Ipswich Unemployed Action.

Campaigning for Unemployed Rights.

Private firms contracted to assess people for disability benefits, failing to meet the Government’ s own quality standards.

with 26 comments

Government Responds to Critical Report by Wheeling out Lies.

Capita and Atos, the latter later replaced by Maximus, names that should be on every infant’s lips… as bogeymen.

The crooks contacted to run our public services have come a cropper again.

This time they have created misery for thousands and thousands of disabled people caught in the Benefit’s system.

Disability benefit assessors failing to meet Government’s quality standards

Independent.

Errors in assessment process lead to ‘pervasive lack of trust’ in system and ‘untenable human costs’ to claimants, MPs find

All three private firms contracted to assess people for disability benefits are failing to meet the Government’ s own quality standards, leading to decisions being made based on inaccurate or incomplete assessments, new research shows.

A report by the Work and Pensions Committee found failings in the assessment process have contributed to a “pervasive lack of trust” in the system and an “untenable human costs” to claimants, as well as financial costs to the public purse. They concluded that the process was in need of “urgent change”.

In one case flagged up by MPs, a person with Down’s syndrome was asked when they “caught” it, while in another, a woman reporting frequent suicidal thoughts was asked why she had not yet killed herself. In a third case, a claimant’s assessment stated that she walked a dog daily, when she could barely walk and didn’t own a dog.

Of the 170,000 appeals for personal independence payments (PIP) claims that have been taken to the Tribunal in the past five years, since 2013, claimants won in 63 per cent of cases. In the same period, there have been 53,000 employment support allowance (ESA) appeals, of which claimants won in 60 per cent of cases.

Both Atos and Capita – the companies contracted by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP)’ to carry out the bulk of the assessments – saw a rise in the proportion of reports graded “unacceptable” last year.

The article concludes:

A DWP spokesperson said: “As the Work and Pensions Committee highlights, assessments work for the majority of people, with 83 per cent of ESA claimants and 76 per cent of PIP claimants telling us that they’re happy with their overall experience. However, our aim has to be that every person feels they are treated fairly, with respect and dignity.

“We are committed to continuously improving the experience of our claimants, that is why we’ve commissioned five independent reviews of the work capability assessment – accepting over 100 recommendations – and two independent reviews of PIP assessments.

“We continue to work closely with our providers to ensure people receive high quality assessments, and are exploring options around recordings to promote greater transparency and trust.”

We know what kind of ‘research’ they use to reach this conclusion:

As Kitty writes,  Summary of key problems with the DWP’s recent survey of claimant satisfaction

The Government says: “This research monitors claimants’ satisfaction with DWP services and ensures their views are considered in operational and policy planning.” 

Again, it doesn’t include those claimants whose benefit support has been disallowed. There is considerable controversy around disability benefit award decisions (and sanctioning) in particular, yet the survey does not address this important issue, since those experiencing negative outcomes are excluded from the survey sample. We know that there is a problem with the PIP and ESA benefits award decision-making processes, since a significant proportion of those people who go on to appeal DWP decisions are subsequently awarded their benefit.

The DWP, however, don’t seem to have any interest in genuine feedback from this group that may contribute to an improvement in both performance and decision-making processes, leading to improved outcomes for disabled people.

Last year, judges ruled 14,077 people should be given PIP against the government’s decision not to between April and June – 65 per cent of all cases.  The figure is higher still when it comes to ESA (68 per cent). Some 85 per cent of all benefit appeals were accounted for by PIP and ESA claimants.

Francis Ryan writes in the New Statesman.

The mass rollout of PIP and the out-of-work sickness benefit, the employment and support allowance (ESA) – first started by the coalition government – were in many ways the centre of the Conservatives’ anti-welfare drive, with ministers handing out hundreds of millions to private companies to run the assessments while claiming there are hordes of scrounging disabled people whose benefits should be withdrawn to get the “welfare” bill down.

It’s resulted in a system so inept that vast numbers of disabled people are having their support removed incorrectly: since 2013, of 170,000 PIP appeals taken to tribunal, 63 per cent won, while 60 per cent of the 53,000 ESA appeals succeeded.

Bear in mind this is at a time when legal aid cuts and the closure of welfare advice centres means many disabled people forced to appeal have no help to do so (imagine what the appeal rates would be if these were healthy people given legal support).

The impact of this is brutal. More than a third of those who have had their benefit cut say they’re struggling to pay for food, rent and bills, while 40 per cent say they’ve become more isolated as over 50,000 disabled people lost access to Motability vehicles.

The recent appointment of Esther McVey – famed in her role as Minister for Disabled People for her punitive attitude to benefit claimants – as the new Work and Pensions Secretary does not bode well for hopes to reform the system.

