Patients dying before benefit assessments


Privateer Capita presiding over a ‘scandalous’ backlog of claims for personal independence payments

Patients are dying before they are assessed by private contractor Capita for welfare payments to help them cope, MPs have said.

The company was contracted to carry out assessments under the recently introduced personal independence payment (PIP) system.

But at a Westminster Hall debate, Labour MP Susan Elan Jones called Capita’s unprecedented case backlog “a scandal of national proportions” and called for urgent government action.

“It’s very clear from Capita’s handling of PIP assessments that they are not the right company for the job,” she said.

“Waiting times for assessment have been so long, that in some cases, people with a terminal condition have died before receiving a penny and yet Capita remains in place.

As the government phases out disability living allowance (DLA), disabled people across the country are being forced to undergo assessments for PIP — aimed at reducing the amount they receive in benefits.

But many disabled and vulnerable people are going without any benefit as their DLA has been cut while they await a PIP assessment.

The situation is so bad that civil servants have been drafted in to help clear Capita’s backlog.

Ms Elan Jones accused Capita, which assesses thousands of terminally ill, sick and disabled people across Wales and the Midlands, of wasting “millions of pounds of taxpayers’ money.”

And Labour shadow work and pensions minister Kate Green said that they were not just dealing with “isolated cases.”

“I believe those concerns would be replicated among colleagues right across the UK,” she said.

Campaign group Disabled People Against Cuts founder Linda Burnip said she had received hundreds of emails from people who were “waiting six to eight months before being seen.”

She told the Star: “It’s not working. In fact it’s a total disaster. Private companies are not able to carry out these contracts.

“Atos failed completely to carry out work capability assessments and Capita is failing at carrying out PIP assessments.

“This work should be carried out within the NHS and the civil service.”

Work and Pensions Minister Mike Penning said he would launch a review into Capita’s failings.

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