David Drew writes to judiciary: "Why are Stroud people with disabilities and health conditions waiting eight months for decision?"
People in Stroud with disabilities and chronic illnesses are being refused Personal Independence Payment (PIP), despite their health conditions. When they appeal they face a delay of up to eight months before their appeal is heard at a tribunal hearing in Gloucester, far longer than people in Bristol or Cardiff.
This delay is unacceptable and causes immense financial hardship as well as stress. So I have written to the judicial service to request an explanation of the reasons for the delay and ways of resolving this.
Read my letter here:
20 March 2019
For the Attention of the Regional Judge ANNE CURRAN
Dear Judge Curran,
Re: Gloucester Social Entitlement Appeal Hearings
Several my constituents have contacted me to raise concerns regarding delays in benefit tribunals at Gloucester. I also understand that Stroud Citizens Advice has contacted you about this. HMCTS statistics suggest that the delays at Gloucester are among the highest in the south west region.
I am aware that part of the reason was a shortage in trained panel members, and that the Judicial Appointments Commission took steps during 2018 to recruit additional panel members. I have noticed that there has been some improvement in the waiting time for PIP hearings in recent months, with the waiting reducing to 35 weeks or so. Nevertheless, I would hope that you would agree that this remains unacceptable, particularly when claimants have already waited 2-3 months to obtain a Mandatory Reconsideration.
Clearly the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions must address the problems of poor decision making. However, this is severely exacerbated by delays in the tribunal process which causes injustice and hardship, particularly to the most vulnerable of my constituents.
To enable me to respond to my constituents, would you please provide a detailed breakdown of the current level of delays for the various benefit categories at Gloucester and the numbers awaiting appeal. In addition, it would be helpful if you would indicate the steps you are currently taking to reduce waiting times to acceptable levels of say 12 weeks, and when such levels might be achievable.
David Drew, MP for Stroud