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Forum Home  →  Discussion  →  COVID-19: Benefit claims and administration  →  Thread

being prevented from having support at face to face PIP + UC health assessment due to covid restrictions

Aurelia
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PA Housing

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I am working with someone who is being asked to attend a face to face health assessment by the provider formally know as ATOS. We called them to ask if we could attend the assessment which I understand is now the procedure following covid, we have to seek permission from the health assessment provider. They advised they have an unwritten rule that none is allowed to attend with him as it would be more than 2 households in the same room and they cannot guarantee how big the room is going to be and be able to protect people from covid. When I insisted that he requires support due to his disability they were offered a telephone assessment but said that was all his “chances” used to re-arrange the assessment. Am concerned that people are going to be forced go to the assessment centre alone without support.
He has also been asked to attend a video assessment for UC LCW but does not how to use a computer and cannot read the instructions due to the fact he is unable to read and write. Again we contacted the health assessment provider and they offered a telephone assessment but he had used his “chance” to change the appointment again.

I have dealt with an MR with someone else, who went to the assessment alone due to covid and were told because they went alone they were able to cope with their anxiety.  I am concerned now with face to face assessments resuming and other methods being used such as video that people are not going to get the support they need at the assessment and understand their rights unless they have an advocate/support working with them. Is there any guidance as to how health assessment should be run following covid? Do the assessment provider have to make reasonable adjustments for someone disability?

Keith S Adviser
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Kirkham CAB

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First of all, I would suggest that the advice in relation to: ‘They advised they have an unwritten rule that none is allowed to attend with him’. Has no legal or other standing, especially, as they say its an unwritten rule.  There is a long list of support you can ask for and arrange, in F2F assessments. For example, a person who requires an interpreter, in order to access the assessment, is but one. Secondly, ‘a room not big enough’, that’s just utter piffle, it is the responsibility of the assessment organiser, to provide accessible and adequate facilities for the assessment to take place. Thirdly, the pitiful excuse regarding chances to re-arrange is yet more utter piffle, you are not asking to re-arrange, your client is asking for support. Not sure who you spoke to, but they clearly are unaware of their job role and its obligations. I would formally request speaking to someone with a degree of intelligence and compassion.

Mike Hughes
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Senior welfare rights officer - Salford City Council Welfare Rights Service

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The whole 2 chances business is an administrative nicety. It makes business sense. It doesn’t necessarily fit with the Equality Act.

I’m inclined to agree with their reasoning with the room. You cannot force a HCP to assess in circumstances which they are uncomfortable with or at risk from. They have limited facilities available, not least because so many of their original locations failed accessibility audits, so I don’t see that even magicking up a bigger room solves anything there.

To move forward it’s a case of both lodging a complaint and an EA 10 request for an RA in respect of a phone or paper assessment. Invite them to explain, if they’re then going to refuse the RA, which of the legitimate grounds for refusal they’re going to use.

Generally speaking a telephone or paper assessment will magically appear.

[ Edited: 8 Oct 2021 at 11:07 am by Mike Hughes ]
Aurelia
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PA Housing

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thank you both for your feedback I was considering a complaint but had not thought of asking them to justify their decision not to make a reasonable adjustment under the EA 10

Mike Hughes
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A very general rule but my advice to claimants on these issues is to always frame the request in terms of EA 10 whether verbally or in writing. It sometimes means you need to do a little work with the claimant on what their rights are but it’s almost always worth it.

Andyp5 Citizens Advice Bridport & District
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Citizens Advice Bridport & District

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The following is from Maximus’s website, may be of help…........

https://www.chdauk.co.uk/your-face-face-assessment

https://www.chdauk.co.uk/find-your-assessment-centre