlessness that now characterises the DWP’s attempts to cut claimant numbers means that an accusation like this has to be considered seriously.

We are now working to try to establish the truth of this claim – we’ll let you know what we discover.

Meanwhile, we’ve begun compiling a collection of ESA sanction examples taken from various online sources to illustrate how easily, and unfairly, ESA claimants can be sanctioned.

 

ESA NEWS: MANDATORY TREATMENT FOR WRAG CLAIMANTS
Even more troubling than any of the issues above, however, is the report that the DWP are now considering changing the law to oblige ESA claimants in the work-related activity group with mental health conditions to undertake treatment or have their ESA sanctioned. Reports in the Telegraph claim it will be part of the next Conservative manifesto.

The paper quotes a Tory source as saying they hope to reduce the number of claimants with a mental health condition in the WRAG by 90% with this measure.

We’ll keep you posted about any developments with this shameful idea, which would no doubt involve bargain basement group CBT sessions provided by some multinational outsourcing company.
PIP NEWS: MOBILITY GUIDANCE CHANGED
The DWP have also moved the goalposts for PIP mobility to make it much less likely that claimants with mental health conditions such as anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder or agoraphobia will qualify for any award at all if they are able to go out, provided they have somo moved the goalposts for PIP mobility to make it much less likely that claimants with mental health conditions such as anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder or agoraphobia will qualify for any award at all if they are able to go out, provided they have someone with them.

Guidance issued to Atos and Capita at the end of May in the PIP Assessment Guide instructs health professionals that claimants who need accompanying by another person when following the route of a journey, because of a mental health condition, are covered solely by descriptor 11 (b). ‘Needs prompting to be able to undertake any journey to avoid overwhelming psychological distress to the claimant’.

This descriptor scores just 4 points, not enough for an award of PIP mobility to be made.

The higher scoring descriptors 11(d) and 11(f) will not be awarded ‘to claimants who require someone with them for support only, as this is covered by descriptor B. The accompanying person should be actively navigating.’ for these descriptors to apply.

We are now hearing in the forum from people who are being caught out by this changed interpretation of the law.

But the guidance appears to be at odds not only with the actual wording of the regulations, but also with detailed undertakings given by the DWP when they finalised the text of the PIP descriptors.

We have published a written submission in Word format in the PIP appeals section of the members area that anyone affected by these issues can make use of at appeal stage. It sets out the grounds on which we believe the guidance given to assessors is wrong and why relying on the assessment will lead the decision maker to commit an error of law.

Clearly we can’t guarantee that the submission’s conclusions will be accepted by any given tribunal. But they are definitely worth arguing and will at least give you the possibility of appealing to the upper tribunal and getting professional support via the legal aid scheme if you are unsuccessful.

 

OTHER BENEFITS NEWS: DVLA’S ‘SNOOP ON YOUR NEIGHBOURS’ SERVICE
Just after the last newsletter went out we reported that a new vehicle check service on the DVLA website allows anyone to find out whether their neighbours are receiving the higher rate of the mobility component of disability living allowance (DLA) or either rate of the mobility component of personal independence payment (PIP).

We urged our visitors to complain to DVLA and the information commissioner if they were unhappy with this situation – and it seems that many of you did.

Whilst DVLA refuse to back down, the information commissioner’s office is investigating the issue and has received so many complaints that they are now saying that they are no longer looking at individual concerns and people should watch the DVLA website for news.

Meanwhile, a national expert in data protection has supported our argument that DVLA is breaching the rights of disabled claimants, calling our analysis ‘excellent’ and adding ‘I hope the DVLA will rethink.’

We’ll keep you posted.

 

MORE NEWS ON THE SITE
As always, there’s lots more news on the site than we have room to cover here, including:

Real Life Reform publishes fourth report

Government in court over disability benefit changes

Legal aid cuts cause benefits appeals to fail

Treasury has not signed off on Duncan Smith’s universal credit, MPs told

Assessing the Assessors

 

FACEBOOK FEEDBACK
We’ve been sent this very touching item of feedback from Stephanie, a Benefits and Work member:

“Hi, just like to say a big, big thank you for all the information and help that I used for my transfer from IB to ESA, I have just received confirmation that I will be in the support group! it has only taken fourteen months! I cried, the stress and added physical strain has taken its toll, but at last I can get on with “normal” life now. Thank you.”
JOIN BENEFITS AND WORK NOW AND GET 20% OFF ANNUAL MEMBERSHIP – ENDS MIDNIGHT FRIDAY
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: 9548

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.

