A Southport Councillor’s Call to speed up Disability Payments

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Photo: Dukes Ward Councillor Tony Dawson, Deputy Leader of Liberal Democrat Group

Many people with major disabilities have waited far too long for their Personal Independence Payments to be processed, say local Lib Dems.

Councillor Dawson, local Lib Dem Health & Adult Care spokesperson, is disappointed in a recent High Court case where two disabled people had failed to establish in court this week that the delays in assessment of PIP were so great that their human rights had been breached.

“Delays in PIP assessment have persisted and even exceeded the delays in assessment in the previous benefit, the Disability Living Allowance.” says Councillor Dawson. He welcomed today’s statement from the new Minister Justin Tomlinson which echoed the trial judges comments that “some people have faced unacceptable delays waiting for PIP assessments.”

However, Councillor Dawson takes issue with the excuses given by the Minister that the excess delays were because “the infrastructure could not cope.”

“It was the government which set up and monitored that infrastructure,” he says.”We told them early enough that it was not originally working.”

After regular complaints from John Pugh MP and others, the government have now doubled the number of staff working on PIP and have pressed the assessment providers to make radical improvement to their service. The assessment providers now employ almost 4 times more health professionals than they did in early 2014. New assessment centres have been opened to reduce claim processing times and reduce the distance many claimants need to travel.

“There are, however, still significant difficulties with this process and how it interrelates with Employment Support Allowance,” says Councillor Dawson who praised Netherton Councillor Peter Dowd, who has just been elected as MP for Bootle, for choosing this subject to raise with the Prime Minister in his first ever Question Time.

Although the average new PIP claimant now waits only 7 weeks for an assessment, Cllr Dawson is concerned that there should be no backsliding.

“We simply cannot afford to put this progress in jeopardy.We still need better communications and a clear independent complaints process which is presently missing.”


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