Employment minister Chris Grayling has revealed what your chances of winning an employment and support allowance (ESA) appeal are, depending on how many points you scored at your work capability assessment (WCA). We were surprised, in a positive sort of a way, at the figures. Even for the huge number of people who score 0 points, things aren't as bleak as you might imagine, whilst for people who scored more than six, the odds are most definitely on your side. Find out what your odds are here. (All articles are now members only except for the Good News from the Forums. Please see Submit a story below for why).The odds of getting a job via the work programme, on the other hand, don't look so good. A report just released by the DWP shows that the chances of finding employment under the flexible new deal a very similar scheme to the new work programme were no better than they had been under previous schemes. And under previous schemes, to the best of our recollection, your chances of getting a job were very little better than for people on no scheme at all.Work programme providers themselves have been making the news this month for allegedly trampling over workers' rights in relation to transfers of employment, with claims of enforced wage cuts and fake redundancies surfacing in the media and on discussion forums. No matter how unscrupulous some of the private sector companies may be, however, there's no fewer than 500 charities jostling to become sub-contractors to them on the work programme. After all, at a time of shrinking incomes, getting some sick and disabled claimants into work could be very profitable indeed. So much so that one poster on the industry's website refers to claimants transferred from incapacity benefit to ESA as 'Mr Big Bucks' clients before letting out a 'whoop' at the thought of how much cash they bring in.One 'industry' where there is definitely no-one going whoop, however, is that of legal advice, which is about to be savaged by massive cuts in legal aid. Welfare benefits is one of the areas of law where, in a bill currently being fast-tracked through the commons, legal aid will end completely. As many advice agencies fund their welfare rights workers via this route, axing payments along with those for debt, employment and most housing advice will have a dramatic effect on their income.Even Ken Clarke's announcement this week of £20 million of transitional funding for advice agencies (external link) is unlikely to avert a wave of redundancies throughout the sector over the next two years, especially as this is less than half the amount provided through legal aid. The result for claimants will be that benefits advice will be a great deal harder to find than it already is and representation will probably almost completely disappear.So, we'd very much value members views on whether Benefits and Work should help reputable welfare rights workers to advertise their services on a freelance basis on our site? We'd really like to hear from you about this issue.Someone who will no longer be able to hear from you, sadly, is the After Atos website which collected evidence from claimants about their experience of the WCA and which we mentioned in our most recent newsletters. Shortly after our last newsletter went out, unfortunately, a dispute broke out between the site owner and its webmaster, with accusations of 'sock-puppetry' being bandied about and the home page of the site being given over to an attack on the owner by the webmaster. Now, it seems, the After Atos site has closed down entirely.SUBMIT A STORY
Finally, before we go on to share some good news from the forums, we'd like to invite you if you're perhaps a budding journalist or just spend a lot of time reading about benefits issues to submit news stories to the site. There's far more goes on in the world of benefits than we have time to report, so if you would like to help keep members informed and get some experience of being published online, this is your opportunity. We've produced some brief guidelines on what to submit and how to do it.Members can also now comment on any news story in this newsletter. Comments are no longer pre-moderated, although we will remove any we view as unsuitable. However, in order to make this viable and to prevent vast amounts of spam and abuse, we have had to restrict access to news articles to subscribing members only. We apologise to non-subscribing readers for this.OTHER NEWS
All the latest news is now available from this link.This includes stories on:Claimants to be fined £50 for errors on formsBenefits related suicideUnum, a conflict of interests?GOOD NEWS FROM THE FORUMS
DLA reinstated on appealSupport group for cancer . . . finallyIB appeal, 14 points for mental healthPlaced in ESA support group for fibromyalgiaESA awarded prior to appealWRAG without medical for PTSDDLA renewal for 5 yearsSupport group and DLA low rate care on appealsHigher rate mobility and care indefinitely after fraud investigationHigher rate mobility and care short form success
0 points to WRAG on appealESA success after 14 years on IBPLEASE PASS ME ON
Please forward this newsletter to anyone you think might be interested. You are also welcome to reproduce this newsletter on your blog, website, forum or newsletter.You can read this newsletter online.Good luck,Steve DonnisonBenefits and Work Publishing Ltd
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