In this edition we have confirmation that the DWP is actively considering axeing employment and support allowance (ESA) payments for claimants who challenge a decision that they are fit for work. Instead, claimants will have to try to sign on for jobseeker’s allowance, where they will face a harsh new regime which, from later this month, will include potential benefit sanctions of up to three years.
Plus, we learn how many ESA claimants who get found fit for work are left with no income at all and discover the outrage amongst disability charities at a secret deal done between Disabilty Rights UK and the DWP.
We also have leaked confirmation that Atos will be paid millions in bonuses for getting disability living allowance (DLA) to personal independence payment (PIP) transfer medicals done in a tearing hurry rather than getting them right – and how this may also affect not just DLA but also ESA claimants.
And finally, as well as the money off offer below we also have a free screensaver of stunning images from A Way of Seeing to say thank you for over 5,000 Facebook likes of our Benefits and Work page.
ESA MAY BE STOPPED FOR CLAIMANTS WHO TRY TO APPEAL
The DWP has now released their response to the ‘consultation’ on a mandatory revision before appeal system. Under the new system, claimants who wish to challenge most benefits decision will be prevented from lodging an appeal with the Tribunals Service until the DWP have had another look at the decision. There is no time limit for how long the DWP can spend on this mandatory reconsideration.
This is particularly important for ESA claimants who are found fit for work, as they are legally prevented from continuing to receive the assessment rate of ESA until they have lodged an appeal.
After months of refusing to answer the question, the DWP have now revealed in their response document that they are still undecided as to whether claimants will be allowed to continue to receive ESA during the reconsideration phase. Worryingly the document does state that “other benefits may be available to claimants where ESA has been disallowed”.
EXTRAORDINARILY HARSH JSA SANCTIONS
ESA claimants who end up on JSA face an extraordinarily harsh new sanctions from 22 October, when decision makers will have the power to ban claimants from JSA for up to three years for repeated offences of:
leaving a job voluntarily;
losing a job through misconduct;
refusal/failure to apply for, or accept if offered a suitable job;
refusal/failure to participate in mandatory work activity.
If you can show you had good cause for your actions, then there will, be no sanction. But with legal aid ending for welfare benefits next year, help to show good cause will be harder to come by.
Claimants may lose out on JSA where decision makers refuse to accept that the they are too ill to undertake mandatory work, for example. Or if an unscrupulous employer unlawfully sacks them because they are disabled, but alleges that dismissal was for misconduct, then they may also face sanctions.
Again, with the ending of legal aid for employment law and the introduction of hefty fees for taking a case to tribunal, it will be much harder for claimants to show they were not at fault.
The three year sanction will apply for a third offence within 52 weeks. The current maximum sanction is 26 weeks. Claimants may be eligible for hardship payments during the sanction period.
download the response document