Terminally-ill cancer patients among hundreds appealing PIP decisions

PUBLISHED: 09:12 20 July 2017 | UPDATED: 09:13 20 July 2017

Waveney MP Peter Aldous has said he has seen a rise in people seeking his help for PIP appeals. Picture: James Bass

Waveney MP Peter Aldous has said he has seen a rise in people seeking his help for PIP appeals. Picture: James Bass

Archant Norfolk © 2014

A Suffolk MP has pledged to take up disability benefit problems with ministers after this newspaper revealed how hundreds of disabled people in the region had been wrongly stripped of money.

Cancer charity Macmillan said even terminally-ill people in Suffolk had been forced to go before tribunals to get the benefit called Personal Independence Payments (PIP) back.

As reported yesterday, around two thirds of claimants who appeal decisions to take away their PIP in Norfolk and Suffolk are successful.

PIP was introduced by the Government in 2013 to replace Disability Living Allowance and cut the welfare bill.

But claimants said the PIP assessments, where they are given points to decide whether or not they qualify for the benefit of up to £141 a week, causes stress and frustration.

Macmillan’s benefits manager for Suffolk, Cathy Cunningham Elliot, said it was vital cancer patients had timely access to financial help.

Peter Aldous, Conservative MP for Waveney, said he would be taking up PIP problems with Government ministers.

“In the past four to five months there has been a significant increase in the number of people who have come to see us who have failed PIP assessments and they shouldn’t have failed to my mind,” he said.

“The fact they are ultimately successful in appeals would indicate the assessments which are currently taking place need to be reviewed. That is a point I’m making to the Government.”

He suggested the Government hire someone to constantly advise them on PIP.

Norwich South Labour MP Clive Lewis said PIP “blatantly works to deny access to the support we’re all entitled to”.

He said Labour would scrap current PIP assessments and replace them with “a tailored personal plan” for disabled people.

Liberal Democrat North Norfolk MP Norman Lamb said: “It shouldn’t be necessary for people to fight like this to get the support they need. Ministers urgently need to get a grip on the situation and ensure that the assessment process is fit for purpose.”

James Taylor, from disability charity Scope, said they wanted to see an overhaul of the way assessments are done.

A DWP spokesman said decisions about whether to award PIP were made after all information provided by claimants and GPs had been considered.

They said decisions were often overturned on appeal because claimants provided further evidence.

•What needs to change?

A group of MPs on the Work and Pensions Committee heard in March evidence of what changes to PIP charities and campaigners would like to see.

They were told by experts that the current PIP assessment was “inherently flawed”, including:

•The assessors did not have detailed knowledge about the claimants before they made decisions;

•Assessment reports were inaccurate and missed out key information;

•The DWP did not re-examine decisions before they went straight to appeal.

The committee also heard the PIP assessment was too prescriptive.

Claimants are given a certain number of points depending on how their condition affects them.

If they get enough points, they will get PIP.

Jonathan Toye, from West Norfolk Disability Information Service, said the system needed to be scrapped and doctors used to assess claimants rather than private contractors Capita and Atos.

•Have you been affected by the PIP changes? Contact Tom Bristow

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