Disability claimants facing unfair difficulties

August 18, 2015

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By Lucy Palmer-Richeson.

One in four people claiming Personal Independence Benefits (PIP) in order to help them live independently are having extreme difficulties and are reaching out for help, according to national charity Citizen’s Advice.

 

In fact, figures from Citizen’s Advice show that problems with PIP are now the most common reason that people seek help from the charity, with 11,500 people seeking guidance in April 2015. In the same month, the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) reported only 52,000 new claimants and reassessments.

 

PIP replaced Disability Living Allowance (DLA) in April 2013, after Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith called the former system “ridiculous”. The new benefit was designed to be more stringent and save money on the benefits bill. Since its introduction, Citizen’s Advice report that they have received 300,000 calls from people with issues relating to the new benefit. In the last year they received 100,000 queries from people about eligibility, 50,000 from people who had an issue with a claim and over 20,000 from people who wanted to challenge or appeal a claim after being denied PIP. 

 

Gillian Guy, Chief Executive of Citizen’s Advice, said: “People’s ability to live independently is at risk due to PIP failures.  People are experiencing problems with every part of the PIP application process, causing a huge amount of stress and anxiety for those going through a very difficult time.

 

“PIP is designed to help people who are disabled or living with serious health conditions with the extra costs they face, such as getting help with day to day tasks, but for too many people the system is not working. In order to fulfil its intention the Government needs to ensure the PIP process is implemented properly and responds to people’s changing needs.” 

 

DWP figures from June of this year showed that for new claimants, delays for PIP have fallen to an average of 11 weeks. However, evidence from Citizen’s Advice shows that some claimants have been waiting for over a year to receive PIP and that due to the delays many of these people have fallen into debt and are now more dependent on family members.