DWP AUDITS “STILL SHROUDED IN SECRECY” FOLLOWING MINISTERIAL MEETING

3rd December 2018

ACCESS BARRED TO AUDIT RECOMMENDATION REPORT AND STILL NO TRANSPARENCY ON POWER OF AUDITORS

Following a meeting with Disability Minister, Sarah Newton, SNP MP Marion Fellows says there is still no transparency on audits carried out by Department for Work and Pension (DWP) staff on the health assessment reports of Personal Independence Payment (PIP) claims.

DWP audits came under scrutiny earlier this year after a constituent of Mrs Fellows appealed the decision of his PIP claim and was accidentally sent both the original and the ‘audited’ report of his face-to-face health assessment which are carried out by Independent Assessment Services (IAS).

Every section of the original report where her constituent scored points was reduced to zero by the ‘auditor’. Had her constituent’s report not been audited, he would have been entitled to the standard rate of the daily living component worth £57.30 per week.

Mrs Fellows met with the Minister this month who said that auditors could only provide recommendations of changes to the health report to IAS staff.

But a letter from IAS received by Mrs Fellows said “the Auditor has the authority to overrule report justifications” and the auditor had “instructed for changes to be made”.

Ministers have also denied access to the auditor’s report of ‘recommendations’ to IAS.

Commenting, Mrs Fellows said:

Audits are still shrouded in secrecy as Ministers and IAS contradict each other over the power of auditors and people are barred from seeing reports of how DWP staff are tampering with their claims.

IAS have contradicted the Minister by confirming that auditors do not merely provide recommendations, but they are “instructing” changes and overturning the reports of ‘health professionals’ when auditors weren’t even in the room.

Not content with devising a welfare regime of cuts, hurdles and rigged health assessments, the DWP is directly tampering with IAS reports.

If the UK Government has nothing to hide, then it should not be barring access to auditor reports. We need to see what is being said behind closed doors. Peoples’ wellbeing depends on it.