Saturday, January 25, 2020

Capita drops court appeal over benefit claimant death

Benefit assessment firm were accused of lying in a report sent to the DWP.

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Outsourcing giant Capita has decided to drop an appeal against a court decision that ordered the private firm to pay damages to the family of benefit claimant who died shortly after being refused disability benefits.

Victoria Smith, 33, who suffered from Fibromyalgia and agoraphobia, died of a brain haemorrhage four short months after being refused Personal Independence Payment.

Her mother, Susan Kemlo, accused Capita of effectively lying in a benefit assessment report sent to the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP).

The court agreed that Capita were guilty of ‘maladministration’ and ordered the private assessment firm to pay £10,000 in damages to the deceased woman’s family.

Photo: Paula Peters

However, Capita argued that problems with its internal mail system meant they were unable to properly defend themselves during the court case, adding that the court’s decision had caused “significant reputational damage”.

Earlier this Capita said it would be appealing the court’s decision, but BBC News reports that they’ve now decided to drop the appeal and have apologised to the family for “any additional distress” caused.

Mrs Kemlo was supported in her case against Capita by Unite the union. Liane Groves, the union’s head of community welcomed the firm’s decision to drop the case.

She told BBC News: “We hope that Capita and other companies contracted to assess benefit claimants on behalf of the government will now adopt a new and more sympathetic approach.”

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