Friday, 18 March 2011

ESA week ends in Success!

As if fate knew how hard we've worked this week, (ESA week) how much it has cost us to write and to fight and to explain, yesterday, the government announced that they would hold a public inquiry into ESA.

I will work on my own submission, however, Anne Begg MP has suggested that many individual submissions will always carry more weight than a collective response. Please take a few moments to read the issues outlined in the enquiry below and if you feel one or more have affected you, I urge you to write a short statement. It might be a description of how unsuitable your assessment was, your experiences of ATOS, or how time limiting the benefit could affect your partner's ability to keep working. If you have been through the worry and fear of a tribunal, we need to explain how this fails too and how hard it is to always be fighting.

Obviously, you can respond to all of the points if you feel you have personal experience to share. Contact details for sending in submissions can be found by clicking on "How to submit Written Evidence" at the bottom of the DWP quote.

However, I have set up a new email address, to enable anyone who wishes to, to write their feelings and thoughts and contributions without having to make their personal details available on my blog. It is vital that each submission is accompanied by a name address and telephone number to ensure that as many submissions can be made as possible.

You don't need to be a writer or a campaigner - far from it. It doesn't matter what you write or how. No submissions will be censored or altered. I will simply collect them together until the submission date. If you've never been actively involved before, I urge you to think about joining in. This is the best chance we, the public, have to be heard and hopefully, to change the most damaging aspects of ESA.

"Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) replaced incapacity benefits for people making new claims from October 2008. To be eligible for ESA, a person must usually undergo a Work Capability Assessment (WCA).
The introduction of ESA in 2008 was initially limited to new claimants. Existing incapacity benefit claimants are now being reassessed under the Work Capability Assessment. The process will last until 2014 with around 1.5 million people being reassessed.
Reassessment commenced on 11 October 2010 with a trial in Aberdeen and Burnley.  At the end of February, Jobcentre Plus began a limited introductory phase, and will move to full national reassessment of incapacity benefit claimants from April 2011.
In particular, the Inquiry will focus on the following issues:
  • The Department’s communications to customers going through the assessment and whether the information, guidance and advice provided by the Department and Jobcentre Plus is effective in supporting customers through the process.
  • The Work Capability Assessment including: the assessment criteria; the service provided by Atos staff; the suitability of assessment centres; and customers’ overall experience of the process.
  • The decision-making process and how it could be improved to ensure that customers are confident that the outcome of their assessment is a fair and transparent reflection of their capacity for work. 
  • The appeals process, including the time taken for the appeals process to be completed; and whether customers who decide to appeal the outcome of their assessment have all the necessary guidance, information and advice to support them through the process.
  • The outcome of the migration process and the different paths taken by the various client groups: those moved to Jobseeker’s Allowance, including the support provided to find work and the impact of the labour market on employment prospects; those found fit for work who may be entitled to no further benefits; those placed in the Work Related Activity Group of the ESA, including the likely impact of the Department’s decision to time-limit contribution-based ESA to a year; and those placed in the Support Group.
  • The time-scale for the national roll-out for the migration process, including the Department’s capacity to introduce changes identified as necessary in the Aberdeen and Burnley trials.
Short submissions (no more than 3,000 words) are invited from interested organisations and individuals.
The deadline for submissions is 14 April 2011."
That last line is the link that gives details on how the submission should be presented. (just click on it) If you can follow the suggestions, please do, but if they daunt you, don't be put off, just send your story with name, address and telephone number to and I will attempt to put as many as I can in the format the inquiry requests. (always asking for your approval before submission.)

Most of all though, know that this is great news. It is an enormous achievement that this blog and hundreds of other blogs and campaign groups and charities have highlighted the faults of ESA so effectively that we now have a chance to make our views heard officially.

Please pass this on to anyone you know who might want to participate, and again, share as widely as possible to make sure that as many people are included in this process as possible. 

Once again, the email for submitting via this blog is

On a less serious note : YAAAAAYYYYYYYYYYYYY!


  1. Good news!
    Get those submission emails and letters off to the inquiry.
    Thanks for the post.
    Romi x

  2. Wonderful! I am just out of hospital but hope to email you soon because I feel so strongly about this! Thank you for all your hard work - we know it isn't easy!

