New figures show that complaints about the personal independence payment (PIP) assessment process shot up by 880% last year, amounting to around 1,400 complaints.
PIPs are an important source of funding for many disabled people who rely on them to live more independently and purchase aids vital for mobility.
The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP)’s new data also reveals that more complaints about the PIP assessment were upheld, increasing by around 700% last year.
An investigation by the Disability News Service, which first uncovered the figures, says that the numbers show “probably the strongest evidence yet to support…claims of widespread dishonesty at the heart of the PIP assessment process.”
One politician said that healthcare professionals carrying out PIP assessments ought to be held to account.
Debbie Abrahams, Labour’s shadow work and pensions secretary, told DNS: “an absolute indictment of the Tories’ punitive assessments and the miserable effect they are having on people trying to access desperately needed support.”
The investigation started a year ago when the DNS began receiving correspondence from disabled people concerned about the assessment process and claiming dishonest reports had been produced by healthcare professionals. A total of 250 PIP claimants have said their assessment reports were dishonest.
Abrahams added: “These profit-making health assessment companies must recognise that their assessments are not fit for purpose, given the increase in complaints received and numbers overturned on tribunal.
“However, assessments are conducted by clinical professionals and we must be holding these clinical professionals to account too. I have personally heard of dozens and dozens of cases of assessment reports not marrying at all with the assessment and medical records that were supplied.
“The huge increase in complaints made and upheld about the PIP assessment process are an absolute indictment of the Tories’ punitive assessments and the miserable effect they are having on people trying to access desperately needed support.
“Labour is committed to scrapping these harmful assessments and replacing them with a holistic, person-centred approach, under our plans to ensure that, like the NHS, the social security system is there for us all in our time of need.”