Dec 302013
 

As a grassroots campaign group DPAC wouldn’t exist without the dedication of all those who give their time to exposing what is happening: coming out on the streets, writing reports, researching, writing web content and policy critiques, heading up and being part of the growing number of local DPACs, organising events, engaging with social media and a whole set of other stuff that keeps DPAC vibrant, active and strong – its thanks to you that DPAC exists.  DPAC also want to thank the growing number of grassroots groups, individuals, academics, supporters, unions and organisations we’ve worked with in 2013.

2013 began with DPAC being awarded campaign of the year for our work in 2012 the year ends with DPAC being named as ‘people of the year’ by Owen Jones. In 2013 DPAC supported many local based protests on transport, the bedroom tax, ILF, local authority cuts and privatisation. We blocked roads protested against fuel poverty, fracking, the loss of legal aid, the bedroom tax, the closure of ILF and more. We set up Reclaiming our Futures 7 days of action joined by hundreds to celebrate the gains of the disabled peoples’ movement and to protest at the effects of imposed austerity on disabled people. DPAC launched the UK Disabled Peoples’ Manifesto which was followed by an EDM.We also published a number of reports.

There was cause to celebrate: the Government were ruled to have made the decision to close the Independent Living Fund unlawfully. Mental Health Resistance network succeeded in winning both case and appeal by the Government on the discrimination of the WCA. DPAC were approached by the UN prior to Raquel Rolnik’s UK visit to feed-in –her findings on the bedroom tax were devastating for the Government. DPAC led a whole range of events and join events on benefit justice to join together and fight the evils that this Government have imposed. While every protest, every campaign, every new network and every exposure of this Government is a success, we received growing numbers of emails from those left without money, food, homes and suffering cuts to their support.

In 2014 we must continue to fight and take all actions we can to change and expose the devastation this Government is causing to disabled people.

You can subscribe to receive all DPAC web posts or become a DPAC member at www.dpac.net.uk join us on twitter @Dis_PPL_Protest or on Facebook

 Key highlights of DPAC actions from 2013 below….

January

DPAC were awarded campaign of the year (2012) by Lipstick Socialists. They said: The fight back by disabled people as the Con/Dem Govt stripped some of the most ‘vulnerable’ sections of the community of their benefits. Their campaign against Atos (who made the decisions) during the Paralympics was inspiring and they have led the way in the fightback against the Con/Dem Govt. – See more at: https://dpac.uk.net/2013/01/#sthash.tEoKp2ds.dpuf

Co-op Campaign: stop the Atos Contract! Launched to publicise that Co-op were thinking of renewing a three year Atos contract for occupational health-Eventual outcome Co-op publically state they wouldn’t renew the contract with Atos.

DPAC call Vigil on Judicial Review initiated by Mental Health Resistance Network on WCA

Benefit Justice organising meeting by Tenants, DPAC unions and others held in London. We also live streamed London DPAC meeting so that everyone could access it. Annie Howard exposed Atos and DWP in relation to the data protection Act https://dpac.uk.net/2013/01/dwp-and-atos-make-a-mockery-of-the-data-protection-act/ Alan Shellbrooke a Tory MP said he wanted to introduce US style cards for those on benefits. We also linked with Fuel Poverty Action for the first of the 2013 actions on Fuel Poverty. We urged everyone to have their say on the Care Bill and to mention the ILF issues and posted advice on the Bedroom Tax and Discretionary Housing Payments and how to access them ahead of this inhuman misery. Condemn Love anti-Atos song by the excellent Kevin Robbins got it’s first airing

February

Victory for Daniel Roque Hall and Winvisable as Daniel is released from prison. Annie and Bob uncovered The Atos and DWP’s Land of make Believe https://dpac.uk.net/2013/02/atos-and-dwps-land-of-make-believe/

Owen Jones donates some of his prize from young writer of the year (donated by Lord Ashcroft) to DPAC https://dpac.uk.net/2013/02/thank-you-owen-but-we-wont-count-on-the-money-until-lord-ashcroft-puts-it-in-our-account/

We publicised the workfare cases The judgment on cases brought by Cait Reilly and Jamie Wilson mean that all but one of the Government’s workfare schemes (Mandatory Work Activity) that force unemployed people to work unpaid or lose benefits have been deemed unlawful. As we know IDS went off and rewrote the law- See more at: https://dpac.uk.net/2013/02/#sthash.jZLw1k5A.dpuf

We publicised an update on the Bedroom Tax, unfortunately not rewritten by IDS or anyone else. The post by Frank proved to be an unfortunate prediction of what was to come.

On ILF we produced a template letter for MPs and our collected FoIs on what Local authorities responses were to the ILF consultation https://dpac.uk.net/2013/02/what-local-authorities-said-about-the-closure-of-ilf/

Whitehall Traffic was brought to a standstill outside the Dept of Energy and Climate Change https://dpac.uk.net/2013/02/whitehall-road-block-brings-traffic-to-a-standstill-outside-dept-of-energy-climate-change/

Unum were finally nailed on driving Governments’ on welfare cuts https://dpac.uk.net/2013/02/unum-finally-nailed-through-bragging-on-driving-government-thinking/

DPAC and Inclusion London issued a statement on ILF while our National English DPOs remained silent https://dpac.uk.net/2013/02/defend-independent-living-save-the-independent-living-fund/

Annie Howard exposed the myths around the support group and ESA https://dpac.uk.net/2013/02/11-was-never-intended-to-be-the-number-of-people-in-the-support-group-dwp-big-blunder-annie-howard/

Atos and the treatment of mental health users and survivors was further exposed through You Tube, while  Kate Belgrave asked where were the MFCs at Atos – we’re still looking… https://dpac.uk.net/2013/02/harrowing-atos-assessment-and-where-are-the-mental-health-champions/

A letter from Ed Miliband was publicised after it was sent to us by a supporter https://dpac.uk.net/2013/02/letter-from-ed-miliband-on-atoswca-but-is-it-enough/

DPAC joined the campaign against the privatisation at Barnet and the great Crapita takeover https://dpac.uk.net/2013/02/urgent-stop-captia-10-years-plus-contract-for-council-services-in-barnet/

We launched a campaign against Colin Brewer who said that disabled children should be put down – he later resigned, but tried to put himself forward in a subsequent election process. https://dpac.uk.net/2013/02/urgent-stop-captia-10-years-plus-contract-for-council-services-in-barnet/

We published an email from one of our supporters which asked SCOPE what it was doing to save ILF , SCOPE suggested they get in touch with  DPAC https://dpac.uk.net/2013/02/scope-and-ilf/

March

We reposted the excellent Nick on ESA Process in Chaos and the Government cover-up https://dpac.uk.net/2013/03/dwps-esa-process-in-chaos/

As DPAC is on the working group of the European Network on Independent Living (ENIL)  against European austerity and its effect on disabled people we asked you to write to your MEPs to support  a push to get this debated in the European Parliament

March 13th was the court case on ILF in which 5 ILF users took the DWP to court against the proposed closure of ILF in 2015 We stepped up the campaign to publish stories of ILF users and those that would have benefited from ILF if it hadn’t been closed to new users in 2010 by Miller without even a dodgy consultation process. https://dpac.uk.net/independent-living-fund/

 The Benefit Justice Summit co-organised by DPAC in London brought together unions, grassroots groups, lawyers and tenants groups

We publicised news for parents of disabled children in the private rented sector and how they could claim money back from the DWP https://dpac.uk.net/2013/03/urgent-news-for-parents-of-disabled-children-renting-in-private-sector-money-back-from-dwp/

Beth Tichbourne was fined £745 plus costs for saying that David Cameron had ‘blood on his hands’ in an outrage that we should never forget  https://dpac.uk.net/2013/03/bethan-tichborn-cameron-has-blood-on-his-hands5503/

We publish an update on ILF court case with video https://dpac.uk.net/2013/03/ilf-court-case-update-and-implications/

 

DPAC and our sister org Black Triangle issue a joint statement on Labour and Bedroom tax https://dpac.uk.net/2013/03/joint-statement-and-petition-by-dpac-and-black-triangle-anti-defamation-campaign-in-defence-of-disability-rights-on-the-labour-party-campaign-against-the-bedroom-tax/

DWP and Government lies on ILF closure are exposed by DPAC in previously classified papers and memos from the DWP to ministers https://dpac.uk.net/2013/03/summary-of-secret-correspondence-from-the-dwp-to-mcvey-on-the-ilf-closure/

ESA appeals increase by 70% DPAC reposts Nick’s analysis https://dpac.uk.net/2013/03/more-chaos-esa-appeals-up-by-70/

Disability charities consistent apathy for disabled peoples’ lives, but not for their high salaries for directors was highlighted yet again https://dpac.uk.net/2013/03/how-the-big-disability-charities-let-down-disabled-people-again/

DPAC supported local protests and campaigns and also protests against staff cuts on railways and transport protests

April

April was the month that the condemns brought in more of their cuts for ordinary people the hated bedroom tax, the end of council tax support, the benefit cap and more https://dpac.uk.net/2013/04/the-nasty-party-go-on-the-offensive-against-disabled-people/

DPAC and UKUncut served eviction notices on our ‘favourite’ MPs –they had too many bedrooms –a complaint was put into You Tube who were told to remove the videos of IDS’ mansion https://dpac.uk.net/2013/04/eviction-notice-for-ids-and-oh-my-what-a-big-house-you-have/ https://dpac.uk.net/2013/04/ids-home-occupation-videos/

The TUC disabled workers refuse to join the Government sponsored Disability Action Alliance hosted by Disability Rights UK (DRUK) https://dpac.uk.net/2013/04/the-disability-action-alliance-or-whatever-happened-to-the-disability-strategy/

After news that the 5 ILF users that took the DWP to court had lost the case processes began to appeal the decision and still not a word of support from the big Disability charities or the aforementioned DRUK  https://dpac.uk.net/2013/04/claimants-to-appeal-high-court-decision-concerning-closure-of-the-independent-living-fund/

DPAC learns of a man who was arrested and tried in a secret court and jailed due to Atos –DPAC launches a campaign https://dpac.uk.net/2013/04/man-arrested-and-tried-in-a-secret-court-after-atos-assessment-support-needed-in-nottingham/

We also supported and co-organised a number of Benefit Justice summits across the country, supported more protests on transport and privatisation and continued to support the Barnet crisis

May

We supported CSRF in protesting at the |PCS conference and their refusal to refuse to implement benefit sanctions https://dpac.uk.net/2013/05/civil-service-rank-and-file-protest-at-pcs-conference/

We joined with False Economy in the search for the elusive Mental Function Champions at Atos , Dr Greg Wood  quits Atos and turns whistle blower https://dpac.uk.net/2013/05/where-are-the-mental-function-champions-at-atos-and-other-atos-type-things/

DPAC publishes info on Hardship payments and budgeting loans as we get more and more emails from people caught in the poverty and sanction traps set by the DWP –the post has been shared over 36,0000 times  https://dpac.uk.net/2013/05/hardship-paymentsbudgeting-loans-and-short-term-advances/

Black triangle meet with Scottish Government to discuss regulations regarding Atos and GPs https://dpac.uk.net/2013/05/esa-regulations-25-and-31-campaign-black-triangle-to-meet-with-scottish-parliament-welfare-reform-committee-chief-this-thursday/

The Mental Health Resistance Network win against Government on WCA , but spectra of legal aid cuts is raised too https://dpac.uk.net/2013/05/will-legal-victory-by-mhrn-against-atos-tests-be-our-last-we-need-to-act-now/

DPAC and the TUC disabled workers block Tottenham Court Road in an act of solidarity https://dpac.uk.net/2013/05/dpac-and-tuc-members-in-direct-action-of-solidarity/

DPAC publishes a critique of UKIP https://dpac.uk.net/2013/05/why-the-rise-of-ukip-is-dangerous-for-disabled-people/

DPAC’s own Ellen Clifford talks to real fare https://dpac.uk.net/2013/05/ellen-clifford-talks-to-real-fare-on-welfare-reform-and-protest/

June

June 1st marked a day of UK wide protests against the bedroom tax attended by DPAC

DPAC publishes stats by Nick that show the huge hike in sanctions under the Coalition  https://dpac.uk.net/2013/06/jsa-benefit-sanctions-sky-rocket-under-coalition/

