From Disability Rights UK:

‘In April 2021, Z2K surveyed 1,420 Disabled people who have been through the assessment process for disability benefits: PIP, ESA, and  the Limited Capability for Work elements of Universal Credit (UC).

Those surveyed by Z2K were asked to share their insights on the assessment process – including the Mandatory Reconsideration (MR) and appeals process – as well as the changes that they would like to see made to the current assessment regime.

They were also asked their opinion on whether the Government’s upcoming Health and Disability Green Paper will deliver on generating desired reform. 

In terms of assessment and MR/appeal process:

  • 70 % of people feel like the assessor DWP contracted to carry out their assessment did not understand their condition 
  • 66 % of people feel like the assessment report they got after the decision did not reflect what they’d told the assessor in the assessment
  • 49 % of those respondents who challenged a decision to refuse their claim at DWP’s internal MR stage saw that decision overturned.
  • 87 % of the remaining respondents who went on to appeal to the independent First Tier Tribunal had DWP’s decision overturned

In terms of the Health and Disability Green Paper:

  • 89 % of respondents are either “not at all confident” (69 %) or “not so confident” (20 %) that the changes they would like to see made to the assessment process will be included in DWP’s upcoming Health & Disability Green Paper
  • Similarly, 88 % of people are either “not at all confident” (67 %) or “not so confident” (21 %) that the Government will use the feedback they receive during this Green Paper consultation to make changes to the assessment process for benefits
  • 74 % of respondents think the Government won’t even bother to listen to the experiences of those who have been through the assessment process themselves.

Respondents were also asked what changes to the assessment process for disability benefits they would like to see Government make, and some of the recommendations put forward included: 

  • Reinstate indefinite awards for people whose condition will sadly not improve
  • All assessors to receive training to ensure they do not discriminate against individuals, and treat everyone they are assessing with dignity and respect  
  • Ensure assessors are properly trained in the condition they are assessing
  • If an assessor does not have specialist knowledge of the condition they are assessing, they must consult with experts and use up-to-date evidence when making their assessment
  • Medical evidence, people’s own testimony, evidence from parents, support workers, social workers, mental health workers etc. should not be undermined, misconstrued or ignored by assessors
  • Stop assessments entirely and decision to be made solely on medical evidence, people’s own testimony, evidence from parents, support workers, social workers, mental health workers etc.
  • Audio record all assessments as default (with an ‘opt out’ option), and provide a copy to both DWP and individual
  • Remove private assessment companies, and bring assessments back in house or have them conducted by NHS like in Scotland 

Ken Butler DR UK’s welfare Rights and Policy Adviser said:

“The findings of this this report are shocking and reveal why the DWP itself has admitted it has lost the trust of Disabled people.

As Z2K conclude, “the assessment processes for disability benefits must be fundamentally reformed if it is to be fit for purpose and able to correctly assess people’s ability to access work or receive support for their disability”.

In addition, DR UK supports its view that “in the long-term, an alternative system should be co-produced with “disabled people themselves, so that it works for those with direct experience of this regime and those that went before it”.

This report is short at ten pages but its insights and conclusions deserves reading by all Disabled people and their organisations.  

Its publication is timely and will undoubtedly inform and evidence responses to the Green Paper.”

Note:  Z2K are calling on the Government to publish the Green paper and ask that you take30 seconds today to write to your MP to ask it publish the long promised consultation

The new report People Before Process: The state of disability benefit assessments and the urgent need for reform is available from

See also our related news story Minister previews Disability Green Paper social security reforms .’

Originally published by Disability Rights UK, 25/5/21

The DWP has published the following press release regarding face-to-face health assessments during the coronavirus outbreak:

“Claimants on disability benefits will no longer be required to attend face-to-face assessments. The change also covers health checks for Universal Credit.

Face-to-face assessments for all sickness and disability benefits will be suspended for the next 3 months, the government announced today (16 March 2020).

The temporary move, effective on Tuesday 17 March 2020, is being taken as a precautionary measure to protect vulnerable people from unnecessary risk of exposure to coronavirus as the country’s response ramps up in the ‘delay’ phase. We will ensure those who are entitled to a benefit continue to receive support, and that new claimants are able to access the safety net.

It affects claimants of Personal Independence Payment (PIP), those on Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) and some on Universal Credit, and recipients of Industrial Injuries Disablement Benefit.

The suspension of face-to-face assessments also covers new claims to those benefits.

Work and Pensions Secretary Thérèse Coffey said:

As we move into the next phase of our response to coronavirus, it is right we take steps to protect those with health problems.

Temporarily suspending face-to-face assessments for sickness and disability benefits will allow us to ensure we continue to provide a safety net for those in need, while removing unnecessary risk of exposure to this disease.

Anyone who has a face-to-face assessment appointment scheduled from Tuesday 17 March onwards does not need to attend and will be contacted to discuss next steps and alternative arrangements, which could involve either telephone or paper-based assessments. We expect this measure will be in effect for the next 3 months but we will be regularly reviewing the position in line with Public Health advice.

No further action is required by any claimant as a result of this change. They will be contacted with advice on next steps.

DWP continues to accept new claims for all benefits. Anyone already receiving PIPESA, Universal Credit or Industrial Injuries Disablement Benefit, will continue to receive their current payments as normal while alternative arrangements are put in place to review or reassess their claim.

Suspending face-to-face health assessments is a precautionary measure which reflects the Prime Minister’s decision to trigger the ‘delay’ phase. It is important to note that this change does not affect or change any existing public health advice.

Read the current NHS guidelines on coronavirus, including advice on those who should stay at home.

More information

The department will continue to work with its providers through this period and pay them in accordance with its contracts.

Read more information about coronavirus and claiming benefits.

24 April 2020. News provided by