Wednesday, 14 February 2018


Just two weeks ago, I wrote about the government’s degrading and unfair treatment of applicants for Personal Independence Payments (PIPs)[1].
PIPs are a replacement for Disability Living Allowance for people aged 16-64 with long-term chronic health problems or disabilities. A full roll-out of PIP was originally planned for October 2013; it has now been revised to by mid-2019.
I described how the PIP assessment process was simply not fit for purpose and how the courts had confirmed that the government had acted unlawfully in its introduction and implementation.
You may have thought that I was commenting for party political advantage or over-egging the pudding. If that was the case, today’s report on PIPs by the all-party House of Commons Work and Pensions Committee might make you think again.
The Committee’s Chair, Frank Field, says that
“…a pervasive lack of trust is undermining its entire operation. In turn, this is translating into untenable human costs to claimants and financial costs to the public purse. No one should have any doubt the process needs urgent change.”
Whilst the vast majority of claimants want the assessment interviews recorded, as a safeguard for the claimant and the government, the Department for Work and Pensions is stubbornly resisting and refusing.
The PIP Assessments are carried out by contractors Capita and Atos. The Committee says Ministers should consider taking these assessments in-house as
“the existing contractors have consistently failed to meet basic performance standards but other companies are hardly scrambling over each other to take over”.
The committee said that this assessment work was outsourced in the name of efficiency and consistency. However, none of the providers had ever hit their quality performance targets, yet a core theme from the research had been that
“…claimants do not believe assessors can be trusted to record what took place during the assessment accurately [which] has implications far beyond the minority of claimants who directly experience poor decision making”.
What an indictment!
This isn’t about party politics. It is about treating the most vulnerable of the UK’s citizens fairly and with humanity. Isn’t that what British values are about?
[1] Unfair and Wrong 31/01/2018