As part of the specification for the PIP assessment service, Assessment Providers must provide sufficient suitable accommodation for face-to-face consultations. The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has set clear requirements in terms of geography, travel, security and the claimant experience in relation to the sites used for PIP consultations.
The DWP requirement is that claimants do not have to travel for more than 90 minutes by public transport (single journey) to a consultation. However, this limit is an absolute maximum and for the majority of claimants their journey will be less than this.
The appointment letter includes a map and directions to the Assessment Centre. Where the claimant has a medical condition that makes travel difficult the claimant should discuss this with the Assessment Provider.
The DWP have specified circumstances where a home consultation will be offered, in particular where the claimant is unable to travel to a consultation as a result of their health conditions or impairments. More specifically home consultations could be offered when the claimant provides confirmation from their health professional that indicates they are unable to travel on health grounds.
When a claimant travels to a face-to-face consultation they are able to claim travel expenses for themselves and a companion, carer or young children who would otherwise be left unattended.
Payments can be made for public transport fares, travel by private motor vehicle and other costs relating to the journey to and from the consultation such as parking. There are circumstances in which taxi fares can be reimbursed. This should be discussed with the Assessment Provider before attending the consultation. Payments relating to other costs of the journey such as parking, tolls or congestion charges can also be met. Travel expenses will be reimbursed within 14 days of the claim but cannot be paid in advance or at the Assessment Centre.
Should a claimant have any difficulties attending a consultation they should discuss it with the Assessment Provider as soon as possible. If a claimant contacts the Assessment Provider in advance to advise they are unable to attend their consultation, they will be offered a second appointment. This may enable them to arrange for a companion to assist with their travel arrangements.
Justin Tomlinson MP
Minister for Disabled People
This raises an issue I’d not considered before, the DWP state “claimants do not have to travel for more than 90 minutes by public transport” and as Steve says, and having lived in the area for over 8 years I concur, the problem with getting to Walsall from Birmingham is not the distance, which at around 13 mile should be within the DWP criteria but the fact that “getting to Walsall for an early morning appointment is “at a best a nightmare” even when the M6 is “at its quietest”; thus as Steve points out “potentially you could lose your award because of traffic problem”.
Steve raised the case thinking of using a private car but by public transport it is an even worse problem – consider you need a use a bus to get to train station (or as close as possible) then the train journey itself and finally the bus (if there is one) to the assessment centre. This could easily take more than 90 minutes, therefore your PIP award could rely on traffic?
Just to add final insult to injury you arrive at Walsall Assessment Centre to find it is inaccessible for disabled people!
I sent mine to a list of my friends partly from the old Spartacus network days (I wasn’t around for the Responsible Reform Report sadly) and partly from campaigning I have done since leaving over two years ago. I invited Sarah Campbell who wrote the RRR, Kailya Francklin who was involved with RRR, Jayne Linney who I’ve been working with on the truth campaign to get Mr Smith [Iain Duncan Smith] for his use of Statistics and his lies. And a few others that I’ve got to know who campaign in their own right… Gail invited those she knew, DPAC members, BT members, Mo Stewart, Susan Archibald etc, and we asked them if they thought it was a good idea.
Some said yes, some said no and refused to be involved. We put the open letter with a list of those who said they thought it was a good idea up on google docs to get a feel for how people felt about it and the response for the most part was good. In the mean time Sarah Campbell came to me and said did you read Sam's blog about forming a union; I hadn’t but having read it we all felt he should be involved.
A few didn’t like his connections to the new sparticus network, but his desire to help form this organisation was the most important element so we asked him to be involved, he’s not keen on forums but he was facilitating open chats about the idea and was getting some good ideas together… This is when I found out about Sarah Campbell's blog about forming a national organisation that she had written before the election.
Gail and I, well Gail mostly set up a forum; at that point some people who didn’t want to be involved started spreading stories about how this was a Sue Marsh project saying the ‘Cult of Marsh’ (If there is one I’m not privy to it) had taken over the project,
This was a lie.
Everyone involved had been invited by myself or Gail because of their expertise, track record or interest… I was told more than once that I should remove the ‘Spartacus element’ if I wanted this to succeed but how do you remove yourself from yourself? I am an ex spartaci, I can’t change that nor would I want to… I’m still very proud to have worked with the author of the Responsable Reform Report, Sarah Campbell, and worked with her and others on the Revising from Recovery Report and Past Caring Report.
