The Government’s Department For Work and Pensions (DWP) has announced that, “in line with the latest public health guidance and adhering to strict safety protocols”, it is to begin reintroducing face-to-face assessments for health and disability benefits.
Disability Rights UK has looked at this announcement and, Ken Butler, their Welfare Rights and Policy Adviser said:
“The Covid pandemic has meant that benefits face-to-face medical assessments have not happened for over a year, so inevitably a backlog now exists.
“But it will be important for both assessment providers and the DWP to be sensitive and flexible in arranging these.
“Disabled claimants do not have the final say in whether they can be assessed on paper, by phone, by video or face-to-face. This is an assessment provider decision.
“If the DWP decides that a person has not had “good reason” not to attend an arranged face to face assessment then their claim can be closed.
“Many Disabled people who have been shielding as they are extremely clinically vulnerable may be reluctant to attend such an assessment at present, especially as contracts permit assessments to be held up to 90 minutes’ travel from a claimant’s home.
“The DWP should at least suspend its rule on removing benefits if someone cannot show “good cause” for not attending a medical assessment.
“Phone and video assessments have worked well for many during lockdown. People should be able to choose their preferred method of assessment, in line with the reasonable adjustment provisions of the Equality Act.”
For more information see Face-to-face assessments to resume for health and disability benefits available from gov.uk. Read more on this story here.