DWP refuses to end "informal observations" for PIP

The DWP has so far refused to end its practice of assessing claimants walking ability on the basis they could get to their assessment. This practice is unfair because claimants are also told that if they don't reach the assessment they will not get PIP.  Faced with this choice claimants who are unaware of the DWP's obligation to make reasonable adjustments will tend to drag themselves to the consulting room in pain only to then find out that this is taken to mean they have walking ability better than the level needed to get PIP mobility. The DWP calls assessors secretly watching claimants get from car parks to the consulting room "informal observations". In a letter to me the DWP says it will not end the practice because claimants "have the opportunity to make the HCP aware" [of the problems they had getting to the consulting room]. This does not tend to have any impact on such "evidence" routinely being used to disallow PIP mobility claims, however, and so we'll continue to challenge this unfair practice. If you're in this situation remember if you can't reasonably reach the proposed consulting venue, even with a taxi arranged by the assessor, then a home visit must be provided.  You can find template letters here.

Independent Case Examiner highlights DWP destroys documents

The DWP has sought to defend a number of my complaints cases by saying it can't investigate due to documents having been destroyed. Anyone who runs any service involving personal information knows that it's essential to keep records for at least 6 years. The ICE Annual Report highlights the issue,

"Complaints with document retention issues as an underpinning factor have also emerged as a theme this year. Despite there being clear guidance about the timescales for retaining information, failure to follow this guidance has led to evidence being destroyed prematurely,which in turn has on occasion severely hindered our ability to conduct a thorough investigation. In the absence of all the information that should be available, it falls to the Independent Case Examiner to determine what is most likely to have happened in a particular scenario".

A cover-up?