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Amber Rudd, the work and pensions secretary has today announced plans to involve more private sector firms in benefits assessments. A single assessment service is to be set up and work carried out to create a single face-to-face assessment covering both PIP and the work capability assessment for ESA and UC.

The DWP will develop their own digital platform for the assessments and, as a result, hope that they can involve a wider range of assessment providers.

Rudd stated:

“We will also be transforming the delivery of assessment services. I have established the Health Transformation Programme to undertake the significant task of transitioning the currently separate Work Capability Assessment (WCA) for Employment and Support Allowance and Universal Credit (UC), and the PIP assessment services into one unified, integrated service from 2021. To support this, we are developing a single digital platform. An integrated approach will allow for a more joined-up claimant experience across these benefits, which takes account of the multiple interactions an individual may have with DWP. We hope that developing our own digital platform will also enable a greater range of assessment providers to compete to help us deliver this important service in the future.

Rudd’s announcement is short on detail. But what it appears to mean is that, in the future, one company may get the contract to carry out both PIP assessments and WCAs in a particular geographical area.

If the DWP owns the software used to create the reports, then it can allow as many providers as it chooses to win contracts for the work.

This could see smaller companies making bids to carry out assessments in any given region and the increased competition would allow the DWP to pay less to providers.

Rudd also held out the possibility of claimants having a single appointment for assessments for PIP and for ESA/UC.

“This strategic transformation will also open up new opportunities to improve our functional assessments in the future. For example, we will test whether it is beneficial to claimants requiring face-to-face assessments to offer a single assessment for UC and PIP to capture all the information required for both claims in one appointment, reducing the need for claimants of both benefits to attend multiple appointments.”

It may be that rather than a single test for both benefits, what the DWP have in mind is a system that automatically copies and pastes information from a PIP assessment into a WCA assessment, or vice versa

In that way, once a PIP assessment was completed, much relevant information about the claimant and their abilities would already be in the ESA/UC report, allowing the health professional just to fill in any additional information where the two tests are significantly different.

Whether this ends up being good news or bad news for claimants, it’s probably too soon to say.

Comments  

#3 Chris 2019-03-13 15:56
This also seems to mean that personal data will be spread across a much broader audience, would one be at liberty to deny data access, without being penalized by loss of benefits?
#2 Caroline 2019-03-08 08:55
I recently had a PIP assessment and fortunately with the help of benefitsandwork advice it was successful. However, I received a letter from ESA after my PIP assessment saying that my award had been reviewed which I assume was as a result of my PIP. My point is I had expected each assessment to be independent of each other but it doesn't seem to be the case in this instance. So I wondered if they are doing this already?
+1 #1 mrfibrospondodysthmatic 2019-03-05 17:42
This is obviously a way for the DWP to kill birds with 1 stone, ie at assessment the claimant is not only found fit for work, but also found fit not to claim pip or vice versa. A better idea which has been talked about many times, would be too use the claimants own GP's for assessment purposes. This would be beneficial to the claimants as the GP knows best as in regards to professional health care, and their patients. Out sourcing tenders to multiple firms of which will be foreign not UK based wont change anything for a claimant.

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