• Watchdog orders DWP to publish secret reports on Atos and Capita PIP failings

    The information commissioner has ordered the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) to release documents that are likely to expose the widespread failings of two of its disability benefit assessment contractors.

    DWP has been attempting to prevent the documents being released since receiving a Freedom of Information Act request from campaigner John Slater in December 2016.

    He said the documents – if and when they are eventually released – will reveal the truth about what DWP knows about Atos and Capita.

    Last month, the two outsourcing companies, which are paid hundreds of millions of pounds to carry out personal independence payment (PIP) assessments, told members of the Commons work and pensions committee that they had never met contractual quality standards on the reports their staff write for DWP.

    The documents Slater has been seeking could provide further evidence of such failings, and fuel campaigners’ fears that Atos and Capita have been told by DWP to find a certain proportion of claimants ineligible for PIP.

    Under the terms of their contracts to assess claimants across England, Wales and Scotland for their eligibility for PIP, Atos and Capita must provide monthly reports to DWP that cover “all aspects of quality, including performance and complaints”.

    The reports include detailed “management information”, including the number of complaints made against assessors, what proportion of assessments led to claimants meeting the PIP criteria, and the average length of time taken for face-to-face assessments.

    Slater, who works in programme and project management when he is not campaigning on issues around freedom of information, had asked DWP to provide copies of these reports for every month of 2016.

    He told Disability News Service that the reports would provide “raw data” on the companies’ performance, before DWP “has had a chance to massage it”.

    He said: “I suspect what they will show is not only that the contractors are struggling but also how bad DWP is at managing contracts.”

    DWP has continued to try to block Slater’s request, initially claiming that it did not hold the information he had requested, before arguing that releasing the monthly reports would prejudice the “commercial interests” of Atos and Capita.

    It later told the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) that releasing the information “will give rise to items being taken out of context… [and] will be misinterpreted in ways that could lead to reputational damage to both the Department and the PIP Providers”, and would “prejudice the efficient conduct of public affairs” by DWP.

    It also warned ICO that the information could be “maliciously misinterpreted to feed the narrative that the Department imposes ‘targets’ for the outcomes of assessments”.

    But ICO has now dismissed those arguments and has ordered DWP to release the reports, although it could now appeal against this decision to the information rights tribunal.

    ICO concluded that it “has not been satisfied that disclosing the withheld information would be likely to damage the commercial standing of Atos and Capita” and “has not been persuaded by the DWP that it could not provide the necessary explanation, or context, to avoid misunderstandings”.

    ICO also ruled that DWP had breached the Freedom of Information Act by initially failing to say within 20 working days whether it held the information Slater had requested.

    Slater has a similar appeal being dealt with by ICO relating to management information reports provided to DWP by Maximus, the contractor that carries out work capability assessments on its behalf.

    Bob Ellard, a member of the national steering group of Disabled People Against Cuts, said: “The information commissioner’s ruling that the DWP must comply with John Slater’s freedom of information request on the performance information on the PIP contract is potentially very significant for disability campaigners.

    “If the DWP cannot find a way to block or dodge this request (and they will try very hard to do this) this disclosure could reveal the full extent of the calamity that the PIP contract has visited on disabled people.

    “It will also reveal exactly how much the DWP has known all along about how terrible performance on this contract has been.

    “We as campaigners will be able to compare what they knew about the contract with the public statements that they have made, revealing the scale of lies and disinformation put out by the DWP to the public and parliament.

    “While this in itself is not likely to be enough to bring down the festering sore that is PIP, it might represent another milestone on the way to achieving the end of PIP.

    “We at DPAC applaud the work done by John Slater, and wish him well in continuing to pursue this and other investigations into the DWP that he is making.”

    A DWP spokeswoman said: “We have received the ICO judgement and we are currently considering our position.”

    News provided by John Pring at www.disabilitynewsservice.com

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    • Paul Roper

      It’s obvious that the gov as told these firms to get a certain amount of people not to be eligible for PIP. Otherwise why do the gov spend millions to these firms.and what’s the point of the gov bothering with it. There’s a uncover story here I’m certain.

