The government’s first official figures on its new disability benefit appear to confirm anecdotal evidence about lengthy delays with claims, and how strictly the new eligibility criteria are being applied.
The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) report says that only about 44,000 decisions were made on claims for the new personal independence payment (PIP) by the end of 2013, despite nearly 230,000 claims being lodged between 8 April and 31 December.
The figures – which only cover new claimants, rather than reassessments of existing disability living allowance (DLA) claimants – show that half of the new claims that were completed resulted in a PIP award.
But nearly 100 per cent of claims by people with a terminal illness were successful. And once these “special rules” claimants are removed, the rate of successful PIP claims falls to just 37 per cent.
This compares with approximate rates of successful new claims for DLA – again before any appeals, but taking into account what is likely to be a 100 per cent success rate for special rules claimants – of about 43 per cent in 2008-09 and 42 per cent in 2009-10, although these figures include under-16s.
This suggests that new claimants have so far been about 12 per cent less likely to be successful with a new PIP claim than a new DLA claim in 2009-10, and about 14 per cent less likely than a new DLA claim lodged in 2008-09, although these are approximate calculations.
The report also appears to confirm the strong anecdotal evidence of delays to PIP claims reported by Disability News Service over the last three months.
A DWP spokesman said: “We’ve already said that the end-to-end claims process is taking longer than expected.
“We are working with providers to ensure that all the steps in the process are as smooth as they can be and the benefit is back-dated so no-one is left out of pocket.”
He said that ministers believe the new benefit will “lead to more accurate awards”, but he warned that the new figures relate to “the early stages of implementation of PIP and may not represent longer-term trends in decisions leading to awards”.
Linda Burnip, co-founder of Disabled People Against Cuts, said the number of PIP claims being turned down was “preposterous”, and showed the new benefit was “already failing in the same way” as the work capability assessment (WCA), which tests eligibility for out-of-work disability benefits.
She added: “The length of time being taken to process claims means that people are failing to get the support they need, even if they are awarded PIP eventually.”
Meanwhile, members of the Commons backbench business committee have decided that a debate on the WOW petition will be held in the main Commons chamber on Thursday 27 February.
The disabled-led petition – which called for a cumulative impact assessment on the cuts and other reforms affecting disabled people, an immediate end to the WCA, and an independent inquiry into welfare reform – was backed by nearly 105,000 people.
13 February 2014