Benefits Service

Our Benefits Service is still available to offer advice about eligibility for benefits and help to complete application forms during the coronavirus outbreak, including online workshops and one-to-one appointments – see below for details of online workshops and how to contact our advisers.

We would like to thank the Charities Aid Foundation, Berkshire Community Foundation, the Louis Baylis Maidenhead Advertiser Charitable Trust and Tesco’s Bags of Help fund for making grants to help us with the cost of running the Benefits Service online during the lockdown.

Autism Berkshire’s Benefits Advice Service is available to autistic people and their families 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, subject to payment of a fee and travel expenses.

We strongly recommend attendance at one of our free Understanding Your Rights workshops, which are held at our office in Reading. Places at these workshops can be booked below.

Initial daytime appointments in Reading with one of our advisers to complete a benefits application form (DLA, PIP, ESA, UC, Carer’s Allowance) are free of charge for Berkshire residents who are autistic or who are applying on behalf of an autistic person.

Paid-for appointments are also available in the evening at our Reading office (subject to availability).

Our advisers are also able to see clients for free 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 Service.

The following charges (per appointment or hearing) apply:

  • Ongoing support appointments: £50 – this includes support at Jobcentre meetings, benefits assessments, mandatory reconsideration requests, and tribunal hearings. Please note that we also require our advisers’ travel expenses to be paid when they represent clients in person at assessments and at appeal hearings.
  • Advice appointments if clients make an initial application by themselves, then contact us for help with mandatory reconsiderations or appeals to a tribunal: £50
  • Advice/ongoing support appointments about benefit claims for people with severe dyslexia, dyspraxia, OCD and ADHD: £80
  • Advice/ongoing support appointments for people who live in neighbouring counties: £80

Understanding Your Benefits Rights workshops

Please note that during the coronavirus outbreak, these workshops will take place online and run from 10am to 1pm – please register for free places using the links below.

These take place at our office at 40 Caversham Road, in Reading town centre, and look at applying for benefits, including DLA and PIP, and related issues. These workshops all run from 10am to noon on Mondays.

Please note that these workshops are for Berkshire residents only – we regret that we are not able to offer advice people living in adjacent counties at these sessions, due to funding rules.

Some workshops 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: 

The other workshops are intended for autistic teenagers (aged 16+) and adults and their parents and carers, looking at Personal Independence Payment (PIP), Universal Credit and Employment & Support Allowance (ESA), 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:

  • July 13 – PIP workshop, click here to register 
  • July 20 – Universal Credit/ESA workshop, click here to register 

For more information about the Benefits Service and to book an appointment, call on 01189 594 594 (option 2) or email benefits@autismberkshire.org.uk

Click here to download our Benefits Service leaflet.

  • The Benefits Service is supported by The Henry Smith Charity, Reading Borough Council’s New Directions service and the Slough CVS SPACE project. Help with the costs of running the service online during the coronavirus lockdown has come from the Charities Aid Foundation, Berkshire Community Foundation, the Louis Baylis Trust and Tesco Bags of Help.