Scores of disabled people and welfare advisers have told a Commons inquiry that disability benefit assessment reports completed on behalf of the Department for Work and Pensions are filled with “lies and misinformation”.
The work and pensions select committee is carrying out an inquiry into the assessment process for both personal independence payment (PIP) and employment and support allowance (ESA).
By last night (Wednesday), more than 1,800 people had submitted evidence to the inquiry via an online forum, which closes on 10 November, although not all the posts were about dishonesty and many were about the work capability assessment, the eligibility test for ESA.
The forum posts provide further corroboration for the evidence compiled by Disability News Service (DNS) during a year-long investigation into claims of dishonesty at the heart of the PIP assessment system.
Only last week, DNS revealed that complaints about the PIP assessment process rose by nearly 900 per cent last year – from 142 in 2015-16 to 1,391 in 2016-17.
Labour’s shadow work and pensions secretary, Debbie Abrahams, said last week that the “huge increase” showed that the healthcare professionals who carry out the assessments must be held to account.
Post after post on the forum describes how assessors working for the outsourcing companies Atos and Capita lied in reports they prepared for the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) following face-to-face assessments.
One PIP claimant, “Paul”, said the report produced after his face-to-face PIP assessment was “a complete fabrication”.
He said: “I was lucky in the fact that the person who accompanied me was also a healthcare professional and they made notes on the assessment.”
He added: “The full account of my assessment has been written up by my companion of the day in question and it supports my contention that the medical report is to all intents a pack of lies, an examination that is reported actually never happened.”