Following yet another gripping Channel 4 Dispatches programme, which this time saw hidden cameras planted amongst staff in the offices of Capita, outrage has sparked. Capita is a firm contracted to carry out disability assessments on the Government’s behalf after winning a £140 million contract to do so. The findings quite clearly shocked the public, one case in particular seeing claimants demand for their original assessments to be thrown out, after the emergence of unacceptable footage.
The assessor under particular fire was Alan Barham, a former paramedic, who can be seen bragging on camera about his monthly earnings. He then goes to make jokes about how one claimant was ‘fat’ before revealing that he judged one claimant of the Personal Independence Payment and decided his verdict before he even met them or heard of their case. Many other claimants who have also been at the hands of Alan Barham are now also demanding for their failed claims to be void. Claimants no doubt feel let down after being so harshly judges by professionals that are supposed to deal with disabled people sensitively.
PIP’s (Personal Independence Payments) are being phased in to replace the existing Disability Allowance, and are notoriously difficult to acquire.
One case in which the claimant feels she has suffered the unfair judgement of Mr Barahm is Jacqui Nicholls, living with a brain injury in kingsley, she has claimed the disability allowance for 10 years, but when faced with Barham’s decision was refused the Personal Independence Payment, despite her husband claiming all he wants is a fair assessment; ‘she needs me to be safe.’ Upon assessment, Barham noticed that Jacqui was capable of making budgeting decisions as well as planning and following routes. He didn’t deem her eligible for the claim, which states that you are entitled to PIP if you have difficulties with communication or reading. Despite this, her husband talked of how Jacqui has problems with her memory, and operating electrical devices such as the TV. He even brought with him medical records showing that Jacqui suffers complex seizures.
After watching the documentary, Mr Nicholls has asked for his case to be re-assessed, and it is easy to understand why. Going undercover for Channel 4, psychiatric nurse Noel Finn undertook a twenty day training programme to become a disability assessor at Capita, and was told that one of his priorities was to get through assessments quickly or he would lose money. Mr Barham bragged to Noel that he was flying through his assessments and at one point earned 20, 000 a month because they were completed so quickly.
When questioned about the actions of their employee, Capita said; ‘we are obviously appalled by and sincerely apologise for this individual’s disrespectful comments and actions. [He] will no longer work for Capita.’ After being asked to take action and investigate into some extremely shocking findings, the Department for Work and Pensions has defended the company and made it clear that it strongly refutes any claims that Capita are completing their duties to unfair and insufficient standards; ‘the assessment process of PIP has been extensively reviewed to ensure it is robust, the claims process is as straightforward as possible, and decisions are made based on the evidence.’