An important factor in whether you get an award of personal independence payment appears to be the area in which you live, Benefits and Work can reveal. Claimants in some postcode areas are more than twice as likely to get an award as claimants in others.
Low award rates
Figures released last week by the DWP show that the success rate for normal rules – not terminally ill – claimants, varies from 27% to 62%, depending on which parliamentary constituency you live in.
At one extreme there are constituencies where the award rate is under 40%:
- Scarborough and Whitby 27%
- St Austell and Newquay 31%
- East Yorkshire 33%
- Kingston upon Hull East 37%
- South East Cornwall 38%
- York Outer 38%
- Barrow and Furness 39%
- Kingston upon Hull North 39%
- Kingston upon Hull West and Hessle 39%
- Leyton and Wanstead 39%
- North Cornwall 39%
- Oldham East and Saddleworth 39%
- Thirsk and Malton 39%
- Uxbridge and South Ruislip 39%
- York Central 39%
High award rates
At the other extreme are constituencies where awards are in the high fifties or even over 60%:
- Weston-Super-Mare 56%
- Berwick-upon-Tweed 57%
- Brecon and Radnorshire 57%
- Clwyd South 57%
- Dumfriesshire, Clydesdale and Tweeddale 57%
- Mid Bedfordshire 57%
- Caithness, Sutherland and Easter Ross 58%
- City of Durham 58%
- West Aberdeenshire and Kincardine 58%
- Dumfries and Galloway 59%
- Gainsborough 59%
- Ross, Skye and Lochaber 59%
- Scunthorpe 59%
- Orkney and Shetland 61%
- Na h-Eileanan an Iar 62%
No obvious reason
The difference is not down to which company did the assessment. Atos cover both Scarborough and Scunthorpe, for example.
It isn’t about one area having begun the switch from DLA to PIP sooner than the other. Scarborough and Scunthorpe both switched at the same time.
It’s also not that some areas have had too few claimants to be statistically significant – both Scarborough and Scunthorpe have processed well over 1,000 claims.
It’s probably not even about the fact that four of the five lowest awarding constituencies are Conservative – Labour are also well represented in the bottom ten.
Of course, you could argue that wherever you are looking at statistical averages there are bound to be outliers. So, there is no issue here, it’s just normal variability.
But if the same allegedly objective test is being administered in the same way by professionals with the same level of skill and knowledge then it’s very hard to see why they should come up with such dramatically different results.
And we aren’t just looking at statistics, we’re looking at people’s lives.
At the moment, it seems to be the case that sick and disabled claimants are likely to have very much harder lives if they live in Scarborough than if they live in Scunthorpe. And that’s not how the benefits system is supposed to work.
But there may be one thing you can do about it.
Ask a tribunal
The overall award rate for PIP is currently 48% nationally. If you are refused PIP and you live in an area where the award rate is significantly lower than this there is nothing to stop you raising this in your appeal and asking the tribunal to issue directions to the DWP to explain the reason for it.
So, for example, if you live in Scarborough and you’ve been refused PIP, you might include on your appeal form the following request:
REQUEST FOR DIRECTIONS
“I am concerned that staff assessing PIP in the Scarborough and Whitby constituency are failing to follow national guidelines for doing so, because the award rate in this constituency is only 27% compared to 48% nationally. I respectfully request that the tribunal issue directions instructing the DWP to explain the reason why the award rate is so low in this constituency. If they are unable to do so satisfactorily, I would ask that the tribunal draw inferences from their failure.”
There’s no guarantee that the tribunal will grant your request, of course. But, if they don’t, you may have grounds to appeal to the upper tribunal.
If you want to check the award rate in your constituency, you can download the DWP Excel tables of award rates here.
If you don’t find Excel files easy to use, we’ve created a simple table just of the PIP award rates by parliamentary constituency in Word format and a simple table just of the PIP award rates by parliamentary constituency in .pdf format.