      • Sheila Pringle

        I used to get DLA had a pip assessment, the assessor was a physio, she was very good and said she would recommend the highest mobility for me, but the decision would be a non medically qualified person, I was totally refused anything initially, I wondered when my decision came back if they even bothered to read my application or what the assessor wrote, it was utter nonsence, my £20 GP letter was also ignored, I appealed and surprise surprise I was awarded some PIP, I should have been awarded the highest points for getting around but the Goverment put a ban on this for mental illness, this has been taken to the high court and overturned by the Judge, you can see the reports on the Mind website, the Judge himself said it was all about saving money, the whole set up as far as I’m concerned is an utter corrupt sham

        • Julia Bontoft

          My son is autistic he’s been on DLA since he was 3, we did the transfer to PIP and they said he was fine we got nothing. The atos assessor never told us she was conducting a MSE so we couldn’t consent to this which is illegal. Also she told my son he had to anwser in truth which denies the context of voluntary consent according to the NHS. In the report we told her about his travel trainer which she left out. She told the DWP because he can turn on a computer he could plan a route ! She contradicted herself about his eczema saying it was always there then it comes and goes. She said he was totally independent in understanding complex language because he could spell world backwards but then she said he needed social support to engage with others ! When I rang the DWP for the address for the MR the worker noticed the contradictions herself. I wrote a 17 page statement and provided 30 pages of additional evidence including our counties SEN travel training leaflet which my son is on how stupid will they look. I totally dismantled her report if I don’t win my MR I’m off to tribunal no hesitation then I’m going after Atos the system is fundamentally flawed and there breaching the human rights act. I will also report the nurse to the RCN.

          • Sheila Pringle

            Good for you, so many people are either too unwell or can’t cope with the stress of fighting the corrupt system, it seems they try it on by refusing you any PIP then change it all when you appeal, they are not fairly assessing people for the good and best for that person but trying to strike as many people off to save money, if you look on google the are many sites where people are refused initially and lies and inaccuracies told by assessors and how they get paid more money if they cram more assesments in , in a day, someone went undercover with Capita as an assessor he told the truth of what was going on, wishing you all the best in your MR Julia, I’ve Emailed MP for DWP now the high court has said they cannot withhold the highest mobility from those with non physical disabilities to say I want mine altered

    • Jessica Rees

      Yes, and while the people were waiting for the assessment, the potential benefit that they would have been entitled to was being stashed on the money mountain and assessed as benefit payments. But at the end of the when people’s claims were rejected. And the majority of them were. Actually that money rolled over and died. Because it didn’t get paid out to potential benefit recipients!

    • Berenice Rhodes

      It is totally disgusting how ppl are treated by the i have been for three assessment with them i suffer with depression severe anxiety osteoporosis i have a Urmstoma stoma and problems with my bowel and I have scored zone points it is a joke yet some ppl there is nothing wrong with them get given it

    • Lucan mcpherson

      It is very disgusting how atos or capita treat people and how they run there assessments I was awarded higher rate living and standard rate mobility for my long on going back issues and depression, I was told that after the operation to let PIP know of the outcome , after the op my situation stayed the same if not worse , I informed pip of this and sent for another assessment, I told them that from my last assessment nothing as changed part from the fact it’s got worse ,
      The pip atos or capita lowered my income despite the case is now worse than before , I appealed this but with no luck they kept there decision. Which is wrong .
      The assessment is done by unqualified peoples with no medical qualifications, assessment took ten mins asked a few questions and then kicked out the door with less than what you went in with ; what a joke absolutely disgusting how they treat people with mental illnesses and other disabilities. All atos and capita are there for is to cut people back on there entitlements too save money to make them self look good .despite running peoples way of life .
      They make a decision you appeale it but still stick by it because they know most of people with disabilities can’t push on too the courts ,it is wrong I’ve had my PIP payment lowered even thou I’m worse off with m6 condition than I was before .how does that even make any sense . I was told by these people that they don’t do anything for mental illness what so ever so me telling them about my depression made no difference. I have been medically looked at and over by professionals from the hospital and my own GP and they all state what I told them at the assesment but they think they know better or more with out any qualifications.

