Council’s review finds PIP ‘not fit for purpose’
Summary: The assessment process for the government’s new personal independence payment (PIP) disability benefit is “distressing, inconsistent and not fit for purpose”, according to the results of an inquiry by a panel of local councillors.
The review took evidence in person from seven disabled PIP claimants, and heard in writing from three more.
They told the group how the healthcare professionals who assessed them had offered little eye contact, and were “rude, abrupt and appeared uncaring”, while some said the subsequent assessment report they were shown “bore no resemblance to what they had told the assessor during the face-to-face assessment”.
One told the review group: “The assessment report stated that the assessor had watched me bend down and put something into the bin; I did not, I used my foot to open the bin.”
Another said: “He (assessor) had asked me to stand on my tiptoes which I could not do and after trying a few times and not managing it he told me not to bother again [but]this was not mentioned in his report.”
Claimants described how, after going through a lengthy process to secure a two-year PIP award, they received a letter from the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) just six months later, telling them they needed to start a new claim.
The report says: “Many spoke of the continual stress this placed them under.”
Several of those who gave evidence said the assessment process “had had a negative impact on their mental health and their conditions had deteriorated as a result”.
The review was set up by Stoke-on-Trent City Council’s adults and neighbourhoods overview and scrutiny committee after serious concerns about the PIP assessment process were raised by a local disabled people’s organisation, Disability Solutions West Midlands (DSWM).
The review group concluded that the treatment of claimants was “inconsistent”, and the assessment process was “too long, too distressing, inconsistent and not fit for purpose”.
Disability News Service (DNS) has itself collected more than 250 cases of PIP claimants who have described – in varying levels of detail – how assessors from government contractors Atos and Capita lied in their written PIP assessment reports.
The council review also heard from local organisations including DSWM and North Staffordshire Citizens Advice Bureau, as well as Capita, which carries out the assessments on behalf of the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) in the Stoke area.
The local organisations all said they had seen a “significant increase” in the number of claimants scoring zero points in their assessments (a claimant needs eight points for the PIP standard rate and 12 for the enhanced rate) and believed “that there now appeared to be a much tougher approach being taken to the assessment process”.
DSWM told the review: “The number of people we are seeing with legitimate claims and strong medical evidence who are given zero points is staggering.”
North Staffordshire Citizens Advice Bureau added: “It has become clear to us over the last two years that there has been a much tougher approach to the assessment process and we have seen an enormous number of people scoring zero points, which beggars the question: ‘What are assessors looking at?’”
Both organisations said they had seen inaccurate assessment reports “which did not reflect the information discussed during the face-to-face consultation at which they were present”.
DSWM described how one report claimed that a claimant who attended an assessment in their wheelchair had been “observed” to walk 200 metres, while another assessor claimed that a person with stage four lung cancer who used an oxygen mask showed no signs of breathlessness.
DWP evidence to the review was provided only by a jobcentre “partnership coach”, whose knowledge of PIP was “understandably limited”.
The review group said it was “extremely disappointed” that DWP declined to provide anyone with an “extensive knowledge” of PIP to answer their in-depth questions.
All of the PIP claimants who gave evidence to the review said the support they had received from DSWM and Citizen’s Advice had been “invaluable”, particularly the support provided by DSWM in preparing for, and attending, tribunal hearings.
DSWM is currently winning 98 per cent of its PIP appeals.
Cllr Joan Bell, who chaired the review, and the council’s adults and neighbourhoods overview and scrutiny committee, are now set to outline their findings in writing to work and pensions secretary David Gauke.
Cllr Bell is also set to write to local MPs to ask for their support for the report, and to ask them to bring it to the attention of the relevant all-party parliamentary group, although it is not yet clear which one.
DNS has also asked the council if it will bring the report to the attention of the Commons work and pensions committee, which was carrying out an inquiry of its own into the PIP assessment process, which had to be abandoned earlier this year when the prime minister called an early general election.
The review group also called on the council’s cabinet to consider ways to continue to provide funding to DSWM, which would enable it to continue to provide a local benefits support service, once council funding ends later this month.
Mark Lucas, one of the PIP claimants who gave evidence in person to the review group, said the report “again highlights the government’s utter contempt for persons with disabilities in the UK.
“A glowing example of this contempt is the fact no one from [DWP’s PIP department] could even be bothered to take part.
