Throughout the pandemic we have ensured that disability benefits remain open and we are committed to ensuring that claimants receive a high-quality, consistent and efficient service. We continue to complete paper-based assessments where possible and are now carrying out telephone assessments alongside a trial for video assessments.
The outsourcing of assessments for employment and support allowance and personal independence payments to companies such as Capita has been a travesty. Constituents tell me how they have been signed off work by their GP, only for non-specialist Capita assessors to refuse their claims. When they appeal, they are forced to wait absurd lengths of time for the decision, which causes severe financial hardship. Coventry Law Centre, which deals with the majority of appeals in the city, has found that a staggering 90% of appeals are successful. This pandemic has shown that things can be done differently, so will the Minister take this opportunity to scrap these cruel assessments, kick out outsourcing companies such as Capita and bring in a framework that treats disabled people with dignity and respect.
We have increased, in real terms, by £3 billion the support provided to those with disabilities and health conditions, through disability benefits. All of our assessors have at least two years’ experience and extensive training. The Department monitors closely the quality—this is carried out independently—and 92% of claimants have found their experience either satisfactory or better.