Thursday, August 16, 2018

Revealed: Three in four disabled people are winning disability benefit appeals

UK Government urged to "get a grip" of "fundamental flaws" in Personal Independence Payment (PIP) assessments.

More than three in four sick and disabled people who contest disability benefit decisions by the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) in some parts of the UK are seeing those decisions over-turned on appeal, according to damning figures obtained by BBC Wales.

The shocking statistics have prompted one charity to urge the UK Government to “get a grip” of “fundamental flaws” in assessments for Personal Independence Payment (PIP), claiming too many people are wrongly denied the financial support they desperately need.

Figures obtained by BBC Wales reveal the shocking number of incorrect decisions, with around three-quarters of appeals in some parts of the UK ruling in favour of the claimant.

South-West England sees the highest number of successful PIP appeals, where 76% of appeals heard at tribunal sided with disabled people.

In Wales alone, more than 8,000 PIP claimants successfully appealed PIP decisions in 2017, in spite of promises by DWP ministers to improve the accuracy and fairness of assessments.

Success rates in other parts of the UK vary between 59% and 68%, but these areas also see a higher number of appeals when compared to Wales or South-West England.

DWP HQ, Caxton House, London. Photo: Paul Billanie for Welfare Weekly.

BBC Wales highlights the case of Steven Evans, a wheelchair user who suffers with cerebral palsy and osteoarthritis, who warned the stress of having to navigate the system could drive vulnerable people to suicide.

“What the hell is going on with the welfare system that is meant to be supporting me as a vulnerable person?”, Mr Evans told the BBC.

“It’s not doing that. People will commit suicide because they’re not listening, they’re not doing their job with common sense.”

You can read more about Mr Evans’ struggle to get the financial support he needed here.

Mark Atkinson, chief executive at disability charity Scope, said: “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.”

A DWP spokesman said: “Decisions are made following consideration of all the information provided by the claimant, including supporting evidence from their GP or medical specialist.

“In the majority of successful appeals, decisions are overturned because people have submitted more oral or written evidence.”

This article was last updated at 22:48 (GMT) on 18 May 2018.

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