The 12th Invest in ME Research Conference June, 2017, Part 2
MEMum presents the second article in a series of three about the recent 12th Invest In ME International Conference (IIMEC12) in London.
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DWP scraps retesting for chronically ill sickness benefits claimants

Discussion in 'Finances, Work, and Disability' started by worldbackwards, Oct 1, 2016.

  1. worldbackwards

    worldbackwards A unique snowflake

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  2. charles shepherd

    charles shepherd Senior Member

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    This is the BBC news report on some important changes to WCA assessments for people with long term conditions that have just been announced by the DWP

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-37526324

    About time too!

    The Fluctuating Conditions Group (of which the MEA is a member) have been pointing this out to the DWP for much of the past six years but they have refused to act - until now

    At the moment it is not clear as to what extent this change in the need for regular medical assessments will apply, where appropriate, to people with more severe ME/CFS (which is regarded as normally being a fluctuating medical condition rather than a progressive condition)

    During an interview with a DWP minister on the BBC this morning it was announced that proposals for further changes to WCA will be announced shortly - which may be good news, but it may not be……

    Dr Charles Shepherd
    Hon Medical Adviser, MEA
    Member of the DWP Fluctuating Conditions Group
     
  3. Sasha

    Sasha Fine, thank you

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    Couldn't believe my ears this morning when I woke up to this on the radio news - I thought I'd been transported to a different country in my sleep.

    Is this the beginning of treating the sick and disabled in a humane way in the UK?
     
  4. AndyPR

    AndyPR Cookies for Tired Sam

    We can only wish. Wouldn't surprise me if they looked at the numbers and realised that it was costing them more to do these reassessments than it was saving in benefits stopped.
     
  5. paul80

    paul80 Senior Member

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    I got this email from the benefits and work website 2 days ago:

    It’s been a thorn in the side of the DWP for many years.


    Whenever they try to argue that disability and incapacity benefit assessments are fair, someone will always ask why, in that case, are so many decisions overturned at appeal?


    The introduction of the mandatory reconsideration before appeal system was intended to bring tribunal success rates for claimants crashing down.


    It didn’t.


    In fact, only this month the Scottish government pointed out that:


    “It is absolutely staggering that 65% of people who dispute their PIP award are successful in their appeal of that decision.”


    But now, the government have a plan that may well succeed.


    A new online system for appeals is to be introduced, along with more decisions being made “on the papers” and the ditching of medical and disability members from most panels. The result is likely to be a significant and sustained fall in both the volume of appeals and the success rate for claimants.


    Case officer says ‘No’
    Under the new system, some matters that are currently decided by judges will be dealt with by ‘case officers’ instead. This could mean clerks deciding whether your appeal is in time, for example, or whether your appeal will be held online, in person or “on the papers”.


    More decisions “on the papers”
    The government’s intention is that:


    “Where a case is relatively straightforward or routine, representations will be made online in writing for a judge to consider outside of a traditional court room, without the need for a physical hearing, meaning a more convenient experience for everyone involved.”


    What is really “convenient” for the DWP about this is that the success rates for paper hearings are drastically lower than for appeals where you appear in person.


    At the moment claimants get to choose whether they want to appear before a panel or just submit written evidence. In the future it will be a clerk or a judge who makes that choice for you.


    More virtual hearings
    Even if you manage to avoid a paper hearing, the chances of having your appeal in the same room as the tribunal judge are very slim indeed.


    “Where a judge needs to listen to the parties make their arguments, it will be possible in many cases to hold the hearings over telephone or video conference, without the need for the parties to travel to a court building. There will still be an important place for physical court hearings for criminal trials and other serious or complex cases, but where they are appropriate, virtual hearings offer an easy and convenient alternative for everybody.”


    For some claimants, removing the stress and pain involved in travelling to a hearing will be an enormous advantage. But for others, the sheer strangeness of an online exchange – and all the technical problems it may involve – will make it very hard for them to give detailed and persuasive evidence.


    More haggling
    Many claimants may not even get as far as a hearing, whether online or on the papers, even after lodging an appeal. The government says:


    “In appropriate cases, we will encourage parties to settle their disputes themselves, without the intervention of the courts.”


    The real fear here is that the DWP will effectively be able to bully claimants into accepting a lower award than they believe they are entitled to, in order to avoid the risk and emotional trauma of an appeal.


    Fewer panel members
    The government also plans to “streamline” the appeals system by making much less use of additional panel members.


    “In the First-tier Tribunal (Social Security and Child Support), for example, many cases must be heard by a judge, a medical member and a member with experience of providing or receiving care for disability, regardless of the circumstances of the case in question.”


