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We’ve had a request from a member to publish a guide about how to complain to the DWP.

Before deciding whether to go ahead, we’d like to ask our readers for your opinions and experiences.

Have you ever made a complaint in connection with your benefits?

If so, what was the outcome.

If not, what stopped you from doing so?

Were you worried that complaining might lead to being targeted by the DWP for unfair treatment or that it might affect an appeal you were pursuing, for example?

A guide to complaining about the DWP will inevitably have to cover complaining about the companies that the DWP contract out work to.

And that would particularly include:

  • Atos
  • Capita
  • Maximus.

And then there’s the issue of complaining to your MP.

And to the Independent Case Examiner.

We’d be interested to hear about your experiences, if you have been involved in complaints to any of these agencies.

Is there information you didn’t have but which would have helped?

Are there things you wish you had, or hadn’t done?

Please do post a comment below the line and let us know what you think.


#33 Daisymae 2019-10-18 17:59
We definitely need some advice.
When I got my assessment for pip I should really have got high care as I have no feeling below my waist due to nerve damage and feet numb.
I was told that I shouldn’t complain as I might be wiped, and then get nothing.
It’s the fear factor ....that you have got something and you don’t want to lose it. Something is better than nothing!
#32 Asbo 2019-10-18 15:23
I complained to Atos, went through all the stages as assessor had ignored my GPs evidence and my own evidence so i knew I had good grounds. I lost the PIP mobility I'd had for 20 years. I wrote a letter of complaint and used this as basis for MR. Letter came back after Stage 1 complaint so I progressed to next stage. I could see they were caving so I took to last stage and they agreed assessor had ignored my GPs evidence which was the difference between no mobility and enhanced. Upshot was they (Atos) wrote to the DWP who restored all my PIP at MR (my Daily Living had been reduced too and that was restored. ) I had other complaints too, e.g. they tried to call me in for an assessment twice and my anxiety went through the roof. I quoted this from:

Mental health assessment chaired by Joan Ryan on 22nd january 2019
"We would not assess a blind person with a paper form and we would not assess a deaf person over the phone, unless there was somebody at the other end to interpret for them. Why should it be any different when assessing somebody whose difficulties are related to severe anxiety and the inability to cope with going out the door and taking a bus on their own? They are told to go to an address they have never heard of, in a place they have never been to, to find their way there by a bus that they do not know exists, by a time set by the assessors, and to pay their own way there.... Then we wonder why people think the system is rigged against them." - Peter Grant- Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Europe)

Atos apologised. I complained to the NMC while I was at it too. No joy there yet and waiting on ICE

Maximus just done the same, tried to call me in for WCA ignoring my GPs evidence so MP intervened and will do on paper
#31 Hoopsh 2019-10-17 12:37
A guide would be great help to many. I have made complaints to DWP and Atos due to being mistreated so badly. I did involve my MP which helped a lot and without my MP’s help, I would have got no where with DWP and Atos. They truly made my life a living misery and hell. It’s difficult enough knowing how to prepare a complaint and a guide to help us, would be so helpful as it’s all too overwhelming as it is on top of all the ill health.
#30 Meg3 2019-10-17 12:16
Sorry just one last point because of us are so overwhelmed with it all.. Without following their correct written Complaint Policy and Procedures.. They can keep making claims that The changes are successful, overall the numbers of claimant's are happy as complaints are low, and majority of claimants are ineffected by benefit changes..

A Complaint Guide would empower all of us to place our complaints in the correct way to the correct addresses and addressed to the correct people... Hopefully all the complaints would fall into correct softwarw codes od Assessment complaints, poor treatment, missing medical data or incorrectly record, etc etc etc.....

I believe now more than ever we need a Complaint Guide please..
#29 Meg3 2019-10-17 12:05
A Massive please... I believe that many members are not aware that DWP, Atos, Maximus, Capita all should have A Company Complaint Procedure and Policy..All there staff should provide that if asked for.

It is very understable how we are so stuck in the complex system and appeal we cannot see how to seperate the complaint from the ongoing situations.. and many of us have ongoing complaints tbat keep effecting are onvoing live claims.

A New Guide Complaints would help us to seperate the difficult situation, keeping one area focused on our claim paperwork, points, assessments, mandatory reconsideration s and Tribunal Appeals and the maze and difficulties with those that your very wonderful step by step guides already help us to follow those difficult and very challenging situations. The complaint Guide would show us all there is a actual printed procedure for each one, dwp, atos, maximus, capitahelp us ait would help keep us mindful and guided with the correct complaint process... and hopefully our complaints would be then in tje correct complaint departments and in there complaint procedures whichhave to be followed....

I think it is obvious from all our comments there is a feeling our complaints are not dealt with... The Guide would help us to understand are we complaining in the correct way, following the correct complaints systems and procedures....

