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Complaints about PIP assessments up 6,000 per cent in three years

07 May 2019

Government figures show 9,320 complaints were received about medical assessments for PIP in the year to February 2019 – compared with 1,391 in 2016/17 and just 142 in 2015/16, www.independent.co.uk reports.

The number of complaints to the government about the PIP assessment process has surged by more than 6,000 per cent in three years, prompting fresh concerns that the system is “flawed” and harming disabled people.

This marks a surge of 570 per cent in two years and 6,463 per cent in three years. The overall number of PIP claims has risen by 67 per cent since 2016.

Thousands of disabled people refused PIP claimants challenge the decision each year with 73% winning their appeals at an independent tribunal.  

Ian Lavery, the Labour MP who obtained the figures through a parliamentary question, said the current benefits system was “driving people into destitution”.

He said that in the year to March 2019, his office helped constituents win back a total of £275,011 in PIP claims and appeals, and that even the local authorities welfare support team were passing cases to his caseworkers.

A DWP spokesperson said: “We want the PIP assessment process to work well for everyone and have made significant improvements, including testing the video recording of assessments. This year complaints represented less than 1 per cent of all PIP assessments.”

Ken Butler DR UK’s Welfare Rights and Policy Adviser said –

“The downplaying of the huge rise in PIP medical assessment complaints is appalling.  

The poor and inaccurate standards of PIP and ESA assessments have been continually criticised from their introduction. No less than 84% of social security appeals relate to PIP and ESA.

Eve if a complaint is not made directly to Atos or Capita, every challenge to a PIP decision is in effect a complaint against that individual PIP medical assessment .

PIP award rates from April 2013 to January 2019 for new claims are 44% and 72% for DLA reassessment claims. 2,206,000 disabled people were made some level of PIP award with 1,735,000 being disallowed PIP.

It is likely that most complaints will be from those denied an award – so that the DWP cited figure of just 1% of claimants complaining overall is disingenuous and misleading.

This is similar to the DWP’s cited figures  relating to appeals - of totalling only 5% - that include the hundreds of thousands of successful claims, where a disabled person has received a fair decision and therefore has had no need to appeal.

Recent figures obtained by the Disability News Service showed however that, of all the PIP claims rejected by DWP decision-makers in the year to June 2018, 14 per cent were eventually overturned because the decisions were found to have been wrong."

For more information see Complaints about disability benefit assessments up 6,000% in three years, figures show @ www.independent.co.uk.