Unacceptably long delays for disabled people being medically tested for the new Personal Independence Payment have been decried by Neath MP Peter Hain who condemned the assessment system for bringing ‘delay, despair and misery to many’.
Personal Independence Payments replaced Disability Living Allowance last summer with new applicants applying for PIP while existing DLA recipients will migrate over to the new system when their awards are due to be renewed.
Mr Hain has already raised concerns over the lengthy delays applicants have experienced and speaking in a Westminster Hall debate he said, ‘In the short time that Personal Independence Payments have come into force it has quickly become evident that the system is miserably failing people and leaving some of the most vulnerable in our communities in absolute desperation.
‘What new applicants are facing though is a system of delay and despair. Many of the constituents have been waiting six months or longer; they have had their face to face assessment and are frustratingly told that ‘the report is in the final stages with a senior healthcare professional’. For those six months they have been living off savings to help them adapt to their conditions. The prospect of a backdated payment is of no comfort to them as they struggle with day to day tasks that many of us take for granted while their families suffer under the stress and strain of caring for them.
‘More recently it has emerged in cases I have been involved in that the health care reports are not up to standard with further information required. This involved going back to the assessor and requesting further information but in one case a second face to face assessment was required. In one astonishing instance it came to light in March that despite the assessment being carried out in November no assessment report had been prepared by the assessor. For these constituents their misery and distress is prolonged.
‘But this protracted ordeal is just to get the assessment report from Capita to the Department of Work and Pensions. As the assessment reports start to trickle through to the Department of Work and Pensions the trend emerging is of further delays on the final decision stage after the report has reached the DWP. So after months of waiting with Capita they not face further delays only adding to their misery.
‘The stress and anxiety this is causing people who are seriously ill including cancer suffers and an ex-serviceman with post traumatic stress disorder, is excruciating.
‘If the Atos debacle taught us anything it is the importance of getting the decision right in the first place but this should not mean waiting unacceptably long times like six, seven or eight months for a decision that could dramatically affect someone’s life.
‘Action must be taken immediately to address this inexplicably lengthy and prolonged system causing misery and despair for applicants. The turnaround of applications must be drastically reduced by both the assessment provider and the Department of Work and Pensions.’
Full speech here