I know none of us want more paperwork, but i think unknowingly we are alread putting our complaints in our claims... I know i am guilty of that. i believe a guide with sample complaint letters please will actually help me and many others to seperate my/our complaints and send it so it can be clearly seen... What we all should remember if its on separate paperwork following dwp, Atos, Maximus, Capita complaints procedures we can also attach it within our claims and any Mandatory Appeal or Tribunal submission... It is also clear many of us fear complaining.
#28 Elle Bee 2019-10-17 09:34
YES PLEASE! Your guides are very good and very helpful and have enabled me to identify the fiction I have been told so far by the PIP people. To have a guide would give me more confidence on how to proceed as I feel even the language that they use in their letters and reports are designed to be a put down - or inciting that disabled people like myself have had a miracle cure despite letters from specialists etc. I am concerned about being penalised for complaining as even on the phone they are continually trying to stop you continuing your claim or appeal. In fact I was told that my MR would be instigated but 2 weeks later I found that it hadn't been done. So after other delays on their part I will be waiting for around 14 weeks after they received my form for a result!
#27 lying down 2019-10-16 22:54
P.S. In a fit of pique after said abusive PIP assessment I rang the PIP helpline and asked for the notes the nurse had taken, as I realised it seemed very unfair to take personal intrusive notes about someone and not bother checking them with the person, who is basically a patient, only to be told some garbage about oh no we can't do that it would take six weeks for the process of assessment to be completed at which point I declared that apparently the law says I can have my notes whenever I feel like it, at which point she put me through to someone else and got the notes ASAP. I recommend that other members and claimants do the same if feeling confident, it's your right, although you may meet resistance. The point of law is the data protection act it was a subject access request for sensitive personal data. However, sending this in the post with no security, not signed for or anything, is a gross lack of security as I have a shared entrance, so I will be reporting that to the ICO.
#26 lying down 2019-10-16 22:46
Complaints Guide: this would be ideal as I want to complain as my PIP assessment caused a severe reaction and they contacted me when I was on my course as a disabled student, interrupting my studies severely. A month later I am sent a WCA form to fill in! Had to suspend my course, I don't want to fail as had to get a £7000 loan to do it. I'm furious, it's all I have going for me giving me meaning. The interruption is too distracting and the process I find abusive, severely affecting my ability to function. I am preparing a complaint to the Nurses & Midwifery Council, but also want to complain to DWP, Atos, Parliament, etc. One letter adapted to each organisation, but very confusing as I don't have all the contact details or procedures involved. The main basis is the Equality Act 2010 at the moment and malpractice by nurses who are working inappropriately as they must have an ethical code.
The sooner the better please, Benefits and Work!
#25 Margaret 2019-10-16 20:16
I am worried to death about taking my brother for his change from class to pip because he had a good family network around him when all the cuts were going on they took his con off him and discharged him from the service so I’ve had no support with his needs of anyone only immediate family, and as I understand why they said that a lot of people don’t have anyone it doesn’t help me when he has some kind of episode my brother is diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia and his is all about thinking he’s being watched by cctv, www.aliens, the last being his phones being tapped that was awful cause that is our communication checking he is ok every night even thought we see him everyday for his meals medication keeping house clean etc. it is comforting to know he is safe and ok at night when he wouldn’t have it for almost a year it was so hard because I’d want someone just to go and check on him but understandably they have there own families too but there was no where for me to turn to help him I just felt lost and it had an impact on my own mental well-being they have no idea that with a stroke of a pen they can either help or ruin a families life I’ve felt suicidal myself many times cause I felt I could cope the only thing that keeps me going is promising my Mum on her death bed that I would look after my brother no matter what and I can’t let him or her down god help him if I die first I always pray he will go first that must have been my mother’s worst nightmare that he wouldn’t be cared for it’s heartbreaking. My parents kept him themselves he was never in the system till they died so he never got money of the state until he was fifty years of age! So I go with him the end of this month and I am petrified!
#24 MarkB 2019-10-16 20:11
1. I asked what was the complaint procedure -
their response was you can go look it up on the internet;
I asked give me a form - they said the above.
I said you can do it for me - they said the above.
I asked them to write the Internet Link down - they gave a general web site.
They seemed threatening to me, as if to get the guard to push me out -- they wanted to make me shout but I stayed calm !
2. I finally wrote a letter to them. It took over the 15 just under the 15 days to get a reply - they actually gave a receipt of receiving it on the computer account.
3. Their response was bull .. they simply said that they are not responsible for changing any decisions or cannot change any decisions. OK. I know this, we all know we have to challenge decisions, as necessary via Secondary Reconsideration , Appeal, MP etc

