Public contract failures have led to a loss of trust that risks undermining the operation of social security entitlements according to MPs.
The Work and Pensions Committee report, published today, (this link will take you away from our website) notes that the decision to contract out Personal Independence Payments (PIP) and Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) assessments in the first instance was taken to introduce efficient, consistent and objective tests for eligibility. The Committee says it is hard to see how any of these aims have been met.
The report notes that none of the providers involved in delivering the assessments has ever hit the quality performance targets set for them, and many claimants experience a great deal of anxiety and other deleterious health impacts over a process that is regarded as “opaque and unfriendly” throughout.
The Committee recommends:
- Immediate recording of face to face assessments
- Measures to improve understanding amongst health and social care professionals, and claimants, of what constitutes good evidence
- Improved accessibility of throughout the process
- Improved use of contract “levers” to improve contractor performance
The Scottish Government is currently designing a new Scottish Social Security Agency which will administer eleven social security entitlements in Scotland over the coming years – including PIP.