Government promise to reform disability benefits
The Government has responded to an independent inquiry led by Paul Gray into Personal Independence Payment (PIP) and Employment and Support Allowance (ESA).
The independent review said soaring appeal rates were “clearly eroding trust” and claimants found the process “confusing” and “stressful”.
The government accepted changes such as giving more weight to evidence from carers and family; extending quality controls; and giving assessors longer to review medical evidence.
However, they rejected changes including forcing firms to complete assessment reports immediately; tape recording all assessments or giving copied of reports to claimants automatically.
In total, of the inquiry's 14 recommendations, the Government accepted 10 in full and the other four partially.
Officials have promised to simplify letters to claimants after almost a third said they did not understand how the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) reached its decision.
They have vowed to make it clear that claimants, not assessors, are responsible for finding supporting evidence, after just 58% said the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) made it clear to them.
Assessors will also put more focus on a claimant’s “functional history” rather than simply a medical report, after just 60% said the tests were relevant to their condition.
Additionally, officials will be told to ensure PIP, which pays people regardless of whether they have a job, is not denied to people just because they are in work.
However, some have criticised these reforms saying they do not go far enough.
Commons Work and Pensions Committee Chairman, Frank Field, said: “We have heard literally thousands of accounts of the stress and suffering caused by the assessment process for PIP and ESA.
“This response is a terrible missed opportunity that will provide no comfort to the claimants facing this ordeal.”
In the Work and Pensions Committee inquiry into disability benefits, Turn2us made five recommendations:
- Better training of assessors
- Taper payments for those who lose money after being reassessed
- Improve communication channels
- Restructure the appeal process
- Introduce clearer transparency in the decision-making process.