David asks Prime Minister for urgent action on 10 month wait for decisions on disability benefit
Stroud MP David Drew has urged the Prime Minister to ‘get a grip’ on the appalling wait faced by people with disabilities in the county.
They’re waiting ten months for a decision on key benefits, compared to five months elsewhere.
During Prime Minister’s Questions in the House of Commons on Wednesday, David Drew MP asked Theresa May to promise to tackle failures which mean people in Gloucestershire with health conditions are waiting twice as long as people in other areas to receive benefits.
People with health problems who are turned down for Personal Independence Payments (PIP) or Employment Support Allowance (ESA) can appeal the decision.
But in Gloucestershire, it is now taking an average of 41 weeks for a PIP appeal to be heard in Gloucestershire’s County and Family Court, and 31 weeks for an ESA appeal.
That’s twice as long as the wait faced by people living in Cardiff where appeals are heard on average within 20 weeks. At Bristol Magistrates the wait is around 22 weeks.
The financial and emotional stress faced by applicants is made worse by the fact that seven out of ten (69%) of their appeals are eventually found to be successful, indicating that the initial assessment process is flawed.
“The delay is causing real hardship for people, many of whom have long term health conditions which are unlikely to improve,” said David Drew, Labour MP for Stroud.
“We are seeing increasing numbers of constituents contacting my office to tell us about the financial difficulties and emotional trauma of waiting for the court appeal. This week alone, six people contacted me about this.
“Waiting for a decision means people are not only missing out on payments, but they are also they losing other support they should be entitled to, such as mobility cars.
“The appeal process itself is flawed, with so many people being turned down for PIP and ESA in their initial assessment, only to have that decision overturned. This is heartless as well as an inefficient waste of tax-payers money.”
During Prime Minister’s Questions on Wednesday, David asked:
“The average length of time that a Stroud constituents has to wait to go to Gloucester and Cheltenham County Court for their PIP appeal is now 41 weeks. It’s 31 weeks for ESA appeal. During that period of time constituents are now losing motability cars and are suffering enormous hardship. Will the Prime Minister promise to get a grip of this and make sure that this hardship is not endured any longer?”
Theresa May replied:
“It’s important that people have their appeals heard in a timely fashion. My Right Honourable Friend the Work and Pensions Secretary is looking at exactly this issue to see what can be done in the tribunal system to ensure that people get a more timely result.”
David has said he will monitor the situation closely over coming months to see if the waiting time improves following the Prime Minister’s assurances.
There are around 1,830 PIP claimants in Stroud constituency. On average there are 2,300 claimants per constituency across the South West.
Of appeals cleared at a tribunal hearing across the UK, around 13,900 (69%) were found in favour of the claimant in the during quarter ending December 2017
In Stroud psychiatric disorders were the most common reason for claiming PIP. They accounted for 39% of awards, and include depression, learning disabilities and autism.
The second most common reason was musculoskeletal disease, which accounted for 19% of awards within the Stroud constituency and includes osteoarthritis, inflammatory arthritis and chronic pain syndrome.