MP Says Government's Abandoning Disabled People
26 June 2019, 09:04 | Updated: 26 June 2019, 09:07
Cat Smith claims many people are waiting over a year for PIP Appeals
The Labour MP Cat Smith says disabled people in Lancaster are waiting more than a year to have their Personal Independence Payment (PIP) Appeals heard - leaving them out of pocket and unable to buy in vital services.
The Conservatives have been gradually replacing Disability Living Allowance (DLA) with PIP as the main benefit for disabled or ill people since the rollout started in 2013. It is worth up to £145.35 a week.
It is designed to help towards the additional costs of a disability or long-term illness, such as help getting dressed, cooking meals or getting around.
PIP claimants face controversial assessments, conducted by private companies on behalf of the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP).
"The Conservative Government's assessment process is completely flawed," said Ms Smith "More than 70 percent of all PIP refusals are overturned on appeal. However, I've discovered that some of the most vulnerable and needy in Lancaster are having to wait more than 12 months for their appeal to be heard. Twelve months without help to get dressed, cook a meal or leave the house. This is utterly disgraceful and completely unacceptable."
The Government's own research suggests that 37 percent of people do not appeal the DWP's decision because 'the process would be too stressful' while 20 percent said they were 'too unwell' to challenge it.
"Government figures show that from the point of registration to the point of a decision being made takes 15 weeks," explained Ms Smith. "If the claim is rejected then the claimant has to request mandatory reconsideration. This takes a further five weeks. If this is rejected, then the claim goes to appeal which is taking a further 40 weeks. In all it can take more than 12 months to be awarded welfare support to help a person with a disability live a more independent life."
Ms Smith says she's once again written to the DWP demanding a review of the system. "It's not fair that people with disabilities are missing out on the advantages the rest of us enjoy because a callous Conservative Government slashes services and welfare benefits so they can give tax cuts to the wealthy. Every week I'm contacted by distressed and desperate people who have become prisoners in their own homes and see months of misery ahead. This has to change."