Days after This Site noted that the Department for Work and Pensions is running trials of video assessments for Personal Independence Payment – and other benefit – claims, we find that the Tories are already recording telephone assessment interviews.
This is very interesting because the recording of assessments has been a roasting-hot potato ever since it was first suggested.
The most recent statement of the situation was that, in order to have an assessment recorded, a claimant needed to bring a piece of tape-recording equipment worth around £1,400 to the interview, capable of recording on two tapes at the same time, with one to be held by the interviewer and one by the interviewee.
The DWP – and by extension, assessors at Atos and Capita – has a small number of these devices, but their scarcity meant it was hard to be sure of securing one for an interview.
This led to some charitable people buying the equipment in order to lend it to benefit claimants who needed it. I’m sure it also led to less charitable people renting the same equipment out for money.
With the announcement that Atos is recording telephone assessments, though, hasn’t that situation changed?
If the assessment company is making recordings unilaterally, does it still have to use the same equipment as in previous stipulations?
Will it have to provide claimants with copies?
If it doesn’t have to use the prescribed equipment, why not? And does this mean claimants don’t have to use it either and can make their own recordings? If not, why not? There must be a level playing-field for these matters.
Here’s Benefits and Work on this:
IAS (Atos) have begun recording telephone assessments for personal independence payment (PIP) Therese Coffey, secretary of state for work and pensions, told the Work and Pensions Committee on Wednesday 30 September.
Coffey told the committee that IAS had begun recording the assessments on 21 September.*
“But that has not yet started with Capita. That is under, I can assure you, active management to get Capita going quickly on this”
claimants must ask to have their assessment recorded, it will not be done automatically.
You are likely to need to arrange this in advance. The earlier you request a recording the better, as a new appointment may need to be arranged.
I note that the website’s authors say the DWP will not give permission for claimants to make their own recordings – and say they should do it themselves, clandestinely, if they feel they need to:
You may still consider it sensible to record the assessment yourself just in case the DWPs recording goes astray. Though you will need to do this covertly as the DWP will not give permission.
We would still strongly recommend that claimants consider making a covert recording of their assessment, just in case the DWP’s copy goes astray when you challenge a decision.
The suggestion that copies of assessors’ audio recordings can go “astray” indicates that the DWP and its privately-contracted assessors are as untrustworthy as ever (75 per cent of benefit refusals are now being overturned at appeal).
This is worth chasing up. I’ll ask the DWP what’s going on and let you know the answer.
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