To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what recent assessment her Department has made of the mental health of claimants during the assessment process for (a) personal independent payment, (b) employment and support allowance and (c) universal credit; and if she will make a statement.
21 January 2020
We recognise that attending a Personal Independence Payment assessment or Work Capability Assessment for Universal Credit or Employment and Support Allowance can be a stressful experience and that is why we do not carry out face-to-face assessments where there is enough existing evidence to determine benefit entitlement. Assessing claims on solely paper-based evidence avoids face-to-face assessments.
The assessment of mental, cognitive and intellectual function is an integral part of all these assessments and all Health Professionals have undergone comprehensive training in the functional assessment of disability and mental health conditions. Before attending a face-to-face assessment, claimants are given the opportunity to alert their assessment provider of any additional requirements they may have and the providers will meet any reasonable requests.
In addition, Mental Function Champions support Health Professionals by providing additional expertise about mental health, cognitive, developmental and learning disabilities and can be referred to at any time during the assessment process.
Furthermore, companions or advocates may play an active role in helping claimants answer questions where the claimant or Health Professional wishes them to do so. This may be particularly important where the claimant has a mental, cognitive or intellectual impairment.