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As Kirklees Claimants Sent To Manchester For PIP Assessments, Advocates Wonder If ATOS Understand The Geography Of West Yorkshire

September 24, 2015

Long-term disabled benefits claimants from Kirklees are being sent as far as Manchester to judge whether they are fit for work.

Atos, which carries out benefits claimant assessments on behalf of the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), has been criticised by patients’ champion Healthwatch Kirklees for failing to open an assessment centre in Kirklees.

Claimants of Personal Independence Payments (PIP), which replace Disability Living Allowance, must instead attend assessment centres in Halifax, Leeds, Bradford, Wakefield – and sometimes Manchester – to see if they must return to work.

Healthwatch Kirklees advisor Shabana Ali, said: “We first heard these stories in carers groups. When we looked harder we found that the backlog in the assessment system means that local people are being asked to travel as far as Manchester for their assessments, with the system automatically offering appointments that were outside the 90-minute guidelines issued by the DWP.”

Healthwatch Kirklees director, Rory Deighton, said it was ‘hard to understand’ why Atos had not opened an centre in a borough with 440,000 residents.

Mr Deighton said: “It’s hard to understand why there is not an assessment centre provided for the 440,000 people in Kirklees.

“We know that there are two centres in Leeds, two in Bradford and two in Wakefield, and can only assume that Atos as a company don’t understand the geography of West Yorkshire.”

He added: “Atos’s failure to provide a centre for PIP assessment is having a significant impact on some of the most vulnerable members of our community.

“We’ve spoken to Atos, who have said that they have no plans to open a centre in Kirklees. We’re challenging that, by working with Dewsbury MP and member of the Health Select Committee Paula Sherriff and local carers’ groups.”

Atos said it had plans for another centre in Bradford, near the Kirklees boundary.

The company added claimants were no longer waiting long periods for their assessments.

An Atos spokesperson said: “We try to make coming to an assessment as easy as possible as we understand it can be a stressful time for people.

“We recommend that people, who will have issues in getting to a centre, give us a call to discuss this so we can make an alternative arrangement.

“We do offer different locations, home consultations and we do reimburse taxi journeys for those who need it.”

3 Comments leave one →
  1. September 24, 2015 12:54 am

    Hit them with the 90 minute travel rule, I did last year, just work out from leaving the home how long each part of the journey, if you use a wheelchair a bus is unlikely to be your method of transport but going to the station for a train might be, where it says things like cross the road you may have to walk to a crossing then back again this is all travelling time, you don’t have to use their preferred route or method of transport, but using it to say that if you were to use it you may be late for the assessment, could be used to say things out of my control made me late, for example a person with a pushchair stops you getting the bus that means you would get there on time and you have to wait for two or three more to come and go before you can get on a bus.
    From Kirklees to Manchester is a minimum 107 minutes and a maximum of of 129 minutes, by the ATOS preferred route, which is normally a bus, then there is walking to the assessment centre so straight away they are breaking the 90 minute travel rule, and that’s before you add the time it took to get to the pick up point for the bus and add the walking to the assessment centre, adding all the times together you could be looking at, in excess of a 6 hour journey, 3 hours each way, with a HP doing an assessment in between.
    I don’t know the Kirklees area at all, or Manchester come to that, but anyone who attempts this journey should be looking at it as a day out, but my opinion is to email the CEO and tell them that it is longer than 90 minutes a person is expected to travel to a place of employment, make out you don’t drive even if you do, they don’t know if you drive or not unless they get the info from motability if you have a car on the scheme then they would be breaking the DPA if they gave out the info to another company carrying out assessments for the DWP.

  2. September 24, 2015 12:55 am

    Reblogged this on perfectlyfadeddelusions and commented:
    Probably not.

  3. September 24, 2015 7:40 pm

    ok. Kirklees covers Batley, Birstall, Cleckheaton, Denby Dale, Dewsbury, Heckmondwike, Holmfirth, Huddersfield, Kirkburton, Marsden, Meltham, Mirfield and Slaithwaite. i
    don’t have time to look up mileages ofthose i donty know at the moment (i will if you wish. but i live only 3 miles from Batley on the border of Wakefield and Dewsbury(2miles away (just over).Birstall is possibly another 2 -3 miles from Batley.Cleckheaton takes about 20 mins or so to get to by car but over half hour by bus.Denby Dale, possibly same. Dewsbury by bus from me is about 9-10 mins.Heckmondwike is a bit further than Cleckheaton.the rest are further still. but still within a much shorter journey to Wakefield, than to Manchester. Halifax is next nearest to Holmfirth, Huddersfield, Kirkburton, Marsden, Meltham, Mirfield and Slaithwaite. .takes over an hour to get there from Wakefield less from those other places mentioned.. an hour n 40 mins to Bradford. Leeds from Wakefield town centre is 30-60 mins depending on route and traffic. very busy roads into Leeds.(this is by bus). just so you have some perspective on the geography involved. Halifax(Calderdale area) borders Lancashire.on the m62.Manchester is, i believe, in middle of Lancashire.

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