PIP appointment letter from Atos does not justify sanction for non-attendance

The request was successful.

Dear Department for Work and Pensions,

In IR v SSWP (PIP) [2019] UKUT 374 (AAC) it was decided that the stock letter sent to a claimant notifying him of an appointment with an HCP in respect of PIP was insufficient to warrant a benefit sanction because he failed to attend:


'38. For the reasons already given I do not consider that this is “the language of clear and unambiguous mandatory requirement” (as required by Hooper v Secretary of State for Work and Pensions). It needed to be clear and unambiguous about the mandatory nature of the requirement, e.g.: “YOU MUST ATTEND THIS APPOINTMENT. IF YOU FAIL TO ATTEND WITHOUT GOOD REASON THE DECISION MAKER AT THE DEPARTMENT FOR WORK AND PENSIONS WILL DISALLOW YOUR CLAIM."'

On the key passage from the letter:

'29. "...It is important that you attend this appointment. If you fail to attend without good reason the decision maker at the Department for Work and Pensionsis likely to disallow your claim.If you can’t attend please contact our Customer Service Centre straightaway on [phone number to be inserted].”'

Judge Wikeley wrote:

'34. I am not persuaded that the letter imposes a mandatory legal requirement as such. The key passage is that in bold (see paragraph 29 above). The first sentence is that “It is important that you attend this appointment”. This by itself plainly fails the test as laid down in the case law.'

Please provide the current letters used by ATOS and Capita to notify claimants of appointments with HCPs for PIP assessments.

Yours faithfully,

J Roberts

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no-reply@dwp.ecase.co.uk on behalf of DWP Health Services Correspondence, Department for Work and Pensions

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Dear J Roberts,

I am writing in response to your request for information, received 15th

Yours sincerely,

DWP Central FoI Team

J Roberts left an annotation ()

“If you miss your appointment without good reason, DWP may end your PIP claim. If you also currently get Disability Living Allowance (DLA), DWP would also stop this.” IAS appointment letter

“If you do not keep your appointment, we will return your claim to the DWP.” Capita appointment letter

J Roberts left an annotation ()

The Canary's Steve Topple has written a fine piece on this:


J Roberts left an annotation ()

Excellent analysis of what it means to 'fail' to attend an appointment in 'PPE v Secretary of State for Work and Pensions' (ESA) [2020] UKUT 59 (AAC):


The ESA claimant did not attend a medical examination, but she did not 'fail' to attend for examination.

'26. However, there was another issue that the Tribunal did not address. The statement assumed, without analysis or evidence, that the claimant did “fail”to attend the appointment on 18 October 2017. That assumption was an error of law.”

57. In short, there needs to be “the language of clear and unambiguous mandatory requirement” and there needs to be “crystal”clarity.”

77. However, the Secretary of State must use “the language of clear and unambiguous mandatory requirement”. No legal obligation is imposed if either:

(a) the Secretary of State merely invites, advises, or encourages the claimant to do the thing, as opposed to telling her she must do it; or

(b)it is unclear whether the Secretary of State has told the claimant that she must do the thing, as opposed to merely inviting, advising, or encouraging her to do it.

78. Moreover, the requirement to use “clear and unambiguous language” is to be applied strictly. The Secretary of State must be “crystal clear”

124. She did not fail to attend for examination because she was never under any legal obligation to do so.'