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Personal Independence Payment Claims

Volume 747: debated on Monday 18 March 2024

13. What recent estimate he has made of the average time it takes for claimants to complete medical assessments for personal independence payment claims. (902030)

We treat all claimants individually, recognising the differing needs of health conditions and disabilities, and the impact on claimants’ daily lives. The length of time for an assessment is not included in the contract between the DWP and providers, but I can confirm that the average time for 2023 was 63 minutes.

I was heartbroken to hear the experience of a constituent who had to go through an enhanced medical assessment for PIP. A bowel cancer survivor with severe arthritis, she was made to stay on a phone call for over three hours to be assessed. That meant that, due to her needs, she had to suffer the indignity of soiling herself just to complete the assessment. How on earth can that be okay? I would like to understand what steps are being taken to reduce the times of these assessments and to hear what can be done to ensure they are finally undertaken with basic human compassion.

I thank the hon. Gentleman for raising a distressing case. The DWP is committed to assessing people as quickly as possible. I am happy to look into that particular situation to see why, in this case, the support the claimant was entitled to did not come promptly. Prioritising the reduction of processing times to maximise the number of assessments completed without affecting quality is key, but I am very happy to take that case away.

The Department for Work and Pensions has a staggering 288,000 outstanding PIP claims. The average clearance time is currently 15 weeks. People are waiting almost four months for a decision, which can have a significant impact on physical and mental health. What is the Minister doing to improve clearance times, so that people are not left in limbo, worrying about whether they can afford the extra costs associated with their disability or long-term health condition? The Government urgently need to get a grip.

Claimants’ satisfaction has remained above the service level of 90% or higher as of the three-month average that began in September 2016. The end- to-end clearance time from registration to a decision being made is currently 15 weeks, which has been reduced from 26 weeks in August 2021. [Interruption.] The hon. Lady asked very gently what we are doing. We have multi-channel assessments and I am engaging regularly with my officials twice a month to ensure that we are assessing the queues and the delays and, as I said at the start of this question, that we are treating everybody individually and in a tailored and suitable way.