4.Thus they did not answer or follow up my Complaint Real Complaint of badly managed responses, not getting back to me in a reasonable time frame, ignoring my remarks and directions which I had given to multiple people ...
5. all in respect of U.C. - Backdating - now at Appeal / S.M.I. Loan - Re-Start (already receiving in the past , stop, no work, re-start) - now at Secondary Reconsideration.
6. Actually, I complained that they gave me incorrect advice - SMI - that I could only go to MP, however, I told them that I could go to : :Secondary Reconsideration , Appeal, MP ... if necessary
This was part of my Complaint.
etc etc.
7. Thus they simply ignored my complaint letter by simply saying that they do not have any part to play in any decisions ! well, again we all know this, but we also know that this is not what I was actually complaint about !
8. It was their tactics of not wanting to help , and of not wanting to get any complaints, and their poor help and incorrect help and degrading psychology used in their so called advice / non-advice.
Thankyou. M.
#23 Stewart 2019-10-16 19:22
Yes, a guide would be helpful. I am in the process of making Fitness to Practice complaints with the HCPC against the two assessors who made false entries on their reports for both my ESA and PIP assessments. Both 'professionals' made up results for physical tests that were not actually performed. So how to make a complaint to assessor's professional bodies should be included!
#22 flower lady 2019-10-16 19:20
Yes please! I had an assessment with an HCP who claimed that she had tested me fully; it was a complete untruth. This has happened to 2 people that I know in the past 2 months & it is utterly disgraceful. The Decision Makers refuse to accept that the HCP reports are false
#21 TTD 2019-10-16 18:41
Yes, please. I needed to contact ATOS as the person who did the assessment didn't ask me about one of my illnesses. This meant that the DWP's decision was based on what she wrote which excluded that illness and I didn't get PIP after an MR.
#20 Lorraine Taylor 2019-10-16 18:36
Yes please iv complained and had no reply
#19 gail 2019-10-16 17:56
Yes that would be useful to so many
#18 Alex 2019-10-16 17:45
I've had 2 Atos assessments + complained about each one - predictably the response each time was "he (the assessor) was right" or "we were right". Both assessors seemed to know much about epilepsy - specifically denied as everyone is a "fully trained" HP - i.e. they know everything and always get it right. Anything that is patently ridiculous(load s of examples is best is prob using "he" instead of "she" umpteen times in one section which makes me suspect cutting and pasting) is simply ignored.

A guide would be great - if only so that we can have some sort of unified approach, common problems etc.
#17 frmarcus 2019-10-16 15:15
A DWP complaints guide would be useful, as I aver it's unclear currently how and to whom. The guide would probably describe a step approach - that is, 'first, contact x; if no or unsatisfactory response, second, contact y... etc'.

DWP likes to claim that it receives few complaints: I'm sure they know that insofar as this is correct it's because (1) some claimants with a legitimate complaint lack literacy/confid ence to complain in writing; (2) email addresses are very hard to get, and a posted letter requires more effort and cost, and takes longer (and if disabled, just posting a letter may entail obstacle; (3) it's unclear if one can register a complaint by phone, and if so, what numbers.

i HAVE complained to DWP: most recently this was because it seemed not to be following its own guidance on the offering of ESA assessment home visits. DWP probably did not classify it as a complaint as it was worded as a 'representation ', though should reasonably have been considered as a complaint.

Briefly, I was consistently informed (as agent to my sister) that a home visit required justificatory medical evidence. I explained that the GP charged for this, making it unacceptable; that they are required to consider other evidence, such as carers'; and that the current PIP claim includes award for the mobility criterion that the claimant needs accompanying to any unfamiliar place, and the usual 'accompanier' was now disabled and unable.

Rather than being told that this was accepted and a visit would be authorised, the appointment was simply made (I expected to be told before hand that my 'case' had been accepted - ie admission that they were wrong to have refused it).

This should've been recorded as an upheld complaint - but I doubt it was...
#16 Hilary 2019-10-16 15:02
I think it would be very useful
+1 #15 Sue 2019-10-16 14:08
Oh yes please.. that would be so very very useful. I have often thought that I would have liked to post a complaint but not known how to and how to do so without ruining my chances.
A basic form and some idea of 'just what we ca' complain about about. As in general examples of what would be bad practice by DWP as a guideline.
As everyone knows just dealing with this department is at best hard work and fraught with confusion!
+1 #14 PussCatty 2019-10-16 13:58
It’s a few years ago now but I had a complaint against the PIP assessor (a physio) upheld by DWP yet his assessment was used as the basis for deciding my claim. I was awarded nothing despite all the advice I’d received saying I was easily entitled to over 12 points in the daily living element. We asked for a mandatory reconsideration , had this but was still told the assessment was right (the complaint had been decided before this!). Then at tribunal I was described as an “unreliable witness” as I disagreed with the assessment and put forward evidence to support my claim. My appeal was turned down as they accepted the assessment even though we pointed out our complaint against how it was conducted had been upheld. They even ignored evidence from an independent orthopaedic consultant as it was dated before the assessor’s report so had been overtaken by events - ie a physio knew more than the consultant we were using as an independent in court.
As a result of all this I did not reapply for PIP for a number of years yet when I did was awarded the daily element immediately without even needing a MR!!!!

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