DWP again refuses to release data on disability benefits….

From The Independent –   Are the Media finally catching up?

The Department for Work and Pensions has again refused to release data about the impact of changes to the disability benefit system after a request under the Freedom of Information Act.

Last week the DWP was forced to reveal how many people had died shortly after being found fit to work by disability tests.

Ministers and officials had resisted the demand for months and only accepted it after a warning from the Information Commissioner and a campaign that went all the way to Parliament.

But on Tuesday DWP officials refused another request for basic information about disability benefits using the same “Section 22” exemption they had tried to use before.

The Department had been asked under the Freedom of Information Act to disclose how many Disability Living Allowance claimants had been made worse off after being moved onto the new Personal Independence Payment benefit.

The Department refused the request, made by a user of the WhatDoTheyKnow website, a tool which helps people scrutinise the Government’s record.

Some claimants have lost out from the move from DLA to PIP. The reason given for rejecting the request is the same as that given in the case of the death statistics – under section 22 of the Act, data which officials say is reserved for future publication can be blocked from release.

The Department also previously stalled on responding to the request based on the fact that the person who made it had initially used a pseudonym.

The civil servant who answered the reply ultimately said that thought there was a public interest in the data being released, they should be allowed to publish it “in a manner of form and at a time of their own choosing”.

“I can confirm that the Department holds the information you are seeking. However, Section 22 of the Freedom of Information Act exempts this information from disclosure. This is because the information is intended for publication at a future date,” the Department said in its reply.

“This exemption requires the public interest for and against disclosure to be weighed in the balance. There is a public interest in information being released as soon as possible. However, I am satisfied that there is a strong public interest in permitting public authorities to publish information in a manner and form and at a time of their own choosing.”

Disabled people are being transitioned by the Government from the Disability Living Allowance benefit to its placement, the Personal Independence Payment. Some people lose out from this change because of the new way in which the PIP is calculated.

One person affected by a payment cut, Jane, wrote in her blog about the difficulties the changes had made for her and criticised the DWP’s lack of transparency.

“I have found myself so behind with bill payments, I now am past ‘robbing Peter to pay Paul’ and am at the bailiffs knocking on the door stage,” she said.

“Once again the DWP hide behind Section 22, but fail to indicate when these figures are to be produced; could this be because the data once revealed, will show another proven case of how the Welfare Reform Act is persistently failing disabled people?”

In the case of the benefit death figures, the Information Commissioner said the Government had no good reason to withhold the stats under Section 22

Mr Duncan Smith at one point caused confusion when he told Labour MP Debbie Abraham in Parliament that the stats did not exist.

“She knows very well that the department does not collate numbers on people in that circumstance,” he told her in Parliament.

The block comes after ministers announced a crackdown on the Freedom of Information Act, which Justice Secretary Michael Gove needed to be “revisited”.

Civil servants have long complained that disclosing information can be time-consuming and costly, and that ministers and officials should be allowed to discuss things in secret without the public knowing.

Campaigns say any attempt to water down the act would make it more difficult to hold the Government to account when things go wrong.

More disability benefit data refused for release by DWP.

Back in January I wrote about how my transition from DLA to PIP lost me £140 per month, and in March I posted about the saga I had with my Mandatory Reconsideration; both of these pieces demonstrated precisely what this loss meant to me in real terms. Since then I have found myself so behind with bill payments, I now am past ‘robbing Peter to pay Paul’ and am at the bailiffs knocking on the door stage.

The reason for raising this is, today a FOI request asking  ‘The percentage of current DLA claimants, who, on conversion to PiP, were reduced in their claims’…was answered by the DWP. Unsurprisingly their response was “I can confirm that the Department holds the information you are seeking. However, Section 22 of the Freedom of Information Act exempts this information from disclosure. This is because the information is intended for publication at a future date.

Once again the DWP hide behind Section 22, but fail to indicate WHEN these figures are to be produced; could this be because the data once revealed, will show another proven case of how the Welfare Reform Act is persistently failing disabled people?

The recent outcome of the 18 month long fight by Mike Sivier confirmed that “10,000 people lost their lives” after being determined they were well enough to be placed in the Work Related Activity Group! Will this latest refusal for information, demonstrate yet a further number of disabled people, who although surviving, being adversely affected by the decisions of civil servants

We were warned back in 2012, by the then Minister for disabled people Esther McVey that, “more than 300,000 disabled people will have their benefits cut” under the transition from DLA to PIP, are the DWP refusing to release this data, because this figure is already much higher?

