To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, pursuant to the oral contribution of the hon. Member for Oldham East and Saddleworth, Official Report column 969, how she plans to merge the personal independence payment and work capability assessment processes; who will take part in that merger; whether there will be (a) a pilot and (b) an independent evaluation of that merger; and who will provide that assessment service.
The Health Transformation Programme within DWP has been established to transform the currently separate Work Capability Assessment service for Employment Support Allowance and Universal Credit, and the Personal Independence Payment assessment service, into a single integrated service from 2021.
As with any major change, this will take time to design, and it will be rolled out carefully – learning as we go. We need to take time to get this right and we will be seeking input from a wide range of stakeholders to ensure that the new service is one that works for our customers and that we safely transition to the new arrangements. We will continue to keep the most appropriate method of delivery under review and we believe assessment providers will continue to play an important role. For any elements that are outsourced, we will run a procurement process compliant with the Public Contracts Regulations.