As part of the Governments Welfare Reform Bill (now an Act), Contributory Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) will be limited to 12 months. This comes into affect from the 30th April 2012 and for the first time is to be aplplied retrospectively. This means that anyone who has been on Contribution based ESA for a year or more by April 30th will lose this benefit on April 30th. For many this means relying on a partners income for others it means taking a cut in income while having to go on income based ESA. The biggest losers are couples.
Know your rights!
Some brief advice on the process of appealing a failed Work Capability Assessment (WCA), as well as some signposting to relevant advice bodies who may be able to assist you.
When you first receive the results of your ATOS WCA and it is a fail, the first thing that many do, as they are panicked and desperate, as they have had their money stopped, is to panic and phone the Job Centre Plus and ask about signing on for Jobseekers Allowance, which is what they want you to do, but there is an alternative and that is by asking for a reconsideration and/or appeal.
How to request reconsideration/appeal
Download the pdf here.
Job Centre workers in the PCS union are on strike today to defend their pensions, but this is our fight too. The government’s attacks on job centre workers go hand-in-hand with their attacks on claimants. On the one hand they lower the terms and conditions of job centre staff, on the other they force claimants onto privately-run workfare schemes like the Flexible New Deal, through for-profit companies like Maximus, Skills Training and Careers Development Group. Meanwhile they force ill and disabled people off the sick (ESA) and onto Jobseekers Allowance (JSA).
ACCORDING TO the headlines, UK unemployment fell 88,000 in the three months to April this year to 2.43 million, the biggest drop since the summer of 2000. This was heralded as proof that the government’s policies are working, and that the private sector is creating more jobs than the 143,000 public sector positions slashed during the same period. But dig a little deeper and the spin unravels.
The Office for National Statistics is open that the fall “was mainly due to an increase of 80,000 in the number of students not active in the labour market.” This seems to have been due to them simply being reclassified, rather than them all suddenly finding jobs. So that leaves just 8,000 jobs ‘created’.
This morning we got together with local benefits campaigners to picket ATOS Healthcare, the private company paid millions by the government to force people off sickness benefits by reclassifying them as 'fit for work'. They do this by using an automated system to over-ride the judgement human doctors, as part of the wider attacks on claimants and workers, which began under Labour and are currently being accellerated by the coalition government. Below is the text of the leaflet we distributed to passers-by, many of whom stopped to share experiences of friends and loved ones who've had their benefits cut arbitrarily.
ATOS Healthcare: Poverty pimps putting profit before the welfare of people with disabilities
The government’s answer to the problem of unemployment during the biggest economic crisis since the 1930s is not to create any new jobs, but to launch a massive attack on our living standards.