Wiltshire Citizens Advice: after three years sick & disabled people still let down by PIP failures
Wiltshire Citizens Advice has helped over 2,000 people in the county with more than 4,500 issues over Personal Independence Payments (PIP) since the benefit was introduced three years ago. In the last 12 months alone the local charity has had over 2,200 enquiries about PIP and it is the top issue brought to Citizens Advice in Wiltshire.
In April 2013 PIP replaced Disability Living Allowance (DLA), and it is designed to help people with a disability or a long-term health condition with the extra costs they face. For instance someone with multiple sclerosis might need help to pay for specialist mobility aids, or for someone to come in to support them with household chores. The top three PIP problems brought to Wiltshire Citizens Advice since its introduction are:
• 2,238 queries about eligibility for PIP
• 1,038 people seeking help with making and managing a claim issues, including problems with delays
• 385 problems with challenges and appeals.
Last month the latest national Advice Trends report from Citizens Advice revealed that last year local Citizens Advice staff helped people with 280,000 PIP problems.
What kind of issues are these? Wiltshire Citizens Advice helped a man with severe depression to claim PIP. He was so low in mood that even the 15 minute initial 'phone call about his application was very difficult for him. He would not have been able to pursue even this stage without help. His original claim for PIP had been turned down as he was feeling too scared to attend the assessment.
Wiltshire Citizens Advice challenged the decision and managed to get it overturned. He is now in receipt of PIP, which has made a huge difference to his health and wellbeing.
Wiltshire Citizens Advice Chief Executive, Sarah Cardy, believes that after three years the PIP system is still not fit for purpose: “Too many sick and disabled people are being let down by PIP failures and a growing number of people are turning to us for help as they struggle to get the benefit."
" Problems with PIP not only cause unnecessary stress, but can also put people’s financial security at risk and jeopardise their ability to stay in or return to work. The Government needs to make sure the PIP application process is quick and effective, and that medical assessments get it right first time to avoid delays."
"Wiltshire Citizens Advice can provide help or support with your PIP application.”
If anyone needs help with a PIP application they can call Citizens Advice in confidence on 03444 111 444 (Monday to Friday 9am to 5pm) or drop into their local Citizens Advice. To find the nearest CABureau and details of opening times, go to the local website.
In June 2014 the Commons' Public Accounts Committee called the implementation of PIPs "nothing short of a fiasco" - and the evidence from Wiltshire Citizens Advice shows it has still not been improved enough.