Capita benefits assessor who ‘laughed‘ at disabled woman is suspended

A worker for the Department for Work and Pensions has been suspended after a disabled woman said a benefits assessor laughed at her and threatened her son. Police also said they were investigating criminal damage at the Cardiff home of Cheryl Matthews.

Mrs Matthews said the assessor, employed by Capita, dismissed claims she had felt suicidal as “irrelevant”. Capita said a worker had been suspended, it had apologised to Mrs Matthews and offered her compensation.

She said he also shouted at her 22-year-old son when he told him to leave. Mrs Matthews, who is 45 and has long-term health conditions, said Capita had also paid her £600 in compensation within hours of lodging a complaint.

She has the painful condition , cranial hypertension, and a degenerative spinal condition. She said she had already been receiving a Personal Independence Payment of £327 a month but needed a new assessment, carried out by Capita on behalf of the Department for Works and Pensions (DWP).

“Capita wrote to me and offered to carry out the assessment in my home,” she said. “It was a huge relief as my anxiety and poor mobility make it difficult to get around.” She said the assessment took place in her bedroom on 16 October, but the interview deteriorated rapidly.

“I tried to explain that a few weeks earlier I‘d been in so much pain, I wanted to take my life,” she said. “I‘d gone as far as visiting the GP and begging them for pills because I didn‘t want to be here any more.

“The assessor just laughed, saying ‘irrelevant, irrelevant, irrelevant‘.”

Mrs Matthews said her 22-year-old son intervened and told the assessor to leave.  She said the man pushed her son and as he went downstairs, told him: “You want a fight do you mate? I can give you a fight.”

Mrs Matthews said the man then kicked a child safety gate kept across the front door “out of the frame” and into the garden, yelling at her son: “I‘ll be back for you mate – clearly you want a fight.”

In a statement, Capita said it had apologised to the family, suspended an assessor “pending an investigation” and offered Mrs Matthews compensation. South Wales Police also confirmed it was investigating an allegation of criminal damage at the property, but added no arrests had been made.

A DWP spokesperson said: “We take these allegations extremely seriously. The assessor in this case was immediately suspended while Capita is carrying out their investigation.

“We expect the highest standards from our providers and all claimants must be treated with dignity and respect.” YEAH SURE!

SOURCE

Desperate times for disabled man after not being told his PIP assessment had been cancelled

Desperate times for disabled man after not being told his benefits assessment in Northampton had been cancelled

John Campbell had to travel from Kettering to Charles House in Derngate, Northampton, for his PIP assessment, which turned out to be cancelled. Photo: Google
John Campbell had to travel from Kettering to Charles House in Derngate, Northampton, for his PIP assessment, which turned out to be cancelled. NOTICE THE STEPS UP TO THE BUILDING!!!

A disabled man with mental health issues says he will rely on a food bank to eat this week after not being told a benefits assessment in Northampton had been cancelled.

John Campbell had to pay for a taxi to get to the early appointment to be assessed for a personal independence payment (PIP) on Monday (November 25). But the 50-year-old from Kettering, who struggles to walk due to arthritis, was told it did not exist by the receptionist, causing an anxiety attack from the stress of wasting money and being let down.

A spokesman for Capita, which carries out PIP assessments on behalf of the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) in the East Midlands, said they will reimburse him for his expenses.

But Mr Campbell said: “I’m very annoyed to be honest because my first appointment was cancelled because of my own mental issues. “Then I got the letter saying I had to be there on the 25th so I did everything possible and I took £38 out of my budget to make sure I got there for the appointment.

“But if I didn’t have the appointment, why didn’t they inform me and how many other people are they doing this to?”

Mr Campbell hurt his back in 2004 and has suffered with spinal issues ever since, while the loss of his daughter and mother around the same time caused serious depression and anxiety issues.

He used to get disability living allowance before it was scrapped for PIP, a non-means tested benefit for people aged between 16 and 64 who have a long term health condition. The north east native was told he was ‘not disabled enough’ and relies on Universal Credit but decided to apply again for PIP as his health has deteriorated.

