A government minister has committed themselves to ‘urgently investigating’ alleged assessment tricks used by PIP and WCA assessors after they were raised by MPs at a meeting of the work and pensions committee last week. We’re asking if you have had a similar experience?
Chloe Smith, minister for disabled people gave the undertaking to investigate after Dr Ben Spencer gave three examples of “covert assessment” raised by claimants at public meetings he had attended.
The first involved missing water cups, Spencer explained:
“One was there was water available at the assessment centre, the water cooler did not have any cups, but one down the corridor did. It was deliberate that the water cooler was broken or cups were not available to see if a person was able to walk beyond the first water cooler to get some water.”
“Another one was that lifts were broken deliberately, seemingly to assess that people were able to use the stairs.”
The third suspected ruse was a pen drop:
“One person described the assessor dropping a pen in front of them—I think it was a pen or something like that—to see if the person would pick it up as part of a covert assessment effectively of their mobility.”
Spencer asked the minister “Would you commit to urgently investigating this to confirm whether this is indeed an accurate reflection of practices that are going on at the assessments?”
Smith responded: “Yes, and if I may add on the example of the lift, I am also keen that all of our facilities are properly accessible. It would be unacceptable to have a deliberately broken lift so, yes, we will look into those.”
Of course, all of these may be perfectly innocent. It may be that the nearest water cooler ran out of cups first, that the lift really was broken and that the assessor genuinely dropped their pen.
The real proof that these were dirty tricks is if they were used in assessment reports where the claimant was supposedly caught out by them.
But anything connected with the DWP is treated with such suspicion by many claimants that innocent explanations are the least likely to be accepted.
Other issues raised by MPS included what was described as the widespread practice whereby claimants with a “severe visual impairment have to read letters off a chart at their assessment? Do you think that is acceptable? Do you think it builds trust?”
Another complaint was the lack of specialist knowledge displayed by some assessors. One complaint received by MPS was that:
“The assessment was completed by a nurse that had never heard of my condition. She said she Googled it 5 minutes before seeing me. You cannot understand a complex condition with a 5 min
Have you experienced something that you thought was a dirty trick or particularly bad practice at an assessment. Let us know in the comments below.