A Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) minister chose to release some staggering figures during the afternoon of Friday 20 July; essentially dropping them and running off for the weekend.
The DWP: sneaking things out on a Friday
how many people with epilepsy who were in receipt of Disability Living Allowance [DLA] did not receive an award as a result of a reassessment for personal independence payments [PIP]…
Newton’s response on Friday 20 July was shocking. She said:
Since the introduction of… (PIP) a total of 6,330 decisions on claims with an epilepsy condition listed as the main health condition have been made as part of migration from… (DLA) to PIP. Of these, 3,380 did not receive any benefit award at the initial assessment and 1,120 of these people subsequently appealed their decision. Of those who appealed their decision 870 cases were settled in favour of the claimant.
This means the DWP denied PIP to over 53% of people living with epilepsy who previously had DLA. Moreover, of the 33% of people who appealed after the DWP denied them PIP, a massive 77% of people ended up being given the benefit.
In a seeming attempt to gloss over these figures, Newton claimed:
Under PIP, 29 per cent of working age claimants with epilepsy recorded as their primary disabling condition receive the highest level of support compared to 6 per cent under Disability Living Allowance when PIP was introduced.
But she gave no explanation as to what happened to the thousands of people who lost their benefits. Moreover, the loss of benefits for people migrating from DLA to PIP is an even wider problem. It doesn’t just affect those living with epilepsy.
A wider catastrophe
As The Canary exclusively reported, between April 2013 and April 2018 around 381,000 DLA claimants who were reassessed for PIP did not get the benefit. That’s 28% of all DLA claimants who were reassessed. By our calculations, if this trend continues, the DWP could deny PIP to another half a million people. This would mean over 880,000 people losing their benefits.
For people living with epilepsy, stress can sometimes be a trigger for a seizure. It’s bad enough the DWP subjected these people to reassessment in the first place. It’s worse that so many had to appeal to get their benefits back.
Newton’s figures, and the possible real life impact they had, are endemic of a system that’s miserably failing sick and disabled people.
The Canary contacted the DWP for comment but had received none at the time of publication.