Written evidence from Ian Foreman (HAB0082)

 

Introduction

 

 

As a preamble I feel I  should set the context of my role and its limits. Firstly I am not engaged in either a voluntary or paid role with any of  the Organisations that support claimants. I have however been very much involved as an advocate for one of my grandsons  and a friend with the DLA/PIP process since 2015, during which time I have advocated at 4 successful/ successive Tribunals.  In addition I assisted an acquaintance in preparing an Attendance Allowance claim, which was a much easier experience!

 

While a relatively small number of cases, the process of Applications, Mandatory reconsiderations, Section 5 Appeals,and Tribunal Submissions is extensive and has led me into wider research and I believe a detailed understanding of how the PIP process operates .In the case of my  friend,  I have submitted   a total of  6 subsequent complaints to the DWP and CAPITA and the Independent Case Examiner  ( an Ombudsman complaint is also pending) plus correspondence to the Local MP., Justin Tomlinson   Minister  and of course Stephen Timms. MP This has, over time been linked to relevant research.   I believe I now have arrived at focused critique of the  dysfunctionality of the PIP/DWP/ CAPITA process.  My observations will be  largely related to my experience with the PIP process since 2015..

My occupational background is Social Work and this has been of assistance to me when representing family and my friend.

Scope of  inquiry and background information.

 

In the preamble underlined is the sentence ' The Work and Pensions Committee has previously heard that these assessments and the decision making process after the assessment are often flawed'. Nothing that will follow in my evidence will contradict that. Similarly I will make observations on the high level of successful Appeals and 'concerns over the quality of  reports and the expertise of Assessors'.  I would suggest it is self evident that even with an advocate, the experience of having to proceed to a Tribunal is  markedly stressful for claimants I will refer to supporting research  in  this regard.  I have come to understand since 2015 that the claimants experiences that I have shared are emblematic of the PIP system. and many claimants.

 

Suitability of Assessments/

 

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

 

I want to preface my remarks with the following context. My critique  focusses  overwhelmingly on a claimant for PIP whose primary reason for claiming is related to mental health, not those of 'physical disability' My submission is based upon two claims for PIP made by Ms L.T  initially in August 2016 and again in November 2019. The relevance of this is that notwithstanding the 2017 Tribunal characterising Ms L T  as living with 'enduring poor mental health' she was compelled to experience a further face to face assessment in February 20, having in  February 2015 been awarded DLA by  the  State 'indefinitely' My observations on question 1 are formulated on that basis.

Machin and McCormack (2021) recent research provides further support for the increased levels of anxiety prompted by this process. They too report claimants talking of 'being back at square one' each time they are compelled to apply, leading to generalised anxiety about communications with the DWP and a fear that any correspondence or telephone call would bring unwelcome news' .This mirrors Ms LT experiences and illustrates why she requested formally that all communications to come to me

My starting point for addressing improving the quality of assessments is that there is a major systemic problem  in the formulation of the questions for claimants who claim for reasons of 'mental health'.  The model is primarily a physical model questionnaire, with 'functionality' being significantly defined within physical parameters.. I note in this context that the July 21 DWP research records claimants as expressing views 'that mental health was covered late in the questionnaire and in inadequate depth. ( Section 2.1.2 third para) I think that is an overly generous interpretation, though overall the research revealed that claimants perceived the forms in  'a negative light' (page 1 para 3). Other studies  have reveal the clear perception of claimants that the questionnaire form is wieldy and not designed to elucidate difficulties (Machin and McCormack 2021) The design format of the form  particularly militates against those with poor mental health  Pybus et al record that contributors to their research felt that 'invisible health conditions which were not felt to be fully recognised in the eligibility process, mental illnesses were viewed as adding extra insecurity to being able to maintain receipt of social security payments'(page 8 2020) This was amplified by Shefer et al as early as 2016 when their research  bears a striking resemblance to the 2021 DWP findings and Machin and McCormack's. Shefer et al  write 'among many participants  was the view that the assessment process was more suitable to assess physical disability then it was to assess mental health' (Page 838 2016).It appears there has been little evidence of positive change in the last 5 years

