Contracted-out Health Assessments

Oral Answers to Questions — Work and Pensions – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 9th January 2017.

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Photo of Christina Rees Christina Rees Shadow Minister (Justice) 12:00 am, 9th January 2017

What recent assessment he has made of the (a) accuracy and (b) efficiency of contracted-out health assessments for employment and support allowance and personal independence payments.

Photo of Penny Mordaunt Penny Mordaunt The Minister of State, Department for Work and Pensions

Over 93.5% of assessments for personal independence payment and over 90% of work capability assessments for ESA are deemed of acceptable quality through independent audit. Those that are not deemed acceptable are returned to the provider to be reworked. The Department closely monitors all elements of providers’ performance and holds those providers to account through their contracts.

Photo of Christina Rees Christina Rees Shadow Minister (Justice)

Will the Minister consider introducing and funding the mandatory use of body-worn cameras by all contracted-out assessment providers, which will improve the accuracy and efficiency of the much-disputed health assessment reports and safeguard claimants and assessors, and which is proving to be very successful when used by emergency services across the UK?

Photo of Penny Mordaunt Penny Mordaunt The Minister of State, Department for Work and Pensions

There are detailed improvement plans for both PIP and ESA. Another thing that is being considered is how assessments are recorded. If the hon. Lady wants to write to me with any specific suggestions, I will be very happy to look at them.

Photo of Justin Tomlinson Justin Tomlinson Conservative, North Swindon

The vast majority of successful appeals are due to additional late submitted evidence. What more can be done to access and share medical evidence between health professionals and assessors ahead of the appeals decision?

Photo of Penny Mordaunt Penny Mordaunt The Minister of State, Department for Work and Pensions

My hon. Friend is absolutely right. He will know that the Department has carried out a number of pilots to look at being more lenient at the early stages of assessment to give people time to get that health care information in front of assessors. That move is paying dividends, and we hope that it will be rolled out.

Several hon. Members:

rose—

Photo of Corri Wilson Corri Wilson Scottish National Party, Ayr, Carrick and Cumnock

I am afraid that many of my constituents have been refused home assessments for personal independence payments, and others have been unable to have their assessments recorded at home with the DWP. Given that it was recently reported that 61% of 90,000 claimants who appealed against a PIP decision at the tribunal period up to September 2016 won their case, will the Minister today commit to a root-and-branch review of the assessment process?

Photo of Penny Mordaunt Penny Mordaunt The Minister of State, Department for Work and Pensions

Although we are consulting on ESA, the Green Paper consultation affords us the ability to look at PIP assessments in the round and at a person’s whole journey. I have previously said that we are looking at what more we can do in recording assessments. If the hon. Lady knows of cases where people need home assessments and they are not getting them, I urge her to flag them up with me.

Photo of Jake Berry Jake Berry Conservative, Rossendale and Darwen

In my own constituency of Rossendale and Darwen, those who are waiting for their PIP appeal to go through are having to wait three, six or, in some cases, nine months to have that appeal heard. Given that they receive no benefit during this period and can lose their vital Motability car, will the Minister tell us what efforts the Department will make to speed up the appeal process?

Photo of Penny Mordaunt Penny Mordaunt The Minister of State, Department for Work and Pensions

I am sorry to hear that that is happening in my hon. Friend’s constituency. That is a very unusual length of time to be waiting for an appeal. If he would like to give me the details of those cases, I would be happy to look at them.