Tuesday, 23 April 2013

Help For people Who Are Being Denied Benefits

This is an email I received that may help the sick and disabled and those on benefits.

Benefits and Work (campaign@benefitsandwork.co.uk)

Picture of Benefits and Work
If you’re not already a member, join the Benefits and Work community (open access) before midnight on Thursday and you can get 20% off the cost of your annual subscription. Just type the following code into the coupon box when you pay:

Claimants and carers get an annual subscription for £15.56, down from £19.45.
Professionals get an annual subscription for £77.60, down from £97.00.  Professionals can pay online or email a completed licence agreement within the deadline, quoting the coupon code in their email.
Dear gary,
In this edition’s ESA News we have the stirring tale of a claimant with ME who sued Atos for the distress, pain and fatigue he suffered at his ESA medical . . . and won.  We also have news of an ‘alternative’ work capability assessment to be piloted next year.
Moving on to PIP News, we have the entirely unsurprising announcement that the DWP are refusing to let Capita give claimants a recording of their PIP medical, even though Capita want to do so.  We also tell you precisely what GPs will have to do to earn their £33 a time payments for completing PIP factual report forms.
On to Bedroom Tax News, we have a cheery video of protestors visiting Iain Duncan smith’s mansion and picnicking on his lawn.  Plus we have a copy of a jaw droppingly illegal council tax letter being sent out by one local authority and a useful toolkit for claimants wanting to challenge a bedroom tax decision.
Finally, in General Benefits News, there’s increasing evidence that the DWP are trying to keep the option of short-term loans secret, preferring to force claimants to go to their local food bank instead, plus the ongoing saga of Tory ministers misusing statistics to whip up hatred against sick and disabled claimants.
"Very useful and I have learned a lot." Laura Skorupa, British Polio Fellowship.
"Very useful day." Carol Woodman, Assert (Mental Health Advocacy)
"Very helpful and well presented." Karin Gray, Scope.
"Very useful information." Alison Heavey, Huntington's Disease Association.

More about PIP training in London, Leeds, Birmingham and Bristol and universal credit training in Bristol here.
Disabled claimant David Johnson sued Atos after being forced to walk to an inaccessible medical assessment centre, even though he had told Atos about his access needs on his ESA50 form.  The ordeal left him in pain and very fatigued for weeks afterwards. .  Although Atos tried to wriggle out of liability by claiming they were not covered by the Equality Act when carrying out ESA medicals, they eventually caved in and paid Johnson £2,000 prior to any hearing taking place.  Johnson, who was assisted by the Equality and Human Rights Commission now wants others to follow his example in using the Equality Act to take action against Atos.

Members can read the full story and comment here.
In other ESA news, the DWP will be piloting an alternative work capability assessment (WCA) in the spring of next year.  Work and pensions minister Mark Hoban told MPs that the new test has been designed and approved by two groups of charities and is intended to assess mental health and fluctuating conditions more fairly than the current WCA.
You can read the minister’s statement here
We’ll keep members informed as more information emerges.
The DWP are refusing to let Capita give claimants a recording of their personal independence payment (PIP) medical, even though Capita want to do so at no cost to the taxpayer, a minister has revealed.

