The DWP is now losing battles on all fronts, as the last fortnight has proved repeatedly.
Because whilst the big benefits news has been George Osborne’s massive u-turn over tax credits, there have been a host of smaller reverses for the DWP.
The forced transfer from DLA to PIP is already running into serious delays – though there has been no change so far in the estimate that a quarter of current working age DLA claimants will get no award of PIP; Maximus is failing to carry out enough work capability assessments, because not enough health professionals want to work for them, and support group numbers are rising as a result; the courts have ruled against the benefits cap for carers and mandatory work schemes are being axed as more and more big companies and charities bow to activist pressure.
On top of all that, Ken Loach is making a film about benefits sanctions. He says that the situation is now even worse than when he made ‘Cathy come home’.
FORCED DLA TO PIP TRANSFER IN TROUBLE
The Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) now believes that it will take the DWP three years instead of two to reassess all current working age DLAclaimants for PIP.
It blames the increase on Atos and Capita failing to carry out enough face-to-face assessments and suggests that the DLA to PIP transfer process is beginning to look as badly managed as the incapacity benefit to ESA one.
However, the OBR still believes that 26% of ‘lifetime’ DLA claimants will get no award at all when forced to claim PIP.
ESA SUPPORT GROUP KEEPS GROWING
The OBR has also revised its estimate of the proportion of claimants likely to be in the support group long-term. In July it thought there would be 30%, now it thinks that it will be 38%.
One likely cause is the fact that Maximus are failing to carry out enough medicals, meaning that two thirds of the backlog of reassessment of current claimants has still not been cleared.
MAXIMUS LOSING MILLIONS ON WCA
The reason that Maximus are not carrying out enough assessments is that they are having problems recruiting enough health professionals to do the job.
Their lack of staff means that an expected $30 million profit in the first year of the WCA contract has ended up as a $4 million loss. Maximus’ shares plummeted in value by 26% when the loss was revealed.
This is bad news for the DWP as well as Maximus. It suggests that the WCA is still tainted by the reputation it gained under Atos and even offering well above market wages is not enough to tempt health professional in sufficient numbers.
MANDATORY WORK SCHEMES TO CLOSE
The government is axing mandatory work activity and community work placements. The announcement comes after years of protests and court action by claimants forced into unpaid work with no prospect of a job at the end.
The not so good news, however, is that a new scheme called the Work and Health Programme is to be introduced.
As one commentator has already suggested, this might be the beginning of attempts to force claimants into compulsory treatment programmes such as CBT or help to combat drug or alcohol misuse.
BENEFIT CAP FOR CARERS UNLAWFUL
The High Court has ruled that the household benefit cap unlawfully discriminates against carers.
So far the DWP is still refusing to budge and has even issued an urgent bulletin to local councils warning them that the cap continues to apply. At least for single carers, however, they may have no choice but to obey the law in the end.
(from Benefits and Work)