The cost of PIP? £35 less per week, Thanks #DWP! – This is A CALL OUT for Info

Well I’ve received my PIP award and hooray I’ve ‘scored’ more points than on my DLA and yet, despite this I’ve  been awarded ‘Standard’ rates for both Daily Living & Mobility Elements, to explain how this makes a real difference to me read on.

To get PIP at all, you must score between 8 – 11 points in both daily living / Mobility and to get the Enhanced rate it’s 12 points; the 2 elements are valued differently with

the Daily Living standard rate being £54,45 and the enhanced rate £81.30 per week,

for  Mobility, the standard rate is £21.55 and the enhanced rate is £56.75 per week.

This differs greatly from the old DLA which had three levels of award, the rates which are/were worth  for care

lowest rate – £21.55

middle rate – £54.45

highest rate – £81.30

and for the mobility component

lower rate – £21.55
higher rate – £56.75

I believe these changes clearly demonstrate how the government have reduced PIP spending by a total o£2.2bn?

Personally under DLA I received Mid Care & High Mobility, however under PIP I scraped in at a bare 8 in daily living and 10 for mobility costing me almost £140 per month!! I have reported my intention to ask for a Mandatory Consideration and will keep you posted; in the meanwhile…

…I’m trying to collect evidence of PIP being no more than another Government attempt to cut even more money from disabled people, further driving us into poverty; therefore I ask all of you to please share with me Your examples of PIP, have you received an award, was it worth more/less than before etc.

If you would prefer to share this info anonymously that’s fine and if you want to do so privately, please contact me at ratea62@gmail.com

THANK YOU in advance for your input Jxx

 

Footnote* From truthmeister – ”

As for saving money, the bungling incompetence of IDS has meant that a proposed saving of £1.2bn pa has actually turned into an increase in spending of £1.6bn pa to date, as per the IFS: http://www.ifs.org.uk/publications/7447” Thanks

URGENT for ALL DLA recipients awaiting PIP

URGENT Information to ALL DLA recipients awaiting PIP

 

Back in March I received a notice from DWP, informing me of two thing:

  • I needed to claim PIP
  • My DLA award (ending this month) would continue until PIP assessment was complete

I duly completed and returned my PIP form; today I phoned DWP DLA section, requesting how to  manage the imminent renewal of blue badge/bus pass & car tax given the above; further I received a letter yesterday from the DWP office dealing with my Carer’s allowance informing this award was also ending at the end of August.

I was pleasantly surprised to be informed that due to the delays with PIP my DLA had automatically been extended for a YEAR – to Aug 2015 (subject of course to a possible PIP assessment in this time).

This is great news, but here is further evidence the DWP is not only failing claimants, but is in fact creating further chaos, with one section making decisions and failing to inform colleagues!  If I hadn’t have phoned I would not have known of this decision which, could have left me housebound and destitute;

They are now sending a letter with this decision not only allowing me to renew my mobility support with their supposed partners, but will also demonstrate to other DWP employees, I’m still entitled to Carers.

I strongly urge anyone in a similar situation to call DWP today and GOOD LUCK;

Attending ATOS? WE Can Help:

Disability Enabling and Empowerment Project (Leic’s) (DEAEP) was set up in 2013 in response to identified needs; disabled, chronically sick and vulnerable people are increasingly required to demonstrate their need for the financially support necessary to survive, both often in employment, as well as not.

DEAEP is a social not for profit business that offers accredited training to  sick and disabled people, unemployed, and other vulnerable individuals. The training experience enables participants to, knowledgeably and confidently, actively support others during times of extreme stress; this could be attending ATOS assessments and, or to participate in social and community engagement.

So far we have a 100% success rate with people we’ve represented

The rationale behind DEAEP:

Anyone who’s disabled or chronically ill in the UK 2013, is only to well aware of the devastating effects of The Welfare Reform Bill, whether it be someone on Incapacity Benefit (IB) waiting for the dreaded assessment onto Employment Support Allowance (ESA); a new claimant for ESA after losing their job, or a current ESA recipient  who’s almost at the one year cut off time. It might be a Disability Living Allowance (DLA) recipient waiting for the claim form to apply for the new  Personal Independence Payment (PiP)

These are just some of the ways that Welfare Reform is affecting those of us too ill to work or live with the ever increasing costs of being disabled.

What these changes all have in common is the growing number of ‘assessments’ we’re all forced to undergo.

