GREENS SLAM “UNACCEPTABLE” BENEFIT APPEAL WAITS
7 October, 2019 - 00:00
The Scottish Greens have called for more protection for disability payment recipients, after official figures showed waiting times for appealing decisions have rocketed to a level even the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) itself describes as “an all-time high.”
The UK Government has published figures which show people who are denied Personal Independence Payment (PIP) or awarded PIP at a reduced rate, now wait 69 days on average for an internal review by the Department for Work and Pensions.
Average waits between April and July were 70 days for new claims and 65 days for those being transferred from the Disability Living Allowance (DLA) benefit.
This is more than double the lowest yearly average of 24 days, in 2015/2016.
PIP is set to be replaced in Scotland by Disability Assistance payments, with a target timescale for internal appeals at 40-60 days being considered.
Scottish Greens social security spokesperson Alison Johnstone MSP said:
“Some of our most vulnerable citizens, often with serious disabilities and health conditions, apply for PIP. Many have very poor mental health. It is unacceptable for them to wait so long for a basic review. These figures are yet more evidence that the UK Government’s welfare reforms have been a disaster.
“It is absolutely imperative that we get this right when the replacement Disability Assistance payments begin in Scotland. That means the proposed minimum wait period must be as short as possible. The upper end of what has been proposed – 40-60 days – is not much shorter than the current waiting period.
“Most importantly, we need to ensure that we get decisions right the first time, which is why Greens have legislated to ensure that evidence from doctors and other professionals who know the applicant is taken fully into account, reducing the need for the so-often inaccurate face-to-face assessments.”