DPAC holds a Birthday party protest for ILF https://dpac.uk.net/2013/06/press-release-independent-living-fund-birthday-protest/

The fight against the Bedroom tax continues with protests and new groups springing up and supporting each other across the country https://dpac.uk.net/2013/06/updates-the-fight-against-the-bedroom-tax/

DPAC publishes Lies, Damn IDS and Statistics  https://dpac.uk.net/2013/06/lies-damn-ids-and-statistics/

July

DPAC releases its program for 7 days of action, campaigns and protest: Reclaiming Our Futures https://dpac.uk.net/2013/07/reclaiming-our-futures-7-days-of-action/

DPAC joins protest at Downing Street against the bedroom tax

DPAC joins Justice Alliance to protest against cuts to legal aid

DPAC joins vigil for case against bedroom tax outside the Royal Courts of Justice

DPAC posts a list of advice and legal resources as emails from people in severe hardship escalates further https://dpac.uk.net/2013/07/advice-and-legal-resources/

Sisters of Frida go to Geneva to challenge the situation for disabled women at the UN https://dpac.uk.net/tag/sisters-of-frida/

We list the MPs that voted against a cumulative impact assessment https://dpac.uk.net/2013/07/for-fellow-extremists-everywhere-how-your-mp-voted-on-the-cumulative-impact-assessment/

Southwark DPAC challenge local politicians https://dpac.uk.net/2013/07/sdpac-challenge-local-politicians/

Government Issues ministerial statement on Atos https://dpac.uk.net/2013/07/government-issues-ministerial-statement-over-atos/

Bromley/Croydon DPAC join UKUncuts Stuff the Banks https://dpac.uk.net/2013/07/bromleycroydon-dpac-stuff-the-banks-update/

DPAC takes part in the anti-fracking protests at Balcombe where Caroline Lucas is arrested

August

Updates for Reclaiming Our Futures 7 days of Action https://dpac.uk.net/2013/08/reclaiming-our-futures-29th-aug-4th-sept-updates/

UK Disabled peoples’ Manifesto launched http://www.inclusionlondon.co.uk/UK%20Disabled%20peoples%20Reclaiming%20Our%20Futures%20Manifesto

John McDonnell puts forward an Early Day motion on the UK Disabled Peoples’ Manifesto put together by DPAC, Inclusion London, ALLFIE and Equal Lives Norfolk

Early Day Motion 483: Disabled People’s Manifesto
That this House warmly welcomes the launch of the UK Disabled People’s Manifesto, Reclaiming our Futures, developed by disabled people and their organisations across the UK, which sets out the shared vision of disabled people for an inclusive and equal society free from economic, social and cultural barriers; and urges all political parties represented in this House to engage in a constructive dialogue with the disabled people’s organisations promoting the manifesto with the aim of achieving its objectives. – See more at: https://dpac.uk.net/2013/09/early-day-motion-483-disabled-peoples-manifesto/#sthash.VWGXvrlo.dpuf

 

DPAC are asked by UN to assist Raquel Rolnik UN Special Rapporteur on Housing prior to her visit to the UK . The visit and her findings that the bedroom tax is regressive and unfair cause Tory ministers to say she should sort her own country out, she is a Marxist and produce other ridiculous statements in the right wing media https://dpac.uk.net/2013/09/un-investigator-recommends-for-bedroom-tax-to-be-scrapped-immediately/

DPAC block the front entrance of BBC for non reporting of the true situation in the UK under welfare cuts as part of the Reclaiming Our Futures 7 days of action http://www.katebelgrave.com/2013/09/disabled-people-against-cuts-block-front-entrance-of-bbc-portland-place/

DPAC host art exhibition and night of entertainment, plus a day debate on the continued relevance of the Social Model with Anne Rae, Colin Barnes and Debbie Jolly

The Brilliant Kate Belgrave writes on protests and Government Extremism, protests are held outside the DWP, the Department for Education, the Department of Energy, and the Department of Health before moving on to Parliament to host the launch of the UK Disabled People Manifesto: ‘reclaiming our Futures on the UK Freedom Drive day part of the Reclaiming Our Futures week of action

https://dpac.uk.net/2013/09/protests-and-government-extremism-kate-belgrave/

 

DPAC posts UK Freedom Drive film by Reel News https://dpac.uk.net/2013/09/uk-freedom-drive-the-film/

 

See also https://dpac.uk.net/2013/09/dpacrof-4th-september-highlights/

 

 

September

 

DPAC works with Just Fair on Independent Living Issues ahead of a planned visit by the UN special rapporteur on disability https://dpac.uk.net/2013/09/dpac-works-with-just-fair-on-independent-living-issues/

We publish George Berger from Sweden report on Atos, KPMG and the NHS https://dpac.uk.net/2013/09/atos-kpmg-and-the-nhs-be-afraid-be-very-afraid/

DPAC launches a new report on the WCA https://dpac.uk.net/2013/09/dpac-report-work-capability-assessment/

Two of the DPAC co-founders go to Strasbourg to join the European Network on Independent Living for the 6th ENIL Freedom Drive to march to the European Parliament and tackle MEPs. Debbie Jolly is elected to serve another term on the ENIL Board and presents on behalf of DPAC on protest and what is happening in the UK under imposed austerity http://www.enil.eu/campaigns/freedom-drive/

DPAC co-organises with Wow Petition for 10,000 Cuts Memorial for those that have died through Atos and in solidarity with all suffering under Cameron’s regime of imposed austerity https://dpac.uk.net/2013/09/10k-cuts-and-counting-video/ see also https://dpac.uk.net/2013/09/10000-cuts-and-counting-linda-burnip/

Dr Alison Wilde discusses the Paralympic Legacy https://dpac.uk.net/2013/09/paralympic-legacy-but-which-one/

DPAC supports the Ontario Coalition against Poverty who Government want to follow the lead of the UK in denying people their entitlements https://dpac.uk.net/2013/09/call-out-to-support-ontario-coalition-against-poverty/

October

IDS found misleading again https://dpac.uk.net/2013/10/ids-found-misleading-again/

DPAC and Black Triangle consider legal action against GPs who refuse to provide evidence for disabled people and those with long term health issues https://dpac.uk.net/2013/10/legal-action-has-your-gp-refused-to-provide-further-medial-evidence-for-your-dwp-appeal/

Anita Bellows write another stunning piece exposing the bedroom tax https://dpac.uk.net/2013/10/bedroom-tax-the-policy-which-could-only-succeed-if-it-failed-anita-bellows/

DPAC organises vigil for Mental Health Resistance WCA case appeal by DWP https://dpac.uk.net/2013/10/vigil-for-wca-case-support-mental-health-resistance-network-21st-october/

DPAC joins UKUncut to protest to save Justice

DPAC join in protests against staff cuts on London Tubes https://dpac.uk.net/2013/10/boriss-latest-attacks-against-accessibility-and-safety-on-london-transport/ also see https://dpac.uk.net/2013/10/unions-unite-with-campaigners-on-tube-and-station-cuts/

DPAC publicises Punishing Poverty a report on Sanctions by Manchester CAB https://dpac.uk.net/2013/10/sanctions-punishing-poverty-new-report-by-cab/

DPAC publishes info on mandatory reconsideration https://dpac.uk.net/2013/10/some-information-on-mandatory-reconsideration-in-force-from-october-28th-2013/

UK Disability history month kicks off https://dpac.uk.net/2013/10/uk-disability-history-month-launch-event/

November

ILF users win appeal, Government say they won’t fight decision –a success but we wait for the Government next moves https://dpac.uk.net/2013/11/gov-will-not-appeal-court-ruling-on-closure-of-ilf/

https://dpac.uk.net/2013/11/victory-for-independent-living-rights-in-english-appeal-court/

DPAC reposts the critique of the Henwood and Hudson report as some in the disability field still claim that ILF should close https://dpac.uk.net/2013/11/why-the-henwood-and-hudson-report-failed-in-justifying-the-closure-of-the-independent-living-fund/

DPAC ask members and supporters to write to Penning on ILF https://dpac.uk.net/2013/11/write-a-message-to-penning/

Anita Bellows asks why Litchfield as ‘independent’ assessor of the WCA when he was involved in its design https://dpac.uk.net/2013/11/dwp-tactics-ask-litchfield-designer-of-the-wca-to-review-it-anita-bellows/

DPAC publishes info on fuel poverty as we receive more emails from people without heating or electricity due to sanctions and welfare cuts https://dpac.uk.net/2013/11/fuel-poverty/

Independent Living rights News is published on DPAC https://dpac.uk.net/2013/11/independent-living-rights-news-17-november-2013/

https://dpac.uk.net/2013/11/independent-living-rights-news-edition-2/

Paddy Murphy writes on the apparent idiocy of DECC https://dpac.uk.net/2013/11/disabled-people-and-fuel-poverty-what-does-decc-know-anyway/

DPAC attends the bedroom tax lobby at Parliament https://dpac.uk.net/2013/11/report-on-the-bedroom-tax-lobby-meeting-westminster-tuesday-12th-november-2013/

DPAC , Fuel Poverty Action and the London Pensioners are joined by hundreds on the streets to protest at unacceptable fuel poverty and deaths while the energy companies continue to make huge profits https://dpac.uk.net/2013/11/hundreds-protest-at-big-six-energy-companies-over-fuel-poverty-deaths/

https://dpac.uk.net/2013/11/npower-protest-against-31000-fuel-poverty-deaths-this-year/

DPAC supports ALLFIE’s campaign on no return to segregated education https://dpac.uk.net/2013/11/no-return-to-segregrated-education-please-sign/

DPAC and Inclusion London hear heartbreaking testimonies from disabled people affected by the cuts. We send them to the special rapporteur on disability.

DPAC and Inclusion London hold an Emergency  lobby at Parliament on Independent living to launch the DPAC report on Independent Living https://dpac.uk.net/2013/11/independent-living-and-the-cumulative-impact-of-cuts-from-the-streets-to-the-commons/

Mary Laver and ILF user film on life without ILF is posted https://dpac.uk.net/2013/11/an-important-request-on-ilf-from-mary-laver/

The Disability Crime Network write to the attorney General on disability hate crimes  https://dpac.uk.net/2013/11/disability-hate-crime-network-letter-to-attorney-general/

December

Anne Novis writes on hate crime https://dpac.uk.net/2013/12/a-life-less-valid-when-is-a-hate-crime-not-a-hate-crime-by-anne-novis-mbe/

Belgium vote yes on euthanasia for minors now accepted as law https://dpac.uk.net/2013/12/belgium-vote-yes-on-euthanasia-for-minors/

DPAC urges members and supporters to join Boycott Workfare in online action against workfare https://dpac.uk.net/2013/12/take-online-action-against-the-workfare-conference/

We publicise Habinteg’s report on the effect of the bedroom tax on independent living  https://dpac.uk.net/2013/12/what-price-independent-lives-a-new-report-on-bedroom-tax/

Government lose appeal against decision that WCA discrimates against those with mental health issues.  The Mental Health Resistance Network (MHRN) who instigated the case against the WCA celebrate another victory. MHRN a grassroots group were later joined by the charities, but without MHRN the case would not have got to the courts. https://dpac.uk.net/2013/12/victory-against-wca/

DPAC joins Boycott Workfare in targeting companies replacing paid work with workfare https://dpac.uk.net/2013/12/target-the-companies-replacing-paid-work-with-workfare/

DPAC support ALLFIE’s call for action https://dpac.uk.net/2013/12/educate-dont-segregate-allfies-call-for-action-on-the-10th-december-1pm/

We publicise Equal Lives’ video on how the cuts effect at the local level https://dpac.uk.net/2013/12/our-lives-equal-lives-norfolk-and-the-cuts/

DPAC posts video by Colin Barnes on the importance of the social model by UCU https://dpac.uk.net/2013/12/interview-with-colin-barnes-what-are-the-origins-of-the-social-model-of-disability-and-why-is-it-so-important-to-equal-rights-campaigners/

DPAC attends open meeting with Mike Penning https://dpac.uk.net/2013/12/feedback-from-todays-meeting-with-mike-penning/

DPAC publicises the case of Anthony  Kletzander’s  treatment in Ireland at the hands of ‘professionals’ as he is denied basic rights https://dpac.uk.net/2013/12/update-anthony-kletzander-needs-your-help/

Owen Jones names DPAC as one of his ‘person of the year’ choices for 2013 http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/comment/who-is-your-person-of-the-year-9018337.html

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Nov 132013
 

Dr Paul Litchfield, who has been asked by DWP to carry out the 4th Independent Review of the WCA is not as independent as he seems.

