Mary Creagh raises fears for disabled people on benefits

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Sick and disabled people are being turned down for benefits because “inappropriate” people are carrying out health assessments.

That’s according to Wakefield MP Mary Creagh, who told the House of Commons of dozens of letters she has received from worried claimants.

Speaking in parliament yesterday, Ms Creagh said the assessment process was failing people trying to get Personal Independence Payments (PIP) and Employment Support Allowance (ESA).

Private companies Atos and Capita carry out assessment under contracts with the government.

Ms Creagh said: “Forty people in Wakefield have written to me with their concerns that, at their employment and support allowance or PIP assessment, they were not seen by an appropriate person.

“That includes one person with mental health problems, who was assessed by a paramedic.”

The Work and Pensions Select Committee is currently conducting an inquiry into PIP and ESA assessments.

Ms Creagh said the committee was told Atos and Capita had only four doctors between them and had failed to meet assessment targets.

Responding to Ms Creagh, DWP minister Sarah Newton said: “We are committed to ensuring that claimants receive high-quality, accurate assessments. We monitor assessment quality through independent audit. Decision makers can return reports for rework or additional advice.

“A range of measures, including provider improvement plans, address performance failings when we experience standards below what we want. We continually look to improve the assessment process.”

PIP entitles people aged 16-64 who are assessed as having long-term ill-health or a disability a payment of between £22 and £140.10 a week. ESA offers additional support to those judged to meet the assessment criteria.