Disability Rights Tribunal Support Adviser Robbie Spence was asked to be on a panel for Welfare Reform UK's "Getting to know ... PIP" event at which Esther McVey MP, Minister for Disabled People was a speaker. This blog contains his thoughts on the day as well as some information on PIP which you may be interested to know.
|Esther McVey speaks at the Getting to Know...PIP event|
- I asked Esther McVey to confirm that the 0800 917 2222 PIP claim line will be cost-free via mobile phones as well as landlines and she said she thought so but would get her ministerial aide to check and let the conference know. (I’ve since been told that all DWP 0800 numbers are cost-free on Orange.)
- I asked the DWP a question that had been posed by Macmillan nurses dealing with "terminal illness" cases who were worried about the rule that PIP claims must be made by claimants themselves or, if not, then at least by someone who is in their presence. This would be a problem for patients who are deemed unready to be told that they are terminally ill. Sue Pullen of DWP stated that this was the one case where callers could claim on behalf of claimants who are not present during the call.
- IncomeMax use a lot of conference call technology in their casework and asked if the DWP could handle calls to their PIP claim line in this way. Sue Pullen of DWP wasn’t sure but said she’d check and let the conference know.
- Advice agencies were concerned about the four-week time limit for claimants to complete and return their ‘how your disability affects you’ form. It’s a reduction from the six weeks that you get for DLA. Furthermore advisers helping DLA claimants whose time is running out frequently get granted extensions of time. Sue Pullen confirmed that DWP would grant extensions of two weeks as a matter of course, when asked, but anything longer would require the claimant to show ‘good cause’.
- Haqeeq from Capita discussed the steps that Capita is taking to ensure that their medical assessors have an information resource on a wide variety of impairments and health conditions. It reminded me of the DWP’s A-Z of health conditions and, knowing how that has sometimes failed to keep pace with new medications, etc, I asked him if the Capita resource would be put in the public domain so that disabled people can see what Capita is saying about their conditions. Unfortunately he couldn’t confirm this.
- On the subject of how far assessors will go to root out the medical evidence they need, I asked Haqeeq from Capita about the contractual condition imposed on Capita and Atos that they won’t get paid unless they produce an assessment report in 30 days. Would the 30-day clock stop ticking while they were waiting for third party medical evidence to come back? He was unable to give that assurance – although it was pointed out that the 30 days are working days so they are actually six weeks.
- On the subject of how transparent the assessment should be, while PIP scores aren’t set out on the claim form, Sue Pullen said the DWP notifications (decision letters) would list activities, descriptors and scores.