 

GOOD NEWS BY EMAIL
In this edition we have more of the feedback we receive by email. We’re now making an effort to publish more of this rather than only feedback from the forum. We are very grateful for your feedback, however you send it, and we know our readers appreciate it too.

IB to ESA Support Group
“I just wanted to say that I have at last received my ESA decision from migrating from Incapacity Benefit, after waiting 12 long months. I have been placed in the Support Group without a medical/interview. I am so relieved I can’t tell you. Without your help on this website and the guidance in filing out the horrendous forms or should I say, book! It would have been even more of a nightmare. So many thanks again and I’m sure I will be needing your help again, so keep up the excellent work!”
Joanne via email

DLA and ESA success
“I just wanted to thank you and your wonderful site for helping me to get DLA high rate mobility and low rate care, and I’ve now been given it indefinitely! Your forms to help fill in the claim pack were invaluable and I recommend that if your thinking of joining this amazing site do not hesitate, it will be money well spent. I have just had my 6 month review for ESA ( it’s been a year since my last one! ) and although I’m in WRAG my adviser didn’t seem to worried about me looking for work. But I am prepared and with using your site I’m sure I won’t have too many problems. This website has been a great help to me and I have renewed my subscription three times! Thank you”
Karen via email

SDA to ESA Support Group
“Thank you so much for your guides to form-filling which we used when my daughter was switched from SDA.. She is housebound and virtually bedridden with severe ME has just heard that she is in the support group – no medical. It is to be reviewed after 2 years, but we now know where to get help! Renewal of DLA (or will it be PIP by then?) next so we will be needing you again. I’d recommend you to anyone dealing with benefits application forms. Thanks once again”
Jill via email

ESA and DLA successes
“I have been a member now for over two years and through your wonderful site I have been able to get ESA ( first placed in WRAG then after MR placed in S G for 2 years) for my adult 43 year old autistic daughter, together also with DLA LRC/LRM – indefinite award, although it am aware that this is all about to change in the next couple of years. Just had to find a way to express my sincere thanks to all you wonderful people.”
Rosemary via email

ESA Support Group and PIP success
“Hi, just to let you know, I have got my sisters latest DWP decisions through and what turn around!! . Firstly her ESA, -she was originally placed in the work activity group. Now she’s been moved to support group, with your help, after appeal. During her visits to work activity sessions, her PA recommended that she apply for PIP. She did, and after a medical, today, she’s been awarded PIP at enhanced rates for care and mobility 14 points in each!!!.which took only 3 months. Without the help of myself and BENEFITS AND WORK this simply would not have happened , she’s now a subscriber like myself. Many thanks”
George via email

PIP award and ESA Support Group
“Just like to say a big thank you, for all the advice and support you’ve provided. I am now in receipt of pip and esa support after waiting and struggling for 8 months to get it. The advice on your pages was invaluable. thank you.”
Amy via email

ESA Support Group and DLA success
“I would just like to say thank you for all your advice and information on your website, I read it all and followed the advice and was told today that after my ATOS assessment that I have been put into the support group until 2016 and also advised to ask for a review of my DLA award which is at the moment the low rate. I don’t think I would have had the confidence to go to the assessment if it hadn’t been for all the encouragement and advice. Thank you once again”

And an update:

“Just to say thanks again, if it weren’t for your website I would not have felt confident in asking for my DLA to be looked at again. I have now been awarded the highest rate both in mobility and care, so thank you all for the help and information on your site, without your site I don’t think I would have asked for a reconsideration”
Angela via email

DLA renewal award
“You’re not going to believe this great news! Not only did I get my DLA renewed at the same rate (thanks to your website’s brilliant how-to booklets) but they sent me the award letter on the SAME DAY that they received my application form! I hardly dared believe it but I’ve checked my bank account and the first payment has gone in this week. Thanks for all your help and support, I wouldn’t have got this DLA without the help of B&W.”
Sarah via email

