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Face-to-face benefits assessments suspended

This news post is about 3 years old

Citizens Advice Scotland has welcomed the move, which it wants to see made permanent.

A charity has welcomed the suspension of face-to-face assessments for all sickness and disability benefits.

The UK Government announced on Monday that all such assessments would be suspended for the next three months as a preventative measure against the spread of coronavirus.

Claimants of Personal Independence Payment, Employment and Support Allowance and Industrial Injuries Disablement Benefit will all be affected by the move, as will some recipients of Universal Credit.

Work and pensions secretary Thérèse Coffey said: “As we move into the next phase of our response to coronavirus, it is right we take steps to protect those with health problems.

“Temporarily suspending face-to-face assessments for sickness and disability benefits will allow us to ensure we continue to provide a safety net for those in need, while removing unnecessary risk of exposure to this disease.”

Anyone who has a face-to-face assessment appointment scheduled from Tuesday 17 March onwards does not need to attend and will be contacted to discuss next steps and alternative arrangements.

Citizens Advice Scotland (CAS) welcomed the move as it called for face-to-face assessments to be scrapped after the pandemic is over.

Mhoraig Green, the charity’s social justice spokesperson, said: "This is the right decision and the forthcoming months will provide further evidence to show why this change should be extended after coronavirus has passed.

"Since face-to-face assessments were introduced, CAB advisers have seen many cases where they have caused distress and resulted in wrong decisions, many of which have had to be overturned on appeal. They are expensive, time-consuming and not well-suited to the outcome wanted.

“If they are to be cancelled for coronavirus we believe they should be ended indefinitely and that we should collate definite evidence over the forthcoming time to demonstrate this change once and for all that all assessments should now be paper-based, making use of existing evidence."



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