Emma told MPs that the Government’s new Personal Independence Payment (PIP) had been a complete disaster, and that the Government needed to “get a grip” on the problem.
She explained that one constituent had waited more than nine months for their claim to go through, and that during that time DWP had failed to update him on the progress of his application.
Last year Emma raised a similar PIP case with the Prime Minister, who admitted that the delay was “unacceptable.” But the situation has hardly improved since.
PIP was introduced in 2013 as a replacement for the Disability Living Allowance (DLA), but the claims process has been riddled with problems, and hundreds of thousands of applicants are still waiting for the outcome of their claims. The Government originally said claimants should expect a decision within 16 weeks of making their application, but cases of people waiting 6 months are common, and in some cases they have waited more than a year.
An independent review of PIP published last month criticised the “delays and backlogs” in the system, as well as poor communication with claimants and inconsistency in the way assessments are carried out.
The Minister responding to the debate, Mark Harper MP, said the Government was “working very hard” to cut down on delays.
But as MPs pointed out during the debate, constituents are still being told to expect a 26-week wait for their claims to be processed – much longer than the Government’s own 16-week deadline.
You can read Emma’s speech, along with the rest of the debate, by clicking here.
Speaking after the debate, Emma said:
“The Government’s incompetence has left hundreds of thousands of disabled people without vital support. People in Shields are waiting months longer than they expected to hear from DWP, and many of them have nothing to live on in the meantime.
“The independent review confirmed what Labour MPs have been saying for months: the assessment process is a total shambles, and the Government hasn’t learned any of its lessons from previous disasters like Universal Credit or the Work Programme.”