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MPs find claimants mainly satisfied with PIP and ESA assessments but there are problems

09 February 2018

New report by Work and Pensions Committee finds assessment process largely satisfactory for claimants but there are still problems the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) needs to tackle.

View report: PIP and ESA assessments: claimant experiences

“The response to our inquiry from claimants was striking and unprecedented. This report—featuring just a fraction of the evidence we received—is a tribute to their efforts and bravery in submitting evidence and a reflection of the importance of recognising the human consequences of policy shortcomings.”

Key findings and Recommendations

PIP and ESA assessments

Personal Independence Payment (PIP) and Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) assessments work satisfactorily for the majority of claimants, but the assessment process is failing a substantial minority.

The Committee wants the DWP responds to each concern they identified in the report in this manner:  

  1. whether it recognises this concern
  2. any assessment it has made of its prevalence
  3. how it is monitored
  4. what measures are in place to prevent it, and at what stage in the process
  5. any related performance measures
  6. what further steps, if any, it intends to take.

Claimant experiences

For most claimants, the PIP and ESA assessment systems work but the claimant testimonies quoted in this report show common problems. These are:

  1. Errors in reports: the inclusion of basic factual errors, omission of relevant details that were shared either during the assessment or in supporting evidence, or misrepresentation of the assessment;
  2. Difficulties in completing PIP and ESA application forms—in particular, the distress experiences by claimants in having to focus extensively on what they are unable to do;
  3. Problems arising from lack of assessor knowledge about the functional implications of different conditions, and inappropriate use of observations of claimants to judge functional impact;
  4. The effectiveness of Mandatory Reconsideration in challenging a decision, and the stress associated with going through both Mandatory Reconsideration and Appeal.

“We call on the Department to acknowledge explicitly that it recognises the problems we have set out here and set out what, if anything, it is doing to monitor and resolve them. We will return to this issue shortly, setting out our policy recommendations in a subsequent report. But those who have taken the time and effort to contact us deserve a speedy and substantive response from the Government.”

 See also the following Disability News Service articles:

The PIP Files: DWP documents show ‘absolutely shocking’ failure on further evidence

The PIP Files: Data shows multiple complaints made against scores of Atos assessors

The PIP Files: Nearly one in three Capita assessments were flawed, reports reveal

and

The DWP are reviewing all PIP payments – we all knew this day would come, so why did it take them so long? - Independent

Substantial minority' of disability claimants failed by system - Guardian

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