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Friday, 21 December 2018

Government admits more than 4,500 disabled people wrongly stripped of benefits

Written by Alain Tolhurst

The Government has admitted that more than 4,500 disabled people were wrongly stripped of benefits despite having "good reasons" for missing assessments.

Work and pensions minister Sarah Newton revealed they will now receive back payments after a review by her department.

It comes just over a year after a court ruling in favour of those who had their payments stopped when the disability living allowance (DLA) was scrapped and claimants were moved onto the replacement benefit personal independence iayment (PIP).

In a written statement to MPs, Ms Newton (pictured) writes: "The decision states that in these instances claimants' DLA awards should be reinstated, until a final decision on their PIP claim, and back paid, as necessary.

"We accept that the same approach applies where claimants who failed to provide information or evidence were later found to have 'good reason' for the failure to comply.

"The department has been working at pace and taking the necessary steps required to implement the ruling.

"We expect around 4,600 people to gain as a result of this review exercise, all claimants who benefit from the Upper Tribunal decision will be notified by the department."

The minister also revealed that only around 10% of the cases which needed to be looked at after the Government lost another ruling about PIP have been reviewed.

In January, a court found that thousands of people with mental health issues should get more money from the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP).

The ruling was expected to affect up to 220,000 people and cost around £3.7 billion, but officials said they needed to review all 1.6 million cases to see who was eligible.

Today's statement says as of the end of November, 140,000 cases had been cleared, of which 1,000 had been paid arrears, with an average payment of £4,500.

Ms Newton said: "We are monitoring the numbers of, and reasons for, revised awards closely and making regular quality checks in order to ensure that our decision making is accurate and fair.

"Given the complexity of the exercise we have started at a relatively small scale to test our processes and ensure they are effective before ramping up.

"At the same time we have recruited over 250 additional staff to increase resources available for this exercise, with more to follow over the coming months."

Shadow minister for disabled people Marsha De Cordova said: "There are still 1.5 million claimants left to have a review.

"This department is absolutely in chaos in relation to social security."

A spokesman for the DWP said: "We're committed to ensuring that people get the support they're entitled to, which is why we're undertaking these administrative exercises carefully and thoroughly.

"We are making improvements so the PIP process works better for people and to ensure they get the right decision, first time round."

Copyright (c) Press Association Ltd. 2018, All Rights Reserved. Picture (c) Anthony Devlin / PA Wire.