NEARLY 70,000 people claiming Personal Independence Payments (PIP) and Employment Support Allowance (ESA) have had their assessments “audited”, leading to fears that their reports may have been amended by someone who was not present during the assessment.

Figures from the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) service Independent Audit show that from June 2016, there were 10,289 audits of PIP assessments; 17,285 in 2017; and 11,705 from January to August this year. For people who underwent a Work Capability Assessment under ESA, from March 2015, 7185 were audited; 8590 in 2016; 8647 in 2017; and 5423 from January to August 2018.

The figures were revealed following a written question by SNP MP Marion Fellows, who raised the case of a constituent who had his health report “audited” by the DWP.

When he appealed against the decision of his PIP claim, the constituent was sent the original and amended reports.

Every section of the original report where the claimant scored points had been reduced to zero by the “auditor” and some sections were amended to show contradictory information.

The original, for instance, said her constituent required “specialist input” whereas the “audited” copy said he did not. Likewise, the original said he “needs prompting” to prepare a meal which was changed by the “auditor” to say he could prepare a simple meal himself.

Work and Pensions Secretary, Esther McVey, is now facing calls to answer to Parliament specifically on the matter of DWP “audits”.

Fellows called for the audits to be halted and added: “The case of my constituent shows that for many, the system is rigged entirely against them and that decisions are a foregone conclusion.

“The Tories’ welfare regime is targeting the most vulnerable people in society – all in the name of saving money while the wealthy receive tax cuts.

“It’s time they stopped attacking people and started supporting them.”