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The success rate for new personal independence payment (PIP) claims continues to plummet according to figures released by the DWP last month. Only 30% of new claimants got an award in October 2019, down from an average of 42%, with no explanation from the DWP as to why this is happening.

Back in September 2019 we revealed that the latest figures showed that the award rate for new claims was falling. Since then the decline has become even more pronounced.

In the last three months for which figures are available the award rates for all new claims, excluding terminal illness, has fallen dramatically:

  • August 2019 37%
  • September 2019 32%
  • October 2019 30%

The overall award rate since PIP began is 42%, so the current level is extremely low.

For new claims where the claimant made it as far as an assessment, so excluding all those who were removed at an earlier stage, the success rate is also on a downward path.

  • August 2019 49%
  • September 2019 47%
  • October 2019 47%

The overall award rate for this group since PIP began is 57% so, again, the current level is considerably lower.

In fact, as we noted in September, awards following assessment have been on an unusually steady downward path for many months.

In January 2018 the success rate was 57%. Since January 2018 there has been only a single month when the award rate went up. Apart from March 2019, for every successive month the award rate has either remained the same or fallen.

The fact that award rates are falling so steadily suggests a definite drive on the DWP’s part to methodically reduce awards.

It appears to be a two pronged attack on claimants.

The first prong is to remove a much higher number of claimants before they get as far as an assessment.

This could involve such measures rejecting forms that are allegedly received late or not at all.

The second prong is to make the assessment itself increasingly difficult to pass, but without actually changing the criteria. This could be done, for example, by ensuring that health assessors had their work reviewed in such a way as to make it clear that criteria had to be applied as harshly as possible.

At this stage, this is merely speculation, we have no evidence to explain why award rates are dropping.

All we have is hard evidence that award rates for new claims are falling remorselessly and the DWP is offering no explanation for the changes.

Meanwhile award rates for DLA to PIP reassessments have remained much steadier.

  • August 2019 69%
  • September 2019 68%
  • October 2019 69%

The overall award rate for this group since PIP began is 71% so although there has been a fall, it has been much smaller. A big drop in award rates for this group would have been much more quickly noticed and politically risky.

But the fact that the same assessment system is producing continually falling rates for new claims and stable rates for reassessments adds to the suspicion that something underhand is happening.

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