Senior MP’s have voiced their concern over an apparent sharp rise in people being rejected personal independence payment (PIP) benefits.
According to figures obtained by Labour, around 200,000 people could see their PIP claims, usually used for purchasing mobility equipment, refused this year. This could have a knock-on impact on dealers of daily living aids as consumer spending power is potentially reduced.
Former work and pensions minister, Angela Eagle, obtained figures showing that 83,000 people assessed for their eligibility had been given zero scores on their claims between April and October, compared with 93,000 given a zero score in the previous 12 months.
Overall, 134,000 people were awarded zero scores for one or both components in the six-month period to October, suggesting the total figure for 2016-17 will pass 200,000, according to a report by The Guardian.
Meanwhile, the Press Association estimated that the rate of zero scores would increase to 14% this year from 13% last year and 8% the year before.
“It’s a trend we’ve noticed about people, from usually passing the PIP criteria or disability living allowance [DLA, its predecessor benefit] criteria to getting fewer points even though they’ve got chronic conditions that are worsening,” Eagle told The Guardian.
“In the last few weeks, there’s definitely been a spike of people getting zero. The only way that this makes sense is if a whole load of people got DLA without deserving it, but that’s never been my experience of DLA.”
Meanwhile, Debbie Abrahams, the shadow work and pensions secretary, said: “The increasing numbers of zero points assessments raise real concerns about the accuracy of the assessment process, as do the thousands upon thousands of wrong decisions that are overturned at mandatory reconsideration and in the courts.”
Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) told the newspaper it was “completely unfounded” to suggest there was any crackdown that was leading more people to be awarded zero scores at their assessments. It said there were more people being given higher awards of the PIP than under the old system.