Thousands of sick and disabled people have requested an audio-recording of medical assessments for sickness benefit, Employment and Support Allowance (ESA), official figures show.
Figures released by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) reveal that between December 2012 and February 2014, a total of 4,060 audio-recorded face-to-face Work Capability Assessments (WCA) were requested. The busiest month came in January 2014, when 500 people requested to have their WCA audio-recorded.
However, DWP figures also show that of the 4,060 requests to audio-record a WCA, only 2,670 were successfully completed – averaging between 150 to 200 a month.
On average, approximately 70 were cancelled each month, totalling 1,080 between December 2012 and February 2014. The DWP says 330 individuals were awaiting an audio-recorded WCA in February 2014.
For every 10,000 WCAs completed, the DWP received only 66 requests for audio recordings (0.66%).
The ratio of recordings requested to all assessments completed was highest in January 2014 (1.14%) and lowest in January 2013 (0.36%).
The ratio of completed audio recording to all assessments completed was on average 0.42% and the ratio of cleared (completed + cancelled) audio recordings to all assessments was on average 0.59%.
There is no legal right to record a face to face benefit assessment, says the DWP. And the department has no legal obligation to provide recording equipment.
According to the DWP, the current policy for audio recording of face-to-face assessments is that DWP has asked Atos Healthcare, and its successor Maximus, to accommodate requests as much as reasonably possible.
The DWP said they are releasing these statistics “as a contribution to the debate on audio-recording face-to-face WCAs”.