“Clearly the government have no regard for persons with disabilities and can no longer be trusted to administer support.
“The government and Capita plc are no longer of a ‘suitable character’ to perform services for disabled people.”
He added: “As a whole, the report brings into question the future of new benefit PIP and a responsible government would make sweeping changes or even decommission the service and return to DLA.
“Evidence clearly shows PIP is not viable and is failing persons with disabilities at the gain of external contractors like Capita, with none of the intended benefits expressed when Capita tendered for this contract.”
After being asked to comment on the report, a DWP spokeswoman released the following statement: “We introduced PIP to replace the outdated DLA system.
“Under PIP, 29 per cent of claimants are now receiving the highest rate of support, compared to 15 per cent under DLA.
“Decisions are made following consideration of all the information provided by the claimant, including supporting evidence from their GP or medical specialist.
“Since PIP was introduced, more than 2.4 million decisions have been made, and of these eight per cent have been appealed and three per cent have been overturned.
“In the majority of successful appeals, decisions are overturned because people have submitted more oral or written evidence.
“We constantly review our processes to make sure they are working in the best way possible and, to date, there have been two independent reviews of PIP.”
She said the government would respond to the second review “in the coming months”, and that the department expected “the highest standards from the contractors who carry out PIP assessments and work closely with them to continuously improve”.
She said DWP was “working on a range of initiatives to drive continuous improvement in the decision-making and appeals process”, including recruiting about 190 DWP presenting officers to attend PIP and employment and support allowance appeals to provide feedback on why decisions are upheld or overturned.
Meanwhile, a new report by the Disability Benefits Consortium, based on a survey of more than 1,700 people with long-term conditions, says that more than three quarters of respondents said their PIP assessment made their health worse due to stress and anxiety.
Two-thirds of those who saw their assessment report said it “badly reflected” the answers they had given in their face-to-face assessment.
Source: Disability News Service
Other recent news items:
- Doctors’ union finally agrees to spread the word
- Disability Politics UK: call to prioritise step free access
- Children with disabilities: targeted violence and hostility
- Dementia care: how social enterprises are developing products and services
- Adass spring seminar: four things you need to know
- The Disability Audit: the eight coalition policies that have hit disabled people
- DWP told to publish ESA deaths report, after two-year delay
- The struggle to find work when you have Down's syndrome
- PIP Delay Crisis Over, Claims DWP
- Meet Justin Tomlinson MP- New Minister For Disabled People
- A quick guide to new care minister Alistair Burt
- How to use your disability as a strength when applying for jobs
- Devastating impact of cuts on disabled people
- NHS ‘has wasted more than a year’ on latest bid to improve wheelchair services
- Five Thousand Disabled Adults Sexually Abused In Last 2 Years Says NSPCC
- ESA Claimant Takes On Maximus And Wins
- One in five benefit-related deaths involved sanctions, admits DWP
- Manchester United tell family with disabled son to watch Stockport instead
- Joint mental health commissioning strategy
- New parliament sees number of disabled MPs plunge
- Motability under spotlight over cuts to grants… despite £190 million reserves
- Disabled people ‘should come together in new national body’
- 'It's a great honour': Selby appoints UK's first mayor with learning disabilities
- Voluntary Community Social Enterprise Review website
- Cameron downgrades minister for disabled people
- Poor UK cancer survival rates linked to lack of GP direct access to scans
- Charity highlights role of siblings in supporting adults with a disability
- Queen’s Speech fails to mention social care funding
- Queen’s speech ‘suggests the worst is yet to come'
- TV industry must improve representation of disabled people
- The bionic suit helping wheelchair users get back on their feet
- New project to tackle mental health issues
- Equality watchdog contradicts football’s Premier League over access
- Schools 'must improve support for diabetic children'
- National Theatre plans shows on issue of disability
- Rise in mental health bed occupancy
- Watchdog writes to Man Utd after stewards confiscate walking aids from fans
