The Department for Work and Pensions say it is changing the claim process, with officials told to ask for evidence early to avoid costly tribunals
Disabled people denied vital benefit payments are fighting back and winning record levels of appeals against the DWP’s decisions.
More than 16,000 claimants saw their appeals successfully reverse a Personal Independence Payment (PIP) decision in the first three months of 2019, which is a record.
Almost three-quarters (74%) of the 21,995 PIP cases that went to a tribunal ruled in favour of the claimant, which is also a record high, Mirror Online reports .
Just last week, ChronicleLive reported on the case of terminally ill Darryl Nicholson, who was denied his PIP claim, leaving him with just £15 a week for food, after DWP deemed him ‘fit for work’ . The DWP is ‘looking again’ at his claim.
The average PIP claimant has to wait 31 weeks for an appeal hearing, which leaves them without vital funds for more than half a year.
The blunders cost the taxpayer too, with the Government admitting it spent £26.8m on running appeals which the DWP lost in 2018.
That figure does not include the £199 million spent over five years by the DWP dealing with and challenging appeals against the system.
James Taylor of disability charity Scope, said: “Yet again, success rates for both PIP and ESA appeals are at a record high, despite continuous warnings that the system is not fit for purpose.
“The publication of these appeal statistics is becoming like Groundhog Day.
“Disabled people who rely on these financial lifelines to live independently and be part of their community are being failed by the system.
“The assessments for PIP and ESA must be overhauled to iron out the mistrust, lack of transparency and routine inaccuracies which disabled people report on a weekly basis.”
The private firms which run PIP and Employment Support Allowance appeals have had their contracts extended, at a cost of £600m.
DWP says it has changed its approach, so officials request extra evidence from claimants during earlier internal appeals, which – it claims – saves claimants having to wait a long time to fight their case at a tribunal.
A spokesperson said: “Of the 4.1 million PIP decisions we’ve made only 5% have been overturned at appeal. But we recognise this is too high and we have introduced a new approach to gather evidence to make the right decision earlier, so that claimants don’t need to wait for a hearing.”