As most of us are aware, face-to-face assessments for Personal Independence Payment (PIP) and other healthcare benefits have been suspended since March and the onset of the Covid 19 pandemic.
In its place telephone and paper-based assessments have been used to determine how much support a claimant needs which in turn, influences the award, if any, somebody receives.
Taking questions from the Work and Pensions Committee on how the DWP will continue to respond to coronavirus over the coming months – including PIP assessments, Thérèse Coffey, Secretary of State for Work and Pensions was asked how the telephone and paper-based assessment process was working and if they were considering changing to video conferencing any time soon?
Ms Coffey responded somewhat vaguely: “In terms of going forward, we’re still working on some plans in that regard and I’m not at the stage yet where we can share exactly what it is we’re going to be doing …”
Neil Coyle, Labour MP for Bermondsey and Old Southwark then asked what the DWP was going to do in the long-term about “tackling the complexity of the assessment process and other barriers that seem to prevent disabled people from accessing support.”
Once again Ms Coffey was unable to give a clear answer saying that it was part of a policy formulation that the DWP is still working on and hopes to publish … er, soon.
So, there we are, yet another Secretary of State for Work and Pensions unable to say what it is they are actually doing, or to give a clear answer to any questions raised … nothing new there then!