A new report published today by the Disability Benefits Consortium (DBC) raises concerns about the delivery of the new Personal Independence Payment (PIP) assessment. People can make new claims for PIP in a few pilot areas from next week and, once fully rolled-out, the benefit will replace Disability Living Allowance (DLA).
The assessments for PIP will be delivered by different companies in different areas, with the contracts split between Atos Healthcare, who already deliver the controversial Work Capability Assessments (WCAs), and Capita.
The DBC presented both providers with a list of ten pledges for a fair and effective assessment, based on the concerns voiced by those they represent. Both companies have detailed how they will try to meet each pledge, revealing stark differences between providers. For example, Capita will try to ensure applicants with certain conditions will be matched with assessors who have specific expertise in that area, which the DBC believes will lead to fairer outcomes, whereas Atos will randomly assign assessors.
Issues with the assessments could result in applicants not being awarded the benefits they need to help cover the additional costs of having a disability.
Other key issues and differences included:
- Atos will only offer assessments at home to applicants who meet a range of criteria set out by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), whereas Capita will aim to offer home assessments to around 60% of applicants
- Capita have asked the DWP to let them offer audio recording of assessments to applicants, but have not yet received permission to do so
Tom Pollard, DBC co-chair and Senior Policy Officer from mental health charity Mind, said:
“The DBC has serious concerns about the abolition of DLA and the introduction of PIP but we also know that the way assessments are delivered is vital. We often hear of applicants’ health deteriorating further as a result of a poorly delivered assessment. Having two assessment providers gives us an opportunity to compare how different approaches work and drive up the quality of assessments for millions of people with disabilities, including mental health problems.”
The DBC is encouraging supporters of its member organisations to contact their MP and highlight concerns about the assessment provider in their area. You can get involved by clicking here.
DBC Co-Chair, Claire Nurden from the MS Society, said:
“The DBC is urging people to contact their MP to let them know about this important report. MPs need to aware of who will be delivering these vital assessments in their constituency and what issues they should be raising with the provider and the Minister for Disabled People.”
- To read the DBC’s main findings and access the full report and the government’s response, please see our Executive Summary.
- PIP is being introduced from April and will eventually replace Disability Living Allowance (DLA), a benefit which helps millions of disabled people with the additional costs they face.
- Atos will deliver PIP assessments in the south of England, the north of England and Scotland; whilst Capita will be responsible for delivering PIP assessments in central England, Wales and Northern Ireland. Although the two companies will be delivering the same assessment in terms of the criteria and threshold, details of the assessment process will differ.
- From 8 April 2013, DWP will start taking new claims to PIP from people living in the North West and North East of England who are aged 16 to 64. This means that from this date, people living in the following postcode areas will be able to make a new claim to PIP: BL, CA, CH (except CH1, CH4, CH5, CH6, CH7 and CH8), CW, DH, DL (except DL6, DL7, DL8, DL9, DL10 and DL11), FY, L, LA (except LA2 7, LA2 8, LA6 2 and LA6 3), M, NE, PR, SR, TS (except TS9), WA and WN.