Tens of thousands of disabled people could have had their disability benefit claims decided on evidence from assessment reports that were of “unacceptable” poor quality, government figures suggest.
The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) figures suggest that civil servants may have been deciding many personal independence payment (PIP) claims based on information contained in assessment reports that were of such poor quality that they should have been sent back to DWP contractor Atos to “rework”.
DWP and Atos – which carries out PIP assessments on the government’s behalf – have both denied any such inference can be made from the figures passed two weeks ago by the minister for disabled people, Sarah Newton, to Labour MP Grahame Morris.
But disabled campaigners believe the figures raise fresh concerns about the quality of PIP assessment reports and how DWP decides claims, following years of mounting anger about the way the extra costs benefit is run since it was launched five years ago as a replacement for working-age disability living allowance.
Morris had asked DWP ministers how many PIP assessment reports in each of the last five years had been returned to Atos for “reworking” because they were “deemed unacceptable”.
In another question, he asked how many PIP assessments Atos had carried out every year.