Autism Berkshire’s Benefits Advice Service is available to people living with autism in the county, whether or not they are members of Autism Berkshire.
Our benefits service manager Kevin Jackson and caseworker Carrie Steers have many years of experience helping people with benefit applications.
They can help autistic adults and the parents and carers of children with autism spectrum conditions on an individual basis and through our Understanding your Rights workshops (see below).
Please note that we strongly advise people to contact us when they start to prepare to make a benefit application, so that our team can ensure the forms contain as much relevant information as possible for the initial assessment by the Department for Work and Pensions.
Support is also available to people with related conditions including severe dyslexia, dyspraxia, obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), subject to payment of a fee.
Our advisers can help people to understand eligibility and assist with completing application and reassessment forms for benefits, including:
- Disability Living Allowance (DLA)
- Personal Independence Payment (PIP)
- Employment & Support Allowance (ESA)
- Universal Credit
- Carer’s Allowance
They are also able to assist with appeals against decisions made under the Department for Work and Pensions assessment process and to represent people at benefit assessment hearings and appeal tribunals.
Assistance from our Benefits Service is linked to attendance at the Understanding Your Rights workshops, except for people living in Slough (see below).
Anyone who wants urgent or repeated support not linked to workshop attendance will be charged a one-off fee of £40 for either a daytime appointment on Mondays at our office at 40 Caversham Road, in Reading town centre, or an evening appointment (subject to availability).
Ongoing support, if required, will also be provided by appointment for a fee of £40. This includes support at Jobcentre meetings and benefits assessments and representation at appeal tribunals.
- Our advisers are also able to see clients for daytime appointments on Fridays at the Shelter office, at 27 Church Street, Slough, SL1 1PL, but these are only available to residents of the Borough of Slough, as part of the SPACE project, led by Slough Council for Voluntary Services.
People who have made initial applications by themselves, then contact us for help with mandatory reconsiderations or appeals to tribunals, will also be asked to pay a fee of £40 for advice at an appointment in Reading. Contact the office for details.
Advice about benefit claims involving people with severe dyslexia, dyspraxia, OCD and ADHD is also available for a fee of £60 per appointment.
Kevin Jackson is also available for advice appointments in the evening at our office in Reading and to represent people in person at PIP and Universal Credit assessment hearings and tribunals. All these services are subject to a fee of £40 per meeting or hearing, plus travel expenses for hearings and tribunals.
Understanding Your Rights workshops
These take place at our office in Reading and look at applying for benefits, including DLA and PIP, and related issues. These workshops all run from 10am to noon on Mondays.
Some are for parents and carers of children aged up to 15, looking at how to complete the application form for DLA and what supporting evidence to include.
Forthcoming DLA workshops: February 10 (click here to book places), March 9.
The other workshops are intended for autistic teenagers (aged 16+) and adults and their parents and carers, looking at Personal Independence Payment (PIP) and Universal Credit, how to complete the application forms and what supporting evidence to include when making a claim. They also look at the appeals process, what employment advice and support is available and disabled people’s rights in the workplace.
Forthcoming 16+ benefits workshops: January 27 (click here to book), February 24, March 23.
For more information about the Benefits Service and to book an appointment, call the office on 01189 594 594 (option 2) or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Click here to download our Benefits Service leaflet.
- The Benefits Service is supported by Reading Borough Council’s New Directions service and the Slough CVS SPACE project.