I got the following email from Benefits and Work:
Even by this government’s standards it’s a shockingly cruel move.
Last month a tribunal of judges ruled that claimants with mental health conditions such as severe anxiety have a right to claim even the higher rate of PIP for help with going outdoors.
It was a decision that put an end to years of the DWP deliberately misinterpreting the law. It meant that many thousands of people with serious mental health conditions finally had a chance to gain a little bit more independence.
So the government acted with remarkable speed.
Bypassing the social security advisory committee, who are supposed to get the chance to comment on all changes to social security law, they published a statutory instrument that will reverse the judges’ decision.
In an effort to justify overturning the judges’ ruling, Tory policy supremo George Freeman mocked as “bizarre” the idea that claimants with mental health conditions should be eligible for PIP. Instead, he said, PIP should only be for “the really disabled people who need it.”
The changes will apply to all claims made from 16 March, 2017.
Just a few days ago we had the following feedback by email.
“Just wanted to say thank you so much for your amazing site! I have used your advice over the years for my son’s DLA applications with great success, have now had his PIP awarded for enhanced care, and after mandatory reconsideration, got the award for mobility as well (thanks to your advice about the tribunal rulings on this for people with a mental health issue).”
Unless attempts by the Lib Dems and Labour to overturn the statutory instrument are successful, and that seems a very long shot, we won’t be seeing many more emails like that.
ESA CUTS REGULATIONS FINALLY PUBLISHED
The DWP have finally published regulations removing the work-related activity component of employment and support allowance (ESA) for new claims.
New ESA claimants in the work-related activity group who are aged 25 or over will receive only £73.10 a week. They will not receive the additional £29.05 component that current claimants receive.
Similar regulations apply to universal credit claimants who have limited capability for work.
Claimants who made a claim for ESA before 3 April, or who are deemed to have made a claim before that date, as well as claimants who are still waiting to be transferred from incapacity benefits to ESA, will not be affected.
Claimants who qualify for the support group are not affected by the changes.
Sir Ernest Ryder, the Senior President of Tribunals, has confirmed that benefits claimants will be the Guinea pigs for changes to appeal tribunals due to begin in September 2017. From that date social security tribunals will move more and more online.
You can look forward to attempting to upload your personal data to the cloud, getting emails from tribunal clerks or judges which hopefully won’t disappear into your spam folder and to having a hearing – if you get one at all – via Skype or telephone.
We’ll keep you informed, and our appeals guides updated, as we learn more.
HAVE YOU BEEN ASKED TO JOIN THE DWP’S CLAIMANT PANEL?
DWP minister Penny Mordaunt told the Commons last week, in relation to PIP and ESA, that:
“One thing I have done to ensure that we get more timely information about where things are going wrong and where standards are not being maintained is to establish a claimant user rep panel, which will go live in the next few weeks. It will be rolled out on a very large scale across the country.”
We’re very keen to hear from anyone who has been invited to join this, until now, completely unknown body. Please contact us if you have.
HOME MEDICALS SURVEY
Many thanks to everyone who took part in our survey on PIP and ESA home medicals. We had almost 2,000 responses. There were a lot more additional comments than we had expected, so we’re making sure we go through them all before we publish our findings, which we plan to do in a fortnight.
I don’t make any money from my work. I am disabled because of illness and have a very limited income. But you can help by making a donation to help me continue to research and write informative, insightful and independent articles, and to provide support to others. The smallest amount is much appreciated – thank you.