From April 2013, the Department for Work and Pensions started to introduce Personal Independence Payments (PIP), a new disability benefit to replace Disability Living Allowance received by 3.3 million of the Department’s most vulnerable claimants. Up to the end of 2018, 1.7 million Disability Living Allowance recipients will be assessed for PIP, alongside 1.9 million new claimants. Through PIP, the Department aims to reduce benefit spending by £780 million this Spending Review Period.
In most cases, PIP benefit decisions are supported by an assessment of need, currently conducted by Atos Healthcare and Capita Health and Wellbeing, at an estimated annual cost of £127 million. Early experience of the PIP claims process has shown claims taking much longer than forecast with delays at each stage of the claimant process. With backlogs developing early in the benefit life-cycle, the Department has slowed down its timetable for reassessing Disability Living Allowance recipients, impacting the savings achievable and experiences of claimants.
In November 2012, the Committee explored the Department’s contract management of Atos Healthcare in relation to work capability assessments and made a series of recommendations. This inquiry provides an opportunity to consider how the Department has implemented lessons learnt across disability benefits contracts, whilst exploring the Department’s introduction of PIP and early operational performance.