A “pervasive ” lack of confidence” among persons with disabilities in the method of the assessment of their well-being claims risk of compromising the functioning of the Government’s flagship benefits, Mps have warned.
Since 2013, 290,000 rejected the claims for Personal Independence Payments or Employment and the Allowance were awarded on appeal – a total of 6% of all the persons assessed.
The Department of Work and Pensions has spent “hundreds of millions of pounds” of taxpayers ‘ money during this audit period and to defend the decisions taken on the basis of reports prepared by private contractors, said a report of the cross-party committee.
The House of Commons, Work and Pensions Committee said that there was evidence that the companies carrying out the assessments – Atos, Capita and Maximus – have produced a report “riddled with errors and omissions”.
Noting that the quality objectives set for them had been “universally failed”, the committee of ministers should consider taking the process back in-house when contracts come up for renewal in 2019 and 2020.
The committee has received an “unprecedented” number of responses from the PIP and ESA claimants, with nearly 4 000 detailing “shocking and moving, credible and consistent” accounts of the failures of the system.
a recurring complaint was that they did not believe that the companies non-expert evaluators could be approved for recording evidence of their accuracy conditions.
the Evaluators were considered to be “at best, a lack of skills, and at worst actively misleading”, while many asylum-seekers have stated that they have “a lot of anxiety and other adverse effects on health”.
An asylum seeker who has been said in its assessment report, to walk his dog, in spite of not owning one and being barely able to walk.
the Other, who remained in bed throughout his interview at home, have increased a president, “without difficulties” even though the only chair in the room was that of the evaluator was sitting in.
the chairman of the Committee Frank Field said gaps in the system were at the origin of the “intolerable human cost to the applicants and the financial costs to the public finances”.
And he said: “No one should have any doubt that the process is in urgent need of change.”
All of the face-to-face assessments should be recorded and a copy sent to the claimant as well as the report of the evaluator, and not only the notification of the decision of the ministry for which they currently receive, said the report.
Mr Field – a former social security minister said that it is “incredible” that the assessments are not already regularly recorded. It was “incredible” that the DWP has resisted this step.
Maxim has taken over the contract for ESA assessments in 2014, after Atos negotiated an early exit from his contract.
a Value of € 595 million during the allocation, for the period until 2018, it has been postponed until the beginning of the 2020s.
the Contracts for PIP assessments are held by Capita in Wales and the Midlands and Atos in the rest of England and Scotland and had a total value of £512 million originally awarded for the period 2012-17. They have since been extended to mid-2019.
None of the contractors has never affected their performance in terms of quality of the target, in spite of the “low bar” set by the DWP, the report found.
In the case of Capita, the number of statements that are considered “unacceptable” has reached as high as 56% at one point in 2015, although all the entrepreneurs have got closer to strike targets in recent months.
Figures obtained by the Press Association through a Freedom of Information request show the DWP has spent £108.1 million direct staff costs for ESA and PIP calls for the month of October 2015.
Mr Field said: “The current contracts have not made the system more equitable, have not been more transparent and have not made more efficient. They are for review, and market interest seems to be limping.
“The contractors have still not managed to meet the performance standards, but other companies are not jostling each other to take over. The Government should be ready to take assessments in-house.”
The question of whether a more fundamental revision of the social assistance for people with disabilities is necessary “remains open”, the committee said.
A DWP spokesman said: “As the Work and Pensions Committee’s selection of the highlights, job evaluations for the majority of people, with 83% of ESA claimants, and 76% of PIP claimants tell us that they are satisfied with their overall experience.
“However, our goal should be that each person feels that they are treated with fairness, respect and dignity.”
The spokesman said the DWP has already accepted more than 100 recommendations of the five independent reviews of the Work Capability Assessment and has commissioned two independent reviews of PIP assessments.
A Capita spokesman said: “we are firmly committed to providing a high quality service for people applying for PIP, and fully recognize the importance and sensitivity of our role in providing assessments.
“Since taking on the contract, there has been a focus on improving the assessment process for people working with advocacy groups and the Department.
“All of our qualified health professionals are fully trained and are dedicated to provide professional and empathetic assessments for all asylum seekers.”
A spokesman for the Maximus-operated Centre for Health and Disability assessments, said: “Since we took over the contract in March 2015, we have decided to improve the experience at each stage for those who attend evaluations.
“We have delivered year-on-year improvements across the service, the hiring of health professionals, the reduction of half of the time that people spend in the assessment process and to hit the vast majority of the quality objectives.
“In January, 2018, we have achieved all our standards of quality. We take the findings of this report very seriously and remains fully committed to make improvements.”
A spokesman for the Independent Evaluation Services – formerly known as Atos Healthcare, said: “We are extremely aware of the important role that we perform within the applicant’s process, that’s why our goal has always been to provide a professional and compassionate assessment service.
“We have also sought to continuously improve by listening to the feedback of the applicants, which has led to a number of improvements.”