An increasing number of claimants are losing their benefits because PIP assessors doing home visits say there was no-one there when they called, but the claimant insists that the assessor never arrived.
This week the Independent carried the story of Michelle Moloney who has bipolar disorder. Michelle’s DLA was stopped and she was refused PIP because, the DWP claimed, she had failed to be present when a Capita assessor arrived to carry out a home assessment.
Michelle complained to Capita. But they responded that as the assessor was able to give a description of her house, they would not uphold the complaint.
It was only after the Independent contacted Capita that it was suddenly discovered that the assessor had allegedly turned up at the wrong time. The DWP agreed to send the case back to Capita and Michelle now has a new date for an assessment.
In the meantime, however, Michelle is £685 a month worse off and has been living off bread and cheese and suffering from increased anxiety.
Sadly Michelle is far from alone.
We are seeing an increasing number of posts in the Benefits and Work forum from claimants who have had a similar experience.
One poster told us that they had waited in for an assessment with a friend present, but no-one turned up. Our member informed Capita by phone after 15 minutes and was told that the assessor’s phone was switched off.
But Capita subsequently claimed that the assessor had arrived on time, knocked repeatedly and waited 15 minutes before leaving. The assessor also claimed to have phoned the claimants landline twice but had been unable to leave a message, though our member says they have an answerphone. The assessor was able to say what colour the window sills and the front door were.
However, our member was able to obtain CCTV footage from a neighbour which they say shows that no-one knocked on their door at the stated time.
After three months the DWP sent our member’s file back to Capita and an assessment took place at a Capita centre instead.
Another member had a similar experience of an assessor not appearing, but was told by Capita that the assessor had turned up and was able to describe the car on their drive and the colour of their front door.
This member has CCTV footage of the outside their house which they say showed someone driving into their cul-de-sac at the time of the assessment and then reversing straight out again.
These may be isolated incidents based on genuine misunderstandings and mix-ups about times or addresses. Or they may be evidence of something more disturbing: assessors under time pressure doing a drive-by of a claimant’s home and then claiming to have called.
At this point we have no way of knowing, but we would be interested to hear of other readers’ experiences using the comments section below.