The house of commons work and pensions committee wants to hear from claimants about your experience of being assessed for disability benefits, with a closing date of 5 November.
The committee is investigating the assessment processes for health-related benefits. These include PIP, ESA, DLA, AA and Industrial Injuries Disablement Benefit.
The Committee is focusing on:
- How DWP could improve the quality of its assessments
- Lessons from the pandemic, including whether changes DWP made to the assessment processes then should continue
- How DWP could make applying for benefits more straightforward for claimants
Unlike the DWP, who consult simply to get the answers they want and refuse to publish anything that doesn’t go their way, the committee is already clearly aware of many of the issues claimants face.
They say that worries about the system that they have been told about include:
- very long waits for assessments
- concerns over the quality of reports and the expertise of assessors
- how effectively the Department uses expert additional evidence in coming to a decision;
- stresses placed on claimants as a result of the application and assessment processes;
- concerns about how accessible the assessment processes are for disabled people,
- concerns about whether the descriptors (the basis on which the Department decides eligibility for benefit) accurately reflect the impact of people’s health conditions on their daily lives and ability to work.
Amongst the questions they would like claimants to answer are:
- How could DWP improve the quality of assessments for health-related benefits?
- Appeals data shows that, for some health-related benefits, up to 76% of tribunals find in favour of the claimant. Why is that?
- What could DWP change earlier in the process to ensure that fewer cases go to appeal?
- Is there a case for combining the assessment processes for different benefits? If not, how else could the Department streamline the application processes for people claiming more than one benefit (eg. PIP and ESA)?
- Would you like to be able to manage your benefit claim online?
- What would be the benefits and drawbacks of DWP bringing assessments “in house”, rather than contracting them to external organisations (Capita, Atos and Maximus)? In particular, would this help to increase trust in the process?
If you’d like to take part in the investigation, there are further details here.