Dec 022016
 

We have had signs recently that the DWP are getting up to their old tricks and trying to get people in the ESA Support Group to attend a “back to work” interview at their Jobcentre.

According to the DWP Webpage, if you are in the Support Group you You don’t have to go to [back to work] interviews, but you can ask to talk to a personal adviser. “, which means that they cannot require you to attend, and they can’t stop your money if you don’t go.

We are going to look closely at this and do whatever we can to get this stopped, but in order to do that we first need to gather information about how widespread this is, which areas it is happening in and how long it has been going on.

So we are asking for people to come forward if you are in the ESA Support Group and have been contacted by your Jobcentre to attend a back to work interview, we would really like to hear from you.

If you have had one of these letters please fill in the form below – we will always keep your name and email address confidential unless you give us your permission to disclose it

Important note: There is another sort of interview in which you are asked to take along bank statements and documents to prove your identity – you do have to attend this sort of interview. We advise that you take a friend or relative along with you.

 

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 Posted by at 16:51

  4 Responses to “Are you in the ESA Support Group, have you been asked to go to an interview about getting work?”

  1. This was 2 years ago but I think it is worth bringing to your attention due to the nature of the interview, and the attitude of the interviewer. I received a letter shortly after moving into my new home so June I would guess. It stated that I was going to have an telephone interview with someone called Sue. I gave it no further thought so when the woman phoned I wasn’t prepared and actually a passenger in a car but nonetheless was able to speak and she introduced herself and very early on stated she was “very much aware that you are in receipt of ESA and that you are in the support group” and went on to say “I am simply letting you know what is available to you should you wish to access our services” and gave me the day and time each week that there would be someone who could help with all manner of issues that could help. I thanked her and thought that she was actually being helpful. A few weeks later I got another letter for the same kind of interview, to be held a month after the first. I was at home and waiting for this phone call and from the outset this (same) woman was completely different in her attitude and began with “Ms Larkin I see that you have not attended the jobcentre since we spoke last month.” Her whole stance was aggressive and accusatory and when I allowed her to say her set piece I calmly said “You are aware that I am in the support group and that has not changed and is not going to change as the arthritis is degenerative…” she interrupted and said “This is not permanent and is simply until you get back on your feet” which I challenged and at that point she started saying “Clearly you are not doing anything to help yourself, you need to improve your health and your diet and your lifestyle choices are clearly wrong as you are not improving” it was at that point I said “I am terminating this interview as you are making value judgements that you are not in any position to comment on. I will be getting some advice about this as I happen to know that my benefit is long-term and not temporary. You are presumably aware that I have osteoarthritis and that this does not get better regardless of what I do.” The minute I started standing up to her she faltered and tried back-tracking and when I asked for her name she refused to give me her surname, claiming that they are legally not allowed to give their full name. I was shaking after hanging up on her because she had made me fearful that my benefit would be taken from me. Despite my disability I got to my local CAB early the next morning and needed them to confirm that my benefit was not temporary and that this woman was actually lying and trying to intimidate me. From that moment she has left me alone. Like everyone I know personally who is on DLA we are living in dread of that brown envelope landing on our floor with the claim pack for PIP despite the genuine disability we live with. This is because everything we hear concerning PIP has us fearful that the nature of the criteria for PIP is so different from that of DLA we may well not be awarded it. Our disabilities have not changed, our restrictions still present and the struggle we cope with has not been reduced yet the carefully crafted wording of the assessment of PIP has quite simply moved the goalposts and is making the likelihood of being failed for this benefit a very real and frightening possibility.

  2. I’ve been on ESA support since May 16 and haven’t had any other letters from them until a few days ago, when i received a letter to come and meet my work coach. It was sent on the 1st Dec for me to attend the meeting on the 8th Dec. Two days later another letter came saying they’ve looked at my claim again and due to a recent change they believe i’m fit to work and have placed me in the work related activity group.
    Also, i noticed they have back paid me an extra £29.05 all the way back to May 16, which i assume means I’ve been in the work related activity group from the start of my claim?

    I have no idea what has changed other than my mother contacting them end of October 16, to cancel a medical assessment they wanted to carry out. This was because i was in hospital to have metal work removed from my infected lower leg. She did say they could come and do a home assessment once i was out of hospital, but she was told it was fine.

    I spoke today with a Job center adviser, who was very helpful. He cant understand why i’m not in the support group. He has managed to have the work coach meeting pushed back until January 17 and has asked me to gather medical evidence of my injuries and forward them to the jobcentre, for reconsideration of my case.
    Is this normal practice to attend a meeting at short notice and gather all the medical records yourself?

    I am housebound, cant walk, have a flailed right arm, chronic nerve pain and am still recovering from the leg surgery, so everything is a bit difficult at the moment.
    Now i’m really worried about having my benefits stopped due to me not being fit enough to attend these meetings.

    Life story now finished

  3. To attend an interview next week even though medical evidence has stated this will be detrimental to my health

  4. It is not myself who is in the ESA Support Group, but my son, who cannot answer questions or even barely write his name. But there was a phone call, out of the blue, from someone claiming to be the Manager of our local JC+ in July 2015. She was only one step short of aggressive and from the start gave a very strong indication that my son had to attend at the JC+ for an interview. She refused to speak to me–initially. She clearly hadn’t read his file and was unaware of vital info from his Social Worker. I had to be really assertive and even then she refused to cite the section/paragraph and statute, regulation or measure which entitled her to make those demands. If you would like me to answer your survey on my son’s behalf I am happy to do so because I fear others will be pressured into doing something the DWP is not empowered in law to demand that they do.In our son’s case it could have been disastrous. Do let me know. I recorded the telephone conversation.

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