Problems with disability benefits
More than a third of our clients have disabilities or long-term health conditions and since 2013 we have produced several reports, the last in April 2016, highlighting the serious problems that our sick and disabled clients have in claiming Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) and Personal Independence Payment (PIP). In November 2016 the Government invited comments on far-reaching proposals in a Green Paper to improve employment support for disabled people and people with long-term health conditions including assessment for ESA and PIP. In our response to the Green Paper, we took the opportunity to suggest radical changes to the assessment of these benefits to streamline and simplify the whole process and make it more customer-friendly.
Our proposals were not accepted, but a year later we submitted them again in our evidence to the House of Commons Select Committee’s enquiry into claiming procedures for Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) and Personal Independence Payment (PIP). Although the Select Committee highlighted serious flaws in the assessment procedure for ESA and PIP it did not adopt our radical proposals for reforming the whole claiming process.
Then in January 2018 we provided evidence from our clients’ experience of ESA and PIP reassessments to support an initiative by Citizen Research and Campaign teams across London that prompted some London MPs to press the DWP to stop reassessing ESA and PIP recipients who have long-term health conditions that show no sign of improvement. The Government did accept that claimants with these conditions should not be subjected to further reassessments; but in practice most of these claimants still undergo regular reassessments despite clear medical evidence that their conditions have not improved.
Problems with the delivery of other benefits
In 2017 we assembled a report, based on the experience of our clients, listing a wide range of problems with the delivery of all DWP benefits, for discussion with Jobcentre Plus’ most senior local management. As a result of this discussion we have tried to develop closer collaboration with the local Partnership Manager of Jobcentre Plus to tackle delivery problems much more quickly in future.