This is all the proof you need that the lying Tories have set targets for refusal of benefits

Audio anywhere: Benefit assessors can use their own laptop computers to create audio recordings of work capability assessments. They can then use onboard software to burn a CD of the interview and hand it to claimants on the spot. What’s the problem?

Watch (and more importantly, listen to) the following:

It is unreasonable that the Tories are still claiming benefit assessments may only be recorded in an extremely limited way after so many years.

Oh, you think this issue has only just arisen?

I was producing articles about it in 2013!

Does anybody remember Mark Hoban?

If not, it’s hardly surprising. He was a Tory MP between 2001-2015 and the Minister of State for Employment who had to answer questions from Labour’s Sheila Gilmore on the recording of Work Capability Assessments by Atos (as it was then known) for Employment and Support Allowance in June 2013. I know ESA is not the same as PIP but the assessment system might as well be – certainly when it comes to the issue of recording the assessments.

I reported on the situation prior to those questions being asked, in June 2013 – when even the hated Atos stated: “Our recommendation would be that recording should become routine as it is in a call centre or for example – NHS direct.”

I wrote: “Ms Gilmore goes on to attack the government’s claim that the number of claimants requesting a copy of their recording is just one per cent. This cannot be regarded as an accurate assessment of the number who would like a copy, for two reasons, she tells us.

“Firstly, the assessors used handheld devices to make their recordings, meaning they would have to be transferred to computer and burnt to CD afterwards, preventing claimants from taking recordings away with them on the day. Instead they had to make a further request – in writing. “Unsurprisingly this suppressed uptake,” Ms Gilmore’s speech states.

“Secondly, claimants were warned off applying for copies by assessors who told them recordings would only be useful to them if they appealed. The report that stated only one per cent of claimants persisted in their request was completed only days after the pilot study ended, meaning most of those involved had not received a decision on their claim and therefore did not know whether they needed to appeal. Demand may well have been higher, had the measurement been taken after a reasonable time.

“This is just one example of the DWP timing processes in order to get its way.

“[Ministers] also stated that the DWP would offer “everyone who wants it” the opportunity to have their assessment recorded. In practice, this seems an empty promise, as Atos had around 50 audio recording machines on May 22 [2013], but undertakes more than 11,000 assessments every week.”

Under questioning, Mr Hoban said, “I do not think that it was that difficult to get hold of [a recording of an assessment]. The recording might need to be held on a handheld device before it is transferred to a computer and a transcript is printed, but that does not stop people asking for a copy.”

I pointed out, in my article after the Parliamentary session: “This is inaccurate. For those who have never attended a work capability assessment, the Atos assessors complete them using laptop computers – because the assessment is a tick-box test that demands simple ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answers. Laptops generally come with not only audio recording but also CD burning programs as part of the package, and even if they don’t, freeware recording software is widely available and CD-burning software is also available, if not for free, then for a reasonable price. If the onboard microphones aren’t adequate to the task, it is possible to buy them very cheaply – especially if buying in bulk.

In short, it should be entirely possible to record every single assessment at a reasonably high quality, burn it onto CD and hand it to claimants on the spot.

Now, four years later – to quote the desperate Theresa May: Nothing has changed.

If anything, the quality of recording software is much better.

So there can only be one reason the DWP is clinging to its demand for people to use “expensive specialist devices that claimants must provide themselves”?

That is: To put people off recording assessments so the DWP may lie about their findings and push people, who deserve the benefit, off it.

There can be no other reason.

A response to a Freedom of Information request (read the story here) shows that four out of five requests for mandatory reconsideration of benefit refusals – the first stage in the appeal process that the DWP deliberately lengthened in order to make appeals more difficult for cash-strapped claimants to endure – supports this assertion.

It is easier to refuse an appeal when there is no recording to show where assessors have lied.

So, despite having claimed they have no targets for benefit refusal since taking office in 2010, the Conservatives are proved to have been lying.

In summary:

There is no physical reason for claimants to be denied recordings of their benefit assessments.

The only reason the DWP can possibly have for doing so is to deny claimants a decent hearing at benefit appeals.

The only reason the DWP would want to do this is to hide the fact that the assessors hired from private firms to do this work are lying about the information they receive.

And the only reason they would lie is because they have been told to refuse benefits to a significant number of claimants – whether they deserve them or not – and this is the only way to meet their target.


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13 thoughts on “This is all the proof you need that the lying Tories have set targets for refusal of benefits

  1. Justin

    we know they lie,then when they get asked to corroborate some of there answers and why they have not taken into account proper professional opinion in there view they have done no wrong, we will see how correct that is when both those assessors are in front of a proper tribunal facing misconduct, incorrect or fraudalent entry charges and lack of competence,to many people go through the waste of time process of trying get something done via there own internal procedures,only needs a few of them up before a professional panel,however the whole complaints procedure needs a overhaul, independant,external and with service user input,look at how much money these greedy clowns and there ignorant/arrogant companies are costing the NHS and then say is there a saving,ask a lying tory, it is a question they will struggle to answer!!!

  2. Andrew

    Anyone with a modern mobile phone can use it to record conversations, either covertly or openly. DIY is often far simpler….

  3. Jeffrey Davies

    if you don’t record it yourself without their knowledge then ones a fool for not doing it even phone calls into your house must be able to record these billy liars

  4. jcashbyblog

    It is now 24 hours again since my last comment on the Tories frittering away billions and it remains unmoderated – as do my two subsequent comments. I must assume you are very overworked or are just refusing to publish my comments.
    So, end of conversation from my side as well

    1. Mike Sivier Post author

      I was spectacularly overworked. Am moderating from a sickbed (well, sofa) at the moment.