He was part of the Mental Health Technical Working Group commissioned by DWP in 2006, with, among others, Sue Godby from the College of Occupational Therapists and Unum Provident, and Dr Angela Graham from Atos Origin, to develop ‘proposals from transforming the Personal Capability Assessment (the forerunner to the WCA), from an incapacity-based tool for determining entitlment to Incapacity Benefit to a more positive assessment incorporating assessment of capability and of health related interventions which would contribute to overcoming health-related barriers preventing people with disabilities  from engaging with work’.  

With new emphasis on what disabled people were able to do rather than on their limitations or on the social barriers they may encounter, the new test was what effectively became the WCA, adopting the biopsychosocial model promoted by Unum.

 

The new descriptors are a mirror image of the old ones, which recognised that some actitives could not be performed at all by a disabled person, while the new ones only recognise different levels of ‘difficulties’  for the same activity.

But this new version of PCA also makes a clear break from the old one as its intention is not only to explore disabled people’s residual functional ability but also ‘their approach and attitude to returning to work’ which is one of the main feature of the biopsychosocial model, which sees disability or sickness as a  ’state of mind’.

 

Ultimately there is a very clear conflict of interest:  Dr Paul Litchfield will have to assess the effectiveness of the WCA, in particular ‘the way that mental health conditions are considered in the WCA’ and to consider the ‘biopsychosocial factors that influence capability for work’ as part of his review.

As part of the evidence one can speculate that he will certainly also receive, like Dr Harrington, strong calls for the WCA to be scrapped.

 

And as Dr Harrington did, he will certainly respond that the Independent Reviewer has not seen or heard any compelling arguments or evidence that the whole system should be scrapped.

 

How could he not say that about the WCA? After all, he designed it.

 

See the following document which now only seems to exist on the website WhyWaitforEver or as a hardcopy in the Parliament Deposited Papers: Transformation of the Personal Capability Assessment

 

 

 

Nov 112013
 

Are you a Disability Living Allowance (DLA) user that has been forced into a Personal Independence Payment (PIP) assessment? We are looking for stories of those that have been forced into a PIP assessment through a third party. For example, if you have had an ESA assessment, failed and then details have been passed on to the Department of Works and Pensions (DWP) and  triggered a PIP assessment.  Also if you think you have been reported to any agency for a change of circumstances and this has forced a PIP assessment.

This does not apply if you have reported a change of circumstances, but in any other case where you have been told that you must be assessed for PIP due to a change in your circumstances.

Please send any stories to mail@dpac.uk.net  

All details will remain confidential.

Oct 262013
 

A new harrowing but unsurprising report by the Citizens Advice Bureau on sanctions found that:

 –60% of those sanctioned had been receiving JSA, but a further 33% were unfit for work and were receiving ESA.

-40% of respondents said they had not received a letter from the Job Centre informing them of the sanction.

 –Almost a quarter of respondents did not know why they had been sanctioned. 29% of respondents said they had been sanctioned because they had not done enough to look for work. However, many people commented that the sanction had been applied unfairly, when they had in fact looked for work or attended an interview as required, because of a very narrow interpretation of the rules or for reasons that were beyond their control.

-More than half the respondents said they had not received any information about how to appeal against the sanction. Nonetheless, three-fifths (62%) of respondents had appealed. One third of these appeals had been successful and a further 23% of those who had appealed were still waiting to hear the outcome. Administrative delays in receiving formal notification of the sanction meant that a number of people had been refused leave to appeal because they were out of time, adding further to the perception that they had been treated unfairly.

-The majority of respondents had been sanctioned for four weeks or less, but almost one third had been sanctioned for 10 weeks or more. The average duration of the sanction was 8 weeks.

-Two-thirds of respondents had been left with no income after the sanction was imposed. Those with children reported they only had child benefit and child tax credits.

-Just under a quarter (23%) of those sanctioned were living in households with children. More than 10% of respondents were lone parents.

-Respondents coped with the loss of income by borrowing money from friends and family (80%), from the bank or on their credit card (8%) or from a pay day loan company (9%).

-They also cut down on food (71%), heating (49%) and travel (47%). Almost a quarter (24%) had applied for a food parcel. Some respondents had been left to scrounge for food from skips or bins, or had had to resort to begging to feed themselves.

 –The sanction had a severe impact on the mental and physical health of many respondents. Existing health conditions were exacerbated because of poor diet and stress, and a number of respondents said they had attempted suicide or that they felt suicidal.

 –There were also serious effects on the wider family, particularly children, because of the loss of income. There were stresses also on adult relationships: one respondent said ‘the strain has quite literally smashed our family to pieces’.

-Many respondents felt they had been unjustly treated because of the Job Centre’s own administrative errors or because a sanction had been imposed unreasonably given their circumstances.

Comments included:

I had no income, and had to borrow from my parents (who are also on benefits and don’t get much income. It has affected me mentally, and I am severely depressed and having anxiety attacks

Starved and lived off what I had. Scrounged food from bins and only left the house after darkness fell. Had no electric or gas. Struggled and went without nothing for 3 days

I’m worried benefit won’t be sorted in time for rent as this could make us all homeless yet again. Last time we were homeless was a result of fleeing domestic violence and me and my children were put in B&B.

Read the full report at https://skydrive.live.com/view.aspx?resid=CB5ED957FE0B849F!350&app=WordPdf&authkey=!AJTbB-gzwsSCayQ

Oct 202013
 

As many of you know the DWP are appealing against the decision that the WCA is detrimental to those with mental health issues. DPAC wants to be there to support the Mental Health Resistance Network who originally won the case

The vigil will happen outside the front entrance, Royal Courts of Justice (The Strand, London, WC2A 2LL) on Monday 21st October at 12 noon until 2 pm.

The appeal will be heard in courtroom 72 Royal Courts of Justice, the case starts at 10.30 am.  

The WCA is detrimental to everyone, but the obvious added stress, anxiety and lack of Atos professionalism in gaining supporting evidence is particularly severe for those with mental health issues.

This system is breaking and we must keep up the pressure for the inhumane WCA to be scrapped completely, as DPAC has always argued.

Please check www.tfl.gov.uk for more travel information 

Accessible toilets around the royal courts:

–         There is an accessible toilet outside Embankment tube station and inside Charing Cross station.

–         There are toilets opposite the Royal Courts but these are not accessible

–         There are also accessible toilets inside the Royal Courts themselves – see page 10 of this booklet: http://www.justice.gov.uk/downloads/courts/rcj/facilities-and-access/Facilitiesservicesleaflet2011.pdf

 

 

Sep 052013
 

Comment posted to Sue Marsh’s blog earlier from DPAC and Black Triangle

“We’re really unclear on what is happening here- Sue you are going to meet Hoban and claiming to represent ‘vulnerable’ disabled people, as you like to say-is this correct?  We are astonished at your lack of understanding on this whole area re WCA e.g.  no mention of  medical documentation support, number of deaths under this system, sanctions, legal cases that have been brought forward etc. You also consistently take a medical model approach to everything as well as claim expert status in speaking for disabled people. Although we are pleased that Phillip Jones strongly urged you to put out the survey which at least gives disabled people a say, but only those who read your blog…

We  and many others are surprised and saddened that you have not sought any contact with either DPAC or Black Triangle who have been working on this whole area for a number of years, Black Triangle especially are making great inroads into radical alternatives on this horrendous test –How you can still claim that tinkering with the WCA is the right option , we have no idea -you also claim to support both DPAC and Black Triangle  but we can no longer really believe this unfortunately-have you been totally unaware of the calls to scrap this and the many protests against this? This comment will be posted on the DPAC site should it fail to pass moderation, DPAC and Black Triangle”

We were sent links to this and the Guardian article by concerned supporters and need to add that we found the process to post a comment for those that do read and want to comment on this blog would be  inaccessible to many disabled people via the Google account option- didnt understand the other options

Sue Marsh’s blog for those that dont know about it is at

diaryofabenefitscrounger.blogspot.co.uk/2013/09/opinions-please.html

but you’ll need to be quick, apparently this meeting is on the 10th Sept

She has also written a Guardian piece:

http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2013/sep/05/what-were-welfare-reforms-about

 

Aug 222013
 

Updated video of the excellent Condemn Love DPAC’s Anti-Atos song -with massive thanks once more to Kevin Robins for all his work on this. See Kevin perform live at Piss on Pity 31st August-part of the DPAC Reclaiming our Futures week of action.

Also watch this space for more news on how to download Condem Love and contribute to DPAC

 

Con-Dem Love!

They’re screwing up my mind , wasting my time
Keeping up the pressure on this heart of mine
They’ve got a real obsession , egos out of hand
Out to make a make a killing from their “welfare” scam.

This is Con-Dem love, Con-Dem love, Con-Dem love ,
Condemn .. … Con-Dem love.

Laid my cards on the table told their GP straight
Depressions biting hard and that’s hard to take
I showed him the scars on my arms where I’d cut
He looked me in the eye and said you’re “working fit”

This is Con-Dem love, Con-Dem love, Con-Dem love
They’re going to show you what they’re made of.

On a circle of emotion on the treadmill again
They took away my social, can’t pay the rent
What can do, so ill, I can’t fight,
I toss and turn I stay awake all night
Darkened thoughts are haunting me
I’m so afraid of this reality

This is Con-Dem love, Con-Dem love, Con-Dem love
They’re going to show you what they’re made of.

Sitting in a corner — with the lights switched off
This no win situation’s lost
Can’t make no plans for you or for me
There’s no reason to go on you see .

This is Con-Dem love, Con-Dem love, Con-Dem love
They’re going to show you what they’re made of.
They’re going to show you what they’re made of

They’re screwing up my mind, wasting my time
Keeping up the pressure on this heart of mine
They’ve got real obsession, egos out of hand
Out to make a make a killing from their “welfare” scam.

They’re screwing up my mind , taking away my life x 3

©  Robins/Clark

If you would like to know more about DPAC or make a contribution to our work please visit our website www.dpac.uk.net or email: mail@dpac.uk.net or twitter: @Dis_PPL_Protest *Special thanks to all including Rob Livingstone and Simon Gomery for some of the excellent artwork contribution on this video.

 

Jul 242013
 

After news that GPs are now being told not to supply evidence for ESA or want to charge people a small fortune to do the job of a GP for writing reports –more tricks from the DWP to get claimant numbers down and trick people out of their entitlement from Disability Sanctuary which we are reposting. They say:

“DWP are stopping sending out warnings that GP fit notes (sick notes) are running out in most areas, you wont know until your payments stop and you ring them. This has been the case in some areas already for a while now, but we have been told today that its something that they are stopping altogether this month. So keep a check on when your note runs out, and when you send one, ensure you check with them to make sure they have received a new note, or better still get an appointment to have it scanned onto the local Job Centre system so it goes live straight away (well almost.)

If posting you must send the note to the centre dealing with your claim, if in doubt then check with them via phone as if it goes to the wrong one they do not always forward them, (no surprises there!)”

With thanks to Disability Sanctuary  

http://www.disabilitysanctuary.com/forum/index.php?threads/warning-to-those-in-wrag-work-related-activity-group-of-esa.9081/

and thanks to Annie who spotted this

 

May 292013
 

The chair of the UK Statistics Authority, Andrew Dilnot, has responded to a complaint from Sheila Gilmore MP regarding an article published in the Daily Telegraph which implied that 900,000 people who had been in receipt of Incapacity Benefit had dropped their claims rather than undergo a face-to-face assessment for the replacement benefit, Employment and Support Allowance (ESA). The article quoted Rt Hon. Grant Shapps MP, in his capacity as Conservative Party Chairman, as saying “This is a new figure, nearly a million people have come off incapacity benefit…before going for the test. They take themselves off.”

After investigation, Mr Dilnot concluded that these statements were misleading, although he formulates his response more diplomatically, as the 900,000 persons quoted did not appear to be claiming Incapacity Benefits, but represented the cumulative total of 878,300 new ESA claims which were closed before undergoing assessessment in the period from October 2008 to May 2012. Which means these people closed their claims before receiving benefits, and this happened over a period of four years. And according to research undertaken by DWP, an important reason why ESA claims in this sample were withdrawn or closed before they were fully assessed was because the person recovered and either returned to work, or claimed a benefit more appropriate to their situation.

