Every so often we have to remind the powers that be that claimants and their friends always have a right to take notes at interviews – as is clearly stated in the DWP’s own guidance documents. Most recently, we had to write the following letter to Maximus, who run the Work Capability Assessments in Scotland:
We are writing because we are concerned that your Dundee assessment centre is giving confusing advice about taking notes in assessments. We have been informed by someone who accompanied a friend to her assessment recently that, rather than the usual warning that you can take notes but these won’t be treated as an official record, she was simply told that she couldn’t use her notes in a tribunal. This is both incorrect (they can be used but won’t necessarily be accepted as an accurate account), and likely to make an already worrying situation worse. Personal notes can be an important aide memoire, and it is very worrying if people are being discouraged from taking or keeping them. It is also unnecessary to raise the spectre of a future tribunal. The assessor had gone out of the room to ask advice on this, which suggests that this confusion is likely to be replicated by others. Please can you insure that all your assessors are fully aware of the rules on note taking and the correct procedures for conveying those rules?
We got an almost instant response from Maximus saying they would inform their Dundee centre. We have heard nothing from Dundee, but trust they have taken the message on board…
Please let us know if you are having similar problems anywhere. We know this sort of misinformation can be common as well as damaging. And always insist that you have a right to take notes – which you don’t have to show them.