Government responds to reports on PIP and ESA assessments

By agency reporter
April 23, 2018

The Government has responded to reports from the Work and Pensions Committee on assessments for the two main disability benefits, Personal Independence Payemnt (PIP) and Employment and Support Allowance (ESA). The Committee had found that the assessment of claimants was resulting in reports that were "riddled with errors and omissions".  

The main points of the Department for Work and Pensions response are summarised by the Commmittee as:

  • Recording assessments: The Department recognises that the complexity and potential costs of recording makes it difficult for claimants—of PIP especially—to record their assessment. It intends “to make recording the PIP assessment a standard part of the process”. The Department is “currently exploring potential options to test the recording of assessments, including video recording”
  • Design of the forms: The Department will commission a three-stage process independent review of forms (identifying aspects of the forms that cause distress; revising and amending the forms in light of these findings; testing the revised forms with claimants). It expects to commence the work in summary 2018 and publish its report in 2019.
  • Auditing companions in assessments: The Department will consider how assessments where companions attend with claimants can be specifically examined in audit.
  • Copies of reports to claimants by default. The Department has rejected this recommendation, but has said it will make it clearer to claimants in standard communications that they can view a copy of their report should they wish. They believe this “is the best way to achieve transparency without providing claimants with material that they do not want”.
  • Auditing home visits: The Department will not conduct an audit of arrangements for home visits, including reasons for refusal. It does not believe that such an audit would add value to claimants.
  • Reviewing MR decisions: The Department states that “no adverse or incorrect decisions would have been made” as a result of the 80 per cent Mandatory Reconsideration (MR) “aspiration”, and “there was no link between the measure and the outcome of any decisions made at MR”. It does not offer further explanation aside from noting that the measure was an “aspiration for how many correct decisions we should be making first time”.
  • Evidence checklist: The Department rejected this recommendation, stating that Health Care Practitioners (HCP) are already required to make clear in their reports how they have used the evidence provided by claimants. It is unclear how claimants would necessarily be aware of this without receiving a copy of their report.
  • Auditing of assessment process. The response restates the Government’s commitment in response to Paul Gray to conduct more thorough, end-to-end auditing of the assessment process. It does not go into any additional detail about how this will be accomplished.
  • Contractual levers/the future of contracting. The response restates that "the Department's use of contractual levers over the last contracts has led to consistent improvements across both PIP and ESA". No commitment to further action.

* Read the full Government response here

* An Easy Read version of the response is available here

* Work and Pensions Committee


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