The personal independence payment (PIP) statistics released today didn't just reveal a low success rate and a massive backlog, they also suggest that the DWP may have nobbled the health professionals who carry out PIP assessments.{jcomments on}

According to the DWP's figures, 200 PIP decisions were made for claims that did not involve terminal illness between April and June.  The success rate was  60%.  If terminal illness claims are included in the figures, the success rate goes up to a massive 88%. 

When the period up to August is included in the figures, however, the number of non-terminal illness decisions increases to 2,800 but the success rate plummets to just 35%.

So, the big question is: what caused such a dramatic drop in the success rates? Was it simply that the first 200 cases were such a small sample that they could not be relied upon?

Or did the DWP hit the roof when they discovered that Capita were assessing such a high proportion of claimants as scoring sufficient points to be awarded PIP?

The period between 8 April and 10 June saw PIP introduced as a small scale pilot in parts of northern England.  It was the DWP's first chance to see how their PIP scoring system worked in reality.  It stretches credulity to believe that when they saw a success rate of 88% they simply shrugged and said to Capita and subsequently Atos:

"Just carry on as you are, we're sure the numbers will come down in the end."

It seems much more likely that there was an enormous panic and that while medicals were still carried out, the reports were all put on hold whilst the DWP issued new instructions on how to interpret the descriptors.  Then all the medical reports would need to be scrutinised individually to check that they met the new, much more stringent guidelines and that the number of successful claims was reduced to a figure that the DWP found acceptable.

It would explain the sudden drop in success rates.  It would explain the massive backlog of medicals.

But we don't have any evidence that this happened and we suspect that the DWP will not have been so foolish as to put new, stricter guidelines or targets in writing in such a way that they could be discovered by freedom of information requests.

Not that we haven't already put our requests in.  We'll let you know what we discover, if anything. 

Meanwhile, if there's any disaffected health professionals out there who would like to get in touch with us, with complete confidentiality assured, we're only an email away.



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