The Department intends to publish official statistics in the spring. In the meantime, we are looking to see whether we can publish interim information as soon as it becomes available.
I thank the Minister for that answer, which is good news for a lot of people. He will appreciate that a lot of people are suffering while Capita takes so long to get that information out; they have the anxiety of not knowing whether their appeals, or even their applications for assessment, have been agreed. What kind of monitoring of Capita is he doing, and does it have enough people to do the job?
We are monitoring the work of both Capita and Atos, and we will have the figures as soon as we can. Under the previous Administration’s scheme, fewer than 6% of people claiming this or a similar benefit were ever assessed. It must be right and proper that there is not self-assessment; it is done by the experts.
Will the Minister look into the fact that personal independence payments seem to get stuck in the system and are not passed on to the Department for Work and Pensions? My constituent waited three months for an assessment. Three more months later, it is still stuck in the system. The Department wants to sort it out. What more can he do to ensure that they liaise with each other?
The Department’s officials and the contractors, Atos and Capita, are working closely every single day. We need to ensure that we get the decisions right. In such situations as the one brought to the House’s attention by my hon. Friend, we will work closely. If my hon. Friend contacts me later, we will look exactly at that point.
When the Minister appeared in front of the Select Committee, he admitted that there had been very long delays in getting PIP assessment determinations. People had applied in the summer and still did not have a determination by December. We are a month further on and they still have not yet heard anything. I am now receiving e-mails from people across the whole country, as well as from my own constituents, who have been waiting for more than six months since they had their face-to-face assessment. They still have not heard whether they will get the benefit or not. What is the Minister doing to ensure that people find out whether they qualify?
The evidence I gave to the Select Committee—the Committee’s questions were useful to me and I hope the evidence I gave was useful—is that the key to this is that we roll it out until we get the decisions right. The next part of the roll-out is taking place today in south Scotland. If we get it right, it will be a much better benefit for everybody. As we know, there are delays, but they are based on getting the quality and the decisions right. We are working very closely and very hard to make sure that decisions are correct when they are put out.