Why is There No Disabled Access or Parking at Capita's Birmingham PIP Assessment Centre

Response to this request is long overdue. By law, under all circumstances, Department for Work and Pensions should have responded by now (details). You can complain by requesting an internal review.

Dear Department for Work and Pensions,

My disabled spouse is going through the DLA to PIP transition and to say it has been fraught with hair-tearing frustration is an understatement. He received an appointment to go for a PIP assessment with Capita at their Birmingham centre, so I begin to plan the trip there.

Imagine my absolute horror when I find there is NO car park nor are there any parking spaces suitable for a wheelchair-bound patient near the building. Also the assessments are held on the second-floor which beggars belief, Surely this contravenes The Disability Discrimination Act?

Trying to deal with Capita is like trying to climb a greasy pole, they seem to speak from a script and when I asked them [several times] why they have a disability assessment centre with NO car park? NO wheelchair accessible parking spaces? or why is the assessments are held on the 2nd floor? I'm met with nonchalance or silence.

A relative [on a recent trip to Birmingham] kindly took photographs from every angle of the Capita Assessment Centre at Gateway House, High St, Birmingham and reiterated my concerns about access to the building and no parking for a wheelchair user, if you want the photographs I will gladly email them to you, please provide me with an email address.

Since I can't get any sense out of Capita, I have no choice but to ask you for the answers I need.
So my questions to you are thus:

1) Why are you allowing Capita to hold disability assessments in a building where there is NO car park or parking spaces suitable for wheelchair users? Surely this contravenes the The Disability Discrimination Act?
2) Why are you allowing Capita to hold disability assessments on the second floor of a building? - surely this is a fire risk for wheelchair-bound people?
3) What measures does Capita have in place for wheelchair users that have to go to the second floor in the event of:
[i] a lift breakdown?
[ii] powercut?
[iii] Fire?
[iv] Medical emergency?
4) Is the monumental task of getting to the assessment centre a set-up [to fail] test for physically disabled people? to see if they can get there? As my husband can't access the building - never mind get to the second floor.
5) Why are you sending people up to 50 miles [in my husband's case] to a city we don't know with not so much as directions to get the assessment centre from travel points in Birmingham e.g. from New Street Station or the major bus stations or is this to give a patient 0 points on the 'going out' descriptor.?
6) Why are Capita et al doing everything they can to deny home assessments even when a GP agrees to one [in writing]?
7) Who do you claim for your money back for the cost of a GPs letter [for a home assessment]
8) Who do you claim for your money back for the cost of your medical notes?
For forms & appeals? is it Capita [et al] or the DWP directly?

Yours faithfully,

D Robinson

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D Robinson left an annotation ()

ahh it didn't take long to find information about this problem.
http://www.walsalladvertiser.co.uk/disba...
Ironically my husband was offered an alternative appointment here!
It just beggars belief!
I will be adding links of the photos that my relative sent me of Birmingham's assessment of when I download them to my PC

C Robinson left an annotation ()

After a 100-mile round trip on public transport and 1 hour walking around trying to find the place, you are sent no map or details how to find the place when you are in Birmingham.
I am able bodied and I was out of the house for 8 hours, it took 2 trains and 4 buses to get there.
I managed to find Capita's assessment centre and it has no disabled access whatsoever, please look at these photos to see how bad it is,
There is NO car park
There is NO assessable car parking spaces
There are tram and bus lanes everywhere
I went up to the offices and they wouldn't help me at reception, I must admit the two guards tried to help me.
There is NO disabled access through the door, you have to ring a bell and get through the door with your wheel chair, the door isn't automatic.
There is NO way I can get my disabled spouse to this place, they had to get an ambulance the day I was there see photos.

https://www.flickr.com/photos/158258006@...
https://www.flickr.com/photos/158258006@...
https://www.flickr.com/photos/158258006@...
https://www.flickr.com/photos/158258006@...
https://www.flickr.com/photos/158258006@...
https://www.flickr.com/photos/158258006@...
https://www.flickr.com/photos/158258006@...
https://www.flickr.com/photos/158258006@...
https://www.flickr.com/photos/158258006@...
https://www.flickr.com/photos/158258006@...
https://www.flickr.com/photos/158258006@...
https://www.flickr.com/photos/158258006@...