Many of us who have already experienced the cold, inhumane and in some cases, downright dangerous process of being assessed by ATOS,  know the associated costs these visits have on our health; from waiting for that now dreaded brown envelope, the energy it takes to complete the overly long complex claim form, the stress caused by actual ‘assessment’, through to the wait for the decision made at the DWP by a low level civil servant who might have had two days training in disability!

None of this is news to many of us, and many more disabled and sick people will soon be au-fait with this ever rotating process.

Many people on social networks like Facebook & Twitter have expressed the view that when  having someone to help them through this experience,  be it form filling, support at ‘assessments’ or at appeal it has helped them; and it is this what we at DEAEP aims to do.

We  offer free accredited training for people to skill them up, to then act as peer supporters for others going through this process.

We also can help with support at hospital/GP visits or in fact anywhere sick and disabled people feel having someone at their side to prompt them tell their story and get the truth across.

The training programme will also help participants in other areas, and can open doors to further education or even employment.

So if you are interested or require our help please contact us athttp://www.deaepleicester.moonfruit.com.

All personal and medical data disclosed is destroyed on conclusion of case

 

The PIP 20 metre rule remains intact

An excellent analysis by Jane Young of the Governments ‘reason’s’ Why they have ignored all consultation recommendations on this particular element of DLA’s replacement, PiP (Personal Independence Payment).

This is looking like another carbuncle to add to UC (Universal Credit)

A MUST Read

Despite hundreds of consultation responses explaining the devastating impact on people with significant walking difficulties of using 20 metres as the benchmark distance for eligibility for the enhanced mobility component of PIP* and therefore the Motability scheme…

The PIP 20 metre rule remains intact.

McVey ‘answers’ Politicians, even if she ignores us!

As many of you know I, along with Debbie Sayers have been engaged in a battle to try & get Esther McVey to answer an open letter signed by 866 others, that we sent in April. The letter challenged Ms McVey’s misuse of statistics regarding the introduction of PIP on 4 key areas   This letter was supported by several Labour MPs and Michael Meacher MP, was one who also asked Ms McVey for an answer; well he DID get a reply on August 5!

Unfortunately it is a wordy 3 1/2 pages but in order for you to decide if Esther McVey answered our letter, below is the body of her response: (Missing from the below are 3 tables, figures relate to the relevant docs linked)

DWP statistical release procedures

Throughout the development of Personal Independence Payment (PIP) we have published a wide range of information to keep claimants,disability organisations, and the media informed about exactly what is happening. This includes answers to frequently asked questions, a range of statistical and ad-hoc reports, impact assessments, and a suite of information products to provide support to organisations of and for disabled people.

We aim to provide figures and statistics that are accurate and appropriate. Many of our statistics are produced from high quality sources that allow detailed analysis to be conducted. The majority of our statistics are also formally assessed by the UK Statistics Authority (UKSA) and designated as meeting the standards for National Statistics, meaning they are fully compliant with the Code of Practice for Official Statistics, and we invite UKSA to assess new statistics each year.

Reform of Disability Benefits
I turn to some of the specific points that have been raised. The 2004/05 DLA National Benefit Review estimated that levels of fraud in DLA were around 0.5 per cent. However, that review also found high levels of incorrectness in awards with an estimated £630 million (11.2 per cent of the case load) being overpaid and £190 million (6.3 per cent) being underpaid.

I can confirm that over half of claims are made without additional medical evidence. The report cited was our own ad hoc statistical report”DLA Award Values and Evidence Use for New Claims in 2010, in Great Britain”. This report clearly demonstrates that over half of all decisions are made without additional medical evidence; 16 per cent on the claim form only and 36 per cent using other additional evidence other than an independent medical. factual report or examination. (Table used page 8)

The following table from our ad hoc report “Analysis of DLA: DLA Awards” provides clear evidence that over 70 per cent of the current caseload continues to have an indefinite award while the remaining 29 per cent has a fixed term award. Although we are able to reassess the level of award, there is no systematic way of ensuring that awards remain correct unless claimants report a change of circumstances which leaves disabled people more vulnerable to incorrect claims. (Table 2 )

In relation to award lengths, additional guidance introduced around three years ago provides greater clarity for decision makers. The new guidance made it clear that indefinite awards can continue to be made where appropriate, including following an original fixed term award. Whilst this has driven down, for the time being, the numbers of indefinite awards, such awards continue to be made.

