Mencap logoLearning disability charity Mencap has called for an independent review of benefit assessments after a Channel 4 Dispatches documentary showed a disability benefits assessor mocking disabled people.

Dispatches, which was broadcast on Monday, April 11, showed undercover footage shot at Capita, the company contracted by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) to carry out Personal Independence Payment benefit assessments, of an assessor using derogatory language and displaying offensive attitudes to the people he is assessing.

The show also alleged that PIP assessors are incentivised to carry out as many assessments as possible, although Capita dispute that assessors are told to rush assessments at the expense of quality. Likewise the DWP said it does not pressurise contactors to speed up assessments.

Capita also stated that the assessor shown mocking disabled people would be sacked.

Dan Scorer, head of policy at Mencap, said: “This Dispatches exposes utterly shameful behaviour by an assessor who mocks disabled people applying for vital financial support.

“We already know that disability benefit assessments are flawed, with wrong decisions made every day causing thousands of people to suffer emotionally and financially. Three in five decisions for Personal Independence Payments are overturned when challenged at tribunal, meaning many people have to live without the support PIP provides for months on end. This comes at a time when benefit cuts and the crisis in social care is stripping away the support disabled people in the UK can access.

“The DWP are paying private companies hundreds of millions a year to carry out these assessments. The government should launch an urgent independent review into the true extent of this abuse of power and public money.”