No impact assessment on vulnerable PIP claimants says local MP.
Plaid Cymru MP for Arfon Hywel Williams says Capita, the firm charged by the UK Government to assess vulnerable claimants for Personal Independence Payments (PIP) should urgently re-open its assessment centre in Bangor, after it emerged it’s been closed since November 2019.
The contract between the DWP and assessment provider Capita, states that claimants should not have to travel for more than ninety minutes by public transport for an assessment. Capita are advising claimants that the nearest alternative assessment centres are in Rhyl and Aberystwyth.
Some claimants (living on the Llŷn Peninsula) were told by Capita that in order to receive a PIP review, they’d have to make the 140-mile round trip to Rhyl, whilst also being denied a home visit.
Hywel Williams MP said,
‘The closure of the PIP assessment centre in Parc Menai, Bangor without providing a suitable alternative location will have a severe impact on sick and disabled people in my constituency who will now have to travel outside of the area to attend assessments.’
‘Indeed, as I understand from discussions with my neighbouring constituency MP Liz Saville Roberts, there is evidence of vulnerable people being told to travel for more than 90 minutes (over three hours) by public transport for their assessment to the nearest alternative centre in Rhyl.’
‘Like most people, I find it astonishing that the centre has closed its doors without any prior public notice. Whatever the circumstances, this smacks of government cuts by stealth, adding to the pervasive culture of mistrust which already exacerbates claimant anxiety.’
‘Capita are contractually obliged to consider the specific needs of claimants when undertaking assessments. This includes locating assessment centres as local and as convenient as possible to those in receipt of benefits.’
‘The assessment process is not fit for purpose as it is, and instead of supporting vulnerable people, the process is often dehumanising, erroneous and worsens existing health conditions for vulnerable people.’
‘Capita have had four months to find an alternative location in Bangor. This situation is a serious cause of concern for me and my constituents and the government must urgently clarify what efforts are being made to establish new assessment centres to meet the needs of local claimants.’
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