Universal Credit and disability support payments are failing Stroud people - David Drew MP
The New Year is already revealing, yet again, this government’s failure to address the very real hardship inflicted on so many people by our increasingly punitive benefits system.
Here in Stroud, the experiences of people with disabilities who are trying to access support are heartbreaking.
Amber Rudd’s decision to delay the Universal Credit roll-out to three million more people only tackles one aspect of the problems we see.
Stroud people with poor health are being hit by the flawed assessment process for Personal Independence Payments (PIP).
Evidence shows that almost 70% of Stroud claimants who are turned down for PIP later have their entitlement reinstated when their cases go to tribunal in Gloucester.
The assessment system is clearly not fit for purpose. It is failing applicants, with catastrophic consequences, especially as the average waiting time for a tribunal hearing in Gloucester is now around nine months, three months longer than a tribunal hearing in Cardiff, ten weeks longer than Bristol.
What’s more, over a fifth of claimants lose their payments when they are transferred from Disability Living Allowance, now being phased out, to PIP.
This can only mean that people with health issues are slipping through the safety net our benefit system is supposed to provide.
Research shows that three quarters of applicants say the stress associated with PIP assessments has made their condition worse - and this can only be exacerbated by the anxiety of waiting without income for a tribunal.
I have written to the DWP asking how it expects people to live for 10 months without payments. I will also be requesting an adjournment debate on the shocking level of PIP decisions overturned at tribunals in Gloucestershire.
This cannot be allowed to continue.