The DWP and Atos seem desperate to prevent widespread recording of medicals, for reasons that will be apparent to many people who have been through a work capability assessment.  
Perhaps it is time for claimants to follow the example of David Johnson above and make use of the Equality Act to argue that recording their PIP medical for personal use – in the way you might otherwise make handwritten notes – is a reasonable adjustment for claimants with memory or  concentration impairments and for those who have a physical difficulty with writing.
More details on recording PIP medicals here.  (open access)
Staying with PIP, as an increasing number of GPs around the country adopt a blanket policy of refusing to write letters in connection with benefits appeals (external site), the DWP has revealed that it is paying £33 a throw to GPs for completing a medical evidence form in connection with PIP. 
You can read all the questions on the new PIP factual report form for GPs here  (open access).
And, as the coalition continues its drive to simplify the benefits system, we now have two different appeal forms for benefits purposes. The standard GL24 appeal form is still in place for most benefits, but for PIP there is a different appeal form and a different appeal system.
Claimants wishing to appeal a PIP decision must first undergo the mandatory reconsideration process, which does not have a time limit, before putting in an appeal direct to the Tribunals Service, for which there is a very strict time limit.
You can download a copy of the SSCS1 appeal form (external link) from the Justice website.  We will be publishing a detailed guide to PIP appeals in the near future.
Finally, you can keep up with news of the challenges to PIP and the bedroom tax (below) launched by the excellent We Are Spartacus by visiting their Bedroom Tax  (external link) and PIP pages (external link).
If you want to see how ministers in the ‘we’re all in it together’ coalition really live, then there’s several excellent videos of a bedroom tax protest visit (external link) to the mansion of Iain Duncan  Smith by Disabled People against Cuts and UKUncut

And if you want to see just how incompetent or completely dishonest local authorities can be, then the letter sent out by Cornwall Council (external link)to victims of the bedroom tax should do the trick. 
The letter claims that:
‘The amount of bedrooms in the property is decided by your landlord and you will need to contact them in regards to this matter’.  
In fact, whilst the landlord tells the local authority how many bedrooms it considers the property has, the final decision has to be the local authorities, not the landlord’s.
Even more astonishingly, the letter actually tells claimants that:
“The decision made by the Council on your benefit is a non appealable decision.”
This is what is technically known as a ‘Big Fat Lie’ – bedroom tax decisions are appealable in the normal way.  
We would strongly recommend that anyone affected by the bedroom tax visit the SPeye website (external link) which exposed this letter and also get a copy of Govan Law Centre’s Bedroom Tax Appeal Toolkit (external link)
You need to register with the site to get a copy, but if you’re considering an appeal it’s definitely worth it.
There is growing evidence that the DWP are trying to prevent people from requesting a short-term benefit advance (STBA) to help them avoid damage to their health or safety – such as going without food, heating or lighting.  The STBA has replaced crisis loans for people who are, for example, waiting for a decision about their benefit claim.

However, according to the Guardian (externl link) Jobcentre Plus staff are sending people to their local food banks rather than telling them of the option of applying for an STBA.
The situation is so bad that England's eight biggest city councils  have sent a joint letter to the Department of Work and Pensions asking why jobcentres are not issuing the loans.
You can find out more about STBAs from the Turn To Us website.
The Guardian has also published an expose of the continuing dishonest misuse of official statistics by government ministers to whip up hatred against sick and disabled claimants.
Conservative party chairman, Grant Shapps, claimed that 878,000 people on ESA dropped their claims rather than face being assessed.  In fact, DWP research shows that the vast majority of these people dropped their claims because they got better or went back to work whether or not they had got better.
Meanwhile, IDS told the Daily Mail that in relation to DLA claims in the PIP pilot areas:
 "We've seen a rise [in claims] in the run-up to PIP. And you know why? They know PIP has a health check. They want to get in early, get ahead of it. It's a case of 'get your claim in early'.''
In fact, if you remove the children and pensioners, who won’t be affected by PIP, from the statistics the number of claims by working age people- who will be affected by PIP -  in the pilot area has actually gone down.
But it seems clear that Tory ministers are not going to let the truth get in the way of vilifying claimants at every possible opportunity.
Members can read more about this story and comment here.
There’s more news in the members area, including:

Judicial review bid will ‘shine a light on PIP injustice’
Remploy: Union disputes job figures
Survey ‘will help build vital picture of rights’
Atos looks second best to Capita as PIP assessments loom
We know how much feedback from other members means to people who get this newsletter, so please do keep your good luck stories coming.

Support group prior to appeal
“Thank you for all the information the site provides in this respect I really don't know where we would be without your invaluable advice.”

ESA appeal success
“A big thanks to b and w and all the team. Won my appeal today.”

