In a written response last month, the DWP shared three measures it will be taking to cut the waiting time for new claims for PIP and reduce the processing time for claims. Former Scottish National Party MP, now an Independent, Margaret Ferrier, asked the department what steps were being taken to reduce the delays.
In July this year, the DWP reported that it takes around 18 weeks to process a PIP claim from point of application to the letter of award notice. In August last year, this period sat at around 26 weeks.
In October, the charity MacMillan noted this length of time was “distressing” for claimants and that the Government needed to get this down to around 12 weeks.
Responding to Ms Ferrier’s question, the DWP said that reducing customer journey times for PIP claimants was a “priority for the department and we are working constantly to make improvements to our service”.
Minister for Disabled People, Tom Pursglove said: “We are committed to ensuring people can access financial support through PIP in a timely manner, taking into account the need to review all available evidence.”
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“We are seeing an improvement in average clearance times for new PIP claims and the latest statistics show that the end-to-end journey has steadily reduced from 26 weeks in August 2021 to 18 weeks at the end of July 2022.”
Mr Pursglove went on to note the three steps the DWP were taking to reduce the waiting time.
He said: “This is because we are using a blend of phone, video and face-to-face assessments to support customers and deliver a more efficient and user-centred service and increasing case manager and assessment provider health professional resource.”
He also noted that the DWP was “prioritising new claims” for PIP whilst “safeguarding” claimants who were awaiting award reviews.
Mr Pursglove said the DWP was ensuring the payments for those awaiting reviews would continue until their review was completed.
In July this year, the former Secretary of State for the DWP, Dr Therese Coffey, confirmed in a Work and Pensions Committee meeting that the new claims for PIP had reached “record” levels.
In the committee meeting, Dr Coffey said that the department had an action plan that it was “starting to get on of”.
However, due to the rising number of PIP applications, Dr Coffey said the DWP’s plan had been pushed back.
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Between February to April, Citizens Advice estimated that the waiting list for PIP stood at 327,000 people.
She told the committee meeting: “It is a challenge. I am not denying it.”
PIP was first introduced in 2013 and consists of a daily living component if a person needs help with everyday tasks and a mobility component if they need help getting around.
Both components are split into a standard rate payment and an enhanced rate.
The standard daily living component currently stands at £61.85 a week and the enhanced rate sits at £92.40 a week.
The mobility component standard rate is current £24.45 a week and the enhanced rate is 64.50.
Britons are able to claim both components if they need it and can be eligible for any combination of the different amounts.
From April next year until April 2024, the amount people will receive with PIP will increase by 10.1 percent.
The daily living component will increase to £68.10 and £101.75 whilst the mobility component will increase to £26.90 and £71.
That means anyone awarded both of the higher payments would get £172.75 a week, equivalent to £691 a month or £8,983 a year.