Are the PIP (Personal Independence Payment) and ESA (Employment Support Allowance) assessments working well?

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Photo by Northern Ireland Executive CC BY-ND 2.0
29 September, 2017
The Work and Pensions Committee has launched an inquiry into the effectiveness of Personal Independence Payments (PIP) and Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) assessments. Voluntary, community and social enterprise (VCSE) organisations and their service-users can engage with this process in a variety of ways: from leaving a comment on the web forum, to submitting written evidence.
The inquiry follows the Government’s announcement during the last Parliament that they intended to restrict the number of people who qualify for PIP - which would limit the cost by £3.7 billion. In response, the Committee collected evidence around people's experiences of PIP and ESA. This raised concerns around: 
  • The worrying disparities between the applicants’ memory of what was said and done during the assessment process and the final report produced to enable the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) to make a decision about their case;
  • ‘About the contractor assessors’ ability to understand and properly assess a wide range of physical and mental health conditions’; and,
  • ‘About the dignity and conduct of the assessment processes’.
Additionally, the most recent data shows that there is a high rate of overturn for appeals: PIP and ESA claimants successfully appealed against their decision in 65% of cases. There has also been a 29% increase in the number of appeals being registered since this time last year.
They are now looking to improve the assessment process by gathering evidence from people who have experience of the assessments and those that work with them.
How can the VCSE sector get involved?
The Work and Pensions Committee wants to hear from people who have been affected by the PIP and ESA assessment process, along with organisations or individuals are close to the issues – this includes VCSE organisations. 
The idea is to recommend ways to improve the assessment process for each individual and build on common lessons that can be learned from the two processes’. 
As a sector, many of us work closely with service users who are either directly affected, or are close to those that have experience of the PIP or ESA benefits system.
VCSE organisations are encouraged to advocate on behalf of their service users, and to support service users themselves to participate. Human stories are the most compelling way of changing hearts and minds, so it is important to include the voices of your service users in your submission.
Submitting your evidence
The quickest way to submit evidence is through the web forum: you simply post your name, email address and a short comment.
You can also send a written submission. It is recommended you read the background and guidelines first. Click here to submit written evidence.
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