  5. Kaye Lowe

    I was astounded to be granted Enhanced Rate of both parts of PIP when I had my first assessment. I’d originally been on the highest rate for mobility & the mid-rate for care on DLA. I put this down to the following:

    – CAB assisted in completing my forms (as usual);
    – my husband came with me as I used my manual wheelchair & needed a motive force, he took copious notes & sometimes asked the assessor to repeat himself or remind me of things I couldn’t remember (he would have come with me anyway, but I really couldn’t have walked from the multi-storey carpark to the building anyway);
    – my appointment was on the first Monday of the month at 10am (no risk of “quotas” forcing things);
    – I didn’t put on any of my “in public” masks to hide pain, anxiety or stress (I was also NOT pally with the assessor), I didn’t force myself to make eye contact or “smile through the pain” or any of that carp;
    – the assessor was a nurse who had, previously, worked with the pain management unit that I had recently been referred to & thus had some understanding of my conditions;

    Most importantly, we took two portable cassette recorders (think “walkman” – they cost us about £12 each online) & four unopened* C90 cassette tapes (you can get them in packs of five for around £5 on Amazon, I used one to test both recorders when they first arrived) & plenty of batteries. The onboard mics were adequate, if quiet, had to hold the player up to your ear to hear the playback but it was perfectly clear otherwise. My husband did all of the faffing with the cassettes at the assessment, of course, and offered the assessor his choice of the resulting tapes.

    * it is important to open the tapes to be used in front of the assessor, imo.

    I know that £30 quid or so is an awful lot for someone on any benefits but it must be seen as an important investment*. The equipment can be reused at future assessments (or even loaned to friends for theirs) & without it there is a very real risk of losing a significant portion of our income & causing even more stress if we have to go through appeals.

    * perhaps local support groups could invest in a few pairs of the equipment to loan to members as needed & then members only have to worry about cassette tapes (I must remember to suggest this to my old group)

    I’d like to see statistics on how many benefits are withdrawn *with* sanctioned recordings (not covert ones) vs without.

  6. Liz Douglas

    They’re selling off the Welfare state the same as they did the NHS – Atos walked away from their contract then rebranded so they could get the PIP contract. They still work with Maximus doing ESA assessments. Serco and Capita (Part of Virgin Care) Virgin Care, Concentrix, G4S and other multinational corporations (Also deep into the Australian health and welfare systems) and others have all been buying up NHS and Welfare contracts since 2011

    NHS Contract Awarded To Private Firm Despite Rival Bid Being “£7 Million Cheaper”
    https://www.buzzfeed.com/solomonhughes/nhscontractstokeutm_term=.ymVAWOrq2#.sl83AN8vD

    All have vast health and employment insurance arms. Also involved in MOD and government IT contracts. I believe this is all part of the government push toward the so called trade deals. TTIP, NAFTA, CETA and the rest – All of these companies are almost certainly already neck deep in these trade deals which means they will be in place ready to push us into the US health and welfare systems.
    This animation explains how the trade deals work –
    As an example the largest fracking company is in process of suing the Scottish government for banning fracking stopping them making profit from it yet in England the government is fully supportive of fracking https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MLKBYO8-u64&feature=youtu.be

    We are all very much aware of the vast amounts of money that has been thrown at DWP benefit IT systems for Universal Credit (BT is one of the IT contractors) almost £1 billion and they’re now giving the (Rebranded ATOS) another £200m for the PIP contract. They say that all of the cuts (Part of the lie of the need for austerity) are required to pay off the national debt but they’ve tripled it and more. It’s as plain as the nose on your face.
    Nine times more spent pursuing claimants than employers not paying minimum wage https://corporatewatch.org/news/2016/apr/01/nine-times-more-spent-pursuing-claimants-employers-not-paying-minimum-wage

    I rest my case..

  7. Jim

    Hang on. People are actually allowed to record the assessments themselves, unless something has changed in the past year anyway.
    Only thing is, it’s required that the recording device can produce two copies. One to keep, one to give to the assessment centre.
    If I’m remembering right, they refuse things like mobile phones or small Dictaphone type devices as they don’t produce two copies at once (even though they can be plugged into any laptop for a copy to be made.)
    So that basically leaves tape or CD players/recorders that can do this which are quite expensive and really not that common.

    Everything about these assessments is demonisation of those least able to defend themselves.

  8. Florence

    I have a partially sighted friend, who was put through an assessment. She plonked her phone onto the table and announced she was recording the session. The “HP” said it wouldn’t be admissible in tribunal, and she quipped back – oh, will I be going to tribunal, then? He nervously laughed it off and said they were” told to say that” and words to the effect that it was rubbish. She said the same HP also produced a sight test chart and held it 4ft in front of her, she simply derided his attempt to “do a sight test” so he put it away. (She has a rare degenerative eye disease, and had submitted evidence of specialist diagnosis and actual measurement of her degree of sight loss.)

  9. Feli

    Do you know that the situation was just as desperate under Labour? Parties do not care for disabled people. We live in a success focussed society, where by default disabled and people on the fringe fall thru the cracks. It is dangerous and irresponsible trying to make political capital out of people’s misery. Lets get clear cross party consensus, everything else takes the focus elsewhere and no change happens.

    1. Mike Sivier Post author

      No, I don’t know anything of the kind.
      Even during the worst New Labour times, the situation was not as bad as the Conservatives have deliberately made it.
      And New Labour no longer exists – so please don’t try to tar the current Labour Party with that brush.

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