“Abusive” disability benefit system since half of PIP decisions are overturned
The government’s “abusive” benefit system that subjects people with disabilities to “immense distress” must be abolished.
That was the call of the Greater Manchester Disability Coalition (GMCDP), which works with people with disabilities across Oldham.
The organization condemned the Personal Independence Payment (PIP) process after figures reveal that more than 1,500 people with disabilities in the district sued the government for the payment of benefits, 57% of them having set aside the initial decision.
Since 2013, 1,650 people have escalated their cases and have challenged the DWP in court, with an independent panel overturning the government’s decision in 720 (57%) of those cases.
Between April 2013 and the end of 2020, the Ministry of Work and Pensions assessed 19,300 requests for personal independence payment from residents of the region – 65% resulted in the granting of an award.
The allowance – which is not means-tested – covers additional expenses faced by people with disabilities and is worth between £ 23 and £ 150 per week, depending on the person’s needs.
The application process, described by the GMCDP as a ‘disgrace’, sees most applicants meet with a Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) assessor who assesses their care and mobility needs as part of an interview. point-based system.
A spokesperson for the Greater Manchester Coalition of Disabled People (GMCDP) said the DWP’s PIP assessment process “causes immense distress to people with disabilities who find the whole system abusive.”
“The PIP was introduced with the explicit political objective of cutting benefits for people with disabilities by half a million. It should be abolished and replaced by a new system co-designed with people with disabilities. We know that courts are losing patience with the DWP’s malfunction and the lack of evidence they provide to explain why they are denying benefits to people with disabilities, ”they added.
Under the current system, if the applicant is not satisfied with the outcome of the assessment, a mandatory review can be requested, forcing the DWP to reconsider the decision.
In Oldham, only about one in six sentences at this first appeal stage have been changed.
According to the GMCDP, there have been “serious” case reviews of deaths caused by the process, but the DWP has “destroyed historical evidence.”
A GMCDP spokesperson added: “They know full well that their system is a disgrace but persist in subjecting people with disabilities to it.
“In 2016, the UN found that there had been ‘serious and systemic’ violations of the human rights of persons with disabilities amounting to a ‘human catastrophe’ and that the situation since then has only worsened.
The organization has now formed Oldham Forward Together to address issues faced by people with disabilities as a result of the PIP process.
Their condemnation echoes comments from Louise Rubin of the Disability Charity Scope, who called the assessment process “fundamentally flawed.”
She said: “People with disabilities have told us about specific failures in their PIP assessment, such as their unheard opinions and experiences, inaccurately recorded information, the advice and opinions of medical experts ignored and a lack of understanding, empathy or compassion on the part of Staff.
“If the DWP got more good decisions the first time, fewer people with disabilities would go through a long and stressful appeals process to get the life support they need. ”
Across Britain, more than 350,000 appeals – out of more than four million claims – have been filed since 2013 and the claimant has won in more than two-thirds of those cases.
However, Michael Paul of Disability Rights UK said many candidates were not appealing because they were “tired of stressful and time-consuming bureaucracy” and feared losing any existing awards.
A DWP spokesperson said: “We are committed to making sure people get all the support they are entitled to and in the vast majority of cases there is no appeal because we are taking the right one. decision, the first time.
“When a person does not agree with a decision, we will contact them, if necessary, for further information so that the decisions can be thoroughly reviewed and an appeal can be avoided. ”