Support group without medical
“Massive thank you to this website which i will recommend to everyone needing help with these benefits.”

WRAG on appeal
“Back payments?? Did not realise I could get back payments!! A big thank you to your site and your help”

Support group following medical
“May I take this opportunity to thank all at the Benefits at Work site”

IB to ESA support group without medical
“THANKS for all your good work!”

DLA awarded
“The B&W guides and the advice on how to answer certain questions were invaluable.”

Support group for 3 years without medical
“thank you all for the great guides which helped me immensely”

ESA support group without medical
“Thanks to the advice and help on this forum.”

Support group on renewal . . . probably
“I would firstly like to thank everyone for the wonderful guide, insites and support from this website. Don't know what I would have done without them.”

Support group without medical – but wrong gender
“Firstly, thank you so much for the guides you provide and also this forum, which have been very helpful and supportive for me”

Higher rate care and mobility indefinitely on renewal
“Thank you for the help.”

Returned to support group on appeal
“Many thanks to B&W for all the guides and information - it really was useful.”

Subscribe now (open access) and discover what a difference we can make.
You can also read this newsletter and comment online (open access).
Good luck,
Steve Donnison
Benefits and Work Publishing Ltd
Company registration No. 5962666

Thursday, 13 September 2012

The Top Rated Social Bookmarking Websites

Below are the top thirty social books marking websites. These have been ranked by a combination of Inbound Links, Google Page Rank, Alexa Rank, and U.S. traffic data from Compete and Quantcast. There are no exact measures of traffic but these numbers no less give us some idea about the market share of each these socialbookmarking players.

The single biggest social bookmarking website on the internet is Digg.


Digg is followed by Technorati www.technorati.com

Next in line is del.icio.us – one of the senior players on the social

bookmarking scene

The fourth largest social bookmarking site is Propeller. www.propeller.com

Then we have StumbleUpon – rounding up the top five social bookmarking

sites around.

Reddit. You can check it out at www.reddit.com

Next up is the most hilarious social bookmarking site you will find and it’s

called Fark. If you are into pop culture, you need to make it to


MyBlogLog – which obviously specializes in blogs. www.mybloglog.com

Slashdot is aimed at the techie population. Its tag line goes like this ‘for

nerds, things that matter’.

Kaboodle completes the top ten of the biggest social bookmarking

websites around. This is aimed at those looking to buy things on the

internet – shopping! You can share notes about products and stores at


Bloglines tracks blogs, news and feeds. It is still quite a busy site in terms

of traffic www.bloglines.com

Newsvine encourages users to post the latest news items from around the

world at
www.newsvine.com. It becomes a one stop shop for all kinds of news.

13. Blinklist is a very simple and easy to use social bookmarking website. It
sticks to the basics of creating and sharing bookmarks.

Netvouz allows users to have their own personalized bookmark page. Like

Blinklist, it is also quite simple.

Clip the highlights with Clipmarks. It shows the most popular and recent

‘clippings’ from the web by submitters.

Then we have Furl at number sixteen, which claims to be ‘your personal

web file’ It allows the same features of bookmarking, tagging and sharing.


Mister Wong lets you do your social bookmarking in several languages, so

you can make use of resources that may or may not originally be in your


dzone. This is aimed specifically at web developers www.dzone.com

Magnolia. This simply lets you find websites and build a community with

users who have the same interests.

Rounding up the top twenty social marking sites we have Tailrank. Tailrank

tracks the hottest news in the blogosphere at

Shoutwire has several topical categories. www.shoutwire.com

Simpy is a very simplified social bookmarking website. www.simpy.com

23. BlogMarks promises users a hassle free way to save their bookmarks and
share them too.

24. Faves – which used to be known as BlueDot.us. Faves builds personalized
pages for its users based on preferences and interests. http://faves.com

25.Spurl lets you upload bookmarks from your computer on to the social
bookmarking website.

