Social Security Benefits: Disability

Department for Work and Pensions written question – answered on 4th November 2020.

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Photo of Catherine McKinnell Catherine McKinnell Chair, Petitions Committee, Chair, Petitions Committee

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what assessment she has made of the potential merits of permanently removing the need for face-to-face assessments for disabled claimants following the temporary introduction of that policy during the covid-19 outbreak.

Photo of Justin Tomlinson Justin Tomlinson The Minister of State, Department for Work and Pensions

The health and safety of our claimants and staff is our key priority. We suspended all face-to-face assessments for sickness and disability benefits in March. This temporary suspension, brought in to protect people from unnecessary risk of coronavirus at the outset of the pandemic is being kept under review in line with the latest public health guidance.

Where possible and in line with usual processes, paper-based assessments will be undertaken, and we continue to do telephone-based assessments where we can. Any re-introduction of face-to-face assessments would involve additional safety measures to comply with public health guidance.

We remain fully committed to making continuous improvements to the support we provide to people with health conditions and disabilities, and are evaluating the changes to our assessment approach which were temporarily introduced. This will inform the approach taken to conducting assessments in the future. We are using a range of information to inform these decisions, including research with PIP and ESA/UC claimants about their experiences of telephone assessments.

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