D Robinson left an annotation ()

I have been through hell with Capita trying to get my spouse's assessment rescheduled and it's like talking to a brick wall and every time I call it's a different set of lies.
I asked one Capita employee what happens to my spouse if there's a fire and they have to evacuate the building? He nonchantly replied that it's not his problem and they still have to go to the assessment.
In the meantime I am going to get in touch with the Fire Brigade and ask them about the laws regarding making wheelchair bound people have assessments on the 2nd floor.
Please be assured I have recorded all verbal and written communication with Capita should they refute my accusations.

DWP Health Services Correspondence, Department for Work and Pensions

1 Attachment

Dear D Robinson,
 
Please see our response to your recent Freedom of Information request.
 
Yours sincerely
 
DWP Health Services Correspondence Team
 
 

Dear Department for Work and Pensions,

Please pass this on to the person who conducts Freedom of Information reviews.
First of all please except my apologies for my very late reply, I am a carer of two disabled people, one of them is my spouse and at the moment my husband is battling cancer [as well as his other disabilities and heart problems] and I have very little time to go online.

I am writing to request an internal review of Department for Work and Pensions's handling of my FOI request 'Why is There No Disabled Access or Parking at Capita's Birmingham PIP Assessment Centre'.
you state in reply question 1
'The Personal Independence Payment (PIP) Assessment Providers are required to consider
the needs of claimants such as proximity to public transport routes and access to suitable
parking e.g. Blue badge parking (there is no requirement in the specification to provide on-site
parking). '
I will reiterate again, there is NO disabled parking outside or around the building, so how are your Assessment Providers "considering the needs of claimants" such as proximity to public transport routes and access to suitable parking, we were NOT given any maps whatsoever and my spouse's illness is too severe to travel on public transport and even if he could, there's NO public transport from our home [50 miles from the centre]
you state in reply question 2
'.While all assessment centres meet accessibility standards, where access to assessment
rooms is via a lift there are health and safety implications in the event of a fire if claimants cannot
use the stairs. Documentation sent with the appointment letter makes it clear if the assessment
room is not on a ground floor. If a claimant believes they will have any difficulties attending their
appointment they should discuss this with the Assessment Provider as soon as possible using
the contact details on the appointment letter. '
Let me address these inaccuracies you state: "where access to assessment rooms is via a lift there are health and safety implications in the event of a fire if claimants cannot use the stairs." Fire danger is why I wrote this FOI in the first place. But it does not address why you are forcing physically disabled people to go to this place? Knowing it is a fire risk.
Also we weren't given any other option: Our GP wrote a letter recommending a home assessment because it was a one-hundred mile round trip to Capita's PIP assessment centre in Birmingham and my partner is profoundly-physically disabled, with heart problems, breathing difficulties and cancer.
The DWP denied getting the letter - even though we sent it via special delivery and I tracked the letter all the way - they point blank denied over and over receiving the letter. I phoned the DWP many times and they said I had to phone Capita and when I phoned them they said it was nothing to do with them I had to get back to the DWP, one call to a premium phone number cost over £5. We asked over & over for:
1) a home assessment
2) a closer assessment centre [which there is one 16 miles from us]
and over & over we were denied, I have recordings of all the phone calls as proof.
you state in reply question 3
The contracts awarded by DWP to carry out PIP assessments, state that all sites must be
compliant with the Equality Act 2010 with suitable ground floor consultation rooms available.
Consultation rooms must be fitted with the equipment necessary to facilitate the consultation of
claimants with mobility issues, as well as appropriately sized waiting and reception areas.
Before attending a face-to-face consultation claimants will be given the opportunity to alert their
Assessment Provider of any additional requirements they may have. The Assessment Provider
will try and meet any such reasonable requests. Under guidelines developed by the DWP
PRIME contractor, for the safe evacuation of premises in the event of an emergency, lifts cannot
be used during an evacuation and therefore claimants who have mobility problems/limitations
and cannot use the stairs without being at risk to them, or other building occupants are excluded
from access to areas above the ground floor.
If this is the case then you are contravening your own rules because:
1) NO suitable ground floor consultation rooms are ever available at Birmingham, because another company is on the ground floor of Gateway House.
2) We alerted the DWP and Capita over & over of my spouse's needs and you ignored them all, you did however, warn us over and over again to close the case if we didn't turn up!
3) If lifts cannot be used during an evacuation and therefore claimants who have mobility problems/limitations and cannot use the stairs without being at risk to them, WHY are you forcing physically disabled people to go there?
you state in reply question 5
"This system uses the claimant’s home location and Capita assessment centre
locations to generate an appointment that is compliant with DWP requirements, i.e. within 90
minutes travel via public transport (one way). The system automatically produces a set of travel
directions for the claimant to follow based on the public transport available; Claimants are
directed to contact Capita in their appointment letter, if they want to make any changes to the
appointment they have been offered. "
it takes a lot longer than 90 mins to get to your assessment [Birmingham] centre as an able-bodied person, so how can a person with my spouse's disabilities do this trip in 90 minutes? And yes I did do the journey by public transport to prove a point. No maps/direction/transport information was sent to us with the appointment, so you do not provide travel directions. We tried to make changes to the appointment and every request fell on 'deaf ears',
i.e.
1) a home assessment
2) a closer assessment centre [which there is one 16 miles from us]

