Month: July 2019
The disability benefit assessment system is being undermined by a “pervasive culture of mistrust”, fuelled by widespread claims that assessors are deliberately trying to prevent disabled people receiving the support they are entitled to, according to a committee of MPs.The long-awaited report by the Commons work and pensions committee describes how many claimants of personal independence payment (PIP) and employment and support allowance (ESA) have reported dishonesty by the healthcare professionals who have carried out their face-to-face assessments.The report says the culture of mistrust this has produced means that assessors “risk being viewed as, at best lacking in competence and at worst, actively deceitful”.The committee’s report substantiates evidence provided by hundreds of disabled people who have contacted Disability News Service (DNS) over the last 15 months to describe the dishonesty of the healthcare professionals who assessed them.A separate report published earlier in the week includes examples from the “unprecedented” response from claimants who had submitted evidence to the committee, with nearly 4,000 submissions.The committee says this response was “remarkable” in the “consistency of the themes that emerged”, including claims that assessment reports “bore little or no relation to their circumstances or what had occurred during the assessment”.Claimants, said the committee, “do not believe assessors can be trusted to record what took place during the assessment accurately”.One example quoted by the committee comes from Mary, a PIP claimant who first told her story last year to DNS (she was named ‘Elizabeth’ by DNS).She told the committee how the assessor wrote in her report that she “arose from the chair without any difficulty” when in fact she “was in bed the whole time (she let herself in) and I only have the one chair in the room and she was sitting in it”.Another who submitted evidence said: “I did most of the talking as my partner was drowsy with his medication, but in the statement with the PIP decision [it said that] my partner was chatty. Completely untrue.”A third claimant told the committee: “I was attacked with a deadly weapon only a short time before my assessment. “The man threatened my life, on a walk with my dog. So the assessor wrote that I like to talk to people on my walk.”A fourth claimant said: “The assessor claimed in the report to have completed an extensive examination of me during the assessment.“She listed a breakdown of her observations regarding the movement of all my limbs and joints.“In reality though my assessment was only fifteen minutes long and the assessor didn’t examine me at all.”The committee calls in its report for the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) to improve trust in the system by offering the opportunity for all face-to-face assessments to be audio recorded, and by providing a copy of the written assessment report to all claimants.The evidence provided to DNS helped persuade the committee last year to investigate what Frank Field, the committee’s chair, described as “concerning reports about the operation of the PIP assessment process”.He later said that DNS had “provided us with a useful series of case studies that acted as a further catalyst” for calling an emergency evidence session last March, which subsequently led to the launch of the inquiry.The committee had appeared last year to be trying to avoid discussing allegations of dishonesty that had been raised by DNS, refusing to ask welfare rights experts about such claims in the urgent evidence session, and then neglecting to raise the issue of dishonesty in a letter seeking further evidence about the PIP assessment process.But the sheer weight of the allegations submitted by PIP claimants appears to have convinced the committee that these claims were valid, even if there was no explicit statement in this week’s report that the MPs believed there was dishonesty in the assessment process.Despite the role played by DNS in persuading the committee to investigate the PIP assessment process, neither Field, nor Heidi Allen, the senior Conservative member of the committee – the two MPs who were said to be available for interviews – agreed to talk to DNS this week.A spokeswoman for the committee declined to say if the refusal to be interviewed was connected with DNS reports that have criticised Field and his colleagues.Those reports questioned why they failed to ask the minister for disabled people about figures suggesting attempted suicides among people claiming out-of-work disability benefits may have doubled between 2007 and 2014, following the introduction of the work capability assessment, which tests eligibility for ESA.In response to the committee’s report, a DWP spokeswoman said: “As the [committee] highlights, assessments work for the majority of people, with 83 per cent of ESA claimants and 76 per cent of PIP claimants telling us that they’re happy with their overall experience.“However, our aim has to be that every person feels they are treated fairly, with respect and dignity.“We are committed to continuously improving the experience of our claimants; that is why we’ve commissioned five independent reviews of the work capability assessment – accepting over 100 recommendations – and two independent reviews of PIP assessments.“We continue to work closely with our providers to ensure people receive high quality assessments, and are exploring options around recordings to promote greater transparency and trust.”
Tags:Labour /Liveblog /Vote /Jeremy Corbyn /Brexit /Brexit amendments / Tonight, from 7pm, the House of Commons will debate and vote on the government’s Brexit motion – and, more crucially, on seven amendments.These amendments, selected earlier today by Speaker Bercow, will each be either dismissed or approved by MPs (unless withdrawn) before the main motion is considered.The backbench proposals represent a wide range of opinion on the best outcome of the Brexit process, ranging from Article 50 extension to dropping the backstop in favour of “alternative arrangements”.Although the Labour frontbench is backing five of the seven amendments, it is unclear how many will pass. Even the government and DUP-endorsed amendment could struggle. Cooper, b), and Brady, n), are the key ones to look out for tonight.