“I thought it was about time I applied for PIP after struggling for a while as I know my nerve will snap at some point and I will be in a wheelchair,” he said. PIP would mean he could afford things like a taxi to go to the shops instead of having to walk, which can be tiresome and painful, often resulting in him collapsing in the street.

Capita’s assessments ‘focus on how an individual’s health conditions may impact on their daily life’ and ‘an important part’ of it is a face-to-face consultation, according to its website. 

To make the 8.10am appointment in Northampton – having been refused a home visit – Mr Campbell did not take his painkillers overnight as he would not wake up in time otherwise, meaning a sleepless and sore night. He then had to pay £25 for a taxi to get from his home in Arthur’s Way to Capita’s base at Charles House, Derngate.

But when he arrived, he was told there was no record of an appointment, and a further investigation found they would be contacting his GP to do the assessment instead. Mr Campbell said he had an anxiety attack in the office before a ‘perilous’ journey back to Kettering on the bus where he was worried for his own stability.

“They apologised on the phone but I said that’s not good enough as they should call people when you cancel appointments so people don’t pay for it,” he said.

“I’m going to have to use a food bank, I’ve been too proud before as I think it should go to homeless people instead of me but I’m going to have to go if I want to eat this week.”

The Capita spokesman added it is ‘committed to delivering a high-quality and empathetic service for everyone applying for PIP’.

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Government ‘exploits migrants for profit’

It CANNOT be denied that the Government ‘exploits migrants, disabled, sick, jobless, etc for profit’ via their huge outsourcing companies. People are a means to an end and they don’t care one iota what happens to them. I could sit here [in my living room, with my note book on my lap] listing thousands of terrible atrocites of private outsourcing companes, ATOS, G4S and Capita are a case in point, they have their fingers in many “pies”! Here are just a few examples:

Work by the research group Tussell suggests that the firm [Capita] won contracts from 226 different public sector buyers over the last two years alone, with around half of these coming from local governments. source

  1. Capita, ATOS & Maximus get reawarded contracts to test disabled people for benefits – regardless how incompetent they are!
  2. G4S Birmingham prison scandal once again exposes the flaws in outsourcing
  3. Commissioner to question Capita over missing GP patient records
  4. ATOS was outsourced to deal with complaints about NMC nurses, so in effect they “policed” their own charlatan nurses!
  5. My husband is ex-military and imagine our shock when we get a letter off Capita, who is handling his pension!
  6. G4S Outsourcing firm ran immigration removal centres and there was extreme scandals
  7. Capita is outsourced to deal with the TV licence, London Congestion Charge. It also looks after the NHS’s administration service, retailers and telecoms companies. BIG BROTHER IS WATCHING YOU EH!

Government ‘exploits migrants for profit’ by outsourcing visa services to private firms. Applicants are pressed into paying premium rates for a service that does not deliver, say lawyers.

Marcelo Lozada-Hidalgo, a university research fellow from Mexico.
 Marcelo Lozada-Hidalgo, a university research fellow from Mexico, paid £2,350 to extend his work visa. Photograph: Luis Alberto Castillo Diaz

The government has been accused of exploiting migrants for profit and leaving them in legal limbo after its visa application services were outsourced to private firms.

The Immigration Law Practitioners’ Association (ILPA) says that those seeking to work or settle in the UK are being pressed into paying premium rates for a fast-track service that does not reliably deliver.

Visa services for overseas applicants were outsourced to a Dubai-based firm, VFS, in 2014 and the process for those applying for residency permits was handed over to a French company, Spora Steria, last year.

Home Office revenues from overseas visa applications have soared ninefold to £1.6bn after VFS took over and much of the income is from heavily promoted add-on services such as fast-tracking and document checking. Applicants are warned that they must wait six months for a decision unless they pay an additional premium of up to £800 for a 24-hour “super priority” service.

“We are concerned that these services may exploit vulnerable and less well-informed migrants, who may feel pressured to purchase an expensive service which will not provide them with any benefit,” said ILPA chief executive Nicole Francis.

“The contract between UKVI and the subcontractors may have resulted in UK Visa and Immigration [UKVI] benefiting financially from the selling of additional services to customers.”