26. Spotplex contains social bookmarks in multiple languages.

27. Linkswarm is a humorously written social bookmarking tool but with all the
same features.

28. Spotback also involves collaborative filtering. www.spotback.com
29. PlugIm. www.plugim.com
30. Rounding up the top thirty list on the best social bookmarking websites is
appropriately called MyBookMarks. www.mybookmarks.com

Tuesday, 4 September 2012

Using Fark To Create Traffic


Fark.com does not obviously seem to be a social bookmarking website. It is a humorous look at pop culture and the news, and is widely read by
people as an entertainment site. However, it is one of the most powerful social bookmarking sites around, and has the power to drive massive amounts of traffic to any website.

Fark is, in essence, a community based website.

Its creator Drew Curtis designed it so that it allows users to comment on a batch of
articles and news items that are updated daily. A seven day archive is also available for comment. Links to the articles or news items are submitted by registered Fark members which are then approved (green lit) or disapproved by the site administrators. Whether the links are approved or not, they can still have comment threads around them. Moderators monitor the discussion boards and any content that violates posting guidelines is removed.

Another variation of Fark is Totalfark. This is a premium version of Fark and requires a $5 monthly fee, whereas Fark is totally free. The advantage of Totalfark is that members have an online community and can take part in active and energizing discussions. They can comment on all posted links, not just the green lit ones.

In fact, the links submitted by this sub-community are not really meant for being
green lit and are displayed on Fark but reserved for comment and discussion by Totalfarkers. However, they may be green lit if they are particularly interesting, funny or embarrassing. This is particularly useful for you if you are looking at Fark from a social bookmarking perspective. If your blog is about any of the categories which Fark discusses, you can promote it heavily by posting links and inviting comment.

However, you must be careful. Your link must be good quality because the average Farker is intelligent and discerning.Furthermore, the administrators will soon work out if you are spamming. As mentioned before, there is no substitute for good content to drive traffic to your website, but once you build up credibility for your site, you can be assured that people will visit your website or blog for their daily fix.

Using Fark: Making It Work For You

You sign up for a free account on Fark and create a profile for yourself which is visible to other users. You can upload a picture and write a short bio about yourself, and you should do so, because this is important when trying to build up a community of like minded people to direct to your website. The Fark categories include Not News, Sports, Business, Geek, Showbiz, Politics, Videos and Voting. So, all of the news and infotainment articles that you could ever hope to read are listed here. Fark
describes itself as a new aggregator website and an edited social networking website, which receives about 1800 to 2000 links each day from users.

As suggested earlier, if your aim when using social bookmarking is to get people to visit your blog or website, then you should understand that each day, out of the 2000 odd submissions that Fark receives, only about fifty make it to the main page. So there is a high chance that your submission will not make it.
However, the kind of interaction you are seeking can be found on Totalfark. Furthermore, all the submissions that feature on Totalfark are archived in their entirety and not just limited to a seven day archive. Totalfark also allows for greater interaction and connectivity.

Users can, for example, add other users as ‘favorites’. You can highlight posts made
by your friends in any color you like and of course they can do the same for you.
Every time someone ‘favorites’ you, it creates a link back to your website. Not only can you ‘favorite’ your friends, but you can also do the same for your favorite posts and links as well.
Fark also has a voting feature where users vote on a particular humorous idea and whether it works or not. This is a great way to get people on your site, that is, if your link makes it to the voting section.

One of the most unusual distinguishing features of Fark is the tags given to the stories by the submitters themselves. They are displayed right next to a cleverly funny headline and carry a link to the actual story, as well as to the forum that is discussing the story. Next to the article you will find a number in parentheses. This
indicates the number of comments that have been made about the story, and the
more comments a story gets, the more likely people are to visit it.



Sunday, 26 August 2012

Use Stumble Upon To Create Traffic

Stumble Upon

StumbleUpon is just a little different from the other social bookmarking websites (actually they are all just a little bit different from each other).

