ESA & Kier’s Cataclysmic Communication

“It is easier to get forgiveness than permission.”
Stuart’s Law of Retroaction

Let’s talk about Kier and ESA – no, they are not a comedy act on some obscure daytime TV channel, but they might as well be given the custard pie that Kier has recently thrown at disabled former officers.

Kier is a huge public company, noted primarily for major civil engineering construction projects, house building, commercial property development and for providing a range of services to businesses such as asset management, energy saving solutions, logistics, fleet management, highway and waterway management, and now, the administration of police injury pensions.

ESA is a State benefit – employment support allowance – which is intended to provide financial help to people who have an illness, health condition or disability that makes it difficult or impossible to work.

Several forces have signed contracts with Kier to take over the role of the traditional County Hall payroll department and to do the admin work involved with police injury pensions. We assume they also handle the admin on other police and civilian employee pensions, but here we are only concerned with injury pensions.

Some bright spark, perhaps within Kier, or more probably someone sat at a desk in Northumbria, has come up with what they think is a corking good plan. They have noticed that the Police (Injury Benefit) Regulations 2006 were recently amended. This is what the relevant regulation used to say, (and I will paraphrase for the sake of simplicity):

If you are entitled to incapacity benefit, then your police pension authority will deduct from your injury pension an amount equal to that of the incapacity benefit.

The amendment merely substitutes employment support allowance for incapacity benefit.

The bright spark, or as time will tell, the not so bright spark, has not thought things through, for Kier have been asked (or decided themselves) to send out letters to all injury pensioners who they administer.

Here is the letter:

ESA Kier letter

And here is the form which accompanied it:
ESA Kier consent

The gist of all this is that the police pension authority would like the Government to pay out ESA to all who qualify so they can trim a wodge of cash off the injury pension budget, and spend the savings on things like refurbishing the CC’s private loo, or buying a shiny new car with hidden blue lights and siren for the force’s solicitor.

You can see their point. As always the smell of money drives completely out the window all common sense and all semblance of decency, and all considerations of the needs and feelings of vulnerable disabled folk. And the Regulations do say that the PPA ‘shall’ make these deductions. Looks like a slam dunk case – if you have not taken the trouble to think things through, and have relied on the expectation that IOD pensioners will do as they are told, without question.

But, there are flaws in the plan. Kier write that, ‘Whether you are in receipt of payment of contribution-based ESA or not is irrelevant: it is whether you are entitled to a contribution-based ESA which determines whether a deduction needs to be made.’

Legally, this is a correct statement. It is its implications which need examining. We know this letter has caused a lot of head-scratching amongst IOD pensioners, and we also know that unfortunately it has caused a lot of raised anxiety levels and other unwelcome and harmful reactions – and that’s putting it mildly.

Pensioners who are in receipt of ESA – and we think there will be very few – have no immediate problem. They know where they stand. All they have to worry about is whether Kier will take the actual equivalent amount from their injury pension, or will take a gross amount, thus leaving them out of pocket.

It is pensioners who don’t receive ESA, and who thus don’t know whether they are entitled to it who are being upset.

They can’t know whether they are entitled to ESA without actually making application to the DWP for it. They rightly and understandably are querying why they should be put to this trouble. Some have made tentative enquiries with the DWP and are told that they probably would not qualify. We won’t go into the detail here, but it seems more likely that more IOD pensioners will not be entitled than those who would be.

The issue here is that there is no duty, no requirement, no legal imperative for any person to claim any State benefit. If their choice is not to make a claim, then that is up to them. Nobody can tell them to make application for ESA. Why would anyone see any reason to place themselves in the hands of the DWP, nice people that they are, purely for the benefit of the police pension authority?

The letter from Kier turns a bit nasty. It sets a deadline for a response from pensioners. It is an unreasonable deadline as nobody could complete an application for ESA and get a result in the time allowed. Worse, it is an unenforceable deadline. There is no legal authority behind it.

Kier than get even more nasty. There is a veiled and rather vague threat:

‘Failure to respond (by the deadline) will mean that we are unable to correctly assess your level of injury pension.’

