To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what assessment she has made of the feasibility of restarting face-to-face work capability assessments; and what plans her Department has to expedite the backlog of cases waiting for assessment.
14 December 2020
The health and safety of our claimants and staff is our key priority. We suspended all face-to-face assessments for sickness and disability benefits in March. This temporary suspension, brought in to protect people from unnecessary risk of coronavirus at the outset of the pandemic, remains in place, and is being kept under review in line with the latest public health guidance. Any re-introduction of face-to-face assessments would involve additional Covid-related safety measures, and guidance for claimants and assessment providers to ensure compliance with the relevant public health guidance.
Throughout the pandemic our immediate focus has been on supporting people impacted by COVID-19 by putting claims into payment as quickly as possible, as well as paying any additional benefit where claimants may be entitled to a higher award. We continue to complete paper based assessments where possible and have introduced telephone assessments.