An important safety net aimed at reducing distress for Personal Independence Payment (PIP) claimants at risk of suicide has been removed from the guidance given to Capita and Atos by the DWP.
The Personal Independence Payment Handbook, used by health professionals assessing claimants for PIP, advises that where a claimant has a history of suicide attempts or self-harm assessors should ‘strongly consider’ getting additional medical evidence. The aim is to try to carry out a paper-based assessment ‘to avoid distress to the claimant’.
The clause in full, reads:
2.3.9 Providers should strongly consider requesting further evidence before calling for a consultation a claimant who is noted to have an appointee or in a case where there is evidence of a previous suicide attempt, suicidal ideation or self harm – or in other cases where the claimant is vulnerable. By gathering further evidence the HP may have sufficient information to complete a paper-based review which may be preferable in these cases to avoid distress to the claimant.
At least, that’s what the PIP Handbook used to say.
This advice has been completely removed from the latest editions of the Handbook, with no explanation as to why vulnerable claimants no longer require protection.
We’ll be quizzing the DWP on the reasons for this change and updating our PIP guide to take account of it over the next few days.
We’ll keep readers posted.