Just this week, as the cost of living is spiralling, it was revealed that the Government has spent over £400 million fighting disabled people appealing refused claims for Personal Independence Payments (PIP) and Employment Support Allowance (ESA).
Living costs are higher if you are disabled. These benefits are supposed to recognise and support that, yet almost weekly, someone contacts my office after being refused PIP/ ESA, worse still after re-consideration and appeal. Many refusals are subsequently overturned.
I have heard repeatedly from constituents about the inhumane and dehumanising assessment process, where they are treated with derision and suspicion by assessors, where the assessment is booked in buildings that are totally inaccessible or areas with no disabled parking at all.
If late for an assessment due to these reasons, then the appointment is cancelled, no consideration given to the stress and anxiety suffered.
Over one million decisions concerning PIP and ESA were found to be wrong between 2013 and 2021. That’s over one million people having to spend months fighting for what they need to survive on and to live their lives.
I have also heard from constituents that assessments are conducted by people who aren’t sufficiently medically qualified, who haven’t bothered to find out about the person’s condition they are assessing, who don’t contact the persons doctors or consultants and who then complete a report filled with inaccuracies and at times someone else’s details.
It is unacceptable that finances are cut off due to decisions made in this way.
This isn’t a one-off process, even for those with long-term conditions, people are always subject to reviews and the DWP can arrange a review whenever they feel it is necessary. No wonder people live in fear of that review letter coming through their door.
The Government created this inconsistent and manifestly unfair process, their stubborn refusal to change it proves how little they think of people with disabilities.