Written evidence from T Rees HAB0148

 


Suitability of assessments

  1.               How could DWP improve the quality of assessments for health-related benefits?

It is my long-held view that these assessments need to be entirely scrapped. They are not fit for purpose and they cause no end of harm. They can not be tweaked, because the whole nature of these assessments, the questions, the ideology, the size of forms, the process, the duration, the forced attendance but majorly the dishonest, trickery is unacceptable.

a. Have you seen any specific improvements in the process since the Committee last reported on PIP and ESA assessments, in 2018?

No!

  1.               Are there any international examples of good practice that the Department could draw on to improve the application and assessment processes for health-related benefits?

Whilst I do not have experience of international practice, I would hazard a guess that UK GOV. has brought in one of the most uncaring systems, that has breached UN and ignored UN findings.

  1.                Do the descriptors for PIP accurately assess functional impairment? If not, how should they be changed?

No! They are totally irrelevant to most conditions which means claimants can not gain the points to obtain PIP when they are otherwise very incapacitated. The whole thing needs scrapping! Whether a person can go to toilet on their own, bath themselves, heat a meal or walk 20 metres does not mean the person doesn't have a severe functional impairment under a lot of overall symptoms at deep rooted level. But note, all too often the trickery will come from assessors writing “no problem with” and won't award points. If you asked a number of people if they can wipe their bum, you are not only putting them through absolute embarrassment but they may not want to answer. Same with if a person does not bath, they may not want to disclose. But a person can have a disabling problem at cellular level meaning too exhausted, daily to function even if can wipe own bum!

  1.                Do the descriptors for ESA accurately assess claimants’ ability to work? If not, how should they be changed?

No! ESA is / was very hard to get the points! Again, this seems deliberately stacked against the claimant. The same thing, assessors lie, DWP likewise, had targets to deny or remove monies from people. But the descriptors were so narrow-minded!
Also note, a claimant that applied for ESA with a distance mobilised of 50 metres, that also applied for PIP and question was can you mobilise 20 metres was clearly not well thought out was it. To get the Severe Disability Premiums and in Support Group, you had very limited conditions or circumstances, I mean it was so cruel, otherwise many who were not fit to work ended up in the fit to work group and had to engage with Job Centres.
A multitude of conditions render people unfit to work and yet these dishonest assessments were extreme in causing people critically ill and clear to reasonable persons, not fit to work, to lose monies and many were too ill to fight it.

  1.               DLA (for children under the age of 16) and Attendance Allowance usually use paper-based rather than face-to-face assessments. How well is this working?

The decision makers for DLA seemed capable of determining an award without distrusting claimants and without the ridiculous extreme nature of PIP and ESA question / F2F.

a. Before PIP replaced DLA for adults, DLA was also assessed using a paper-based system. What were the benefits and drawbacks of this approach?

Whilst adult DLA sometimes awarded lower than should have done and was still a stressful process by way of claimant panicking, not knowing if they would be awarded, it was a lot better because there was no trickery and no nasty assessment process.
The department, the staff had a list of medical conditions with prognosis from NHS; although note, some of it was 'played down' such as M.E. Myalgic Encephalomyelitis / CFS Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, which seemed to imply a lesser prognosis than it should have represented. Same with things like Agoraphobia. Now I know, it is very easy for people to find quality research and lists of symptoms but NHS and DWP need to actually stop the 'playing it down' and lean more towards reality – the worst case scenario, because these conditions are not cured by anti-depressants or talking therapy, they are systemic and so very disabling. You only need to be a decent human being and have a bit of common sense to work it out! But definitely ridding Face to Face assessments, ridding Capita, Maximus and ATOS would be a good thing. They should have been ridded years ago but had contracts extended. Why? Treat claimants fairly instead!

  1.               How practical would it be for DWP’s decision makers to rely on clinician input, without a separate assessment, to make decisions on benefit entitlement? What are the benefits and the drawbacks of such an approach?

First of all I insist the assessments and external so called health professionals system needs to be scrapped!
Then just use the diagnosis and common sense (internet symptoms and prognosis is simple)! Is the condition lifelong, like say an auto-immune condition or is it a broken limb expected to heal in time? Curable without medication is how should be awarded!
Important to note: If a claimant has been ill or incapacitated, disabled for a long time and that is not expected to change, and they do not attend GP any more ,because there is nothing else will make better or because the person has given up on the narrow field of GP / NHS then there should not be any need for recent evidence. I am sure you understand that NHS does not do root causes, deficiencies and nor is it suitable to use pharmaceutical drugs and should not be denied award / monies for not using.
 

7. Appeals data shows that, for some health-related benefits, up to 76% of tribunals find in favour of the claimant. Why is that?

Factually the system is deliberately stacked against the claimant to deny points and save monies because firstly the welfare budget is large but also the ideological shove to force sick and disabled to work because they are labelled economically inactive, takes priority in government's eyes! Whereas a Judge may be more honest, genuine and uses a combination of facts and common sense in the judgement!

a. What could DWP change earlier in the process to ensure that fewer cases go to appeal?

