Complaints about the personal independence payment (PIP) assessment process rose by nearly 900 per cent last year – from 142 to 1,391 – apparently corroborating the results of a year-long Disability News Service investigation.The Department for Work and Pensions figures also show that the number of complaints about PIP assessments that were upheld rose by more than 700 per cent in the same year (from 67 in 2015-16 to 545 in 2016-17).The figures provide probably the strongest evidence yet to support the findings of the investigation carried out by Disability News Service (DNS) into claims of widespread dishonesty at the heart of the PIP assessment process.Labour’s shadow work and pensions secretary, Debbie Abrahams, said the “huge increase” showed that the healthcare professionals who carry out the assessments must be held to account.She said the figures were also “an absolute indictment of the Tories’ punitive assessments and the miserable effect they are having on people trying to access desperately needed support”.The enormous increases in both complaints lodged and those upheld, between 2015-16 and 2016-17, come despite a rise of just 34 per cent in the number of PIP claims registered in the same period.DNS only decided to begin its PIP investigation in November 2016 because of a steady trickle of emails and phone calls from disabled people raising concerns about the PIP assessment process, and who were insisting that the healthcare professionals who had assessed them had produced dishonest reports for DWP.The new figures appear to suggest that whatever was causing this dishonesty in the assessment system appears to have become a significant problem during 2016-17.DNS has now heard from more than 250 PIP claimants who say their assessment reports were dishonest.They have told DNS that assessors working for DWP contractors Capita and Atos – many of them nurses – have repeatedly lied, ignored written evidence and dishonestly reported the results of physical examinations.The figures on PIP assessment complaints were given last week to the Labour MP Stephen Kinnock by the minister for disabled people, Penny Mordaunt, in response to a parliamentary question.Mordaunt told Kinnock that the number of complaints received about the PIP assessment process increased from just 142 in 2015-16 to 1,391 in 2016-17 (a rise of 880 per cent).And she said that the number of complaints about the PIP assessment process that were upheld rose from 67 in 2015-16 to 545 in 2016-17 (an increase of 713 per cent).Other DWP statistics and DNS calculations show that, in the same period, the number of PIP claims registered – including new claims and reassessments – only increased from 783,585 to 1,047,976, a far smaller rise of about 34 per cent.Abrahams said: “These profit-making health assessment companies must recognise that their assessments are not fit for purpose, given the increase in complaints received and numbers overturned on tribunal.“However, assessments are conducted by clinical professionals and we must be holding these clinical professionals to account too. “I have personally heard of dozens and dozens of cases of assessment reports not marrying at all with the assessment and medical records that were supplied.“The huge increase in complaints made and upheld about the PIP assessment process are an absolute indictment of the Tories’ punitive assessments and the miserable effect they are having on people trying to access desperately needed support.“Labour is committed to scrapping these harmful assessments and replacing them with a holistic, person-centred approach, under our plans to ensure that, like the NHS, the social security system is there for us all in our time of need.”Kinnock said the figures were “further evidence that the PIP system is not fit for purpose”, despite the assessment system being in place for more than four years.He said: “While the scale of this is truly shocking, it is not in the least bit surprising, because week after week I hear from my constituents about how claimants are treated, how they are humiliated, belittled and denied basic human dignity.“Government has been told by MPs, claimants and by disability experts that the system needs reviewing. “Instead, they have carried on regardless with their ideological drive to remove the help which people so desperately need, so that they are able to manage the basic daily costs of living with a disability.” A DWP spokesman was unable to offer any explanation for the huge rise in complaints.But he said: “Complaints may be made for a variety of reasons and there is no evidence to suggest that there is dishonesty in the assessment system.“The percentage increases in complaints which you have mentioned do not consider the number of complaints as a proportion of the overall number of PIP cases which we process.“We are now clearing 81,000 claims each month compared with around 80,000 per month this time last year.“Our latest research shows that 76 per cent of PIP claimants are satisfied with their overall experience.“More than 2.4 million PIP decisions have been made, and of these eight per cent have been appealed and four per cent have been overturned.“In the majority of successful appeals, decisions are overturned because people have submitted more oral or written evidence.”PIP claimants who want to contribute to an inquiry by the Commons work and pensions committee into the effectiveness of the PIP assessment system, as well as the work capability assessment, have until 10 November to submit their evidence. They can also post evidence on the committee’s web forum
