Disabled claimants are missing out on £24 million a month because of delays to personal independence payment (PIP) reviews, a Citizen’s Advice report this month has claimed.
In Playing Catch-Up: The impact of delayed health assessments for Personal Independence Payment Citizens Advice highlight the fact that more people than ever before are applying for PIP due to rising levels of ill health and the effects of the cost of living crisis.
A shortage of staff, particularly health assessors, initially led to DWP delays of six months in assessing new claims. However, the backlog of new claims has now been reduced, but only by failing to process reviews of claims in a reasonable time instead.
This means that claimants are having to wait many months for a higher payment because their request for a review due to a change of circumstances is yet to be looked at.
Claimants who are waiting for a planned review whose needs have increased are facing a lottery in decision making, Citizens Advice claim. Sometimes the DWP backdate any higher award to the date on which the review form was returned, which may be well over a year ago, but in other cases it is only backdated to the date of the decision.
The number of people waiting for a PIP review has hugely increased, with over 430,00 PIP claimants now in the queue. Citizens Advice estimate that 100,000 of these are likely to be missing out on higher payments. The delays also cause difficulties with issues such as Motability vehicles and Blue Badges.
Citizens Advice say that the latest quarterly data by the DWP show that they have now begun processing reviews again and this has led to a small decrease in the number waiting. But the result has been a large increase in the number of new claims waiting to be processed.
There are three areas the DWP could focus on to bring down delays, according to Citizens Advice:
“Continue to increase capacity in the system to carry out health assessments by recruiting more healthcare professionals
“Take steps to reduce the number of health assessments needed by making more decisions on the basis of paper applications and medical evidence (bypassing the need for a health assessment), and making better use of auto-renewals and longer-term awards.
“Introduce temporary measures to mitigate the problems experienced by people waiting for a review. That includes backdating any awards increased after a review and taking steps to prevent disruptions to passported benefits.”
Citizens Advice say that requests for help in connection with PIP reviews have risen by 19% compared to last year, much higher than the increase in requests for help with PIP in general. And here at Benefits and Work we hear daily from members who are struggling with the stress and practical difficulties caused by the delay in their PIP review.
Have you had difficulties because of a delay in your PIP review? Let us know in the comments below.