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.

Those transferring from DLA to PIP were also being failed adding to the pressure in the dept and like it or not Rudd was one of the better ministers to hold this post before quitting over Brexit.”
The issue is as Coffey announced they are looking at more reforms, the new forms designs, the IT structure to enable this project will cost more taxpayers money but also cost disabled people a lot more in terms of stress. Is it for instance one assessment which means you are eligible for both benefits as suggested by many in field, or is it really one assessment lose all scenario as that could potentially mean PIP is going to become means tested which it currently isnt? Lots of disabled people also just get one of these benefits for instance and work already. many severely disabled people with chronic illnesses get both as they are deemed unfit to work, and others can be looking for some limited type of work they could manage. The last ten years have left many traumatised by the DWP and sadly some have taken their lives over DWP tyranny inflicted upon  the disabled community as a whole as fighting for what they are genuinely entitled to.
Many DWP projects are dressed up as the dept being helpful and inclusive with IDS mantra of ‘Work Sets You Free’ ideological warfare, this is unlikely to be a positive experience either.
Only last week they were caught red handed asking people to downplay their illness to make them more employable and use positive statements and avoid using certain words to describe their disability or Illness. What many have failed to spot is the managed migration of those deemed too ill to work date also starts in 2021-23 is the date coincidence, I doubt it!
Rudd stated

“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.

The extension – the second since the contract began in 2014 – will allow the firm to rake in millions of pounds more taxpayers’ money from the tests.

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.”

This will no doubt strike fear into the heart of the disabled community as it will many other groups who will be targeted on Universal Credit,via its Health & Work Programme and its Social Prescribing of  Intergrated Health Asessment Services. No Guidance is currently available. Its been a very long journey for many of us campaigners ,who are also trying to inform and support many as well as look after their own health and manage their own disabilities, but it appears that this journey still has still a long way to run.
“DWP under the Health Transformation Programme (HTP) are exploring the future delivery of Health Assessments with the objective to transform the health and disability assessment services provided for people with disabilities and health conditions.
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.”
Please try to read some of the links provided below as I know this blog has been a long one for those who cannot deal with Info overload.

https://www.gov.uk/government/speeches/work-health-and-disability

https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/564038/work-and-health-green-paper-improving-lives.pdf

https://www.gov.uk/government/news/millions-awarded-to-help-people-with-health-conditions-stay-in-work

https://www.gov.uk/government/news/40-million-personalised-support-package-for-long-term-unemployed-disabled-people-launched

https://inews.co.uk/news/dwp-quietly-admits-never-had-capacity-pip-reviews-pensioners-disabilities-dwp-benefits-505474

https://www.mirror.co.uk/news/politics/dwp-extends-maximus-fit-work-14089513

https://www.parliament.uk/business/publications/written-questions-answers-statements/written-question/Lords/2019-04-11/HL15269/

http://www.pulsetoday.co.uk/news/gp-topics/legal/government-could-automatically-access-gp-patient-data-for-benefits-assessments/20038333.article

https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/dwp-benefit-claims-medical-data-sharing-nhs-healthcare-doctors-charities-a8797991.html

https://www.theregister.co.uk/2019/02/19/dwp_health_data_tool/

https://www.digitalmarketplace.service.gov.uk/digital-outcomes-and-specialists/opportunities/8859

https://www.parliament.uk/business/publications/written-questions-answers-statements/written-statement/Commons/2019-03-05/HCWS1376

https://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/entry/dwp-universal-credit-pip-and-welfare-reform-outsourcing-contracts-bill-revealed_uk_5c17a7a9e4b05d7e5d84273e

https://blog.sense.org.uk/2019/03/is-combining-pip-and-esa-assessments-really-a-good-idea/

https://www.gov.uk/government/speeches/closing-the-gap-between-intention-and-experience

https://www.theguardian.com/society/2019/oct/08/jobseekers-told-to-call-their-depression-low-mood-on-applications

https://www.contractsfinder.service.gov.uk/Notice/359865b3-b1e1-4071-8bc6-f02067c9f216?p=%40FQxUlRRPT0%3DNjJNT08%3DU&fbclid=IwAR1l0AvqucHKCGYBU-cWx0V-0YwBSP0zV2id_2kh4UhgudPu4K6c7t9u9b4

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: