New figures released today by the Ministry for Justice (MoJ) reveal that the proportion of Personal Independence Payment (PIP) and Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) decisions over-turned in favour of claimants have increased yet again.
The figures show that 69% of PIP and ESA decisions were over-turned at Tribunal between October to December 2017, up from 68% in the previous quarter.
ESA and PIP accounted for the majority of cases heard by SSCS Tribunals (Social Security and Child Support), with 39% and 45% of total disposals respectively. In October to December 2017, 52,297 cases were heard by the SSCS, up 13% when compared to the same period in 2016.
Of the disposals made by the SSCS Tribunal, 43,784 (84%) were cleared at hearing, and of these, 65% were found in favour of the customer (up from 63% on the same period of 2016/17).
This overturn rate varied by benefit type, with ESA and PIP having 69%, Disability Living Allowance 61% and Job Seekers Allowance having 43% in favour of the claimant.
PIP has driven the overall increase in the overturn rate, where it has increased four percentage points on October to December 2016.
There were 117,189 SSCS cases outstanding at the end of December 2017, up 47% compared to the same period in 2016. This was driven by a larger number of appeal receipts than disposals in recent periods prior to 2017/18 Q3.
Of those cases disposed of by SSCS in October to December 2017, the average waiting time was 24 weeks, 8 weeks more than the same period in 2016.
Debbie Abrahams MP, Labour’s Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary, said “it is clear the assessment process is a total failure and not fit for purpose”.
She continued: “We know from the recent Work and Pensions Select Committee’s damning report that these assessments cause unnecessary stress and anxiety for the thousands who have been denied support unfairly, as well as wasting public money by sending so many decisions back to the courts.
“The Government is failing sick and disabled people by knowingly allowing this injustice to continue. The Tories must act on the Select Committee’s recommendations immediately.
“Labour will scrap these punitive assessments and replace them with a holistic, person-centred approach.”
Mark Atkinson, Chief Executive at disability charity Scope, said: “Today’s figures show that despite dire warnings, these assessments continue to fail disabled people.
“The Government needs to get a grip on this situation, as both PIP and ESA appeals are still being won at alarmingly high rates.
“Disabled people rely on these financial lifelines to live independently and be part of their community.
“Without urgent action, vast numbers will continue to be denied this support unfairly.
“The assessments for PIP and ESA must be overhauled to iron out the mistrust, lack of transparency and routine inaccuracies which disabled people report on a weekly basis.”
A DWP spokesperson said: “We are absolutely committed to ensuring that disabled people get the support they’re entitled to.
“Since PIP was introduced more than 2.9 million decisions have been made, and of these 8% have been appealed and 4% have been overturned.
“In the majority of successful appeals, decisions are overturned because people have submitted more evidence.”
Disclaimer: The statistics quoted above have been taken directly from the MoJ’s report.