Tag Archives: assessment

PIP claim rejected due to ‘good eye contact’ – in a TELEPHONE assessment

As seen on Twitter: considering the thread quoted below, assessors caught doing this would probably protest that they were giving her a wash.

I found this on Twitter and had to share it.

Apparently people working on Personal Independence Payment assessments for a private company hired by the Tory government have developed the ability to see people at the other end of telephone lines.

Otherwise, how could this have happened?

Evander v – who identifies as “SLE(lupus), hEDS, Sjögren’s, suprapubic catheter, wheelchair user, depression, hypomania, self-harm, autistic” – continued with an excellent thread on the state of PIP assessments under the Conservatives, which I’ll reproduce here for you:

The thread has struck a chord with fellow Twitter users, leading to a large number of replies – because it is accurate.

Too many people have suffered as a result of fabricated, false PIP assessments, written by cynics who know that the appeal process is Kafka-esque; once you start it, you’ll be lucky ever to reach a satisfactory end.

The assessment process used to disregard mental illness completely, despite the fact that this was supposed to be one of the qualifications for receiving the benefit. The same process has always been considered to worsen such maladies.

PIP is, indeed, a benefit that – on the face of it – is intended to help working disabled people with their daily lives as much as those who can’t manage a job. But any actual independence appears to be penalised in the assessment.

And the last comment is brutally accurate. The system is, indeed, working exactly as intended by the Conservatives; it’s kicking people off of benefit, even though they need it more than ever.

You may have thought this problem had gone away in these “all in it together” days of the Covid-19 lockdown. Not a bit of it.

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PIP claimants: don’t believe DWP reps – you CAN have a witness in telephone assessments

Here’s some good news – unless you’re a DWP Personal Independence Payment advisor:

The Minister for Disabled People, Justin Tomlinson, has confirmed that PIP claimants have the right to have someone else sitting in on their telephone assessment.

He told the Commons Work and Pensions Committee on April 23: “If you are having a telephone assessment, we are allowing your friend, family, trusted partner to be part of that process which is something we introduced a few years ago for face-to-face assessments which has made a huge difference to the quality of the outcome of the assessments.”

The website Benefits and Work has reported that PIP claimants have been told that nobody else can take part – even when they can’t speak for themselves.

Well, now we’ve had it from the minister.

If anybody from the DWP tries to tell you otherwise, they’re wrong and you can demand the extra participant.

Source: Minister confirms right to have someone join you for PIP assessment call

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Tories refuse to help Universal Credit claimants left dangling due to coronavirus

Thousands upon thousands of formerly-working people are learning the realities of the UK benefit system, after being told by the Tories to wait months before their first benefit payment.

If they hoped the Tories would speed up the four-week assessment period for Universal Credit – because of the coronavirus crisis and the cash crisis it has created for millions – they thought wrong.

And they need to remember that they won’t get paid until a week after the assessment period ends; it’s a five-week total wait.

The Tories could make the wait shorter – but they won’t.

The usual excuse is that UC is supposed to mimic the salary system in which people get paid once a month (except of course we know that many people are paid weekly, or fortnightly).

The current excuse, sported by UC director general Neil Couling is “If you play about with the architecture of Universal Credit you won’t be able to pay the vast millions we have to pay every month.”

Nonsense.

It’s an automatic system. If you qualify, you qualify – and it can pay you straight away.

It doesn’t, because the Tory system is to make you wait; to push you far enough to take out an advance loan that will take months to pay off; to push you into permanent debt.

It seems the coronavirus is a perfect opportunity to get 1.4 million people (at current count) servicing a needless debt for months to come.

Hopes new Universal Credit payments could be made faster have been dashed after the Government said the four-week assessment period was ‘integral’ to the benefits system.

Many campaign groups had been hoping for an accelerated process to help alleviate the pressure families found themselves under after the coronavirus outbreak forced businesses to close and people to stay at home as part of the lockdown.

Speaking at a press briefing, Universal Credit director general Neil Couling said: ‘If you play about with the architecture of Universal Credit you won’t be able to pay the vast millions we have to pay every month.’

Source: ‘No chance’ wait for Universal Credit payments can be shortened | Metro News

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Coronavirus: DWP announcement on benefit assessments leaves room for persecution

It’s taken the DWP long enough but at last we have some clarity on benefit claims and reassessments.

The message is: don’t come to the Job Centre – stay at home.

That’s in line with the overarching message in the face of the coronavirus epidemic.

So new claimants are asked to make their claims for Universal Credit (UC), Employment and Support Allowance (ESA), Personal Independence Payment (PIP), Attendance Allowance and the Industrial Injuries Disablement Benefit online or by telephone.

That presents issues in itself because many people are uncomfortable using computers to claim benefits, and telephone claims can involve long waits and are likely to entail unhelpful service.

There will be no new reviews or reassessments across all benefits for three months – this includes Universal Credit (UC), Employment and Support Allowance (ESA), Personal Independence Payment (PIP), Disability Living Allowance, Attendance Allowance and the Industrial Injuries Disablement Benefit.