    • Robert Cross

      I made a suggestion that the shadow Labour Party Cabinet should investigate PIP a soon as possible I was one of thousands of people who Lost their higher rate of mobility, who has an incurable illnesses and as I had the higher rate of mobility on DLA for Life, because my amune system is attacking my body this is a genetic problem that causes a lot of disabilating problems for me I honestly believe I would not have any problems with PIP well I was wrong I have been devastated this system is so corrupt it must be stop at once I am glad this report has come out as I am still fighting this. When a nurse that works for this Company has more to sway than my GP and my Consultant Professor who I might say is a specialist in my illnesses it beggers belief

    • Kirsty Mellor

      I too have had a traumatic experience with atos and pip. The assessor had me in tears she lied on her report to the dwp and because of that i lost my benefit. I’m waiting on a mandatory reconsideration im not holding out much hope as ive heard that they have to fail 80% of pip claims. I wrote to Sarah newton , to my local mp to Portsmouth news and the dwp committee. I hear stories on a daily basis of people being failed by this corupt system. There are groups on facebook with over 25000 members who have the same experience. These company’s need to be held accountable.

      • pete davison

        Hi Kirsty, I assisted my dtr to apply, she was rejected and again at the mandatory reconsideration. We took the matter to Tribunal. Many have gone through this process and many more I believe have been discouraged by the terrible responses they have experienced at the first two stages BUT I would encourage you and anyone else in a similar position to see the process through to it’s full conclusion. If you are at all unsure about your position seek out support to present your case, both the written docs and in person. My experience was that the Tribunal made a fair and reasonable reading and hearing of the information presented. Hopefully you would be successful but even if you aren’t it would be worth making a record of your experience. After completing my dtr’s we found a parliamentary working party looking for details of people’s experience. I wrote to them and they accepted our submission as evidence of the ‘trial’ of applying for PIP. If more is to come of what John Slater has started such testimonials as yours may be valuable in future.

      • Sarah Combrink

        They are so rude and not even medically trained to make these decisions, the DWP case manager has no medical training. And they decide if your ill enough !

      • Kath Brockett

        It bloody terrible i was in tears to jyst not right were treat like leperds x

    • Jenny heath

      I too am experiencing a traumatic experience with capita and pip.
      The assessor has told lie upon lie about me. I appeal and send a medical report in, but I am still not believed. It is now going to tribunal. My illness is degenerative because of a car accident twenty years ago. I am terribly upset. To the point of wanting to end it all life is so hard now.

    • Linda Trigg

      I was turned down for not taking paracetamol when I informed them I was know taking them and had to get them on prescription too prove was told I’d have to fill the form in again it’s traumatic to have medical and tribunal

    • Sarah Combrink

      I was diagnosed as terminal in November 2013 (never claimed a benefit ever !) I was no longer able to be a nurse. I claimed in January 2014 had first “medical” in September 2014 by a clinician (later turned out to be a healthcare assistant) denied appealed re claimed another assessment in November 2015 anyway went to tribunal in June 2016 and was awarded on the spot literally!! And back dated DO NOT GIVE UP TRIBUNAL SERVICE ARE BRILLIANT.
      However I’m up for review and Capita say “as I’m not dead yet” I need another assessment…. you couldn’t make this up !! So here we go again I think they are hoping the stress will kill me !!

