Charity concerns over changes to DWP assessments

The Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) has published a contract notice announcing its plans for a £3.1 billion revamp of health checks for Personal Independence Payments (PIP) and other benefits.

The changes will be made as it commissions a new seven-year contract to run the health and disability assessment service for people applying for benefits.

The assessments are used by DWP decision-makers to determine eligibility for a wide range of benefits and are currently carried out by private companies under contracts worth more than £1bn.

People with disabilities or health conditions currently have to undergo two separate checks – known as PIP assessments and Work Capability Assessments – but this will be integrated into one assessment under the new model.

While the DWP says the changes will improve the process for millions of claimants, charities have raised fears the new one-stop system will lead to more people missing out on benefits they are entitled to.

PIP and ESA (Employment Support Allowance) are both benefits awarded to support people with disabilities and health conditions, while Universal Credit is the government’s landmark welfare reform that has replaced six other working-age benefits.

Raji Hunjan, chief executive of anti-poverty charity Zacchaeus 2000 Trust explained in an interview how this could affect charities,

“To have one assessment for two benefits essentially runs the risk that people could be denied both benefits at the same time and leave claimants with absolutely no income whatsoever, and completely reliant on food banks or whatever donations they can get access to.”

You can read the full tender document, if you’re interested, on the Tenders website.