North West charities say the benefits system is failing the people it's designed to support.
They say they're overwhelmed by requests for help from people applying for what are now called Personal Independence Payments. They were aimed at helping people live as independently as possible.
But a nurse has contacted Granada Reports after our report last night, to say in her experience the system is designed to get as many people off benefits as possible. She trained for a private company which carries out all the governments work capability assessments, and said she was told to try to 'catch claimants out'.
Tonight we're airing our second report in our series looking at the impact of the benefits changes. Elaine Willcox has been talking to someone who was wrongly assessed and to organisations who say the system is in crisis.
ITV Granada Reports has made repeated attempts for the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions to respond to the issues we have raised, and contacted every conservative MP in our region, but no one would be interviewed.
Assessments are carried out by qualified health professionals who combine their clinical knowledge with an understanding of the fact that not everyone with the same disability is impacted in the same way. Under PIP 26% of claimants are now receiving the highest rate of support, compared to 15% under its replacement the Disability Living Allowance.
Maximus, the US company which carries out work capability assessments for the DWP, said:
'The role of Centre for Health and Disability Assessments is to provide quality, respectful and fair functional assessments. All our healthcare professionals go through a rigorous training programme to ensure they deliver to the highest standard. We take these types of allegations very seriously. We are unable to comment further on an anonymous case, we can confirm that customer satisfaction ratings are currently at 93% and we are committed to driving continuous improvement to the service we provide.”
Charities are calling for a complete overhaul of medical assessments which tribunals show make too many wrong decisions.
Legal advocates say the assessment system is still getting too many decisions wrong, forcing thousands of claimants to go to court.
Organisations say they are overwhelmed trying to support people denied benefits and claim the system is in crisis.