Face to Face PIP assessments being partly conducted by telephone?

Ms K Sutton made this Freedom of Information request to Department for Work and Pensions

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Dear Department for Work and Pensions,

I am a member of a support group for people with mental health-related conditions and it has come to my attention that Capita appear to be doing part of the PIP assessment by telephone?

One of our members was called yesterday and asked many of the questions she would expect to answer at a face to face to assessment. This lady suffers from severe anxiety, doesn't like to talk on the phone and certainly doesn't do well in situations that are sprung on her. This information is all contained in her PIP2 form. The phone call left the lady very traumatised and she was told that Capita would call her again with more questions, she was informed her face to face assessment would be done in 2 weeks time.

Questions-

1) Do your guidelines for the conducting of a "face to face" assessment allow for the private providers to do the majority of it by telephone?

2) Claimants were told by Ministers that the "face to face" assessment process was required to ensure that people were getting the correct level of benefits and in the majority of cases, only a F2F assessment would provide for this. Why then is it being conducted mainly on the phone where the HCP has no knowledge of body language, facial expression or indeed physical impact on the claimant?

3) We know that the assessment has already been part completed as the questions are not asked again at the actual face to face, meaning that the HCP's spend very little time indeed in the company of the claimant. This cannot be a fair or even objective assessment of someone? Can DWP explain then how it considers this to be a fair and proper procedure?

4) In the above case (and there are in fact several from this one small mental health support group) due to the way these assessments are being conducted, is it not true that the claimant is in fact being assessed at least TWICE and in some cases three times if they need to make 2 phone calls to have all the questions answered? The Minister for the Disabled, Mark Harper has recently been quoted as saying, "we are making the process and client journey easier". How is effectively being assessed three times to get to the same outcome an improvement?

5) Why are the private providers being allowed to conduct their business in this way? I'm sure this wasn't part of the tender for the contract and indeed, Capita were reported to be offering the majority of their clients home visits. They have the clients files in front of them so why are they making these calls and sending people in to a panic when they know categorically that the claimant will be ill prepared, unnerved and the likelihood is, their well-being may suffer?

6) Finally, and I think for the safety of vulnerable people with mental health problems and indeed anyone that believes, like I do, that this method does not constitute a fair and accurate assessment, do claimants have the right to refuse to have the face to face conducted by Capita OR Atos over the phone, as this surely breaches the face to face assessment criteria? If they do refuse, will this have an impact on their claim, will the file be returned to DWP stating "non-compliance" and their claim then closed or, as it's not a legal requirement, should we just be telling people to withhold their telephone numbers, making it impossible for this totally ineffectual method of assessment to take place?

Yours faithfully,

Ms K Sutton

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DWP Strategy Freedom of Information, Department for Work and Pensions

Dear Ms K Sutton,

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Operations FOI Requests, Department for Work and Pensions

1 Attachment

 
Dear Ms Sutton
 
Please find attached our response to your recent Freedom of Information
request.
 
Yours sincerely
 
DWP Central Freedom of Information Team
 
 
 
 

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Dear Operations FOI Requests,

Thank you for your reply.

I feel that two questions need clarifying firstly, your response to my question number 1 referred me to a link and paragraph number but it doesn't answer the question. Nowhere in the link that you provided does it mention assessors conducting telephone assessments? So again my question is-,
Do the Departments Guidelines allow for the PIP providers to conduct part of the assessment by phone?

In your response to my question 6 you state that the information I'm requesting is not held at your department. So can you kindly tell me who I would need to contact to get this information please?

Yours faithfully,

Ms K Sutton

Operations FOI Requests, Department for Work and Pensions

This is an automated confirmation that your request for information has been accepted by the DWP FoI mailbox.
 
By the next working day your request will be forwarded to the relevant information owner within the Department who will respond to you direct. 
 
If your email is a Freedom of Information request you can normally expect a response within 20 working days.
  
For further information on making Freedom of Information requests please click on the link below.

https://www.gov.uk/make-a-freedom-of-inf...

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Operations FOI Requests, Department for Work and Pensions

1 Attachment

 
Dear Ms K Sutton
 
Please find attached our response to your recent Freedom of Information
request.
 
 
Yours sincerely
 
DWP Central Freedom of Information Team
 
 
 
 

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