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 102012
 

Seventy- six percent of those going through the WCA were entitled to ESA support after appeal figures were taken into account. This obviously does not include who did not have the energy to go through yet another appeal, or those included in the 73 deaths and suicides per week happening as a result of the WCA regime. We expect the percentage would be even higher without the misery and death surrounding this constantly criticised regime imposed by the Government of millionaires. We ask when the media will start producing the correct after appeal figures and we call on MPs to take these into account and help smash the myths around this process which still leaves disabled people without income, suicidal, dead and on the verge of homelessness. If this was happening in any other country this Government would denounce it and call for an urgent inquiry – why are disabled people in the UK still enduring this process?

The real results!

What the DWP don’t want
you to know

The following percentages reflect the monthly figures for claimants who were awarded their Employment & Support Allowance upon ‘conversion’ from Incapacity Benefit, Severe Disablement Allowance and Incapacity ‘credits’ for incapacity. They are taken from the data table sets released by the DWP on the 6th November 2012 (see above) relating to the first statistical release of figures since the National roll out of the reassessment programme after the Aberdeen & Burnley pilots conducted from October 2010.

These figures are a far cry from the grossly distorted media headlines
depicting ‘75% of incapacity claimants as faking their illnesses’

They also raise concern over claims made by the DWP Press Office yesterday that the numbers being declared entitled to their benefits after reassessment was 64%. Their figure of 64% was arrived at by averaging the 3 months from December 2011 – February 2012, you can see from the figures below that they chose the three months which provided them with the lowest award percentages.

The DWP will of course know how these figures will increase even further once statistical information is added for appeals dealt with by Tribunals which have yet to be confirmed by statistical data releases from Her Majesty’s Courts & Tribunals Service (HMCTS). The figures are adjusted to take account of appeals; some of which will be resolved by the DWP at the reconsideration stage whereas others will be subject to appeals to tribunals for which the data has yet to be added.

Below are figures for claimants who previously claimed incapacity benefits but were then placed in either the ‘Work Related Activity’ or ‘Support’ Groups in Employment & Support Allowance once their awards had been converted – they make interesting reading:


* 76% – Mar-11

* 71% – Apr-11

* 67% – May-11

* 66% – Jun-11

* 69% – Jul-11

* 68% – Aug-11

* 67% – Sep-11

* 67% – Oct-11

* 66% – Nov-11

* 64% – Dec-11

* 64% – Jan-12

* 65% – Feb-12

Will the media now apologise for their

“75% faking it” claims?

The figures were compiled by Nick at My Legal. You can read more at

http://mylegal.proboards.com/index.cgi?action=display&board=frontline&thread=789&page=1#2325#ixzz2BmJ8ZN2G

 DPAC are once again grateful to Nick for allowing us to share this and urge you to support him at http://mylegal.proboards.com/index.cgi

 

   

 

Sep 162012
 

Will Universal Credit merge all
working age benefits…
In to a ‘single’ streamlined payment?

With thanks to the brilliant Nick fighting for justice and raising issues we should know about: see more at http://mylegal.proboards.com/index.cgi

“Universal Credit will simplify the benefits system by bringing together a range of working-age benefits into a single streamlined payment.” – say DWP

Well let’s just check the DWP’s claim out…..

Take the case of John. He’s 59 and he’s in receipt of Employment & Support Allowance (Support Group] because he has very severe limitations and cannot work, he also receives some Disability Living Allowance. Having paid all his National Insurance contributions he is entitled to the contribution based variant of his Employment & Support Allowance. He lives in his own rented property.

Under the current system John has to claim four separate benefits:

 

  • Employment & Support Allowance (contribution based)
  • Housing Benefit (for his rent)
  • Disability Living Allowance for his severe mobility & personal care needs
  • Council Tax Benefit

So will John’s life be made any easier once he’s been reassessed under the welfare reforms?

Will Universal Credit simplify things for John?

Will John’s four benefits all be merged into one?

Here’s how John’s claim will be affected by welfare reform …. 

 

  • John will carry on claiming his Employment & Support Allowance – because it’s contribution based it won’t be included with his Universal Credit claim.
  • John’s Housing Benefit will be replaced by Universal Credit, but it will no longer be paid by his local Council.
  • John’s Disability Living Allowance may well end up being replaced by Personal Independence Payment but it won’t be included with his Universal Credit claim.
  • John’s Council Tax Benefit will be replaced by a localised benefit for Council Tax but it won’t be included with his Universal Credit claim.

John will still be claiming four separate benefits despite his ‘Universal’ Credit – hardly simplification is it?

