We have just sent the following letter to the Scottish Secretary of State for Social Security:
I was surprised and concerned to see you quoted as saying that people are not allowed companions with them at assessments under the current system. Although assessors can sometimes be difficult about this, the DWP’s own guidelines clearly state that companions are allowed. See page 30: https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/655611/pip-assessment-guide-part-1-assessment-process.pdf
It is important that people are aware of the few rights they do still have so that they can insist on them being respected.
We would also hope that you are planning to make greater use of doctors’ reports so that face to face assessments can often be avoided altogether.
for the Scottish Unemployed Workers’ Network
HERE IS THE RELEVANT SECTION FROM THE ABOVE GUIDANCE DOCUMENT
‘Companions at consultations
‘Claimants have a right to be accompanied to a face-to-face
consultation if they so wish. Claimants should be encouraged to
bring another person with them to consultations where they would
find this helpful – for example, to reassure them or to help them
during the consultation. The person chosen is at the discretion of the
claimant and might be, but is not limited to, a parent, family member,
friend, carer or advocate.
‘Consultations should predominantly be between the HP and the
claimant. However, the companions may play an active role in
helping claimants answer questions where the claimant or HP
wishes them to do so. HPs should allow a companion to contribute
and should record any evidence they provide. This may be
particularly important where the claimant has a mental, cognitive or
intellectual impairment. In such cases the claimant may not be able
to give an accurate account of their health condition or impairment,
through a lack of insight or unrealistic expectations of their own
ability. In such cases it will be essential to get an accurate account
from the companion.
‘However, the involvement of companions should be handled
appropriately by the HP. It is essential that the HP’s advice
considers the details given by the claimant and the companion and
whether one or both are understating or overstating the needs. If the
presence of a companion becomes disruptive to the consultation, the
HP may ask them to leave. However, this should be avoided
‘HPs should use their judgement about the presence of companions
during any examination. A companion should be in the room for an
examination only if both the claimant and the HP agree. Companions
should take no part in examinations.
‘The presence and involvement of any companion at a consultation
should be recorded in the assessment report.’