It works as a browser plugin to let you ‘stumble upon’ and rate websites, articles, blogs, photos, videos etc. A person using StumbleUpon is known as a ‘stumbler’, and when you come across an interesting web find you just click the Stumble! Button on your tool bar and add it to your StumbleUpon favorites. All the functions that you would normally use in social bookmarking are made available on your browser with StumbleUpon.

StumbleUpon is a great way to discover exciting new content on the web in a relatively random fashion, as well as sharing your finds with your friends. When you click the button on your browser, StumbleUpon generates web page matches according to your preferences. The pages displayed are those that have been
recommended by your friends or other users of Stumble that have interests similar you.

Using StumbleUpon: Making It Work for You

To use StumbleUpon all you need to do is to sign up for a free account and then download the free browser plug in. Once this is installed and activated, then StumbleUpon chooses which new website will be displayed depending on the ratings you assigned to previous pages, or on ratings of websites by your friends
and the sometimes perhaps even based upon the ratings of other users on StumbleUpon who have the same interests as you. So, if people in your network give your website thumbs up, more and more people are likely to visit it.

The content on StumbleUpon is based on a rating system that allows users to givethumbs up or thumbs down to a website, so it is an entirely recommendation based system that makes extensive use of socialnetworking principles. It also has a one click blogging system, and users can rate a blog with a thumbs up or thumbs down decision.

What StumbleUpon actually uses is called collaborative filtering. This is an automated process that makes active use of the opinions of the people using the system. It also takes into account the personal preferences that come about from machine learning. This creates a virtual community of people who are connected to each other, and over time this community should become ever more closely linked
because of the new linkages being added every day.

The website updates each user’s personal profile, which is a blog style record of the
sites that that particular user has rated. Then, StumbleUpon generates peer group networks of users that are connected by similar interests, and it is these social networks that organize the distribution of the content on StumbleUpon.

What happens is that users of StumbleUpon only the get to view the pages that have
been recommended by their friends or those who have similar interests.
Instead of just giving a site a thumbs up or down, you also have the option of leaving
comments on the website, and this will also appear in the user’s profile/blog. This
way of discovering content on the web is becoming surprisingly close to automating
the word of mouth marketing function.

Stumblers have the chance to rate and review the blogs created by their peers, and,
as a Stumbler, you could also join certain interest groups as well to further increase
the interactivity of your account. These are community forums created to discuss
specific topics wherein users post comments in such a way that it becomes more like a discussion board.

StumbleUpon claims to have a certain edge over conventional search methods, and some of these could be crucial to increasing your website’s visibility and directing traffic towards it. Using search engines often means that we have to carefully sift through pages and
pages of seemingly relevant content, but often these results are nothing more than somewhat irrelevant keyword matches which may be far from what you are looking for.

Using StumbleUpon, however, you can be sure that if the content on your website is good, then people who are genuinely interested in what you have to say will see you. Members have also come to trust content on StumbleUpon, since members are taken directly to matches that are sorted according to interests and preferences.
They are more likely to visit your site if it is visible on StumbleUpon. Like most other social bookmarking sites, StumbleUpon uses technology that is essentially driven by humans. By using a combination of machine learning and human opinions to yield search results, StumbleUpon delivers content that is highly relevant and appropriate, so that the user gets a high quality website every time they
search for something and they come to trust this pattern. This means that when your
website shows up on StumbleUpon, it will almost automatically have greater credibility.

StumbleUpon is quite easy to use too, so it could work for you, even if you are just
learning the ropes of social bookmarking. Also, if your target audience is not exceptionally good at understanding the workings of the internet and social bookmarking, StumbleUpon is a good place to start. Users can add your website to
their favorites with a simple click and they also have the opportunity to pass your link on to others in their online community. They can also give feedback or make comments. This creates an inevitable network of visitors to your website.

