What: Work and pensions secretary Amber Rudd launches the Health Transformation Programme, Rudd says DWP plans to test if it can assess eligibility for both PIP and ESA through a single face-to-face assessment, at least for those disabled people who apply for the two benefits at the same time. It plans to do this through an “integrated” service, supported by a new digital system, which will deal with both PIP and ESA (and universal credit) assessments, and will begin to go live from 2021. It hopes this DWP-owned system will allow a greater number of assessment providers than the current three companies – Atos, Capita and Maximus – to come into the market and “compete” to provide assessments. (The COVID-19 pandemic will interrupt these plans).
Why significant: Disabled activists say the plans amount to “minor tinkering” when the system was instead in need of a radical overhaul, and raise fears (which developments in 2021 will suggest were justified) that the reforms could be a “Trojan horse” for cuts.