  3. It really is good news. I was worried ESA would be the forgotten sister! Now we get an inquiry too!!

  4. That is good news sue
    My only suggestions are that those who are to be seen by the atos doctor can do so from the comfort of there home in which there health /care worker will also be able to attend
    in this way all concerned will be able to see the difficulties as outlined by the patient

    Also a benefit adviser from the DWP should also be able to attend to make sure that the correct benefits are being implemented and that no fraud is taking place

    I recommend the above to this house :)

  5. one other important thing is how to get this message across to everyone affected by these polices across the country ?

    For this to be effective more then half of all those affected will need to submit written evidence a tall task if ever there was one as most of the people in the UK who are sick and disabled do not go on line and read blogs of that you can be certain

  6. My suggestion is that we completely ditch the Atos tick box charade and that the DWP commission proper medical reports from the claimant's own GP and Consultant.

  7. Very good point mark as that is where all the records are kept and is the common sense approach

  8. WOW, fingers crossed that your case(s) will now be considered more fairly, and justice will be done. This demonstrates how influence can be made through this medium.
    Well done xx

  9. Any of you with suggestions, do please put together a short email and send with name address and telephone number so that I can put into a format that works, thanks

  10. And yet it was a Tory Government that has agreed to this, after 13 years and many battles over welfare reforms, labour refused point blank.

    which shows you how much Labour has listened to the people.

  11. Robert were not at all out of the woods by a long shot and it would be very foolish to think we are
    There are many mp's and those in the house of lords who would have us suffer make no mistake about it be they labour or conservative so we need to keep what pressure we can on this at all time

  12. Robert - surely it takes energy to often pop up on someone's blog just to have a little political dig?

    Energy better spent in getting submissions together perhaps.

    You ought to know I couldn't be more furious with Lab over ESA from the posts I've written, I really don't need it rubbed in.

    Vote Tory if it makes you happy, that's not why I write here.

  13. That's great news. Congratulations Sue. :)

  14. A. Gurría, OECD Secretary-General has just been speaking on the TV about our future. To be honest i don't think George Osbourn the Chancellor of the Exchequer who was at the conference and myself understood it to well. The budget is coming up soon so i guess we will have to wait and see what little if anything that brings
    If it's like the budgets of the past 50 years then it's a non event but i do feel for some this one could be worse

    I say i didn't understand what Mr Gurria said as he went around the houses as is often the case but i think the bottom line in which he was implying was that there are two many people in the country 61,113,205 million with which 11 million are elderly people plus the sick and disabled that along with the majority with a poor education record like myself are to blame for where we are today

    Thank you Mr Gurria for those facts i could have told you that before you become OECD Secretary-General as anyone with just a very general knowledge would have known that i just hope that George Osborne the chancellor doesn't punish me to much over the coming four years for todays woes. And to think i believed it to be the bankers which got us into this mess but no it was the likes of good old FB and friends just goes to show how very wrong you can be

    My suggestion to Mr Gurria is in future is just come out with it as i have done you don't have to hide your not a politician it's a world wide problem even David attenborough has said it the resource's in future are going to be in short worldwide supply and at the end of the day it will be the survival of the fittest you don't need to be Einstein to work it out

  15. I would have thought sending people out to work who are disabled and in pain, is classed as torture and against human rights.Our fathers and grandfathers fought two world wars to prevent this happening.Maybe it should be put to the European courts to investigate?

  16. I sit here petrified - I know thecall is coming to me and I cannot hide from them much longer - Till they get to my name on the list! I pray not yet I am due in hospital within the week and I cant face this and that in this next week! I pray they wont try to send me to work - IF i could do it I would do it! But I dont have the spoons for it. I so wish i did so i could get free from this cord they have around my neck!

    Just Lord - Please let them forget me for at least 2 weeks - 2 years would be nice... Forever better and I know I look lazy but im not! If there was a cure for this i would go back to the life i once led and they wouldnt have to call me a scrounger. All i want to do is live - I dont have a plasma TV or anything lovely - I am one small person who just wants to be able to live

  17. We should pay for further reductions in petrol tax by abolishing sickness benefits and prosecuting those who try to claim JSA as a result, for making false claims to be sick.

  18. Anonymous - I thought that's what we are doing?

  19. Anonymous said...
    We should pay for further reductions in petrol tax by abolishing sickness benefits and prosecuting those who try to claim JSA as a result, for making false claims to be sick.


  20. I am always afraid of a brown envelope coming through the letterbox (re:benefit changes) as I always fear my benefit being cut or yet another incomprehensible form coming my way.

  21. I have my ESA tribunal this week. Am terrified. I can't focus on anything else until this is over but I will be sure to send something before the deadline. Thank you for writing this post!