 

 

The Assessment process begins  of course with the questionnaire; how it is designed is of the utmost importance Bond et al conducted a large survey relating to accessibility and    for claimants with poor mental health.. They drew a clear conclusion ' We must ensure additional targetted support is available to people  with more complex needs'(page 6.2019). They make it clear this comprises of claimants with poor mental health In  Ms L.T's case there was a marked lack of clarity as to which form Ms T  was required to complete for her second assessment. One DWP Officer advised us that a smaller 12 page review  form would do ( AR1). I was later informed PIP2 was required. Having then  completed  form PIP2 I was informed by yet another DWP staff member that indicating 'no change'  on that form was consistent with the DWP decision not to make an Award in 2017, notwithstanding the fact that the Tribunal had made an award!

,I have no doubt the questionnaire structure contributed to L being denied any points for  2d  ( taking nutrition  10d  Cannot follow the  route of an unfamiliar journey without another person) in 2016 and 2020, both reinstated at successive Tribunals. We argued strenuously and successfully that the Assessor and the DWP repeatedly used a physical interpretation of 'functionality' to deny my friend 4 and 10 points respectively thus reducing her daily rate to standard rate and nothing for mobility. The Tribunal on both occasions found in her favour. This is not just a matter of overall competence of workers (though there may be well examples of that) it is systemic, linked to a physical narrative of functioning.. With the current physical model PIP form I would suggest mental health assessors for mental health PIP claimants are even more important. Such facilities are not made available. Bond et al observe that 'Although Assessors receive some training in mental health, there is no requirement for them to have direct experience or detailed knowledge of mental health issue( page 27. 2019)  Along with Pybus et (2020) I have considerable concerns about the utilisation of 'Mental State Examination as practised by DA without mental health qualifications..               Generalised observations citing 'moderately low mood, 'appropriately dressed, 'lack  of motivation, good cognition and insight, lack of motivation are alarmingly concepts unless used in very specific contexts. Some of these terms are incomplete, some are too general and others border on moralistic judgements.

 

Having got beyond the 40 page form I have absolutely no idea how the information is processed, by what route it reaches the private Agencies tasked with undertaking the Assessments. Do the DWP staff make any observations to CAPITA? Do they provide a summary  history of the claimant to accompany the form?  Why are the stages in this process not made clear to claimants? Who knows?   What I do know is that when I met the DA at my home in February 2020  for the second face to face assessment with Ms LT, the DA said she had no knowledge at all of what Ms LT's history was aside from the current form. I had raised repeatedly in writing from May 2019 with the DWP that  Ms LT's  mental health history and her frankly damaging experience of the PIP process should result, if a further assessment was really necessary be conducted by an appropriately qualified mental health DA. This request was ignored, .when a request is made for a mental health professional, this should be granted.

.  Given that the 2014 and 2017 Gray Reviews both raised concerns about 'mental; health' claimants one wonders how much more evidence is required by the Government before all new PIP assessments for primary mental health claimants are assessed by appropriately qualified mental health professionals. 

In 2016  LT's assessment  was carried out by a midwife. CAPITA, after I complained  about the quality of the assessment admitted to the DWP that the assessment  was 'below standard'. In 2020 the  next Assessment was carried out by a General Nurse who appeared unaware of the  2017 High Court Ruling by Justice Mostyn that ruled Government changes were 'blatantly discriminatory'  and 'unlawful' (21/12/17) The failure to reflect that ruling  in her report had  significant  consequences for Ms LT, She had her mobility rate withdrawn, consequently she felt her veracity was being questioned .  

 

1a. Have you seen any specific improvements in the process since the Committee last reported on PIP and ESA.

 

My experience small scale but detailed has to be No.  My Grandson with complex behavioural needs was twice  refused DA. At the second Tribunal. the Tribunal Panel asked no questions and immediately awarded what we had sought. My friends case since 2016 has revealed repeated errors by the DWP  who have twice now been adjudicated against by the ICE ( a further complaint is with ICE) There seems to  be numerous systemic dysfunctionality within the DWP.

