“Utterly damning report” on PIP and ESA Assessments

Yesterday, the government published the latest Work and Pensions Select Committee report on PIP and ESA Assessments.

The benefits system is clearly failing – asking a claimant how they caught Down’s Syndrome is appalling. One lady was put down as able to walk her dog, even though she did not own a dog and could hardly walk.

The most vulnerable in our society are not being properly supported, enabled, protected and listened to, but rather treated disdainfully and cruelly.

Stephen Lloyd MP, Liberal Democrat DWP spokesperson, said :

This is an utterly damning report from the Select Committee on the quality, or lack of, from the government’s PIP and ESA assessments programmes.

It’s clear far too many assessments are inadequate for this system to continue in it’s current form.

This also comes on the day where the DWP has put out a deplorable tweet reminding people that as today is Valentines Day, they will be checking that benefits claimants are declaring they live with a partner or else. It’s obvious this Conservative government knows the price of everything but the value of nothing.

This is proof that the Liberal Democrat position of stripping the assessment contract from corporate behemoths such as ATOS and Capita and bringing them in-house as a public service, is the only practical and humane way forward.

* Kirsten Johnson was the PPC for Oxford East in the 2017 General Election. She is a pianist and composer at www.kirstenjohnsonpiano.com.

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  • Jayne mansfield 15th Feb '18 - 10:56am

    @ Kirsten Johnson,
    I had mentioned this report earlier in a different thread, so thank you for the article which will have more prominence

    It should be required reading.

  • I’m glad Kirsten has provided a download of this report. As Jayne says, it should be compulsory reading and I’m glad she highlighted it earlier.

    When the legislation was passed, with whipped Liberal Democrat support, some of us contacted our Lib Dem parliamentarians pointing out the dangers – which have now proved to be true. I regularly see the outcome now at my local food bank.

    It is not enough for Stephen and his colleagues to say it is a damning report when he voted for the Act. A clear statement of “We got it wrong” might just begin to rebuild a bit of credibility for the Liberal Democrats. My hunch is it will need a change of government to make any substantial change to this chaotic cruel system.

  • @ David Raw, completely agree with your statement. I am a left-leaning social democrat, my natural home would and should be the Lib-Dems and I voted for the party in the past. However, hard as I have tried, I can not swallow the Coalition, not only because of the regressive laws that they passed but also for the fundamental breach of trust that the Lib-Dem was responsible for. I have looked very hard for signs of contrition and with some honourable exceptions the line used is ” We had to form a government with the Conservatives in order to save the country”. Not only is this patently untrue but it also adds insult to injury. The coalition was not necessary and I fear that it has done permanent damage to the Lib-Dem brand of politics. Nothing justifies or is worth the near wipe out that happened in 2015. The party was nurtured and cared for by many great men and women through many decades; it should have never been within Clegg’s gift to gamble all of their collective efforts. The party is where it is because of a terrible political gamble by Clegg.

  • Geoffrey Payne 15th Feb '18 - 1:05pm

    Saskia – I have been a member of the party for all that time and like you I despaired at what the party signed up to in government when it comes to the welfare cuts.
    I believe that during the Coalition the party’s Parliamentary party signed up to policies that it would never have signed up to either before or since. The mantra of the Parliamentary party was that the only way out of poverty was to get a job, which of course is not much help for those who tried hard and failed.
    Since the end of the Coalition we have passed policies on welfare that correct the mistakes we made in government. We reject the bedroom tax, benefit sanctions and the housing benefit cap.
    At the last general election we had the most progressive manifesto of all the 3 parties on welfare. The Labour commitment to abolish student tuition fees was so expensive that it could not afford to remove the Tory’s benefits freeze. Which I have to say I still find astonishing.
    When he was leader Tim Farron made clear his admiration of Ken Loach films, which more than any policy indicated where his heart lies on this issue.
    So we have changed since 2015 and dramatically so.