To which the response which immediately forms in our heads is, ‘So what?’ What are Kier going to do?

Well, the answer is, to quote our American cousins, diddly-squat.

Logically, Kier were happily paying your injury pension at the correct level before they sent out the letter, and the absence of knowing whether you are entitled to claim ESA or not does not alter that situation. If you were to chuck the letter in the bin Kier would have no option but to continue paying your pension as normal. Kier could not deduct an ESA equivalent because it is legally bound to only do that when it knows, for certain, with evidence of proof, that an individual is ‘entitled’ to ESA.

In their own words, ‘Whether you are in receipt of payment of contribution-based ESA or not is irrelevant:  it is whether you are entitled to a contribution-based ESA which determines whether a deduction needs to be made’

If Kier doesn’t know, and the pensioner doesn’t know, and the DWP doesn’t know, then Kier can not be in a position to deduct anything.

Now we come to the attached form, which Kier call the ‘authorisation’.

We fully appreciate that pensioners ought to let Kier know if there are changes in respect of relevant benefits received. Nobody is suggesting that IOD pensioners should get more than is their right, and equally none should be paid less than is their right.  However, there is a broad river of difference between an actual change, and an entitlement. If you don’t know whether you are entitled to ESA and don’t care to be bothered to find out, then that is not a foul.

Kier wants pensioners to give permission, via Kier, to the DWP for the DWP to tell Kier details, ‘of any benefits which I am entitled to receive wholly or partly (whether in payment or not) in respect of the relevant injury.’

Well, we are sorry to say to Kier that the DWP won’t have that information. The DWP can’t possibly know whether anyone is entitled to any benefit until and unless they actually apply for it. On that basis, the request for permission is a fishing expedition, and amounts to asking for unlimited, unrestricted access to every detail of all benefits, whether specified in the Regulations or not, for the full lifetime of the individual. Anyone who gives such permission would be unwise in the extreme to do so.

The letter, and the ‘authorisation’ form are poorly worded, capable of causing confusion, logically inconsistent and are coloured with poorly-disguised threats. It does not reflect well on the standards of this multi-million pound industrial company and smacks of being a letter they have cobbled together with little thought.

Kier are hoping for quiet acquiescence, and are trusting that pensioners will do what they are told. As evidence of this, we report the experience of more than one pensioner who have rung Kier to query the letter and the ‘authorisation’ only to be told, and we quote verbatim, ‘Don’t worry about it. Just tick the top box and send the form back to us.’

Amazing!  Kier are saying that they don’t care a jot whether you lie on your form. Just fill in that you don’t get ESA and they will leave you alone. Never mind that would be lie, which would be fraud. It might even be conspiracy to defraud by you and by Kier.

We don’t think Kier’s heart is in this custard pie fight. They have thrown the first pie, and must realise that quite a storm of pies will be flying back at them.

IODPA says to any IOD pensioner who has concerns about these letters and forms: seek professional advice from an independent expert, such as a solicitor. Don’t rely on local NARPO or Federation to give you sound advice, for with the best will in the world they won’t know how to deal with this unusual situation. If you are unsure what to do about the form, then the best course of action is to do nothing. Wait until the custard pies have hit the fan and see what Kier do next.

We anticipate that nothing bad will happen, and, to extend what Stuart says, “It is easier to get forgiveness for not filling in a stupid form than to sign that permission and regret doing so.”

ESA & Kier’s Cataclysmic Communication
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26 thoughts on “ESA & Kier’s Cataclysmic Communication

  • 2017-03-13 at 7:21 pm
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    Update.

    On further investigation it seems that only Class 1 and 2 contributions are taken into account, so maybe I’m worrying unduly. Any advice gratefully received though.

  • 2017-03-13 at 7:02 pm
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    I think you’re right, but that in itself causes a further problem for those of us without enough NI contributions to qualify for the full state pension. I was intending to make some Class 3 voluntary contributions in order to top-up, but of course that would possibly leave me in the position of being eligible for ESA, at least theoretically. I feel it’s a risk I can’t take, so I’ll no doubt end up with a smaller state pension as a result.

