The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has announced plans to trial a new system of benefit assessments, which will mean that people in receipt of more than disability benefit will not have to face multiple assessments.
Atos and Maximus currently run assessments for Personal Independence Payment (PIP) and the Work Capability Assessments in Employment Support Allowance and Universal Credit, using different IT systems.
According to the DWP, the new system will deliver all assessments using a single digital platform, developed and run by the DWP.
The new system will be trialled in an as yet unannounced region and will be run entirely by the DWP, meaning that private contractors will not play a roll in the assessments.
However, this is likely to be temporary because the Minister for Disabled People, Justin Tomlinson MP, has already said that contracts will be given back to private providers if the new system is rolled-out across the country.
In a statement to MPs, Mr Tomlinson said: “I would like to update the House on the Department’s plans, under the Health Transformation Programme, to reform assessment services for Employment and Support Allowance, Universal Credit (UC) and Personal Independence Payment (PIP).
“In March 2019, we announced that we would transition towards an integrated assessment service, with a single digital platform developed by DWP.
“Today I am pleased to announce the next steps in these plans, which are a key part of this Government’s commitment to transform how we support disabled people.
“Our claimants include some of the most vulnerable in society and so our approach is based on delivering this complex and important transformation safely and carefully.
“To that end, we will initially develop the new service on a small scale in a defined part of the country, a Transformation Area.“
“For claimants in this Transformation Area, assessments will be conducted by the DWP, rather than outsourced to providers.”
He added: “I can also inform the House that today we will be issuing two Prior Information Notices to advise the market that the Department is seeking to procure contracts to deliver PIP and WCA assessments from 1 August 2021 to ensure continuity of service when the current contracts end on 31 July.
“The Transformation Area will start in Autumn 2021 and operate alongside these contracts. We will work with the successful providers to ensure continuous improvement in their service, including how developments in the Transformation Area can benefit delivery by contracted providers.”