In recent reports on PIP and ESA assessments, the Commons Work and Pensions committee have been highly critical of private sector providers, but have also noted that ‘The PIP and ESA assessment processes function satisfactorily for the majority of claimants’.
This conclusion is based on figures provided by the DWP:
“In 2015/16, 76% of PIP claimants and 83% of ESA claimants surveyed were satisfied with the service they received from the DWP. All three contracted providers “consistently exceed” their customer satisfaction targets of 90% for PIP and 91% for ESA.”
However, one Benefits and Work member contacted us to say:
“After I left the examining room the assessor handed me a piece of paper and a pen. I had to mark if the process had been easier than expected, or less than satisfactory and so on. She leaned over the front of my buggy so that she could see what I was writing and my signature. She hadn't yet processed my report so I was a very good girl and gave the nice lady the top score!”
We stress that this is the first time anyone has alleged to us that the collection of feedback by private sector assessors is anything other than entirely above board and we do not have any other supporting evidence.
But clearly, very few claimants would risk giving negative feedback if they knew that the assessor could read it before even completing their report on the claimant.
Such feedback would be of no value whatsoever and the action of an assessor in reading feedback even as it was being written could fairly be described as intimidatory.
Benefits and Work would be very interested to hear from readers about whether you were asked to give feedback and, if so, were you able to be certain that the document was confidential and wouldn’t be seen by your assessor?
Because, if the Work and Pensions Committee have been relying on statistics that are demonstrably untrustworthy, then they should know that.
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