Ministerial duo face questions after misleading MPs over PIP

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Two ministers have refused to apologise after they both misled MPs about the impact of the government’s new disability benefit on disabled people.

In the space of just 20 minutes, work and pensions secretary Damian Green and minister for disabled people Penny Mordaunt both misled the House of Commons about how personal independence payment (PIP) was affecting disabled people.

The first House of Commons work and pensions questions after the break for party conferences saw about 20 questions from MPs across the main parties with concerns about the way PIP was operating, far more than for any other issue.

In one answer, Mordaunt (pictured) told MPs that under PIP – compared with disability living allowance (DLA), which it is replacing for working-age claimants – “more people are entitled to use the Motability scheme”.

But Motability’s own figures show that of their customers who have been reassessed for PIP so far, 44 per cent have lost their entitlement to the scheme and have had to hand their vehicles back.

Responding to another question on PIP, Green told MPs on Monday that “many more people are eligible to receive PIP than were eligible to receive disability living allowance”.

But the Department for Work and Pensions’ (DWP) own figures from June showed that only about seven in 10 disabled people who were previously claiming DLA were being found eligible for PIP.

The DWP figures showed just 71 per cent of DLA recipients who applied for PIP were successful with their claim in April 2016, once withdrawn claims were excluded.

PIP was introduced with the intention – announced by chancellor George Osborne in his 2010 emergency budget – of cutting the number of working-age claimants by 20 per cent.

A DWP spokesman appeared to accept that the two statements were not true*, arguing in a statement that the ministers were trying to make completely different points about PIP.

He has so far refused to say whether the ministers stand by their statements or whether they will be apologising to MPs, but insisted that “the comments should be considered in the context of the exchanges made during DWP Oral Questions and the wider discussion of which they formed a part”.

Among MPs who raised concerns about PIP, the SNP’s Martyn Day told Mordaunt that for the fourth year in a row “the Infrastructure and Projects Authority has said that the roll-out of the personal independence payment project is ‘in doubt with major risks… apparent in a number of key areas’”.

Mordaunt claimed that PIP was “a vast improvement on what went before” and was “a more targeted benefit”.

Another SNP MP, John Nicolson, then told her of a disabled constituent who had had her Motability car removed after a PIP assessment.

He said: “She had to use public transport, which she was unable to do, and she lost her job as a result.

“Does the minister really think that government policy is delivering compassionate outcomes in such cases?”

After asking for Nicolson to write to her with details of the case, Mordaunt claimed that more people were entitled to use the Motability scheme under PIP, although “clearly we want to make sure that any decision taken on a PIP assessment is the right one”.

Tory MP Peter Bone told Mordaunt: “I do not know whether it is just in my area, but at every weekly surgery I will have one person who has been refused PIP who is clearly entitled to it.

“I had a lady this week with multiple sclerosis; she is clearly entitled to it and will get it when she goes to the independent tribunal, but why do such people have to wait until then?

“Surely this can be corrected at an earlier stage.”

Mordaunt said she understood Bone’s frustration, and told him that DWP was “looking very closely at those cases that have gone to appeal and been overturned to see why the right decision was not taken earlier in the process”.

She pointed to an earlier answer in which she had said that DWP was working to address such problems, “including giving a bit more flexibility for certain cases at that early stage, with the hope that the evidence we need will then be submitted at that stage”, work that she said was currently being rolled out.

She told Bone that there would be more announcements on PIP in the department’s forthcoming green paper on employment support for disabled people, which is due to be published before the end of the year.

*In full, the DWP spokesman said: “There are more people using Motability now than when PIP was first introduced, including a number who are newly entitled to Motability under PIP, which is the point the minister was making.

“PIP recognises both physical and non-physical conditions, such as mental health problems, much more effectively than DLA did.

“For example, under DLA some people with mental health conditions were not eligible for support or were on much lower rates than they are under PIP, which is what the secretary of state was referring to in his remarks.

