More people need to do this.
A benefit claimant whose partner recorded her Personal Independence Payment assessment interview successfully sued Atos for negligence and failure of its duty of care after her payments were stopped.
She then sent in the bailiffs to enforce the country court’s ruling after the outsourcing giant refused to pay up.
The claimant, known as Rebecca, had to spend two years fighting to get her PIP reinstated after it was wrongly stopped on the basis of false information provided by the assessor.
Rebecca has epilepsy and a resulting heart condition, anxiety, depression and memory problems but her entitlement to the enhanced daily living component of PIP, along with her claim to the benefit itself, was removed by the Department for Work and Pensions on the basis of the assessment.
Eventually she was able to put her case before an appeal panel who listened to the recording of the assessment, compared it with the assessor’s account of the interview, and promptly restored her entitlement to PIP – and to the enhanced rate of the daily living component – until 2023.
Rebecca was so angry at the way she had been treated by Atos and the DWP that she decided to take the assessment firm to court, suing for “mental distress, anxiety and hardship”.
Atos did not bother to defend the claim, which resulted in an award of £2,500 for Rebecca, in compensation and damages.
Perhaps the firm simply thought it could shrug away her attempts to claim the money?
Not so. When Atos failed to pay, she sent the bailiffs in to its London offices, creating a further cost of £2,000.
This is a huge victory – not just financially but morally – for benefit claimants whose claims have been cancelled under false pretences, based on inaccurate assessment reports.
It happened because the assessment was recorded – something that the DWP has resisted for years. Now we know why: it stops that government department from wrongly knocking people off its books. This is a strong indication that every benefit claimant should record their interview.
Atos may wish to consider that the award against it was enlarged because of the length of time it took Rebecca to win her case.
I don’t have the full details but I’m willing to bet this was due to the “mandatory reassessment” malarkey imposed by the DWP, which means claimants have to wait – with no cash to live on – while officers of the department consider whether the decision to cut their benefit was right.
Usually they decide it was, and it is only then that claimants can appeal to a tribunal. Most appeals are won by the claimant.
This Writer would therefore urge anybody who has recorded their assessment, lost benefits, and had to appeal to get them back, to follow Rebecca’s example: don’t just take the money – take legal action!
Once Atos and the DWP have lost a few more cases, they might actually give up and agree that their system is unfair and has to change.
Have YOU donated to my crowdfunding appeal, raising funds to fight false libel claims by TV celebrities who should know better? These court cases cost a lot of money so every penny will help ensure that wealth doesn’t beat justice.
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