 Although we are implementing changes for the working age caseload first, we have always been clear that reform of OLA is reform of the benefit as a whole. For example, in our first consultation document, “OLA reform”, we said we would consider to what extent the new assessment could apply to children, recognising that their needs may have to be assessed by age. We have further clarified that, before we consider broader reform, we want to see how the assessment works for working age adults and that we would consult on any changes. Similar considerations will need to be taken for’ pensioners although reform for people of working” age “will clearly begin to impact pensioner benefit numbers as PIP recipients age. Our use of overall caseload increases is, therefore, entirely valid in the context of DLA reform. The analysis report, “OLA: Growth  in the Number of Claimants 200/2103 to 2010/11 “, provides evidence that around a third of the growth in the caseload can be attributed to demographic factors, with the remainder due to an increase in receipt per head. The report showed that between 2002/3 and 2010/11, growth in the whole caseload was 29 per cent. Of this, 21 per cent can be attributed to an increase in receipt per head, which is partly due to the maturing of DLA. The remaining 8 per cent is due to a growth in the population and a change in its age and gender structure. Specifically for those aged under 65, demographics account for about a third of the growth, which includes growth due to increases in the population and changes in its age structure due to the ageing of particular cohorts. The remaining two thirds of the growth is due to increases in the percentage of the population claiming DLA. We are absolutely committed to reform of DLA and getting the introduction of

PIP right. That is why we have decided to extend the reassessment timetable and take more time and learn from the initial stages of delivery. This will allow us allow us to consider findings’ from the first independent review of the assessment, which will report by the end of 2014, and “ensure the assessment is working correctly before we embark on higher volumes.  In the longer term, it will also help us evaluate how, and to what extent, reform of DLA can be extended to all claimants.

The Department has a strong record of producing and publishing a wide range of data and information. I am committed to this and we will continue to put all the facts into the public domain so that the public can make their own judgements. As a rule, all correspondence to Ministers from MPs is usually signed off at an appropriate Ministerial level. However, given the large volume of correspondence that is sent direct to Ministers by members of the public, it has long been the practice for officials to respond to these enquiries on the relevant Minister’s behalf.

I hope this reply is helpful. Thank you for taking the time to write to me.

Clearly this is a much more detailed response than the one we received from the ‘Head of the Correspondence Team’ on June 28 2013; however despite its wordiness, I don’t feel it answers the points raised in our original letter? Neither does it address the issue of the persistent manipulation and misuse of statistics

What has become even more revealing though is the content of this letter was not only sent to Michael Meacher; the body of the reply reproduced above, was also sent to Tim Loughton. MP after a signatory asked him if he could obtain a response from Ms McVey!

To me this clearly indicates two things; the contempt with which Esther McVey treats the people, who obviously aren’t worthy of a considered response and the lack of regard she has for her Honourable friends, who also don’t merit an individual and honest reply.

Intriguingly Ms McVey is not the only DWP Minister that believes it is acceptable to behave in this way; only 2 days ago Mark Hoban Minster for Employment, fellow blogger Skwawkbox demonstrated Mr Hoban acting in this exact manner!

This behaviour increasingly appears to be the regular modus operandi for the Tory Party, as they blatantly rampage across the Policies and Laws of our land, pillaging & cutting our Rights to Freedom, Equity, Justice, Protest & Welfare, justifying their actions with manipulated statistics and blatant Lies.

If this wan’t awful enough, to me what’s even more disconcerting is, the majority of people losing the way of life their parents/grandparents fought for, appear to be indifferent to exploits of this Government?

I know as we grow older and look back, it can often be with ‘rose coloured glasses‘, where life appears to have been happier, fairer and friendlier but, in the case of life in Britain 2013, this is not so. Life WAS better pre the Coalition Government, not perfect but certainly better; disabled and other vulnerable people weren’t hounded by the media as scroungers and fakers on a daily basis; most workers were employed on contracts that meant they know what they would be paid each week/month for X hours; Food Banks were not growing expediently to try and ensure people don’t starve. These are only a minute number of examples of how life WAS better 4+ year ago, to find more try browsing any social media site for a few minutes.

This is the life we get when we allow Politicians to treat us & their contemporaries with the scorn outlined above, I believe they need to be reminded that it is us, the People they answer to; We elect them & We can get rid of them. For the sake of our children & grandchildren We have a duty to not ignore this behaviour any longer.

If you’re angry about what you’ve read say so, but, more importantly tell Ms McVey & Co