One in seven of all government decisions to reject claims for personal independence payment (PIP) is eventually overturned, new figures obtained by Disability News Service (DNS) have revealed.
The figures show that, of all the PIP claims rejected by Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) decision-makers in the year to June 2018, 14 per cent were eventually overturned because the decisions were found to have been wrong.
They also show that this rate of overturned rejections has continued to climb every year since 2014-15.
In the year to June 2015, eight per cent of rejected claims in that year were eventually overturned, rising to 12 per cent in the year to June 2016, and then 13 per cent in the year to June 2017.
Now they have risen again, to 14 year per cent of rejected claims in the year to June 2018, of which eight per cent were over-ruled at the mandatory reconsideration (MR) stage – where DWP civil servants review decisions, if requested – and another six per cent at tribunal.
The figures, secured through a DNS freedom of information request, could rise further as some appeals have not yet been heard.
And the true proportion of incorrect PIP decisions will be even higher, because many rejected claimants do not challenge those results, with DWP’s own research – published last autumn – showing that hundreds of thousands more claimants would have taken further steps to challenge the results of their claims if the system had been less stressful and more accessible.
As well as casting fresh doubt on the introduction of PIP in 2013 and how it has been managed by ministers over the last six years, the new figures also raise fresh concerns about the performance of outsourcing companies Atos and Capita, which are being paid hundreds of millions of pounds to assess PIP claimants.
The figure of 14 per cent is far higher than the statistics repeatedly used by the government to defend its reforms, with ministers often stating that about nine or 10 per cent of all PIP decisions have been appealed and only four or five per cent have been successfully overturned.
But those figures include the hundreds of thousands of successful claims, where a disabled person has received a fair decision and therefore has had no need to appeal.
When releasing the latest figures, DWP warned that they were “unpublished data”, “should be used with caution” and “may be subject to future revision”.
DWP this week declined to say whether the figures showed that the PIP assessment process was not fit for purpose, why the figures were continuing to rise, and whether it accepted that they provided a more accurate picture of how well the PIP assessment process was working than the figures usually given by ministers.
But a DWP spokesperson said in a statement: “3.9 million PIP decisions have been made and, of these, 10 per cent have been appealed and five per cent have been overturned.
“As the secretary of state has said, we recognise that the number of people having their decision overturned is too high.
“We will therefore do more to gather the evidence we need to make the right decision earlier, so that fewer claimants have to seek redress through tribunal.”
One of the demands of the Justice for Jodey Whiting petition is that MPs recognise that DWP is not fit for purpose. To sign the petition, click on this link. If you sign it, please note that you will need to confirm your signature by clicking on an email you will be sent automatically by the House of Commons petitions committee
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