A shortage of free appointments for those already in the UK has forced some to pay the fee to renew their residency permit before their visas expire.

However, the prominent promotions of priority services on the government website do not specify that the 24-hour timescale applies only to the decision about a visa application, not to how long it will take to receive a biometric residency permit (BRP). These hold a person’s fingerprints and photograph on a secure chip, and can be used to confirm information on work and benefits entitlements.

The delays by the Home Office and its subcontractors are leaving some applicants unable to work or leave the country for weeks after they have paid the premium.

Marcelo Lozada-Hidalgo, a university research fellow from Mexico, paid £2,350 to extend his work visa, including £500 for the priority service to avoid the six-month wait.

Over two months later he was still awaiting his residency permit after it was delivered to the wrong address by DX, the courier contracted by the UKVI. He was told that he could not contact the Home Office directly, and that since its subcontracted helpline has no access to application details his only option was to apply again.

Image result for ATOS

He was obliged to pay another £1,135 in priority fees as no free appointments were available and DX was unable to locate his office block. “Royal Mail, Amazon, even Asda manage to deliver to my building, which happens to be a conspicuous national research facility – and they charge £4.50 or so for a delivery,” he says. “The Home Office cannot manage the same feat for £3,485.20.”

His request for his priority fees to be refunded was refused. UKVI instead advised him to change his delivery address, which he is unable to do because DX can’t provide a tracking number for the order.

“No one should be treated and squeezed for money like this, regardless of where they are born,” he says. “My experience shows how little the Home Office cares about the applications it receives for work visas, the fantastically large sums of money involved in the process and the lack of channels to appeal against flagrant negligence.”

His BRP eventually arrived via Royal Mail after the Observer intervened. The Home Office told the Observer that he was not due a refund of his priority fees since both applications had been processed on time and the delays were due to delivery errors.

A DX spokesperson said: “We are obviously very disappointed that Mr Lozada-Hidalgo had a poor experience with our delivery service and we wish to apologise to him. We have looked into the matter and have identified steps to improve our service in the light of his experience.”

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Capita benefits assessor ‘laughed’ at disabled woman

Capita benefits assessor ‘laughed’ at disabled woman

Hook News/Cheryl Matthews


PIP assessor told claimant to ignore her ‘irrelevant’ suicide attempt… then challenged her son to a fight 

