Personal Independence Payment: Regulations

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 5:01 pm on 29th March 2017.

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Photo of Penny Mordaunt Penny Mordaunt The Minister of State, Department for Work and Pensions 5:01 pm, 29th March 2017

I am coming to the right hon. Gentleman’s point, if he will give me a moment.

We are working with charities and representative organisations to promote awareness and draw on their expertise. Following references to the panels in another place last month, we have started to see requests from claimants who are keen to participate. We are carrying out pilots to test whether there are any benefits to audio recording face-to-face assessments. The pilots, which started on 13 March, will last for six weeks and involve 400 claimants. We are trialling telephoning claimants to ensure all that the evidence they wish to be considered has been collected and submitted. That is critical to reducing the number of cases going to mandatory reconsideration and appeal, as my hon. Friend Justin Tomlinson pointed out. We are giving people fuller reasons why they have not been successful to ensure that they understand those reasons exactly.

We have strengthened clinical support and clinical mentoring for the healthcare professionals who carry out assessments. Our assessors discuss with people the impacts on their life before taking a medical history. Mr Jones raised the critical issue of ensuring that there is support throughout the assessment process, particularly for people with a mental health condition. I will not list all the things we do, but he will know that processes are in place, with special markers for such individuals. We are always interested to hear how we can improve those processes, but they are already part of the system.