Latest analysis is telling us that the end-to-end claimant journey is taking longer, as I said previously, than expected with both providers—Capita and Atos. As I previously stated, we are taking urgent action on this.
Thank you, Mr Speaker, for not allowing me to get ahead of myself earlier.
It is taking months and months for constituents to get these assessments done, and the issue is clogging up a lot of our surgeries as a result of those delays. In his answer to the previous question, the Minister said that claimants were to blame. How much of the problem is he saying is caused by claimants, because I can assure him that, in the case of my constituents, that is not the problem?
As we bed down the new benefit and the new policies, there will be issues within the Department, issues with the contractors and issues not only with people giving advice to claimants, but with claimants themselves. I am not blaming claimants. What we are saying is that there are delays in the forms coming back and delays because they are not filled in correctly. That is something that we need to work on. We need to be more informative about how those forms are to be filled in, and we are working on that. On the terminal illness side, we are working with Macmillan so that it works closely with those claimants.
My constituent Pamela Brown applied for her personal independence payment in July last year, but persistent failures by Capita meant that she faced a delay of more than three months just to get an assessment. She had numerous appointments that were cancelled and Capita did not even tell her. It was only after she put in numerous formal complaints that Capita addressed the matter. Pamela’s case is clearly far from unique, so can the Minister say a little more about what he is doing to sort out the mess at Capita’s end?
I get people coming to see me at my surgery about exactly the same situation, but the vast majority of assessments are going through and we are trying very hard. We must make sure we get it right. There were issues of quality, which caused the delays, and we are addressing those. That is why the benefit is being phased in, and as we go through we will get a better result for our constituents across the House.