A metal gate lying on the ground
A benefits assessor told a disabled woman to ignore “irrelevant” information about a suicide attempt, shoved her son after he was asked to halt the assessment, challenged him to a fight, and then damaged their house as he left.
The shocking incident in Cardiff last week has left Cheryl Matthews terrified that the healthcare professional who carried out her face-to-face personal independence payment (PIP) assessment for the outsourcing giant Capita could return to her home.
As he left the house, the assessor even told her 22-year-old son that he intended to return for a fight. Capita has confirmed that the assessor has been suspended as a result of the incident, but the company has refused to say if it will now re-examine the other face-to-face assessments he has carried out for the company on behalf of the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP).But within two hours of her lodging her complaint, Capita had already offered her £600 compensation.
South Wales police is now investigating allegations of criminal damage by the PIP assessor. Matthews, who works as a customer service agent and has several long-term health conditions, including one that could cause a fatal aneurysm if she becomes anxious, has struggled to sleep since the incident last Wednesday.
She already receives the PIP standard rates for daily living and mobility, but she had requested a new assessment after her health worsened in recent months.She says she has been told by Capita that the assessor confirmed to his bosses that the incident had taken place, after he was called in for an interview about the allegations.
Matthews has told Disability News Service (DNS) how the assessor agreed to carry out the face-to-face assessment in her bedroom because her stairlift was broken.Her husband Paul was also in the room during the assessment, while her disabled son was in his bedroom nearby. But she said the assessor began to grow angry after she told him she couldn’t say which of her various health conditions was causing her the most problems with her mobility and ability to live independently.
And when she told him that she had recently been to hospital with one of her conditions, he told her: “Absolutely irrelevant. Irrelevant, irrelevant, irrelevant.“I don’t need to know about the past. I just need to know about your condition.”As she grew increasingly alarmed by his attitude, she told him she found him “very, very rude and quite abrupt”.
When she said she had been treated for a kidney infection and was being tested for lupus, the assessor said: “As I told you, I’m not going to repeat myself again…”She then told him that she had tried to take her own life six weeks earlier, but he again told her this was “irrelevant”.
At this point, her son, who was passing the room and could see how upset his mum was becoming, told the assessor: “Excuse me, I have heard you being quite rude to my mum.”The assessor, who she believes is in his 50s, asked her son if he wanted him to end the assessment and leave, and he said yes.
Matthews said: “With that he slapped his laptop closed, ripped the plug out of the extension lead and as he left the bedroom he pushed my son so hard that he fell against the door.”The assessor ran downstairs and then turned and told her son, who was still at the top of the stairs: “You want a fight do you, mate, because I can give you a fight?”
Matthews’ son told his mum to phone the police and told the assessor: “I have told you three times now to leave the house.”The assessor then left the front door open and kicked the safety gate that protects their three dogs off its hinges, damaging the wall of the house (pictured).
As he left, he told her son: “Don’t worry, I will be back for you because clearly you want a fight.”Matthews was told later that day by Capita that the company had immediately called the assessor in for an interview after she lodged her initial complaint. She said she was concerned about other disabled people who were in more vulnerable situations than she was who could have been visited in their own homes by the same assessor.
She said: “He’s in a very powerful position.”She said his behaviour raised concerns about the other face-to-face assessments he has carried out for Capita. She was too unwell to go to work for the two days following the incident, and added: “I have had to go to the doctors because I was so upset. I have been really quite anxious, worrying if he was going to come back.”
She has been visited twice by a police officer about the allegations. She said she still could not believe what had happened and how the assessor had behaved. She said: “I don’t think you could have written it.“I would never in my wildest dreams have thought that somebody in such a position would have been so aggressive.”
The incident is just the latest in a series of failings that have plagued the PIP assessment process since the government launched the new benefit in 2013.Evidence from disabled people – collated by the grassroots WOWCampaign and published in July – shows that PIP assessment reports are still often riddled with distortions, twisted facts and ignorance.
DNS spent months investigating allegations of dishonesty by PIP assessors in late 2016 and throughout 2017, hearing eventually from more than 250 disabled people in less than a year about how they had been unfairly deprived of their benefits.And last month, DNS revealed that PIP claimants are now almost twice as likely to win their tribunal appeal than claimants of disability living allowance – which is being replaced by PIP for working-age claimants – were almost a decade ago.
A Capita spokesperson said: “We have apologised to Ms Matthews and offered her compensation following this incident.“The assessor involved has been suspended pending an investigation.”But she declined to say whether the company would now review his past face-to-face assessments, and if Capita would contact those claimants he has assessed. She also declined to say whether he was a nurse, a paramedic or an occupational therapist, and whether there had been other similar complaints made against him.
A DWP spokesperson said: “We take these allegations extremely seriously – the assessor in this case was immediately suspended while Capita is carrying out their investigation.“We expect the highest standards from our providers and all claimants must be treated with dignity and respect.“Capita’s investigation is ongoing – we cannot comment any further.”
A South Wales police spokesperson said: “South Wales police is investigating an allegation of criminal damage to a property in [Cardiff], on October 16.“Statements have been taken and enquiries are ongoing. There have been no arrests.”

A note from the [DNS] editor: Please consider making a voluntary financial contribution to support the work of DNS and allow it to continue producing independent, carefully-researched news stories that focus on the lives and rights of disabled people and their user-led organisations.Please do not contribute if you cannot afford to do so, and please note that DNS is not a charity. It is run and owned by disabled journalist John Pring and has been from its launch in April 2009.Thank you for anything you can do to support the work of DNS…[please donate via the DNS website]

Capita seeks to reverse ‘reputational damage’ after death of claimant

Victoria SmithVictoria Smith died last July, before a tribunal overturned the decision to stop her benefit

Benefit-assessment company Capita is going to court to try to reverse the “reputational damage” it says it suffered after a claimant died.

