It is always difficult to tell how a PIP or Work Capability Assessment went. No matter how you feel when you come out of it, it all depends on the faceless decision maker buried somewhere in the DWP’s bureaucracy. Rather like a school exam, you go in, do what you have to do, and then try not to worry about it until the decision thuds onto your doormat. Certain clues on an envelope give an indication of the contents. A return address of “Mail Handling Site A, Wolverhampton”, or “DWP, BELFAST” has undoubtedly struck fear in many claimants.
The SUWN has come across many people who have been given “null-points” after an assessment, when they are clearly unfit for work. This seems particularly to be happening with claimants who are being reassessed while still on the old-style ESA. After such a decision, claimants are then forced onto the harsher regime of UC in order to survive. Even if an Appeal against the decision succeeds, they are then stuck with being on UC. (To paraphrase our current leaflet, if your application was under the old ESA system, consult a welfare advisor before applying for UC, as you could be worse off in the long run.)
Appeals have a good success rate. Around two thirds of appeals rule in favour of the claimant. This suggests that at least that number of initial decisions are wrong, which is deeply worrying.
The SUWN frequently accompanies people into PIP and Work Capability Assessments. We are currently awaiting on the outcome a few of these. A recent blog post highlighted Andy’s hour long wait for his appointment. Joyce, at the same assessment centre, was seen within minutes. Her appointment lasted less than half an hour, as the assessor seemed to think there was more than enough information. We will see, if this is a good sign. Incidentally, the toilet in that assessment centre still seems to be out of order, as it has been on the last three occasions at least.
Janet went into a PIP assessment a few days later. Janet’s experience was different again. She was in her appointment over an hour. The nurse seemed new to the job, and even helpful. We cannot fault the thoroughness of Janet’s assessment, however, the experience was incredibly tiring and gruelling for both her and her SUWN advocate. It would be tempting to suggest that it went well. Certainly, she is deserving of higher rate PIP, but as noted above, you can never tell until the DWP’s decision lands on the doormat.