- Government cuts ‘could see disabled people slide back to the bad old days’
- Disabled payment delay unlawful, judge rules
- The 'dragons' who want to help disabled people start their own business
- Boy, 12, wins £120,000 in damages after swine-flu jab left him 'severely disabled' by narcolepsy
- DWP ignores watchdog’s deadline over benefit-related deaths
- Man who cannot walk or talk called for jobcentre 'back to work' interview
- UK woman can ride bike for first time with 'world's most lifelike bionic hand'
- GPs to refer more patients with low-risk cancer symptoms under new NICE guidance
- Disability campaigners clash with police inside parliament over benefit cuts
- Indefinite Award DLA Transfer To PIP Will Start From July In Certain Postcodes
- Disabled children less happy with hospital care than peers
- ILF closure: Process has caused ‘fear, stress and anxiety’, say researchers
- Disability poverty rose sharply in fourth year of coalition
- UK services failing patients with dementia
- Shadow disability minister admits backing assisted suicide bill
- Disabled people's rights threatened by government cuts, campaigners warn
- BBC Three’s ‘Defying The Label’ Season
- From 'bloodied knees' to the House of Commons as a disabled MP
- Mental health patients sent hundreds of miles for beds as out of area placements rise 23 per cent
- Systematic over-medication blights learning disability care
- The Superhumans return to Channel 4
- Accessible Information Standard Approved
- Doctors demand return of lung cancer awareness campaign
- David O’Mar, 58, Found Fit For Work Two Weeks Before His Death
- World First Bionic Eye Gives Hope To Millions
- Seven-day NHS to include child mental health services, minister confirms
- Court hears appeal on ‘unfair’ PIP 20 metre rule consultation
- New report by Business Disability Forum cites lack of skills in line managers as major barrier to retention of disabled employees
- Tanni says 10,000 signatures could finally transform wheelchair services
- BBC3 presenter and journalist crowdfunding to transform the lives of people with disabilities in Ghana
- Disabled voters take pioneering legal action over election access
- Has disability sport lost its London 2012 Paralympics momentum?
- NHS Announce New Care Guidelines For Learning Disabilities
- Fresh evidence that ‘benefit scrounger rhetoric’ is causing hate crime
- Sanctioned Jobseekers With Mental Health Problems Are Not ‘Vulnerable’ Says DWP
- Clubs “Neglecting Responsibility” To Disabled Fans
- Latest Figures Show Massive Rise In ESA Sanctions
- ‘Bizarre’ figures raise fears over ministers’ plans for ESA
- School nurses ‘need better mental health training’
- Number of people developing dementia 'stabilising'
- Boy, nine, fitted with first prosthetic hand that can change grip with gestures
- Iain Duncan Smith criticises employers over disability employment gap
- Disability benefit sanctions soar by 30% in a year
- Thousands have died after being found fit for work, DWP figures show
- Goths at risk of depression or self-harming, research says
- Elderly 'ripped off' in mobility scooter market
- GPs are missing cancer in children - because they 'don't have enough training'
- IDS announces 'fitness for work' U-turn that was five years in the making
- People with autism and learning disabilities excel in creative thinking, study shows
- Starbucks apologises for telling woman she was not 'disabled enough' to use the toilet
- DLA Lifetime Award PIP Transition Started from 1 September in 29 New Areas
- Successful 'Fit for Work' Appeals at Highest Ever Level, Show DWP Stats
- Why is our justice system failing vulnerable people?
- UN investigating British Government over human rights abuses caused by IDS welfare reforms
- Coroners 'ground breaking' verdict: Suicide was 'triggered' by 'fit for work' test
- Schoolboy calls for more disabled characters in children's books
- The quadruple amputee who needs the correct prosthetic
- Welfare to work programme failing disabled and ill jobseekers, say charities
- Disabled fans 'delighted' as Premier League finally acts on access
- Two-thirds of adult social care requests rejected by local councils
- Independent Living Fund: Government silence 'suggests something to hide'
- UK employers report rise in mental health problems: CIPD study
- UN inquiry considers alleged UK disability rights violations
- Parliament's own disability group picks first non-disabled chair in nearly 50 years
- Dementia drug 'keeps patients out of nursing homes'
- Disability benefit cuts will actually make it harder for disabled people to find work,coalition of 60 charities warns
- Problems with the care and treatment provided by the NHS and/or difficulties in accessing health services?
