More than nine out of ten PIP assessments are carried out by telephone or done on the papers, according to figures released by the DWP this month. Face-to-face assessments are still rare, whilst video assessments are increasing in number. In Scotland, paper assessments are to become the norm and we'd like to know which assessment type you would prefer. Please choose in the poll below.
The figures were disclosed by DWP minister Chloe Smith, in answer to a parliamentary question. The full figures are in the table below.
They show that telephone assessments have fallen slightly as a proportion of the overall total between February 2021 and January 2022, but only from 83.8% to 77.3%.
This means that over three quarters of PIP assessments were still done on the telephone at the beginning of this year. Given that telephone assessments were unheard of until the pandemic hit, this is a massive turnaround.
Next most common assessment method is the paper based assessment. This involves basing a decision just on whatever documents are available, including the claim form, supporting letters and medical evidence. A brief phone to the claimant might be made if specific details need clarifying, but this would be much briefer than a full telephone assessment. the percentage of PIP paper based assessments stayed pretty steady, moving from 16.1% to 16.3% in the course of the year.
By comparison, face-to-face PIP assessments rose from 0% to just 4.6% over the same period.
It’s worth noting, however, that they were higher in August to October 2021, at 6.8%, before dropping back down again. It suggests that the DWP is not keen on reintroducing face-to-face PIP assessments as the norm, if they can avoid it.
It will be worth watching what happens to the figures once they relate to the period in which Covid restrictions have been dropped.
Meanwhile, video assessment were at just 0.1% at the beginning of the period. But they have steadily risen to 1.8% in the most recent quarter figures are available for.
It seems quite possible that video PIP assessments will overtake face-to-face assessments before very long. The lower cost of video assessments compared to face-to-face PIP assessments is likely to be an important factor.
So, whilst claimants of the Scottish version of PIP, known as Adult Disability Payment, will have a paper based assessment as the default, PIP claimants in the rest of the UK will continue to have a telephone assessment as standard.
Given a choice, which assessment method would you prefer?
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You can read the full parliamentary answer on PIP assessment types here.