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The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) faces further embarrassment after their latest figures show 74% of Personal Independence (PIP) claimants win when appealing their original benefit decision. Despite these figures, the under fire department decided to extended the contracts of the private assessment companies undertaking health assessments PIP. These latest figures once again raise the question on the fitness of the current system.
The assessment and decision making process for awarding disability benefit Personal Independence Payment (PIP) has been under fire since it was rolled out in 2013. It appears that the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP still aren’t listening.
Yesterday, the department quietly released its latest figures showing the number of claimants winning appeals against their original benefit decision.
The DWP announced that of the 21,995 PIP cases that went to the tribunal stage of an appeal, 74% of cases ruled against the DWP. This represents a record high with the previous number being the previous record high at 72% in the claimants favour.
Unfit for Purpose
These figures will back-up the growing majority opinion that the assessment system for PIP, like Universal Credit, needs to change. However, change would represent to government admitting they got it wrong first time around. Something they cannot bring themselves to do.
These latest PIP appeal figures also match those of the sickness benefit Employment and Support Allowance (ESA). Appeals are also found in the claimants favour 74% of the time.
Costly Mistakes Rewarded
Despite damning evidence that assessments are being conducted unfairly and often by Healthcare Professionals who don’t even understand a claimant’s health issues, the DWP say fit to spend over £600 MILLION extending the contracts of two companies who carry out the disability benefit’s health assessments.
The latest stats also come just a day after the DWP was forced to admit that it has spent nearly £200 MILLION in five-years defending PIP and ESA appeals.
With working-age benefit rates being frozen since 2015 and poverty rising across the UK, it would have made more sense that this money was spent helping those who need it most. Instead, the DWP is more concerned about protecting it’s image rather than helping those who need it the most.
When asked for comment, a spokeswoman for the DWP told me;
“Of the 4.1 million PIP decisions we’ve made only 5% have been overturned at appeal. But we recognise this is too high and we have introduced a new approach to gather evidence to make the right decision earlier, so that claimants don’t need to wait for a hearing.”
The reference about waiting times relates to the news that, on average, a PIP claimant will wait at least 31 weeks before their appeal is heard. This number can however vary vastly across the country. This is because of the different workloads at various HM Courts and Tribunal Service (HMCTS) establishments.
With the ever likely election of Boris Johnson as Tory leader and thus Prime Minister, disabled people can probably expect another new Work and Pensions Secretary. In all likely hood, given Johnson’s views, they will carry on or even increase the hostile environment against sick and disabled people.