28 March 2003
The Scottish Association for Mental Health is asking for evidence from claimants and support workers about the controversial DLA pilot taking place in Glasgow, as initial signs suggest that it is not being carried out correctly.
Since late November, claimants who ring the Disability Benefits Centre in Glasgow and ask for DLA claim pack have been put through to a Customer Claims Advisor (CCA). They are then asked a series of questions and, based on their answers, are sent either the whole of a shortened DLA claim pack, or just parts of it, limiting which components and rates of DLA they can apply for. There are fears that having to give evidence over the telephone to complete strangers will discriminate against some people, including those with mental health conditions which involve, for example, feelings of anxiety or shame. (You can read more about the trials in our previous article: Discriminatory disability living allowance trials begin).
The DWP claimed that, to make up for collecting less evidence from claimants in the shortened claim packs, they would telephone more people for additional evidence. However, one mental health worker has reported that in spite of their own name being given as the best person to contact on approximately 20 claim packs, the DWP have yet to get in touch with them even once. Welfare rights workers phoning to ask for claim packs on behalf of clients also report that they never seem to be asked the same questions in the same order twice. If DWP staff are simply making up the interview as they go along it will make any evaluation of the pilot worthless.
If you have any experience of the DLA pilot which you would like to pass on, please contact:
Scottish Association for Mental Health
15 Carlton Court
Glasgow G5 9JP
Tel: 0141 568 7000
Fax: 0141 568 7001