The DWP showed “shocking disregard” for some 4,600 disabled claimants denied rightful payments for not attending assessments – despite having good reasons not to do so.
In a written statement to Parliament, DWP minister Sarah Newton outlined the numbers affected by a ruling of the Upper Tribunal – which considers administrative matters in the UK – in November 2017 as what could be defined as “good reason” for not attending or participating in a Personal Independence Payment (PIP) assessment or failing to provide information.
PIP replaced the Disability Living Allowance (DLA) in 2013 under the then government’s ‘welfare reform’ agenda.
But before a disabled claimant receiving DLA was transferred to PIP, they needed to attend an assessment.
The Upper Tribunal decision states that where a defined “good reason” stood, claimants’ DLA awards should be reinstated, until a final decision on their PIP claim, and back paid, as necessary.
Newton said the DWP has since been “working at pace” and taking the necessary steps required to implement the ruling.
“We expect around 4,600 people to gain as a result of this review exercise. All claimants who benefit from the Upper Tribunal decision will be notified,” she said.
Separately, the statement also showed that as of last month only 1,000 people had been paid PIP arrears they are owed, with an average payment of £4,500.
It is thought a review of the claims announced last January could see about 200,000 receive more money.
Marsha de Cordova, Labour’s shadow minister for disabled people, said the figures in the government statement “once again show the DWP’s shocking disregard for disabled claimants”.
As reported by 24housing, the DWP was, earlier this week, cited for a “serious error” in removing disability premiums from Universal Credit.
The Newton Statement
Confirmation of the 4,600 came as Newton was updating the Commons on the ‘improvements’ the DWP was making in Personal Independence Payment (PIP).
Guidance available to PIP Case Managers was updated in August this year to supposedly ensure those awarded the highest level of support, whose needs are unlikely to improve or will deteriorate receive an ongoing award with a ‘light touch’ review at the 10-year point.
Newton said that following on from the introduction of that guidance, the DWP had now commenced activity to review the claims of existing claimants on the top level of support to identify those individuals who, in light of the new guidance, should be receiving an ongoing award.
“This is still in the early stages and being dealt with in date order, prioritising claimants whose awards are coming up for an award review, but commencing this activity is a really important step to reducing the number of individuals having to undergo an unnecessary award review where their needs are only likely to deteriorate,” Newton said.
In a written statement in June, Newton informed the House that the DWP had begun an exercise to identify anyone who may be entitled to more support under PIP by specific Upper Tribunal decisions.
One decision broadened the interpretation as to how symptoms of overwhelming psychological distress should be assessed for mobility activity; the other concerned with how the DWP considers a claimant to be carrying out an activity safely and whether they need supervision to do so.
The DWP has now published an ad hoc release of Management Information on this administrative exercise.
This release reveals that as of November this year, 140,000 cases had been cleared, of which 1,000 had been paid arrears with the average payment of approximately £4,500.
Given the complexity of the exercise, the DWP started at a relatively small scale to test processes before ramping up – having recruited over 250 additional staff to increase resources available for the exercise.
In addition, the Newton statement confirms an intention for further recruitment and the redirection of resource from other areas of PIP.
This, Newton said, means the administrative exercise will conclude in 2020, with some DLA to PIP reassessments that would have taken place in 2019/2020 being moved to the following year.