  • 2017-03-13 at 6:23 pm
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    I’ve had one of these letters from Kier.
    Before replying to them I thought I would do some homework as it gave me a near damn heart-attack with the thought of impending stress and under-payments.
    Glad I came across this site and am very thankful for the support.
    I do claim IIDB and it is being deducted as it should be.
    One thing that I am unsure about though is the PIP payments.
    Is this one of the benefits that is covered under the pension regulations or is it as yet under the radar.

    • 2017-03-13 at 6:42 pm
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      PIP isn’t deductable Ian and there’s no legislation that can allow that to happen

      • 2017-03-13 at 6:57 pm
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        Thanks for the quick reply with regards to PIP payments.
        With regards to Kier, I think a quick letter stating that I do not qualify for contribution based ESA would suffice at this stage. Thanks again.

    • 2017-03-13 at 6:43 pm
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      Pip is def not yet deductible from an IOD award.

  • 2017-03-12 at 1:15 pm
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    Well done IDOPA yet again on your support and explanations.

    I take your point on the “nuts” to Kier fishing trip on the attached form to my letter and I for one will not be sending it back on principle. No SAE indeed!

    Having done a little research one both forms of ESA I think that very few of us IODs would qualify for either. Correct me if I am wrong but following are required to qualify :-

    ESA, (contribution based): Claimant has to have made a minimum of 26 weeks class 1 or 2 National Insurance contributions in either or both of the two tax years prior to the claim being made.

    ESA (Support based) Claimant, or claimant and partner must have under £16000 in savings or investments, thats without going in to our pension income.

    So, in conclusion, if you have not worked and paid NI in the last two tax years and have £16000 plus in savings, you can safely tick the box as you will qualify for the grand total of nothing!

  • 2017-03-11 at 2:48 pm
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    I have today received a letter from Kier confirming that based on the information I supplied to them, my injury award will remain unchanged. There’s no way they’ve had time to enquire into this, so one assumes they’re just accepting individuals’ word that they have no ESA entitlement. Let us hope that’s the case and that this sorry episode can be swiftly resolved before it causes any more distress.

    • 2017-03-15 at 2:43 pm
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      Got exactly the same letter today.

  • 2017-03-09 at 1:29 pm
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    Is there any update on how to deal with this latest unpleasant communication?
    I got one today after being retired for many years. I’ve never even heard of ESA. I do get IIB though.

    • 2017-03-09 at 4:09 pm
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      The consent form fails to give legitimate safeguards to your sensitive and personal data – it is in no way implied consent! Giving Kier or any 3rd party carte blanche permission to access all documentation between yourself& DWP to a sub-contracted pension provider is never advisable. If you claim IIDB then the correct assumption is this is already being deducted from your injury pension as per Schedule3 7(3)(a) of the Regulations. Perhaps 2 lines in a short letter, one to confirm that it (IIDB) is correctly being deducted and if you aren’t in receipt of ESA then the second tells them as much.

    • 2017-03-10 at 12:43 pm
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      Unfortunately, in the absence of any official guidance from anyone I’ve signed the document giving them permission, I guess I was one of the lucky ones who received my injury pension without my ESA (formerly IB) being deducted.

      I’ve attached a note, whether this will be read or even taken into account I don’t know, but I’ve not put a date from when I first claimed, firstly I can’t remember, secondly as it is not retrospective I don’t see why that should be relevant ?

  • 2017-03-03 at 9:56 am
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    If the respective forces haven’t asked people for their permission to release their data to Kier in the first place, when Kier took over pension administration. Are they not breaching the DPA in sending very personal, private data to a third party? Or is the DPA another thing that they are above?

  • 2017-02-27 at 12:54 am
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    There exists at the moment a completely ridiculous situation involving the payments of ESA by the DWP and IOD pensions by police authorities to ‘injured on duty’ officers. Both are benefits and are mutually exclusive; i.e. they cannot both be paid at the same time to anyone individual.

    IT IS A RIDICULOUS SITUATION BECAUSE OF ALL THE LEGAL SHENANIGANS I SHALL DESCRIBE BELOW EXIST PURELY TO ACHIEVE A STATUS QUO.