But the past month has shown with enough pressure, the government can be forced into a climb-down: in January, the Department for Work and Pensions announced every person receiving PIP – that’s 1.6 million people – will have their claim reviewed after a court challenge.

This week’s coming report could be another nail in the coffin in the Conservatives’ disability benefit agenda. In the meantime, cancer patients and people with severe depression are being left without the money they need to live.

Public Finance reports that the call is out for an end to the contracting-out scam:  MPs highlight breakdown in trust over disability benefit tests

Mark Smulian

Public contract failures have led to a loss of trust that risks undermining the operation of the Personal Independence Payment and Employment and Support Allowance disability benefits, MPs have said.

In a report published today, the Commons work and pensions committee called for urgent reforms to the system.

Chair Frank Field said: “For the majority of claimants the assessments work adequately, but a pervasive lack of trust is undermining its entire operation.

“In turn, this is translating into untenable human costs to claimants and financial costs to the public purse. No one should have any doubt the process needs urgent change.”

Field said the Department for Work & Pensions should immediately require recording of face-to-face assessments and provide these to claimants, adding “it beggars belief that this is not already a routine element of the process”.

He called the DWP’s resistance to this idea “bewildering”, noting that making recordings available could in itself reduce the incidence of disputes leading to costly appeals.

Assessments have been carried out by contractors Capita and Atos, the latter later replaced by Maximus.

Ministers should consider taking assessments in-house, Field said, as “the existing contractors have consistently failed to meet basic performance standards but other companies are hardly scrambling over each other to take over”.

PIP and ESA assessment work was outsourced in the name of efficiency and consistency but the committee said no provider had ever hit their quality performance targets while many claimants experience anxiety and other damage to their health over a process regarded as “opaque and unfriendly” throughout.

The committee also urged better understanding amongst health and social care professionals and claimants of what constitutes good evidence for PIP and ESA claims, improved accessibility at every stage and better quality control.

It said there had been an unprecedented response to its call for evidence from service users and a recurrent, core theme had been “that claimants do not believe assessors can be trusted to record what took place during the assessment accurately [which] has implications far beyond the minority of claimants who directly experience poor decision making”

Still there’s this: Happy Thought for the Day from the DWP..

 

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Written by Andrew Coates

February 14, 2018 at 11:30 am

26 Responses

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  1. Reblogged this on disabledsingleparent.

    mili68

    February 14, 2018 at 11:31 am

  2. I complained when an assessor didn’t turn up. The following day Capita stated she had and gave a description of my front garden. I told them I could provide evidence that my landline was in use at the time of appointment and I was home.

    My claim was automatically returned to the DWP. I was given wrong information by Capita about timescales that would have led to a decision being made before I put my side of the story had I believed them.

    I contacted the DWP and my Assembly Member wrote to them and my claim was sent back to Capita.

    Capita decided that their operative had called and I was not at home in their response to my complaint. She had magically used an ancient intercom system that had the button masked off. The magical bit was that she stated a red light showed, which was amazing as it was not and never had been connected to any power source.

    The subsequent home visit was very professional and my benefits were increased.

    Isn’t it amazing that even with concrete proof of their operative, at least, being daft enough not to use one of the two working doorbells or knock the door Capita found in their own favour and presumablly were paid twice for their incompetence?

    Jonathan Skrine

    February 14, 2018 at 11:57 am

  3. “The specialist disabled news site Disability News Service (DNS) has been carrying out an investigation into claims of widespread dishonesty in the disability benefit system, with more than 250 PIP claimants alleging assessors repeatedly lied, ignored written evidence and dishonestly reported the results of physical examinations. It’s a regular occurrence for disabled readers to show me the reports of their benefit assessment, point to a statement, and tell me that it never in fact happened.”

    https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/oct/30/staggering-rise-pip-complaints-rot-system-disability-benefits

    ATOS,

    “A nurse failed to mention a disabled woman’s near-fatal asthma attacks, accidental overdoses and repeated blackouts, in one of the clearest examples yet of a dishonest benefits assessment report, secret recordings have revealed.

    A video recording of the assessment also shows that the nurse lied about the way disabled activist Catherine Scarlett made her way from a stairlift to a reclining chair to begin the assessment.

    Scarlett had been so distrustful of the personal independence payment (PIP) system that she made both video and audio recordings of her face-to-face assessment, which was carried out at her home in Yorkshire in May.

    She says the recordings and assessment report prove she was right to do so.

    They show how the nurse – employed by the government contractor Atos Healthcare – repeatedly downplayed the seriousness of what she was told by Scarlett.

    This allowed the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) to lower her entitlement from the enhanced rate to just the standard rate for the daily living element of PIP, although she was allowed to stay on the enhanced rate for mobility.