Essentially there is no  ownership, no accountability Claimants are not entitled to a DWP case worker, though this would require a whole different skill set and rethinking the  process to make it more humane. Almost each and every letter is replied to ( when it is)  from a different office, often from all parts of the UK. No ownership is a  definition of bureaucracy,organisationally and systemically which leads to exactly the poor kind of service I as L's advocate  have received.  This lack of ownership is the corollary of  'impersonal'  which is reflected in recent research on behalf of the DWP ( 2021)  and I suggest almost inevitably leads to the dysfunctionality of the PIP process. There are other baffling operations. LT made it clear  that she wanted all correspondence to come to me, ( that was only partially successful) but as a consequence,at one time she was then recorded as having no fixed abode!  Another example I became her advocate in October 2016, pursuing up to and including 2017 Tribunal and the complaints process with the DWP. and ICE. I continued to represent her throughout this period.  When she was compelled to complete another PIP application in 2019 I was told I could not advocate for her even though the form had been sent to my address and not withstanding her written authorisation 3 years earlier. These may appear to be small matters  but they are bewildering and not remotely logical. Surely once a claimant has formally in writing appointed a representative for the purposes of PIP that authorisation should remain unless  countermanded by the claimant.  I cannot divine the reasons why Ms T should be required to appoint me each time. The intention of this policy defeats me but the result is that Ms T had to request something again she had already endorsed; result additional stress

The task of appointing an advocate each time just becomes more onerous. and contributes to increasing levels of mistrust.

Again I have seen no improvement  in the functioning of the Mandatory Reconsideration Process. I have filed 4 since 2015, all rejected, all successful at  subsequent Tribunals

.  I am very doubtful if they are a meaningful aspect of the Appeal System. Here again it is never made explicit by the DWP what the criteria for MR is.  The terms of reference by which  DM's review MR need to be made explicit before a Mandatory Reconsideration is sought.  Self evidently Decision Makers 's are not Health Professionals. They appear to me to be wholly dependant on the DA/ Health Assessors report. I question the training and skills that are required for this key role; almost inevitably they share with the  DA's a physical model of disability. On what basis would a DM challenge a report?  The first report that was written on Ms LT was woefully inadequate ( conceded eventually  by CAPITA ) but endorsed at               MR.

The DWP only reversed their position due to an amended HA paper report The second  report in 2020contained legal errors brought to the DWP's attention by me at MR stage; this made no difference. Indeed the DWP defended the Report up to the Tribunal (a complaint to the Ombudsman is pending).

 

There continues to be uncertainty as to the extent to which the DWP view functionality in relation to diagnosis.  Diagnosis/es is not their primary concern but functionality is the key characteristic Yet the DWP  do cite in their opposition to appeals 'no new medical evidence' or when an Appeal is upheld 'new medical evidence'.Gray was very clear in his 2017 PIP report regarding this DWP practice:

'The use of language FME) by those responsible for the system reinforces to claimants and professionals that they should focus only on medical evidence rather than the evidence which limits functional limitations' ( para 5, page 32, 2017)

In LT's case we submitted no new evidence at any point, we critiqued the DA reports and DWP submissions The Northern Ireland Ombudsman was very critical of this formulation of the  'new evidence'  narrative being a factor at Appeals, which she regarded as spurious. This approach, implying that for claimants with mental health complexities they must acquire more psychiatric input places claimants in a  'double bind' ( Bateson 1956) and is very problematic with claimants like Ms LT who have a very ambivalent approach to mental health professionals, summed up by Ms LT as  'I'm afraid they might Section me'. Not only does this lead to an avoidance of mental health professionals for long periods but results in no review of medication. In Ms L T''s case no change in medication  was viewed by CAPITA and the DWP as evidence of stability, this was a profoundly wrong if not dangerous analysis ( fortunately eventual attendance at  a Mind Centre resulted in an appropriate change in medication). At no  stage was medication meaningfully discussed by the Assessor that would have required a mental health professional, plus the current philosophy runs counter to such a nuanced approach.

