Data published by the Ministry of Justice last month shows that 57,000 decisions on personal independence payment claims were overturned on appeal in the last year. Of the 3.3 million decisions made since PIP was introduced, 9% have been appealed and 4% have been overturned. The average clearance time for PIP appeals in the last available quarter is 25 weeks.
In my constituency, over two thirds of decisions are being overturned on appeal. That shameful record is the responsibility of the Secretary of State and the Minister. It is causing real personal distress to individuals in Wrexham having to wait over a year to have wrong decisions reversed. What will the ministerial team do to respond to the real hardship they are causing to vulnerable people?
It is not necessarily the case that the decision made was the wrong decision; mostly what happens is that more information comes forward at the appeal. Hon. Members should look at the data I have already given. One wrong decision is one too many, however, which is why we have done a great deal of work to improve our decision-making process.
Far too many of my constituents face exactly the same situation, and far too many have found they get no points in their assessment despite being severely disabled and having previously been awarded for conditions such as multiple sclerosis, post-traumatic stress disorder and severe anxiety. Does the Minister agree with a constituent of mine who wrote to me last week and described the Department for Work and Pensions and Capita as
“so robotic, intransigent and hard-nosed, it’s hard to comprehend why they were constructed that way given the purpose for which they were intended”?
I respectfully point out to the hon. Gentleman that more people are receiving higher awards on PIP than did on the legacy benefit, disability living allowance, and people moving from DLA to PIP remain in payment while going through the process. I utterly refute what he said.
What about my constituent?
The hon. Gentleman wants to talk about constituents. I was on “You and Yours” last week and, during the phone-in, a whole series of people called in about their PIP experiences. As he has made his point, let us hear what Jennifer from Lancashire said:
“As it happens, it has worked very well for me.”
She contacted the Royal National Institute of Blind People, which helped her fill in the form, and the
“result was I now get the top rate for both things…. I get £140 whereas I used to get £112.”
I especially welcome the fact that the Government have accepted the Select Committee on Work and Pensions recommendation to record PIP interviews. Will the Minister set out for the House the sort of timescale in which we can expect these changes to come through?
I thank my hon. Friend for his contribution today and the hard work he puts in on the Select Committee. I was delighted to welcome its recommendations, and I really believe that the video-recording of PIP assessments will reduce a lot of stress and anxiety, which largely occurs because of the scaremongering we see too often from the Opposition. We have begun work on the piloting and will be undertaking the testing this summer.
At a recent Westminster Hall debate, several of us commented on how the PIP process had improved. Will the Minister continue to work with those of us who have suggestions for improving the system still further?
I thank my hon. Friend for his comments. I am utterly determined to ensure that everyone has a very good experience of PIP. The independent customer satisfaction ratings show that the vast majority of people feel that they are treated with respect and dignity and receive the benefit to which they are entitled, but we will of course seek continuously to improve the process.
My constituent in Normanton lost her Motability car because the DWP said that she was not entitled to it. Five weeks later it reversed the decision but, in the meantime, because my constituent was isolated, she was forced to spend thousands of pounds of her own savings on replacing the car so that she was not stuck. She has been denied any help since. Will the Minister look again at that case? It is outrageous that my constituent should lose all her savings because the DWP screwed up.
I thank the right hon. Lady for her question. Of course I am always happy to meet all Members to review individual cases, but I suggest, for everyone’s benefit, that any Member with a constituent who faces losing a Motability car should call Motability. Motability is sitting on very considerable reserves. It is a charity and is able to make discretionary payments to enable people to keep their cars during the appeal process.
Thank you for calling me, Mr Speaker, and thank you for your kindness to a group of visitors who came to see me in the House earlier today.
I thank the Minister for the answers that she has given so far. I recently met representatives of Carers Aid Torbay to talk about the PIP process and the support that they provide for those who are going through it. Can she reassure me that there will be engagement with groups such as that in respect of the potential introduction of video recording of interviews?
I thank my hon. Friend for his question. It is very important for us to listen to people who are going through the process. I have regular meetings with disabled people and charities to ensure that we get it right and continuously improve the experience of our claimants.