98.4% said that they would prefer the WCA to be recorded
Almost 70% were not aware that they could ask for a recording. The lack of any mention of recording of the WCA in the Atos literature helped the ‘lack of demand’ issue.
For those that had asked for a recording but were refused one almost half 40% were not given a reason for the refusal of the remainder: nearly a quarter (24.5%) were simply told they were not allowed a recording, 20% were told the machines were broken and the remainder were told Atos staff did not like recordings.
Of those refused a recording 65% were told they must attend their appointment without recording or be classified as a ‘no show’. While 23% were not aware that a recording would not be carried out until they arrived at the assessment centre where they faced the choice of returning home and risking loss of benefits or staying and going through the assessment without recording.
74% said that it was difficult for them to travel to the assessment centre, we heard from those who were sent for assessments away from their closest centre with complicated travel routes
Almost half (47.5%) were not aware that they could ask for a home assessment, of those that did and asked for a home assessment none believed they received a satisfactory response to the refusal to grant a home assessment
64% of those that said their doctors were told not to provide written support said this was because of the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP)
Some respondents said that the DWP had written to their doctors to tell them not to issue ‘fit notes’ or written support, others that doctors resented such directives and would supply these based on their expertise and knowledge of the individual.
The survey drew 733 responses. It asks questions that were not asked in the Harrington review, questions on issues of recording, access, doctors input and the apparent increasing influence of the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) on doctors’. As such it represents the first evidence based research report on these issues.
The responses contribute to a growing list of criticisms on the experiences of the WCA, welfare reform/cuts and their impacts on the lives of disabled people. It also adds to the growing list of criticism against Atos the company contracted by the Government to carry out assessments, at the cost of 1.10 million pounds per year. Significant concerns are being raised on the financial cost of appeals against Atos WCA decisions, currently running at 60-80 million per year, but it is the human cost of suicides and premature deaths rising from 32 per week to 73[ii] a week of those undergoing this process that represents a larger cost. It is a UK outrage that these assessments continue.
The survey responses show the tricks, barriers and bullying tactics used to prevent audio recordings. How difficult home assessments are and how centres, access and travel are made problematic and the ways that doctors input is being ignored and appears to be increasingly directed by the Department for Work and Pensions. The survey is a collection of the ways people are being driven to crisis point, and worse by a system with no clear public accountability. (See also 76% entitled to support after appeal figures and appeals increase by 40%)
One person said:
If I filled a benefit claim form in and deliberately lied, misled with my answers and omitted information / events relevant to my claim with the view to gain financially – I would have my ass hauled into court on charges of benefit fraud. The DWP and ATOS are doing exactly those things with the farce they call an assessment and are both gaining financially by, dare I say, producing fraudulent reports when assessing peoples eligibility for benefit. I suggest people pool together, write statements describing their experience with ATOS and the assessment, highlight the discrepancies between what was said / happened in the assessment and what was written into the report .. and when enough statements are gathered, hand them to the top cop in the country and demand they launch an investigation into the activities of both ATOS and the DWP on the grounds of fraudulent behaviour.
From the quotes and responses to our survey the comment is entirely valid.
Download the report in WORD by clicking this link: final wca surveydpac
Download the report in PDF by clicking this link: final-wca-surveydpac-1