 

 

 

  I note that claimants and their representatives  are still having to  request the DA report from the DWP. Gray at the 2nd Independent Review recommended the Report be available routinely. (Recommendation 4) These reports should automatically be available,

2.International examples of good practice.

 

My experience is entirely located in the current UK model. I regret I am unable to assist in any meaningful way but I have no doubt the larger relevant Organisations will have some pertinent observations. I note however there are important differences of emphasis in the proposed legislation in Scotland ( question 15).

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

I have already  questioned  how the implicit framework of PIP2 is unhelpful to claimants whose primary difficulties do not reflect physical disadvantage. Questions that relate to physical dexterity such as cutting up food or being physically able to use public transport are too simplistic when addressing complex psychological barriers.

It is clear that too often both Decision Makers and DA's  operate within a narrow frameworks.  The suggestions within the latest DWP research may be one way forward, either separate forms or clear supplementary

questions. However making the form longer does not feel the right way to go.  In order to evaluate adequate  and related mental health impediments to daily functioning it  will be necessary to devise  separate more nuanced questions. within the form. Additionally the PIP2 form should only be necessary once. The generic framework is not working for Decision Makers, Assessors and most importantly claimants.  Recognition of the different needs of claimants is critical.

 

5a ? Before PIP replaced DLA for  adults DLA was also assessed using a paper based system. What were the benefits and drawbacks to this approach?

 

The introduction of PIP appeared to be predicated on two central points.

 

1)    Ostensibly 'targetting' resources more effectively for those citizens with marked disabilities

2)    Conservative Ministers concerns to manage the claimant group more effectively and presumably address rising costs.

I would suggest both those aims have failed. The implication of 'targetting' suggested a positive connotation ,of greater more relevant focus. Targetting does seem to have occurred but not in a positive way, quite the reverse. Pybus et al (2019) research revealed that the transition from DLA to PIP for claimants with primary mental health difficulties was very disadvantageous. Claimants with mental health difficulties being 2.4 times more likely to have their Benefit withdrawn. This research replicated Ms LT's experience. Initially she went from permanent  DLA to no PIP at all, only reversed  when taken to Tribunal when she was awarded enhanced rate for daily living and standard rate for mobility. The findings of the  2017Tribunal closely mirrored the DLA award of 2015. 

A Parliamentary Report of 2018 revealed that only 18.1% of claimants were in receipt of permanent awards the rest had to reapply within 3 and  half years.  ( Parliament 2018) Many claimants like Ms LT are accordingly put under continuing stress and uncertainty.

Clearly the benefits of a paper based system like the DLA was that claimants did not have to go through a process that  is longer and demonstrably more stressful. In  addition the current system of awarding less than 20% of claimants as 'meriting' permanent awards  has resulted in many claimants with chronic conditions being compelled to have face to face assessments when there was no evidence of meaningful improvement in their daily capacity.; this is highly questionable practice. (Disability Rights 2018)  The very oppressive nature of repeat assessments has resulted in vulnerable citizens never feeling that their financial stability is safe.   Immediately Ms LT won her second Tribunal she voiced anxiety about the next one, convinced she would have to pursue another Tribunal. This is intolerable pressure for people who  are not well, 

One should not base a Social Policy on methods to stop unwarranted outcomes. The current widespread and opaque judgements reinforcing face to face reviews are unjust. Having said that there maybe some new cases where a face to face assessment may be warranted. These should  be  a small  minority. There should be no repeat face to face assessments where it is clear that difficulties for  claimants are long standing; to impose those is cruel. Ms LT is a classic case. The DWP approach as outlined in Tribunal papers was that 'indefinite' awards under DLA had no bearing on PIP. This bureaucratic insensitive approach has resulted in Ms LT having 4 and half years of seemingly unending struggle just to maintain a benefit status quo.  Better an all paper review than that The Scottish system .as proposed with some scope for a minority of face to face assessments should be considered.  Reform to make the process frankly more dignified and humane is required.

