Reader Trigger Warning for those with sensitive disposition >>>>
Since March 2019 the mutterings of merging assessments has been muted which sent shivers through people with disabilities as they felt another onslaught was coming and saw this as a negative move. Its linked in part to Health and Work Programme too, which Department of Health combined to help design, to enable DWP plans to close the disability employment gap and get more people into work. This doesn’t exclude other groups in society as it all part of welfare reforms and part of Universal Credit and Social Prescribing is likely to be part of this complex joined up thinking by the government.
Contracts were first noticed in 2019 when the then Minister was Amber Rudd made a statement on Improvements to Universal Credit, so when I went looking and it’s part of ‘Intergrated Health Assessment Services’ Contract.
I remembered reading about it in the government 2016 ‘Improving Lives’ the work,health and disability Green Paper,which like most things are slipped in under the radar, by the DWP Ninja’s with the date of 2021 start date. I also recall IDS flunky Charlotte Pickles writing about it and Dame Carol Black in think tank reports way back. This week Theresa Coffey the new minister being grilled about by the DWP Select Committee about universal failures of Universal Credit, where she lost the plot when Frank Field challenged the minister ,and she blurted out they were not uncaring they were trying to make things better quoting the previous ministers statement, which jogged my memory. So off I went down the rabbit hole which is my archive documents to search for these mutterings. I recall Alex Tiffin Campaigner also wrote something on it at the time.
OBR & Rudd
“The idea of of this was the cost involved in repeat assessments which were costing the DWP millions when 72% of PIP appeals were overturned according to Rudd and ESA appeals on top were also very successful,which seriously highlighted the administration of this in turn cost the taxpayer a small fortune. Contracted assessors should have been shown the door and financially penalized, but no this government instead extended those contracts to continue carrying out the assessments while they still were getting the majority wrong. The OBR report showed:
“The admission, quietly revealed in the Office for Budget Responsibility’s (OBR) economic outlook report, suggests the DWP never had sufficient staffing levels to carry out the repeat assessments for personal independent payments (PIP) alongside its other workloads.Repeat assessments to check eligibility for PIP, a benefit intended to help pay for extra living costs as a result of having a disability or long term condition, have been labelled “unnecessary and stressful” for claimants.
“The corporate empire will be able to rake in millions of pounds more from the ‘Work Capability Assessment’ – to pave the way for a massive shake-up in 2021.Benefits outsourcing giant Maximus will have its contract for hated ‘fit-for-work’ tests extended by more than a year, ministers announced today.
The corporate empire’s benefit testing firm will carry out ‘Work Capability Assessments’ for ESA payments for a further 16 months to July 2021.
But ministers insist it is a temporary measure to ensure “stability” ahead of a huge shake-up of disability benefit tests to help claimants.
Two separate tests will be merged into “one unified, integrated service” from 2021, Work and Pensions Secretary Amber Rudd announced.
The tests are Work Capability Assessment for Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) or Universal Credit – run by a subsidiary firm of Maximus called Centre for Health and Disability Assessments Ltd – and separate assessments for Personal Independence Payments (PIP), run by Capita and an arm of Atos. Today’s extension comes despite more than two-thirds of appeal tribunals (68%) overturning fit-for-work tests last year.
Yet confirming the contract extension, Ms Rudd argued it would pave the way for “a more joined-up claimant experience” in future.She added: “This will allow for a safe and stable service now, and as we transition to the new integrated service.” The announcement came ahead of a wide-ranging speech by Ms Rudd vowing to improve the disability benefit system after years of warnings it is throwing people into destitution.She admitted disabled people feel “put on trial” by the DWP process and “we need to do more” to “close the gap” between intentions and reality. She said the enormous rate of appeals ruling against the government – 72% for PIP last summer – is “of particular concern” and the number is “too high.” according to The Mirror in March this year.”
IDS in 2015 when he launched Universal Credit claimed
“I have said many times that I believe work is the best route out of poverty.
It provides purpose, responsibility, and role models for children.
As a one nation government, we believe everyone in the country should have the chance to benefit from the security and sense of purpose that comes with being in work.
That is why our guiding principle has been to place work at the heart of everything we do in our reforms.
Getting people into work is more than just earning a salary and certainly more than balancing the public purse.
These matter, of course, but they are not the primary reasons.
For culturally and socially, work is the spine that runs through a stable society.
Let me be clear – a decent society should always recognise that some people are unable to work because of physical or mental ill health – or both.
It is right that we protect these most vulnerable people in our society. And that support is there.
For despite the scaremongering, it is worth reflecting on the fact that we in this country spend more on sick and disabled people than the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) average.
To put that in perspective – and according to the OECD, the UK spends more on incapacity than France, Germany, or Japan.
However, we are also ensuring that the resources are in place to support people into work.
I’m proud that we are providing significant new funding for additional support to help claimants into work – £60 million in 2017 rising to an additional £100 million a year by 2020.”
The Health Assessments help by providing advice to DWP Decision Makers to determine eligibility for benefits paid to claimants across a range of benefits including Personal Independent Payments (PIP) Employment Support Allowance (ESA), Universal Credit (UC) and a number of smaller benefits.
Currently the services are delivered through a multi health assessment provider base with varying commercial and delivery operating models. The aim of the transformed service will be a more effective, efficient integrated service for customers.”
Updated July 2020: https://www.parliament.uk/business/publications/written-questions-answers-statements/written-statement/Commons/2020-07-09/HCWS353/?fbclid=IwAR3Q4jLRyQ09LJOgMNb_fs1R1Un5iWuStsgRZgukcAqvbRKO_5a5dMQRfMg