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ESA reviews/WCA's suspended for current claimants for 2 years

edited 26 February 2014 at 5:23PM in Disability Money Matters
36 replies 16.5K views
MorglinMorglin Forumite
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edited 26 February 2014 at 5:23PM in Disability Money Matters
B&W site has obtained this info, under a FOI request:

"In an urgent memo obtained by Benefits and Work, the DWP have told staff that due to a growing backlog at Atos all current employment and support allowance (ESA) claimants will be left on the benefit, without further medical checks, until another company can be found to do repeat work capability assessments (WCAs). The memo, dated 20 January, goes on to say that this will reduce the number of claimants moving off ESA, but that there are no plans to inform claimants or MPs about the change.

Benefits and Work obtained the memo from the DWP via a Freedom of Information request. It is headed: ‘FOR URGENT CASCADE. Control of the Referral of Repeat work Capability Assessments’.

The memo explains that back in July a ministerial statement announced that:
“in the drive to continually improve the Work Capability Assessment process and bring down waiting times for claimants, DWP had decided to seek additional capacity to deliver Work Capability Assessments.
“We are working towards having new provision in place – it will of course take some time for that to become fully operational.”

However, the memo goes on to explain that:
“The number of cases currently with Atos Healthcare has grown. A decision has therefore been taken to control the referral of repeat work capability assessments. Therefore, with effect from 20 January 2014, further routine repeat assessments referrals to Atos will be deferred until further notice.
“Controlling the volume of repeat Work Capability Assessments should help us to reduce delays for new claimants and those that have already been referred.”

The memo goes on to say that staff must still refer claimants for reassessment where there has been a reported change in condition, giving the example of a claimant placed in the Work Related Activity Group whose condition worsens and who might be expected to move into the Support Group.

Aside from this, however, reassessment of existing claimants is to end until further notice, with no new cases being referred to Atos from 20th January.

The memo is keen to point out that the decision to stop repeat assessments by Atos is not ‘linked to the quality issues outlined in July 2013’ which the DWP ‘has been working closely with Atos to resolve’. It also reassures readers that the change will have no impact on Atos’ ability to carry out personal independence payment assessments.

It does, however, admit that the result of the change is that the number of people coming off ESA each month will reduce because:
“the Work Capability Assessment is the main trigger for off-flows from the Employment and Support Allowance load. We will continue to assess the potential for alternative interventions on those whose repeat Work Capability Assessments are deferred to seek to manage this consequence.”

No details of what those ‘alternative interventions’ might be is given.

It is clear, however, that the DWP is not keen for people to be aware of the ever more disastrous state of medical assessments for benefits by Atos. The memo explains that claimants who enquire about when their next WCA will be, should only be told that:

“Although the Department will periodically review a person’s Limited Capability for Work, there is no set date for this to happen.

“The timing of this review is at the discretion of the Decision Maker acting on behalf of the Secretary of State and is influenced by the evidence available to them, which can mean on occasion longer periods between face to face assessments. “

In addition, the memo explains that as this is simply an ‘operational decision’ and not a ‘policy change’ there are no plans to notify ‘external stakeholders such as claimants, claimant representative groups, Members of Parliament, etc.’

It is hard to imagine that IDS and his fellow DWP ministers believed that they could keep this further Atos-related failure secret for long: you can’t stop reassessing thousands of claimants a week without anyone noticing. If, however, they could have kept it secret at least until they found a new company to take on the repeat assessments, it would have been easier to explain away and not added to the ever mounting pressure for a complete overhaul of the WCA.

As it is, this news is simply further proof that the WCA is not fit for purpose, because as soon as the DWP attempts to impose proper quality controls a massive backlog results. It is, we hope, another nail in the coffin of a completely discredited system.

And, for all those claimants with static or degenerative conditions who continue to be forced to undergo repeat assessments, often followed by repeat appeals, on an annual basis, the news will come as a welcome respite".

http://www.benefitsandwork.co.uk/news/2645-all-repeat-wca-medicals-to-be-stopped

Lin :)
You can tell a lot about a woman by her hands..........for instance, if they are placed around your throat, she's probably slightly upset. ;)
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  • Not inform MP's very worrying, who do the DWP think they are?!

    Anyway everyone knows now, very naive of them, if they thought they could keep it quiet!

    The whole thing has failed because of the ticking boxes mentality and everyone fits one box. Like the name itself Employment Support which is causing everyone now to believe the bile that ALL can work. Even if they can, try getting the "Support" to do it!

    ATOS have really come good in the end by pulling out I think, because they didn't create the boxes and system in the first place.

    It's the culture of everyone believing most people are faking illness and disability because they don't want to work, the media have played a massive part in this. The genuine claimants have really suffered as a result of it all.
    Think of all the beauty still left around you and be happy - Anne Frank :A
  • cattermole wrote: »
    Not inform MP's very worrying, who do the DWP think they are?!