Regarding claimants on Incapacity Benefits, a total of 603,600 recipients were referred for reassessment as part of the migration across to ESA between March 2011 and May 2012. Of these, 19,700 claims were closed prior to a work capability assessment in the period to May 2012.

Again, the right wing press and the Conservative Party have been caught red handed manipulating the figures. This is an exercise that DWP and IDS have also mastered over the past 3 years, by repeatedly using the number of new ESA claims to boost the number of people found fit for work, and distorting the real picture. The real picture for those who can remember the media headlines fed by DWP ” 70% of Britons on ‘incapacity benefits’ found to be fit to work”, is that with a much more stringent test, over 70% of people previously on incapacity benefits are still entitled to them.

Link to PDF copy of  letter HERE

May 282013
 

When I received the initial phone call, from the DWP, I was hopeful that my health would be assessed fairly. I knew nothing of Atos.

I was told that during the process, I would lose no money. That was the first inaccuracy of many to come.

I returned the completed health questionnaire and waited.

Soon after I was summoned to attend a medical assessment at Wolverhampton, to be conducted by a ‘health care professional’ (HCP). This turned out to be the strangest medical I’ve ever gone through. I was asked to squeeze the HCPs fingers; I was asked to squat, and was told that I could use the wall as balance if necessary.

What possible relevance could these exercises hold?

The HCP spent more time looking at the computer monitor than she did in eye to eye contact.

The assessment eventually ended and I left, with a feeling of impending doom.

When I received the decision from the DWP, I was a little shocked, I must be honest. I knew that I could not carry out constant functions over a period of hours. I knew how my symptoms displayed themselves.

I sought help at my local CAB centre and almost at once I felt a sense of relief that I was not on my own.

The CAB advisor spent over twice the time the HCP had done and she came up with a report which clearly explained how my health affected my ability to carry out day to day functions.

There was nothing so profound in the DWP report.

My first appeal, to the DWP, failed as was expected, and I was advised to appeal to the first tier tribunal.

I also contacted my MP, Valerie VAZ, who wrote to the DWP, arguing that the assessment had failed to consider the degenerative nature of my condition, and was therefore flawed.

Soon after I received a phone call from a Decision Maker (DM) at the DWP who, after running through the assessment findings, offered another assessment.

Subsequent I received a new date with Atos.

This was in June 2012.

Between then and May 2013 I attended a handful of appointments, all of which were either cancelled by Atos due to my falling poorly during an assessment or for some administrative reason, such as computer problems.

On one occasion I was conveyed from the assessment centre to the local AE dept., when my BP & Pulse Rate were exceedingly high, and I was experiencing chest pains.

I spent the rest of that day hooked up to a variety of machines in the hospital.

Days later I received another Atos appt., this time for 0900…there was no chance I could make an appt. so early in the morning.

They should have been aware of this. It’s mentioned in my medical notes.

These frequent journeys were taking their toll on my health. My GP was so concerned that he wrote to Atos, explaining and sharing these concerns.

The Atos response was to change my AC venue from Wolverhampton to Birmingham, which is further to travel, and to approve a taxi, for collection and drop off at the attendance centre (AC). I already had a lift too the AC. travel was NOT the issue.

Atos had, for whatever reason, misread or misunderstood the nature of the letter from my GP.

The next appt. was the first taxi journey to the new venue, Birmingham, and my appt. was for 1:15pm.

I rang Atos at 12:30 just to confirm the taxi was booked, and was told it was.

13:15 came and went with no taxi.

The taxi arrived at about 13:25, which meant I was already late.

I arrived at 1355. Almost 45 minutes late.

To add insult to injury, I had pre-arranged to meet my welfare advice rep. at Birmingham. He was not happy either.

Understandable really.

More complaints were submitted to Atos.

This time they responded, eventually, with the offer of a home assessment.

Great news? No!

By the time if my tribunal I had still received no appt. for the Atos doctor to attend my home for the assessment.

My appeal was heard by the First Tier Tribunal and I was successful.

As good as this news is, it must not be seen as a way out for Atos. They caused considerable stress and aggravated my medical conditions for over a year with the catalogue of errors conducted by their staff. Pure and simple.

This would not be tolerated in any walk of life, so why should Atos be permitted to behave in this manner?

Something needs to be done.

I am hopeful that someone reading this will be in a position to offer some advice and support.

I am very sorry for those who are still fighting Atos.

I understand how they feel and I hope that something can be done to help them.

Thank you for reading this.

If any journalists would like to follow up this story please contact mail@dpac.uk.net

May 012013
 

The latest Work Capability Assessment figures released by the DWP yesterday (30th May 2013) attracted little of the usual fanfare which usually sounds as they trumpet the results. Perhaps they’re getting nervous with an increasing number of rebuttals over their use of statistics appearing in the press of late?

Or perhaps on this occasion they simply didn’t have too much which they wanted to shout about?

I think it’s a mixture of both.

Amongst other things the DWP’s latest Quarterly figure release’ for June – August 2012 reveals:

52% of new Employment & Support Allowance were entitled to the allowance after assessment

73% of claimants having undergone conversion from their incapacity benefit claims had qualified for Employment & Support Allowance with 38% ending up in the Work Related Activity group and 35% in the Support Group.

It’s all a far cry from the days when not so longer ago the media fuelled almost certainly by the DWP were saying 75% of claimants were skivers.

Closed claims

After being heavily criticised in a number of media articles over drawing unsubstantiated conclusions as to why 878,300 (A figure which in itself was wrong) claimants had closed their claims before being assessed, the DWP appears to mitigate its incorrect assumptions by drawing a reference to a further report ‘Unsuccessful Employment and Support Allowance claims – qualitative research. I’d encourage those following the reassessment programme to give it a close read, not least because it was prepared some time ago back in 2011 and relates to findings drawn from a survey across only 952 individuals and a further sample of just 60 claimants. It’s a meagre number of claimants upon which to draw any conclusions when looking at the many thousands who have, for a variety of unknown reasons, closed their claims prior to being assessed.

The report concludes

“An important reason why ESA claims in this sample were withdrawn or closed before they were fully assessed
was because the person recovered and either returned to work, or claimed a benefit more appropriate to their
situation”

Before accepting the conclusion, I’d look at the report and the sample size of those surveyed.

What’s missing?


A complete reference to any of the results of the claimants who have been assessed following their initial assessment is missing from the report although the information is to be found in the tables.  These are often omitted but should be included.  If you look at the accompanying tables which the report if linked to you you will see that there is a total case load of no less than 958,300 from which 340,300 claimants were placed in the Work Related Activity Group since October 2008, far fewer are found fit for work in the group with 215,100 from October 2008 to August 2012.  Both of these groups will have a propensity to appeal, some claimants may for instance at the initial assessment have been placed in the Support Group but after being assessed again may be put in the Work Related Activity Group – creating a number who will appeal.

Of these assessed in the ‘reassessed following initial assessment’ group, 78% were entitled to ESA in June, 79% in July and 79% in August 2012 – a sizeable increase when compared with the 73% cumulative total relating to the entire period from October 2008 to August 2012.  I fail to understand why so little attention is drawn to a cohort of close to a million claimants who have been ‘repeat’ assessed in this group since the programme started .

The quarterly comparison 

When comparing the overall figures for all three cohorts (new claims, claims reassessed following initial claim and ib/ESA conversions) between May 2012 and August 2012

To date total


Increase/decrease on figure to May 2012 

Per month average over quarter

Numbers assessed WCA

3,053,200

367,300

122,433

Work Related
Activity Group placements

1,028,800

134,200

44,733

Support Group
placements

715,500

139,200

46,400

Fit for work findings

1,308,700

93,500

31,167

Closed claims before assessment

1,074,200

91,800

30,600

Cases still in progress

193,200

26,000

8,667

Overall case load

4,320,600

485,100

161,700

Case load

What these figures, taken across ALL claimants involved in the assessment programme, show is that the DWP ‘case load’ increased by 485,100 over the period from June 2012 to August 2012.  The case load isn’t the number of claimants, it is the number of claim interventions made by DWP officials as part of their case load, it can be divided in to cases where an outcome has been recorded in which case the claimant will be placed in the Support Group, Work Related Activity Group or found ‘Fit for Work’.

Of the cases which have not been assessed, the claimant’s case can ‘still be in progress’ (this is not the same as the assessment phase data) or could be closed without assessment.

With usual thanks to the brilliant Nick of My Legal twitter @Mylegalforum

For a detailed breakdown up to August 2012 see Nick’s detailed work at

http://ilegal.org.uk/thread/7140/page/5/dwps-esa-reassessment-programme-chaos



Mar 262013
 

Benefit appeals are on the rise….

Sickness benefit appeals up by 70%….

‘Chaos is looming’

Latest statistics from Her Majesty’s Courts & Tribunals Service (HMCTS) reveal that the DWP’s increasingly controversial Employment & Support Allowance is leading to a massive surge in the numbers of appeals lodged with independent Tribunals.  The Ministry of Justice figures can be read here and confirm that for the period July to September 2012 the number of appeals was up by 69% on the same quarter on the previous year.  Benefit appeals are now accounting for 58% of all cases received for appeals across all Tribunals – an alarming increase.

The Ministry of Justice figures exhibits all the signs of impending chaos with a staggering 813,500 tribunal cases in total; an increase on the previous year when the number had already exceeded three quarters of a million appeal cases.

The number of Employment & Support Allowance appeal receipts is of particular concern, in the year 2011/2012 a total of 181,000 appeals were received by the Tribunals. In the first six months of 2012/2013 the figure has shot up to 133,700 indicating that these appeals alone are well on track to exceed a quarter of a million by year end.

42% of DWP decisions in ESA cases are wrong!

By comparison with the second quarter of 2009/2010 when Employment & Support Allowance (ESA) appeal receipts stood at 29,000 – the same quarter in 2012/2013 has zoomed up to 73,700 – an increase of 44,700.  Of the 53,200 ESA cases cleared at an appeal hearing 22,500 (42%) were found in favour of the claimant.  These figures highlight ongoing problems with the standards of decision – making following Atos ‘Work Capability Assessments’ – the DWP is still making an unacceptably large number of incorrect decisions.  

Total number of benefit appeals now on track to exceed 600,000 by the end of the year!

The total number of benefit appeal cases for 2012/2013 has already reached a wholly unacceptable figure of 308,200 meaning that if the trend continues, and there is every sign it will, the total number of benefit appeals alone will have reached well over 600,000 by the end of the year.

Cases outstanding (all) – 813,800  – chaos!

The total number of benefit appeal case ‘outstanding’ in 2008/2009 was 53,200 in the second quarter and has now more than trebled to 158,700 in the second quarter of 2012/2013.  A comparison with the figures for 2007/2008 when the figure stood at 347,100 shows the numbers have increased to a colossal 813,800 in 2012/2013. the number of employment tribunal cases outstanding as of the second quarter stands at 570,200, benefit cases stand at 158,700 in 2012/2013 and immigration & asylum cases at 41,000 – this is absolute chaos!

Exceeding the warnings given by the judiciary….

In a report issued in February 2012 provided by the Tribunal president  the judiciary gave the following breakdown of benefit appeal cases in the first – tier Tribunal and made the following predictions for increases in the appeal load:

Annual Intake of SSCS Appeals

2008-09 – 242,800

2009-10 – 339,200

2010-11 – 418,500

(forecast)

2011-12 – 421,609

2012-13 – 483,400

2013-14 – 576,700

2014-15 – 644,000

These latest figures show we are well on track to break past the 483,400 forecast for 2012/2013 and exceed the figure given for 2013/2014.  

The full effect of welfare reform changes has yet to hit the fan, the bedroom tax, more ESA cases, JSA sanctions (standing at 700,000), Disability Living Allowance giving way to Personal Independence Payments are all in the line up and will undoubtedly lead to the Tribunal president’s forecast being considerably exceeded.