Successful DLA Appeal
“My wife and I wished to advise you with the information supplied by your wonderful site we have recently won our Tribunal with the DWP who seemed fit to bring a case against us. We went armed to the teeth with information we downloaded from your site and it is without question the judge could see we were well prepared and agreed with the case we put forward and found the award in our favour. So a huge thank you to you and your team, as my wife and I feel that without your advice and assistance maybe the outcome may have been very different.”
Henry via email

ESA Support Group without a medical
“I was familiar with form filling but the found the ESA50 form overwhelmingly bizarre. The design of the layout and questions asked was obvious in putting the customer at a disadvantage in fully explaining their condition. It was only with your guides that I was able to navigate the pitfalls, recording the details that were needed to fully assess my circumstances. After all my worrying, I have just had notification that I do not have to undergo the torture of an ATOS assessment and have been placed directly into the Support Group. I cannot thank you enough in helping me “survive” this turmoil. I hate to think what I would have had to go through without your guidance. Thanks again”
Steven via email

PIP success
“Hi All, I wanted to thank you for this wonderful site – without which I don’t know where I’d be. I read through all of your advice, even printing a lot of it off. Using this as my trusty guide I completed an application for PIP. This was in September 2013. I was finally invited to an ATOS Assessment in December 2013. I duly attended, after reading your information on this aspect of claiming. Invaluable. I’d have been lost and a lot more apprehensive without it. I am now eligible for PIP and full component awarded. I would NOT have managed to keep going without the help I found within Benefits and Work. Thank you, from the bottom of my heart. I am 100% positive that without your website I would not have been successful in my claim.”
Leanne via email

ESA Support Group without a medical
“Hi, I just wanted to thank you for your simple to follow guidance. We’ve just heard that our son has put into the ESA support group without a medical. I’m pretty confident that your help made this possible.”
Diane via email

IB to ESA Support Group
“Received a phone call from DWP last week saying I will be changing from IB to Support group from next month. (no mention of a medical) I have been waiting for almost 8 months for some contact, so had been dreading the daily post all that time! I can now relax and stop worrying. I found the forms daunting and without the guidance from B&W I would have struggled immensely. A massive thank you!”
Mary via email

DLA renewal success
“I cannot thank this site enough. I was given DLA at Lower rate mobility and High rate of care for 18 months and it was due for renewal in August. I received the form and carefully followed your advice. I posted the form off and within five days of sending it off, I received the great news that I would be given DLA at the same rates but the length of time had changed to indefinite. All thanks to this web site. Wonderful. Thank you so much”
Michael via email

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

And do remember: you’re welcome to republish part or all of this newsletter, provided you credit Benefits and Work.

Good luck,

Steve Donnison, Sangeeta Enright and Karen Sharpe

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


Mental health scheme to help Lewisham’s pupils ‘before they fall’

A new mental health project will help school pupils in London to deal with their problems and worries after receiving a £500,000 grant from the Big Lottery Fund’s £75m HeadStart programme.

The development funding means that pupils in Lewisham will take part in a pilot project in the new school year. The local partnership will use this pilot to work up long term plans that could benefit from a multi-million pound share of HeadStart funding.

A previous YouGov survey for the Big Lottery Fundrevealed that 45 per cent of children aged 10-14 have reported being unable to sleep because of stress or worry, with fifty nine per cent saying they feel worried or sad at least once a week. However, only around 25 per cent of young people needing treatment for mental health problems actually receive it and usually only once they reach 18[1].

The HeadStart programme aims to develop ways of dealing with mental health issues before they become deep-rooted problems. Focussing primarily on schools, the HeadStart partners will offer a range of approaches, including peer mentoring, mental health ‘first aid’ training, online portals and special resilience lessons helping pupils aged 10-14 feel they have support at in the classroom as well as at home and tackling the stigma that can often surround the issues of mental health.

Lyn Cole, Deputy England Director of the Big Lottery Fund, said: “We know that around three young people in every classroom suffer from a clinically diagnosable mental health disorder and this is a desperately sad situation. HeadStart is all about catching our young people before they fall into a trap of mental and emotional turmoil that may affect them all though their lives. This development funding means that children in Lewisham will play an important role in helping other young people get emotional support at a key stage in their lives.”

Councillor Paul Maslin, Cabinet Member for Children and Young People at Lewisham Council, said: “We are very excited to be part of this pilot project. Making the journey from teenager to adulthood is an important stage in young people’s lives and some will find it easier than others. So it’s important that where we can, we build mental and emotional resilience in those young people who may find the journey more difficult. I look forward to seeing the results of this project and how the involvement of young people in Lewisham has contributed to this important initiative.”

