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PIP assessment claims at ‘record high’ with 327,000 waiting 5 months to receive support

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The Secretary of State for the DWP, Dr Therese Coffey, confirmed in a Work and Pensions Committee meeting that the new claims for Personal Independence Payment (PIP) have reached “record” levels. Dr Coffey told the parliamentary committee that the DWP “had an action plan” that it was “starting to get on top of” but that has now gone as the number of claims rises. She said: “It is a challenge. I am not denying it.”

According to an analysis by Citizens Advice, this means that disabled claimants are waiting for almost £300million in financial support because of the delays.

Between February to April, the advice charity estimated that the waiting list stood at 327,000 people. 

Citizens Advice stated that this has forced people to make “impossible choices” financially as they try to just get by. 

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The charity also revealed that they receive 150 PIP claimants every hour contacting them for advice and support and that one in five people who claim PIP have needed a food bank referral in the last three months. 

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Dame Clare Moriarty, chief executive of Citizens Advice, said: “Getting a grip on the PIP assessment backlog needs to be a priority for the government.

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“Delays in getting money to people who’re entitled to it can wreck lives. With costs rising all the time, people need this regular support now, not a backdated payment months or years in the future.“

When asked by the Committee when the figures were likely to start to fall again, Permanent Secretary at DWP, Peter Schofield explained that if the demand remained at the level it was then the department would need new ways to manage it. 

He added that the health assessors have already agreed on a recovery plan. 

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He said: “Part of that plan is finding ways of particularly supporting people who are coming up to the end of their awards. 

“By doing that, the amount of time it takes to go through for a new claim has remained broadly steady at around 20 weeks. That is how it has been for quite some time. That number has come down.”

Mr Schofield also revealed that the DWP was working on creating a single assessment service for all health-related benefits. 

The latest figures from the DWP reveal that at the end of April 2022 there were three million people across the UK claiming support through PIP.

Around 35 percent of these, or one in three cases received the highest level of payment. 

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The latest data also revealed that the number of people claiming for psychiatric disorders such as autism spectrum disorders, mood disorders and learning disorders significantly increased.

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In April the number of people claiming for these types of conditions rose to over one million from 36,980. 

PIP was first introduced in 2013 and consists of a daily living component if a person needs help with everyday tasks and a mobility component if they need help getting around.

Both components are split into a standard rate payment and an enhanced rate.

The standard daily living component currently stands at £61.85 a week and the enhanced rate sits at £92.40 a week.

The mobility component standard rate is current £24.45 a week and the enhanced rate is 64.50. 

Britons are able to claim both components if they need it and can be eligible for any combination of the different amounts. 

Once a person has sent their claim, the DWP assesses it and looks at how a person’s condition impacts normal daily activities.

Kate Smith, senior benefits expert at Citizens Advice, said: “PIP can make a huge difference for people who struggle with day to day activities – but the application process can be challenging.

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“If you need extra help because of an illness, disability or mental health condition you might be eligible. It’s hard to say if you will qualify for PIP, because it’s assessed on the level of help you individually need rather than being tied to a condition or needing to take a specific medication. 

“But if you struggle with things like preparing and cooking food, washing and bathing or communicating with others, it might be worth applying. There is also a mobility component to PIP, so if you have difficulty walking outside you might qualify.

 

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