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Benefit delays “hurting some of our most vulnerable and ill people”

Citizens Advice both helps clients face problems and organisations improve policy. This post is part of a policy campaign on behalf of people living with disability.

People who need help with the extra costs of ill health or disability are meeting obstacles at every stage in the benefit process.

As the cost of living rises, they are waiting 5 months on average for money they are entitled to receive. For some the stress of claiming is making their condition worse.

Citizens Advice research shows delays in Personal Independence Payment (PIP) are causing serious difficulty.

This year PIP has been the problem for more than a third of our benefit clients at Citizens Advice Epsom & Ewell (chart below – excludes universal credit). The reason is a complicated process often involving an application, an assessment, a reassessment and an appeal.

PIP problems outnumber other benefit issues for CAEE clients (2022 year to July)

We fully accept the Department of Work and Pensions must be rigorous. But as one of our experienced advisers says, “the PIP process is hurting some of society’s most vulnerable, ill and damaged people”.

Our clients’ experience is similar to large numbers across the country. National Citizens Advice reports* some 327,000 people, many on low incomes, waiting for a PIP application to be processed. Nearly £300m of benefit payments is held up. 

Personal Independence Payment has gradually replaced Disability Living Allowance over recent years. Unfortunately there have been bumps in the road. In 2019 Surrey Citizens Advice** showed that today’s problems are by no means new***.      

Sorting out the PIP assessment backlog should now be a priority for the government.

* PIP delays leave disabled people hundreds of millions of pounds out of pocket, Citizens Advice, 06/07/22

** A Rubber Stamp? Mandatory Reconsideration in Personal Independence Payment, Lizzie Blair, Surrey Research & Campaigns Group, May 2019.

*** Summary Findings
1. Mandatory Reconsideration is delaying the amendment of what are likely to be inaccurate initial decisions on PIP awards by DWP.
2. We have seen delays caused by MR leave people in financial difficulty or worsen already difficult financial circumstances.
3. We have seen the MR process as a whole increase stress and worsen health conditions.
4. The MR process is often confusing and poorly understood.
5. The introduction of MR provides the opportunity to slow down or even stall the PIP process


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