 

  1. How practical would it be for DWP Decision Makers to rely on Clinical input, without a separate assessment, to make decisions on benefit entitlement. What are the benefits and drawbacks of such an approach.

 

This is a matter of practicalities. Where claimants have an ongoing or very recent relationship with a medical/ social/ nursing professional ( Dr Pybus suggests 6 months 2020) then this  should always be considered to replace  any question of a face to face assessment. A mental health professionals  knowledge of the claimant should as a general principle always avoid the need for a DA assessment. Only if unusually a claimant dissents should a face to face assessment be considered; this is more empowering for the claimant. Dr Pybus et al are clear that if a face to face assessment in those circumstances becomes necessary then the DA should have proven mental health expertise. (2020)

A suggested formula for the DWP could look like this. t

a) Active clinical involvement. No DA required.

b) Where claimants history is clear and previously defined as chronic and currently in receipt of PIP, paper review only, all 'light touch'.

c) Only where a and b do not apply should a face to face assessment be considered All new mental health PIP claimants who do not meet category  a/b and have not seen a professional mental health worker in the last six months should have a right to be assessed by a worker with specific mental health background.

 

7.Appeals.

  Year on year the success rate for PIP Appeals has risen. Tribunal Statistics for the first quarter show PIP success rate as 72%. It is well known amongst claimants that if you can get to the Tribunal you have an excellent chance of winning. Again I want to preface my remarks  by quoting Ms LT, 'There is no way I would have fought this'. Of course the process is time consuming. Once a benefit is refused for a claimant all sorts of feelings predominate, not been listened to , being a liar, not mattering, feeling stigmatised, 'mental  health is invisible' These feelings  are very well documented.

 

Gray recorded in his 2nd PIP review the following:

'The Review recognises the negative impact of the process on claimants who have appealed and subsequently had their reviews reinstated' (2017) .

The time limits for the Appeal could reasonably be made 6 weeks.  Claimants rely hugely on advocates whether individuals like me or more generally Welfare Rights Workers at various community support networks. Advocates are successful; they are knowledgable, committed   and are not personally involved; they 'level up  the playing field'. Equally importantly are the Tribunal members. All experienced professionals and all increasingly familiar with the presentation arguments of the DWP. These two key components quite clearly tilt the balance towards claimants.  The DWP produce statistics that show that while many Appeals are won,this is still a small number of cases. I suggest that Ms LT quoted  earlier comment in this section gives a clue as  why numbers of Appeals are quite small. What we cannot be sure of but I have my suspicions is that many claimants do not have the emotional energy to oppose decisions;this will not be an insignificant number.. Recent research by Machin and McCormack  ( 2021)reinforces this view.. In their research group  all participants expressed unease about appealing. While I recognise that the research was small scale I think it would be unwise of the Government to dismiss it; it almost certainly is an important factor in the number of Appeals.   The high number of successful Appeals is not necessarily a cause for rejoicing, rather I think it reveals a system that is not working for claimants.

 

d)    7.a.  What could the DWP change earlier in the process to ensure fewer cases go to Tribunal

My comments earlier about the totality of the process are important here.. By the time the matter has got to Appeal many processes have been undertaken. Unless the system is reformed significantly than advocates will be continue to be on 'high alert' and Appeals wins will be substantial. All components  of the process need reviewing, none in isolation; when a contested case reaches MR level it really is imperative that the Decision Makers must use that opportunity to critically review the DA 's report which is central.

Interestingly CAPITA played down the significance of the Report to me. I regard this as not credible More training is required and increased  understanding by DM's of when to take careful professional advice about a DA's report, whether that be medical or legal. .

The DWP  process allows for several opportunities to review their position. At all points of this process they must have the personal and professional support to critically evaluate DA/ HP reports. By the time HMCTS have accepted an Appeal the DWP have had time and opportunity to carefully  consider the submissions of Appellants. My experience is that however thorough the Appellant submission this makes little difference to DWP' s response. , I see little analysis in their approach; this needs to change The wait and anxiety for a claimant is very long and this should be the major focus. It is a 'big deal' to go to an Appeal. The emotional and financial cost to claimants in considerable while waiting for  a Tribunal. 