“Overall, 66 per cent of PIP recipients, whose main disabling condition is a mental health condition, are getting the enhanced rate of the daily living component, compared to only 22 per cent of working age mental health recipients receiving the highest rate of the DLA care component.

“24 per cent of PIP recipients, whose main disabling condition is a mental health condition, are getting the enhanced rate of the mobility component, compared to only nine per cent of working age mental health recipients receiving the higher rate of the DLA mobility component.”

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  • christine

    i had high rate mobility and middle rate care, pip came in after renew date i lost high rate mobility put on lowest pip and lowest care of pip. they would not listen to gp or medical evidence a list a mile long or the specialist and lost the appeal aswell. and i am no fake either, i can not walk unaided. or bathe unaided, they said you can buy an aid to wash your hair. fullstop. when you cant lift your arms or turn your head and bend down or round get up off the floor when you fall down, then you are deemed to be more than capable.

    • TiggyTiger

      Go to your MP about it. Phone his constituency office. My one helped both me and my friend even though he’s a Tory MP. He rang the person in charge of PIP in Parliament and they phoned ATOS.

  • Fedup

    My daughter was diagnosed with bipolar. Her mental health nurse helped her apply for PIP. She was turned down, received a phone call from the DWP and informed that she may be sanctioned for some unknown reason and this sent her into meltdown. She is a young single Mum with three young boys. She is still under constant worry over this. In my opinion the DWP is run by heartless bastards.

    • It appears to be run by people who work in actuality for the American insurance company Unum. If you Google for Unum scandal you’ll find out why I say this, or you could buy Mo Stewart’s book on the matter, ‘Cash not Care’. All will become clear, and the view’s not nice.

  • Spoonydoc

    Oh for goodness sake. Percentages are no indication of the number of people successfully receiving a benefit.
    In fact the higher percentage they boast of *can* instead be an indication of disabled people losing their benefit if the overall number of claimants falls but the number on enhanced rate stays steady.
    The DWP already used this tactic before to try to say that PIP was more generous in general than DLA. In reality the number of people on enhanced rate had stayed the same while the total number of successful claims had dropped sharply. I wrote a blog post about this after them “boasting” about it once too often.

    Here is a silly example to fit their figures and which illustrates just how meaningless they are.
    Let’s say that the total number of people receiving DLA is 300.
    22% of recipients whose main condition is a mental health condition get high rate care, ie 66 people.
    Those 300 people get transferred to PIP. During the transfer 200 people lose their benefit, all of whom have a physical condition. The 66 aforementioned people retain enhanced rate. No one else does.
    So now the same 66 people have enhanced rate, but only out of 100 PIP recipients.
    Hey Presto! “66% of of recipients of PIP whose main condition is a mental health condition get enhanced rate.”
    What an improvement. How better targeted they are!
    Except that not one single more person with a mental health condition is getting more support and two thirds of total claimants have lost their benefit…

    This is an extreme example, but I believe does reflect in part what is really going on. The changes in percentage are not due to a big increase in support to claimants with a primary mental health condition but rather a slash in support to those with a primary physical condition.

    • ann-marie

      i totally agree ..cuts are being aimed at people with physcial conditions my 16 year old sons a prime example ..he has a rare blood condition cystinosis this condition attacks the interal organs causing poor muscle growth rickets vomiting failure to grow constant thirst photo phobia kidney failture which at present hes heading for transplant also right leg is 4 cm longer than the left causin pain in hip and back ect..but on transfer from dla to pip back in march on assessment was tested for back to work related tests no mention on how his contions affect his daily life ..2 weeks later he got a letter refusing him pip ofcause i appealed yes we won but he lost th mobility part as they stated his eye condition wasnt important or his limp ..if u see forums on social media sites you will clearly see the percentages of losses to wins..

  • PageMonster

    What Ms. Mordaunt meant is they are getting better at targeting us. Yet another Minister Against Disabled People.