    What this means in practice is that most appeals will be heard by retired solicitors sitting alone, with no-one with specialist medical knowledge, or specialist knowledge of disability issues more generally to assist them.


    We’ll leave it to you to decide whether this is likely to lead to a rise in the success rates for claimants at benefits appeals.


    The government are consulting on the changes until 27 October, though few will expect them to take any notice of the responses they receive.


    Good luck,


    Steve Donnison
     
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  6. snowathlete

    snowathlete Not an ol' sleazebag

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    To good to be true, no way are the DWP interested in being more fair. It's about denying more benefits. It always is.

    Currently, if you do not attend a tribunal in person your chances of success are much less. That's what they want to create, a situation where patients don't attend. Meaning less are successful. That deals nicely with that thorn in the side they've had.
     
  7. Esther12

    Esther12 Senior Member

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    No way ME/CFS will be included. Sadly, could be bad for us by allowing them to direct resources our way, and avoid the appalling publicity they get from targeting some other conditions.
     
  8. AndyPR

    AndyPR Cookies for Tired Sam

    I have posted this on the ME Association and, for what it's worth, the AfME Facebook posts on this subject.
     
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  9. worldbackwards

    worldbackwards A unique snowflake

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    I get the sense that Damian Green has brought in to stem the chaos at DWP, and a lot of savings can easily be found in curtailing the mindless brutality of the system, this being only one case in point. I'd like to hope sense will prevail at some point and they will realise that the bullying of the sick is only costing them more in the end, as no one ends up getting a job and most people manage to stay on ESA one way or another. It must cost them millions in the sheer inefficiency of the system apart from anything else.

    What is notable about this though is the change in tone from the new government. Whether or not (and no, I'm not holding my breath) this is the beginning in a sea change in attitudes towards the sick by the Tories, it does mean that government policy no longer extends to the point of inciting hatred towards us and making people want us dead. I usually greet the Tory Party Conference with trepidation approaching panic attack levels in anticipation of IDS's speech. This year, the key announcement is that they're going to be less mean. It's a small victory.

    Notably, IDS is taking the credit:
    The man is pond slime.
     
  10. worldbackwards

    worldbackwards A unique snowflake

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    I expect they're just being realistic. The chances of even the most bed ridden, death's door ME patients getting this are close to zero.
     
    Luther Blissett, flybro and Esther12 like this.
  11. how the British government really works:

    DENY EVERYTHING!
    DELAY EVERYTHING!
    DON'T PAY ANYTHING UNLESS FORCED!


    if the Plebs finally cotton onto things and demand change, the leaders flap their jaws "signifying nothing", give an inch, then take it back a mile some years down the road.

    this change is good for us, but it is NOT won by the decency of the people in power, but by their fear at their loss of power, see the "Brexit" mess for example, and folk cottoning onto the fact that the garbage Jeremy Corbyn has suffered is not that any decent Democracy should ever have occur (basically the Elite tried to destroy him and prevent ANY truly Left wing moderate have power, at ANY cost)
    Please see the heinous "gerrymandering" of political boundaries to ensure Labour have little chance of ever getting re-elected in England
    massive failure of Democratic process in the UK :(
     
    Luther Blissett, flybro and Ritto like this.
  12. RogerBlack

    RogerBlack Senior Member

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    This is perhaps unfortunately simply a distraction from a change upcoming.
    From April next year, anyone having a new claim for ESA or a change of circumstances will not get the 30 pound top-up for being in the work-related group.
    People in the support group are unaffected.

    If you are in the support group, and improve to the work-related group, you will be paid the same basic rate as someone who is simply unemployed and not disabled.
    If you are in the work-related group already at that date, any change of circumstances (appeal your condition as you are worse, but not be found to be worse, try working, ...) mean you lose the top-up.

    This has been justified as 'removing the perverse incentive for those on ESA to stay out of work', and 'Work helps peoples lives improve' (the only scientific study quoted on this topic has nothing to do with illness).

    This is going ahead. The periodic reassessment is possibly minor in comparison for losing a third of your income if you are in the WRAG. (again, for claimants with no changes already in the WRAG, nothing changes until a change of circumstances.)
     
  13. worldbackwards

    worldbackwards A unique snowflake

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    Absolutely. If there has been a change in direction, it's at least one cut too late for a lot of people who are only just getting by, on top of being perpetually harassed by the dole.
     
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  14. Esther12

    Esther12 Senior Member

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    I hadn't realised that also applied to any change of circumstances too. That's such a big drop in income/
     

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