Welfare Minister Won’t Rule Out Making Benefits Assessors Wear Body Cameras
A Tory minister says she is “very happy to look at” an MP’s idea of making benefit assessors wear cameras to prove their tests are fair.
Labour’s Christina Rees claimed body-worn cameras would make “disputed” tests carried out by private fit-for-work firms more accurate.
Last month we revealed how taxpayers have handed Atos and Capita£500m assessing people for disability benefit Personal Independence Payment (PIP) since it launched in 2013.
Yet figures show 61% of 90,000 claimants who appealed against a PIP decision at a tribunal since 2013 won their case.
And 428,000 asked the DWP for a ‘mandatory reconsideration’ – the step before a tribunal – with 17% winning a change to their award.
Labour MP Ms Rees posed the idea of body-worn cameras during an exchange with Tory disabilities minister Penny Mordaunt.
She asked: “Would the minister consider introducing and funding mandatory use of body-worn cameras by all contracted out assessment providers?
“[This] will improve the accuracy and efficiency of the much disputed health assessment reports as well as safeguarding claimants and assessors.”
Ms Mordaunt replied: “There are detailed improvement plans for both PIP and ESA (disability benefit Employment and Support Allowance).
“But one of the things that is being looked at is how assessments are recorded.
“And if [Ms Rees] would like to write to me with any specific suggestions she’s had, I’d be very happy to look at them.”
Body-worn cameras to solve disputes are on the rise as the technology becomes cheaper.
Scotland Yard issued cameras to 22,000 frontline police officers in London last year saying they “speed up justice”.
People who feature in videos can request to view them under data protection laws up to 31 days after they have been recorded.
Ms Rees told the House of Commons such cameras have “proved to be very successful when used by emergency services across the UK.”