17 September 2019 — True Publica
By TruePublica: The vulnerable, penniless and disabled are the very people any civilised country would ensure had at least the basics to survive and be comfortable. But while MP’s are looking the other way, these very same people are denied a benefit called Personal Independence Payment (PIP). It’s designed to keep them afloat, but now wait an average of 69 days just for an internal review by the Department for Work and Pensions and then a further seven months while they fight a system designed to deny them any assistance. Three-quarters then win tribunals while their lives disintegrate.
Appeal times have now reached an all-time high. So bad, the previous longest average wait is now double what it was and that worst average was achieved just 12 months ago.
The figure, dating to July 2019 and published at the end of last week, is, in fact, more than double the 32-day average wait in July 2018.
Former DWP Secretary Amber Rudd, who left her post in the continuing Tory civil war over Brexit, pledged in March to “enhance” the system “to gather further evidence from claimants and make more accurate decisions sooner.” In that, she comprehensively failed.
It turns out that these ‘reforms’ have caused fewer than a third of people (32%) to win the internal reviews, prompting thousands of disabled people each month to fight at an independent tribunal.
Once they have applied for a tribunal, claimants then have to wait seven months, on average, for a hearing – of which 74% end in a victory against the DWP.
Once they have applied for a tribunal, claimants have to wait seven months on average for a hearing – of which 74% end in victory against the DWP.
In summary, that is three-quarters are denied any payments and then three quarters go on to win their case.
It was only last January, that the news emerged that more than 17,000 people have died while waiting to hear whether their claim for disability benefit had been successful. Shockingly, one in four (4,330) of those who died were suffering from a form of cancer, while 270 had anxiety or depressive disorders. In more than half of the cases (9,020), the main disability was not even recorded.
Currently, a claimant must have a “reasonable expectation” of death within six months to be eligible for the special rules for terminal illness (SRTI) – which charities argue can exclude many people living with terminal and highly disabling conditions.
Michael Griffin of Parkinson’s UK said:
“It is no surprise that the Government’s failure to act on the flaws with PIP has resulted in waiting times more than doubling over the last year. 75% of PIP decisions are reversed when the cases are seen by a tribunal. But people have to wait twelve months on average from the start of this process to get the right decision. In most cases they will not receive any money while they wait. Without the vital financial support that PIP should provide, people are being forced to choose between paying for food or medication. This is simply unacceptable. The Government cannot ignore these delays any longer. Introducing a target time of three months for a case to be heard by a tribunal would reduce at least some of the stress and uncertainty that PIP is causing for disabled people.”
Lib Dem former health minister Sir Norman Lamb said: “This situation is completely unacceptable. The financial impact of losing your right to benefits while you wait for an appeal to be heard can be huge. Several of my constituents have massively affected.
“It can result in losing your home, marriages being broken and relationships being left in disarray. I am also acutely aware that these long waits can seriously affect people’s mental health. This is completely unfair. Justice delayed is justice denied.“
(READ: Our shocking report that saw the government bring American corporations in to design a system of denial for Britain’s most vulnerable)