Who we are

We are a group of experts from across the UK with lived experience of multiple disadvantage and the social security system.

We are passionate about improving access to benefits for those experiencing multiple disadvantages, and can provide expertise, practical advice and solutions to help overcome the barriers people face.

We are currently supported by Expert Link through funding from the Lloyds Foundation

Our Wisdom

We regularly meet to discuss the challenges that people experiencing multiple disadvantages face when claiming benefits. Issues and recommendations focus on three priority areas:

Understanding challenges – what we want to see and why

  • Staff within DWP working with an effective understanding of multiple disadvantages and its causes, in particular the effect of trauma
  • Local DWP acting on evidence of how their policies are effecting those experiencing multiple disadvantages
  • DWP practices emphasising strengths based approaches

Miles’ experience of letters received from the DWP.

The experiences of work coach interviews from someone in recovery (part 1):

The experiences of work coach interviews from someone in recovery (part 2):

Reaching potential claimants – what we want to see and why

  • Adopting Outreach work, for example accompanying Homelessness Outreach Teams, participating in Multi-Agency Hubs or visiting homelessness projects
  • Utilising Community Assets to disseminate information relating to making a claim, such as shops, libraries and GP surgeries
  • Working in partnership with other agencies such as local authorities and local homelessness charities and ensure effective signposting/referral protocols

Jackies’ insight into accessing benefits.

Mark B’s experience of assessments

Engaging with people experiencing multiple disadvantages – what we want to see and why

  • Support for people to fill in forms. This could be through third party organisations who have experience and understanding of DWP processes.
  • Improvements to assessment processes relating to PIP and ESA should be improved, in particular the requirement for medical evidence to initiate a claim
  • All people having access to advocates who understand individuals circumstances and DWP processes

Pauls’ experience of forms

Miles’ views on advocates

Ian’s views on advocates

Making a difference

We are working to support change at a local and national level within DWP.

If you are a local DWP and want to work with us to pilot some of the recommendations please get in touch. We can provide a thorough analysis of how current policies may be causing barriers, and offer detailed recommendations based on our expertise and through engaging with organisations and potential claimants experiencing multiple disadvantages.

Influencing

Expert Link Response to Health and Disability Green Paper

Our submission to Shaping future support: the health and disability green paper focuses on improvements to the claims process for people with experience of multiple disadvantages. It has been solely informed by people with lived experience of multiple disadvantages and accessing the benefit system. Implementing these recommendations will further support the Government meet its critical commitment to end rough sleeping by the end of the Parliament.

Spending Review 2021

Our submission focuses on the Government priority to ensure strong and innovative public services. We call on
the Government to:
1. Ensure staff within public services are working with an effective understanding of trauma
2. Ensure Government Departments have evidence of how their policies are effecting those with experience of trauma
3. Invest in public sector delivery that emphasises strengths based approaches rather than deficit[1]based working
4. Work with people with lived experience of multiple disadvantage to develop more employment opportunities within public services and the voluntary and community sector
5. Build on the success of the Everybody In programme by requiring evidence of effective partnership working and co-production to access Government funding