Government’s new benefit system wrongly denies disabled people support at higher rate than ever

The Government’s new benefit system is wrongly denying disabled people financial support at a higher rate than ever, new figures show.

Decisions by the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) not to award Personal Independent Payment (PIP) are now overturned at 68 per cent of appeal hearings, with 14,188 cases found in favour of the claimant between July and September this year.

Successful appeals brought against the DWP over Employment Support Allowance (ESA) have also soared in recent years, with the proportion of cases found in favour of the claimant at 67 per cent in the last quarter, compared with 62 per cent in the same period last year and 58 per cent the year before.

The figures have prompted calls for assessments for PIP and ESA to be overhauled in order to iron out the “mistrust, lack of transparency and routine inaccuracies” that disabled people experience.

It comes after The Independent reported that almost half of disabled people reassessed under Government’s new benefit system last year had financial support withdrawn or reduced.

Of a total of 947,000 claimants who were reassessed under PIP in the year to October 2017, 22 per cent saw their support reduced, while a quarter were disallowed or withdrawn altogether — meaning 443,000 people will have had their claims reduced or removed.

PIP was introduced in 2013 to replace Disability Living Allowance (DLA) and brought in a new face-to-face assessment. Figures show that the number of appeal decisions found in favour of the claimant under the DLA system were never as high as they are currently under PIP.

Since PIP was introduced, the rate of successful appeals by claimants who were denied the benefit has steadily risen from just over a quarter (26 per cent) to the 68 per cent figure revealed in the new figures.

Stephen Lloyd, Liberal Democrat Work and Pensions spokesperson, said the fact that so many appeals were being upheld showed the system was “broken”.

He added: “Vulnerable disabled people are being failed on a monumental scale by this heartless Conservative government. It’s time to scrap Work Capability Assessments and replace them with a more humane system.”

Mark Atkinson, Chief Executive at disability charity Scope, said the latest figures demonstrated the UK’s welfare system “isn’t working for disabled people”, adding: “Decisions not to award PIP are being overturned at their highest ever rate, and the number of successful appeals over ESA has surged.

“Disabled people tell us this financial support is a lifeline, enabling them to live independently, visit friends and family and be part of their community.

“It’s imperative that assessments for PIP and ESA are overhauled to iron out the mistrust, lack of transparency and routine inaccuracies which disabled people report on a weekly basis.”

A DWP spokesperson said: “Only a small proportion of all decisions are overturned at appeal — just 4 per cent of PIP assessments and 5 per cent of ESA Work Capability Assessments.

“A vast majority of successful appeals were down to the claimant providing new evidence.”



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