Government is spending billions of pounds in a blaze of publicity aimed at convincing us all that the new Universal Credit will integrate working age benefits into one ‘single streamlined payment’. It’s a claim which falls flat on its face when you start to look at the detail.

It’s only Income Based Employment & Support Allowance which will be included in a Universal Credit claim, the contributory based variant John claims stays outside of the system because it is not a means tested benefit. It’s only John’s Housing Benefit which becomes part of his Universal Credit claim. Under the current system John’s Housing & Council Tax Benefit are both paid by the Local Authority but from next April it all changes as Council’s commence the administration of their own ‘localised’ version of Council Tax Benefit. John’s rent payments will be paid directly to him rather than get paid directly to his landlord under the new scheme and what’s more they will be paid from a completely different source to his Council Tax Benefit.

John’s Disability Living Allowance will eventually be transferred (subject to assessment) to the new Personal Independence Payment (PIP) which has never been integrated into the plans for merging of payments in with Universal Credit.

So John’s Employment & Support Allowance stays exactly as it is, his Housing Benefit becomes his Universal Credit, his Council Tax merely becomes localised and his new Personal Independence Payments stays outside of the system.

Now will someone tell me, or rather to the point the DWP: how is this ‘simplification’ of the system?

We will take a look at some more comparisons in due course, although this one seems to say it all I think; what do you reckon?

 


Now let’s look at another typical claimant situation involving a family…..

Take the case of Ben and Barbara and their 3 children: aged 9,11 and 14. Barbara is the carer for their 11 year old son who is disabled. Bob goes to work and the family receive Working & Child Tax Credits, they don’t qualify for any help with their mortgage and nor do they get any help with Council Tax.

Under the current system Ben and Barbara have to claim four separate benefits:

 

  • They receive Tax Credits: Working & Child Tax Credits from the HMRC
  • Carer’s Allowance for Barbara who looks after the family’s son.
  • Disability Living Allowance for their son
  • Child Benefit for all 3 children

So will Ben and Barbara’s life be made any easier once they’ve been reassessed under the welfare reforms?

Will Universal Credit simplify things for this family?

Will Ben and Barbara’s four main benefits all be merged into one?

Here’s how Ben and Barbara’s claim will be affected by welfare reform …. 

 

  • Universal Credit replaces their Tax Credit claim (Working Tax Credit & Child Tax Credit)
  • Child Benefit is not included in the Universal Credit
  • Carer’s Allowance is not included in the Universal Credit
  • Disability Living Allowance is not included in the Universal Credit

Ben and Barbara will still have to claim four separate benefits despite their ‘Universal’ Credit – it’s not really simplification is it?

So again we see another example of how this unification doesn’t really merge payments at all. Some may of course argue that their Working Tax Credits and Child Tax Credits are two separate benefits but existing claimants will be aware that both are paid in the existing system by the HMRC; essentially the claim process and award notices for both the working and child related credits are already unified. In this case the two different credits are reclassified as ‘Universal Credit’. The other benefits which Ben and Barbara claim all fall outside of the new Universal Credit because they are non-means tested. How can we claim this to be simplification?

It’s another example which shows how Universal Credit isn’t the ‘single streamlined payment’ claimed by the DWP.


So perhaps it will be easier to claim Universal Credits in the event of Ben losing his job…..

In the previous post we looked at how Ben and Barbara would be affected by Universal Credit if they were in work. Now let’s look at the same family and how they will benefit (or not as the case may be) in the unfortunate event that Bob lost his job.

Under the Universal Credit system with Ben working, the family would still be claiming four separate benefits:
 

 

  • Universal Credit replaces their Tax Credit claim (Working Tax Credit & Child Tax Credit)
  • Child Benefit is not included in their Universal Credit
  • Carer’s Allowance is not included in their Universal Credit
  • Disability Living Allowance is not included in their Universal Credit

So will Ben and Barbara’s life be made any easier with Universal Credit as they move from being in work to unemployed?

Will Universal Credit make it easier to transition from employment to unemployment?

Will Ben and Barbara’s four main benefits become all merged into one?

Here’s how Ben and Barbara’s claim is affected as Ben becomes unemployed….

  • Ben will be entitled to claim contributory based Jobseeker’s Allowance – which is not part of Universal Credit (but see below)
  • The Disability Living Allowance claimed for their son is not part of Universal Credit
  • The Carer’s Allowance claimed for looking after their son is not part of Universal Credit. (but see below)
  • The Child Benefit is not part of Universal Credit.
  • Because Ben and Barbara are now on a low income – they can claim some Council Tax benefit, but it will not be part of their Universal Credit.
  • Their existing Universal Credit claim is altered to take account of how Ben is no longer working but the Children still need to be claimed for. (but see below)

Potentially Ben and Barbara may be seen as still having to claim 5 separate benefits!