For more information about HeadStart you can contact Healthwatch Lewisham at www.healthwatchlewisham.co.uk or info@healthwatchlewisham.co.uk

Simone Riddle

Community Engagement Officer

Voluntary Action Lewisham

St. Laurence Community Centre

31 – 37 Bromley Road

Catford, London SE6 2TS

www.healthwatchlewisham.co.uk

r


Raw Sounds summer event

Join Raw Material as we celebrate the end of another term of Raw Sounds, our music and media programme for people with mental health needs, and see the positive impact music has on wellbeing. We also invite local mental health professionals and community organisations to visit our music and education facilities, and hear about our work.

Raw Sounds contributes to the wellbeing of the community by providing opportunities for young people experiencing mental health issues to express their creativity. Making music improves wellbeing through developing confidence, being creative and connecting with other people.

If you work with someone with mental health needs and would like to refer them to our programme, please contact us. Our next term begins on September 25th.

For more information email: info@raw-material.org or call: 0207 737 6103

RS_SUMMER_EVENT_14


It’s finally here: WheelOfWellbeing.org

 

wheelofwellbeing.org has been launched!
Wheelofwellbeing.org NOW LIVE!

 

Friday the 11th of July 2014 marked the launch of the Wheel of Well-being website.More and more research is showing us how certain positive actions can improve our mood, reduce risk of depression, strengthen our relationships, keep us healthy and even add seven years to our lives.

The Wheel of Well-being (WoW) is a simple framework that translates this research into positive practice. At the heart of the Wheel of Well-being is the WoW website, a practical collection of free tips, tools, activities and ideas – from a DIY Happiness game to promote well-being at community events, to a Happier at Work programme to improve well-being in the workplace.

“Well-being is about a positive state of mind and body, feeling safe and able to cope, and having a sense of connection with those around us. A focus on well-being can bring positive benefits for people and places. The Wheel of Well-being is a welcome tool which offers helpful tips and practical assistance to individuals, families and communities seeking to improve well-being.”

Gregor Henderson, Director of Wellbeing and Mental Health,
Public Health England

 

 

The website is divided into three sections:

 

WoW Yourself

 

For people to contribute well-being tips and places, create their own well-being checklist and track their personal progress.

 

WoW Your Community

 

For people working in the public, private or voluntary sector, to explore free practical tools and ideas for improving well-being in organisations, workplaces and local communities.

 

WoW Strategy

 

For people involved in policy development and local government, to develop a well-being strategy. This section is a work-in-progress.Wheelofwellbeing.org is the result of an innovative, on-going partnership between the mental health promotion team at South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust and strategic design consultancy Uscreates, who have been working together since 2008 to develop new ways to promote mental health and well-being across London.

Enjoy exploring the website! We welcome any feedback or enquiries on hello@wheelofwellbeing.org.

 

 

Funded by:

 

 

Copyright © 2014 South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust, All rights reserved.
Join us at the launch of the Wheel of Wellbeing!Our mailing address is:

South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust

Maudsley Hospital

Denmark Hill

London, EnglandSE5 8AZ

United Kingdom

 

Via Helen


A vibrant event for community healthcare appreciative inquiry

The best community healthcare is delivered by well trained and well paid staff, who are well supported and who have the time to offer patient centred services, concluded an inquiry into community healthcare in Lewisham.

It is also holistic, taking into account many aspects of the patient’s life and health. Central to successful delivery is cooperation between services, the voluntary sector and the community.

An Appreciative Inquiry was held on Saturday 28th of June to look at what excellent care looks like.

Lewisham Hospital having been secured and now operating within the new Trust – the Save Lewisham Hospital Campaign with Lewisham Healthwatch have been researching examples of excellent and good community care with the aim of supporting the best in and out of hospital care in the borough.

Over 100 stories had been gathered from users, clinicians and managers to find out from people’s personal experience what are the key features, the magic ingredients that make good community healthcare so valuable.

Four of those stories were used to kick start the day and with the imaginations of attendees they then shared their own stories and identified what had made them positive experiences.

“I have had a long and difficult journey from being a fit and vigorous man in middle age to being a wheelchair user. My GP’s medical support and emotional support have been fantastic.”

