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Personal Independence Payments

Volume 589: debated on Monday 8 December 2014

11. What steps he has taken to accelerate the processing of personal independence payment applications. (906483)

The hon. Gentleman will know from my earlier answer some of the things we have done, including increasing the number of health professionals employed by the providers and opening more assessment centres. He will know that the latest set of statistics published in September showed that from March to July we more than doubled the number of cases cleared, and our performance continues to improve.

Actually, the latest DWP figures show that of nearly 530,000 applications for the personal independence payment, only 206,000 decisions on eligibility have been made. That means 323,000 disabled people, with 1,000 in Liverpool, Walton alone, have been left in limbo, facing additional costs to cope with ill health or disability. Given his earlier answers, why is the Minister prepared to leave disabled people bottom of his list of priorities?

I do not think the hon. Gentleman is listening. I very clearly said—and I have said it a number of times here—that fixing delays to the PIP process is not at the bottom of my list; I have been very clear that it is at the top of my list of priorities. I have said that from the time I started doing this job and we have made considerable progress. We will be able to set out the up-to-date position when I give evidence to the Work and Pensions Select Committee chaired by the hon. Gentleman’s colleague, the hon. Friend Member for Aberdeen South (Dame Anne Begg). I have been invited to give an update at the end of January and I will be delighted to do so.