Government and the DWP has to stop pretending that there is not a perfect storm brewing here, mandatory revision before appeal is only keeping the dispute out of the public’s attention in a pretence that the people who create the problems will somehow fix it.  The DWP is assessing twice as many ESA claimants as it needs to just to claim double its dubious ‘results’.  In reality the vast majority of those who flow off ESA and incapacity benefits are flowing straight back on to them shortly afterwards – government has no other credible explanation as to why after assessing over 2.8 million claimants between 2008 and 2012 the claimant count has barely reduced by little more than 70,000 – it’s derisory and half that achieved by way of reductions under the older incapacity benefits regime.  

The fact is that we were seeing much better reductions under the older incapacity benefits.  Government is using severely disabled claimants to manipulate its figures by its recycling of what can only be the same claimants.  It stands to reason that if vast numbers were really being ‘found fit for work’ the Jobseeker’s Allowance claimant count would have rocketed up to an embarrassingly high level which this government simply cannot afford to show.  

After coming off ESA claimants are being re-directed back on to it by Jobcentres who can clearly see these claimants are no where near ready for the labour markets.

Government’s mismanagement of the ESA reassessment programme:

There’s any number of statistical charts on here which you can muse over all day long.  

In doing so just apply the logic:

(1) We start with 2.6 million on the sick in 2008

(2) Various claims are made by the DWP/media of 75%, 50% and more recently 33% being found ‘fit for work’ 

(3) In 2012 we have 488,000 claimants waiting to be assessed

(4) In 2012 we have a Jobseeker’s Allowance queue that’s hardly grown

(5) By 2012 – 2.7 million have been subjected to Work Capability Assessments

(6) By 2012 – 3.8 million is the total number ‘case loaded’ through ESA

(7) By 2012 we are on track to break all previous appeal records with more hidden from view at the DWP

(8) In 2012 there are twice as many claiming on the sick as there were in 2006 

(9) By 2012 the claimant count for those on the sick has trickled down by a mere 70K, still leaving us with…. 

                              Around 2.6 million ‘on the sick’? 

(10) This wretched scheme is rapidly emerging as an absolute farce which is being used as a vehicle to keep the long term sick numbers down; thus keeping them from the long term ‘economically inactive’ count used by the ONS to work out the numbers said to unemployed. 

They have engineered themselves a clever way of marshalling the unemployment figure to one which is more ‘commensurate’ with the chancellor’s increasingly doubtful claims that we are ‘on the way’ to economic growth.  

With everlasting thanks to the brilliant Nick-

Twitter: @Mylegalforum

See more from Nick at http://ilegal.org.uk/ and below
See ESA Customer’s journey to nowhere

See the ‘journey in to work’

See a discrepancy uncovered

See unemployment is ‘falling’

See turning back the long term incapacity clock to zero

Mar 102013
 
  Time for your ESA assessment?

Not for 78,000 claimants
– waiting over a year!

Only the other week we had the DWP recklessly fuelling the tabloids over its absurd claims that 15,000 Disability claimants (most of whom were pensioners and children) were seemingly breaking a leg to get their claims in before the dreaded new Personal Capability Assessment comes in to being this April for new claiments; the DWP neglected to make sure the media told everyone how the figures they were quoting were months out of date!

When challenged over the figures the DWP advocate that you should ‘dig deep’ and look beyond their damaging headlines.  When you do so it’s interesting to see what you turf up – the utterly chaotic Employment & Support Allowance ‘reassessment of the sick’ programme goes from bad to worse as it is revealed (upon digging deeper in to their figures) that thousands upon thousands of claimants remain ‘stuck’ in what the DWP term the ‘assessment phase’ of an allowance which seems to be getting its claimants no support at all in to employment.  

Read more about the DWP’s ‘customer journey to nowhere’  The DWP’s most up to date figures for May 2012 (the figures for August 2012 are apparently ‘delayed’) show that an astonishing 455,860 claimants are either waiting for their Work Capability Assessment to be completed or waiting for an appeal against a decision they believe to be wrong.  What is totally unacceptable is how a programme which is meant to be helping people back to work is seeing no less than 77,820 claimants waiting a year or more for their assessment or appeal to lead to any kind of proper decision! – in nearly 30,000 cases it’s over 2 years!

This is nothing short of a National outrage which the mainstream media have a duty to publish.

Here’s the official DWP figures…. 

Assessment Phase  

Total 

Up to 3 months 

3 to 6 months 

6 months to 1 year  

1 to 2 years

2 to 5 years

May 2012

455,860

157,940

122,180

97,910

49,040

28,780

February 2012

424,170

166,230

107,930

81,460

44,740

23,810

Change (+/-) +31,390 

– 8,290

+ 14,250

+ 16,450

+ 4,300

+ 4,970

 
 

DWPs ESA Process in Chaos?

You can check them against the official DWP tables here….

DWP figures for May 2012

DWP figures for February 2012

With thanks to the brilliant Nick at Mylegal for more from Nick see http://ilegal.org.uk/

Twitter: @Mylegalforum

Feb 252013
 

DPAC has been passed a letter from Ed on WCA/Atos which we’ve been asked to share. While reading please remember that it was New Labour that first contracted Atos and Ed has done some visits to them too- no, not  joining DPAC, or disabled  people in  protests outside Atos offices in direct actions against the 72 deaths a week of those being put through this inhuman regime. But as a kind of badly advised PR exercise. He seems to have stopped that now.

The letter says:

              ‘We appreciate and share the concerns that have been expressed by many charities, disability groups and health care professionals regarding the WCA …’

Would these be the same multi-million big disability charities that sat at the table with Atos in the working groups on the construction of the WCA we wonder? And is Ed really talking about HCPs here? Ed’s  letter continues:

             ‘….and we agree that the government need to move quickly to remedy the problems. A large number of charities and disabled people have reported serious shortcomings with the assessment process and there is clear evidence that the WCA is not working….’

A slight understatement? Then there’s a bit of a disclaimer about previous New Labour government and what they intended for the WCA which was for it to work with applicants ‘fairly, quickly and compassionately’ with ‘appropriate support’.  Ah so no plans to scrap this inhumane disaster and start looking at it all again then? Back to Ed:

           ‘…It is clear, however, that the current Government have been too slow to adapt the Work Capability Assessment in the light of experience, and in view of the much bigger job it is now being asked to do…’

Actually they have been adapting it, mobilising distance for example has been reduced several times to make even more difficult to score those elusive Atos points removing more people from any support. Then we have a paragraph on Professor Malcolm Harrison’s independent reports and lack of progress. Let’s also remember Prof Harrison was sacked/resigned/came to the end of his appointment, apparently after appearing on Panorama citing the disaster of the WCA and Atos. But moving on:

       ‘…We would like to see the Government move much faster-for example in acting on the recommendations made by charities on dealing with mental health problems and fluctuating conditions-and to reduce the current bureaucracy of the current system. Atos healthcare also have questions to answer about the effectiveness of the current assessment process…’

        ‘..We are also very concerned that the scale of the cuts to disability benefits and social care introduced by this Government-which will total 8.6 billion over the parliament-will have a very serious impact on many disabled people..’

Isn’t it over 9 billion?

     ‘…Mr Miliband and the Shadow Frontbench will continue to press the Government on the need to put right the serious problems with the WCA…’

Cheers Ed and let us add that the work of Labour’s John McDonnell, Michael Meacher and others in bringing this Atos horror and the links between Atos and Unum in running ‘Government’ from the inside are much appreciated.

You can download the full letter from link below

 http://www.dpac.uk.net/wp-content/uploads/2013/02/Letter-From-Ed-Milliband-Mp2.jpg

Jan 162013
 

 

DPAC Press Release 

WCA Descriptors fail, DWP fails, Atos fails.  

Does any part of Work Capability Assessment actually work?

A recent case has come to light which proves beyond doubt, as many people suspected, that:

 -the Work Capability Assessment is a complete shambles,

 -the WCA Descriptors are completely inadequate at assessing fitness for work,

-the Descriptors fail miserably to capture a person’s level of disability,

-the Descriptors fail to predict the long term prognosis of a disabled or a sick person,

-the DWP and Atos over-reliance on these descriptors explain the number of successful appeals against Fit to Work decisions.

 It is unimaginable that the DWP and Atos are unaware of these failings, however they continue to give more weight to WCA Descriptors than to Professional Medical Evidence.

 In the following case, and many other cases, judgement based on Medical Evidence is the only solid basis for robust, fair and reliable assessment of a level of disability.

 It is also the only solid basis for predictability of ability to return  to work. This is  clearly illustrated by Charles’ story (shown below).

 Finally the asinine crudeness and sheer stupidity of what the DWP have the impudence to call a ‘medical report’ is shown by a copy of Charles’ report (attached).
If there is a case to illustrate the inadequacy and the irrelevance of  using Descriptors for WCA assessment, it is this.

 If there is a case to show the casual and irresponsible attitude of the Department of Work and Pensions towards Sick and Disabled benefit Claimants, it is this.

 If there is a case to show that Atos computer based assessments are not fit for purpose, it is this.

 How much longer will this rotten system be allowed to continue to fail Sick and Disabled people within our Society?

 

Here is Charles’ Story:

 Charles stopped work after contracting a serious viral infection in July 2009 and was also diagnosed as having ME in November 2009. He claimed ESA in June 2010.

 In 2011 he had an Atos WCA assessment, which found him fit to work but after appeal he was put in the Work Related Activity Group (WRAG).

 He was placed again in the WRAG after a second assessment in January 2012, although he felt he should be in the Support Group, but was too ill to appeal the decision. 

A few months later, in April 2012, he was diagnosed as having Leukaemia and a degenerative dysfunction of the spinal cord.

 Following this, on several occasions he contacted the Benefits Office to request to be put in the Support Group, but received no direct response.

 In April 2012, his ESA was stopped because his savings exceeded the threshold but in August 2012 he notified the Benefits Office that that was no longer the case and sent a letter in September to explain his financial situation.

 He did not receive any response, and he was still not receiving any benefits, although in September 2012, he was sent another ESA50 form to complete.

 In September 2012, he requested a copy of the report from his last ATOS assessment from January 2012.

 Although he did not receive this report despite a further request, a few days later he received a Medical Report dated mid 2012, which until then he did not know existed, having never met the ‘author’ of the Report, a Registered Nurse and Approved  Disability Analyst.

 Reading the report, Charles was astonished to discover that although the nurse who reviewed the medical evidence stated explicitly that he was unlikely to return to work the medical evidence did not score any points for him against the descriptors.

 As Charles has been too unwell to return to work, it seems that the nurse’s judgement, based on the medical evidence presented to her, was right, and that the descriptors were unable to capture Charles’ level of disability and his long term prognosis.

 This fact was recognised by the nurse who wrote that if Charles was called to Board he would score above the threshold but that there was insufficient evidence that he met the LCWRA descriptors.

 But because the DWP decided that more weight should be given to the descriptors than the medical evidence, the nurse’s recommendations were disregarded, although ultimately they were correct.

 Charles pursued the matter, with assistance, and the decision not to place him in the Support Group was reversed in November 2012, backdated to February 2012

 

 the link takes you to  a copy of the Medical Report for Charles’ case (reproduced with his permission), clearly showing that the Descriptors give Charles a clean bill of health, while in reality he is completely unfit for work.

 For further information, please contact Annie Howard anniehoward83@gmail.com

 ESA report form 

 

Jan 102013
 

Next week sees 2 disabled people take on the government in a judicial review (1) on the grounds that the process is not accessible for people with mental health conditions.
 
On 15th, 16th & 18th of January lawyers for 2 members of the mental health resistance network
(2) will be in the administrative high court, the division of the royal courts of justice (3) which handles judicial reviews , in London .
The DWP introduced WCAs to assess disabled people for eligibility for disability benefits. Despite criticism from MPs,(4) the British Medical Association (5) and campaigners, this policy rumbles on.
 
Dozens of disabled people are dying every week (6) following assessment. nearly 40% (7) of those who appeal the decision to remove benefits, have the decision overturned, meaning thousands of people are wrongly being put through a traumatic and harrowing experience needlessly. The governments own appointed assessor of the policy has ruled it ‘unfit for purpose’ .
 
This isn’t good enough. This would not be acceptable in any other government contract, yet goes without comment or sanction by this government. No-one is called to account, no-one takes responsibility.
 
DPAC and MHRN call on ALL activists and supporters to join them in a vigil outside the court to show your support for those taking the case, and your disgust at this shameful and harmful policy.
 