Victoria Smith died months after her personal independence payments were stopped following a Capita assessment. The outsourcing company was ordered to pay £10,000 in damages over its handling of her disability claim.

It was found to have made incorrect statements but wants the county court verdict set aside and the case reheard.

The company conducts health assessments for personal independence payments (PIP), the main disability benefit, on behalf of the Department for Work and Pensions.

While the decision over whether someone receives the benefit is made by a DWP official, Capita’s assessment of how a person’s disability affects their life is a crucial part of the process.

READ MORE

‘She gave up’

A Capita healthcare assistant came to assess Ms Smith in March 2018.

The 33-year-old, from Market Drayton, in Shropshire, suffered from agoraphobia and fibromyalgia, which left her body in constant pain.

The Capita employee found Ms Smith did not score a single point in the test – and the DWP stopped her benefit. In February 2019, her mother, Susan Kemlo, told BBC News the decision had “destroyed her”. “When they took away her ability to look after herself, to have a way of life, she gave up,” she said.

Ms Smith died of a brain haemorrhage in July 2018 but doctors told the family her underlying conditions, particularly the fibromyalgia, had deteriorated as well. The week after her death, a social security tribunal decided she had been eligible for PIP.

Furious with the conclusions the Capita employee had reached, Mrs Kemlo took legal action against the company for maladministration – in essence making inaccurate statements – and was awarded £10,000.

“I didn’t do it for the money,” said Mrs Kemlo. “I did it for them to admit they were wrong, to get some justice for my daughter, because [it’s] only ever been about justice for Victoria.”

“Fit” for work: Man’s ashes taken to his appeal

Capita web pageImage copyrightCAPITA

But Capita is now going to court later this month to try to set aside the judgement.

At a hearing scheduled for Telford County Court, the company will argue it never had a chance to defend the case because of problems in its own internal mail system.

In court papers, Capita “acknowledges that it has not been able to explain the default and therefore cannot provide a good reason for it” but says its failure to respond to the court was “entirely innocent and inadvertent”.

Capita also stands by its employee’s assessment of Ms Smith, describing it as “fit for purpose, accurate and medically justified” and says the family’s claim is therefore “without merit”. WHAT THE ****

If the court refuses to set aside the judgement, the company says, “the prejudice to Capita… is extremely significant”. “Capita has been on the receiving end of significant negative press which suggests that it has been held liable following a successful claim by the claimant,” it says. “This causes significant reputational damage to Capita’s business.”

DWP figures show PIP complaints against Atos and Capita continue to rise

‘Plainly wrong’

The court action by Capita has been condemned by Duncan Walker, a welfare rights adviser with Unite the Union, who has been supporting Mrs Kemlo since her daughter’s death.

“In the tragic case of Victoria, this was just one more example of shocking maladministration by Capita at public expense.

“Every Pip case undertaken by Unite members in Stoke-on-Trent with the specific health care professional in Victoria’s case has been overturned by the social security tribunals.

“It is an abuse of public funds and plainly wrong that such… reports are presented as fact and a shameful indictment of the government welfare reform ideology clearly persecuting disabled and vulnerable people.” said Mr Walker.

SOURCE

DWP figures show PIP complaints against Atos and Capita continue to rise

The performance of the two companies carrying out disability benefit assessments on behalf of the government is continuing to deteriorate, according to new figures released by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP).

Four executives from Capita and Atos sit behind a table, with other people sat behind them

The DWP figures, released to Disability News Service (DNS) under the Freedom of Information Act, show that the proportion of personal independence payment (PIP) assessments carried out by outsourcing giant Capita that lead to a complaint has risen significantly in the last three years.

And the proportion of PIP assessments carried out by fellow outsourcing company Atos that lead to a complaint has increased sharply in the last two years.

The figures suggest that the likelihood of claimants experiencing sub-standard PIP assessments at the hands of the two companies has dramatically increased, despite public expressions of regret to MPs by Capita and Atos in February 2016 and December 2017 (pictured) about their performance.

