An MP has accused the DWP of ‘not telling us the truth’ about PIP recordings, the Disability News Service as revealed.
Back in April 2018 we reported that the DWP had announced that it was to begin recording PIP assessments as a routine practice and was also intending to make PIP application forms easier to complete.
The news was greeted with great enthusiasm by a range of agencies.
Frank Field, chair of the Work and Pensions Committee said:
"Recording PIP assessments as standard is a tremendous step forward. The process relies on trust, and our inquiry found it sorely lacking. This move should go a long way to restoring trust and driving up the quality of assessments.
“A commitment to improving the gruelling application forms is also very welcome, and clearly the Government has listened to the thousands of claimants who contributed to our work.”
Here at Benefits and Work we were rather more sceptical.
We had argued in the past that the DWP would fight to the bitter end to prevent the routine recording of assessments.
And we noted that even the announcement last April by the DWP allowed plenty of wriggle room.
The DWP admitted at that time that the current requirement for claimants to provide their own dual recording equipment was unsatisfactory and added:
“We agree that this does not go far enough to help build trust in the system and therefore we intend to make recording the PIP assessment a standard part of the process. We are currently exploring potential options to test the recording of assessments, including video recording.”
We pointed out that the DWP were only ‘exploring potential options to test’ different methods of recording. After that would come the actual tests. Then there will be a report on the results of the tests.
We went on to say that:
“And only then will we know whether the DWP intend to pursue the idea or whether they decide that it is too costly, too technically difficult or, as they have with ESA, that it is something for which there is very little demand.
“Even if they do go ahead, they have given no timescale whatsoever for when there will be a full roll-out of recording of medicals.”
It turns out we had hit the nail on the head.
More than a year down the line, giving evidence to the same formerly enthusiastic work and pensions committee, the DWP are now claiming that the pilot programme has had to be extended because of “very low demand” for taping, but that the department will “report in the autumn on what we have found from claimants”.
Neil Coyle, MP, a member of the committee, said that the DWP was “not telling us the truth” it said last year it intended “to make recording the PIP assessment a standard part of the process”.
Coyle said: “The commitment was to record by default all PIP assessments. That is not happening.”
Amber Rudd admitted: “It’s not happening at the moment,” before adding: “The evidence I’ve got is we are going to look at it again in the autumn.”
So, we may finally get a report on the results of the pilot a year and a half after the DWP said that it wanted to restore trust in the system.
The fact that only video recording is being offered, when it appears likely that the majority of claimants would much prefer audio recording, has yet to be touched upon.
Still, even this is better than the result so far of the drive to make the PIP claim form easier.
Of that project there is still not a word.
You can read the full DNS report here.