Disability News Service is reporting that there has been a huge fall in the number of requests that Capita makes for further medical evidence when assessing claimants for personal independence payment (PIP).
Capita and Atos are expected by the DWP to ask for further medical evidence from GPs, consultants, mental health nurses and other health professionals, where this is needed in order to properly assess a claim.
Additional medical evidence can make a huge difference to whether a claim succeeds or not and is frequently a deciding factor at appeal tribunals.
The expectation by the DWP prior to PIP being launched was that further evidence would be collected in about half of all cases.
However, DNS has obtained DWP documents showing that further evidence was collected by Capita in fewer than 2% of cases in June and July 2016.
The documents show that there was a dramatic drop in the number of requests for evidence by Capita from 69% in January 2016 to just 1.8% in June 2016.
Capita have offered no explanation for this extraordinary fall.
The claims by DNS of a huge fall are backed up by figures given in a parliamentary response by Sarah Newton, minister for disabled people. These show that Capita made the following requests for further evidence:
The figures suggest that Capita’s performance may have worsened even further since 2016.
Meanwhile Atos (now known as IAS) asked for further evidence in only 5-6% of cases in January to July of 2016, but this had risen to as high as 13% by December 2016, according to DNS.
The figures given by Sarah Newton for requests for further evidence by Atos also show a rise over time:
Collecting further medical evidence slows down the process of assessing PIP claims and costs money. It also adds considerably to the likelihood of correct decision being made, probably at the initial claim stage and undoubtedly at appeal stage.
The fact that further evidence is collected on so few occasions and, where Capita is concerned, in a rapidly declining proportion of cases, raises further doubts about the fitness for purpose of the entire PIP process.