Action is :
 
Weds 16th January
@ 12pm
Royal courts of justice, the strand, London wc2a 2ll.
 
Send a strong, clear signal to those who make the decisions.
 
We are NOT going away, we are not backing down. There is no hiding place.
 
We will fight you in parliament, on the streets and in the courts!
 
ENDS
 
p.s send messages of support to Mentalhealthresistance@lists.aktivix.org or mail@dpac.uk.net
 
1.http://atosvictimsgroup.co.uk/2012/07/26/judicial-review-of-work-capability-assessment-granted/
2. mentalhealthresistance.org
3. http://www.justice.gov.uk/courts/rcj-rolls-building/administrative-court
4. http://www.disabilitywales.org/1168/3817
5. http://johnnyvoid.wordpress.com/2012/05/23/gps-vote-to-end-the-atos-farce/
6. http://blogs.mirror.co.uk/investigations/2012/04/32-die-a-week-after-failing-in.html
7. http://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/press_20120817

Dec 142012
 

Public Interest Lawyers    Press Release – 14 December 2012

A disabled man who was wrongly found fit for work under the government’s disability benefit assessment scheme is launching legal action to try and stop more disabled people being wrongly kicked off the social safety net.

 Patrick Lynch, a former social care worker who was forced to quit work because of his impairments, is seeking a judicial review of the controversial disability benefit assessment scheme run by Atos.

 The Work Capability Assessment (WCA), which determines eligibility for Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) for people whose health or impairment stops them from working, is at present hugely unreliable, with many people wrongly found fit for work despite severely debilitating and in some cases life-threatening conditions.

 The legal action is seeking a ruling that would require Atos, the private firm that runs the WCA process on behalf of the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP), to grant all ESA claimants the unequivocal right to have their assessment recorded and to receive their WCA report before a decision on their eligibility is made – both key safeguards against people’s health conditions being misreported or ignored altogether.

 DWP research and a survey conducted by Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC) both show widespread demand from claimants to have their WCA assessments recorded, to ensure their medical conditions are not misrepresented in order to wrongly strip them of benefits. But while the DWP granted the right to request a recording earlier this year, there are considerable bureaucratic obstacles to both securing a recording and then using it in an appeal, with Atos recently introducing a restrictive ‘consent form’ for those wanting a recording of their assessment.

 The case is being brought by Public Interest Lawyers, and draws on research by Disabled People Against Cuts and the TUC-backed campaign group False Economy.

 Mr Lynch wants the DWP and Atos to adopt the following safeguards:

 a)    Universal recording to ensure that all claimants undergoing a WCA or an assessment under the new PIP benefit system will have the right to have their assessment recorded;

b)    Claimants will get a copy of the WCA report before a decision is made on their eligibility for ESA, and will have the chance to raise any concerns with the DWP decision maker;

c)    The DWP/Atos will be responsible for obtaining medical evidence from the medical professional named by the claimant;

d)    The DWP ensures that all assessment centres are fully accessible.

 Taken together, these measures would address some of the inaccuracy inherent in the disability benefits system. Disability campaigners have raised repeated concerns over how the WCA process causes huge stress for ESA recipients, with many disabled people’s lives ruined after wrongly having their benefits removed.

 Mr Lynch, now a campaigner with DPAC, was found fit for work following a flawed WCA report in 2010, before the DWP reconsidered and reversed the decision. His most recent WCA this year upheld his benefit entitlement, but even then Atos’ report of his assessment contained inaccuracies.

 In bringing the action Mr Lynch notes

 “Disabled people and the poor in this Country have always struggled to get what they are duly entitled to. The fight must go on to address the injustice caused by this out of touch Government.

 A DPAC spokesperson said:

 “The evidence is clear – more than 98 percent of those responding to our survey said they wanted their assessment recorded and that they believed it would provide a better account. However, many reported a whole host of barriers in getting a recording in place.”

 A spokesperson for False Economy, whose investigations into WCA recordings informed some of the background to the recording debate, said that the rights of ESA claimants are crucial.

 “Too many people feel vulnerable in this process. People feel that their final assessment reports inaccurately reflect information exchanged during work capability assessments. We’ve found it hard to pin down the DWP on recording policy. Universal recording, and giving people the opportunity to see their WCA reports before final eligibility decisions are made, will go some way towards restoring fairness and accuracy while the WCA process continues.

 Tessa Gregory of Public Interest Lawyers, Mr Lynch’s solicitor states:

 The Work Capability Assessment process needs urgent reform. There is an unacceptable risk of unfairness in the current system and we hope these safeguards will be instituted to help mitigate that risk.”

 TUC General Secretary Brendan Barber said:

 “Assessments of disability must be fair and proportionate, treat people with respect and be part of a consistent system. There is overwhelming evidence that they have fallen far short of these basic standards. It is right that they should be challenged in court.

 END

 Contact at Public Interest Lawyers:

 Tessa Gregory, tessa.gregory@publicinterestlawyers.co.uk

0121 515 5069

 see: http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/2012/dec/13/disabled-man-government-court-benefit-test

see:http://www.dpac.uk.net/2012/11/dpac-survey-responses-on-wca-what-harrington-didnt-ask/

 

Dec 012012
 

Re: scrapping of equality impact assessments and fair consultation arrangements

 

Dear …..

 I am writing to express in the strongest terms our objection to the plans announced by the Prime Minister to scrap equality impact assessments and fair consultation arrangements.

 The Coalition Government has unleashed the most disproportionate and discriminatory attack on disability rights and  the resources on which disabled people depend in a civilised community.

 Equality impact assessments when carried out thoroughly provide an indication of the impact of proposals on disabled people and reveal factors that may significantly reduce the ability of disabled people to contribute to the community and economy.

 Government’s proposal to scrap this mechanism will not lead to growth, but to a widening of the fast growing gaps into which many disabled people are falling to the detriment of the economy and cohesion in our communities.

 Your Government has refused to carry out a cumulative impact assessment of all the measures that are being introduced which affect disabled people. Our own research shows that disabled people will have their living standards reduced by 20% over the four years of the austerity programme.  Contrast this with the richest 20% of the population who are only seeing a 7.5% reduction – clearly we are not all in this together.  

 Mr Cameron is trying to cover it up by scrapping the instruments that prove it.

 “The cuts to disability benefits are estimated to total £9 billion over the four years, about a third of all cash benefits paid to disabled people in 2009-10. These cuts mean that the poorest fifth of the 2.7 million households receiving disability benefits will lose 16% of their cash income plus benefits-in-kind over the four years. This percentage loss is four times as big as the loss for the richest fifth of all households but even this 16% is probably an understatement because of the difficulty of analysing how hard disabled people will be hit by the cuts in Departmental Expenditure (Local Government, Health, Education, etc)” 

 The Austerity War and the impoverishment of disabled people, Chris Edwards, September, 2012

 What concerns me most is that you have no democratic mandate to carry out these attacks as neither the Conservative or Lib Dem manifestos put these plans before the public.

 Fair consultation on Government plans and Equality Impact Assessments are the only means by which Government can claim the democratic process has been satisfied.

 I urge you to take all possible action to reverse the decision to scrap Equality Impact Assessments, and to restore fair consultation with disabled people throughout Government.

 

Yours sincerely

 

 ==============

For the record we will itemise the regressive measures that your Government is carrying out that negatively affect the life chances  and rights of disabled people:

 

  • Disability Living Allowance (DLA) and replace it with the Personal Independence Payment (PIP), which aims to reduce the budget by 20%, removing support from half a million people.  Increase the take up ofDLA so that disabled people and people with long term conditions can live independently in the community. DLA – like child benefit – is recognition that some groups of people face additional costs and that society wishes to collectively make provision to cover some of these costs.  The principle of making ‘reasonable adjustments’ – whether it takes the form of money or support – should be applied to both disability and out of work benefits, and to employment support.

 

  • Employment and Support Allowance and ‘medical model’ Work Capability Assessments, which reduces eligibility, increases means-testing and imposes conditions and sanctions.  This approach sees us and our behaviour as the problem. Instead it needs to recognise the additional needs that come with impairment and/or ill health and the barriers and discrimination in the labour market.  This would mean a welfare system which compensated for loss of income and for additional costs associated with impairment and ill health, while at the same time tackling disabling barriers to employment. Crucially, this system must recognise the impact of ill health and not confuse it with functional impairment. 

A recent article in The Church Times recently highlighted the issues:

 “…those who fail the Government’s new Work Capability Assessment. This includes 73 people each week who usually die as a result of the illnesses and conditions for which they had previously received welfare payments, after they were certified “fit for work”. Some commit suicide. In one case, Freedom of Information requests revealed, someone died while filling out an assessment form. Relatives of the deceased have suggested that the stress of the assessment itself also contributes to death.

The arbitrary nature of such categorisation is also highlighted by the 400,000 disabled and sick people who have been initially declared fit, and who then have to undergo a lengthy, expensive, and exhausting appeals process to establish that they were deserving after all.

The categorisation of “deserving” and “undeserving” hardly makes financial sense, either. The total expected savings from putting 2.5 million disabled people through work tests will be just £2.2 million over three years – and that is if the targets are met.”

 ATOS, A4E etc: The privatised delivery of Government assessment, employment and training programmes is failing disabled people and the public purse.  It may be good forPLC’s, directors and shareholders but it is not delivering good outcomes for disabled people.  The Guardian, Panorama and Dispatches have shown that the real agenda is targets to get people off benefits.. 

 ATOS – 40% of assessments are overturned on appeal and this rises to 70% if representation is present in the appeals process.

 The Work Programme – Only 3.4% of people referred to the job programme got and stayed in work 3-6 months (these figures drop to 2.5% if calculated from June – May.

 This is an expensive waste of money. 

  • Closing Remploy

It is gross negligence to close Remploy factories and throw disabled people onto the open job market in the current economic climate.  This Government has done nothing to ‘level the playing field’ by addressing the disablism in the training and job market.  In the last round of redundancies at Remploy only 3% of the disabled employees were able to get jobs and that was prior to the current triple dip recession.  We absolutely agree with the planned closure of sheltered workshops but this approach is crass.

  • Changes to housing and  housing benefits: Government figures show about 450,000 disabled people will see their incomes cut under one of the changes planned to housing benefit.  Our fear is that thousands will be forced from their homes.   From April 2013, housing benefit for working age people in social rented homes will be linked to the size of property councils believe they need. 

An assessment from the Department for Work and Pensions shows   the change will leave 450,000 disabled people an average of £13 a week worse off.

  • Independent Living Fund: There are 20,000 existing users of ILF in theUK. The fund was closed to new applicants in 2010 preventing many disabled people from accessing this support to remain independent.  The Coalition Government wants to force disabled people to rely on local authorities from 2015 by closing the ILF permanently. Local authorities already face severe cuts and cannot provide adequate support to existing customers. Some local authorities are already saying that residential care homes will be their only option.  Without guaranteed levels of funding and ringfencing this is fantasy talk as the funds will disappear through the cuts.  This is a major threat to independent living for disabled people.

 

  • Cuts to Local Authorities: disabled people are disproportionately affected to cuts to local authorities as we use public services more than non-disabled members of the community.  Any cuts therefore are discriminatory and threaten our right to live independently in the community.  Services can be delivered more effectively and in a personalised way and we support reform that gets better outcomes more cost effectively.  However the level of cuts is negatively impacting on disabled people’s life chances and will not achieve reform.

 

  • Universality in health and social care: Social care policies have led to the privatisation of care services, and may well support the same trend in the context of health care.  This has led to the re-institutionalisation of people with learning disabilities and other groups.  This private sector led retrograde step has been colluded with by local authority commissioners who have shunned the community based alternatives leading to disasters such as Winterbourne View.  Reverse this move and return to the founding principles of the health service and welfare state – services should be based on need and free at the point of delivery funded through a progressive taxation system, in benefits, services and equipment which aim to create a level playing field for people affected by illness and/or impairment. Work with DPOs to truly personalise services in ways which increase choice and control for disabled people and achieve the best outcomes and value for money, whilst protecting rights and reversing the harmful effects of privatisation. Create real choice and control for us over the resources needed to go about our daily lives.  

