Written evidence from Simon Bernard Duffy MCIEH (HAB0084)


I am writing this letter to try and assist the committee by sharing my experience of claiming benefits such as UC and PIP. I will attempt to provide this in the way the call for evidence sets out .

I have included that framework to act as an aide memoir to stay relevant. I will simply remove the questions I cannot provide information on.

Suitability of assessments

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

The DWP could improve the quality of assessments by reviewing the information contained in information submitted by claimant's that they have provided from their Health Care Professionals and specialists. I often feel that this information is dismissed before the assessment. There needs to be questions or criteria Specifically for Mental Health issues. That are comparable to the physical health issues.

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

Yes in My last mandatory reconsideration I was able to Win my claim but I felt I was almost begging for them to listen and accept the validity of my claim. I was put through to the Supervisor Decision Maker. At which point I was in a desperate state and said after a few expletives that I was not going to hang up untill somebody agreed to review the decision.

2. 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?

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

No if you have a mental health condition it is unlikely that you will score highly on the getting around Section. Getting Around but being in Sever pain states of anxiety is not Considered the Cost of relying on a car with a mental health illness is not deemed worthy in the moving around Section

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

5. 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?

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

Before I moved to PlP with the same diagnosis I was entitled to low rate Care and mobility on pip which according to the former head civil savant PIP is supposed to be easier for Mental Health Claimants I have Found it harder. Despite having a greater understanding of my Condition and having more condition's and having more specialist input for each one its Supposed to be a system that evaluates the wait of evidence that you provide if they don't believe what you have sent in Why don’t they confirm that it has indeed come from that specialist

6. 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?

They don't use clinical In put from your health care Specialists they make you doubt every health care professional that you have its extremely worrying and could cause people not to follow the medical doctors advice DWP say that there is nothing wrong why do I need these antidepressants or mood stabilisers

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

Because people know that the tribunals aren’t stupid and if the evidence is there why shouldn’t they find in favour of the claimant they should be able to accept information dated after the claim was submitted if it clarifies the claimants position or maybe a piece of evidence that the claimant has made the DWP aware of is pending I.e a scan result etc or evidence of deterioration.

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

Listen to what health care professionals have said when undertaking the assessment ensure the assessor doesn’t lie and jots everything down accurately. Allow assessments to be recorded by claimant’s without all the red tape. Infact audio record assessments so things aren’t missed.

8. 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)?

If you are awarded limited capability to work you should be award standard care if you want to be assessed for moving around submit. Additional information Any one which has a diagnosis of a conditions for over S years should be awarded both Standard care and Moving Around if the Claimant would like to be assessed for Enhanced they should Submit Further evidence.

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

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


  1. 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

Assessments would be cheaper for the tax payer if brought in house. These companies have know accountability and its is alleged that they are paid huge sums to knock people back how can a physios assess someone with a mental health condition assessors should have relevant expertise in the claimants iIllness.

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?

People who have claimed multiple times and won their award should have it extended during the pandemic Automatically

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

People with mental health conditions that are classed as almost pallitative Such as bipolar Schizophrenia etc Should be awarded life time Awards. Without the Medication I take I would probably be in hospital and Sedated 24 hours a day

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

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?

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?

Extend Automatically everyone who has a Condition likely to last beyond the emergency period

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?

People should get legal aid through the Claim process through every stage via Zoom and at tribunals

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

Third sector organisations don't usually doesn't have specialist on mental health unless you go to mind etc

The impact of assessment/application on claimants.

Incredibly Adversarial and stressful no nice words to say about it except for disgraceful.

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?

It affects me greatly mentally physically emotionally and my family I am hell to be around. Look at the information contained in the Form and supporting evidence. Send enquiries to Health professionals of the claimant

Waits for assessments

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

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?

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?

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?

Policy development

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

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

Hopefully this goes some way to explain the situation within benefit of PIP and UC.

What isn’t asked is away of challenging over payments in benefits where the department admits responsibility, there needs to be a mechanism to challenge overpayments of all benefits because now it is completely reliant on the claimant paying it back there fault or not.


December 2021