“Straight to the hospital,”  “I could tell her anything.”

“Took the time to accept my worries.”

“Extraordinary skill, a few metres from my house.”

“It made me realise that it is not stigmatising to be depressed and it helped empower me to take control of my own life again.”

Life can never be taken for granted. Anyone can become sick or disabled and in need of care and support at any time. At these periods of crisis and stress, NHS services become a vital part of managing, if not of survival.  Aside from hospital provision, this includes district nurses, community palliative care, pharmacists, GPs and many, many other services.

Organiser Carolyn Emanuel said :

‘At a time when politicians are looking at ways to join up hospital and community care the findings from this event will form a significant way of highlighting the best standards of practice, which we hope will be included in any future models of delivery.’  

“I have severe learning difficulties and autism. All the staff at the surgery are brilliant. We always get an appointment on demand. They’re completely tolerant of challenging behaviour and don’t keep us hanging around.

“Kindness, non-judgmental approach.”  Looking at the positives, highlight the strengths”

“Different parts of the NHS talked with each other. Joined-up care.

Everyone was briefed.”

“Very happy with carer. Was a bit shy at first but got to know her.”

“I am much calmer in the knowledge that I am seeing the same practitioner who knows me personally and reviews my epilepsy more regularly.”

“This helped me to stay in my managerial and caring role without losing time or money. I come from so far I would have had to take a whole day out just for a doctor’s appointment.”

Common to all the stories was staff having the time to deliver excellent care. That time enabled them to listen to and understand the patient and their needs, create a smooth pathway between services and empower the patient to manage their own health.

The gathering then identified a series of practical actions to make these recommendations a reality -

  • a public education programme to help people understand and get involved with the design of local health strategy and policy;
  • identifying ways to make sure NHS staff are involved in all decisions about the delivery of community healthcare; and
  • making sure the voluntary sector is represented in the right places to promote a joined up health and social care strategy.
  • A challenge to the NHS on the Private Finance Initiative, a mortgage on NHS property which is draining our NHS of cash which goes to private corporations.
  • Harnessing new media to improve health, specifically for young people, but extended to anyone.

Miriam Long, manager of Healthwatch Lewisham, said:

 “This was a great way to end the evidence gathering stage of the inquiry. It was a vibrant event with some great outcomes.”

“The next stage is to write the report and a plan of action that will be discussed with commissioners. The involvement of so many people has meant we’ll be able to tell them a compelling story.”

The plan of action will be discussed at the next Healthwatch Lewisham Reference Group meeting. It will take place from 10.30am to 2pm on Tuesday 29 July in the Council Chambers, Civic Suite, Catford.  All welcome book your place here.

In preparation. We would like anyone who has had a good experience of community healthcare in Lewisham to tell us about it. In preparation, we would welcome more submissions of your positive stories. Please write in to the Save Lewisham Hospital website at http://www.savelewishamhospital.com/community-care-survey/ or call Healthwatch Lewisham on 020 7998 7796.

Simone Riddle

Community Engagement Officer

Voluntary Action Lewisham

St. Laurence Community Centre

31 – 37 Bromley Road

Catford, London SE6 2TS

www.healthwatchlewisham.co.uk


Three Cs MaxOut Southwark

On the 9th July 2014, Three Cs launched MaxOut Southwark at Crossways.

MaxOut Southwark is our new web app that links you with mental health news and activities in Southwark. Please try it out for yourself at www.maxoutsouthwark.com and let us know what you think.

We are also happy to talk to people interested in Three Cs developing similar apps in London boroughs for people with learning disabilities or mental health challenges.

Regards

Jo

Jo Clare Chief Executive

Three Cs Support I 3rd Floor, Norman House I 110 – 114 Norman Road I Greenwich I London SE10 9QJ

www.threecs.co.uk


Mon 21 July at the Dragon Café

Music for the Mind and Mood
Our exploration of sound, music and movement continues. Join us to revive our Café Dancing Dragon in Art-Works at 2 pm, in preparation for festivities on the final Monday of this month – and also our last before a break in August. We will return on Monday 1st September refreshed and re-invigorated!  In the evening there will be a very special performance of live music, readings and strings (viols) in Melancholical Musings – a musical discourse in Melancholy at 7 pm.

DC Programme- Monday 21 July 2014


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 280 other followers