The lives and health of people in Surrey with long-term disabling conditions such as autoimmune disorder and painful degenerative conditions are being made worse by a failing benefit process.
Long delays in the process of applying for Personal Independence Payment (PIP) now routinely lead to dire financial circumstances.
Severely disabled people are being forced to borrow money from friends, rely on food banks and face the threat of homelessness.
This is the stark message of research* to be published in May on behalf of all CA charities in the county.
It shines a harsh light on how the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) decides if someone really needs the PIP.
Claimants can appeal an initial decision they think is wrong but first have to apply for a Mandatory Reconsideration. This means the DWP must review the decision before the claimant is allowed to take their case to a tribunal. It is often this extra step – introduced in 2013 – that causes the problems.
In 2018-19 more CA clients in Surrey asked for help with PIP than any other benefit – see chart.
On publication in May, the group is expected to call for urgent reform, in effect making mandatory reconsideration an automatic part of the appeal process.
*A Rubber Stamp? Mandatory Reconsideration in the Personal Independence Payment application process, Citizens Advice Surrey Research and Campaigns Group, For publication May 2019.