In the first 6 months since Personal Independence Payment has seen almost 200,000 new claims being made but the system is so slow that only 30,000 claims have been dealt with.
So far about half of those have been approved for a PIP award - 15,000. The DWP say they have had very few appeals or reconsiderations and put this down to the way that they have explained the process and made sure people understand how decisions are made.
There have been significant holdups in the process. The original estimate was that it would be a 12 to 15-week timeline in terms of getting through the process, right through from application and initial phone call to the decision. The process is taking longer than that in most cases, and there are probably three main reasons for that. The first reason is that in terms of the initial phone call, we have got more people not getting through the security questions than we expected. More people are falling out of the security questions.
That builds in a few days’ delay while the claimants are contacted to try to establish that the DWP are confident about their identity, and they can get through the security process.
The second reason is that claimants are taking longer to return the claim forms. Once they have made the initial registration over the phone, which is capturing basic information, then they are sent a claim form that is “How your disability affects you”, and a lot of that focuses on making sure they have a mix of tick-box areas and free-text areas. There is strong encouragement for the claimant at that point to provide any medical evidence they have available to them, and claimants are taking longer. There is four weeks to return that form; most are taking longer than four weeks to return that form, on average, so that is building in time delay. So far the DWP is allowing such claims to be valid
The last reason is that it is taking longer for the assessment providers to undertake the assessment, book the appointment, go through the assessment process, have that through their audit process, and then back to the DWP decision-makers to make the final decision.