Dear Department for Work and Pensions,

At paragraph 118 of PPE v Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (ESA) [2020] UKUT 59 (AAC), Judge Poytner refers to the information you provide on the recording of face-to-face assessments:

“Getting help and support

Please let us know as soon as you get your appointment letter if you need:
...

your face-to-face assessment to be audio-recorded. Requests will be accepted where possible.

You do not have a legal right to a recorded assessment and DWP have no legal obligation to provide an audio recording service or equipment.”

https://www.bailii.org/uk/cases/UKUT/AAC...

1. Can you confirm that you are still using the same wording? If the wording has changed, please provide the new wording.

2. Please provide the number of requests you received from people who wanted to record their face-to-face ESA assessments in 2019/20.

3. Please provide the number of audio-recording devices you purchased in 2019/20 to assist claimants record their face-to-face assessments (assessments of any sort).

Yours faithfully,

J Roberts

DWP freedom-of-information-requests, Department for Work and Pensions

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J Roberts left an annotation ()

The substantive issue considered in 'PPE' is dealt with crisply in the recent NI Commissioner's decision RS-v- Department of Communities (PIP) [2021] NICom 4:

https://www.bailii.org/nie/cases/NISSCSC...

'27. Regulation 9 places a requirement on the Department to disallow a claim for PIP where a claimant fails to attend a consultation without good reason.'

'37. There may be circumstances where an uncorroborated written submission by the Department might be accepted as establishing some fact on the balance of probabilities.  However, a case where a claimant stands to lose benefit entitlement due to failure to comply with formal procedural requirements is not among them.  I consider that the tribunal has not based its decision on direct evidence that shows that the procedural requirements of regulation 9 were complied with.  It has based its decision on insufficient evidence and has therefore erred in law.  I must set aside its decision. '

DWP Health Services Correspondence,

1 Attachment

Dear J Roberts,

I am writing in response to your request for information, received 1st
March.

Yours sincerely,

DWP Central FoI Team

J Roberts left an annotation ()

'In 2019/20 the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) purchased 75 audio recording devices, to record Work Capability Assessments (WCA).'

J Roberts left an annotation ()

Some useful information included in the following response:

https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/7...

'Claimants have the right to request a recording of their WCA. Dual recording is required as both the claimant and the HCP need an exact copy recording of the assessment. To aid the recording of WCA assessments each assessment centre has a dual recording machine. 

These machines will provide two separate unencrypted compact disc (CD) copies of the assessment recording simultaneously  The Health Assessment Advisory Service (HAAS) is responsible for coordinating the provision of the dual recording equipment. The healthcare 
provider or WCA, CHDA implemented an opt in system of audio recording from the beginning of November 2020.

Following the assessment, the claimants copy of the recording is sent to them via Royal Mail recorded delivery to ensure the CD is signed for and this is generally done on the day of the assessment. A claimant can request that their telephone assessment be recorded by contacting the CHDA appointments helpdesk on 0800 2888 777 in advance of their assessment or they can forward their request by email to...'

And:

'From 2 November 2020 attending and participating in a telephone assessment became mandatory in cases where a healthcare professional (HCP) has decided a telephone assessment is appropriate. If they are unable to attend, claimants have two opportunities to reschedule their appointment in advance of their scheduled date.

If a claimant fails to attend a telephone assessment, the case will be returned for a benefit decision to be made by a Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) decision maker. If this happens, the decision maker will ask the claimant to give the reasons why they failed to attend. If the claimant provides good reason(s), they will be referred back to the HCP for another assessment. If the decision maker decides the claimant did not have good reason(s), they may decide the claimant is capable of work. Each case is considered individually based on the information available, including any information provided by the claimant.

If a claimant attends a telephone assessment but the HCP feels they have not taken part in the assessment, the HCP may refer the case back to a DWP decision maker to consider. This may happen, for example, when a claimant imposes unreasonable conditions before proceeding with the assessment; shows obstructive or intimidating behaviour; states they do
not consent to being assessed (this list is not definitive).

Where this happens, the decision maker wil ask the claimant to give the reasons why they did not take part in the telephone assessment. If the claimant gives good reason(s), they will be referred back to the HCP for another assessment. If the decision maker decides the claimant did not have good reason(s), they may decide the claimant is capable of work. Each case is considered individual y based on the information available, including any information provided by the claimant.'