A number of you will know that I regularly raise issues with the DWP both locally and nationally about the challenges some residents face when having to attend multiple face to face assessments in Birmingham for their benefits.
While there is good reasons to have separate assesments, for instance Work Capability Assessments focus on barriers to work whilst PIP assessments focus on care needs, having to answer the same questions repeatedly and on numerous occasions can be incredibly distressing, particulalry if you are not feeling well in the first place.
There have also been disappointments when a home based assessment is offered one year but not the next. There have also been instances where the assessment reports do not acurately reflect the claimant's difficulties, this is particularly apprent with fluctuating conditions, autism and special educational needs.
Many cases go on to be won by tribunal, tribunals which are often unnecessary if the DWP got it right first time, but in some cases, people feel so confused and stressed by the system that they do not challenge the decisions. I feed this information back to the DWP regularly, quoting my constituents cases and experiences and asking for tweaks and changes to reduce the frequency and heavy reliance upon the face to face assessments.
So it was great to recieve a letter from the Department of Work and Pensions today confirming that they are now considering more holistic assessments, not just on the eligibility for one specific benefit but for others, including Access to Work Funding if it would help.
It is a step in the right direction, making benefits easier to claim and understand, more accessible and hopefully reducing a lot of stress and worry associated with benefit claims. Collecting and using as much information as possible will not only help claimants be more informed but rebuild trust in the benefits system.
I look forward to the single integrated system being rolled out and I hope it will help more find work if they are able, focus on their health if they are not and ensure care and support is there if they require it.
In the meantime I am happy to keep forwarding and helping people who are facing challenges with the benefit system. Please do let me know and I will do what I can to assist.