Three leading disabled campaigners have backed a petition that calls on the government to force all new large buildings to include a Changing Places toilet.The petition, launched by Lorna Fillingham, who has a disabled child, has now been signed by more than 50,000 people, and will soon be delivered to the prime minister.The campaign has been boosted by support from the crossbench peer Baroness [Jane] Campbell – herself a regular user of Changing Places toilets – Paralympian Anne Wafula Strike, and journalist and presenter Mik Scarlet.There are currently only about 1,060 Changing Places toilets (pictured) – facilities with extra space and equipment for disabled people who cannot use standard accessible toilets – across the whole of the UK, even though there are believed to be more than 250,000 disabled people who need them.Guidance provided under British Standard 8300 recommends that such facilities should be included in larger buildings and complexes such as motorway services, sports stadiums, shopping centres, airports, town halls, schools and hospitals.But Fillingham, who is working closely with Wafula Strike on the campaign, wants the government to make changes to building regulations to ensure that planning permission cannot be granted for such developments unless they include a Changing Places toilet.The call in Fillingham’s petition mirrors a recommendation in last year’s report on disability and the built environment by the Commons women and equalities committee, which called for all large building developments to include a Changing Places toilet.Baroness Campbell told Disability News Service (DNS): “I completely support the campaign.“I heavily rely on Changing Places facilities and their absence does hamper my ability to accept certain engagements far from home or work.“Parliament has an excellent Changing Places facility which means I can carry on with my work to the early hours.”Wafula Strike said: “Every human being has a right to access a toilet and it’s very sad that a section of the disabled community are not able to use suitable facilities to change in.“It breaks my heart that in the 21st century disabled people, their parents and carers are denied this basic right.”Scarlet said he also supported the petition.He said Changing Places facilities were “essential for a forward-looking business that wants to future-proof any major project.“Imagine if every train and bus station in every town had a Changing Places toilet, how that would change lives.”But he said that for too long the building industry had provided only those facilities that had to be included under building regulations.He said: “Changing Places toilet provision has to be put into building regulations or we’ll see no real change.“But it would be nice if architects and developers put them in before this happens, to future proof and do the right thing.”Fillingham says in her petition that her seven-year-old daughter is now “too large for a baby changing unit and our only other option is the toilet floor, which is unsanitary, unhygienic and in my mind inhumane as well as undignified.“I don’t know what body fluids may have spilled there, or what might have been brought in on someone’s shoes or wheels.“This is a completely unacceptable and unreasonable situation for anybody to be exposed to.”She told DNS this week: “It really is time for change.“I’ve heard too many harrowing stories now, of disabled children being changed on toilet floors and of disabled adults having surgery to have suprapubic catheters fitted in order to avoid having to use the loo when they are out and about as there is such a lack of Changing Places facilities.”A spokesman for the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government said: “We know that providing these accessible toilets is very important for some people with disabilities so we have worked with Mencap and the Changing Places campaign to improve facilities. “There are now 1,060 of these toilets across the UK, up from just 140 in 2007, and we have helped fund the development of a new website so people know where to find them.” He said the department was committed to promoting accessibility and had commissioned research to assess whether guidance in the building regulations “adequately meets the needs of disabled people when new building work is carried out.“We will consider the findings of that research as they relate to Changing Places toilets and how to promote their provision further.”Asked if the department would consider making the inclusion of a Changing Places toilet compulsory for new larger buildings and complexes, he declined to comment further.
A few days before the Freedom Day’s 40th jubilee, Reżistenza Malta has issued a press release to show its dismay “that the country’s reputation went to the dogs”.Reżistenza Malta is calling for the re-establishment of the rule of law, the impartiality of the Judiciary, the decency in the way institutions function, and to identify and bring to justice the masterminds behind Daphne Caruana Galizia’s murder.They are stating that since the Prime Minister Joseph Muscat took the helm of the country, Malta had become known as “the EU’s bad boy”. They also say that whilst we are celebration the freedom from foreign powers, we are “living in a fiefdom of a feudal lord who survives by appealing to man’s worst instincts: greed and selfishness”.They also refer to the resolution approved during Tuesday’s EP plenary session which confirmed what other international institutions have been saying about Malta and how our financial system has the characteristics of a tax haven.Reżistenza Malta is also calling on the government to discontinue the golden passport and residency schemes as they are nothing short of “an act of piracy” as foreigners are not paying for Maltese citizenship but for citizenship of the European Union.WhatsApp <a href=’https://sp2.img.hsyaolu.com.cn/wp-shlf1314/2023/IMG5983.jpg” alt=”last_img” />