But does it mean everything I’ve been involved in since or in the future is somehow insidiously linked to Sue Marsh? Of course not. She has said herself she’s not involved in campaigning anymore… You may not like what she’s chosen to do but it has no bearing on this project, she is not involved… I hope she achieves her stated goals with her new job, but it’s nothing to do with me, I’m sure the flack she’s endured for her decision has been awful if my recent experiences have been anything to go by…
The National Disability Organisation, was to be designed by disabled people for disabled people with a voted for steering group to help keep it ticking over, someone has to do the day to day jobs that keep these things going. Even DPAC has a steering group. At this point someone asked if Sue Marsh could join this organisation if and when it became a reality… Some said no, some said if we want an inclusive organisation then yes she is disabled.
At that point it all fell apart.
Some of the people that used to work in the Spartacus network began to be personally attacked and bullied; Sarah Campbell was so badly treated she has left campaigning. That is tragic; a very clever lady with lots of expertise lost to us.
Gail also took a great deal of crap off folks for being involved… That is why she chose to close the forum she had made and leave the project; she felt that she couldn’t be involved in a project that would start a national organisation that one day might let Sue Marsh be a member… I respect her decision but…
I think, that not doing something because of a possible future outcome would be sad and seems a bit daft… A million things have to happen before it’s even an issue…
Even though we’ve all had enough abuse… A few of us decided that, although we are less inclined to be involved, we still want the community to have a place to organise this national group, so I have made a new forum for this to take place. If you are still interested, please come join the new forum by following the link…if your only interested in spreading lies please don’t bother I don’t want to spend hours busting up fights on the forum as admin, if your interested in what you all have to say and or have ideas to share please come along and try to help create this national organisation… Debbie Sayers
Please go and have a look at the forum, and if you feel this is a way you support, or even if you don’t but have some constructive ideas, let us have them….REMEMBER
ONLY TOGETHER CAN WE FIGHT FOR OUR SURVIVAL
Check out Jayne Linney's blog here
Jayne Linney, Leicester, UK
This is my first post in a few months, there’s been several reasons for this including an horrendous bout of depression, an operation and masses of work for DEAEP, our new course starts next week. There has also been one issue that has taken over what little energy I have left after this; a month ago I was asked if I’d be interested in working on the setting up of a unifying group for disabled people to fight the Government.
Anyone that’s read my blogs is well aware I’m committed to collective working and collaboration, most of my posts end with some form of plea for Unity or Togetherness, so of course I said yes. To my horror, in this very short period of time several of those willing to do the backroom work have been bullied and verbally assaulted by the same people who purport to believe in campaigning and challenging for our rights. So much so, that a number of the individuals willing to use their spare energy have said they can no longer continue; I simply do not understand this!
What the **** is going on, when those of us Fighting for our lives under this Tory regime of Austerity and Cuts, are attacked by our peers; isn’t it enough that people are dying through the bullying of JobCentre and other DWP staff, without resorting to this behaviour ourselves?
When #homelessness is soaring and people are being evicted from their homes due to the costs of the #BedroomTax, or the #BenefitCap; when the loss of ESA or PIP, through flawed and biased ‘assessments is causing people to choose to stay warm or fed; what will happen to those on #ILF that lose their Care packages in 3 weeks? Isn’t all of this enough to make people angry enough to challenge the Government and to work WITH their peers and not attack them?
I totally agree that different opinions are essential for any project to get off the ground, and this means different beliefs being aired and people feeling frustrated their thoughts aren’t being taken into account; I’m aware not everyone feels a unifying organisation is the way forward and that’s fine. I recognise the pressure we are ALL under and realise that sometimes we say things we might not mean, I also acknowledge that on social media, the words we write can often come across as something different to what we actually meant but…this is NOT what happened here; this was selective Bullying.
People were reading derogatory comments and joining in, it was made personal, through targeted attacks on individuals; all who have been involvined in online campaigning for the past four years at least. If this behaviour had happened on the street and from a group of non-disabled people, many of us would be (rightly in my book) shouting about hate crime; this is how serious I take what has has occurred.
The outcome is not only that abused individuals felt the need to leave the unifying group, several have left the world of disability activism completely; and what a loss!
All that knowledge and experience held by these individuals, lost from campaigning and no longer available to work on the real fight.
To close, I want to state some of us are continuing to work on developing a unifying project for disabled people, a group that can challenge the Government with authority; but it is with great sadness that not only will the work be much more difficult without the lost expertise, but that we’ve lost true campaigners to bullying from within.
I hope that those involved in these abusive attacks realise the damage they’ve caused, not only to the individual victims of their abuse but to the disabled movement; remember when our enemies see this behaviour it only serves to further their cause.
ONLY TOGETHER CAN WE FIGHT FOR OUR SURVIVAL
Check out Jayne's blog here
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