What recent assessment she has made of trends in the number of personal independence payment applications her Department has approved during the period that covid-19 restrictions have been in place.
Volumes of new PIP claims awarded have remained stable since the introduction of covid-19 restrictions. Official statistics show that since April 2020 some 225,000 new PIP claimants have had awards. Over this period, we have continued to assess all claims on the basis of paper evidence or telephone assessments, where necessary.
One of my constituents who is severely disabled and vulnerable had her personal independence payments removed and lost vital care as a result—that was because medical advice was ignored by the assessors. Another lost his mobility car at the height of the pandemic, leaving him trapped, isolated and suicidal, unable to access vital services. Another had to turn to food banks to survive. They all had rejected applications overturned many months later at tribunal. Four out of five disabled and vulnerable applicants have faced unnecessary barriers to PIP support during covid. I am proud of my team in Cardiff North, who have been there to support my constituents through this traumatic time, but many are not so fortunate. So what is the Minister doing to make sure that assessments are right first time, to avoid this trauma and delay?
Although the vast majority of assessments—we have had over 4 million PIP assessments —are right first time, there are serious implications for those involved where they are not. As part of the forthcoming health and disability Green Paper we will be looking at claimants’ ability to get good-quality supportive evidence; the role of advocacy; the role of the assessment itself; and further changes on mandatory reconsideration and appeals, building on the holistic changes we brought in that allowed us to nearly the double the successful changes at the mandatory reconsideration stage, rather than have claimants having to go through the long appeal process. The key bit here is that the vast majority of successful appeals are because of additional written or oral evidence at that stage, and we need to make it is easy as possible to get such evidence into the beginning of the application.