Another lying minister: Sarah Newton fails to back measures to protect claimants from dishonest assessors

Paul Gray [Image: Disability News Service].

If a government minister says she has accepted all recommendations in an independent review, then it turns out that two of them have been even partially rejected, then she has lied.

Perhaps Sarah Newton should be dragged back to Parliament to explain why she has said one thing and done another?

One wonders whether she’ll try to get away with saying it was a mistake.

The minister for disabled people has refused to approve two key recommendations made by the independent reviewer of its new disability benefit, which would have made it easier for claimants to protect themselves against dishonest assessment reports.

Among the recommendations made for improvements to personal independence payment (PIP), Paul Gray said earlier this year that all assessments should be recorded, although claimants should be able to opt out if they wanted to.

He also said that all PIP claimants should be given a copy of their assessment report when receiving the letter from DWP telling them if their claim has been successful.

But despite telling parliament that she had accepted all Gray’s recommendations, Sarah Newton, the minister for disabled people, has failed to accept either of these suggestions.

In DWP’s response to Gray’s second review of PIP, Newton’s department claims it has “partially” accepted the two recommendations.

But it says that “given the scale of the challenge” of providing copies of assessment reports to every claimant and “the high cost to the taxpayer… this is not an option we will be pursuing.”

On automatic audio recording of assessments, having already completed one pilot of audio recording of 400 assessments, DWP now says it is “looking at a further feasibility study”.

Providing copies of assessment reports to all claimants and audio-recording assessments would both be likely to make it harder for assessors working for the discredited outsourcing companies Atos and Capita to produce dishonest accounts of assessments.

Source: Minister fails to back measures to protect claimants from dishonest assessors


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12 thoughts on “Another lying minister: Sarah Newton fails to back measures to protect claimants from dishonest assessors

  1. laurettalottiepearson

    Mine is a massive fail. Phoned to find out about my MR and I said to the DWP Operator on the phone that the Capita assessor had written in their report they saw me walking 50 to 500 metres but I hadn’t been out of the house for 3 months. She said ”they watch you from the car park when you arrive”. I replied ”it was a home assessment/face to face interview, I never left the settee my ankles were swollen and not once did the assessor ask me to walk in my home.” She replied ”really?” She seemed genuinely shocked.

    1. Brian

      I would wonder if this assessor would stand by that statement and perjure themselves in a court of law?

  2. Gary Bowman

    My WCA is coming up in early January, if half the stories I hear are true, and there are too many to doubt, I would imagine I shall be forced into employment soon after. I shall keep you posted!

    1. Mike Sivier Post author

      Please do. Plenty of people read this site who can help you out if you fall into difficulty.

  3. John Conner

    On the 1/2/12 some minister said, if they want their assessment recording then they may do so. Although this was in a debate about ESA a claimant might like to take the minister to task as he just says assessment without referring to a particular benefit. Play the corrupt government at their own game. I record everything, if they don’t like it sod ’em they can assume what they like because I say Assumption is the mother of all f*ck-ups and unles they can prove a recording they are going to lose

  4. aunty1960

    Both of these already exist.Claimant has a right to record assessment and has a right to a copy of the assessment and decision and any documentation or process.

    This is not always known. It should be automatic.

    The Law already exists and is applied re lying and misrepresentation, or veracity as they call it in medical and nursing profession, A disciplinary offence and an striking off offence for any nurse or doctor.

    And duty of care and accountability and common law.

    Same as the duty to provide safe gomes fit to live in, no more legislation is needed, already exists in at least 5 laws.

    We just do not have any access to law, and law upholds lawlessness.

    Might as well say we are exempt from THOU SHALL NOT KILL! Oops! We already are if govt or corporations.

    1. Mike Sivier Post author

      Assessments may only be recorded using government-approved equipment… and the government ensures that there is never enough of that equipment.

      1. John Ingleson

        Not only is there ‘never enough’ equipment, the stuff they have broke down and my recent (ESA) assessment by Maximarse was abandoned on the first visit and was also abandoned on the second attempt when I was told that the staff available were unable to assess brain injury and I would have to return to the assessment centre for a third attempt (they’d probably only _just_ glanced at my sixty page ESA50 application form that identified my brain injury).

        I also had a recent PIP assessment abandoned after I was told that dual dicta-phone ‘micro cassettes’ were not an acceptable medium for recording assessments. Only full-size cassette tapes!?

        Luckily my MP took an interest and suddenly the ATOS appointments officer thought it unusual that I had been refused in the first place!

        However, it took the same ‘doctor’ (who had originally forbidden use of the micro cassettes) twenty minutes on the phone to ATOS HQ before she gave up and let me continue recording the interview with the ‘micro-cassettes’.

        Two out of seven – no sanctions for the ersatz medical professional employees of the foreign US-insurance-style companies that profit hundreds of millions – but trebles all round for those hitting the sanctions targets.

        Happy Christmas (and thanks awfully, DWP, for my Christmas tenner bonus).

  5. Pat Sheehan

    Have we ever seen so much lie-ing in Government before? So much in parliament that it is becoming ‘normalised’ behaviour without redress or sanction? Probably but the voting public need protection from this scandalous, poisonous, corrosive behaviour. Sanction! Sanction! Sanction! We desperately need to introduce ‘Nudge” theory into UK Political activity before we all completely lose sight of the plot.

    1. Mike Sivier Post author

      I would have said we must remove nudge theory from UK politics. It only works when the person being nudged has less power than the one doing the nudging.

  6. Levinas

    “given the scale of the challenge” , Surely when copy is collated for DWP, provider just prints off two versions and uses the claimants address to send the collated second copy? The contracts are so ludicrously expensive, writing it into the contract that provider has to supply two copies, to DWP and claimant should be considered VFM.

    Unless of course, assessing genuine eligibility is a last concern to saving the cash.

    1. John Ingleson

      Levinas – As you correctly identified ” … assessing genuine eligibility is a last concern to saving the cash… ”

      You have to actively demand your right to record and you must also ask for an explanation of a health assessment when you are told the result.

      The first option you will not be offered, and the second, an explanation of the assessment, is dismissively offered as an after thought, but only if you contact them.

      That’s if you can even still read straight after they’ve just told you that they’ve removed your ‘lifetime’ award of Disability Living Allowance (null points), when you’re trying to keep up with the bedroom tax on penalty of a suspended possession order on your home, as happened to me a few weeks ago, for example.

      Happy Christmas <3

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