Ombudsman that investigate DWP pay CAPITA £100k a month for IT support despite huge conflict of interest

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The Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman (PHSO) make final decisions on complaints that have not been resolved by the NHS in England or by UK government departments such as The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP). A Freedom of Information request shows that in just three months they paid £299,000 to CAPITA for IT services. CAPITA carry out health assessments for the DWP so there’s a huge conflict of interest not to mention they can access data on complaints that may involve themselves.

I frequently look through Freedom of Information requests on the website WhatDoTheyKnow as they’re a treasure trove of data and information. My last significant find uncovered the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) policy to destroy foodbank data.

This time I have uncovered a disturbing conflict of Interest that has flown under the radar for who knows how long.

Last chance of redress or is it?

The Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman (PHSO) are the last stop when complaints about NHS services in England or government departments and public bodies in the UK have failed. They are supposed to be independent and impartial.

On their website they state;

“We look into complaints where someone believes there has been injustice or hardship because an organisation has not acted properly or has given a poor service and not put things right.”

“We have a transparent and fair process and will let you know about each stage of our process to make sure we have a consistent, quality service”

However if after their investigation they decide that there has be any wrongdoing they can only issue a recommendation to the body on what to do. While most bodies will follow the advice of the PHSO they are under no obligation to do so.

This means you could get the elation of feeling you’ve finally won, only for the public body you’ve complained about to ignore the advice.

Capita Logo

 

Capita carries out Personal Independence (PIP) assessments on behalf of the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) in Wales, the West Midlands and the East Midlands.

Like Atos who cover other parts of the UK Capita are known for conducting poor quality and often false assessments. This is highlighted when over 60% of PIP assessments are changed in the claimants favour should they go to tribunal.

Mistakes happen yes but they haven’t been improving their service its been getting worse. As has long been complained Capita offer its staff the minimum training required. When you have a patient with complex mental health and neurological conditions a 40 minute seminar isn’t going to prepare you to make an informed decision,

Conflict of Interest

As I explained the Ombudsman is the last chance you usually have when appealing a decision. If you have appealed against a decision on your PIP award and failed at all stages from Mandatory Reconsideration to Tribunals you will come to the PHSO.

I came across a Freedom of Information (FoI) request submitted by J Roberts in which he asked the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman (PHSO) for; “monthly details of all financial transactions spending over £500 made since April 2018.”

Parliamentary and Health Service Independent Ombudsman Spending Data on Capita IT
Data From FoI Showing amount spent by PHSO on Capita – Credit: WhatDoTheyKnow

Intrigued I took a look and to my amazement I saw that they use Capita, yes the same company as above, for their IT services. In just three months they paid nearly £300,000 to them.

Capita are a very big corporation with different arms such as healthcare and IT. Although their IT service is technically separate it seems a huge risk that they are in control of the PHSO’s IT system.

Imagine you have complained about the health assessment you had done for PIP and you go to the Ombudsman, would you be comfortable or confident if you knew that the very company that has caused this is now in  charge of the IT system? I’m amazed the the Ombudsman didn’t see how this would look.

Broken System

Since 2010 the welfare system has been rapidly privatised and dismantled. Universal Credit is failing and needs scrapped, more and more health assessments are being found to be wrong and now you can’t even complain without feeling it won’t be impartial.

The welfare system used to be something the the UK could be proud of. It looked after the vulnerable in society and supported them. It wasn’t perfect by any means but countries across the world envied it.

Now, despite Esther McVey’s claims it’s “world leading” people know about our welfare system for all the wrong reasons.

It’s so bad that the United Nations is coming to investigate welfare reforms impact on poverty and human rights for the second time.

The Tories have taken the “wel” out of welfare leaving the vulnerable paying a figurative and often literal “fare.”

Alex Tiffin

@RespectIsVital on Twitter

Universal Credit Sufferer on Facebook

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