Govt Urged To Tackle Unacceptable Flaws In Personal Independence Payment Scheme

Judgement Reserved As Specialist Lawyers Bring Judicial Review of PiP Scheme

15.05.2015

Dave Grimshaw, Press Officer | 0114 274 4397

Specialist public lawyers have urged the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) to iron out the “unacceptable flaws” in its process to provide essential financial support to disabled families before rolling it out wider, after it was alleged at a judicial review hearing that the system was ‘unlawful’.

Legal experts at Irwin Mitchell, who have already helped seven people secure decisions on applications for Personal Independence Payments (PIP), launched a legal challenge and is arguing that delays which are being experienced by tens of thousands of applicants were too long to be deemed reasonable.

Prior to the launch of PIP, which replaced Disability Living Allowance (DLA), the DWP estimated the process that vulnerable members of society applying for payments would take just two and a half months.

However the DWP has previously admitted that of the 529,400 claimants who had registered for PIP assessments between April 2013 and July 2014 only 206,000 had received a final determination. Recent figures show that 12,600 claimants are still waiting for a decision 30 weeks after they applied and 3,200 claimants have waiting for more than a year.

Irwin Mitchell was given permission to proceed with a judicial review on the issue, and judges at the Royal Courts of Justice in London were told today that the delays in the system are so bad as to render it ‘unlawful’. If the case succeeds, it will call into question whether the DWP will be able to continue with the wider rollout of PIP to nearly 1.5 million DLA recipients in October until steps are taken to improve the current system.

Expert Opinion
“Too many vulnerable people have been left in the lurch as a result of unacceptable flaws in the PIP system.

“We hope that the court will give a clear message to the DWP that delays of this kind are unlawful. Future applicants simply should not have had to face such gross delays for this essential support.”
Anne-Marie Irwin, Associate

The problems with the PIP system have been known about for some time and were described by Public Accounts Committee chair Margaret Hodge in June last year as “nothing short of a fiasco”.

Among Irwin Mitchell’s clients on this issue is Ms C – who cannot be named – from Kent, who suffers from severe depression, ME and high blood pressure which means she suffers from a range of health problems.

After her condition led to her leaving work in January 2014, she applied for PIPs – but did not receive the payment until 9 months later, shortly after the judicial review was issued on her behalf.

Ms C said: “The delay had a massive impact on my life and for the nine months I was waiting for payments I was completely isolated.

“I need PIPs in order to get by on a day-to-day level, so without it I was in a very bad way. My delay came to an end, but I just can’t believe that so many other people are still waiting for people on this issue.”

Steve Winyard, Head of Membership and Campaigns at the Royal National Institute of Blind People, added: "We appreciate that the DWP has managed to reduce waiting times over the past six months but there are still far too many examples of excessive delays.

“And delays can mean real hardship for disabled people who need this money to address the extra costs arising from their disabilities. The DWP must recognise that there is still work to do, to achieve acceptable standards of service to often vulnerable disabled people.”

Judgment was reserved.

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