PIP and ESA assessments: claimant experiences Contents

Conclusions and recommendations

PIP and ESA functional assessments

1.The PIP and ESA assessment processes function satisfactorily for the majority of claimants, but they are failing a substantial minority. The response to our inquiry from claimants was striking and unprecedented. This report—featuring just a fraction of the evidence we received—is a tribute to their efforts and bravery in submitting evidence and a reflection of the importance of recognising the human consequences of policy shortcomings. (Paragraph 6)

2.We recommend the Department set out in response to our report, for each category of concern we have identified:

a)whether it recognises this concern;

b)any assessment it has made of its prevalence;

c)how it is monitored;

d)what measures are in place to prevent it, and at what stage in the process;

e)any related performance measures; and

f)what further steps, if any, it intends to take. (Paragraph 7)

Claimant experiences

3.For most claimants, the PIP and ESA assessment systems work. The direct testimonies quoted in this report, however—and the many other submissions like them—show that sometimes things go very wrong indeed. We accept that the accounts included in this report are the perceptions of those using the system, and that those providing assessments might see things differently. But the common themes running through many of the comments convince us that there are some generic issues which need to be addressed. These are:

a)Errors in reports: the inclusion of basic factual errors, omission of relevant details that were shared either during the assessment or in supporting evidence, or misrepresentation of the assessment;

b)Difficulties in completing PIP and ESA application forms—in particular, the distress experiences by claimants in having to focus extensively on what they are unable to do;

c)Problems arising from lack of assessor knowledge about the functional implications of different conditions, and inappropriate use of observations of claimants to judge functional impact;

d)The effectiveness of Mandatory Reconsideration in challenging a decision, and the stress associated with going through both Mandatory Reconsideration and Appeal.

We call on the Department to acknowledge explicitly that it recognises the problems we have set out here and set out what, if anything, it is doing to monitor and resolve them. We will return to this issue shortly, setting out our policy recommendations in a subsequent report. But those who have taken the time and effort to contact us deserve a speedy and substantive response from the Government. (Paragraph 24)

1 February 2018