    THAT STATUS QUO IS, THAT WHATEVER LEGAL SHENANIGANS GO ON BETWEEN THE POLICE AUTHORITIES AND THE DWP AS TO WHO PAYS WHAT TO RETIRED IOD OFFICERS (IOD and/or or not ESA) AT THE END OF IT ALL, THE IOD OFFICER RECEIVES THE SAME INCOME!

    These shenanigans, however, come at an enormous cost to all three parties (DWP, Police Authorities and IOD pensioners) and for what? All to achieve the status quo described above.

    The legal process that has been instigated in order to achieve this status quo costs:
    (A) the DWP millions of pounds in administration costs
    (B) the police authorities millions of pounds in administration costs and lawsuits
    (C) the IOD officer suffers mental, physical and financial stress, financial hardship (temporary reduced income) and, in many cases, serious psychological damage remembering that many IOD officers suffer from PTSD.

    I REPEAT – ALL THIS COST AND SUFFERING TO ULTIMATELY ACHIEVE A STATUS QUO (as described above).

    The government needs to stop these shenanigans if, for nothing else, to stop wasting millions of pounds ultimately achieving the status quo described above, but more importantly to stop the needless and cruel suffering they cause IOD officers.

    There seems to be a choice of two simple solutions to immediately halt these costly shenanigans.

    SOLUTION 1
    IOD pensioners receive their IOD benefit as a permanent solution to a permanent problem/injury. It seems incongruous, nay ridiculous, to have a permanent solution disrupted by a solution designed to plug a temporary problem/financial hardship and that disruption so costly to all parties concerned. ESA can be applied for and reapplied for as a stopgap to temporary financial problems.

    But IOD officers do not have a temporary financial problem. In most cases, they have found a way to cope with life financially and emotionally, on a permanent basis, on their IOD income and any other supplementary income and have no interest whatsoever or need in temporary stopgaps proffered by the DWP.

    So, solution 1 is not to disrupt a perfectly good permanent solution with extremely costly temporary solutions. Leave IOD pensions alone.

    (NOTE: at least IIB payments are part of a permanent solution)

    SOLUTION 2
    These shenanigans only benefit the Police Authorities – not either of the other two parties. They do not benefit the DWP because they have to pay up either way. The IOD pensioner does not benefit because his income will stay the same.

    But at a terrible cost to both the DWP and the IOD pensioners as described above.

    If the Government insists that the Police Authorities must benefit from the existence of ESA, then let the DWP and Police Authorities sort out the relevant financial situation of IOD pensioners regarding ESA between themselves without involving the pensioners.

    Police authorities are writing to IOD pensioners informing them that they will deduct the ESA they could claim whether they claim it or not.

    That means that somehow the Police Authorities know how much that could be claiming though it is beyond the understanding of most of us exactly how they know.

    But, since they do know, solution 2 is that the Police Authorities claim that amount directly from the DWP.

    HENCE, THE STATUS QUO IS PRESERVED, THE POLICE AUTHORITIES BENEFIT BUT WITH MINIMAL ADMINISTRATION COSTS AND NO FINANCIAL OR EMOTIONAL DISTRESS TO IOD PENSIONERS.

    NOTE 1: this is only the case if the ESA is awarded for the same injury as for which the IOD was awarded. It is this case, and this case only, we are discussing here.

    NOTE 2: if the ESA is awarded for a different injury from that for which the IOD was awarded, then it cannot be deducted.

    NOTE3: if the ESA is awarded for a combination of injuries which includes the injury on duty injury, then a relevant percentage would have to be calculated in order to allocate the correct deduction from the IOD pension.

  • 2017-02-26 at 11:52 pm
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    I received a similar letter and authorisation form, so i contacted the DWP and they sent me a letter stating the amount of ESA i claim and then i sent that in, no authorisation letter, no way.

  • 2017-02-26 at 5:43 pm
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    Isn’t ESA means tested? Surely only people who are not getting enough money to live on from any other source would be entitled to ESA?

