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PIP Letter: Anna McMorrin MP to Department for Work and Pensions

January 26, 2018

The letter that I wrote to Sarah Newton MP, Minister of State for Disabled People, Health and Work, on 21st November 2017.

 

Dear Minister,

 

I am writing to you in your capacity as the Minister for Disabled People, Health and Work, to communicate the concerns expressed by a growing number of my constituents, charities and disability workers regarding Personal Independence Payment (PIP).

 

I am appalled by the horrifying accounts of my constituents’ experiences with PIP. Accounts of assessors lacking the training to understand the impact of different disabilities on claimants, applicants having to wait for months to schedule an assessment or appeal, and a problematic and challenging application process that has been condemned by disability charities all over the country.

 

 This September, the Disability Benefits Consortium (DBC) launched a report evaluating PIP.

 

The research findings are deeply worrying:

 

·       Over 70% of respondents found the PIP application form ‘hard’ or ‘very hard’ and 11% of respondents were unable to complete it at all.

 

·       Almost two-thirds of respondents to our survey disagreed when asked if assessors understood their condition.

 

·       Almost 90% of respondents described their assessment as ‘stressful’.

 

·       Over three-quarters of respondents agreed that the stress and anxiety associated with their PIP assessment had made their condition worse.

 

One of the most depressing findings was this:

 

·       In 2013/14 the proportion of successful PIP appeals stood at 26%. In the fourth quarter of 2016/17 this increased to 64%.

 

I am concerned about these figures as well as how stressful the appeals process can be on my constituents. I would argue that, should the application process be simplified and made more effective, appealing so often would be unnecessary. It is estimated that claimants face a frustrating 20-week wait for their appeal to be heard, during which time they are not entitled to any financial support. This situation poses a threat to their emotional and physical well-being. In many cases, people felt dissuaded from appealing because of the significant, harmful degree of stress this would cause them.

 

It is appalling that a benefit that was created to support people in vulnerable situations has had the opposite effect in many cases. I urge you to discuss the findings of the report with your colleagues and to adopt the changes it recommends, which include:

 

·       Looking again at the assessment criteria with disabled people, to explore whether they’re set fairly

 

·       Make the claim process simpler by introducing forms that don’t need to be returned within four weeks

 

·       Offer lifetime awards for people with the most severe conditions

 

·       Improve staff training and guidance to get decisions right, preferably the first time and certainly at mandatory reconsideration stage.

PIP is a benefit often claimed by the most vulnerable in our society and it is deplorable that, in a country like Britain, the Government’s delivery of this benefit reveals such a disparagement for the concerns of disabled people over their physical and emotional welfare.

Given these very serious concerns, I am calling on you to urgently review the Personal Independence Payment process and to address the issues set out in the Disability Benefits Consortium’s report.

 

Given the public interest in this issue, I will also be placing this letter in the public domain.

 

Yours ever,

Anna McMorrin MP/AS
Member of Parliament for Cardiff North

 

Aelod Seneddol dros Ogledd Caerdydd