StumbleUpon lists nearly five hundred topics that users can choose to list as their
interests and preferences. This allows you to get your website known in different circles and communities of users. The internet just keeps getting bigger and more complex each day. Information is also constantly changing. StumbleUpon has a dynamic approach keeping fully abreast of all of the freshest sites, blogs and articles on the internet. It filters tons of
information on the website to bring content to its visitors. So if you have created a
new website, you can promote it and invite feedback and comments on it by using StumbleUpon.

Furthermore, the more active you are on StumbleUpon, the more visibility you will
gain, because StumbleUpon compiles a list of its most active users, and this gives extra exposure to those who are very active and helpful. It also shows you people on
StumbleUpon who are geographically close to you.


Monday, 20 August 2012

How To Use Delicious To Get Free Traffic

www.delicious.com Just like any other social bookmarking site, del.icio.us is a collection of people’s favorites. These favorites are yours and those of many others like you. Whenever you find an interesting article, blog, music, recipe, review or just
about anything else, then you can simply save it to del.icio.us. This makes your favorites accessible from anywhere, not just your computer.

Furthermore, you can share these favorites with the people around you, whether they are family, friends or coworkers, and you can even build your very own
community of like minded individuals on del.icio.us. Del.icio.us also opens up the window to the best content on the web, so that you don’t have to sift through the thousands of search engine results. Everything on del.icio.us is someone’s favorite,
and this already acts as a content filter so you know that you are only getting the best resources and most appropriate website shown to you. Users can, as always,browse the numerous tags to search for what they want.

Using del.icio.us: Making It Work For You

Del.icio.us is basically a social bookmarking website that enables you to save your bookmarks online. You can use it to your advantage to get maximum exposure for your website or blog. It gives you access to the links that other people have tagged as favorites and this provides you with an insight into what kind of content people are looking for and how to position your website in relation to this content. You can
assign one word descriptors to your posts; that is, tags. Tagging allows greater flexibility – since you can give a post multiple tags and increase your chances of
being viewed.

The following are some of the major reasons why people visit del.icio.us and my suggestions for harnessing the power of its extremely large visitor base to increase traffic to your website:
• Many people searching social bookmarking websites are looking for information or doing research. If your website is information based, then use the site to pick up tips on what kind of information people need most, so that you can post accordingly. Stay active in the ‘tags’ that directly or indirectly relate to your own website. Only when you post comments actively will people comment on your posts, thereby creating a network of back links and opening up new business avenues.

• Many people now do a considerable part of their buying and selling on the internet. For example, people commonly choose presents on the internet and
have them delivered. They even have their own wish list posted on the net and share it with others. This can be a gold mine if your online business is
product sales based. Trawl the wish list tags to get an idea of what people are buying. If you find a wish list that’s looking for what you are selling, drop them

a message and tell them you can help. If the user finds you and your service helpful, they are likely to recommend your product to others as well. This
could open up a treasure trove of visitors and buyers on your website.

• Many of us listen to pod casts – whether it is news, music, reviews or entertainment. There is a considerable market for pod casts. If you are in the
business of developing pod casts, make sure you check out the mp3 and podcast tags on del.icio.us to see what people are listening to now.

• The internet is also fast becoming a popular travel resources center. People are buying bus, rail and air tickets online. They are choosing destinations and
hotels online. And when it comes to traveling, word of mouth is a great marketing tool. People are likely to trust information from people who have been to the place, used the same airline etc. If your online business is travel related, it would be a good idea to get yourself acquainted with the travel and
other related tags. Become an active member, help people organize the travel and get the benefit of guiding traffic to your travel based website at the same time
• Creating a link log can also help you immensely and is quite simple to do. Make sure you comment on other users’ blogs as well and they will comment
on yours, thus creating a network of links that point back to your website.

• You can also use del.icio.us as a tremendous networking tool and also for pooling resources and completing projects that need collaborative work.
Groups of people can use a shared account. They can use special tags for their own work and share relevant bookmarks that will be useful to the entire
group. You can, in fact, basically organize your tags and resources in anyway that you want.