    Police officers injured on duty are supposed to be covered with an IOD pension based on well…. used to be… how serious the injuries are and what earnings we were on when we got injured, to guarantee our cost of living expenses. Nowadays it seems that those pensions are being unlawfully reduced and nibbled away at in all manner of ways by the Police Forces involved through despotic and lying SMP’s and HR departments.

    If that is the case how can deductions for ESA be made from any IOD pension?

    Is this latest action by Kier done under their own steam?or have they been ordered to assist in the nibbling away at IOD pensions (done through reviews)? It would seem that Kier would be wanting a higher rate of pay for this extra duty they are having to do over and above just sending us our pensions. So much for any pennies that may be grasped from IOD pensions.

    To deduct ESA from IOD pensions was decided for Feb 10th, 2017. Then it should only be deducted from officers being retired IOD after that date and not being made retroactively imho. |

    Again I thank God for IODPA.org being there to assist us iOD pensioners once again! I beleve that the letter sent out by Kier recently is most likely unlawful as it is demanding that permission be granted for them to access our private information!!

    The stress all this stuff is adding to the stress already being suffered by IOD pensioners is totally unnecessary! The IOD pensioner should not have to be involved in all this bickering about which of the Government (DWP) or the County Councils for each force is going to foot the IOD pensions payout bill!

  • 2017-02-26 at 1:55 pm
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    Unfortunately I replied but crossed out the permission to check all benefits. I said they can check on ESA only. I also included a recent letter I had received saying I was not eligible. A letter I get every year even though I have not claimed since 2013, before receiving my pension.

  • 2017-02-25 at 4:24 pm
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    Yet another example of a large organisation using bullshit and bluster to scare people into giving up just what they want, ‘unlimited access to your private information. Well done IODPA, people need not be scared by bullies.’

  • 2017-02-25 at 9:15 am
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    Just want to pass on my thanks to blog writer. Without you, many of us feel somewhat alone. Narpo seem less than able at giving robust responses to such intimidation.

  • 2017-02-24 at 10:33 pm
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    Another brilliant blog. Explaining, what Kier failed to do. Even if you working I don’t think you can claim ESA so in my case I am not claiming. Naughty misleading letter and use pensioners come to accept this standard or be it completely misleading that’s designed to cause. Infuriating confusion anxiety.

  • 2017-02-24 at 7:16 pm
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    I agree with Seasider, if you haven’t contributed National Insurance in the last two years, you can safely say you are not entitled to contributory ESA.

  • 2017-02-24 at 5:45 pm
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    I suspect they will go for PIP next.

  • 2017-02-24 at 5:16 pm
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    Kier of “Capita” Fame and ownership, Im assuming.
    That well known company who are constantly involved in the “race to the bottom” for any large government contract. They have and remain successful in the wholescale ruin of armed forces recruitment.

    I got my letter from them, and was dismayed that they never even bothered to put a SAE in. So they actually want me to pay for a stamp to tell them this pointless information. I emailed it anyhow like the good former police employee I am, to here: penmail@kier.co.uk

    I was told some years ago, in no uncertain terms, that my pension means I can not have any benefits from DWP

    • 2017-02-24 at 6:00 pm
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      You are entitled to earnings replacement benefits like ESA and the state pension, and non means tested benefits like Ind Injuries and PIP.

  • 2017-02-24 at 5:07 pm
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    I received one of these letters and to say the least am less than impressed. I retired injured and worked again before again being retired unfit. This means that the ESA should not be taken into account as regards my injury pension. Phoned Kier and advised them and spoke/argued with an extremely rude woman on the phone. All they kept saying was write in — not easy when your disability means you find it hard to type/write. (this is being typed for me by my daughter). They simply weren’t interested. Emailed (again with help) Chief Con who is responsible for running the scheme and Chief Exec of Kier a Mr Mursell — no reply they’ve clearly forgot what their mothers taught them about manners.
    Submitted a complaint to Kier and am awaiting a reply. They have succeeded in making me more ill.
    I even know of someone in their seventies who could never have claimed ESA getting one of these letters.

    • 2017-02-24 at 6:06 pm
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      They are talking about contributions based ESA and most pensioners won’t have paid any NI in the last 2 years so can’t claim it. You can and should claim AA/PIP and IIDB though.

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