Gerald Jones, MP for Merthyr Tydfil and Rhymney, is calling on the UK Government to take urgent action over Personal Independence Payment (PIP) delays, following the news that local residents are currently facing shocking delays for a decision from the DWP on whether to approve their PIP application.
Anyone who has been refused a PIP, a benefit to support people living with long-term health conditions or disabilities, after assessment by the DWP can request a Mandatory Reconsideration (MR) of the decision, which usually takes around eight weeks for a further decision to be made, although sometimes this can be even longer.
However, during the past few weeks, due to the coronavirus pandemic, people requesting MRs have been forced to wait even longer than usual, and Gerald is calling on the UK Government to take urgent action over the current delays, following a response received from the DWP earlier this month stating it was unable to give even a timescale for an MR for a Merthyr Tydfil and Rhymney constituent.
According to new statistics from the House of Commons Library, there were 839 MRs requested for PIP applications from Merthyr Tydfil and Rhymney residents between February 2019 – January 2020, with almost 60 percent resulting in no change to the DWP’s decision.
If a constituent’s MR is refused, they must then appeal to the Courts and Tribunal Service, which can often take as long as 16 weeks to be heard from the date the hearing has been registered. However, 75% of all MR appeals across Great Britain in 2019 were successful.
In a Written Parliamentary Question to the Secretary of State for the DWP, Gerald demanded an explanation for the length of delay for MRs that many constituents with severe conditions and disabilities are now experiencing, receiving only a vague reply stating that the department was ‘aiming to avoid delay where possible’.
Gerald is now urging the DWP to take the necessary action to ensure people in need of support are no longer kept waiting for so long for decisions on their PIP applications, commenting:
“The fact that the DWP can no longer even provide a timescale for a decision on an MR is completely unacceptable, and is yet another example of how UK Government departments, in this instance the DWP, are failing those most in need during the ongoing pandemic.
“Vague and empty promises are not good enough for all those across Merthyr Tydfil and the Upper Rhymney Valley living with health conditions or disabilities who desperately need help now, and the Government must now take the necessary steps to reform this shambolic system and bring waiting times for MRs down immediately.
“Many of the residents who have contacted me over the shocking delays they have experienced waiting for a decision on an MR or for their PIP to be paid are currently being forced to shield at home during the ongoing pandemic due to their health conditions, and the safety and wellbeing of the most vulnerable among us must be the very top priority for the Government at a time like this.”