For older news items, please see our e-bulletins page. You can also follow us on Twitter at @BreakthrouUKLtd
Please note that the articles linked to on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of Breakthrough UK.
Commons debate on audio recording of Work Capability Assessments
A debate was held on Tuesday evening by MPs in the House of Commons about the pros and cons of enabling audio recordings of the controversial Work Capability Assessment (WCA) meetings - part of the process for people wishing to claim Employment and Support Allowance.
The Edinburgh East Labour MP Sheila Gilmore argued that recordings of the assessments could reduce the large number of appeals, provide valuable evidence, increase the quality of questions asked and help to settle disputes about what had been said during the assessments.
A short pilot of providing audio recordings in WCAs took place in Newcastle during early 2011. Following this, the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) decided there was insufficient demand to roll this out nationally - a claim which was disputed during the debate.
Although in theory it is possible for claimants to request in advance that their assessment is recorded, this information is not easy to come by and few people end up having their meetings recorded - or they find it hard to get hold of the recordings afterwards if they were made. Issues about the difficulties people face in providing their own equipment were also raised. For further background on this, see a transcript of the debate on Hansard below:
And some commentary and context here from Disability Rights UK:
Early impact of legal aid cuts on advice services
Focusing on their own city, researchers from the University of Liverpool's Charity Law and Policy Unit interviewed 80 staff from the local advice sector about their thoughts on how the cuts to legal aid have affected them in one of the most deprived areas of the country. The most common concern was lack of access to welfare benefits advice in the face of increased need. There were also greater waiting times for clients, staff redundances, a lack of alternative services to refer people on to and restrictions in eligibility criteria for accessing advice. Overall, the vast majority of advisors felt that they are now providing a worse service than before:
Something for something: restoring a contributory principle to the welfare state
A report out this month from the think tank Demos argues that there should be a greater emphasis on contribution within the way that welfare support is organised. Overall, their suggestions for a reciprocal system seek to achieve the following (quoting from the paper):
1. Creating a two-tier system for Job Seekers Allowance, in which those who have strong contribution records would be entitled to more during periods of unemployment (£94.74 per week compared to £71.70 for non-contributors). This would reward work and encourage a greater sense of reciprocity in the welfare system.
2. Equalising out-of-work benefits for disabled and non disabled people. This would reduce the incentive for people to claim disability benefits, which are currently at a higher rate than Job Seekers Allowance, and tackle stigma around disability benefits in the process.
3. Increasing the Personal Independence Payment (PIP), the benefit replacing the Disability Living Allowance ,which helps disabled people meet the extra costs of living that they face by virtue of being disabled, regardless of whether they are in work or not.
The paper in full can be accessed at:
Labour launches new disability taskforce
The Labour Party has launched a ‘taskforce’ led by Sir Bert Massie (former Chair of the Disability Rights Commission) to look at ways “to break the link between disability and poverty”. It will report on the effectiveness of systems of welfare support in meeting the additional costs many disabled people face and recommend on how disabled people can have full control over their lives.
Further info can be found in their press release here:
Disability Living Allowance Stops for New Claims
From today it is not possible to make a new claim for Disability Living Allowance in Britain. Personal Independence Payment (PIP) has replaced Disability Living Allowance (DLA) for people who were aged 16 to 64 on 8 April 2013 or reach age 16 after that date. The Department for Work and Pensions "toolkit" for individuals and support organisations on PIP can be found here:
We have been asked by Hull University to circulate the information below to our networks:
Relocation, Portability and Social Care Practice – Moving To a New Local Authority with Your Social Care Support
Have you and your family moved to a new local authority area for employment, education or training – or for other purposes?
Are you (or another adult in your household) receiving social care services funded by the local authority?
Would you be willing to take part in a research project about your experiences of moving?
Moving to a new area can offer exciting and positive opportunities. However, people who receive social care support as a result of a disability, illness or caring responsibilities may experience significant challenges when moving to a new local authority area. A new research project at the University of Hull aims to find out about the experiences of people who have moved to a new area – for work, to study, or for other reasons, such as to be closer to family and friends. We aim to find out about the challenges they experience and the strategies they adopt to overcome difficulties and barriers to moving. The information shared with the researchers will be used to produce information to help people who receive social care support who are planning to move to a new area. We will also produce information for social workers and other professionals about how to facilitate the relocation of care services and funding across local authority boundaries, and how to support individuals who are moving.
Can you help?
We want to hear the stories and experiences of people who receive social care services and/or funding and who have moved from one local authority area. For example, this includes people who receive social care support or funding because they are;
- A Disabled Person
- Have a long term health condition or illness
- Provide long term support to a partner or family member (often referred to as a ‘carer’).
- Have moved (or are currently in the process of moving) from one English local authority to another in the last three years
- Have moved for education or employment, or for other reasons (such as to be closer to family, friends or support networks)
- Receive (or received at the time you moved) social care services or funding (including services paid for by direct payments)
then we are keen to hear about your experiences of relocation – both positive and negative. We would also like to hear from people who have tried to move to a new area, but who have been unsuccessful or unable to make such a move.
What is involved in taking part?
If you decide to take part in the research we will arrange to interview you at a time and place that is convenient to you. Your involvement in the research will remain confidential.
For further information about the research or to arrange to take part in the project, please contact;
Caroline White (email@example.com, telephone 01482 466374) or Dave Marsland (firstname.lastname@example.org, telephone 01482 466626).