The Government this week responded to the findings of the Second Independent Review of Personal Independence Payment (PIP). Ministers have accepted, wholly or in part, all of the recommendations of Paul Gray’s review.
This is welcome, but some aspects of Ministers’ response are disappointing. For example, deciding not automatically to issue claimants with their assessment reports misses an opportunity to detect errors and improve performance.
Further, this week’s announcement takes place in a climate of criticism of poor assessments, poor decision-making, flawed reconsiderations of decisions and as a result, very high success rates for claimants at appeal. Strong criticisms have been made by the Senior President of Tribunals and there seems certain to be a highly critical report by the Work and Pensions Committee, expected early in the New Year.
While welcoming the acceptance of most of the review’s recommendations, we also propose that the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) should develop and publish a detailed programme for improvement, in consultation with disabled people and disability organisations.
Also, the DWP has argued in the past that, as only around 8 per cent of PIP decisions are appealed against, the rest must be correct. But how many incorrect decisions are not appealed? We do not know. We think that the DWP should commission research to find out.
Finally, standards would be raised if the DWP were to consult disability organisations about future contract specifications for contracted assessors.
Paul Gray’s review is a real step forward, but there is a long way to go.