Reducing end-to-end customer journey times for PIP claimants is a priority for the DWP. We continue to work closely with both assessment providers, amending and refining current processes.
Constituents in my patch of Bosworth can face up to 42 weeks for clearance of their case—that is, processing and determining the tribunal hearing either in Leicester or Coventry. The national average is 30 weeks. What steps can the DWP and the Ministry of Justice take to ensure that the process is swift and that claimants are kept up to date during this time?
Her Majesty’s Courts and Tribunals Service has developed a new digital system, and it is increasing the number of judges. This goes hand in hand with our changes to the mandatory reconsideration stage whereby we are proactively contacting claimants who are seeking to appeal their decision to see whether we can help to identify additional written or oral evidence to correct the decision at that stage, reducing the number of claimants who then need to enter the independent appeal process.
As the Minister will be aware, PIP assessments can be incredibly stressful and traumatic for claimants. That is why I am working with Disabled People Against Cuts to provide recording equipment for anyone living in Hull West and Hessle who is going for an assessment. But it should not be down to individual MPs to provide that. So will the Minister look at providing recording equipment for every PIP assessment that takes place right across the country to improve transparency and fairness?
The hon. Member has raised a very fair point. We have been piloting both audio and video recording of assessments. That pilot will be coming to a close soon. I certainly have a huge amount of sympathy around making sure that there is provision in place for audio recording for claimants.