The likelihood of being awarded the government’s new disability benefit has plunged by more than a fifth in just a year, official figures have revealed.
The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) figures, released the day after the election, show that new claimants are 21 per cent less likely to be awarded personal independence (PIP) than they were last year.
They show that 42 per cent of new claims that were cleared in October 2018 were awarded some level of PIP, but that fell to just 33 per cent of new PIP claims cleared in October 2019.
The figures also show a sharp drop over the latest three months of this year, from 41 per cent of new claims cleared in July 2019 to 39 per cent in August, 35 per cent in September, and 33 per cent in October 2019*.
It is not clear why the award rate has fallen so sharply, although the suspicion is likely to be that it is just the latest attempt by government ministers to clamp down on spending on disabled people’s support.
The fall was not mirrored by the award rates for claimants of disability living allowance who have been reassessed for PIP.
Those figures showed that 69 per cent of reassessments that were cleared in October 2019 resulted in a PIP award of some kind, compared with 67 per cent in October 2018 and 70 per cent in October 2017.
The award rate figures have been overlooked this week by the media and disability charities, which focused instead on overall reassessment figures showing how more than 650,000 DLA recipients have either lost eligibility for all support, or had their benefits reduced, after being reassessed for PIP since DWP began rolling out the new benefit in 2013.
This added up to 46 per cent of the 1.4 million DLA reassessment claims that had been cleared by the end of October 2019 resulting in the disabled person having their benefits removed or cut.
Of those 1.4 million, about 25 per cent had their benefits stopped, with about 21 per cent having them cut.
Another 39 per cent had their benefits increased as a result of the PIP reassessment process.
The figures also showed that 29 per cent of former DLA cases registered were awarded PIP at the highest rate (enhanced daily living and enhanced mobility), compared with 16 per cent under DLA.
A DWP spokesperson refused to say whether the minister for disabled people, Justin Tomlinson, was concerned about the new award rate figures; whether he could explain why the award rate had plunged; and whether he would take any action to address this.
He also refused to say if Tomlinson was concerned about the overall number of people who had lost their support after being reassessed since 2013.
Instead, the spokesperson said in a statement: “The government now spends more than £55 billion every year to support disabled people, more than at any time under the DLA system; with more people benefitting from support through PIP than did under DLA.
“Most people get PIP after being reassessed from DLA. More than half have their award maintained or increased, with 29 per cent receiving the highest level of support compared to 16 per cent under DLA.”
Last month, Disability News Service (DNS) revealed that more than 100,000 disabled people receiving DLA had lost their Motability vehicles after being reassessed for PIP in the last six years.
DNS spent months investigating allegations of dishonesty by PIP assessors in late 2016 and throughout 2017, hearing eventually from more than 250 disabled people in less than a year about how they had been unfairly deprived of their benefits, with such cases still continuing to come in three years after that investigation began.
And in September, DNS revealed that PIP claimants are now almost twice as likely to win their tribunal appeal than DLA claimants were almost a decade ago.
*The figures show initial outcomes of claims before any mandatory reconsiderations or tribunal appeals
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