Personal Independence Payment Applications

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 4:57 pm on 17th June 2015.

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Photo of Debbie Abrahams Debbie Abrahams Labour, Oldham East and Saddleworth 4:57 pm, 17th June 2015

It is a pleasure to serve under your chairmanship, Mr Davies. I congratulate Graham Stuart on securing this important debate, and on the measured way in which he introduced it. I reiterate his point about the High Court ruling on 5 June, paragraph 93 of which stated that the way two claimants’ applications for PIP were processed was “not only unacceptable” but “unlawful”. They had been waiting for 13 and 10 months respectively. I wanted to set the record straight on that point.

PIP has been beset with problems since it was introduced. In October 2012, I remember the former Chairman of the Work and Pensions Committee, Dame Anne Begg, debating this issue. She raised concerns about the migration from incapacity benefit to employment and support allowance. At that point, 40,000 assessments a month were being undertaken; the further 70,000 assessments estimated for DLA/PIP that would be breaking point for the assessment providers. She did not feel the capacity was there, and she has been proven right on this issue, as on others.

Opposition Members welcome welfare reforms where we can see there will be genuine benefit. I mentioned the other assessment process; we feel that the accumulation of assessments has not necessarily been wise. They underpin what is behind the Government’s welfare reform agenda. An estimated 607,000 people in receipt of DLA will not be eligible for PIP. In total, it has been assessed that the Government will have cut nearly £24 billion from 3.7 million disabled people by 2018. Concerns have been raised about the reliability of the assessment process, as well as the limited involvement of the Royal

Colleges on specific conditions, and of disabled people themselves in determining the metrics. The toll of the PIP process cannot be overestimated.