Mind responds to Work and Pensions Committee report into benefit assessments
The Work and Pensions Committee has issued a report summarising its findings and recommendations from its 18-month long inquiry into the benefits assessment system.
Mind submitted written evidence and oral evidence presented at Committee by Director of External Affairs Sophie Corlett. It is quoted in the report, and contributed to the Committee’s decision to recommend that the Department for Work and Pensions should take the following approach:
allow people to choose the assessment method that works for them when booking their assessment, whether it’s by phone, video or in-person
extend the deadlines for returning assessment forms
record benefits assessments by default, with an opt-out process rather than opt-in
confirm whether it is still reviewing the criteria used to determine eligibility for PIP.
Commenting on the report, Vicki Nash, Associate Director of Policy and Campaigns at Mind, said:
“We’re pleased to see this important report from the Work and Pensions Committee. The Committee describes many of the issues that the benefits assessment system causes, including crucially that people are still experiencing psychological distress as a result of undergoing health assessments.
“The Committee’s approach is a sensible and well thought out one. It calls for an external assessment of changes to health assessments, including the removal of the Work Capability Assessment (WCA), to look at the potential physical and mental health effects of these changes. For a long time, Mind has been calling for the UK government to establish a commission led by disabled people to redesign the benefits assessment system. This new commission would be tasked with proposing reforms to the structure and criteria of benefits assessments and could also look at whether removing the WCA is the right decision, and if so, how it can work safely. The UK government should enable any external assessment to be carried out by such a commission.
“We are also pleased to see the Committee call for the UK government to undertake regular reviews of the mental health impacts of benefits assessments and make sure external researchers have access to good quality data to research this independently. The sector would then have a clearer, up to date picture of the mental health impacts as the government makes changes to the assessment system.
“The report highlights the need for the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) to speed up reforms to benefits assessments, including the WCA. Although the DWP plans to remove the WCA, this will not happen for several years and people continuing to go through the assessment in the meantime must not be forgotten. We hope to see the UK government take urgent action to implement the Committee’s recommendations.”