Report says PIP backlogs have led to delays and uncertainty

Published date: 27 Feb 2014 at 9:46AM

A report out today by the National Audit Office says backlogs in the assessment process for Personal Independence Payment (PIP) have led to delays and uncertainty for claimants.

The Department for Work and Pensions introduced PIP in a small number of areas in April 2013 – by October, 166,000 people had started new claims for PIP.

PIP is replacing the Disability Living Allowance for working age people and supports disabled people with daily living and mobility costs.

The National Audit Office says the DWP used a phased roll out to reduce the risks in the programme – but it left little time to test whether it could handle a large volume of claims.

Backlogs soon developed and by October 2013, 92,000 people had outstanding claims with assessment providers Atos and Capita – almost three times the number the DWP had expected.

Claimants are facing long delays

The spending watchdog says it means claimants are now facing long delays to benefit decisions. People aren’t being told how long they might have to wait and that’s “creating distress and financial difficulties.”

In October the DWP postponed to reassessment of many DLA claims and announced that they would be phased in by postcode area, based on the capacity of the two providers.

Extreme financial hardship

Claire Nurden is Senior Policy and Campaigns Officer at the MS Society and Co-Chair of the Disability Benefits Consortium:

“The NAO’s report confirms what people across the country have been telling the DBC - that the Government failed to properly consider the impact its reforms would have on disabled people. This has resulted in unexpected costs and extreme financial hardship for those affected.

“It is nonsensical to press on with the roll-out of PIP before the system is fit for purpose. The government must urgently halt the reassessment of DLA claimants to reduce pressure on the system and put plans in place to support those enduring delays to their claim.”

The NAO is now recommending that the DWP should set out a clear plan for informing claimants about the delays they could face; while also working with providers to improve performance.

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Page last updated: 27 Feb 2014

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