A long-awaited report into the government’s Personal Independent Payment (PIP) or Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) assessment system was published by the House of Commons Work and Pensions Select Committee today.
The committee received over 4,000 responses to its call for evidence, which included some harrowing accounts of individual experiences of the PIP or ESA system. All too many of the stories will be familiar to many of Community’s members and the findings reflect the strength of feeling of disabled people and support groups and campaigners, such as Community’s National League of the Blind and Disabled.
The report describes the ‘pervasive lack of trust’ among disabled people and the MPs have warned that the whole social security system risks being undermined.
Since 2013, over 290,000 rejected claims for PIP or ESA have been overturned on appeal.
The report highlights four main areas which it identified as the ‘worst’ mistakes made: factual errors in reports regarding people’s situations; problems caused by a lack of knowledge on the part of the assessor; difficulties completing PIP or ESA forms; and problems with the appeals process.
Steve McGurk, Community National Executive Councillor and Vice Chair of the National League of the Blind and Disabled, said:
“Community members responded to our invitation to help shape our response and along with 4,000 other respondents they have been listened to at long last.
“Today’s report supports what we have known all along: this is a system that causes our members stress and anxiety whilst anxiously waiting for the assessment process to conclude, leaving our members vulnerable for an unacceptable length of time. Our members’ dignity is constantly under attack from a system that places ever more barriers in their way.
“It gives us no pleasure to say “we told you so” but the lives of disabled people could have been greatly improved if our voices had been heard sooner. The government must heed the message of this report and urgently fix this broken system.”
Click here for the full Select Committee report and recommendations.