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Tens of thousands of people have been waiting over ten months to get the new benefit for the first time—without any payments in the meantime.
By December 2013 there had been 229,000 claims but only 43,800 decisions.
A fall in success rates
Under DLA 45% of claims were successful before appeal but under PIP only 37% of claims have been successful before appeal.
The Length Of Time Taken To Do Assessments. The new PIP assessment is more complicated than people realised and is taking twice as long to complete as thought.
Earlier this week LDAS published an report from a Whistleblower that said there was a developing of a new approach in the assessment of current applications for the Personal Independence Payment. This centred around instructions being given to ATOS Health Professionals about how they should carry out face to face interviews.
LDAS is an independent campaigning organisation that believes information should lead to action. Our intention in publishing this article was to inform people so that they could help change the approach of ATOS to this. It is always better to stop things before they become entrenched.
A number of people have been in contact to say they have felt scared as a result of the information and blamed LDAS for making it available. As a result of this, we have taken the original down.
We did speak to the author and felt that they were genuine in promoting this article. They are a well respected disability activist known to two leading disabled person's organisations.
A number of things about the context for the article are important to think about. The government's flagship problem of welfare reform is in a difficult place. With a general election only a year away, Universal Credit has stalled and PIP is drowning in a huge backlog of claims that cannot be processed because of the length of time assessments are taking. In this it strikes us that it is reasonable to suppose ATOS management to be looking at ways they can speed up assessments of the backlog. It is in this context that we think there was merit in this article.
We will be making no further comment on this matter.
Nicola Sturgeon told the SNP spring conference in Aberdeen on Saturday that the Scottish Government would set up new fund to help disabled people, to take the place of the Independent Living Fund, which she said was being closed by the UK Government.
The Scottish Independent Living Fund will support more than 3,000 disabled people, and a £5.5 million investment will mean it will be open to new claimants, as well as those who benefit from the existing scheme. The new fund will be managed by the third sector.
The UK Government's support scheme has been closed to new applicants since 2010 and is due to close altogether in June 2015.
The Scottish Government's version of the fund will come into effect in July that year, subject to the full allocation of funding being devolved.
We will be interested in clarification on how people can be referred to the new fund. The official press release says that referral will be by local authority social worker. Given that people may need to have a qualifying level of existing services before they can apply then this may not be a problem but there is a worry that giving the keys to yet another gate to local authorities may lead to consequences that no one expects.
Community Care Magazine have suggested that there are 10 ways local authorities are planning to make savings in adult social care over the next financial year.
1. Reducing care and cutting personal budgets
2. Delegating budget management to frontline staff
3. Increasing charges for social care
4. Cutting the hours of care people receive
6. Replacing home visits with telecare
7. Changes to the assessment process such as reviews over the phone
8. Squeezing providers by renegotiating contracts
9. Cutting back on mental health support
10. Reducing ‘double-up’ homecare by use of new technology
Two weeks ago Mike Penning announced the UK government’s decision to go ahead with the closure of the Independent Living Fund from June 2015 for users in England and Wales. Existing funding would be transferred to local authorities and users would become dependent on local authorities assessment of their need and a subsequent allocation of resources.
The situation in Scotland is quite DIFFERENT. The funding for existing ILF user will be transferred to the Scottish Government with effect from June 2015 and they have made a COMMITMENT to honour all existing awards for as long as funds continue to be transferred to them. This means that existing ILF users will be protected in the short term. Future decisions will depend on financial settlements in the long term and the current Scottish Government is clear that they intend to offer this protection for as long as possible.
No public announcement has been made by the Scottish Government to this effect as they have not yet been formally told by the DWP of the decision to close the ILF. This formal notice will include details of the proposed financial assessment and having it is essential to making sure that the Scottish Government can carry out their plans. Some scrutiny of this notice will be needed because the change of dates for the closure of the fund will alter the details of the financial assessment. A formal announcement will follow in due course. The hope is this will be no longer than 2 weeks from today.
Meanwhile the previous plans remain ready to go. The consultation that was carried out last year on the future management of the ILF resources in Scotland is still live and once the financial information has been received then the Minister will consider the analysis of the consultation and the financial information and decide how to go forward. We can hope to see the consultation responses and the analysis of these first published on the Scottish Government website and hopefully shortly after the Scottish Government’s plans for using any spare ILF money as it becomes available.
We would reiterate that for the short term ILF users in Scotland will have their existing support packages maintained.