Sun 28 Sep, 2014 4:31 pm
ephemerid wrote:The Right Payment Programme was introduced in 2007 by the Labour government.
Every year, 12,000 DLA cases were chosen to be assessed by decision makers to ensure the right payments were in place.
8,250 cases were chosen on the grounds that the claimants concerned had conditions which DWP research showed were likely to change; the remainder were chosen at random. RPP did not apply to people claiming DLA due to a terminal diagnosis.
There are 2.5 Million DLA claimants - a proportion of these are children and pensioners - but RPP applies mainly to those of working age. The samples taken under Labour represented 0.5% of all DLA claimants; some were reassessed on the strength of a new claim form, some had a "medical" examination by Medical Services (mainly from Atos, but all doctors).
Anyone who was judged by the DWP research to have a changeable condition was reassessed, especially if they had been claiming for a long time. Indefinite DLA awards have never been entirely "safe" as there has always been the possibility of reassessment. The idea was that DWP decision makers would look at increasing as well as cutting payments.
As I can't find any figures on this, I don't how what the proportions are of awards being increased, decreased, or stopped.
What appears to be happening now under the Tories is that more people are being told that they have been selected for reassessment under the Right Payments Programme. I am not convinced that this is true.
Ernst has done some sterling work in finding out why some DLA claimants are being "invited" to claim PIP, and the reply was that some of those claimants were being selected under the RPP - which wasn't strictly true.
DWP appear to be using the RPP as an excuse to review claims which are not part of the cohort selected under the usual RPP criteria.
Under normal circumstances, if a DLA claimant moves house or changes banks, say, DWP would amend the records accordingly, but not register a change of circumstances requiring a case review.
Now, however, every small change IS being registered as requiring a case review - most significantly, anything that concerns a DLA claimant however minor and no matter who informs DWP is now being subject to a review.
If the claimant, another agency, a third party, or even the DWP itself, makes reference to a DLA claim, that claim will now be subject to a review - and a review means the claimant will be "invited" to claim PIP.
In theory, the DLA will continue to be paid; but if "invited" to claim PIP, the claimant cannot refuse.
The legislation and the guidance is now that any claimant due for a review, selected for the RPP, or subject to any change of circumstances or any report from any person, will be "invited" to claim PIP instead of DLA.
There is increasing anecdotal evidence that many more than the 12,000 selected for the RPP are being told their claims are to be reviewed under the RPP when that is not actually true; there is also increasing anecdotal evidence to support the theory that claims are being registered with a change of circumstances when no change has occurred; and it would appear that DWP are systematically getting people reassessed for PIP sooner than they would be otherwise.
It seems to me that people are being pushed into claiming PIP (with its' new descriptors) on a basis which is unfair, and aimed at increasing the rate of DLA/PIP conversion so that the planned 20% saving can be made faster.
Given that 5 years after the introduction of ESA there remain a significant number of people still claiming Incapacity Benefit (as expected, because it takes time to introduce a new benefit which can be claimed long term when the roll-out of the new one is confined to new claims) it would appear that DWP is accelerating PIP artificially - and claiming the RPP as a rationale for reviewing claims which would otherwise remain the same.
I am under no illusions about what DWP are up to. IDS is determined to get 20% "savings" from DLA by converting existing claimants to PIP as soon as possible; he knows that the PIP descriptors will leave many people with DLA awards at the less dependent levels with nothing.
People who claim ESA and DLA, who get a Fit For Work or Work Related Activity Group decision are finding that this is causing their DLA to be stopped - and if they want to claim it back they now have to claim PIP. Although that scenario has been going on for some time, ESA claimants in that situation could appeal their DLA disallowance, but now they are subject to a Mandatory Consideration of Review for DLA just as they are for ESA.
Many decisions on ESA and DLA entitlement are now being checked by the Benefits Integrity Centre. I do not know if this is because local Benefit Delivery Centres are behind on decision making due to the increasing number of ESA claimants being reassessed every few months, or if it's because the BIC is double-checking with a view to more refusals.
The Right Payments Programme was originally a reasonable thing to do. There is nothing wrong with reassessing people who have conditions which are changeable - and there was as much chance of having an award increased as decreased.
Now it seems that it is being used as an excuse, along with third-party reports (which the claimant is not allowed to know the origin of) to accelerate the introduction of PIP with the likelihood that the claimant will not qualify for the same award.
I think I am right about this - and it's very worrying if the rules are being manipulated in order for this new benefit to be brought in.