Have you been called by the DWP and made an 'offer'?

As you may have seen in the news, we have been collecting evidence that the DWP have been calling claimants after they have lodged an appeal and 'offering' them an award in return for them dropping their appeal. For many claimants, the award they were offered is lower than they are entitled to. Many also felt pressured into accepting the offer on the call as they were told that if they didn't, they might be awarded nothing at the appeal hearing. On this page we look at what you can do if this has happened to you.
Woman on phone looking at letter

Changing the system

We are working with the Public Law Project to challenge the way the DWP have been making offers to claimants after they have put in an appeal and before the hearing using the judicial review process.  After we raised the issue in spring 2020, the DWP have worked to try and improve their practice of making telephone offers to PIP claimants. The DWP published new training guidance in August 2020 and offer calls are now being recorded. However, we are still concerned about how this practice is operating.

We would like to hear from you if the DWP have offered you an improved award over the telephone after you lodged an appeal since September 2020, and particularly since March 2021. We are  particularly keen to know if it was explained to you that you could still appeal the new award/revision. Please contact us via our feedback form and select 'You are responding to a request to tell us your story from the drop down menu'.

If you have recieved an offer like this at any point we would love you to tell us more about it in our survey. 

Changing your award

If you have accepted the offer, and now are wondering if you should have, see if you can speak to an adviser. See our suggestions for how you might be able to find an adviser to help you below. 

What the DWP didn't tell lots of people is that you had a right to appeal the 'offered' award.  If you accepted the offer less than 13 months ago,  you can ask for the decision to reconsidered. If it was for your PIP, use our PIP tool to help you work out if, by your own assessment, you should be recieving more than your current award. If you should, you can use the tool to write a really good letter asking for a reconsideration.

If you accepted the offer more than one month ago, you will have to explain why you were unable to ask them earlier. If you can, explain that the delay was a result of your disability (for example, if you were unable to deal with it until now because you need help to deal with your benefits, or the thought of it made you too anxious) it will help. If you were not told of your right to appeal by the DWP, or if they implied that you couldn't, include that. 

We recognise that many claimants have had such bad experiences with the DWP that they want to avoid all unneccesary contact in case their award is reduced. It is understandable and we are sorry that you have had such a bad experience.

How to find an adviser

Start by looking to see if there is a Citizen’s Advice Bureau that helps with benefits problems near you. Many now offer advice over the telephone. Get advice - find your local CAB

You can see if there is an independent advice agency in your area on Advice UK’s site. AdviceUK - looking for advice?

Shelter also has a search facility on their website of local advice services. Use the tabs along the top of the results to see the different kinds of advice services. Only some agencies will provide advice on benefits so check the areas of law covered by each agency. Shelter - Advice finder

Check if your local council has a welfare rights service. In some cases they will be able to represent you.  If you didn’t find their details in Shelter’s search, phone the council and ask for ‘welfare rights’, check their website, or ask in your local library. 

Check if there is a Law Centre near you. Law Centres Network

There are sometimes services that you can access through your GP, social worker, or community centre. There's no harm in asking  - so call your GP, and your social worker or community centre if you have one, and ask if there is a service for you.

Some charities provide advice services for particular groups - for example, MS society provides a legal advice over the phone from the Disability Law Service (MS legal advice line). Similarly, RNIB have a helpline for Blind and partially sighted people. Royal National Institute of Blind People Check if there is a charity that provides benefits advice to people with your illness or disability.  If they provide information on their website about appealing or claiming PIP it may also be very useful as it will usually show how people with similar symptoms to yours have proved their entitlement. 

June 2021
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