The farce of the Tories’ cruel benefits assessments have been exposed (again) in a new report by MPs.
Parliament’s Work and Pensions Committee asked the public to share their experience of disability benefit assessments carried out for the DWP by private contractors.
They received 4,000 individual testimonies – the biggest ever response to a committee inquiry.
The most absurd account was given by the Down’s Syndrome Association, which revealed some of the questions parents had been asked by assessors:
“How long have they had Down’s syndrome for?”
“When did they catch Down’s syndrome?”
“When were you diagnosed with Down’s syndrome?”
The Association points out:
“Down’s syndrome is a widely recognised learning disability. If an assessor is being asked to assess someone with a condition that they do not know about, common sense and courtesy should tell them to research the condition before starting the assessment.”
The report also details ridiculous factual errors made in medical reports by assessors.
“Apparently I walk my dog daily, which was baffling because I can barely walk and I do not have a dog!”
“She wrote I arose from the chair without any difficulty. I was in bed the whole time (she let herself in) and I only have the one chair in the room and she was sitting in it.”
“The assessment itself was brief, and the assessor had no knowledge of my condition. She said not to worry, she’d Google it later. The report was incorrect.”
While some examples are laughable, many more are simply tragic:
One person wrote anonymously:
“The form itself caused anxiety and depression. For the twelve days we took considering and writing on the form, my mother refused to eat, drink, or sleep save the smallest amount. She began to self-harm from the stress and cry in the despair of admitting how she is limited, how she is constantly in pain, how she cannot complete simple tasks—“how her disability affects her”. The very name of the form.”
“My daughter was violently triggered by the hugely intrusive and challenging questions the assessor asked and self-harmed during the assessment.”
“I went through Mandatory Reconsideration and was still denied PIP. After this I felt like committing suicide because I was living off £76 a week and getting no help whatsoever from anyone.
“The second time I applied [ … ] I got awarded PIP but at the lowest rate. I was so tired, and stressed out by the process that my self harming got worse, I was very suicidal and ill, so I didn’t dare ask for Mandatory Reconsideration in case the PIP was taken away from me again.”
The Tories are cruel and incompetent in equal measure…