DWP update: Benefits overhaul may occur as 12,000 claimants win appeals each month

Justin Tomlinson gets questioned on PIP assessments

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The DWP oversees a number of benefits and payments, but one of these is Personal Independence Payments, or PIP as the benefit is commonly known. The sum is intended to help those who are living with long-term disabilities or health conditions cover some of the associated costs. But the way the benefit is overseen and administered could be set for change, due to thousands of appeals being won each month.

The disability charity Scope found that between July 2019 and June 2021, there had been 12,579 successful appeals for PIP claims each month.

This works out as a mistaken benefit decision being made every minute of the working day.

The charity is determined to ensure disabled individuals receive the correct decision the first time around.

As a result, it has launched a campaign entitled ‘Disability benefits without the fight’.

Its website states: “Disabled people are having to fight for the benefits they need. 

“Many are having to go through stressful appeals processes, just to get what they are entitled to.

“We know benefits are an essential public service for disabled people. Personal Independence Payments (PIP), Employment Support Allowance (ESA) and Universal Credit (UC) are a lifeline for many.

“The benefits system should be working for disabled people. Not against them.”

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The petition established by the charity has called for claimants to have the right to request a specialist assessor when they apply.

A specialist assessor is likely to understand the specificities of a person’s disability and/or health issues, and therefore campaigners believe this could result in a more accurate assessment. 

So far, it has garnered over 10,000 signatures in support.

James Taylor, the executive director of the charity, said: “These wrong decisions throw a person’s life into turmoil. Having to fight for financial support puts a huge toll on disabled people’s mental and physical health and can plunge families into poverty.

“We’ve heard from huge numbers of disabled people who felt their assessors did not understand their condition or how it affects their life. The system is getting it wrong far too many times.”

Currently, if a person disagrees with a decision made about their PIP claim, they can challenge the process.

This is called asking for a “mandatory reconsideration”, and involves the decision being looked at again.

PIP is available to those aged 16 or over, and usually under state pension age who have a long-term physical or mental health condition or disability.

Individuals must have difficulty doing certain everyday tasks or getting around.

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They must expect the difficulties to last for at least 12 months from when they started.

The Government Department insists that for the majority of claims for PIP, the right decision is reached.

Difficulty with tasks is assessed in a number of ways, including:

  • Whether a person can do the task safely
  • How long a task takes a person to complete
  • How often a condition impacts the activity
  • Whether a person needs help to carry out the activity, whether this is from a person or extra equipment.

A DWP spokesperson said: “For the majority of PIP claims, we get decisions right and all assessments are carried out by healthcare professionals trained to consider the impact of someone’s health condition or disability.

“But we are exploring what more we can do so the welfare system better meets the needs of disabled people through our Health and Disability Green Paper.”

Express.co.uk has also contacted the Department for comment. 

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