My perception is that there is an absence of critical faculty and reflection when it is needed most It is further evidence  that the PIP system is dysfunctional. 

Dr Pybus notes 'a system that depends for equity and justice largely on skilled advocates and Tribunal professionals is not  a system that is working properly'.

 

8. Is there a case for combining the assessment process for different benefits? If not how else could the Department streamline the application process (for people claiming more than one Benefit(eg PIP of ESA)?

 

There may be case for merging different payments further. Ms LT is in receipt of SDA, yet the DWP were able to argue that being 'severely disabled' did not count in relation to her PIP claim. There appears to no sharing of information, that would elucidate why someone is defined as 'severely disabled'  but then quite possibly at risk of receiving no PIP or a rate that would not be consistent with being severely disabled. The DWP/ PIP 'line' is a very disjointed reductionist way of viewing a vulnerable person Clearly an absurdity encouraged by the present system. However when PIP was withdrawn entirely from Ms LT in 2016 and when PIP was reduced in 2020 she was still in receipt of SDA. Only one benefit leaves vulnerable citizens more at risk. Given the significant levels of maladministration identified amongst other by the Northern Ireland  Ombudsman I  would hesitate to currently support one Benefit. Care needs to be taken,  One single payment should not become a cover for the imposition more injustice.

9. What are your views on the Department's 'Health and Transformation Programme'. What changes would you like to see under the Programme?

 

Regrettably I cannot comment in any detail about the ' Health Transformation Programme'. It sounds 'motherhood and apple pie.' I would not want 'the chocolate ration to be increased from 4 ounces to two.'.  The observations I have made throughout this submission make it clear what changes are required

 

9b. What would the benefits and drawbacks of DWP of bringing assessments 'in house' rather than contracting them to external organisations ( Capita, Atos and Maximus) in particular would this help to increase trust?

 

  A few months ago the Public Service Ombudsman in Northern Ireland made a finding of 'systemic maladministration' in relation to the DWP and CAPITA.  Accountability and ownership for  PIP .is diffuse; 'accountability' currently results in both agencies  utilising ' its not me guv'. Diffuse responsibility is not the same as shared responsibility. I have experienced this. CAPITA has not got a good track record with PIP;it is not a State  Agency. Vulnerable citizens of the State should be the responsibility of the State  This is a different argument from simply that of trust., though clearly that needs to be nurtured. Employing Assessors directly by the State to assess citizens of the State appears more congruent and should if managed properly be systemically more functional.  The example of the fiasco with the Probation Service comes to mind

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?

 

I think it is highly likely that the  marked decline in applications for some benefits is linked to Covid 19 and claimants not being able to access support readily. This  process must be made more accessible and build trust among claimants that they have legitimate social rights. The connection with a user friendly service an a higher take up  would not  be a difficult connection to make. I have become weary at different letters often, not signed and never speaking to the same person twice and I am not a claimant. Benefit  Offices and staff need to convey a sense of 'comfort' and   ownership. The ubiquitous use of remote recorded gate keeping  telephone 'instructions produces a further sense of distance and alienation. We are I fear a long way from  a scenario. where claimants feel at ease. I recognise this is not the fault of individual DWP public servants, they work within a system that not only does not treat claimants with  enough dignity but is organised in such a way that as staff are unable to operate in a manner appropriate towards vulnerable people

12 a. Howe can the Department best help the third sector to support claimants

I am not a representative of a third sector organisation. I am sure they will have clear views on this. The obvious response to the above question  is to ask the third sector what they require.  I am sure the third sector will have clear views on this.  The relationship between local government finance and local government cuts and local voluntary groups has seen a marked reduction in some agencies ability to function adequately, which always impacts on the most  needy.

 

The impact of assessments/ application on claimants?

