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PIP Disability Benefit Claims ‘Misrepresented’ By Assessors

July 12, 2021

A man seeking disability benefits has claimed he was misrepresented in a report made by Capita, the firm which assesses benefit claimants.

A Nolan Show investigation found that he was first assessed by Capita and scored zero points – meaning he was classed as not needing benefits.

The Department for Communities looked at his case again and also scored zero.

The Nolan Show knows the testimony given by the man to both Capita and the department.

It shows how his answers appear to have been misreported in the final assessments.

It comes after a scathing report from the Northern Ireland’s public services ombudsman, Margaret Kelly, on the system for Personal Independence Payments (PIP) assessments.

Capita provide the assessment service on behalf of the Department for Communities.

Communities Minister Deirdre Hargey has committed to bringing the service in-house and has said people have the opportunity to appeal to an independent tribunal.

Significant debt problems

Mark, which is not the man’s real name, is a vulnerable adult with a history of mental health issues, including depression and anxiety.

He told disability assessors that he was not able to leave the house on many occasions due to the extent of his anxiety.

The Capita assessor asked him: “And would you look at the internet? eBay, Amazon, YouTube?”

Mark responded that he would go on YouTube but for “the likes of Amazon, I just don’t have the money to buy anything”.

However, Capita’s official report claimed Mark said “he will surf the internet and shop online”.

Mark also told Capita he had significant debt problems after being asked whether he pays his bills.

He added that the Citizens Advice Bureau had set up a debt management plan to help him.

However, Capita wrote in its assessment: “He states he can make simple purchases and understands the value of money. He states he will pay his own bills and has good memory and cognition.”

The Department for Communities heard a “mandatory reassessment” of the scoring and Mark also told the department he had “a debt management plan with the Citizens Advice Bureau Lisburn for £55,000 worth of debt”.

However, the department gave him zero points for his ability to manage complex budgetary decisions.

‘Difficulty washing and walking’

After getting no points from Capita for incontinence, Mark told the department’s appeals service of instances of severe incontinence. He was awarded no points on reassessment.

He also reported not washing himself for up to 10 days at time, how his son would help him shower and that he had difficulty walking. Again, he received no points.

The Department for Communities said the minister is committed to ending privatisation of the service and bringing it “in-house” in partnership with the Department of Health but that such a partnership was “not currently feasible”.

“A number of improvements to the assessment process have already been introduced, including the completion of PIP award reviews in-house, where sufficient evidence is available,” they added.

“This has reduced referrals to the PIP assessment provider by 25%.”

In a statement, Capita told the BBC “all our assessors are qualified healthcare professionals including former NHS nurses, physiotherapists, occupational therapists or paramedics”.

It said the assessors have been “specially trained in assessing disability needs” and are supervised by the firm’s clinical governance team, which also consists of current and former NHS staff.

“A sample of claimants are surveyed monthly following their PIP assessment by an independent research company. Over the last 12 months, more than 98% of those surveyed have said they were satisfied or very satisfied with our service.”

4 Comments leave one →
  1. junipersimmons@hotmail.com permalink
    July 12, 2021 1:20 am

    Northern Ireland’s public services ombudsman, Margaret Kelly, is scathing about the privatised system for Personal Independence Payments (PIP) assessments and Capita’s appalling assessment ‘service’ farmed out by the Department for Communities. The private sector shouldn’t be allowed anywhere near essential services having consistently led to higher costs, but lower paid, fewer jobs for workers – a failure everywhere!
    Consequently, Minister Deirdre Hargey has committed to bringing the service in-house.

  2. July 12, 2021 10:54 am

    Reblogged this on Tory Britain! .

  3. July 12, 2021 4:05 pm

    Anxiety is never a good thing.

    https://www.loopholelinkapp.com/HTMLEditor/View?ID=2895

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