THE SHOCKING HUMAN COST OF PRIVATE PIP ASSESSMENTS

MPs have delivered a scathing verdict on the assessment system for disability benefits, warning it is having an ‘untenable human cost’ on claimants.

The Work and Pensions Committee said there is now a compelling case for taking the assessments in-house, rather than contracting them out to private companies.

Since Personal Independence Payments (PIP) were introduced in 2013, around 290,000 appeals against decisions have been granted, 6% of the total.

The MPs said contractors such as Atos, Capita and Maximus had also failed to meet the standards expected by the Department for Work and Pensions.

Commenting, Patricia Gibson said:

"None of the providers has ever hit the quality performance targets set for them and many claimants experience a great deal of anxiety and other deleterious health impacts over a process that is regarded as 'opaque and unfriendly' throughout.

"Majority of claimants feel a sense of deep-rooted mistrust, translating into untenable human costs to them and financial costs to the taxpayer.

"The existing contractors have consistently failed to meet basic performance standards with few others keen to take over. The UK Government should take assessments in house."

As part of its inquiry the committee compiled a list of ‘shocking’ stories from claimants about assessors making basic errors, including from one woman whose assessment asserted that said she could walk her dog. She did not even own one. Another claimed a woman had been able to get up from a chair ‘without any difficulty’ when she had been bedridden for the entire interview.

Among recommended changes is the recording assessments to improve process transparency.

Patricia added:

"Ensuring that face-to-face assessments are recorded will enhance transparency and help restore trust. Indeed, it should already be a routine element of the process."

The SNP Government has ruled out using private providers in benefits assessments for new devolved benefits.

Part of Fair Start Scotland's remit will be to find work for people with disabilities.

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