The exercise to identify claimants affected by the MH judgment will start as soon as we have made the changes to the guidance needed to implement the judgment. We are currently engaging with stakeholders to design these changes. Of course, I will continue to regularly update the House.
Earlier on, the Minister said that the personal independence payment was working. Well, of course, if it was working, the Government would not have lost the High Court case in the first place. These delays are simply unacceptable. Why are so many of my constituents still telling me that they are being biased against when they have mental conditions or the degenerative conditions mentioned by my hon. Friend the Member for York Central (Rachael Maskell)? Why are veterans coming to me to express serious concerns about their own employment and support allowance and PIP assessments, and what will she do about that?
We will implement the judgment in full, but it is really important that we continue our work with stakeholders to get this right. We are working at pace to make those changes. On the general points that the hon. Gentleman makes, we are utterly committed to making sure that, with PIP and ESA, people have a good claimant experience, and we are regularly implementing changes.
I recently visited the local centre at Cofa Court in Coventry where PIP assessments take place and saw the process. Will the Minister confirm that assessments are always based on what claimants are able to do and that they are always carried out by a medical practitioner?
I thank my hon. Friend for his question and for taking the time and trouble actually to visit the centre where the assessments are taking place. If more Members in this House were to do that, they would be better informed about the reality of the process. It is absolutely right that the assessments are undertaken by properly qualified medical professionals.
As well as the gross failings of the personal independence payment, we see another Government failure with the employment and support allowance underpayments where an estimated 70,000 sick and disabled people were incorrectly assessed and denied vital social security support. Will the Minister update the House on the progress that she is making in arranging to identify and to backdate awards to those former incapacity benefit and severe disablement allowance claimants?
I am delighted to be able to update the House on this important exercise. Back in August last year, the first payments went out to people who had been identified as underpaid. We are making really good progress with identifying other claimants who will benefit from the additional payments, and we have recruited up to 400 new members of staff, so that we can carry on our work delivering these payments.
How is the Department prioritising ESA claimants underpaid as a result of incorrect assessments, aside from those with terminal illnesses and conditions? Will the Minister confirm that claimants who were victims of underpayment will not be subject to reduced ESA eligibility due to lump sum payments being classed as savings?
On the first point, I assure the hon. Lady that we are working closely with our stakeholders. I am grateful to the disabled people and the organisations who are working with me and my colleagues in the Department to ensure that we are contacting the underpaid people who will most benefit from receiving these payments. On the second point, there are proper practices and procedures within the Department for Work and Pensions to ensure that lump-sum payments are not taken into consideration as people’s capital allowances. I have made a detailed statement to the House but if the hon. Lady would like to raise specific questions with me, I suggest that she bring them along to our meeting on 19 April.