Skip to main content

Personal Independence Payments

Volume 621: debated on Monday 20 February 2017

9. What recent representations he has received on the process for assessment and reassessment of personal independence payments. (908765)

I receive regular representations from disability organisations and hon. Members regarding personal independence payments. As I have previously stated, we want to do more to create real-time feedback across the whole country. We will shortly be introducing service user panels to feed directly back from claimants on PIP and employment and support allowance.

Unfortunately, I have to tell my hon. Friend that I am still receiving complaints from constituents about the procedures regarding personal independence payments, so what is she doing to improve the process, reduce delays and support people through what is often a traumatic assessment process?

The goal is clearly swift, accurate and admin-lite assessments. Good progress has already been made in many areas—for example, reducing the average time it takes for a claim from point of registration to decision by more than three quarters from over 40 weeks to 10 weeks as of October last year—but there is more to do. One reason we have set up the service user panels is that it is incredibly important to be aware that, while things may be generally going well, there are certain hotspot areas where they are not, and identifying those in real time is critical—but there are many other things in the PIP improvement plan as well.

Yet again, one of my constituents has been to see me about a PIP assessment that has led to her Motability vehicle being taken away from her. She is currently appealing, and I have written to the Minister about the case. What reassurance can she give me and my constituent that this vehicle, which she needs, will be returned to her?

There are 70,000 more people making use of the Motability scheme than there were in 2010. The hon. Lady will know that there are improvements that we want to make to the Motability scheme. We have been working very closely with that independent organisation; we are now attending its board meetings and are able to work much more strategically. I have spoken at length, so I will not repeat it, about the areas where we wish to see better customer service. We hope to be able to make some announcements shortly.

Will the Minister make strong representations to the Ministry of Justice that it should reduce the length of time that unsuccessful claimants are having to wait for their tribunal, so that they can process their claim successfully?

We are concerned with all aspects of the claims process, whether for ESA or PIP. We want this to be swift and admin-lite, and we have some opportunities, which I have already outlined, to achieve both those things.

Last year, the Government announced that those with chronic progressive conditions would not be subjected to continual work capability assessments. Why are constituents of mine with progressive conditions like multiple sclerosis continually being called for reassessment?

If the hon. Lady has cases she wishes me to look at, she must write to me about them. We are currently still outlining the criteria for the scheme to be introduced, but in the meantime, as she will know, we do not wish to call people for reassessment who would be in that category, so if she has cases where that is happening, she must let me know.

At present, 65% of all claimants have their PIP appeal upheld by tribunal—an all-time high. It should be a source of huge embarrassment to the Government that, even after the introduction of mandatory reconsideration before appeal, the majority of claimants who go to tribunal win their case. How does the Minister justify forcing vulnerable claimants to navigate the complex and gruelling process that the appeal system demands, often with little or no support? Will she now get a grip and reform this clearly broken system?

I welcome the hon. Lady to her post. She is not correct: 6% of the caseload is overturned, but there are many things that we wish to do to ensure that that is improved. Some opportunities will come after the consultation in the Green Paper with the reforms that we want to make to this part of the system to improve it and reduce the administrative burden on those also claiming PIP.