Contractors on notice as Government looks at in-house PIP capacity and pilots video recording assessments
Following a report by the Work and Pensions Committee on PIP and Employment and Support Allowance assessments highlighting “a pervasive culture of mistrust” and performance failures of contractors, the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has announced plans to develop in-house IT capacity for PIP assessments.
In a written statement, the DWP confirmed its intentions to extend Atos and Capita’s contracts to provide Personal Independence Payment (PIP) functional assessments for a further two years to “allow for a stable transition to any new provision”, over which period it would develop in-house IT capacity.
Welcoming the development of an in-house PIP capacity, Rt Hon Frank Field MP, Chair of the Work and Pensions Committee, said: “This is the most the Committee could have asked for at this stage and is further credit to the thousands of disabled people who sent evidence to us.
“The Government is making the important first steps to enable it to get out of a hole of its own making. Having the capacity to bring assessments back in house will put it in a far stronger position to turn the screws on its hitherto failing contractors, in the interests of claimants and all taxpayers. This should serve as notice for Atos and Capita to start delivering, or else.”
Introduced in 2013 as a replacement to Disability Living Allowance (DLA), Personal Independence Payments (PIP) provide help to people aged 16 to 64 for the extra costs they face due to ill health or disability.
Whereas DLA was commonly based on self-assessment, eligibility for PIP includes a test conducted by Atos or Capita on behalf of the Government, with money being allocated according to a points system and eligibility reviewed regularly.
This stricter criteria led to headlines of a large number of individuals being incorrectly or unfairly assessed and losing vital supporting, causing the Work and Pension Committee to conduct a review of current assessment processes in February 2018.
The report found that failings in the process have contributed to a lack of trust in the assessment of both PIP and Employment and Support Allowance (ESA), with many of the 4,000 respondents to the report stating they did not trust Atos or Capita’s assessors to record evidence of their conditions accurately.
In its formal response to the lack of trust highlighted by the Committee and claimants, the Government has agreed to the recording of PIP assessments as standard, piloting the scheme with a view making it a standard part of the assessment process across Great Britain.