The government announced today that it will begin piloting a small scale, in-house, integrated PIP and WCA assessment service, but not until Autumn 2021. However, it also began inviting bids from the private sector for new PIP and WCA assessment contracts to run from August next year.
Justin Tomlinson, Minister of State for Disabled People, said that today’s move followed on from the undertaking given by the government in March 2019 that they would work towards an integrated assessment service for PIP and the WCA.
However, the new integrated assessment service will not even begin to be piloted until Autumn 2021, two and a half years after the original announcement.
Even then it will be “on a small scale in a defined part of the country, a Transformation Area”.
The new service will be run by the DWP and will look at:
trialling better ways of carrying out face-to-face assessments;
how to triage more effectively so that only those people who need a face-to-face assessment will have to undergo one;
how to make it easier for claimants to understand the evidence they need to provide and why;
how to remove the need for claimants to give the same information twice;
how to ensure that claimants are aware of the whole range of support available to them both from DWP and more widely.
Meanwhile, however, the minister also announced today that the government is issuing “Prior Information Notices” to tell private sector companies that they will be inviting bids to run the PIP and WCA assessment services from 1 August 2021, when the current contracts expire.
The reality then, is that the same or similar multinationals will get to carry on profiting from carrying out the same old sub-standard assessments whilst the DWP pretends to be working on improving the system.
So, five more years of plenty for Atos, Capita and Maximus or their rivals and five more years of assessments and appeals for sick and disabled claimants.
You can read Tomlinson’s full statement here.