The vast majority of personal independence payment (PIP) appeals boil down to whether the claimant or the DWP’s agents are to be believed.
My run of recent cases illustrates the point:
- A man with renal failure going from 0 points to 20 points at a tribunal
- A deaf man going from 2 points to 18 points after a simple complaint letter
- A woman with complex physical and mental health issues going from 0 points to 13 points after a formal request for reasonable adjustments.
The agents are currently Atos and Capita who employ a range of registered nurses and other health professionals such as physiotherapists to write the reports.
The reports are largely based on “informal observations” – i.e. looking the claimant up and down and deciding if they’re worthy of PIP.
Bizarrely, the DWP frequently says the HCP reports are independent, even though the agents have a financial interest. I.e. they have tendered for a contract to deliver PIP assessments and a key policy intention of PIP is to save £1.5 billion in payments to Claimants each year, as stated in the Parliamentary record.
The DWP insists the victims of these reports must report to the agents themselves instead of to the DWP, even though it is the DWP that is actually responsible. It is little known that another option is to complain to the professional body of the person carrying out the assessment. This can be the Nursing and Midwifery Council or the Health and Care Professionals Council. At least this gives some independence to any investigation of malpractice in PIP assessments or, for that matter, ESA or Universal Credit.