§ Maria Eagle
The administration of incapacity benefit claims is carried out by Jobcentre Plus; the medical examinations are carried out by Atos Origin, which provides medical services on behalf of Jobcentre Plus.
Information on the number of complaints made to Jobcentre Plus about incapacity benefit tests is not collected centrally and could be obtained only at disproportionate cost.
For the period March 2003 to February 2004, Birmingham Medical Services, which covers the West Midlands, carried out 43,162 incapacity benefit related medical examinations; for the same period it received 114 complaints about these examinations. These complaints covered a range of issues including clinical findings, accommodation, and travelling expenses.
§ Maria Eagle
General advice regarding all benefits is available to customers from Jobcentre Plus staff before a claim is made; advice regarding a customer's specific needs is given at new claim stage by the contact centre and by the customers personal and financial advisers.1460W
Leaflet SD4 "Caring for someone" and Leaflet SD1 "Sick or disabled" are available from Jobcentre Plus offices and give detailed information for customers wishing to claim incapacity benefit or who have caring responsibilities. Copies are available in the Library.
No advice is given to people in receipt of incapacity benefit with regard to jobseeker's allowance specifically; however customers who are no longer eligible for incapacity benefit due to the results of a personal capability assessment or because they are no longer ill may be advised to clam jobseeker's allowance if they are available for work.
People who claim jobseeker's allowance and have caring responsibilities are allowed to restrict the hours they are available for work to less than 40 hours, providing they are available for as many hours as their caring responsibility allows, and that this is at least 16 hours a week.