Scores of disabled people and welfare advisers have told a Commons interrogation that disability benefit assessment reports made on behalf of the Department for Work and Pensions are filled with lies and misinformation and the Work and Pensions select committee is carrying out an inquiry into the assessment method for both Personal Independence Payment (PIP) and Employment and Support Allowance (ESA).
More than 1,800 people had presented testimony to the inquiry through an online forum, which ends on 10 November, although not all the posts were about dishonesty and several were about the work capability assessment, the eligibility examination for ESA.
The forum posts provide additional corroboration for the testimony gathered by Disability News Service (DNS) throughout a year-long inquiry into allegations of fraud at the core of the PIP assessment system.
DNS announced that criticisms about the PIP assessment method increased by approximately 900 percent last year from 142 in 2015-16 to 1,391 in 2016-17 and Labour’s shadow work and pensions secretary, Debbie Abrahams, stated that the huge increase confirmed that the healthcare professionals who carry out the assessments must be held to account.
Post after post on the forum details how assessors acting for the outsourcing corporations Atos and Capita distorted reports they prepared for the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) following face-to-face evaluations.
One PIP claimant stated the report created after his face-to-face PIP assessment was a complete fabrication but he was fortunate in the fact that the person who brought him was also a healthcare professional and they made notes on his evaluation.
The full account of his evaluation had been written up by his escort of the day in question and it supported his disagreement that the medical report is to all intent a trumped-up story, an examination that is described really never occurred.
Despite attending the evaluation in his wheelchair, the report detailed how he was viewed walking normally.
He never imagined he would see the day when a doctor told blatantly and thought out falsifications about a sick and disabled person for their own financial advantage and the advantage of both ATOS and the DWP and that’s what happened to him.
It is his mind ATOS acted in an illegal way when managing his assessment and further committed perjury at his appeal by inserting falsehoods and inaccurate testimony about him which was endorsed by the same seedy doctor.
He won his appeal and the opinion that the supervising judge gave him, before even talking to him and upon seeing how he mobilised, was why on earth has this guy been made to enter into an appeal process.
Pam Stock, a disabled, retired DWP employment adviser, explained in her testimony to the hearing how she helped two friends with spina bifida appeal against their PIP decisions after both had had their mandatory reconsiderations refused.
In both instances the argumentation given on the reconsideration request was refused and yet as soon as it became transparent to the DWP that these applicants planned on going to a tribunal, the judgment was further examined and swiftly they agreed the applicants were correct.
She continued that she was also extremely concerned that in both instances, critical information addressed at the interview, did not appear on the subsequent evaluation report, and also some details were obviously distorted.
One applicant stated that they virtually failed to recognise themselves on the report.
It said in the assessor’s report that he had no breathlessness or wheezing, he does both constantly with him having emphysema/COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease) and the assessor even stopped the evaluation approximately three or four times due to his breathing and asking if it was okay to carry on.