 

  • Social Care: Can people who need help to go about their daily lives, help which involves intimate care, help that enables someone to access the most basic human rights like communication, rely on the profit motive to deliver this assistance in a way which protects and promotes their human rights?  Giving and receiving intimate care is not the same as having your car serviced.  To rely on another person in such a way is inevitably associated with a vulnerability to abuse, unless the person providing the care holds and promotes values which in many instances are incompatible with the profit motive.  Maximising profit requires holding down wages, increasing productivity by reducing the amount of time spent on each task to a minimum, only investing in training to provide basic competence, and minimising regulation.  We don’t believe that the delivery of high quality social care services, which protect and promote people’s human rights, is compatible with the profit motive.  This is not to say that services run by public authorities are necessarily any better at delivering our human rights. Over the last twenty years, public services have increasingly had to measure themselves against private sector notions of efficiency – and efficiency is defined in terms of cost, not quality.  Personalisation in social care – the current policy – is only tinkering with the adult social care system, which is underfunded, and too reliant on organisations motivated by profit and answerable to their shareholders. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Nov 182012
 

ESA appeals are up by 40% and 425,000 are awaiting ‘assessments’. This coupled with the news that 76% of people going through this horrendus ‘assessment’ are entitled to ESA after appeal figures are computed shows yet again , that the system must be scrapped-its a black hole for tax payers money and something much, much worse for disabled people going through this system. see also the DPAC, Black Triangle, SWU report on survey responses on the WCA.

The appeals figures were provided by Nick at Mylegal who has been doing some fantastic work on the DWP figures to develop the numbers that they dont feed to the newspapers. Once again DPAC is grateful to Nick for letting us repost.

 

           Are we about to burst the DWP’s

 
hidden bubble?
 
[image]
424,170 claimants in the
‘assessment phase’
Don’t take my word for it, check it with the DWP using the following link:
DWP statistics February 2012The DWP & Ministry of Justice throughout the pre-enactment stages of both the welfare reform and legal aid, sentencing & punishment of offender’s bill (LASBO) consistently reported that the number of appeals for Employment & Support Allowance was falling; I have to confess I never believed a word of it. Yes it’s true that the numbers of appeals received at the HMCTS Tribunals had fallen from a record high of 197,400 in 2010/2011 to 181,100 but these are only receipts of those which the DWP has dispatched to the Tribunal.They’re not so keen to tell you that now the dust has settled on the welfare and legal aid reforms, the floodgates are once again open with appeals on the rise; this time by a massive 40% according to HMCTS for the first quarters of 2012/2013.

You can refer to an article on Mylegal where I reported on the appeal statistical ‘spin’ by the MOJ at the time. From which you may note no less than 194,200 cases were ‘outstanding’ in 2010/2011 which had reduced to 145,200 by 2011/2012. HMCTS has increased the number of judicial sitting days from 47,900 in 2008/2009 to 88,700 in 2011/2012 to cope with the escalating number of appeals. The accent at HMCTS was on disposing of the cases which had built up rather than dealing with even more new ‘receipts’.

Employment & Support Allowance is the first benefit of its kind to have an ‘assessment phase’. The numbers ‘awaiting assessment’ have been consistently under – quoted by ministers who continually refer to limited data sets relating to far from the overall number of claimants who have been subject to DWP and Atos assessment. On Mylegal a full report into incapacity benefits & Employment & Support Allowance has been prepared which deals with all the complexities of the DWP assessing 1.5 million claimants a year with 740,000 Atos assessments per year. You can refer to the evidence given to Parliament by Permanent Secretary Robert Devereux which backs up these figures.

With thousands upon thousands of assessments being conducted by both the DWP and Atos it’s plainly obvious that there is a danger of the numbers of claimants awaiting assessments getting out of control and that is what I contend has clearly happened here. What’s more we could be looking at more than the 424,170 assessment phase claimants recorded in February 2012. A Parliamentary note which you can access using the link here shows the figure was 401,100 in November 2011 so we know it’s not falling.

The figure could be over half a million; here’s how..

In the course of preparing a batch of appeal cases which I’m working on I picked out six of the six Employment & Support Allowance cases which are coming up for hearing in the near future. Take a look at the time they’ve taken to come up for appeal but also note the important differences between the IB to ESA conversion cases and the new ESA claim cases, note in particular how the commencement of the ‘assessment phase’ is very different in the 4 conversion cases than it is to the 2 new claim cases:

6 real life appeal cases

4 IB to ESA Conversion cases

(1) Mrs O

Sent conversion notice -19/10/2011
Examined by ATOS – 06/03/2012
DWP make conversion decision – 15/03/2012 – placed in to ‘Assessment phase’
HMCTS Tribunal hearing listed for hearing – 21/11/2012
Total waiting time – 13 months +

(2) Mr J

Sent conversion notice – 22/11/2011
Examined by ATOS – 28/03/2012
DWP make conversion decision – 17/04/2012 – placed in to ‘Assessment phase’
HMCTS Tribunal hearing listed for hearing – 26/11/2012
Total waiting time – 12 months +

(3) Mr H

Sent conversion notice – 22/11/2011
Examined by ATOS – 23/03/2012
DWP make conversion decision – 23/04/2012 – placed in to ‘Assessment phase’
HMCTS Tribunal hearing listed for hearing – 28/11/2012
Total waiting time – 12 months +

(4) Mr D

Sent conversion notice – 10/11/2011
Examined by ATOS – 23/02/2012
DWP make conversion decision – 08/03/2012 – placed in to ‘Assessment phase’
HMCTS Tribunal hearing listed for hearing – 26/11/2012
Total waiting time – 12 months +

2 ESA New claim cases

(5) Mrs N

First applied – 11/01/2012 – placed in to ‘Assessment phase’
Examined by ATOS – 11/05/2012
DWP make decision – 26/05/2012
HMCTS Tribunal hearing listed for hearing – 07/12/2012
Total waiting time – 11 months +

(6) Mr W

First applied – 01/09/2011 – placed in to ‘Assessment phase’
Examined by ATOS – 27/04/2012
DWP make decision – 10/05/2012
HMCTS Tribunal hearing listed for hearing – 07/12/2011
Total waiting time – 15 months +

From the above six cases you will see how five cases have been waiting for a whole year before coming up for an appeal hearing – one case taking longer than 15 months! In the conversion cases you will see how in say Mr O’s case he first entered the conversion phase on the 19/10/2011, was then examined by Atos on the 06/03/2012 before a ‘conversion decision’ was eventually made on the 15/03/2012. Thus in his case he has spent almost five months in the conversion phase and only enters his ‘assessment phase’ on the 15th March 2012 with a further wait of over 8 months before his appeal comes up – it’s an absolute outrage that people are being kept waiting so long.

Let’s take a look at how these conversion cases go missing from the mainstream publication of reassessment statistics:

Missing data
 
[image]

Which you won’t find using this
DWP link
.
Which is surprising because this is the statistical data set which relates to claimants undergoing reassessment from their incapacity benefits over to Employment and Support Allowance. By clicking the link you will see the figure of 424,170 relating to the overall number of assessments live as of February 2012; you will also see how it is broken down:


  • 370,470 claimants who are ‘non incapacity benefit reassessment’And
  • 53,700 ‘incapacity benefit reassessment’ cases.


This completely backs up my point over how thousands of incapacity benefit reassessments are not being tracked in the figures available on the DWP data sets. The 53,700 figure for ‘incapacity benefit reassessments’ only refers to those who have appealed. It will not for instance include any of the 4 conversion cases which I have cited from when the four claimants were sent their conversion notice.

The four claimants which I have cited will not appear as an ‘assessment phase’ statistic until such times as they they get their conversion decision and appeal against it. Thus in Mr O’s case all the time he spends in the conversion phase from the 19/10/2011 to the 15/03/2012 is not counted as assessment despite him being assessed by Atos during what is quite obviously part of the overall assessment process.

The statistical guidance confirms this:

“IB reassessed claims shown on ESA in the Assessment phase are those found fit for work and are under appeal.”

With the DWP proudly proclaiming how it’s assessing incapacity benefit claimants at an incredible rate of 11,000 per week (about 47,000 per calendar month) since March 2011; a figure of 53,700 in the assessment phase just doesn’t stack up especially when you compare it against the 370,470 in the ‘non – incapacity’ groups. There must be literally thousands who are in the conversion phase who are not appearing in the Employment & Support Allowance reassessment statistics. They are not identifiable within the following claimant count but they form part of the incapacity benefits & Severe Disablement Allowance (February 2012) statistics (just click to view):

Thousands of IB to ESA conversions
won’t be found here.
Which is shocking because they should be readily identifiable; they are within the statistics but none of the thousands of incapacity benefits claimants going through the DWP’s conversion phase will be recognisable within the above statistics despite them being subject to the rigours of form ESA filling and thousands of Atos assessments which fill them with absolute fear. They appear merely because the DWP has to track the claimants they pay; they seemingly don’t keep tabs on the true status of their claim within the reassessment programme.

But it gets worse, much worse.

Read more: http://mylegal.proboards.com/index.cgi?action=display&board=frontline&thread=805&page=1#2352#ixzz2Cbmm8Dw6

Nov 182012
 

98.4% said that they would prefer the WCA to be recorded

Almost 70% were not aware that they could ask for a recording. The lack of any mention of recording of the WCA in the Atos literature helped the ‘lack of demand’ issue.

For those that had asked for a recording but were refused one almost half 40% were not given a reason for the refusal of the remainder: nearly a quarter (24.5%) were simply told they were not allowed a recording, 20% were told the machines were broken and the remainder were told Atos staff did not like recordings.

Of those refused a recording 65% were told they must attend their appointment without recording or be classified as a ‘no show’. While 23% were not aware that a recording would not be carried out until they arrived at the assessment centre where they faced the choice of returning home and risking loss of benefits or staying and going through the assessment without recording.

74% said that it was difficult for them to travel to the assessment centre, we heard from those who were sent for assessments away from their closest centre with complicated travel routes

Almost half (47.5%) were not aware that they could ask for a home assessment, of those that did and asked for a home assessment none believed they received a satisfactory response to the refusal to grant a home assessment

64% of those that said their doctors were told not to provide written support said this was because of the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP)

Some respondents said that the DWP had written to their doctors to tell them not to issue ‘fit notes’ or written support, others that doctors resented such directives and would supply these based on their expertise and knowledge of the individual.

The survey drew 733 responses. It asks questions that were not asked in the Harrington review, questions on issues of recording, access, doctors input and the apparent increasing influence of the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) on doctors’.  As such it represents the first evidence based research report on these issues.

The responses contribute to a growing list of criticisms on the experiences of the WCA, welfare reform/cuts and their impacts on the lives of disabled people. It also adds to the growing list of criticism against Atos the company contracted by the Government to carry out assessments, at the cost of 1.10 million pounds per year. Significant concerns are being raised on the financial cost of appeals against Atos WCA decisions, currently running at 60-80 million per year[1], but it is the human cost of suicides and premature deaths rising from 32 per week to 73[ii] a week of those undergoing this process that represents a larger cost. It is a UK outrage that these assessments continue.

The survey responses show the tricks, barriers and bullying tactics used to prevent audio recordings. How difficult home assessments are and how centres, access and travel are made problematic and the ways that doctors input is being ignored and appears to be increasingly directed by the Department for Work and Pensions. The survey is a collection of the ways people are being driven to crisis point, and worse by a system with no clear public accountability. (See also 76% entitled to support after appeal figures and appeals increase by 40%)

DPAC, Black Triangle, and Social Welfare Union, along with the British Medical Association and a growing number of organisations and MPs condemn the WCA and call for its immediate end. We hope the contents of this report will help those who fail to understand why these calls are being made to begin to understand why this is the only justifiable option.

One person said:

If I filled a benefit claim form in and deliberately lied, misled with my answers and omitted information / events relevant to my claim with the view to gain financially – I would have my ass hauled into court on charges of benefit fraud. The DWP and ATOS are doing exactly those things with the farce they call an assessment and are both gaining financially by, dare I say, producing fraudulent reports when assessing peoples eligibility for benefit. I suggest people pool together, write statements describing their experience with ATOS and the assessment, highlight the discrepancies between what was said / happened in the assessment and what was written into the report .. and when enough statements are gathered, hand them to the top cop in the country and demand they launch an investigation into the activities of both ATOS and the DWP on the grounds of fraudulent behaviour.

From the quotes and responses to our survey the comment is entirely valid.

Download the report in WORD by clicking this link: final wca surveydpac

Download the report in PDF by clicking this link: final-wca-surveydpac-1


 

Oct 072012
 

If you have been refused ESA or DLA , have exhausted the appeals process or are trying to survive on no income-Please contact Merry Cross at  merry4u@talktalk.net

This is for a potential legal challenge and to publicise these issues more widely

You can also call Merry on her radio show or be an interviewee.

Merry’s show is : Make Yourself Heard on Tuesdays 2-4p.m. The link is  www.Reading4u.co.uk

Oct 062012
 

A successful conference held in London on the 27th September called for a new UK network to challenge the attacks on disability rights in the UK. The conference supported by DPAC, Inclusion London, ALLFIE, Norfolk Coalition of Disabled people and the Joseph Rowntree Trust brought together leading Disabled Peoples Organisations and leading disability activists.

Key speaker Jenny Morris said that the ‘disability movement’ was more vibrant than ever, and that this Government had launched a number of attacks on disabled people and their rights. However others suggested that there may not be a disability movement anymore, but pockets of activity. What was clear was that challenges by disabled people and disabled peoples’ organisations (DPOs) must increase. Speakers also raised issues of how ‘the movement’ could be more inclusive in the speakers ‘from the frontline’ slots.

DPAC was there to add commentary and information on what was happening to disabled people under the regime of Atos and the ESA processes as well as the everyday crisis disabled people were facing under this Government. The whole day was brilliantly co-chaired by Tracey Lazard ( CEO of Inclusion London ) and Tara Flood ( director of the Alliance of Inclusive Education) . Speakers included Jenny Morris, Andrew Lee, Eleanor Lisney, Chris Edwards, Debbie Jolly, Linda Burnip and Geraldine O’Halloran, yet, there was also plenty of time for discussion.

Catch up on conference and presentations with the livestream (with BSL)

Catch up on all presentations and discussions through live stream and see Stephen Lee Hodgkin’s brilliant time-line at http://www.inclusionlondon.co.uk/

Read the excellent John Pring’s ( Disability News Service) account of the day at

 http://www.thefedonline.org.uk/federation-news/item/1828-new-network-aims-to-unite-disability-movement.html

Another option to keep up with what’s happening and have a chance to dicuss your views is to tune into Make Yourself Heard on Tuesdays 2-4p.m with Merry Cross  www.Reading4u.co.uk 

Join up to the new UK network: be part of the increasing outcry on our injustices!

Send an email to mail@dpac.uk.net with subject line ‘UK Network’ to be kept in the loop on this exciting and much needed new network of DPOs and activists.

We can also put you in touch with any local DPAC groups in your area or help you set up your own local DPAC group. We now have 26 DPACs across the UK and along with our sister organisation Black Triangle in Scotland we have made sure that disabled peoples’ issues are vibrant and will continue to be-never again must we allow our ‘movement’ to get sleepy- join the challenge!

 

Sep 222012
 

When George Osborne was booed at the Paralympics it was the clearest expression yet of the anger building up against the Tory / Liberal coalition’s welfare reforms, and their treatment of disabled people and those who are ill.

 The death of cancer patient Cecilia Burns on 27 August and her treatment by the benefits system managed by the Department for Work and Pensions and in part the private company ATOS Healthcare illustrates the nightmare situation anyone can find themselves in if they become disabled or fall ill.

 While undergoing treatment for breast cancer, Cecilia approached the state for help. She was subjected to the new Work Capability Assessment (WCA) system that was introduced in October 2008 alongside Employment and Support Allowance. This resulted from New Labour’s long-term policy of reducing the numbers on incapacity benefits by one million.

 The WCA, which is administered by ATOS, usually lasts about 15 minutes and uses a points system that looks at how a person is able to function physically, intellectually and socially. This assessment is so flawed that at their conference in May 2012, representatives of Britain’s 44,000 General Practitioners voted to campaign to end it.

 Like hundreds of thousands of others, Cecilia was badly let down and told despite her ongoing treatment she was ‘fit to work’. Her benefits were reduced by about £30 a week. At a time when Cecilia should have been allowed to concentrate on her health and be free of pressure, she had to appeal this decision. Her appeal was successful and she had her benefits restored a few weeks before her death.

 Cecilia said herself:

I was treated badly. I’ve been working since I was 17, I’ve paid all my stamps, all my National Insurance. The only time I was ever sick was when I was pregnant with my two sons. It has had a financial effect on me but it’s more (that) they’re getting away with it. They are just treating you like a second class citizen. That’s how I feel – that I don’t count, I don’t matter.”

What Cecilia Burns went through could easily be experienced by your mum, dad, sister, brother, aunt, uncle, son, daughter, partner or you.

 Even those disabled and ill people who are assessed as being unfit for work are facing the prospect of fines of £71 a week if they fail to take part in work-related activities such as training or ‘condition management programmes’.

 At present about 70,000 claimants lose some or all of their benefits every month when they are sanctioned. The WCA is resulting in people being found fit to work who very few employers would ever consider giving a job to. People with moderate and mild learning disabilities, long-term and enduring mental health problems, and other complex conditions find it difficult to understand or complete the tasks demanded by the jobseekers benefit system. They face losing benefits for months for failing to do enough to find work they’ll never get.

 Disabled people have had enough and are fighting back. Disabled People Against Cuts organised 21 protests against ATOS on 28 August, and several other high profile protests in London during the Paralympics.

 ATOS has made hundreds of millions from running the Work Capability Assessment for the DWP, and is now about to heap more misery as they reassess millions of disabled people for the new Personal Independence Payments. We call for the WCA and recent Welfare Reform Acts to be scrapped, the DWP’s contracts with ATOS to end immediately, and the introduction of a more humane and compassionate welfare system.

 One person’s nightmare……

 I became disabled when I was hit by a car during my first year at University.  The collision put me in a critical condition with multiple injuries including a severe brain injury.  I survived the accident but was left with permanent disabilities as well as suffering from epilepsy.

 
I had wanted to study Law and become a Solicitor, but my disabilities have made that impossible.  In fact my disabilities, combined with the psychological trauma I suffered, have meant that I haven’t worked since my accident.
 
Until recently I was claiming two benefits, Disability Living Allowance as well as Incapacity Benefit.  My benefits didn’t amount to much but at least they allowed me to lead some kind of life.  Earlier this year that all changed when ATOS called me in for a Work Capability Test.
 
I was so angry when I first received the letter from ATOS.  After attending a Work Capability Test I was passed fit to work by ATOS and had all my benefits stopped.  ATOS made their decision based on a 15 minute interview.  They never contacted any of the medical professionals treating me; they never even researched my case history. 
 
Now I face a lengthy and stressful appeals process against ATOS.  I’m being treated for depression and at times have experienced suicidal thoughts.  ATOS never seemed to care what affect their ruling would have on my health or on the health of those around me.
 

A DPAC North East member

 
 
Sep 212012
 

An email to DPAC yesterday

I failed in my attempt to overturn the appeal decision against me at tribunal. I was not even allowed into the tribunal to state my case. Upon arrival at the tribunal site a receptionist took my name then informed me that I didn’t need to be there and I could go straight home. Two days later a letter arrived saying I had lost. I think the decision had already been made.

This morning (20th Sept)  I found my ESA claim had been stopped on August 20th, they didn’t write and tell me, I only found out when I tried to pay my bills. I now have to start a new claim, possibly attend another WCA.

Basically I think I am just going to have to go through the whole cycle again. My only option was to apply for a crisis loan. When I listed my expenses for the next two weeks it came to just over two hundred pounds at a bare minimum, they could not include prescription costs. They suggested I commit fraud by ticking the box saying that I receive ESA when they’ve stopped it. I have no other choice as, out of my anticipated expenditure for the next fortnight, they will loan me £42.

Having read of disabled people losing claims I didn’t think I would be in the same boat as my doctor gave me a new sicknote for three months on 13/9/2012 and I have followed their procedure to the letter. My new sicknote counts for nothing. I can’t describe how pissed off that today’s rigramole has got me and I have no idea what I will do for money. Feel free to use my example for your campaign, perhaps if other claimants are forewarned that they’re gonna lose whatever they do or whatever evidence they provide and they can lie and cheat to get what they should be rightfully entitled to. I’m sorry to tell you my woes, I hope my example can be used in a positive manner for people going through this farce.

DPAC wants to send thanks for allowing us to post this on the web site. The British Library began archiving the DPAC site from 2011 so know that all on this site will stand as an historical testament of this governments actions towards disabled people and what they are doing to the lives of  millions-we will not give up fighting!

DPAC facebook group is an area where people can support each other through their experiences and offer info and advice

https://www.facebook.com/groups/DPAC2011/

Sep 182012
 

Section 102 and Schedule 11 Welfare Reform Act 2012 – Power to require consideration of revision before appeal

 Section 102 and Schedule 11 of the Welfare Reform Act 2012 legislate for the following changes to the Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) and Disability Living Allowance (DLA) appeals process:

 Ÿ  Under the new rules, due to be implemented from April 2013, claimants who wish to challenge a benefits decision will no longer be allowed to choose to lodge an appeal immediately.

Ÿ  Instead, there will be a new requirement for claimants to request a revision of the original decision from the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) and have that request determined before launching the right to appeal to an independent tribunal.

Ÿ  Only once the decision maker has either issued a revised decision, or decided that they cannot revise the decision, will the claimant be able to lodge their appeal.

Ÿ  There will be no time limit on how long this process can take.

 DPAC is very concerned at the harmful impact these changes will have on many claimants:

 Ÿ  The new bureaucratic tier in the appeal system has the potential to cause confusion for many claimants and lead them to make the wrong appeal to the wrong people at the wrong time, leading to inevitable problems with the payment of their benefits. Some disabled people may even withdraw from the appeals process altogether. The current appeal system is already a highly stressful, time-consuming process, resulting in considerable instability in many people’s lives and finances. The addition of a mandatory review stage, with all the attendant uncertainties, can only exacerbate these problems. DPAC is not convinced that the addition of a mandatory revision stage will in any way increase the efficiency of the system.

Ÿ  This problem will be heightened by the fact that there is no statutory time limit for the revision stage. This could lead to indefinite delays to the process while the DWP revises the decision. There is already no time limit in the current system, so adding another stage can also maximise delays, with, once again, a corresponding adverse impact on the health and well-being of the claimant. This could be alleviated if there was a maximum set period for the review process. This would at least provide the claimant with some level of certainty.

Ÿ  Around 40% of all WCA appeals are currently successful with 70% sucessful with representation which is a damning indictment of the quality of ATOS Healthcare’s initial assessment. Tragically and scandalously, many people who have initially been found fit for work have actually died before the appeals process was completed. With the extension of the time frame for appeals that this change will introduce, and no perceivable improvement in the WCA itself, this number can only rise even further.  

Ÿ  It is also unclear how the new process will deal with the payment of ESA during the new mandatory revision stage. Currently, a claimant appealing against a decision that they do not have a limited capability of work is able to continue to receive ESA at the assessment phase rate pending the outcome of their appeal. However, if the ESA Regulations are not amended, the position would be that claimants would have to claim Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA), and therefore comply with all the conditions associated with receipt of that benefit,  or face receiving no benefit at all. Many claimants with severe conditions would simply be unable to fulfill the JSA conditions and therefore face a very real prospect of destitution. This would be inhumane and lead to a catastrophic increase in the amount of distress, poverty and debt many disabled people already suffer from. The Government should therefore, as a matter of urgency, provide clarification on whether it intends to allow ESA claimants to continue to receive ESA at the assessment rate while they undergo the mandatory revision stage.

Ÿ  The fundamental problem is that the WCA process is itself fundamentally flawed and it this broken system that needs to be completely overhauled. The standard of the initial medical examination, and the information provided to the claimant on their WCA decision, need to be drastically improved before any needless tinkering with the appeals system is introduced.

 The Government consulted on the implementation and operation on the appeals reform provisions from February to May this year. The consultation, though, did not ask for responses on whether the mandatory reconsiderations should be introduced. The Government revealed, in its interim response published in June, that it had received 154 responses to the consultation but indicated that it “does not propose to make any significant changes to the draft regulations included in the consultation document as a result of the comments received“. DPAC calls on the Government to publish a full response to this consultation as soon as possible so we can ascertain the evidential basis for this change and just how much support the proposed change has received from respondents.  

 With Thanks to Richard Woodward