The PIP assessment process – written evidence
Written evidence on the PIP assessment process submitted by Inclusion London to the Work and Pensions Select Committee, April 2017
Written evidence on the PIP assessment process submitted by Inclusion London to the Work and Pensions Select Committee
- Again and again Disabled people are reporting that assessors have ignored written and verbal evidence and that reports do not reflect what occurred in the assessment.
- Assessors not only lack the expertise to make accurate decisions, they often also lack the understanding to be able to conduct assessments in a way that is accessible and appropriate for people with different impairments.
- A brief, one off observation as occurs in the face-to-face assessment cannot provide a robust basis for an accurate assessment yet Further Evidence is only properly considered at appeal stage.
- There is no system that holds assessors to account for inaccurate assessments.
- There are a number of barriers that prevent Disabled people from collecting and presenting evidence. In order to improve accuracy of decisions there needs to be much better support for those that require it.
- Assessors are causing distress by asking questions relating to suicidal tendencies that are of dubious relevance to an assessment of need for PIP and asked in ways that go against clinical guidance. This is further evidence of a worrying lack of necessary expertise and training.
- Considerable savings could be made by removing the need for face-to-face assessments for Disabled people whose impairments cannot be physically measured.
- Mandatory Reconsideration (MR) is more often nothing more than an exercise in rubber stamping an incorrect decision.
- Delays in getting accurate decisions have a severely detrimental impact on Disabled people and their families. While mitigating measures during appeals are welcome, a key aim must be to protect Disabled people from inaccurate assessments in the first place.
Summary of Recommendations
Recommendation 1: Assessors to be notified of how many assessments they have carried out that are over-turned; Assessment Providers to be required to performance manage assessors on the basis of the accuracy of their assessments.
Recommendation 2: Establish a clear and accessible system for Disabled people to file complaints against assessors with an independent body and for complaint statistics to be made public.
Recommendation 3: Assessment Providers to ensure assessors have more time to consider evidence and complete assessments to an adequate standard – a maximum number of assessments per week per individual assessor could encourage quality over quantity.
Recommendation 4: Work to begin in co-production with Disabled people on developing an assessment based on the social model of disability focusing on barriers and the impact of impairment on daily life rather than functionality.
Recommendation 5: Information to claimants to make clear that although the PIP application form asks for details of health care professionals, it is the responsibility of the claimant to contact them for evidence.
Recommendation 6: Disabled people to be given clear and accessible information about the type of Further Evidence that is most useful for them to bring to the assessment.
Recommendation 7: Findings of the WCA evidence collection pilot to be published and lessons applied to the PIP assessment process.
Recommendation 8: Development of a system for Disabled people to opt for evidence to be collected on their behalf by the DWP where they face significant barriers to doing so themselves.
Recommendation 9: Access audits to be carried out of all assessment centres with a requirement on Assessment Providers to make reasonable adjustments to improve accessibility.
Recommendation 10: Disabled People’s Organisations to be commissioned to deliver mandatory disability equality training for all assessors to improve customer service.
Recommendation 11: If the PIP assessment remains in its current form with a focus on functionality as opposed to real world barriers, it should only be conducted by assessors with impairment-specific professional qualifications and experience. For people with multiple impairments the assessment will need input from more than one assessor as required to ensure relevant expertise.
Recommendation 12: Urgent guidance to be issued to all assessors detailing appropriate ways to ask questions relating to the impact on daily life of living with mental distress.
Recommendation 13: Face-to-face assessments are the exception rather than the rule.
Recommendation 14: Abolish the Mandatory Reconsideration stage.
Recommendation 15: Beginning publishing PIP to PIP reassessment figures
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