MP's fears over disability benefits

By Martin Neville

Friday, March 21, 2014

 

LONG delays following changes to disability benefits have left some people on the Isle of Wight in dire financial straits and one family fearful of losing their home, according to MP Andrew Turner.

Disabled and sick people have been forced to wait long periods for vital financial support, previously available within eight days, due to delays around the new personal independence payment (PIP), the replacement for the disability living allowance (DLA), he said.

Mr Turner, who raised the issue in parliament and then with Atos Healthcare — which carries out assessments on behalf of the Department for Work and Pensions — said: "People have come to me facing real hardship, including one family who feared they would lose their house due to delays in PIP eligibility assessments.

"Thankfully I have been able to help them, but I fear there could be other residents suffering in silence."

New claims for PIP began last April and are worth between £21 and £134 a week. Most people applying for PIP have a face-to-face assessment to determine eligibility.

A National Audit Office report last month found claimants were waiting much longer than predicted for a decision on their cases.

Figures obtained by Mr Turner revealed 121 Islanders were still waiting for assessments in February, of which only eight had received appointments.

Mr Turner said: "Many of these people may be managing perfectly well as PIP is not means tested, but I suspect others are in genuine difficulty.

"It is important these people contact me so we can look into the problems. If there are cases of real hardship, Atos will try to prioritise them.

"I am in the process of organising a public meeting which I hope will be on April 25 with Atos and senior DWP staff in attendance, however they will not be able to deal with individual cases at that meeting."

Mr Turner can be contacted on (01983) 530808 or via mail@islandmp.org

Reporter: martinn@iwcpmail.co.uk

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