DBC calls on assessment providers to sign up to PIP pledges

As the Government is this week awarding contracts to the private sector for reassessing disabled people for help with essential higher costs of living, the DBC has called for the potential assessment providers to sign up to a set of pledges to help deliver a process that is as fair as possible.

The Department for Work and Pensions has appointed companies to run a new assessment process to determine eligibility for the new ‘Personal Independence Payment‘ (PIP). PIP is being introduced as the Government abolishes Disability Living Allowance (DLA) which was introduced from 1992 to help disabled people with essential higher living costs. The change affects working age disabled people (16-64 years of age) from April 2013.

The new assessment process is a major concern for thousands of disabled people and will be used to determine access to PIP. DWP plans show that 500,000 fewer disabled people will be eligible for support.

The DBC is concerned that many disabled people will be stressed and fearful of the new process – as well as mistrustful given the overarching policy aim of reducing expenditure. We are asking the assessment providers to sign up to ten pledges that will help alleviate concerns and could establish greater trust in the new system.

Hayley Jordan, of the MS Society and co-chair of the DBC policy group, says:

“PIP will be a lifeline for disabled people and it is essential that this difficult process is managed well. We urge contractors to sign up to our proposed pledges to demonstrate a commitment to making the process as fair as it can be. Failure will result in tragedy and devastate the lives of disabled people.”

It is essential to build trust in the new assessment. The similar process used to access Employment and Support Allowance (ESA, the benefit for disabled people out of work) was introduced in 2008 but continues to draw intense criticism due to the high rate of inaccurate decisions, successful appeal rate (40%) and waste of restricted resources. Appeals to ESA decisions cost over £26 million in 2010/11; the DBC is keen that this level of wasted public expenditure is avoided.

Tom Pollard, of Mind, and co-chair of the DBC policy group, says:

“It is essential that every penny reaches the disabled people who are supposed to be accessing support and doesn’t get wasted on repetitive bureaucracy or avoidable appeals. We welcome all contractors signing up to our proposed pledges – and DWP must ensure all contractors meet high standards and that disabled people’s anxieties and fears of losing support are not heightened by procedural problems caused by any contractor.”

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10 thoughts on “DBC calls on assessment providers to sign up to PIP pledges

  1. Does that written evidence include reports from medical professionals such as doctors outside the DWP who really know how the disability affects the person?

    • Hi Vanessa, it certainly does – something we have been calling for for some time is that the DWP gives more weight to the evidence of professionals who know the claimant best.

      Hayley (DBC co-chair)

    • Good question Vanessa. We have informed providers that we will be using the pledges to monitor their performance. There will be an independent review of the PIP process after two years, and we will ask people who have been through the assessment process what their experiences were to assess how they have performed against the pledges and feed this into the review.

  2. who will be regulating the provider? need someway of monitoring the appeals process against wrong PIP decision too make the system a better one, similar to what going on with ATOS and the appeal process sledgehammer to crack a peanut.
    need some checks and balance too the system which is lacking in many areas of the world eg banking regs etc
    i believe it wrong for private companies to be runing this circus and it just becomes impossible to deal with cos of all the secretative nature of big business and lack of transperancy etc. Will the contractor ever feel any pain if they make a real balls up? how much is a4e suffering for the misery they have caused? will anyone at the top feel the pain , i am coming to conculsion they will not.

  3. I am really disappointed you have not included in pledge number one this: “we will provide whatever communication support or language translation is required and only use fully qualified and registered (with NRCDP) sign language interpreters.”

  4. Pingback: Decision to award PIP contracts to Atos is ‘twisting the knife’ – DisabledGo News Blog

  5. Pingback: DWP awards new benefit assessment contract to controversial providers: charities seek safeguards for disabled people | Disability Benefits Consortium

  6. As much as I would love to think they would adhere to pledges…. They simply won’t! It’s all about the money. It was with IB changing to ESA and it will be with PIP too. One only has to look at the DWP language to see that the ‘tests’ will be so ridiculous that unless you are literally dead or dying you will have to argue all the way to the end to be eligible. I absolutely guarantee it.

    I have been disabled for 8 years and without financial help would literally have lost everything. The ESA assessment (going from years on IB) was appalling. They didn’t contact Consultants/GPs or even take into account all the information. They simply cherry picked what suited in order to refuse the claim. Needless to say it was eventually changed after nine months of arguing and pointing out the many inconsistencies in the ‘medical practitioners’ (read non-specialised nurse) statements. Even after all that they, without explanation, put me in the WRAG and not the support group!! I then spent months arguing again and they only finally changed it when I told them I’d given up believing it was about what was in my best interest and that we should just go straight to a tribunal. All of a sudden it was changed!

    Due to my problems it took all of my energy for almost all this time to sort it out. I honestly don’t think I have ever been so stressed. There was not one iota of understanding, after all we are all scroungers arent we? Do I/we really think it will be any different in 2015? I very very much doubt it I am sad to say.

    Kind regards to all doing such fine work at DBC.

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