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

I think I have addressed those issues throughout this submissions. The most important change that could be made is an end to repeated 'reviews and assessments'. This leaves claimants at the mercy of an assessor often without appropriate expertise  recommending a reduction or cancellation of benefit. I know Ms L T fears  with good reason that she will be subjected yet again to 'walking the plank'.. 'Chronic, enduring, long term concepts  are readily understood and these claimants should have their realities endorsed The 50 metre rule should return immediately

Health Assessments in the devolved administrations

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

There are more encouraging signs emerging from the   Scottish Government. framework. Face to face interviews will be the exception, private agencies will not undertake assessments These aspects should immediately form part of the PIP process in England. I also understand that while an Appeal is pending interim payments will be made to claimants, given the high level of successful Appeals, this seems humane and reasonable fiscally.

15 a. Northern Ireland

I have limited knowledge of how PIP works in Northern Ireland but the Public Service Ombudsman for Northern Ireland  has with her team reviewed the operation of the DWP and CAPITA in detail. She was very critical of process and culture. She writes of the establishment of false and corrosive narratives within the DWP that Appeals are won due to new evidence. I know this 'DWP view operates in England and it is as the Ombudsman says, false. It appears to me  that the recent damning report from the Ombudsman would find similar dysfunctionalities here

16.  /16a.Policy Development .While the DWP funding of research is laudable, without clear political leadership and a willingness to recognise that the system is in the words of the Ombudsman (NI) operating  'systemic maladministration' I fear  the well intentioned work revealed  in undertaking research will not significantly improve the service to claimants  I hope the accumulation of evidence will work but as citizens with disabilities are both marginalised and a minority they struggle to get justice, while other more politically and economically relevant sectors from the Government''s perspective are considered.

A dialogue between Departmental staff nationally and locally and claimants and supporters should be formally proposed  and maintained by the DWP. and claimants and their supporters. Ongoing dialogue is critical.  I would welcome the opportunity to meet with DWP staff who have little choice but to work within the current bureaucratic unjust and not fit for purpose PIP system.

References

Bateson G, Jackson D, Hayley J and Weakland J.'Towards a Theory of Schizophrenia'. Behavioural Science Volume 1: pages 251-264.

Bond N, Braverman R and Evans K (2019) The Benefits Assault Course: Making the UK Benefits system more accessible for people with mental health problems. Money and Mental Health Policy Institue.

Disability Rights UK 2018. Scandal of Low Percentage of Indefinite  PIPAwards.

DWP: Claimants views on ways to improve PIP and ESA questionnaires. (2021)

Gray. P (2014), An Independent Review of the Personal  of Independent Payment Assessment. London HMSO

Gray. P ( 2017). The Second Independent Review of the Personal Independent Payment Assessments. London HMSO

Machin R and McCormack F( 2021) The impact of the transition to Personal Independence Payment on claimants with mental health problems Disability and Society.

Parliament. uk 2018 PIP and ESA Assessments: Government Response to the Committee's Seventh Report of 2017.

Pybus K, Pickett K, Prady S Lloyd C and Wilkinson R (2020) Functional Assessments n the UK social security system: the experience of claimants with mental health conditions. Journal of Social Policy, 50 (2) 305-318.

Pybus K, Pickett K, Lloyd C, Prady S and Wilkinson R ( 2019) 'Discrediting Experiences: Outcomes of Eligibility Assessments for Claimants with Psychiatric Compared with Non-Psychiatric Conditions Transferring to Personal Independence Payments'. B J Psych  Open 5(2): e19.

Shefer G, Henderson C,Frost Gaskin M,and Pacitti R (2016).'  Only Making Things Worse: A qualitative Study of the Impact of Wrongly removing Benefits from People with Mental Illness'. Community Mental Health Journal (52) (7) 834-841

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CQSW: Plymouth Polytechnic);Conflict in the Family Certificate ( Open University).

Post Graduate Diploma in Advanced Social Work, Children and Families ( Goldsmith College, London University).Post Graduate Diploma in Child Care Practice and Policy( Tavistock Clinic/ East London University);MA; Industrial Relations and HRM ( Keele University)>

 

November 2021