One In A Million

By DeusExMacintosh

I’m sure his family love him but I am REALLY getting tired of spending my Christmas with Iain Duncan Smith and am hoping the bi-annual ESA renewal form isn’t going to turn into a new household tradition. Wrapping paper? Check. Tinsel? Check. New nerve conduction test? Damn, there’s always something…

Nearly a million people who applied for sickness benefit have been found fit for work, according to figures from the Department for Work and Pensions.

The DWP claims 980,400 people – 32% of new applicants for Employment and Support Allowance – were judged capable of work between 2008 and March 2013. More than a million others withdrew their claims after interviews, it adds.

But disability campaigners said the work tests were “ridiculously harsh and extremely unfair”. A spokesman for Disability Rights UK said many of those passed fit will not, in fact, be capable of entering the workplace in any meaningful sense due to physical or mental health problems.

“They are finding people fit for work when they aren’t and they are not even giving them the support they need to get a job. It is a disgrace,” he told BBC News.

And having submitted a very careful updated revision to my ESA50 form of two years ago, I was instantly thrown off Employment and Support Allowance and declared “Fit for Work” because the DWP Decision Makers can apparently not read. Have a look and tell me what date you think they want my ESA50 in by.
Revenge of the ATOSsers

Given that it says to return it no later than 16 January not once, but twice, you would think that it arriving special delivery on January 15 at the address given, being redirected at DWP/ATOS request and being accepted the next day that this would still mean it was submitted on time by January 16 as per the reminder. Yes? Well apparently not.

On the due date according to *these* instructions I was declared “Fit for Work” and had my Employment and Support Allowance cancelled solely because it was deemed to have arrived late. No big deal naturally, so the letter was then posted out second class which meant I only found out about the loss of what is the UK equivalent of Australia’s Disability Pension almost a week later.

Not surprisingly I’m only just coming down from the stratosphere now-ish.

There is certainly a chance that a mandatory reconsideration by a Decision Maker who’s not in the middle of a six-bell hangover (’tis the season) may simply get my reassessment pack put back onto the pile and processed as normal, and in the case of those with mental health difficulties there is a statutory guarantee that they won’t be penalised for late submission (within reason). However those of us with physical disabilities enjoy no such protection and there is a potential cascade of disasters possible with this change in status.

I just co-incidentally reside in an area that since 13 January is being trialled for the roll out of the much harsher Personal Independence Payment that replaces Disability Living Allowance, and as ESA decisions like these often result in the reassessment of linked DLA claims that could well trigger an automatic migration to PIP. Still, I guess it beats waiting for a malicious fraud report to achieve the same thing. Further I qualify for Housing Benefit on the basis of receipt of ESA so that could involve a potential re-application also. You’d think the system would include provision for “common sense” corrections of obvious mistakes but unfortunately bureaucratic history in the UK doesn’t bode well.

The DWP have 28 days to respond and I have enough cash to cover my living costs about that long. After that, it’s fresh air and anybodies guess. Will keep you posted.


  1. Mel
    Posted January 26, 2014 at 8:29 pm | Permalink

    I hope all goes well, Dem. Is there an Ombudsman or someone else you can complain to?

    Also, as a former civil servant, I can advise that a letter of complaint to the relevant Minister with a copy to the Shadow Minister can sometimes help advance your case.

    Look after yourself.

  2. Posted January 26, 2014 at 10:48 pm | Permalink

    Thanks. Wrote/faxed immediately to ask for a second look but they have 28 days to respond so nothing much I can do until then. And if they send THIS decision letter second class again I won’t find out until a week later in any case. Grrr.

  3. Posted January 28, 2014 at 12:55 am | Permalink

    Credit where it’s due, I just spoke to my Disability Employment Advisor at the local Jobcentre Plus and it turns out the DWP have accepted “good cause” and reinstated my ESA – at least until the decision on the new material is taken.

    I’ll probably get the official word later this week again, thanks to second class post.

  4. Mel
    Posted January 28, 2014 at 7:10 am | Permalink

    It often pays to speak up, DEM.

    Take care.

  5. Posted January 28, 2014 at 7:31 am | Permalink

    second class post.

    The British government haven’t joined the internet age yet?

  6. Posted January 29, 2014 at 9:42 pm | Permalink

    It often pays to speak up, DEM

    And sometimes it doesn’t make a blind bit of difference, Mel. Today I got a letter saying my housing benefit & council tax benefit have been stopped. Still no written proof that my ESA has been reinstated, but, no hurry…

  7. Mel
    Posted January 29, 2014 at 10:10 pm | Permalink

    Sorry to hear that, DEM.

    I wish I had a magic wand so I could fix it for you but as I don’t I’ll just have to say a little prayer to the Earth Mother Goddess on your behalf.

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