Disability Benefits Without the Fight
Rt Hon Therese Coffey MP
Secretary of State for Work and Pensions
Dear Secretary of State for Work and Pensions,
Scope is calling on Government to provide disabled people with a right to request an appropriate assessor for Personal Independence Payment (PIP) assessments and the Work Capability Assessments (WCA).
When applying for disability benefits, far too many disabled people get assessed by someone who doesn’t understand their condition. Disabled people are being repeatedly failed by stressful and degrading benefits assessments. This creates enormous anxiety, leaving disabled people forced to fight for the right support, and at risk of poverty when income is ripped away.
All assessors are medical professionals, but often they don’t have the specialist training to match the conditions of the person they are assessing.
We believe that disabled people should have a right to request an appropriate assessor. Right now, if someone applies for PIP primarily on the basis of having a learning disability, they could be assessed by a physiotherapist who has little understanding of their needs. A right to an appropriate assessor would mean a disabled person could be assessed by someone with an appropriate medical background and a far better understanding of their needs.
The current process isn’t getting assessments right; 72 per cent of PIP decisions taken to a tribunal are found to be wrong. Having the right to request an appropriate assessor could see more correct outcomes the first time around. That would have a huge impact on the emotional and financial wellbeing of disabled people.
Disabled people should never have to fight to get the support they’re entitled to. But almost three quarters don’t get the right benefit decision the first time around. The right to request an appropriate assessor for disability benefits assessments would bring us closer to a system that works for disabled people, not against them.
Mark Hodgkinson, Chief Executive - Scope
Diane Lightfoot, CEO - The Business Disability Forum
Emily Holzhausen OBE, Director of Policy and Public Affairs - Carers UK
Disability Benefits Consortium
Kamran Mallick, CEO - Disability Rights UK
Philip Lee, Chief Executive - Epilepsy Action
Dawn Golder, Executive Director - FND Hope UK
Brian Dow, Chief Executive - Mental Health UK
Nick Moberly, Chief Executive - MS Society
Caroline Stevens, Chief Executive - National Autistic Society
Sarah Miller, Chief Executive - Papworth Trust
Caroline Rassell, Chief Executive- Parkinson’s UK
Mark Winstanley, Chief Executive - Rethink Mental Illness
Richard Kramer, Chief Executive - Sense
Charles Colquhoun, Chief Executive - Thomas Pocklington Trust
Bethany Black - Comedian
Eliza @disabled_eliza - Disability and LGBTQ+ content creator and activist
Lucy Dawson @luuudaw - Disability activist and model
Richard Herring - Scope patron and comedian
Sophie Morgan - Scope patron, presenter, artist and campaigner
Will Pike - Presenter, speaker, writer and disability rights campaigner