Apparently there’s already been an announcement that all face-to-face assessments have been suspended, in order to safeguard potentially vulnerable claimants.

That will be news to a few claimants I know. Perhaps the government announced it behind a paywall in the Telegraph or The Times.

Assessments that are already ongoing will continue, with claimants contacted to discuss how they will go further.

That could be a problem, knowing how the DWP treats claimants.

Ultimately, the message is mixed – just as it is with all the government’s announcements relating to coronavirus.

There is still plenty of leeway for the “Department of Welfare Persecution” to live down to its nickname.

Source: Benefit assessments suspended for three months while new claimants told to stay away from Jobcentres – Welfare Weekly

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MP raises ‘grave concern’ over PIP benefit assessors – and he’s a TORY

As seen on Twitter: but a new Conservative MP has raised concerns about the “abrasive” assessment process.

Did somebody forget to send Anthony Mangnall the memo?

Normally, Conservative MPs pay little attention – perhaps only lip-service – to complaints about employees of the private company Atos who are hired at great cost to assess claims for the disability benefit Personal Independence Payment.

But Mr Mangnall – elected as MP for Totnes last December – has actually paid attention to the concerns of benefit claimants and raised them with ministers.

Constituents’ complaints were echoed by the town’s Citizens Advice service; perhaps that’s what convinced him that the issue was important.

Mr Mangnall told Disability News Service:

“If people are complaining about the Atos service, then that is a problem and it is a problem we need to look into.”

He said Justin Tomlinson, the minister for disabled people, had assured him that PIP assessors were “experts in understanding the effects of a health condition on an individual’s daily life” and that the department continued to “monitor performance, share best practice, and work with claimants, stakeholders and charities to improve training and guidance”.

But Mr Mangnall doesn’t seem entirely convinced:

Mangnall has told Disability News Service (DNS) that he wants to ask further questions of ministers if he can secure more evidence to show that the process should be improved, because he believes it is currently “letting the side down”.

“I have got some fantastic constituents and this is a headache that they do not need.

“They need support from us and they don’t need a bureaucratic system like this holding them up, with people who don’t understand their situation.”

He has asked DNS for details of its lengthy investigation into dishonest PIP assessors.

The cynic in This Writer wants to take bets on how long it will take for Mr Tomlinson and fellow Tory ministers to get Mr Mangnall to shut up.

But hope springs eternal.

Let’s hope DNS can keep Mr Mangnall dedicated to the case. The hordes of people who have been betrayed by PIP assessors deserve it.

Source: Tory MP tells minister of jobcentre staff’s ‘grave concern’ over PIP assessors – Disability News Service

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Tories suspend face-to-face benefit assessments amid coronavirus crisis – but what’s behind their compassionate veneer?

They took their time about it.

And one has to question whether it would have happened without pressure from organisations representing sick and disabled benefit claimants, and the general public.

Here’s the decision, as described on the UK government website:

Face-to-face assessments for all sickness and disability benefits will be suspended for the next 3 months, the government announced.

The temporary move, effective on Tuesday 17 March 2020, is being taken as a precautionary measure to protect vulnerable people from unnecessary risk of exposure to coronavirus as the country’s response ramps up in the ‘delay’ phase. We will ensure those who are entitled to a benefit continue to receive support, and that new claimants are able to access the safety net.

It affects claimants of Personal Independence Payment (PIP), those on Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) and some on Universal Credit, and recipients of Industrial Injuries Disablement Benefit.

The suspension of face-to-face assessments also covers new claims to those benefits.

Note that the face-to-face assessments are only suspended – so beware of treachery.

It would be easy for the Tories to restore face-to-face assessments after a certain period (not necessarily three months; we don’t know how long the coronavirus crisis will last) – and decide that thousands of claimants have been overpaid, or even paid benefits they should not have received at all.

Let’s be honest – the assessment companies are now known to have falsified reports in the past, in order to prevent people receiving benefits they were owed, and with both Atos and Capita set to see their contracts renewed at huge cost to the public purse, there’s nothing to stop them doing it again.

And if benefits have been paid out, then it is likely the Tory government will want that money back.

So it seems likely the Tories are using the coronavirus crisis to create a debt trap for thousands upon thousands of vulnerable people – and hiding behind a veneer of compassion while they do it.

Source: Face-to-face health assessments for benefits suspended amid coronavirus outbreak – GOV.UK

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Firms that falsified thousands of benefit assessments set to get contracts to falsify thousands more

With apologies to the makers of The Simpsons.

Can anyone think of a single rational explanation for the plan to renew the contracts for Atos and Capita to carry out assessments of sickness and disability benefit claims?

Between them, over the last two years, these firms deliberately falsified around 7,300 claims in order to deny disabled people vital payments, forcing them towards poverty and the worsening of their conditions.

