Long-term disabled benefits claimants from Kirklees are being sent as far as Manchester to judge whether they are fit for work.
Atos, which carries out benefits claimant assessments on behalf of the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), has been criticised by patients’ champion Healthwatch Kirklees for failing to open an assessment centre in Kirklees.
Claimants of Personal Independence Payments (PIP), which replace Disability Living Allowance, must instead attend assessment centres in Halifax, Leeds, Bradford, Wakefield – and sometimes Manchester – to see if they must return to work.
Healthwatch Kirklees advisor Shabana Ali, said: “We first heard these stories in carers groups. When we looked harder we found that the backlog in the assessment system means that local people are being asked to travel as far as Manchester for their assessments, with the system automatically offering appointments that were outside the 90-minute guidelines issued by the DWP.”
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