      • Susan Bridges

        It’s criminal, they need to be made accountable and I hope this report does that. I think they make it so tough and when you’re already on the back foot due to distability and illness often you haven’t got the strength to keep fighting. Im sure your post offers some fighting spirit for others. Thank you.x

    • Karen Rogers

      My son was refused pip he was getting a small amount of dla which stopped when he was 16. We were basically told that as he left a specialist school with a basic catering exam this exam was a 1 year course it took him. 2 years to complete it. They did the shopping and provided total support. But yet having this qualification makes my autistic son independent so dosnt qualify for pip. I have asked them to ‘re look at all the evidence I submitted for him

      • Pam L Quick

        They seem to think qualifications are proof. They should be videoed in the room without the support and then prove what they are saying. Wonder what the pass rate would then be. My assessor with so many pages of writing from me, as well as consultant letters started writing my report prior to seeing me.
        I had a neighbour attend to hear what was said.
        What i have heard from others about people borrowing wheelchair to go to assessment is inappropriate. People should be seen in home environment. Then maybe accurate assessment would be better eg how does wheelchair user get up stairs of front door. Sometimes blood boils when people dramatise. Then when that person get full mobility allowance and are seen a few weeks later dancing in high heels. They are the ones cheating the system while real users are refused assistance. Woukd live to see what assessir woukd right uf left, videoed, in room with applicant, who needs support, but support isnt present. How woukd they assess person? Have knowledge of occurence where person who needs support is asked questions by suggesting answers to them. Isn’t that illegal. Its putting words into person’s head. Yet supporter is not alliwed to give answer. How can that be correct. Family so exhaudted not going to appeal

    • Noelle Rochester

      My review has been dismissed . I have to do it again. I’m in such a bad place. Added diagnosis to what I have already wrong with me. So upsetting.

    • nicki storey

      Nicki storey
      I have been in turmoil since oct16th 2016 when i lost my pip esa and motoribility car as i havr titanium implamplants and pigs cadavecer and fused discs in my spincr but have now been told im fit for wotk.Im on 112mcg fentanyl per72hr patches and also oxycontin 60mgs with 1000mgs of paracetomol4to6hrly abd take the oxyckntin1to 2times aday.Im also on naproxen folic acid and gabaoentin anf hace oernicious anaemia so have vit b12 shots 3mthly and on sertraline an antidepressentc200mgs and 4mgs of clonazapam for insomnia double the recommended dose.Im a single parent of a 13 year old daughter who is a carer for me for me. She’s been a carer for as long as I can remember. I suffer pain from my neck to my ankles and extreme sciatica former doctor in the United States not washing his hands before he did a test on me. I was a volunteer paramedic and did over 5000 hours a year and worked there from 1998 to 2000 as an au pair and work nights in a fuel station. The doctor did a test on me and washed his hands to open the outside of the operating Park but did not we wash his hands two do the procedure which you need to do as the outside of the package and sterile and the inside of the Pack is sterile and he gave me disc itis. My mother came over for 10 days and stayed for 6 months and halfway through that time her 96 year old mother passed away and she was unable to return to the funeral as I was too ill and in and out of hospital and placed on 26 mg of morphine per hour. I was just about to buy being on the money from the DLA I was receiving and the motability car and since then I have gone into horrendous debt to the point of 10000 pounds on a credit card and raising my overdraft with the bank from £1,000 to 2400. This has raised my stress level and when my stress level is high my pain increases severely and a box of oxynorm that would normally last the month now last about two and a half weeks if I’m lucky I’m in bed about 18 hours a day with a heat pad on my back my legs elevated on a pillow and a heat pad on my legs for the sciatica. I found a lawyer who is being outstanding and we won the pip back at the first tribunal as the nurse who saw me for my assessment was a psychiatric nurse and knew nothing about pain and chronic pain and didn’t even know what fentanyl or oxynorm was and that it was both 100 times stronger than morphine he even lied in his report saying I reached down to get a bag when I don’t even carry a bag as I am unable to. Losing my car has meant me having to rent one every 28 days which of course is why I am now severely in debt in my whole life I have never been in debt I have always paid and never got anything that I could not pay for at the end of the month and it has affected my daughter extremely badly as I haven’t been able to get the things for her that she has needed or wanted and Christmas did not exist in our house last year due to the fact we had enough money to pay bills only.Last week was a very hard week as had a normal family argument with my daughter and was my dads birthay and every birthday hard after a loved one has passed away.I just had tow days of wanting to die as with chronic pain life is hard enough but as i also have fibromyalgia I honestly thought what was the point of living as my daughtercand i never argue.I went to see my gp who has now taken rhe narcotics off my repeat prescription as i told her i wanted to die as couldnt take thecstress anymore from the dwp and am now on univesal credit when i can barely get out of bed.I use numerous aids for dressing and have a stick and reaised toilet seat and my daughter has to wash my hair as my hands are too painfull with the fibromyalgia. I also wear ankle supports as my ankles give way and I needed my car to get my daughter to school and also to get my prescriptions as the dosage I need for pain pain ie Lee oxycontin can last anything from 2 weeks to 4 weeks which is what it used to last before all this hassle started with the DWP. Both assessor including the one for the ESA lied on the sheets they’ve submitted and where not even qualified to assess me as I needed a chronic pain nurse or doctor instead of a psychiatric nurse and for a nurse not to know what fentanyl and oxynorm before I find shocking.The dwp and this whole pip thing has been 1epic disaster. My tribunal for the car and Motability was held on July the 4th 2017 and I was told it takes 8 to 12 months before we get a decision and it is now in the High Court in London and my lawyer who has been given permission to receive paperwork on my behalf has not received all the paperwork he should have received and he is based an hour away from me and he sometimes need the paperwork urgently so I either have to drive over to see him to give him the paperwork because the DWP haven’t followed the letters he has sent them even though I’ve signed release papers for my information to be given to him and the last letter I received that he was supposed to receive also had his name on and yet he never received the copy and so I had to drive over to give him my copy which cost me a lot of money in fuel and also my pain levels shot up and I ended up spending the next two days in bed due to the exacerbation of my pain levels and I’m now taking 3 to 4 doses of oxynorm daily.This whole trensfer from dla to pip has been a disaster and i am also awaiting a knee replacement but have to go2weekly to the job centre even when they have a sick/fit note with them and the current 1is good till march.The only reason i did not kill myself last week was becausecof the love that my daughter snd i share but know alot of people in the uk have committed suicide as are unable to stand the stress.Ive had to go to a foodbank once and i have lived off 45pence rich tea biscuits as they will.last me3 days as unable to afford food for us both as she is a growing child going into adult and at 13 is growing so rapidly that she is constantly hungry.Im unable to cook so she lives off microwaveable meals.Its disgusting how we are being treated and i feel we have to fight for what we are entitled to.

