14 February 2018
What: The Commons work and pensions committee publishes a report into personal independent payment (PIP) and employment and support allowance (ESA) assessments, which finds that the assessment system is being undermined by a “pervasive culture of mistrust”. Findings show the application process is “unfriendly” and can be a significant source of confusion and distress; question the effectiveness and rigour of mandatory reconsideration; and raise issues with accessibility and with claimants’ understanding of what they are being assessed on. The report says: “It is impossible to draw a causal link from application to claimant health. The Department should demonstrate, however, that it is alert to the risk to mental health posed by parts of the application processes and seek to offset this.” [see 16 November 2017]). A separate report published earlier in the week includes examples from the “unprecedented” response from claimants who had submitted evidence to the committee, with nearly 4,000 submissions. The committee says this response was “remarkable” in the “consistency of the themes that emerged”, including claims that assessment reports “bore little or no relation to their circumstances or what had occurred during the assessment”.
Why significant: Many deaths of claimants have been linked to assessment reports that were subsequently found to be inaccurate or dishonest.