Liblink: Baroness Thomas… ‘do away with hostile atmosphere’

Over at Politics Home, Celia Thomas criticises the assessment process for Personal Independence Payments, highlighting the very large number of decisions that are found wrong on appeal and the ‘hostile atmosphere’ for claimants.

The Government has lost court cases on two issues – mobility and mental health, and managing therapy, resulting in thousands of cases having to be re-examined.

Why hasn’t PIP bedded down by now? Are the assessors from Atos and Capita up to it? In the old days of DLA, a lot of the assessors were doctors, but now they are likely to be nurses or physiotherapists.

Does this matter because we know that PIP is not a medical test but a functioning test? Yes, it does matter because some quite irrational decisions are being made, such as people with muscular dystrophy (a degenerative disease) getting enhanced mobility at one assessment, and not at the next some years later.

It is hard to imagine what other branch of public service would tolerate an error rate so high that two thirds of appeals are won, and where wrongful refusal causes so much misery and hardship.

My advice to the DWP is to overhaul the descriptors and scoring in the light of experience, get the medical evidence at the initial rather than the end stage, make sure the assessors are much better trained, ensure that all PIP assessment centres are accessible and, finally, do away with the hostile atmosphere.

Read the whole thing here.

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This entry was posted in LibLink.


  • I’m glad to hear of Baroness Thomas’s concerns – I only wish the Lib Dems in Parliament (with one or two honourable exceptions) had been alert to these issues back in 2014 when they naively voted to introduce PIP. As Chair of a food bank I’ve been part of a team that has tried to cope with some of the fall out of that unfortunate vote.

    Baroness Thomas may or may not be aware but there are signs that the government are now on the retreat with the Minister Sarah Newton announcing yesterday that Parkinson’s and Ms sufferers will no longer have to undergo regular tests to ‘prove’ they remain eligible for disability benefits.

    The sooner the contracts of the dreadful ATOS and Capita are ended the better.

  • It’s the hostile environment that is the issue. A hostile culture to immigrants permeates whatever rules are in place. People are deluding themselves if they think they are above the permeating culture.

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