The Government today published its response to the House of Commons Work and Pensions Committee inquiry into assessments for Personal Independence Payment (PIP) and Employment and Support Allowance (ESA).
Thomas Pocklington Trust (TPT) submitted detailed evidence to this inquiry (jointly with RNIB) setting out our concerns about the assessment and decision-making processes and our proposals for improvement.
The Government response promises progress in a number of areas. We particularly welcome the agreement to provide audio recording of assessments.
However, some important measures are missing:
- The Committee recommended (as did an earlier independent review of PIP) that all claimants should be provided automatically with a copy of their assessment report. The Government has not agreed to this – the claimant has to ask. But if assessors knew that all assessments would be seen and mistakes easily spotted, we could surely expect much more careful work.
- The Government has rejected a proposal to research the extent of faulty “reconsiderations” where decisions are challenged.
- There is still no clear indication that rapid progress will be made towards making the whole process, including application forms, fully accessible.
- TPT (with RNIB) are currently challenging two sets of PIP guidance to assessors that are clearly contrary to the law and are giving rise to incorrect decisions, affecting blind and partially sighted claimants who need help with dressing or engaging with others. This shows that there is still some way to go towards a service that puts correct decisions front and centre.
TPT will continue to engage with government and MPs of all parties to press for further progress towards a system in which blind and partially sighted people can have confidence.