New Work and Pensions Secretary, Stephen Crabb MP, has been urged to scrap Personal Independence Payment (PIP) assessments and launch an “urgent review” into what has been described as an “abusive and cruel system”.
Disability Labour, an affiliate of the Labour Party, say “punitive” PIP assessments have “no place in a civilised society and must be scrapped immediately”.
The call comes follows a Channel 4 Dispatches programme last month, which exposed how disabled claimants were being subjected to shocking treatment at the hands of assessors employed by the private firm Capita.
A Capita trainer known as Alan boasted about raking in £20,000 per month by rushing through assessments, whilst mocking a women for having a “disability known as fat”.
We we’re flying through them because of that money”, he said.
Alan also talked about denying PIP to a claimant who had lost a leg, claiming he had completed the assessment before the person “had even walked through the door”.
Capita won a £140 million contract from the Department of Work and Pensions to carry out PIP assessments in 2013.
“I am calling on you today for an urgent inquiry following the Channel 4 Dispatches programme, which was broadcast across the UK on Monday the 11th of April. The programme revealed an abusive and cruel system that is punitive, which is so evidently all about targets and profit – at the expense of the most vulnerable within society.
“I watched the Dispatches programme with incredulity and know that this has caused distress to many disabled people across our nation. The programme exposed behaviour that is outright cruel, shameful and scandalous. Dispatches also revealed degrading and demeaning conduct such as the mocking and contempt for claimants, who are often vulnerable people with complex healthcare needs. We find this behaviour unacceptable.
“One assessor boasted that he made £20,000 per month, and was described by other Capita assessors, as `the best. Decisions were being made about claimants in their absence and there was clear evidence that the Data Protection Act had been breached over and over again.
“Also the Disability Assessors, as they are called, were also in receipt of enhanced payments – depending on how many assessments they could process in a day. This is evidence of an organised purge at the highest level and I condemn it.
“The programme also showed a Disability Assessment Manager removing a notice from the notice- board which permits claimants to record the PIP assessment interview.
“An eminent consultant psychiatrist, at the Maudsley Hospital, who took part in the programme described the use of the Mental State Examination, as part of the assessment process, as nothing more than an overview, that the training was not fit for purpose, and that the surreptitious assessment demonstrated poor ethical practice.
“There has been widespread concern about the ability of Government contractors to accurately undertake Mental State Examinations (MSE) assessments. Such tests, ought to be carried out by people who are medically qualified to do so.
“I am also very concerned that medically unqualified staff / contractors are being used to undertake other elements of the PIP assessment and award points, as they see fit. This is unprofessional and dangerous, and therefore, I am calling on you to disband the PIP assessment process with immediate effect.
“People cannot be expected to have confidence in such a discredited system that is so unsafe and puts people at risk. This programme has no place in a civilised society and it must be scrapped immediately.”
You can add your name to the letter/petition on the Change.org website.
This article was last edited at 15:27 on May 10th 2016.