Who knows how many of these people have been induced to end their own lives as a result of this discrimination?

But instead of penalising the perpetrators by removing their contracts, the Tories are planning to pay them more than £1 billion to continue their persecution for three more years after their current contract runs out in 2021.

Who knows how many more claims they’ll be able to falsify, doctor or otherwise fake in that time? How many deserving people they’ll drive to poverty? How many will die?

Source: Discredited firms poised to rake in more than £1 billion from new PIP contracts – Disability News Service

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New DWP sickness/disability assessment trial could be more confused than current system

As seen on Twitter: we may hope the new assessment is better than this. We may HOPE…

I had hoped that perhaps I was the only one who was confused by the latest Tory plan for sickness and disability benefit assessments.

They said they were planning to merge the assessments for Personal Independence Payment (disability) and Employment and Support Announcement (sickness)…

But instead it seems the new trial is for a single “digital platform” that many claimants may not be able to access because their sickness or disability means they can’t cope with computers.

Didn’t they say they were going to make it easier, not harder?

The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has caused confusion after refusing to say if a newly-announced trial will test the idea of merging assessments for its two main disability benefits.

Justin Tomlinson (pictured), the minister for disabled people, announced this week that DWP would be trialling the use of a new single “digital platform” to help deliver assessments for both personal independent payment (PIP) and employment and support allowance (ESA), and the equivalent of ESA under universal credit.

Such a move was first suggested 12 months ago by the then work and pensions secretary Amber Rudd.

The new system would aim to ensure that people in receipt of more than one disability-related benefit do not have to provide the same information multiple times.

But ministers have also spoken previously of testing whether they could merge the processes for PIP and ESA (the work capability assessment) into a single assessment.

Both the assessments have been blighted by years of criticism and repeated links to the deaths of claimants.

Source: DWP adds to confusion over ‘single assessment’ plans – Disability News Service

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Another pack of lies over PIP assessment shows they should ALL be recorded

Some fools are going to say “this is a grandmother-of-10; hasn’t she got enough relatives to help her cope with this benefit cut?”

Silly, silly people – who have probably never had to rely on the charity of their own families. Different people have different circumstances and it is wrong to expect particular results in situations about which you know nothing.

So let’s progress to the substantive issue: the claim that Janet Williams, of Shirehampton, Bristol, lost almost half of her PIP payments because an assessor lied about what happened during an interview.

Ms Williams, 59, has severe arthritis in both knees, and one leg is two inches shorter than the other after three operations, making walking extremely painful.

She has fibromyalgia and a swollen spine, feet and knees, and she also has anxiety, depression and stress.

But after the interview, her Personal Independence Payments were slashed from £148.85 a week to £82 a week – and the Department for Work and Pensions also took away her mobility car.

She was left housebound.

At an appeal tribunal, the assessor said Ms Williams had refused to be examined; Ms Williams herself said the woman had decided not to carry it out because she could see that Ms Williams was in pain.

The assessor also said Ms Williams had said she could walk a mile to her GP surgery; Ms Williams said she had not been asked that question.

These claims could have been resolved easily – if the DWP habitually ensured its assessments were recorded.

But that’s the last thing the DWP wants – which is why it has demanded that assessments may only be recorded on a Neal CD Interview Recorder which claimants must buy at a cost of £1,400 each.

How many benefit claimants do you know with that kind of many going spare?

So Ms Williams must go without her benefit and her car.

And the DWP can gloat in the knowledge that it has got away with this trick yet again.

Source: Gran-of-10 ‘cut off outside world’ after DWP almost halved her PIP benefits – Bristol Live

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Disabled people are fighting flawed benefit decisions – with help from their MP. Will yours join in?

More of this please, MPs!

The Department for Work and Pensions has put ridiculous conditions on the recording of benefit assessments.

So Labour MP Dan Carden has taken it upon himself to meet those conditions.

Funny how it’s never any Conservative MPs doing this, isn’t it?

Perhaps one or two would like to prove me wrong.

Disabled people in Liverpool will be given the chance to fight flawed benefit decisions made by the Department of Work and Pensions.

Work capability assessments carried out by private companies like Atos, Capita and Maximus have been criticised for regularly producing flawed decisions.

Now Liverpool Walton MP Dan Carden has joined the ‘On The Record’ campaign, started in Sheffield and Manchester – which has seen a campaign group called Disabled People Against Cuts raise cash to purchase recording kit that claimants can take to benefit assesments.

Disabled people say that when assessments are recorded, they are far more likely to result in accurate decisions – saving disabled people months of stress and hardship fighting appeals to get the support they are entitled to.

Source: How disabled people in Liverpool are fighting back against flawed DWP decisions – Liverpool Echo

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The Livingstone Presumption is now available
in either print or eBook format here:

HWG PrintHWG eBook

Health Warning: Government! is now available
in either print or eBook format here:

HWG PrintHWG eBook

The first collection, Strong Words and Hard Times,
is still available in either print or eBook format here:

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