DWP chiefs get millions in bonuses, whilst making the poorest suffer

The figures also show that Capita is continuing to attract a much higher rate of complaints than Atos, while Capita is also about twice as likely to uphold a complaint as Atos.

In 2015, there were more than 1,800 complaints about Capita, with 1.1 per cent of assessments leading to a complaint.

But that rose to 1.42 per cent in 2016, to 1.44 per cent in 2017 and 1.57 per cent last year, with 3,490 complaints about Capita assessments in 2018.

In 2015, 0.52 per cent of Atos assessments led to a complaint, falling slightly to 0.49 per cent in 2016, before rising to 0.69 per cent in 2017 and 0.8 per cent in 2018.

Last year, Capita upheld 34 per cent of all PIP complaints, while Atos upheld only three per cent of “admin” complaints and 15 per cent of “clinical” PIP complaints.

DWP refused to say if it was concerned by the rise in complaints, by Capita attracting more complaints than Atos, and by Capita upholding more of those complaints.

It also refused to say if the figures showed that the performance of Atos and Capita was worsening year by year, and it refused to say what action it would take to address these concerns.

Instead, a DWP spokesperson said in a statement: “We want the PIP assessment process to work well for everyone and have made significant improvements, including testing the video recording of assessments.

“The number of complaints about PIP assessments represents less than one per cent of the total number of individuals assessed.” Capita refused to say why it appeared to be attracting so many more complaints than Atos; why it was drawing more complaints every year; why it was upholding so many of those complaints; and whether it believed the figures showed its performance was worsening year by year.

A Capita spokesperson said: “We are committed to delivering a high quality and empathetic service for people applying for PIP. RTFLMAO

DWP quietly hands private firms £600m extra to test disabled people for benefits

“All our people are focused on delivering the best service to individuals coming through the PIP assessment process – their passion is evidenced in our monthly independent customer satisfaction results, which in 2018 was over 95 per cent.”

Atos refused to say why it thought it was attracting more complaints every year, and whether the figures showed that its performance was worsening year by year. It also refused to say why it was upholding so few complaints, and fewer than Capita.

But an Atos spokesperson said: “While complaints represent on average less than one per cent of all assessments, we strive to ensure every claimant experience is positive, which is why our focus has consistently been on providing a professional and compassionate assessment service.”

Last year, the then minister for disabled people, Sarah Newton, announced that the government was extending the Atos and Capita PIP contracts by a further two years, to 2021.

Since the introduction of PIP in 2013, the two companies have earned hundreds of millions of pounds from their assessment contracts.

DNS spent months investigating allegations of dishonesty by PIP assessors in late 2016 and throughout 2017, hearing eventually from more than 250 disabled people in less than a year about how they had been unfairly deprived of their benefits.

It continues to receive such reports today, more than two-and-a-half years after the investigation began.

SOURCE


A note from the [DNS] editor:

Please consider making a voluntary financial contribution to support the work of DNS and allow it to continue producing independent, carefully-researched news stories that focus on the lives and rights of disabled people and their user-led organisations.

Please do not contribute if you cannot afford to do so, and please note that DNS is not a charity. It is run and owned by disabled journalist John Pring and has been from its launch in April 2009.

Thank you for anything you can do to support the work of DNS…[Please donate via the DNS website]

Capita assessor lied about woman’s thoughts of suicide, recording shows

A disabled woman who repeatedly spoke about her thoughts of suicide during an assessment had her disability benefits removed after the assessor lied to the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) about what she had heard, a recording shows.

Dqan2TSWkAEnCoe

The woman, Diane*, who has been under the care of a psychiatrist for more than two decades, secretly recorded last November’s face-to-face assessment, which was carried out by an occupational therapist working for the outsourcing giant Capita.

Despite Diane later telling DWP what had happened in detail, explaining her concerns about the assessment, and reminding the department that she had had years of treatment for significant mental distress, a civil servant dismissed her account and confirmed the decision to remove her entitlement to personal independence payment (PIP).

It is the latest evidence that DWP’s disability benefits system poses a significant risk to the safety of disabled people claiming benefits, particularly those experiencing mental distress, and that the department itself is not fit for purpose.

