COMMONS

Claiming benefits should never be a humiliating, distressing experience

14 September 2018

In February this year the Committee concluded a major inquiry into the PIP and ESA Assessments carried out by DWP contractors Atos, Capita and Maximus.

Since publishing the two reports of that inquiry, the Committee has been engaged in work on ongoing concerns and issues around delivery of both benefits:

—and wrote back to the Department on June 12 asking it to acknowledge and specifically address the concerns set out in its PIP and ESA claimants’ stories report, published a week ahead of the final report (PIP, ESA trust deficit fails claimants and the public purse) in recognition of the unprecedented response from thousands of individual claimants, which the original Government response had failed to do.

The Committee is today publishing the Government’s second response, attached. While the tone is generally more positive, the pace of change in regards to the recommendation Government has accepted appears regrettably slow.

The response indicates that Government has not yet, for example, commissioned the promised research on improving the claim forms that many claimants reported difficulties with. There is no update on video recording of assessments, which the Chair argued “would go so far toward increasing transparency and restoring trust it beggars belief that this is not already a routine element of the process”.

The Committee will be writing again to the Minister demanding a progress update on these and other key recommendations. 

Chair's comments

Commenting on the response, Rt Hon Frank Field MP, Chair of the Committee, said:

"There is a welcome change of tone in this response which seems to finally begin to acknowledge the deep distress and difficulty PIP& ESA claimants have experienced.

But that counts for little when it still refuses to engage with the huge problems in quality control—the reports riddled with errors and omissions, the huge numbers of overturned decisions, the outsourced contractors that rarely or never hit their targets—and when the pace of the change it is making is painfully slow.

Claiming a benefit to which you are legitimately entitled should never be a humiliating, distressing experience. Government must move now, faster, to make this right."

Further information

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