- Consultation on the proposed new adult social care strategy
- The Leicestershire Advice Service for Social Care is here to guide you
- Minister: MPs must help 'open doors' for disabled jobseekers
- 'Homes not hospitals': learning disability care to move to community
- Equality Act 'simply isn't strong enough' for BSL-users, peers are told
- Disability Hate Crimes Rise 41% In A Year
- Companies fear employing people with learning disabilities, survey reveals
- DWP cuts specialist disability employment advisors in jobcentres by over 60 per cent
- Watchdog 'must do more to support disabled people to fight discrimination'
- ‘We must keep banging the drum,’ says bus campaigner after five-year fight for justice
- 2,000 disabled people wrongly declared ‘fit to work’ by DWP in just three months
- Local authorities 'spend close to nothing on mental health'
- Rock band with learning disabilities release first single
- NICE seeks to improve diagnosis and treatment of cerebral palsy
- Premier League clubs face legal threat unless disabled access is improved
- UK’s progress on disability rights ‘patchy and tortuous’, UN told
- Peer pressure sees minister finally announce date for taxi access laws
- Stop the NHS slashing vulnerable people’s care packages in and around Leicestershire
- Minister tells industries to increase representation of disabled people
- Disabled children in England 'finding it increasingly hard to access council care'
- Wheelchair Rugby Loses Funding Appeal
- Plans that could force people into institutions could be ‘front line’ of national problem
- Young people 'fear stigma' if they ask for mental-health help
- Disability benefits process is 'inherently flawed', MPs told
- Businesses woefully ill-equipped to deal with Britain's rapidly growing mental health crisis
- Cash boost for pupils with special needs and disability
- PIP investigation: ‘Horrific’ suicide question sparks fresh assessment inquiry calls
- Disability report: Being disabled in Britain
- Stop PIP reassessments for patients with progressive diseases, campaigners say
- Patients with learning disabilities missing out on health checks
- Thousands have disability vehicles taken away
- Aspire announces GLL and LCiL as first partners to lead InstructAbility
- Easy read guide to voting by post
- Online campaign ‘could enable disabled people to affect election outcome’
- Health Committee inquiry and report: Brexit and Health and Social Care – People and Process
- Women’s Resource Centre report: the Impact of Austerity Measures on Women’s Voluntary and Community Organisations
- Disabled people ‘forced into dangerous workfare that breaches health and safety laws’
- Mental Health Foundation report: Surviving or Thriving? The State of the UK’s Mental Health
- Stirling University to launch home dementia app
- General Election 2017: What are the parties promising disabled people?
- Anger, resignation… and optimism in wake of general election result
- New disabled MPs pledge to fight for rights in parliament
- Queen’s speech: May ‘abandons’ election pledge on access
- The waiting time for a vital disability benefit has risen hugely in 6 months
- Almost 6,000 mental health patients sent out of area for care last year
- Patients increasingly forced to crowdfund their own wheelchairs as NHS provision not enough, doctors warn
- Years of austerity have left personal assistance in ‘very fragile state’
- Over Half Of Foodbank Users Are Households With A Disabled Person
- Prince Harry launches brain injury card in Suffolk
- Iain Duncan Smith says work capability assessments don't work and are 'too harsh'
- PIP investigation: 200 cases of dishonesty… and still DWP, Atos and Capita refuse to act
- Global blindness set to 'triple by 2050'
- My disability abortion bill could halt Britain’s slide towards eugenics, says Tory peer
- Jobcentre Staff Have An Alarming Lack Of Confidence Dealing With Disabled Claimants
- BBC initiative for disabled actors is a ‘wake-up call’ for producers
- Bus industry set to face fresh legal action over access to wheelchair space
- Government accused of breaching UN convention in its treatment of disabled people
- Theresa May admits UK mental health services are 'patchy'
- 2,000 children with learning disabilities left without a school
- UK faces UN examination: Government cuts caused ‘human catastrophe’
- Half of parents of disabled children forced to reduce working hours due to 'unlawful' cuts to school transport
- Summit meeting will aim to bring movement together on independent living
- Have you got the wrong impression about schizophrenia?
- Quarter of 14-year-old girls 'have signs of depression'
- Council’s review finds PIP ‘not fit for purpose’
- Epilepsy medication impact not shared
- What is universal credit - and what's the problem?
- Calls for Amazon to ban 'anorexia hoodie'
- Green man crossings 'too fast' for people with arthritis
- Mental health patients being failed as services face 'potent mix' of workforce cuts and rising demand, shows report
- Universal Credit helpline charges scrapped
- Hate crimes against disabled children rise 150 per cent in two years