A report of research carried out by Social Policy Research Unit, University of York on behalf of the Department for Work and Pensions has been released.
The small-scale study comprised 36 qualitative interviews with claimants and those who support them, and 12 group discussions with Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) staff who are responsible for administering PIP’s processes.
The aim was to provide a snapshot of the early implementation of the new benefit and identify potential areas for improving delivery.
At the same time as this research was conducted, DWP was closely monitoring the implementation of PIP and taking actions to address any issues during the settling in period.
The report recognised that the findings are not necessarily representative of PIP processes in general as they are based on a small number of claimants from a particular moment in its implementation during September – October 2013, and DWP has already taken action to improve the implementation.
Summary of findings:
Some of the claimants interviewed were well informed about PIP before they claimed but others appeared to know very little. Most claimants experienced the initial telephone call of the claiming process as unproblematic, although DWP call centre staff reported that many claimants did not have the requisite information available.
The form How your disability affects you (known as PIP2) worked well for most people. Claimants for whom the PIP2 worked less well included those who felt they were not able to get across adequately how their condition affected them and those who found particular questions stressful, intrusive or embarrassing to answer. Having access to help from professionals and third party organisations was much valued by those able to do so.
For most claimants the assessment by a health professional was largely straightforward. Those who found engaging with the process difficult included people with mental health problems which may have led to them not explaining fully how their condition affected them.
DWP case managers, relying on reports from health assessors to make decisions, found that the quality of reports varied. Having to ask for clarification or correction led to delays in processing claims.
Decision letters were generally well received by claimants. Disallowed claimants appreciated receiving a follow-up call to explain the decision. This helped some to understand better how to ask for a mandatory reconsideration.
Ideas for improving the PIP claiming process were made by claimants and by DWP staff. These included suggestions for improving: the way claimants were informed about the benefit; the effectiveness and efficiency of the claims process; the claimant experience; and internal processes.
The full report can be found here
A further consultation on the PIP assessment process – running until 5th September 2014 - is currently being carried out by the DWP and claimants or advice workers can give their views here
Our thanks to Jim Allison for spotting this for us