    • Ray Vanray

      My assessment put my anxiety levels so high i collapsed in tears after being made to move my arms and legs that made moving them so painfull. I am dosed up daily with psin killers that make my day that is consistently so painfull sometimes i can not get out my bed. Because i could grip her fingers and raise my arm above my head i feel this is the reason i now lose my enhanced rate and is now put down to standard rate. Which means I lose 80 quid a week.
      Its imposible to to go to work cos i cant sit for long and i cant stand for long before excruciating pain kicks in. Even in my acessment i asked to stand up because the pain sitting down was too.much.
      My evidence is ignored it seems and the report from atos is followed in favour.
      Scrap PIP. Im disabled and cant work. I can not live comfortably without this benefit. Shame on the government for making seriously ill people and disabled people live in poverty with this seriously flawed system.

      • Brian Fleming

        Evening I suffer from fybromyalgia copd .arthritis.and other ailments bit like yourself I’m in constant pain 24/7 don’t sleep more than a couple of hours a night got my pip assessment tomorrow really dreading it .even after taking dwp to tribunal twice about ESA and having my ESA reinstated the last time was in November don’t know what more I can do if I loose again and have to go though it all again
        My stress level at the moment is sky. High

    • Rebecca

      I am going thro it all with my mum at the min she’s worked all her life her I’ll has come crashing down on her so fast it’s killing me 2 watch shes had 2 asesments after months of being made 2 sign on wen she is taking morphen tablets and also having the liquid form just to try an control the pain after 2nd assessment she got awarded 22 pound a week unbelievable we also have 2 appeal again 2 tribunal 4 esa a think it’s called like we’re not going thro enough her morphen tablest have just been put up 2 100 mg I don’t get wot we have 2 do 2 get help it’s crazy bin goin thr this 4 over a year an just this has made her worse thanks 4 letting me rambel on ☺