This scenario flags up a number of problems, take it from me these are the kind of problems which you always get when merging contributory based benefits with those which are income based. Anyone in this situation will also be affected by the Universal Credit regulations, they are in draft form but are now at an advanced stage and can therefore be relied upon to get an idea where the problems may be. The potential problems in Ben and Barbara’s claim will revolve around the following:

  • Their Carer’s Allowance
  • Their mortgage costs
  • The correct handling of their claim
  • Ben’s contributory based Jobseeker’s Allowance.

The reason these are all problematic is because because Ben and Barbara’s income has fallen so low that they now fall subject to ‘means testing’ of their non – means tested benefits. Bob’s Contribution based Jobseeker’s Allowance and the Carer’s Allowance are both treated as income in a Universal Credit claim. The problem is how many claim handler’s or advisers will recognise this or for that matter how can we be sure it will be picked up by the IT system when a claimant does their claim on-line. Remember claimants will only put in what they consider to be relevant.

This is always a classic point of failure in the benefits system and Universal Credit has merely moved it in to the arena for error. Having been told Carer’s Allowance and Contributory based Jobseeker’s Allowance are not part of Universal Credit, how many claimants are going to think ” I don’t have to put that in then”. It’s no good saying there will be comprehensive instruction or advice on tap – the reality is people don’t understand or always read the instructions and advice is something the government has made it clear they do not want to fund. The scope for error is immense, in fact it’s just waiting to happen.

In practice Universal Credit is composed of elements which offset the income which you have to declare. So for the Carer’s Allowance there is a ‘carer’s element’ and for Ben and Barbara’s mortgage interest costs there is a ‘mortgage element’. It’s more or less exactly the same as it is in existing income based claims. The Universal Credit will make an allowance for both Ben and Barbara by regarding them as a couple. But remember Bob’s Jobseeker’s Allowance isn’t actually part of the Universal Credit claim but it is very much taken in to account as their income for Universal Credit purposes.

Confused?

Yes I expect you are, it’s no different to the confusion which exists already – its just been extended to a newly named benefit. The confusion doesn’t end here because the mortgage interest costs (only the interest is paid) fall to be included as part of Ben and Barbara’s Universal Credit but only after a ‘qualifying period. It’s the point at which all of these elements & allowances apply which marks the point at which the contribution based benefits fall to be assessed as income.

In an ideal world Ben and Barbara’s Universal Credit should include their Carer’s Allowance, housing costs and Bob’s Contribution based Jobseeker’s Allowance but the problem arises in working out when they fall to be assessed and in recognising the alignment of all the different elements and the dates from when they ‘kick in’.

Many of us will remember the chaos caused with the implementation of the tax credits system, it resulted in an epidemic of overpayments. The scope for overpayments is far greater with Universal Credit because it’s being carried out on such a huge scale. What makes it all the more alarming is that if you make a mistake you risk a new £50 fine, the fine could be the least of your worries because there is also a pronounced determination to prosecute those who are deemed to be ‘cheating’ the system. We have all seen examples of a hostile media and a renewed DWP stance to get tough in a desire to name and shame anyone who falls foul.

Overpayments under the new system will not be subject to the same rights of dispute which currently exist so many claimants simply won’t be able to properly contest an unfair decision. When government is asked about the problems all of this creates they stick to script and tell us all how ‘work pays’. The emphasis on work is backed up by an assurance that simplifying the benefits system makes it more possible to transition from welfare to work; the new highway for making the transition is Universal Credit which we are all told is ‘on track’.

Let’s just wait and see whether the government’s new super – highway from welfare to work is all they say it will be. They can make all the claims they like but the one which promotes Universal Credit as a ‘single streamlined payment’ is to say the least a gross distortion of the facts.

To those of you who don’t understand a word of this: welcome to Universal Credit, you’ll need to put all your faith in the DWP and the Ministers who tells us it’s on track. I can see the newspaper headlines which will highlight all this chaos, it won’t be too long before the printing presses start rolling!

And they say there’s no need for benefit specialists, honestly what planet are they on?

It’s yet another example which shows how the DWP’s claim that Universal Credit is a ‘single streamlined payment’ is nothing short of a lie.

Read more: http://mylegal.proboards.com/index.cgi?board=frontline&action=display&thread=758#ixzz26fxEa5g7