Our Time To Talk (OTTT)

Friday 13th July 2012 (11am – 1pm)

Melksham Fire Station

Glossary of terms:

WSUN       Wiltshire and Swindon User’s Network

GP              Doctor

MH              Mental Health

WC             Wiltshire Council

PCT           Primary Care Trust

DLA            Disability Living Allowance

WMHP       Wiltshire Mental Health Partnership Board

AWP          Avon and Wiltshire Mental Health Partnership

SU              Service User(s)

CAB           Citizens Advice Bureau




Denise Richards and Samiha Abdeldjebar (Service User Representatives)

Lorraine Reeves and Amber Graham (WSUN)

WSUN members

Sarah Cardy (Wiltshire Citizens Advice Bureau)

Debbie (Enabler from Allied)



1.      Welcome and Introductions

Lorraine welcomed everyone to the meeting and briefed everyone on the fire station facilities.  Sarah Cardy from Wiltshire Citizens Advice Bureau was introduced as guest speaker.



2.      Presentation from Sarah Cardy

Sarah explained that the Welfare Reforms Bill is the biggest changes to benefits system since 1948.there are 87 benefits in total that can be claimed. This bill is aimed at people under the age of 65, to reduce the complexity of benefits, by reducing the amount of benefits available, as well as reducing the dependency on benefits.
  • For people living in private lets, there will be a reduction on benefits. Renting costs will be monitored to ensure that landlords aren’t charging too much.
  • Child benefit will be means tested- households with a combined income of £40,000 or more will not qualify.
  • Employment Support Allowance (ESA) will have a maximum claim time of 12 months.


Universal Credit is a new benefit…

  • Applies to working age families
  • Will simplify the benefit system by combining working age benefits and tax credits (ie. Child tax credit, housing benefit, income related ESA, Job Seekers Allowance, working tax credit) into one allowance.
  • People will be phased in over time, with everyone eligible expected to be on universal credit by 2016.
  • Claiming online will be encouraged (80% of people are expected to claim online). There will be exceptions for people who can’t use computers for certain reasons. For those who need support, home visiting officers will go to people’s houses and help them with their claims.
  • Universal Credit will be paid monthly, and will be paid to the household, not the individual. This will be a big change for people in learning to budget.
  • There will be a cap of a maximum claim of £26,000 per year. Wiltshire Council has written to everyone this will affect- only 20 families were identified.
  • Universal Credit will be paid directly to the individual, not the landlord.
  • Housing benefits will be reduced- if a single person has a 2 bed house, they will only get the money for a one bed house. The Council will have a Discretionary Housing fund- if people cannot afford to live in their home anymore, they can apply for this money while they decide what to do (ie. Move to a smaller, more affordable property).
  • Council tax- there will be a local scheme where people must pay a small amount towards council tax. This only affects people under pension age.


Personal Independence Payment (PIP) is also a new benefit…

  • It will replace Disability Living Allowance
  • It will be designed around an individual’s needs
  • It will not be a lifetime award anymore- people will be re-assessed after a maximum of 5 years
  • Everyone who applies for PIP will have a medical assessment- it has not yet been decided who will do this, there are 9 people tendering for the contract.
  • The medical assessment will be based on a points system- what you can and can’t do. This includes categories such as preparing food, keeping clean and getting ready etc.


3.      Further questions/comments raised by SU


It’s really hard to get an appointment at CAB.

Answer: The Citizens Advice Bureau dealt with 23,000 people last year and 75,000 enquiries. Sarah brought along some leaflets with the opening times and the telephone number for the advice line.

Some people won’t have bank accounts to receive Universal Credit.

Answer:  We are looking at how we can support people who do not have bank accounts- work/research has been done to identify these individuals and families who are affected so we can support them. Most people will be eligible for basic bank accounts. There is also the option of credit union accounts and budgeting accounts.


When you say that Universal Credit will be paid as a household, does that include everybody who lives in your house?

Answer:  No, this only applies to those related to you, and partners. Co-habitees are not included.


Can you appeal a decision for Personal Independence Payments?

Answer: Yes, you can appeal decisions for all of the benefits talked about. The CAB will help with appeal, or advocacy services.


Is Disability Living Allowance affected if I get a job?

Answer:  No, DLA is not affected if you get a job.



  1. Feedback from SU Reps
During the meeting Denise R. expressed concerns that she no longer had any NHS and AWP contacts to work OTTT issues with, and that this was leaving her feeling impotent.  Lorraine then mentioned the upcoming Community Care Forum which should give an avenue to address the OTTT issues.




5.  SU Ongoing Issues

Denise R. went through issues outlined on service user work plan. The group agreed to close issues regarding:
  • Issues with the Alabare referral form- service users asked why they needed to provide so much information and felt the form was intrusive.
  • Alabare literature needs to be easier to understand
  • Concerns about what service is offered to people who are too unwell to work with Alabare/Community Bridge Builders
  • Issues about the referral process- what happens when referral is received by Alabare?
  • Without a Mind building/drop in, there were concerns that people would fall through the net
  • Elizabeth House should be around the county, not just Salisbury
  • Request that OTTT meetings are arranged in local places, such as the library
  • WSUNs funding for OTTT will continue until March 2011
  • Problems with the continuity of service from Mind to Alabare
  • It is important to remember that different service users have different needs and Government or local support should take this into account

For more information and the responses, please see Denise R.’s work plan on our website , or phone for a paper copy.






6.     Other Issues



The group went round the table and shared their concerns/issues:

  • Would like a speaker from the Job Centre- lots of changes at the moment. Employment Support Allowance will replace income support. Issues with the assessment for this change of benefit.
  • AWP changes- are AWP CPNs and consultants all going to Chippenham?
  • Mental health at Red Gables- lack of care, concerns about how you are treated.
  • Issues with applying for jobs online- feel discriminated
  • Will I get the support I need if my circumstances/needs change?
  • Care options issues
  • Worries about changes to the benefit system.














7.      Future meeting options


In relation to the concerns raised, the group then voted on priority for future speakers. The results are listed below in priority order:

  • Eleanor De Silva- Engagement services at AWP
  • Representative from the Job Centre
  • Duncan Hames- MP
  • Amy Cahillane- Wiltshire Wellbeing Project
  • Jane Salmon- Modern matron, Green Lane and Fountain Way


Denise R. felt that it The Wiltshire Wellbeing Project was not appropriate for the group at the present time.


The group have decided that for the next OTTT, Eleanor De Silva (AWP) is the preferred guest speaker. The group would then like to break for lunch (bring you own), and then have a guest speaker from the Job Centre. As the changes will only affect under 65s, it was felt that this was the best way to get the most out of the meeting for all attendees.


Note: Since the OTTT meeting on the 13th July 2012 Wiltshire Mind head office have notified all their service users that they will be closing.  Groups will cease mid‑November.



















Meeting Date Time Place
OTTT  October 2012 TBC Melksham Fire Station




Typed by:  A.Graham……………………………Date: 16th July 2012

Page last updated: October 15th, 2012 at 2:34 am