Tag Archives: benefits

660 people in Aberdeen waiting in huge backlog for Personal Independence Payment assessments

Dame Anne Begg MP has called on David Cameron to urgently deal with a huge backlog for Personal Independence Payment assessments affecting 660 people in Aberdeen North & South. According to the latest DWP figures and independent House of Commons analysis, Personal Independence Payments introduced last year to replace Disability Living Allowance is beset by delays and rising costs. 529,000 people have applied for PIP, but only 206,000 have received a decision about whether they qualified for help – leaving 323,000 people in limbo across the country.

Dame Anne Begg MP, Chair of the Work and Pensions Select Committee said,

It’s absolutely disgraceful that 660 people across Aberdeen are still waiting for a Personal Independence Payment assessment. David Cameron must step in and sort out this backlog which is leaving disabled people waiting months and months for an assessment.

Personal Independence Payments (PIP) provide vital support to cover the extra expenses faced by disabled people. Many are having to borrow money to meet the extra costs while they wait for a decision and without knowing whether they will eventually qualify.

The Minister for Disabled People has appeared in front of my select committee twice in the last few months saying this backlog is reducing but it doesn’t appear to be so. This is yet another example of Tory inefficiency which is causing hardship for hundreds of people in Aberdeen who have been left in limbo by this Government.

A breakdown of the figures shows 440 people in Aberdeen North, 220 in Aberdeen south and 180 across Gordon, covering Aberdeenshire and parts of Aberdeen, are waiting for an assessment.

ATOS debate speech (transcript)

Below is the transcript of Dame Anne’s contribution to the debate on ATOS and it’s role in carrying out Work Capability assessments for those applying for Employment Support Allowance held in Westminster Hall on Tuesday 4th September 2012:

Dame Anne Begg (Aberdeen South) (Lab): Congratulations to my hon. Friend the Member for Rutherglen and Hamilton West (Tom Greatrex) on securing this important debate. This is my first time speaking after my extended absence and therefore a good subject.

The Minister of State, Department for Work and Pensions (Chris Grayling): On behalf of everybody in the room and in the House, I welcome the hon. Lady back to the House. We are delighted to see her in such good shape. We were sad to hear of the difficulties in the long period of recovery she has had to go through. She is very welcome back.

Dame Anne Begg: I thank the Minister for being gracious. He may not be quite so gracious by the time he has heard what I have to say. I do not think that the Government have grasped how disastrous the ESA assessment system is. It is not something that can be fixed by a few tweaks here and there; we tried that with the Harrington review. What we have heard today in the Chamber—and in the “Dispatches” and “Panorama” programmes filmed in June this year—suggests that not much has changed. The people complaining are not just the usual suspects, not just the radical crips, the workshy or those who want money without being assessed. They are ordinary people, most of whom worked hard all their lives until the sky fell in and they lost their job because of an illness or an acquired disability

It is not enough for Government to say that the genuine claimant has nothing to fear. In too many cases, genuine claimants are not scoring any points in their initial assessment. There is something fundamentally wrong with the system and the contract that Atos is delivering. When the British Medical Association votes at its conference to say that the work capability assessment is not fit for purpose there is something wrong with the system. When GPs are reporting an increased workload, not just as a result of providing reports but as a result of treating patients whose condition has worsened as a result of their WCA experience, there is something wrong with the system.

When my constituent, who has lost his job because he has motor neurone disease, scores zero on his WCA and is found fully fit for work, there is something wrong with the system. When that same constituent appears in front of a tribunal and in less than five minutes is awarded 15 points, there is something wrong with the system. When people with rapidly progressive illnesses are not automatically put in the support group, there is something wrong with the system. When some people would rather do without the money to which they are absolutely entitled rather than submit to the stress of a WCA, there is something wrong with the system. When someone with a severe illness has to fight for a year through an appeal to get the correct benefit, only to be called in almost immediately for another assessment, there is something wrong with the system. When the recall and assessment happen the following year, and the following year, there is something wrong with the system. When people feel so persecuted, there is something wrong with the system. To top it all, they lose their contributory ESA after only a year if they are in the WRAG group.

When up to 40% of appeals are successful and there is no penalty for the company carrying out the assessments, there is something wrong with the contract. When so many appeals result in an award of ESA support group status when the original assessment was no points, there is something wrong with the contract. When there is no penalty for a high percentage of wrong decisions, there is something wrong with the contract. When there is no incentive for assessors to get the assessment correct first time, there is something wrong with the contract. It is time for the Government to act, because there is something fundamentally wrong with the whole system.

Text of full debate available from: http://www.publications.parliament.uk

Video of full debate available from: http://www.parliamentlive.tv/Main/Player.aspx?meetingId=11307&st=10:58:30

Dame Anne speaks at 2h 7mins.

You can also watch a clip from the debate here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zeatCaWVGEQ