Capita u-turns on court appeal over claimant death – opening itself to more claims?

Outsourcing giant Capita has dropped an appeal against a court decision ordering it to pay damages to the family of a benefit claimant who died  after it recommended she be refused the disability benefit PIP.

The company was ordered to pay £10,000 in damages following the death of PIP claimant Victoria Smith after it recommended that her benefit claim should be refused.

Ms Smith suffered from agoraphobia and fibromyalgia, and died of a brain haemorrhage in July last year after a worsening of these conditions. The assessment had taken place in March, four months previously.

While the decision over whether someone receives the benefit is made by a DWP official, Capita’s assessment of how a person’s disability affects their life is a crucial part of the process.

The week after Ms Smith’s death, a social security tribunal decided she had been eligible for PIP. Mother Susan Kemlo took legal action against the company for maladministration – that it had made inaccurate statements – and was awarded £10,000.

Capita had announced a decision to go back to court, aiming to have the judgement set aside on the grounds that problems with its internal mail system meant the firm never had a chance to defend itself.

But now the company has now announced that it “considered this exceptional case on an individual basis [and] decided not to contest the original default judgement”.

It has apologised to the family for any additional distress caused.

Have its bosses realised that they could be opening the way for a series of appeals by family members of benefit claimants who have died after a refusal recommended by Capita?

Who knows how many people have lost their lives in this way?

The Department for Work and Pensions certainly doesn’t seem to – it doesn’t keep records of what happens to claimants for longer than two weeks after a benefit refusal.

But we have seen dozens of news stories about the deaths of claimants, months after being denied benefits.

The court’s decision has set a precedent. This Writer certainly hopes the families of the deceased take advantage of it.

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2 thoughts on “Capita u-turns on court appeal over claimant death – opening itself to more claims?

  1. Jeffrey Davies

    Crapita hmmm now a life’s worth ten thou yet this farce rolling along without much of a ado culling the stock through benefits denial yet they say it’s not us only following orders

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