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What was your experience of the DWP?

Adrian_Scope Posts: 11,386 Scope online community team
edited September 2020 in Research and opportunities

Government advisory body wants your feedback on how it works with disabled people

The Social Security Advisory Committee (SSAC), who are a group of experts that provides independent advice to the Department for Work and Pensions on the benefits system, are seeking the views of disabled people on how Government engages with them in designing policies and processes which affect them.

If you have engaged with DWP in the past (or are doing so at present), then the SSAC want to hear about:
  • Your experiences of doing so
  • What happened as a result of your engagement with Government?
  • Is there anything DWP could have done better?  

Equally, if you have never engaged with DWP in the past, but feel that you could contribute to their work, then the SSAC want to know how they could better engage with disabled people.

The full list of questions the SSAC are asking can be found here -

Any responses should be sent to or sent to:

The Committee Secretary

Social Security Advisory Committee
7th Floor
Caxton House
Tothill Street
Any questions please email
Community Manager


  • bazr
    bazr Community member Posts: 6 Listener
    While I am aware that not everybody is so fortunate, my own experiences with the DWP have been pretty positive. Having to come out of work for the first time in my adult life at 59 years old, and fall onto the benefits system, I was expecting the worst - indeed, there were loads of horror stories that neighbours and 'friends' would gleefully relate while I listened, fearfully afraid that I was, in fact, soon lose my home, starve to death, take my own life in desperation or be forced to turn to crime simply to survive. The reality, however, proved to be markedly different. Straight onto Universal Credit I went, having never claimed before for anything, and although my first 'work coach' was a bit of a bully, I was transferred to another on request after 'phoning the dwp with my concerns, and she was understanding and supportive, placing me on 'lite touch' straight away and urging me to supply a fit note, which I did. It was several months before I got to the dreaded assessment stage at Birkenhead jobcentre, and, once again, despite the gnashing of teeth and rending of clothing of the doomsayers around me, my assessor was sympathetic and helpful. Aha, people told me, they do that to trick you; he's going to make you fit for work, etcetera etcetera.
    So, twelve days later, I was informed by letter that I was judged to have Limited Capability For Work/Work  Related Activity, and was advised by my work coach at what proved to be our last ever meeting that I should also apply for PIP, and she told me how to go about it. With the help of a benefits adviser from my landlord (a Wirral based housing association) I completed the necessary forms and was called for a PIP assessment. "Its a trap!" said my neighbours; "Watch your back!" shrieked my 'friends'... I was accompanied by an advocate from a local community group who ACTUALLY NODDED OFF during the assessment, and, after a 45 minute session where I was questioned about the challenges I face during my day to day existence, I left the assessment centre. Less than two weeks later, I was notified that I had been awarded the enhanced rate of both components, and was also paid arrears unexpectedly, which helped me to pay off the debt that I had accrued after being forced to cease work. So all in all, my experiences of the dwp and the navigation of the benefits sytem have been good; I cannot work out whether or not I have been lucky - I usually am not so - or whether all those stories I was forced to listen to about government sponsored hardship, starvation and homelessness were merely b/s? Who can say? I mean, you wouldnt really expect people who know that you are very unwell anyway to actually WANT you to worry, or be anxious; they simply wouldnt want to do that...would they?
  • ellerdene
    ellerdene Community member Posts: 6 Connected
    Hi Im glad that your dealings with DWP have been good but i feel i must say i personaly find how DWP deal with the disabled and sick is horrendous.These ESA assessments are causing terribal problems for claimants that are being placed in support groups yet are said to make a miracle recovery overnight and be awarded 0 points despite having back up letters and med reports from Drs that seem to be totaly ignored.
    This seems to be happening to more and more people surely its just wrong it must be costing a sml fortune in appeal tribunuals 
  • bazr
    bazr Community member Posts: 6 Listener
    edited March 2020
    Ellerdene, hope yoi are as well as you can possibly be. I do know that some people have horrendous experiences with the dwp, I wasnt trying to imply otherwise. I was just responding to being asked what my personal.experiences were, and I was fortunate that my own experiences were good. I have no prior knowledge of the benefits system and where I live, people on esa have almost all been transferred to pip. A second point I was trying to make was the way people who are in receipt of pip and UC - often people.we know well - seem hell bent on painting a dark picture of outcomes and eventualities, trying to say that its practically impossible to win the help we need, and painting a very bleak picture of our chances of receiving any assistance at all. The worry and sleepless nights the 'advice' of such people compounded my anxiety and made my illness worse, and it wasnt just my neighbours and people I know - an actual advocate who was recommended by my local Labour mp told me the very day before my assessment 'They to do press-ups, if you refuse, they terminate the assessment and if you do the press ups they give you zero points', AND he said it in all.seriousness with a totally straight face.
    Whatever his personal agenda is I will never know because he has refused point face me and explain his reasons ever since. This kind of rubbish doesnt help in any way at all.and is definitely wicked and counter productive, I know just from the angst it caused me. I have an almost pathological absence of fear, and it even troubled me to the extent that I was a little fearful going into the assessment centre. As I say, my aim.wasnt to upset anyone or to cast doubt on the fact that other people do have dreadful.experiences, it was just to relate what my own personal.experiences were. 
    Best wishes
    Baz x
  • poppy123456
    poppy123456 Community member Posts: 57,110 Disability Gamechanger
    @bazr hi,

    Just so there's no confusion for others when they read this, when someone is claiming ESA they will not be transferred to PIP because they are 2 completely different benefits, with totally different criteria.

    Those claiming DLA will have been or maybe waiting to transfer to PIP.

    Those claiming ESA may have transferred to UC or will be transferred to UC sometime in the next few years.

    As for the advice you were given regarding the press ups for your PIP assessment, YIKES, just goes to prove that a local MP doesn't have the greatest benefit knowledge.

    I'm glad to hear that your experiences with DWP were good. Mine we also good and to be honest, i've never had a bad decision. 3 ESA assessments and 4 PIP assessments and decisions in my favour every time.

    I would appreciate it if members wouldn't tag me please. I have all notifcations turned off and wouldn't want a member thinking i'm being rude by not replying.
    If i see a question that i know the answer to i will try my best to help.
  • bazr
    bazr Community member Posts: 6 Listener
    Thank you Poppy, as I said I know very little about the benefits system as my own experiences are in the last 2 years only, hence my confusion regarding esa / pip.
    With regards to the 'press ups' advice, I would like to say again that it was an 'advocate' - a community volunteer - who my local labour MP had put me in touch with, thinking in good faith that he was there to help, when he obviously wasnt. Lesson learned, and I did flag up the inane advice he had given me to the group for whom he was volunteering. I do reiterate Poppy that my intention was to put at ease those of us on here who may have been concerned, anxious or worried about an upcoming assessment after hearing some of the same nonsense to which I had had to listen to.
    Glad youve had the same good experiences in the system as myself, and hope against hope that everybody in here who have to sit through assessments have the same good experiences. 
    Be well
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