At the same time as some charities are campaigning against cuts to disability living allowance (DLA), it seems that others may be actively helping the government to bring about the changes by recruiting volunteers for trials of the new personal independence payment (PIP) assessment system.

Benefits and Work understands that the National Autistic Society (NAS) wrote to some of its members asking them to agree to their name being added to a list of potential volunteers for PIP trials, which have already begun and are scheduled to run throughout the summer. We did ask NAS to confirm their alleged actions, but have not yet received a reply.

This is in spite of the fact that the government has made it clear that the main purpose of PIP is to reduce the disability benefits bill by 20%.

The new benefit will also mean that disabled claimants will be subject to regular assessments based on the computerised methods used for employment and support allowance. These assessments are regularly overturned on appeal.

In addition, the PIP trials are being carried out not by the DWP, but by G4S Forensic and Medical Services Ltd. The company is a subsidiary of the G4S security. It employs doctors, nurses and paramedics who work as sexual offence examiners.

It seems likely that some claimants would have been reluctant to have their details handed over to this company, if they were aware of its main purpose.

Many charities have protested vigorously about the proposal to axe DLA and replace it with PIP. Disability Alliance have gone so far as to threaten legal action if the government continues to push ahead with the plan.

It seems extraordinary then, that NAS is prepared to assist with moves that may well cause a catastrophic loss of income and quality of life for some of their members.

What is of even greater concern is that we don’​t know how many other charities may be helping out the DWP in a similar way. Given that the DWP will want to test their new system on as many different conditions as possible, it is unlikely that NAS were the only organisation to be approached. Benefits and Work has made a freedom of information request for details of all charities who have agreed to assist with these trials and we’​ll let you know the outcome.

Meanwhile, if you’​ve been approached by a charity, we’​d be very pleased to hear from you.


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