ROYCE Simmons paid tribute to a “courageous effort” as Saints came from 16-0 down to draw with Wigan Warriors on Saturday.Tries from Jon Wilkin, Tony Puletua and Francis Meli gave his side a share of the spoils in their first hit out of the new season.“We showed a lot of determination in those dying stages but we didn’t play too smart either,” Simmons said. “We didn’t get the right field position and missed a lot of opportunities. In fact at times I was unsure what particular plan we were playing to!“But we hung on in there. Before the game we had to make a few changes. Gary Wheeler has been training in pre-season in the centres and Kyle hasn’t had a lot of time on the training pitch. Lee Gaskell and Leon Pryce have had the time on the field but both are injured.“Kyle had 80 mins and will get better from this run out. We didn’t break down in courageous area though and that is a good sign.”He continued: “We were held up over line in first half on a number of occasions on that was playing on the boys’ confidence a little bit. At half-time I just asked them to play things a little simpler and play off our hookers more. That’s what we did and it probably jagged us a point.“James Roby was fantastic and kept us going and I thought Scott Moore was good too.”Both sides had opportunities to win it at the end as Sam Tomkins was wide with a drop-goal effort has was Saints’ Kyle Eastmond.Royce though, was pleased with a point.“Their defence was fantastic but our attack wasn’t what it should have been.“I was happy with the point and we’ll build from there.”
FOLLOWING a number of player withdrawals, Exiles coach Daniel Anderson has today named a revised 17-man squad, including new addition Epalahame Lauaki of Wigan Warriors, for the match against England at Langtree Park on Saturday June 16 (6.45pm).Brett Finch and George Carmont of Wigan Warriors, Lopini Paea and Louis Anderson of Catalan Dragons plus Warrington Wolves’ Michael Monaghan and Luke O’Donnell of Huddersfield Giants have been withdrawn from the squad due to injury.Commenting on the revised squad, Exiles assistant coach Mike Rush said: “You’re always going to get this, I’m sure England are in the same predicament.“Players are always going to get bumps and bruises on the weekend leading up to a training camp. We haven’t got time to see how all those bumps and bruises will settle down, we need to get straight into it now.“The 17 players we’ve got in camp now are really looking forward to it and are really up for it. This will hopefully give Steve Mac’s lads the run-out that they need and it’ll be a fantastic fixture for all the players preparing for the World Cup next year”.Rush added that the Exiles have no intention of making it easy for England: “That’s not our job, our job is to make it as hard as possible and get a win,” he said.“Both teams of course want to win this series but only one of them can. The size of the pack that we’ve got here and the athleticism of these players makes it an exciting prospect.”He also agreed that the addition of Epalahame Lauaki from Wigan is a bonus in terms of power: “Lauaki is another big man. We’re blessed with big men in the middle of the field but we have to use them in the right way.”Tickets for the opening fixture at Langtree Park, St Helens, on Saturday June 16 (6.45pm) cost from £18 (£9 concessions) for standing and £21 (£10 concessions) seating. They can be bought from the ticket office at Langtree Park or by logging on here.Exiles Squad:Anthony Laffranchi, Antonio Kaufusi, Brett Hodgson, Daryl Millard, David Faiumu, Epalahame Lauaki, Francis Meli, Jeff Lima, Joel Monaghan, Lance Hohaia, Scott Dureau, Setaimata Sa, Sia Soliola, Thomas Leuluai, Tony Puletua, Trent Waterhouse, Willie Manu.
SAINTS have named their 19-man squad for Friday’s First Utility Super League Round Twelve clash with Widnes Vikings.Mark Percival returns but Lance Hohaia misses out through injury.In a late change Mark Flanagan has also been replaced by Jon Wilkin.Keiron Cunningham will select his 17 from:2. Tommy Makinson, 3. Jordan Turner, 4. Josh Jones, 5. Adam Swift, 6. Travis Burns, 7. Luke Walsh, 8. Mose Masoe, 9. James Roby, 10. Kyle Amor, 12. Jon Wilkin, 13. Louie McCarthy-Scarsbrook, 14. Alex Walmsley, 17. Mark Percival. 18. Luke Thompson, 19. Greg Richards, 25. Andre Savelio, 26. Lewis Charnock, 28. Jack Ashworth, 30. Matty Fleming.Denis Betts will choose his Widnes side from:1. Rhys Hanbury, 3. Cameron Phelps, 4. Stefan Marsh, 5. Patrick Ah Van, 6. Kevin Brown, 7. Joe Mellor, 8. Eamon O’Carroll, 9. Lloyd White, 10. Manase Manuokafoa, 11. Danny Galea, 14. Chris Dean, 15. Jack Owens, 16. Willie Isa, 23. Phil Joseph, 24. Macgraff Leuluai, 25. Alex Gerrard, 28. Matt Whitley, 33. Aaron Heremaia, 35. Gil Dudson.The game kicks off at 8pm and the referee will be Phil Bentham.For ticket details please click here.