Disabled people missing out on £24m a month due to benefit delays
Postponements to Personal Independent Payment (PIP) reviews are resulting in disabled people missing out on as estimated £24 million in payments per month.
New research compiled by Citizens Advice has found that 430,000 people are currently waiting for a PIP review, with some having faced delays for over two years. PIP is a benefit that helps people to meet living costs who have a disability or those who have long-term illnesses, or are coping with a mental health condition.
There has been a 19% increase in cases of those seeking help over PIP reviews in the first six months of this year compared to the same period last year.
Between January and April this year, 210,000 new PIP claims were made, but a lack of trained staff in the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) meant they were unable to cope with the demand has also led to the delays. Health assessments need to be carried out before any PIP payments can be delivered.
The delays have also come at a time when the disabled have been badly affected by the continued cost-of-living crisis. Data from Citizens Advice revealed that disabled people are twice as likely to say that they can rarely if ever cover their costs on a monthly basis.
In addition, just under two thirds of the people that the charity has helped with food bank referrals were either disabled or were suffering with a long-term health problem.
DWP attempting to to ease burden
In response to the growing crisis, the DWP has taken steps to halve the wait times for new PIP applications to three months. But, despite these efforts, Citizens Advice is calling on the Government to ensure that disabled people are receiving the right amount of support. The recommendations on how to achieve this include bypassing the time-consuming health assessments, making greater use of paper-based decisions and allocating more resources to prevent delays in other benefit payments linked to PIP.
Matthew Upton, the acting executive director of policy and advocacy at Citizens Advice, said: “PIP can act as a lifeline for so many people with extra living costs linked to their health condition. But right now, hundreds of thousands are being left in limbo while they wait for a health assessment with little clarity as to when their claim will be reviewed.
“Delays don’t just pose a financially agonising wait; they can take a significant emotional toll on people every single day. At a time when rising prices are putting immense pressure on disabled people’s budgets, we need a system that efficiently and effectively helps people with extra living costs, not one that causes more harm.”