A petition over Personal Independence Payment (PIP), a benefit from the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), has sparked a parliamentary debate. It’s a surprising development, because the petition didn’t reach the 100,000 signatures usually required for this. However, it presents as an opportunity for MPs and claimants to publicise the huge problems with PIP.
PIP: dogged by controversy
PIP is a benefit for chronically ill, sick and disabled people. It’s supposed to help with the extra costs of living with illnesses or impairments. As the Canary reported in November 2022, Keely Santos set up a petition calling on the government to conduct a “full review” of the PIP application process. It said that the benefit’s:
application and assessment process is inhumane and degrading. We believe Capita and Atos are not fit for purpose to be contracted as independent assessors, and that this leads to many people being unfairly denied benefits.
PIP has been dogged by controversy. From stealth real-terms cuts to huge rates of successful appeals, the benefit is a shambles. Also, between April 2013 and 30 April 2018, around 12 disabled/chronically ill people a day died waiting for the DWP’s decision on their applications.
Then there’s the DWP’s assessment process for PIP, which has been unfit for purpose for years. Independent Assessment Services (IAS), formally ATOS, is the company that does PIP health assessments for the DWP. However, this area of the benefit has been a mess, too. Official probes have shown “dishonest” assessment reports and high rates of appeal wins.
Plus, more and more people are complaining to the independent government watchdog about PIP – namely over:
- The assessment process.
- Assessors’ interpretation of medical evidence.
- Payment delays.
- DWP “misadvice”.
The DWP’s management of PIP has been such a disaster that it prompted the UN to say PIP had effectively reduced the number of people who should have been entitled to health-related benefits, negatively impacting on people’s living standards.
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A debate that MPs must attend
So, Santos’s petition is asking the government to address all of that.
The petition also noted the high number of claimant appeals over DWP PIP decisions. Figures for July-September 2022 show that 68% of tribunals went in the claimants’ favour. They also reveal that the number of people appealing a decision in the first place went up by 119% year-on-year.
Overall, PIP is a mess. Now, thanks to Santos, parliament will debate the state of the benefit and how the DWP manages it.
The debate will take place on Monday 4 September. The Canary is encouraging everyone affected by PIP, or the DWP, to write to their MP. They should ask them to attend the debate on their behalf. You can do this via email using the Write To Them website here.Support us and go ad-free
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