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Capita in U-turn over contesting compensation payment ordered after PIP claimant’s tragic death

09 August 2019

Victoria Smith tragically died months after her personal independence payments were stopped following a Capita assessment.

Capita was told to pay £10,000 over the way it handled her case but planned to dispute this at Telford County Court.

Capita, who conduct health assessments for PIP on behalf of the DWP, initially announced it was going to court to try to reverse the "reputational damage" it says it suffered after a court awarded to Victoria Smith’s family.

However, Capita has now decided not to contest the judgement and has apologised "for any additional distress".

Ms Smith, from Market Drayton in Shropshire, was agoraphobic and had fibromyalgia, which left her body in constant pain.

The 33-year-old died in July 2018, four months after a Capita healthcare assistant assessed her and found she did not score a single point in the test, leading the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) to stop her PIP benefits.

The week after her death, a social security appeal tribunal found she had been eligible.

Her mother, Susan Kemlo, pursued legal action against the firm for maladministration and was awarded £10,000.

On Tuesday, Capita said it stood by its employee and argued it did not have a chance to defend itself, leading to "significant reputational damage".

But in a U-turn, the company has now said had "considered this exceptional case on an individual basis [and] decided not to contest the original default judgement".

Mrs Kemlo said her daughter's death had "destroyed my world" and that

"Our family will never be the same again”

Mrs Kemlo was supported by the Unite union, which applauded her "courage and tenacity... in pursuing justice".

"We hope that Capita and other companies contracted to assess benefit claimants on behalf of the government will now adopt a new and more sympathetic approach," the union's head of community, Liane Groves, said.

DR UK’s Welfare Rights and Policy Adviser Ken Butler welcomed the u turn by Capita and but added its original decision to contest the compensation award will already have rightly caused the company “significant reputational damage” among disabled people.

Source: Capita in U-turn over claimant death case available @ www.bbc.co.uk

Note:  Capita announced last week that it has secured a two-year extension worth approximately £112 million to its contract to deliver PIP assessments for the DWP. In addition to the DWP contract, Capita also announced today a two-year extension, worth approximately £33m, to its PIP assessment contract with the Department of Communities in Northern Ireland.

Capita said: “These contract extensions are testament to the commitment of our healthcare team, our consistently strong operational performance, and the strength of our longstanding relationship with government.”