Jack Carroll: ‘I was treated with derision and suspicion in my PIP assessment’

And it will add weight to calls – through the Justice for Jodey Whiting petition – for the department to take urgent measures to make the safety of claimants a priority, for MPs to acknowledge that DWP is not fit for purpose, and for them to call for an independent inquiry into links between its actions and the deaths of disabled people claiming benefits.

Only last week, DWP faced fresh allegations of negligence after admitting that it keeps no records of how many of the complaints it receives involve the death of a claimant of disability benefits.

Diane has told Disability News Service (DNS) that her experience convinced her that the assessment process was “utterly broken and unfit for purpose”.

On the recording, Diane tells the occupational therapist who carried out the assessment several times that she is currently struggling with suicidal thoughts. But the assessor, in a report subsequently sent to DWP, concluded: “They deny any current thoughts of suicide and/or self-harm.”

And despite Diane – and her husband, who had accompanied her – describing her paranoid delusions, hallucinations, psychosis, extreme levels of anxiety and suicidal depression, the assessor told DWP in her report: “She denies experiencing any thought disorders or perceptions.”

There were many other blatant inaccuracies in the report. A month after the assessment, her mental health further damaged by the assessment process, Diane attempted to take her own life.

Three weeks later, on 6 January, as a result of the assessment report, DWP removed Diane’s eligibility for PIP, which she had previously received at the daily living enhanced rate.

She was admitted to hospital again later that month, after her husband began the process of seeking a mandatory reconsideration of the decision. But when she told DWP about the dishonest assessment report, a civil servant confirmed the decision to remove her PIP and told her that assessors have “nothing to gain by fabricating evidence or suppressing information and will invariably report what they observe and what they are told at the assessment.”

Tomlinson silent after ‘lying’ to MPs about benefits freeze

The civil servant added: “The available evidence indicates there is no significant degree of impairment.”

Diane contacted DNS about her experience after reading about the Justice for Jodey Whiting petition, which asks MPs to: brand DWP not fit for purpose and disablist; call for the department to take urgent action to make the safety of benefit claimants a priority; and demand an inquiry into DWP’s links with numerous deaths.

The petition** has been backed by the families of seven disabled people who have died in cases linked to DWP, as well as four grassroots groups of disabled people – Black TriangleDisabled People Against CutsMental Health Resistance Network and WOWcampaign – and DNS.

After being contacted about Diane’s case by DNS, a Capita spokesperson refused to say if the company accepted that the assessment report was negligent or dishonest, or if Diane’s experience showed it was putting the safety of claimants at risk and that DWP was not fit for purpose.

But she said in a statement: “We are committed to delivering a high quality and empathetic service for people applying for PIP.

“We operate a robust complaints process for anyone that is unhappy with the service provided, including escalating the complaint to the DWP should a customer feel it has not been satisfactorily resolved.

Disabled benefit claimants ‘treated more like cattle than human beings’

“We are looking into this case.”

A DWP spokesperson said: “We want everyone to have a good experience at their PIP assessment and we have asked our assessment provider to look at [Diane’s] PIP claim to ensure she is getting the full support she’s entitled to.”

But she declined to say if DWP believed the assessment report was dishonest or negligent, or if the case showed again that the department was not fit for purpose and was putting the safety of claimants at risk.

Diane said: “This case is truly representative of how broken the PIP system is all across the UK, with so many cases getting overturned at appeal. “It is totally unfair to discriminate in this way against disabled people, who also may not be as able to stand up for their rights.

“The DWP are making disabled people even more ill and in quite a few tragic cases killing disabled people. “I very nearly became one of the statistics in December 2018.

“The stress of PIP has added to an already huge burden of pressures. I was admitted to hospital again in January suicidal. “The wider cost to society of these PIP appeals is far more than any cost savings projected by the government.”

*Not her real name

**To sign the Justice for Jodey Whiting petition, visit parliament’s petitions website . If you sign it, please note that you will need to confirm your signature by clicking on an email you will be sent automatically by the House of Commons petitions committee

Samaritans can be contacted free, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, by calling 116 123 or emailing jo@samaritans.org

source