Former IPSA head slams disability benefits assessments as ‘Kafka-esque’

Posted On: 
6th October 2018

The former Chair of the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority has said that the system for assessing benefits has created a “hostile environment” for disabled people. 

The former head of IPSA has said that the DWP's assessment process has created a "hostile environment"
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Andrew McDonald, who now chairs the disability charity Scope, made the comments after he had his benefits stopped after being told he was not ill enough to qualify for personal independence payment (PIP). 

Mr McDonald, who has Parkinson’s and terminal prostate cancer, told the BBC’s Today Programme this morning that a “full overhaul of the system” was needed and that “if anybody from any party thinks that PIP is fixed, they’re wrong.” 

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The former watchdog chair was twices deemed to qualify for the payment by review boards after resigning has head of IPSA in 2014. However, a third review in March ruled that he was no longer eligible for the benefit. 

PIP is not means tested and is intended to cover the additional costs of living with disability.

Speaking to the Guardian, Mr McDonald said that he was shocked that 71% of PIP decisions were overturned when appealed at a tribunal. 

“I was shocked by the way this was being administered against the interests of some of the most disadvantaged people in the country.” 

He said: “the system of a whole does create the impression of it being a hostile environment where two of the foes are complexity and the sense that it is not a level playing field.”

“I thought this was a system to give people a hand up; in practice they encounter a sleight of hand that is completely out of kilter with the best traditions of British Public service in which I was not only raised but worked for most of my career.” 

A spokesperson from the Department for Work and Pensions said that it was attempting to improve the PIP assessment process.

“We constantly seek to improve the quality of PIP assessments. We have undertaken two independent reviews of PIP and most recently announced that we will pilot video recording of assessments, to help increase people’s trust in the assessment process."