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Back to the age of the cassette for recording benefits medicals

The DWP have gone back to the future and taken to using old fashioned cassette recorders for taping of medical assessments, our members have revealed.

One of our members was astonished to find a cassette deck being used to record their employment and support allowance assessment (ESA), they told us:

“I thought I'd stepped back in time as the dual recording equipment was an audio cassette deck not CD, just thought you'd like to know of this happening in 2016.”

Another member told us that he’d been advised by his personal independence payment (PIP) health professional that claimants can use two cassette recorders to tape their PIP medical, so long as both are running at the same time. Certainly, if Maximus are using cassette recorders to tape ESA assessments then it seems reasonable to argue that claimants can do the same for PIP assessments.

Our member, who says they have a lot of experience in evidence gathering suggested the following:

This might seem like overkill but considering what is at stake:

“1 use 3 recorders

2 Buy brand new sealed cassettes and open them in front of the interviewer.

3 Set up the machines and have all 3 recording at once

4 At the end mark your name and national insurance number on each cassette.

5 Invite the interviewer to choose 1 cassette.

6 With that cassette seal it with tape or label over the cassette so if its opened it will show.

7 Pop that cassette into an envelope addressed to yourself and post via recorded delivery.

8 When you get the package DO NOT OPEN IT.

Should you have to go to tribunal and there is any dispute what has been said you have the one copy which has not been touch since it was recorded and take it to tribunal and hand over to person running it so they can listen to the cassette.”

We’re not sure how easy it is to get hold of either cassette recorders or cassette tapes nowadays, but we have also heard from a member in the past who recorded his assessment using two low cost digital recorders. After the assessment they simply gave one of the digital recorders to the health professional and took the other one home.

We can’t guarantee that any of these methods will be acceptable to the DWP or to Atos, Capita or Maximus – so it’s vital that you get their agreement in advance, preferably in writing.

The truth is that it shouldn’t be necessary for claimants to come up with their own DIY solutions to recording medicals.

But, given the increased waiting time and the number of cancellations members wishing to have their ESA assessment recorded seem to experience, and given that there are no facilities for recording PIP assessments, DIY solutions may be the only ones on offer.

Have you managed to record your benefits medical assessment with your own equipment? If so, please post a comment below and let us know how you did it.


#8 Jackie 2016-09-14 14:22
I have researched this and been told that the only equipment we can use for recording is a twin tape or twin CD (that do not exist)

The suggestion has been that they want PACE approved units to be used to price them out of the reach of the average person.

Anyway I have today taken delivery of a dual cassette unit complete with flight case and I am currently adding microphones and preamp to use for my wifes forthcoming assessment.

To say I dont trust these animals is an understatement so needs must..
#7 Katathome Board 2016-08-18 22:50
Kateathome Board could I ask where you bought the 2 identical mini cassette recorders from and the tapes? Will be going through all of this myself soon.

I bought mine from eBay, but they have a good selection of new and used ones there, and on Amazon, that start from very cheap, and across the spectrum to expensive - for my 2 Sanyo Dictaphone Microcassette Recorders, and a pack of 3 brand new Sony tapes (I already had one tape), the cost came to roughly £35.

Whichever brand of recorder, and tapes, you select, make sure you buy two matching ones as, that way, the assessor can't complain about one recorder being superior over another - another little nasty trick they may try to pull :(

Hope all goes well for anyone going through this :)
+1 #6 j112009 2016-08-17 19:37
Kateathome Board could I ask where you bought the 2 identical mini cassette recorders from and the tapes? Will be going through all of this myself soon.

#5 j112009 2016-08-17 19:35
Chempixie what make of cassette reorders did you buy and are extra michrophones needed?
+3 #4 ChemPixie 2016-07-29 13:14
Just had my PIP assessment by Atos and was able to record it using this advice.

I got cassette recorders from argos and 90min tapes from wilkos. The cassette recorders allow you to record from tape to usb as well so I now also have an electronic copy of my assessment. I luckily already had two microphones to improve the recording quality.

All in all I spent about £50 buying this equipment, which I felt was necessary to ease my anxiety. It makes me angry to think that people on benefits are being caught out by a deliberately complex set of rules.
+1 #3 Eliza1091 2016-07-05 13:28
We better be grateful they haven't yet asked for interview transcriptions to be submitted on tablets of stone. Not yet.
+2 #2 Katathome Board 2016-06-15 19:51
I had heard about this, and I've managed to purchase two identical mini-cassette recorders, along with some sealed tapes, ready for when I'm changed over from indefinite DLA, to PIP, which will be happening any day now :(
With all the horror stories being told about the lies assessors are writing, I do feel everyone should record their assessment!
+1 #1 jen 2016-06-15 12:40
Yes, I can confirm that my own WCA in March was recorded on cassette tape which took me by surprise since my WCA last year was recorded on a digital CD device... so this archaic step back in time shocked me. I was told it was an ex-police device originally used years ago to record interviews. Even the "Health Care Professional" seemed bemused by this ancient way of recording.

In this day and age of digital, this is pathetic. Thankfully I do still have a cassette machine and can transfer them to digital but most people no longer have such devices since cassette is an all but dead medium. You can make better recordings on a mobile phone and given we have wifi and Bluetooth technology, there is no reason why one cannot record on a phone device then at the end of the "medical" use wi-fi or Bluetooth to transfer a copy to Maximus' computer or whatever. All they need to do is check the first few seconds to make sure they've got their copy and all is fair and square as both parties have an exact copy of the same recording. Cassette is actually a very unreliable way of recording - they can tapple up. If the tape heads aren't cleaned regularly then the recording can go wrong and come out muffled or worse, not at all. Sure, one can still buy cassette machines (though they're fewer than ever before) but you try buying cassettes and cassette head cleaners from a store these days...

This is the 21st Century for goodness sake. The DWP's insistence on doing all business via telephone or letter when things would be much quicker and more convenient by email just proves how out of step they are though I also can't help but suspect it's deliberate anyway to make the whole process as arduous, costly and timewasting as possible.

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