A QUESTION from Blaenau Gwent MP Nick Smith has revealed startling data which shows the vast majority of appeals made against PIP (Personal Independence Payment) decisions in Blaenau Gwent are successful.

Mr Smith said this points to an assessment process which is broken, questioning why so many initial assessments are getting it wrong.

PIP is a benefit to help with the extra costs of living for someone with a disability or long-term health condition. It was introduced as a replacement for Disability Living Allowance in 2013.

In September the Labour party’s Shadow Minister for Disabled People Marsha de Cordova pledged that a Labour government would scrap the “cruel PIP assessment regime” and replace it with a process that would “treat disabled people with dignity and respect.”

Blaenau Gwent MP Nick Smith wrote to the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions asking for data on the total number of appeals against PIP decisions in Blaenau Gwent and their rate of success.

Sarah Newtown, Minister of State at the Department for Work and Pensions responded with data showing that in Blaenau Gwent 130 of the total 170 PIP appeals completed in 2017-18 were successful.*

Between April and June 2018 – the latest statistics available – 40 appeals were held and of these, 30 were successful.**

These figures include appeals where claimants had asked for a higher PIP award as well as appeals against dis-allowance of PIP.

Mr Smith said: “The alarmingly high proportion of decisions which are being overturned at the appeal stage clearly demonstrates a failure in the system.

“Disabled people in Blaenau Gwent and across the whole UK are being let down.

“Those who need our help the most are being subjected to cold and inaccurate assessments and then forced to deal with the stress and anxiety of an unnecessary appeal process.

“Why are such a high proportion of tribunals coming to a different conclusion to the initial assessment? The system is broken and it needs to be fixed.”

Mr Smith has now written to the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions to ask for data on how long people are expected to wait for their arrears to be paid following the result of a tribunal.

“There are more questions that need to be asked here,” he said. “And I will be pushing for answers.

“In the meantime anyone who has any issues with PIP in Blaenau Gwent can contact my constituency office on 01495 313167 or send an email to nick.smith.mp@parliament.uk.”

*These numbers are rounded to the nearest 10 in the Minister’s response. Actual figures have not been made available.

**These numbers are also rounded to the nearest 10, as above.

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