    • Lee John Nolan

      I have a rare illness that cut me off from my work of 34k a year 15 years ago. I lost my road tax and 150 per month. Ive never been unemployed and the nurse was a leftie tattooed dyke. I asked. Are you a qualified cardiologist nurse. She said I was being hostile and wanted to terminate the medical.
      Right my illness.
      Hocms disease.
      I have obstructive and it took my sister with dylated when she was 16. They have made me suicidal but my late fathers words say. “Suicide isnt the answer” I live by this.
      Hypertrophic obstructive cardiomyopathy is a killer. I’m suffering more and all the doctor does is put in his letter see my patient in a year. Ffs whos side is he on? Also I have osteopenia due to ceoliacs my life is shit. But these bastards need to go on trail.

    • SSandy McCulloch

      Disabled go

      My husband has Nocturnal Epilepsy. Due to this they didn’t consider how it effects us. They just saw it as not effecting his day to day living.
      I can have sleepless nights due to his epilepsy as any funny noises he makes I waken. Luckily he has been on medication and fit free for ten years due to this. However he also has arterial valve disorder, he has a metal valve and due to this is on warfarin. Now warfarin and his epilepsy drugs interact severely, causing many problems. He has never been settled on a dose of warfarin, it’s been up and down between 12mg and 6 mg sometimes also cleaned injections. Now because of this I do worry his epilepsy medication will start having problems. And he will start fitting again.
      If he takes a fit, it will effect his heart as he has always had granmal fits.he turns blue and I fear the strain will cause a heart attack.
      Reason I hardly sleep. He also has COPD, which effects his lungs and breathing. And Depression which came on when he first took epileptic.
      Why do they not take all of these concerns into account.
      Also being disabled myself, I have Osteoarthritis and 2 auto immune disorders. And depression. It is hard not sleeping right, both of us are effected.

    • Helen Jones

      My daughter lost her Dla when she got to 16 and we applied for pip she went to a face to face and they had her in tears the lady was very rude and disrespectful towards her, I spoke to stop the bullying and was told to shut up and only speak when spoken too, when we got the decision that she cannot have anything and she only got awarded 2 points for reading we asked for reconsideration that also was same decision so we took it to tribunal she waited 13 months to have her appeal as so many people were going down this route, anyway we went to the appeal in November and a man from dwp wanted to be present everything was good until he started asking questions to my daughter that she was finding hard to answer as he was using big words again she had a break down and the judge told dwp to stop he didn’t like it, anyway the judge calmed my daughter as well as me calming her and carried on, we was in there about 30 mins, we had to wait for decision as they were back logged and would hear in 5 working days, the letter came and she won enhanced rate care lower rate mobility and the points awarded altogether was 26 that’s 24 points more than the assessors gave her, dwp then tried to say they wasn’t paying her pip for the 13 months she won so we had a fight on our hands but they did eventually pay her, she has to go through renewal again soon as it took that long for appeal, my advice is please appeal just hold in there could be s long process but worth it if you win it back, also take someone with you to face to face and get them to note everything down then you have it if you have to go appeal x

      • Goldmann

        You would think it wwas the 1930s not 2018 😑

    • Kelly R Allard

      I had my hearing 24th jan i had to have a call conference because i suffer agoraphobia and panic attacks. Atos lied about me too. Said things like i was well kempt when i was in my pyjamas. That i was able to do the things i told her i couldnt. I told the judge that the assessor lied about me. On the report atos sent the lady doing the assesment was a nurse. My money got stopped in march last year. So its taken them nearly a year to sort the whole thing out after to mess ups from the people who book the hearing. They booked it in the same court that dont do telephone hearings. When i phoned up to see how this could happen they told me someone has made a terrible mistake yes I’d say so. Apparently they get a bonus by getting somebody off of pip. It is discusting and makes me feel sick to my stomach. It should not be allowed to happen