DWP needs a total change from the cruel department this past more than decade to one that is actually caring and honest. There is no need to carry on learning for 12 years, that is just such a non-excuse, when we have seen in Parliament the opposition parties begging, repeatedly, for DWP to listen and stop the harm!
Claimants can send paper-based form and DWP staff can look up condition, symptoms, prognosis, without any assessment and certainly not with lies and denials!

  1.               Is there a case for combining the assessment processes for different benefits? If not, how else could the Department streamline the application processes for people claiming more than one benefit (eg. PIP and ESA)?

No, scrap all assessments and just use name of condition and look up the symptoms and use common sense, it is not hard!

  1.               What are your views on the Department’s “Health Transformation Programme”? What changes would you like to see under the programme?

I am absolutely without any trust because I know the system is all wrong and until the government changes, there is little hope!

a. (For people claiming) Would you like to be able to manage your benefit claim online?

The problem with online is a lot of people can't do it. Also the nature of DWP would likely make it so can't write true facts and would force to sign what don't agree with.

b. What would be the benefits and drawbacks of DWP bringing assessments “in house”, rather than contracting them to external organisations (Capita, Atos and Maximus)? In particular, would this help to increase trust in the process?The impact of the pandemic

They were still talking health professionals so will still be same problems. I say scrap the assessments and just award on name of condition and symptoms expected but worse case scenario, not play them down!

10. What lessons should the Department learn from the way that it handled claims for health-related benefit claims during the pandemic: for example, relying to a greater extent on paper-based assessments, or using remote/telephone assessments?

I have said rid assessments, as they are evidenced by the court success to be a failure but I know DWP will not want to budge, so paper-based which was hardly used before, in fact they tried to force people to assessment centres pre-pandemic, to spy on people walking across car-park to deny points etc. Or just for attending, even though blackmailed to attend !! Phones will help people that can speak on phone but not face to face. There are people who can't do phones, as well as people who can't write. Whatever claimant wants should not be denied as has been.

a. Is there a case for making some of the changes permanent?

Yes!
 

11. Most assessments for Industrial Injuries Disablement Benefit were suspended during the pandemic. What has been the impact on people trying to claim IIDB?

Don't know!

a. Some IIDB claimants will receive a lower award than they might have, due to the suspension of assessments, because IIDB awards are linked to age. Should the Department compensate these claimants? How?

Don't know!

b. What lessons could the Department learn for how it deals with these claims in future, in the event of further disruption to normal services?

Don't know!

12. DWP believes that applications for some benefits dropped sharply at the start of the pandemic because claimants weren’t able to access support (for example, from third sector organisations) to complete their applications. What are the implications of this for how the Department ensures people are able to access health-related benefits consistently?

Citizens Advice offices closed and limited by phone!

a. How can the Department best help the third sector to support claimants in their applications?

If only the department totally ridded the horrid application and assessment systems, awarded points honestly and stopped taking monies from those that need it to survive – we'd be in a better place and third sector would not have to keep calling out!

The impact of assessment/application on claimants

13. DWP recently published research on the impact of applying for PIP or ESA on claimants’ mental and physical health. What would be the best way of addressing this?

All these years of a government and DWP that have been taken to the highest courts, through UN and constantly bad press and factually caused the deaths of so many – there is only one answer – total change, DWP ends being nasty, rids the application forms and questions that are so devastating and invasive and assessments. Pay the sick and believe them!

Waits for assessments

14. What could the Department to do to shorten waits for health-related benefit assessments—especially for ESA/UC?

Rid assessments! Rid re-assessments!

a. How effectively does the “assessment rate” for ESA cover disabled peoples’ living costs while they wait for an assessment? Is there a case for introducing an assessment rate for other health-related benefits?

Please just rid the horrid assessments and speed up whole process by using name of conditions and common sense – look symptoms up, ask claimant by phone or letter if need clarity on how affects and how long prognosis – done!

Health assessments in the devolved administrations

15. The Scottish Government intends to introduce its own assessment process for the Adult Disability Payment, which will replace PIP in Scotland from 2022. What could DWP learn from the approach of the Scottish Government?

Clearly Scotland recognise how horrid DWP method is!

a. PIP started rolling out in Northern Ireland in 2016. Is there evidence that the Department learned from the experience of rolling out PIP in the rest of the UK?

Don't know!

Policy development

16. How effectively does DWP work with stakeholders—including disabled people—to develop policy and monitor operational concerns about health-related benefits?

DWP choose stakeholders that might agree with them more than wouldn't! Some of those are not fully aware of how a lot of people are affected and only talk about their narrow angle! It is like waiting for one of them to speak up on what is needed!
Some people go on about getting disabled in to work, which scares those who can not work and are sick of hearing and live in fear of being forced off benefits to apply for jobs when not fit and yet process is going against Doctors and the claimants!

a. What steps could the Department take to improve its engagement with stakeholders?

What was wrong with Government and DWP Ministers listening years ago when told of all the cruelty and harm? 

 

 

May 2022