Ministerial duo face questions after misleading MPs over PIP

DWP Wheelchair Cliff

 

October 21st 2016 By John Pring Disability News Service

 

Two ministers have refused to apologise after they both misled MPs about the impact of the government’s new disability benefit on disabled people.

In the space of just 20 minutes, work and pensions secretary Damian Green and minister for disabled people Penny Mordaunt both misled the House of Commons about how personal independence payment (PIP) was affecting disabled people.

The first House of Commons work and pensions questions after the break for party conferences saw about 20 questions from MPs across the main parties with concerns about the way PIP was operating, far more than for any other issue.

In one answer, Mordaunt told MPs that under PIP – compared with disability living allowance (DLA), which it is replacing for working-age claimants – “more people are entitled to use the Motability scheme”.

But Motability’s own figures show that of their customers who have been reassessed for PIP so far, 44 per cent have lost their entitlement to the scheme and have had to hand their vehicles back.

Responding to another question on PIP, Green told MPs on Monday that “many more people are eligible to receive PIP than were eligible to receive disability living allowance”.

But the Department for Work and Pensions’ (DWP) own figures from June showed that only about seven in 10 disabled people who were previously claiming DLA were being found eligible for PIP.

The DWP figures showed just 71 per cent of DLA recipients who applied for PIP were successful with their claim in April 2016, once withdrawn claims were excluded.

PIP was introduced with the intention – announced by chancellor George Osborne in his 2010 emergency budget – of cutting the number of working-age claimants by 20 per cent.

A DWP spokesman appeared to accept that the two statements were not true*, arguing in a statement that the ministers were trying to make completely different points about PIP.

He has so far refused to say whether the ministers stand by their statements or whether they will be apologising to MPs, but insisted that “the comments should be considered in the context of the exchanges made during DWP Oral Questions and the wider discussion of which they formed a part”.

Among MPs who raised concerns about PIP, the SNP’s Martyn Day told Mordaunt that for the fourth year in a row “the Infrastructure and Projects Authority has said that the roll-out of the personal independence payment project is ‘in doubt with major risks… apparent in a number of key areas’”.

Mordaunt claimed that PIP was “a vast improvement on what went before” and was “a more targeted benefit”.

Another SNP MP, John Nicolson, then told her of a disabled constituent who had had her Motability car removed after a PIP assessment.

He said: “She had to use public transport, which she was unable to do, and she lost her job as a result.

“Does the minister really think that government policy is delivering compassionate outcomes in such cases?”

After asking for Nicolson to write to her with details of the case, Mordaunt claimed that more people were entitled to use the Motability scheme under PIP, although “clearly we want to make sure that any decision taken on a PIP assessment is the right one”.

Tory MP Peter Bone told Mordaunt: “I do not know whether it is just in my area, but at every weekly surgery I will have one person who has been refused PIP who is clearly entitled to it.

“I had a lady this week with multiple sclerosis; she is clearly entitled to it and will get it when she goes to the independent tribunal, but why do such people have to wait until then?

“Surely this can be corrected at an earlier stage.”

Mordaunt said she understood Bone’s frustration, and told him that DWP was “looking very closely at those cases that have gone to appeal and been overturned to see why the right decision was not taken earlier in the process”.

She pointed to an earlier answer in which she had said that DWP was working to address such problems, “including giving a bit more flexibility for certain cases at that early stage, with the hope that the evidence we need will then be submitted at that stage”, work that she said was currently being rolled out.

She told Bone that there would be more announcements on PIP in the department’s forthcoming green paper on employment support for disabled people, which is due to be published before the end of the year.

*In full, the DWP spokesman said: “There are more people using Motability now than when PIP was first introduced, including a number who are newly entitled to Motability under PIP, which is the point the minister was making.

“PIP recognises both physical and non-physical conditions, such as mental health problems, much more effectively than DLA did.

“For example, under DLA some people with mental health conditions were not eligible for support or were on much lower rates than they are under PIP, which is what the secretary of state was referring to in his remarks.

“Overall, 66 per cent of PIP recipients, whose main disabling condition is a mental health condition, are getting the enhanced rate of the daily living component, compared to only 22 per cent of working age mental health recipients receiving the highest rate of the DLA care component.

“24 per cent of PIP recipients, whose main disabling condition is a mental health condition, are getting the enhanced rate of the mobility component, compared to only nine per cent of working age mental health recipients receiving the higher rate of the DLA mobility component.”

Comments
  • Terminator October 21, 2016 at 2:12 pm

    People must push for assessments recording just like they did with ESA but if you look at the HANSARD statement by Chris Grayling on 1/2/12 he refers to people who want their assessments recording could have them recorded, he does not state what assessment only that “their assessment could be recorded” I believe this is a loophole black triangle could exploit this issue to overcome the issue of recording assessments for PIP. I did a similar thing in 2013 on them sending me an ESA50 2 months before the date on the ESA72 which clearly stated “WE WILL CONTACT YOU AGAIN ON OR AFTER (DATE).” After that they removed the contact on or after date from the ESA72 from the following year. I got another form and was asked to return it before the date but them asked for extra time which they gave and that took me over the contact on or after date on the ESA72.
    I believe there is still a loophole in their system that can be exploited because of the wording they use; Things like the phrase “A return to work in the longer term is not advisable.” They have stated on the what do they know freedom of information site that that phrase means a minimum period of 2 years so any attempts by the DWP to start any attempts to get the claimant back into seeking work, before a two year period has passed could be detrimental to their health.

  • Alex October 21, 2016 at 10:18 pm

    As we all know, the PIP assessment process is a total farce. I have supported many disabled people through the DLA to PIP application and the most recent (last week) was possibly the most illuminating.

    I helped the claimant to provide the Appeal Tribunal with 38 pages of further evidence to support his claim but the Appeal Tribunal did not change, by a single letter, the DWP decision-maker’s decision and that of the MR.

    The rejection stated “In reaching its decision, the Tribunal placed particular reliance upon the evidence of the Health Care Professional.”

    The very reason that the claimant submitted a further 38 pages of evidence was because the Assessor from ATOS provided the DWP with a totally flawed, inaccurate and incompetent report.

    So, the Tribunal completely ignored any of the evidence presented by the claimant and trusted an incompetent assessor.

    Complaints to ATOS and DWP will be sent soon (for whatever good that will do) and the claimant is now looking towards to Upper Tribunal to consider whether he has grounds to continue with his claim.

    I would like to think that this was an isolated case but experience has shown that several others fall into the same boat.

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