DWP complaints now up over 1,400% since 2013

A ripped brown envelope and the DWP logo
Steve Topple

The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) just revealed that complaints over one of its private assessment providers are up again. This is the seventh year the figure has risen. But moreover, it represents over a 1,400% increase since 2013.

The DWP: eye-watering new figures

Independent Assessment Service (IAS), formally ATOS, does Personal Independence Payment (PIP) health assessments for the DWP.  But the company has been dogged by controversy. From probes into “dishonest” assessments to high rates of appeal wins, IAS has often been under fire. But now, the DWP has had to admit more chaos with the private provider.

On Friday 17 January, DWP minister of state Justin Tomlinson answered a written question. It was from SNP MP Angela Crawley. She asked:

how many complaints her Department has received in relation to (a) ATOS and (b) Maximus health assessments in the last 12 months.

Tomlinson’s answer revealed that in 2019, IAS got 6,140 complaints. This is the highest amount since records began in 2013. But its the percentage rises over the past seven years which are most telling.

Devil in the detail

The 2019 figure is a 4.5% rise on 2018. But since 2013, complaints to IAS (and formerly ATOS) have gone up by 1,474%. This is of course with the caveat that the company has been doing more assessments over this period.

Now, the DWP could argue that that figure is not comparable, due to that increase in assessments. But another figure most certainly is.

The number of complaints as a percentage of how many assessments IAS did has also gone up. As Disability News Service (DNS) reported, in 2018, 0.8% of IAS assessments resulted in a complaint. This figure was 0.91% in 2019.

Dogged by scandal

The rise in both figures is of little surprise. Because PIP assessments have been dogged by controversy. As DNS reported, in 2018/19, more than 36% of IAS assessments were “substandard”. Also in 2018/19, tribunals upheld 73% of claimant’s PIP appeals. Moreover, over half a million people won these between 2013 and 2018. And as DNS also reported in December 2019:

figures, released the day after the election, show that new claimants are 21 per cent less likely to be awarded… (PIP) than they were last year.

There seems to be no end to the chaos around DWP private providers and health assessments. And with the contracts set to run until July 2021, there’s no end in sight to claimants’ misery, either.

Featured image via The Canary and UK government – Wikimedia

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