so no you aren't allowed any changes.
you state in reply question 6

Claimants do not have a right to a home consultation.
I concede you have rules concerning this, but, even when you have grounds for one, you
1) Deny them
2) Deny getting the home consultation recommendation from your doctor/specialist
• "at the claimant's request, if the assessor agrees that their health condition or
disability means they are unable to travel; " We had a GPs letter requesting a home assessment on health grounds and still we were denied a home assessment and you got the letter in good time because it was sent via special delivery, you just denied getting it.
• "when the claimant provides confirmation from a healthcare professional who supports them that indicates they are unable to travel on health grounds; we did this see above.

you state in reply question 7/8

"It is important to note that reports requested from GPs by their patients is not a DWP
requirement and GPs are therefore able to charge for these."
Why are you putting claimants in a 'Catch 22' situation? i.e. You need proof of a home assessment and have to pay a doctor for a letter confirming such?
You stated: "The Freedom of Information Act is not a complaint mechanism. If you are not happy about the
service provided by Capita you should submit a complaint" I am university educated and I know how the FOI system works, notwithstanding the former, anger and frustration does come across because [especially in my case] people are at their wits end and can't get any response when they contact the DWP/Capita and I have made complaints [e.g. I have reported one of your assessors to the NMC and neither you nor Capita wanted to know], suffice to say, if I want to rant at someone I'd contact one of the disabled groups who'd give me a listening ear.
Perhaps if you addressed peoples' complaints/enquiries then the FOI's would fall through the floor, and that's not a complaint it's just constructive criticism.
In conclusion: can you address the wheelchair access to the Birmingham Assessment centre and provide ground floor assessment rooms?

A full history of my FOI request and all correspondence is available on the Internet at this address: https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/w...

Yours faithfully,

D Robinson

DWP freedom-of-information-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.
 
Should you have any further queries in connection with this request do
please contact us.
 
For further information on the Freedom of Information Act within DWP
please click on the link below.
 
[1]http://www.dwp.gov.uk/freedom-of-informa...
 

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References

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DWP Health Services Correspondence, Department for Work and Pensions

1 Attachment

Dear D Robinson,
 
Please see our response to your recent request for an Internal Review.
 
Yours sincerely
 
Correspondence Team
Contracted Health and Employment Services
 

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