I have heard all the horror stories, aware of all the tabloid headlines and listened intently to news coverage of how benefits are being ‘modernised’. After due consideration I decide I would like the face to face assessment to be recorded; at least then there will be an audio of everything that was said.
After investigating with the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) I am informed that I am not allowed to use any of the recording devices at hand, there is only one device allowed, and it costs in excess of £1200. I am very disappointed at this juncture, and feel that obstacles are being deliberately put in my way. I just want an independent and professional verification of the evidence I provide at the face to face assessment; I don’t think I am asking for much.
I am resigned to defeat at this point when I notice a paragraph in the guidance. It stipulates that I can be accompanied by a companion who can ‘take notes’. As the penny drops I become more excited, what if I take this a step further? What if my note taker is independent? What if they are a professional company? Rather than have a friend interpreting and scribbling a note on what has been said, what if a record of every single word is recorded? This would give me so much piece of mind, and prove so beneficial if ever an appeal was required.
I google ‘note taking’ and I come across a company called ‘Take Note Limited’, certainly sounds like what I am after. I telephone and speak with Grace. I explain everything; Grace is fantastic and can provide somebody to take verbatim notes of the entire face to face assessment. It will cost approximately £200, not cheap, but my best option and I am determined to give it a try.
The day arrives for my face to face assessment which is at home. Victoria from TakeNote arrives prior to Capita who are representing DWP. Victoria is courteous and very professional. The assessment happens, I forget that Victoria is even there and just focus on saying what I want to say; how my disability affects me.
Grace sends me the transcript the very next day in very large print for me to read. I cannot believe the detail, every sigh, every misspoken word, it is all in there, Victoria must have been typing at hundreds of words a minute – remember no recording allowed.
I am absolutely delighted with this comprehensive record of the entire face to face assessment. I waste no time in sending it off to the DWP as additional evidence. Such has been the speed of service; it probably arrived before the Capita report. There can be no dispute of what was said or not said, this record is from an independent company based in London. My stress subsides, safe in the knowledge that I have this evidence.
Four weeks later and another brown envelope arrives on my door mat. Its good news, well, why wouldn’t it be? I gave all my evidence and took a teensy extra precaution to ensure it was all captured. I made sure I sent a massive thanks to the Take Note Team, Grace and Victoria – they were great.
Authored by James Evans