Peter Hain MP has called on the medical assessment company Capita to urgently reform its process before it descends into the same ‘punitive fiasco’ as the ATOS assessments from Employment and Support Allowance which caused misery for thousands of local people.
Capita is the preferred assessment provider in Wales for the Personal Independence Payment (PIP) applications which replaced Disability Living Allowance (DLA) last April as part of the Government’s welfare changes.
New applicants and those renewing their DLA award will now have to apply for Personal Independence Payments.
Growing numbers of applicants have been waiting months for their assessments to be completed after initially making the application in the summer says Mr Hain.
In a letter to Capita, the MP declared: "I am deeply concerned by the growing trend that is emerging around the Capita assessments for the Personal Independence Payment application and am anxious that this is dealt with swiftly and decisively before a situation similar to the protracted problems experienced with ATOS and the Employment and Support Allowance assessments develops.
"Constituents have approached me, all with the same problem, regarding the length of time it is taking for Capita to process their application. Typically constituents placed their application in June or July, had the face to face assessment in August or September and are still waiting for the report to be sent from Capita to the Department of Work and Pensions for a decision to be made. This simply is an unacceptable amount of time for people to wait for their application to be processed.
"Sadly, the experience that I am hearing for people who have been through the process, is that from the face to face assessment to the point of Capita sending the report to the DWP the system it is prolonged and inexplicably lengthy.
"It cannot go on that people are waiting months for their assessment to be processed, causing no end of misery for the individual and their family. I ask that you review your system and ensure that applications are dealt with promptly and efficiently and in doing so the turn around on applications is drastically reduced from its current length," said Mr Hain.
The MP for Neath, Wales, has also written to Iain Duncan Smith MP, Secretary of State for the Department of Work and Pensions, urging him to get a grip on the situation saying: "I urge you to get on top of this issue now and resolve the problems with Capita and the length of time it is taking to process the assessments before it descends into a similar shambles to that of ATOS and people with disabilities are left fending for themselves.
"I have asked that Capita review its systems and reduce the length of time it takes them to process applications and I ask you to take actively work [sic] to ensure Capita fulfills its obligations to effectively process those applications is a timely manner as the approved assessment provider."
Disability campaigners say the whole current assessment process in flawed, inhumane and unfit for purpose and should be scrapped.
* Disability issues on Ekklesia: http://www.ekklesia.co.uk/disability
* DWP: public servant or propaganda vehicle?: http://www.ekklesia.co.uk/node/20051
* Welfare that Works: Employment and Support Allowance (ESA): http://www.ekklesia.co.uk/node/19670
* People's review of the WCA: further evidence: http://www.ekklesia.co.uk/node/19621