DWP: we have no plans to offer PIP claimants audio recordings of assessments
As readers of this site will know, we've been working over the last few months to pin the DWP down on policy for recording Atos work capabiility assessments.
As we observed in earlier posts - for some time now, people have wanted to record their Atos work capability assessment sessions so that they'd have recordings and transcripts of those assessments, especially if they wanted to challenge assessment outcomes (which a large number of people do). At False Economy, we've spoken to people who felt that their assessments were imprecise and unfair and that final reports did not necessarily reflect the facts of their disability. This issue of recording work capability assessments and proof of accuracy of interpretation is essential. WCAs are key to deciding people's eligibility for benefits.
The DWP's line is that people can ask to have their WCAs recorded, but only on official recording equipment - equipment that, as it turned out, seemed often to be broken, or unavailable, on days when people requested it. (You can read more about the work done by campaigners to secure formal recordings on the links at the end of this post).
Recording face-to-face assessments for personal independence payment claimants
Recently, people have asked us to find out if the DWP plans to offer people recordings of face-to-face assessments as Disability Living Allowance is phased out from next year and the new Personal Independence Payment phased in (with a budget cut of about 20%). We heard back from the DWP on Friday. The answer re: PIP recordings appears to be no:
"There are no plans at present to offer PIP claimants audio recording of their assessments. The Department intends to look closely at the ESA experience and evaluate the impact of audio recording, before taking any decisions on whether to include it as part of the PIP process in the longer-term."
So. We'd be very interested to hear your views on this and also to know whether you've had similar advice from the DWP, or Atos, who will be running some of the PIP face-to-face assessments. As many people are well aware, conflicting advice from Atos and the DWP is not unusual - in its advice on recording employment and support allowance work capability assessments, for example, Atos says it can't postpone appointments if recording equipment is unavailable, while the DWP's advice seems to be that they can (their quote to us on this was "our line remains the same - we will try to accommodate, but can't delay indefinitely," which implies that some delay is possible).
Survey on demand for recording WCAs
Chris Grayling's line is that demand for recordings is low: "We will offer everyone who wants it the opportunity to have their session recorded. We decided not to implement universal recording because, based on the trial experience, people did not want it. Few people wanted their sessions recorded, and some said that they definitely did not."
That sort of statement has led Disabled People Against Cuts, Black Triangle and Social Welfare Union (SWU) to run a survey to find out more about the demand for WCA recordings for employment and support allowance work capability assessments:
"We want to make sure that we gather the REAL facts on what people are experiencing. We suspect that the government will try to pull the option for recordings of WCA completely due to what they will say is a lack of demand, so we have put together a short survey to gather information on the demand for recordings and on other issues on the WCA."
This survey becomes even more important if findings from the ESA WCA recording experience are to inform any DWP decision on offering recordings to PIP claimants.
Other links and reading
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