Work and Pensions Secretary Esther McVey is taking widespread criticism after it was revealed that 71% of people had their assessment for Personal Independence Payment, or PIP, overturned via tribunal between January and March of this year. That 71% equates to 14,805 people, the highest figures recorded since PIP was introduced in 2013. The Department for Work and Pensions has repeatedly defended itself by pointing out that the number of appeal victories represents just 4% of all PIP cases.
Mark Atkinson, Chief Executive of the disability charity Scope, has suggested that Conservative ministers to “get a grip” following the record number of successful benefit appeals from the disabled population.
Labour MP Maria Eagle also weighed in, condemning the latest figures as an “absolute scandal”.
To date, 3.4 million people have been assessed for PIP, with 1.8 million receiving up to £141 per week towards everyday costs. This may read as more than 50%, but it is estimated that over 100,000 people have been wrongly denied PIP, which in part explains the recurrent complaints regarding the quality of assessments from private firms Atos and Capita.
When questioned by MPs earlier this year, both Atos and Capita admitted they had never met the target of 97% of tests being “acceptable”.
They are certainly not helped by the latest statistics, which show that out of the 211,179 people who have attended a tribunal to argue their cases for PIP since its 2013 inception, 136,494 claimants have succeeded in their appeals and that 65%-win rate is only climbing.
PIP is not the only DWP pay-out facing scrutiny. Recent figures show that 70% of people were successful in their endeavour to claim Employment Support Allowance, a further sickness and disability benefit, between January and March this year. As with PIP, this was a record figure. The DWP attempted to defend the record of 288,046 successful appeals between April 2013 and March 2018 by insisting that the victory rate, 52% of some 553,934 claimants, owes itself to the appellants often presenting new evidence at tribunals.
TPN reported on one appeal victory back in May yet it would seem the courts have taken a wider stand against reckless DWP procedure. In this case, one of the tribunal members stated the DWP are not represented in the proceedings and that DWP assessment “were not taken seriously”.