Personal Independence Payment provider pledges
Sense Scotland is part of the Disability Benefits Consortium (DBC) a coalition of over 50 charities which represents hundreds of thousands of disabled people across the UK. Atos has been given a new contract to reassess every disabled person in Scotland who is on Disabled Living Allowance
The benefits assessment process is likely to be extremely stressful for disabled people and their families. DLA is a lifeline for those who are forced to rely on additional financial assistance to help manage the higher costs of living with an impairment and/or health condition. The change to Personal Independence Payment (PIP) will result in a reduction or loss of payment for over half a million disabled people and is a major cause for concern.
The DBC have compiled a list of principles reflecting the key needs and concerns disabled people have around the assessment process. They are asking providers of the assessments, including Atos, to sign up to these principles as a set of pledges to demonstrate their commitment to carrying out a fair assessment process.
PIP assessment provider pledges
- We will make sure that a full range of communications methods are available, that our staff are trained in how to use them, and that individuals only have to tell us once what their accessibility and/or communications requirements are.
- We will proactively gather all relevant written evidence, and will only call claimants in for a face to face assessment when a decision cannot be reached on the basis of written evidence.
- We will only reassess claimants when a change in circumstances is likely, to ensure that claimants are not reassessed at inappropriate frequencies.
- We will ensure that the assessment venue is accessible and appropriate for a full range of disabled people, that claimants are informed of their right to a home visit and aware they can bring a friend, family member, or advocate to their assessment.
- We will train our assessors to understand a wide range of impairments and conditions, and to recognise the impact of multiple and complex conditions. Where possible we will match claimants with assessors who have the most appropriate expertise.
- We will hold assessors to account for their decisions, will have an accessible complaints procedure in place, and will seek claimant feedback to monitor performance.
- Our assessors will conduct interviews in a sensitive and culturally appropriate manner, and will explore how individuals complete activities.
- Our assessors will share written reports and any observational evidence they record with claimants, providing them with an opportunity to correct any inaccuracies as early as possible.
- We will set up procedures to proactively gather feedback on the assessment process from disabled people and their representative organisations, and will be open with the findings from these.
- Guidance for assessors will be regularly updated and developed using input from relevant experts, disabled people and their representative organisations.