    At one point, Scarlett is heard on the recording telling the nurse that on several occasions she had accidentally double-dosed the powerful opioid pain medication Tramadol, but the nurse translates that in her written report as “occasionally forgets to take her medication”.

    Scarlett also tells the nurse that she cannot read for long periods “because I black out”, but this ends up in the report as “she can read although she doesn’t read for long due to concentration”.

    When Scarlett describes how she has previously experienced “near-fatal asthma attacks”, the nurse writes this up in her report as episodes of being “wheezy and short of breath”, which “comes and goes”.

    And when the nurse asks her if she has ever thought of taking her own life, Scarlett tells her that she has felt like ending her life “lots of times” and that she experiences “impulsive urges to commit suicide and things like that”.

    This is translated as “she has had thoughts of not wanting to be here”.

    Scarlett is also furious that the nurse suggested that she did not need to carry out a physical examination if that meant she would be “wiped out for the week”.

    When Scarlett agreed and said she was “not really” keen on having the examination, the nurse was able to use her decision to decline the physical tests to justify relying instead on an inaccurate description of how she claimed she saw Scarlett “grip and operate a crutch in each hand” as she was walking from a chairlift to her seat, in order to play down her need for support for bathing and dressing.

    DWP later admitted – when it eventually overturned its original findings – that she lacked the necessary grip and strength in her right hand and arm “to be able to dress yourself reliably and in a timely manner”.

    The video clearly shows Scarlett walking with a stooped posture, leaning heavily on the crutches, and flopping into the chair, but not touching its arms.

    But the nurse writes this up as: “She walked from the bottom of the stairs to her specialist reclining chair using a crutch in each hand. She walked very slowly with normal posture.

    “She lowered herself into the chair by putting her hands on the chair and lowered herself into it.”

    Scarlett believes that her case, and many others she has been passed by other disabled people through social media, show that DWP is “colluding” with Atos in order to cut people’s support.”

    https://www.disabilitynewsservice.com/recordings-prove-pip-report-ignored-near-fatal-attacks-overdoses-and-blackouts/

    Andrew Coates

    February 14, 2018 at 12:07 pm

    • Does anyone know what the actual LAW is on recording assessments. In many places the DWP and Atos/Capita rules are being stated as LAW.

      There are three things that worry me:-

      1 all telepone calls to Capita are recorded. Surely this gives a ‘sauce for the goose, sauce for the gander’ right to record assessments?

      2.Can there be an assumed right of privacy for an HMG contractor in someone’s home?

      3. The cost of the equipment specified by Capita is in the region of £1500 and would make it out of the question for an individual on benefits.

      There really needs to be Legally qualified advice on this as trolls of the scare them enough and they’ll revolt variety are suggesting prosecution by mentioning consequences for breach of Law.

      It really is scary for disabled people, the Tories treat us as ‘Unproductive Eaters’ and Labour are silent.

      Jonathan Skrine

      February 14, 2018 at 12:28 pm

      • Jonathan

        I put up something a while back – take your cue from the simple fact as an example Police CANNOT stop you recording/videoing them. [Note the Metropolitan Police put out notices to stop Police Officers harassing photographers for that very reason]
        Also such evidence can and has been upheld in court.

        This is where you have to be careful. A] You must have a reasonable reason to record these matters, B] NO SHARING if taking action as it can be considered prejudicial in certain circumstances.

        Why can YOU record? That is because the information act is aimed at individuals rights – Police, Gov, and companies are not individuals under law so can be recorded.

        gazza

        February 14, 2018 at 3:37 pm

      • No idea but this is relevant:

        Andrew Coates

        February 14, 2018 at 4:19 pm

      • Just get your own recording device and record everything regarding Atos, Capita, DWP, council and many more, in this day of age.

        Did you all know some job interviews by phone are via Capita.

        whoknew

        February 15, 2018 at 11:53 am

      • The more people ATOS used to disqualify for disability benefits the more bonuses they got; the thing was set up as a “paid by results” model. This, obviously, used to “encourage” people administering the Work Capability Assessments (WCA) to find as many people as possible “fit for work” to make their pay packets fatter. Is this still the case? Are the private assessors still “paid by results” and get more money the more people they kick off benefits? If they are surely THAT explains why so many people are receiving unfair and flawed results?

        Reynard

        February 15, 2018 at 1:59 pm

  4. From the DWP report “Estimating the Early Labour Market Impacts of Universal Credit”:

    “The central estimate is that UC claimants are 8 percentage points more likely to have worked within the first 270 days of making their claim than a matched comparison group of JSA claimants who made equivalent claims during the same period in similar areas. The chances of being employed at particular points in time tend to be smaller which might indicate that some of the increase in the likelihood of becoming employed is
    due to UC leading to an increase in short-term work. These positive results hold for claims made at different six month intervals, for different age groups, and for both men and women. An extensive range of sensitivity analysis suggests that the evaluation method and results are robust and as reliable as they can be given the data available.

