In this newsletter we pass on the DWP’s reassurance that no-one will be worse off and there will be no face-to-face medicals as a result of 1.6 million PIP reassessments.
We discover that Capita have slashed the percentage of PIP cases they try to get additional medical evidence for, from 69% down to a tiny 2%.
And we wonder whether a struggling Capita will have to stop doing PIP assessments altogether.
We look at the bizarre world of PIP and ESA medicals, as revealed by the Work and Pensions committee. It features assessors who can see right through your shoes and who know just how far you can walk an imaginary dog.
We highlight the tiny take-up of the loan that is replacing support for mortgage interest.
And finally, we reveal that the DWP may well be quaking in its boots as it faces another potentially disastrous court case brought by another courageous claimant.
NO-ONE WORSE OFF DUE TO 1.6 MILLION PIP REVIEWSIt depends on how much you trust the DWP to keep their word.
But Minister for disabled people, Sarah Newton, told MPs earlier this month that:
“Nobody is going to be called in for a face-to-face assessment, and nobody is going to have money taken away from them.”
as a result of the checks being carried out on 1.6 million PIP claims highlighted in our last newsletter.
Aside from that, however, there is still very little clarity about who is going to be checked, how and when the checks will be carried out or whether people will be told when they have been checked.
CAPITA SLASHES ADDITIONAL MEDICAL EVIDENCEDisability News Service has obtained documents which they say show that Capita has hugely slashed the proportion of PIP cases in which it sends for additional medical evidence, from 69% in January 2016 to just 1.8% in June 2016.
Further figures given by DWP minister Sarah Newton suggest this proportion may have fallen even lower in 2017.
Atos (now known as IAS) asked for further evidence in only 5-6% of cases in January to July of 2016, but this had risen to 13% by December 2016, according to DNS.
Additional medical evidence - provided by GPs, consultants, mental health nurses and other health professionals - can make a huge difference to whether a claim succeeds or not. When PIP was introduced, the DWP expected further evidence to be sent for in about 50% of PIP claims.
But collecting further medical evidence slows down the process of assessing PIP claims and costs money.
Capita has offered no explanation for the dramatic reduction in further evidence requests.
Meanwhile, here at Benefits and Work we continue to stress the importance of collecting further medical evidence yourself if you possibly can – although we do know how difficult that can be.
ARE CAPITA GOING TO DITCH PIP?Capita’s share price plummeted 40% at the end of last month after it announced that its profits were going to be much lower than expected and warned that no dividends would be paid. Comparisons were immediately made with the collapse of government outsourcing firm Carillion.
Capita chief executive Jonathan Lewis stated:
“We are now too widely spread across multiple markets and services, making it more challenging to maintain a competitive advantage in every business and to deliver world-class services to our clients every time.
For claimants, the question now will be whether Capita counts PIP assessments as a profitable and core part of its business, or whether it will seek to walk away from the contract.
IMAGINARY DOGS AND X-RAY VISIONThe House of Commons Work and Pensions committee paid tribute to the “efforts and bravery” of almost 4,000 claimants in sending them “honest and often distressing accounts” of their PIP and ESA assessments.
They included the assessor who could see that the claimant had full movement of their toes – even though the claimant was wearing leather winter boots at the time.
Another assessor equipped with equally impressive x-ray vision managed to observe a claimant carrying out a full page of exercises. This was despite that fact that the claimant never removed their winter coat or got out of their wheelchair for the entire assessment.
A particularly imaginative assessor was able to record that the claimant walked their dog daily, even though the claimant could barely walk and didn’t own a dog.
And one health professional, keen to take an accurate history, asked a claimant when they had first caught Down’s syndrome.
Another admitted a lack of knowledge about a claimant’s condition, but told the claimant not to worry as they would Google it later.
The DWP’s response to this damning report was predictably arrogant and dismissive. They said that it was “disappointing that this report uses a number of anonymous claims that we are unable to investigate”. And added that the vast majority of claimants are “happy with their overall experience.”