    Not when you consider who's running the department!!
  • SailorSamSailorSam Forumite
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    My appeal date is coming up next month, at least if i win they may not drag me through all this again.
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  • This is an absolute scandal that IDS tries to keep this secret from Parliament and MPs.

    Millions of public money has been wasted at a time of national austerity. As well as IT systems being a fiasco (40 million plus written off), and the rollout of Universal Credit a fiasco compared to the promises (cost 2 billion now estimated to be maybe 13 billion), commitments before the Parliamentary Committees repeatedly broken etc. And the only thing they can come up with is to mis-inform and try to cover up the failure.
  • In a different age this would be a resigning issue for IDS
    for us i suspect that once sorted the back-log will be the issue
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  • And now ATOS has been awarded the contract for farming NHS data.

    Just when we thought PIP was the last of the ATOS related fiasco's out comes another one!
  • marleyboymarleyboy Forumite
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    VERY interesting post OP, cheers. ;)
    :A:dance:1+1+1=1:dance::A
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  • MorglinMorglin Forumite
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    925dancer wrote: »
    And now ATOS has been awarded the contract for farming NHS data.

    Just when we thought PIP was the last of the ATOS related fiasco's out comes another one!


    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/health/healthnews/10661359/Atos-awarded-contract-for-NHS-records.html

    As far as ATOS go, to be honest, with benefits, I think it's the system that's wrong, and ATOS have just become the government's barrier to taking any blame!

    Lin :)
    You can tell a lot about a woman by her hands..........for instance, if they are placed around your throat, she's probably slightly upset. ;)
  • edited 26 February 2014 at 3:10PM
    MorglinMorglin Forumite
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    edited 26 February 2014 at 3:10PM
    According to new piece of info from Benefit and Work, ALL reviews, affected by this, will be suspended for two years, from when they were due to take place (so, if someone was due to be reviewed March 2014, it will now be March 2016, at the earliest.).

    Of course, any claimant can still request a review, if they think they are in the wrong group, as now, and new claims and IB transfers will go ahead as normal

    I cannot link from an IPad, but the link is on the thread on Benefits and Tax Credits, or in the news section of Benefit and Work site.

    Lin :)
    You can tell a lot about a woman by her hands..........for instance, if they are placed around your throat, she's probably slightly upset. ;)
  • edited 1 March 2014 at 1:51PM
    MorglinMorglin Forumite
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    edited 1 March 2014 at 1:51PM
    Today's news from B&W:


    Whole of today's article from B&W:

    Repeat ESA medicals deferred for two years

    Created on Wednesday, 26 February 2014 10:58




    Benefits and Work has received information from a DWP insider claiming that people who are due to have their employment and support allowance (ESA) award reassessed in the coming months will now have that assessment deferred for a full two years.

    On Monday we broke the news that current employment and support allowance (ESA) claimants will be left on the benefit, without further medical checks, until another company can be found to carry out repeat work capability assessments (WCAs). The DWP stopped referring claimants to Atos for repeat medicals with effect from 20 January 2014.

    The change does not apply to IB to ESA transfers or to people who report a change of circumstances, such as a worsening of their condition.

    It will also not apply to anyone who has already been referred to Atos or to those who have made a new claim for ESA, as those assessments will still take place. (*Transfers from IB and SDA will also carry on on, as normal)

    Benefits and Work has now received further information from a mole within the DWP on how deferment works. Whilst we cannot verify the identity of the individual, they clearly had access to the DWP memo which Benefits and Work obtained, as they were aware of details which we did not publish.

    One unpublished section of the memo states that:
    “Scans will be run from 18 January to identify and defer Employment and Support Allowance repeat referrals. The impact of this should be seen from 20 January.
    “The scans will be managed centrally and will result in a reduction in the number of Work Available Reports.”

    The DWP mole informs us that the scan has caused reassessments due in late January through February to be moved on by two years. The same scan is due to be run each month throughout the year. Each time, all those due to be reassessed will be given a two year deferral. So someone due to be sent back to Atos on 1 February 2014, for example, will not now be re-examined until 1 February 2016.

    The revelation is clear evidence of just how long the DWP really expects it to take to clear the massive backlog of WCAs built up under Atos.

    It is also evidence of the extreme heartlessness of the DWP. The memo in question makes it clear that claimants should not be told about the deferral of their reassessment. Instead, the intention is to leave people for years dreading that brown envelope dropping through their letterbox and constantly wondering why it hasn't arrived yet."

    http://www.benefitsandwork.co.uk/new...-for-two-years

    Lin :)
    You can tell a lot about a woman by her hands..........for instance, if they are placed around your throat, she's probably slightly upset. ;)
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