  • I hope the powers that be on LDV pick this up because the party is not only in denial but in the last chance saloon. It’s about TRUST !!

  • Since the Government announced that it was going to reverse the legislative changes to PIP that were ruled discriminatory by the Courts against people suffering with mental health.
    The Government announced that all 1.6 Million claims would be reassessed which would lead to some 220,000 people receiving a higher award.

    When the Government rushed through it’s “discriminatory” legislative changes, it managed to do so in a matter of weeks, and yet, now it has to reverse those changes, it is now acting painfully slow.
    The ridiculous nature of this is, even though the government has admitted that legislation is wrong and the guides that are given to decision makers are wrong and need to be updated, THEY HAVE NOT DONE SO.
    People are still being assessed and having decisions made on their claims based on the “discriminatory legislation” This means this is going to add to the caseload of the 1.6 Million people who are due to be reassessed once the changes are made, It also means untold suffering on claimants who are not receiving the right amount of support for which they are entitled. It could also mean people losing their disability cars.

    Why is the DWP still issuing decisions on claims when they know the criteria is going to change in the coming weeks? Surely it is more humane and sensible to put these decisions on hold until the Government has updated the Decision makers guide issued to DWP staff.

    Can we please have an urgent Liberal Democrat MP intervention on this and question put the Minister in charge

  • Lorenzo Cherin 15th Feb '18 - 1:32pm

    Kirsten gets it right, the responses only partially.

    In house is of course better than hideous companies like Atos.

    Atos was brought in by Labour and Yvette Cooper.

    The tweets were in house from the DWP.

    Job Centre plus is the public arm , it is DWP, in action.

    Many of the assessors are contracted, to these government bodies, and whether they are or are in house , it is the sheer nastiness and utter incompetence on so many of these aspects of this terrible system, by so called professionals.

    I, as a result of both working for a good company as a seminar leader for unemployed people and an adviser to unemployed people in the creative field, and , as a result of the car accident that nearly killed my wife, and leaves her with permanent effects,have been on both sides of this and I assure you the blame lies as much with people working in public and private capacity for government, as it does with the government, or coalition.

    Labour in the first two terms did well. Then failed. The coalition in intention and by our party started well then failed. Corbyn promising everything but nothing to the unemployed shall fail.

    The answer is to see the system carrying out the work of getting those without work to live well, as a flawed system. A horrible one.

    Blaming a government is correct.

    To not blame those very well looked after , often well paid, and certainly well protected , managers, consultants and assorted placemen and women, is to not understand Liberalism is not a love affair with any sector, it is a love of life and quality of life and helping people live it well and do no harm.

    Many are doing harm, in every aspect of this.

  • “The benefits system is clearly failing”

    Well, yes, but when a policy fails so spectacularly I wonder if it is indeed failing or succeeding brilliantly – but just for a different purpose than that publicly declared. In this case that would be reducing costs.

    As for the politics of this, I’m with David Raw – trust is gone. It’s not just the tuition fees debacle but many others too. This was one other as was support for the thoroughly illiberal lobbying bill. Something is terribly wrong with the management of the national party that a leader can be so unaccountable that he can ignore the sensibilities of supporters making a nonsense of LD claims to be democratic.

    Democracy exists, above all, in the having the ability to fire leaders when they lose the plot – as they almost invariably do. South Africa has just given us an object lesson in how this should work. Is anyone listening?

  • Kirsten johnson 15th Feb '18 - 4:55pm

    Thank you all for reading. There is good party policy as Geoff writes. In our 2017 manifesto we pledged £9.7bn increase spending on social welfare compared to Labour’s £4.6bn. A broad overview is here: http://www.politics.co.uk/news/2017/05/17/lib-dems-pledge-to-outflank-corbyn-on-reversing-welfare-cuts .

    I’d like to develop party policy even further, though it has already seen improvement from decisions taken during the coalition. We have at least moved on, it’s just the message isn’t getting out there to the masses. It would be great if our MPs would start pushing the social welfare agenda.

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