    On average UC claimants are estimated to work about 12 days more than the matched comparison group during the first 270 days after they made their claim. We also find evidence of a positive impact on earnings. However, the variability in earnings makes these estimates more uncertain. Furthermore, the estimated impacts on days worked and earnings are both less reliable than the impact on employment status due to the data available.”

    So all the misery involved in the roll out of Universal Credit is justified by getting a measly eight more out of every hundred people getting some kind of work, most likely short-term work, and them staying in such work for a negligible 12 days longer than those on Jobseeker’s Allowance.

    Talk about being damned by faint praise.

    Reynard

    February 14, 2018 at 2:40 pm

  5. Andrew Coates

    February 14, 2018 at 4:13 pm

  6. At the mercy of DWP: Disabled man who wants to work tells of benefit change stress

    Mark Tibbett, 29, had just started a job in Thornaby when he was told he no longer qualified for his car :: He then went through an appeal process

    https://www.gazettelive.co.uk/news/teesside-news/mercy-dwp-disabled-man-who-14286431

    ken

    February 14, 2018 at 9:54 pm

  7. OT: Homeless man found dead ‘on doorstep’ of Parliament

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-london-43063019
    A man has been found dead in a Tube station underpass that leads to the Houses of Parliament.

    The man was homeless and often seen at the entrance to Westminster underground station, politicians said.

    MPs have called on the government to make a commitment to end rough sleeping after the “terrible tragedy”.

    ME: MPs figuratively stepping over the bodies of dead homeless people as they don’t exist. Much like DWP

    gazza

    February 15, 2018 at 2:36 am

  8. Tories stop putting the blame on these [banned from trading in most countries] companies. It is the Tories responsibility not the corporate companies that are legally responsible. These companies are there to rip off the Tories because it is in the business to do so, that is why they are banned from trading in most countries of the world for that reason. That make the Tories responsible for their own fraud & malpractices.

    DWP Assisted Suicide was the spec & that is what these companies are doing, what the Tories have told them to do.

    So Tories Assisted Suicide is a Tory problem of genocide & cleansing of the disabled.

    Tories at war with their contractors. The Tories will lose.

    Stepping Razor Sound Plate System

    February 15, 2018 at 2:38 pm

    • There we go Tories another £50,000 in lawyers fees. Don’t deny it, it will then be £200,000 in lawyers fees to deny it.

      Stepping Razor Sound Plate System

      February 15, 2018 at 2:41 pm

      • The Tories say don’t written anymore it is costing £500,000 a week in lawyers fees. Then we find out who is talking bullshit in fraud.

        Stepping Razor Sound Plate System

        February 15, 2018 at 2:43 pm

      • At that rate I cost the Tories over £10 Million a year. Shall I get more busy with draining the Tories whoops the Tax payer more!!!

        120,000 DWP Related Deaths since 2010.

        Stepping Razor Sound Plate System

        February 15, 2018 at 2:46 pm

  9. Labours Keith Vaz says he’s too ill to be investigated over partying with Romanian rent boys but is fit enough to travel the world and cut ribbons.

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-5373877/Keith-Vaz-ill-male-escort-investigation.html

    Violet

    February 15, 2018 at 5:43 pm

    • Bet the dirty swine has had anal botox at the taxpayers expense, and not forgetting his Vazeline! 😸

      Foxglove

      February 15, 2018 at 8:37 pm

  10. Yesterday – Everyone is now entitled to Universal Credit from the first day they claim,

    Still the long wait.

    whoknew

    February 15, 2018 at 6:07 pm

  11. “Living wage wardrobe,” the fashion retailer – clothes, shoes, and everything else – all for just £7.50.each.

    Not for men though, what’s the prob.!

    Those things as well as food and much more need to be cheaper.

    whoknew

    February 15, 2018 at 9:04 pm

  12. Ministers should consider universal basic income precursor allowing individuals to claim £10,000 over two-year period, according to new report

    The study by the think-tank Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufacturers and Commerce (RSA) claims the idea could act as a “stepping stone” before the introduction of a fully-fledged Universal Basic Income.

    The RSA – led by Matthew Taylor, who recently authored a report for Theresa May into modern employment practices – says the concept would involve providing £10,000 over a period of two years to everyone under 55 to help meet the challenges of the 2020s.

    http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/universal-basic-opportunity-fund-uk-government-ministers-income-money-rsa-a8212911.html

    whoknew

    February 16, 2018 at 9:07 am


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