We’re helping ensure that people with disabilities or long-term health conditions continue to access vital benefits during the coronavirus pandemic.

By replacing face-to-face assessments for Personal Independence Payment (PIP) with telephone assessments, we’re helping the Government continue to process claims.

We’ve been working with the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) to conduct PIP assessments since 2012.

As of April 2020, there were over 2.5 million people entitled to PIP in the UK. Individuals with disabilities or long-term health conditions rely on PIP to help with extra costs. Our expert health professionals assess how individuals’ conditions affect their daily lives - for example their ability to cook their own meals and dress themselves - and give advice to the Department.

We manage the PIP assessment process from referral to report. When we receive a case from the DWP, it is reviewed by one of our health professionals who decides if we can complete the report based on a paper review of the evidence or if we need to speak to the claimant. In normal times we would see claimants face-to-face in one of our 37 assessment centres or at their home.

At the beginning of 2020 we were conducting an average of 30,000 PIP assessments a month, 90% of which were face-to-face. When the first cases of Covid-19 occurred in the UK, we quickly took precautions to protect PIP claimants and our staff. This included not scheduling any face-to-face assessments for anyone with symptoms of Covid-19. We also began preparations to shift to telephone assessments.

When the Government suspended face-to-face assessments on 16 March, we were able to quickly transform our processes and operations. We immediately shifted to remote working and started to implement the transition to telephone assessments. Our foresight and early planning meant that we were fully functional as a remote service in a week, enabling claimants to be assessed quickly and safely so they could continue with their PIP application during a very difficult time.

Our transformation to a telephone service has been very successful. We have continued to offer assessments without delay and maintained claimant satisfaction. Post-assessment satisfaction surveys show that more than 98% of claimants are satisfied with our service. Claimants are particularly satisfied with how empathetic our assessors are and the convenience of telephone assessments.

But the story doesn’t end here. We’ve added a video relay service to provide sign language interpreters for individuals who need them and we’re proactively looking at ways in which we can continue to improve our service.

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