The DWP has gone back on an undertaking it gave to review a total of 1.6 million PIP claims after it lost two court cases in 2016 and 2017, a report released by the department today reveals. Many claims will not be reviewed, the number of back payments is likely to be less than a twentieth of the original estimate and the cost a tiny fraction of what was expected.
The cases in question were known as RF, which related to carrying out activities safely, and MH which related to the mobility component of PIP and overwhelming psychological distress.
In 2018, when the DWP announced a review of all PIP claims as a result of MH, Sarah Newton, Minister for Disabled People, Health and Work told the Commons:
“We will be going through all cases in receipt of PIP and all decisions made since the judgment in MH to identify anyone who may be entitled to more as a result of the judgment . . . This will be a complex exercise and of considerable scale, as we will be reconsidering approximately 1.6 million claims. Whilst we will be working at pace to complete this exercise it is important that we get it right.”
However, the DWP have now revealed that since 4 November 2019 “the department has been focusing reviews on those cases most likely to benefit. All other cases in scope of this exercise will be contacted by the department in writing, giving them the opportunity to request a review.”
In other words, rather than reconsidering each case as they said they would, the DWP are now leaving it up to hundreds of thousands of claimants to decide whether they believe that complex changes to eligibility criteria affected them or not.
If they think they have been affected it will then be up to them to ask the DWP to look at their award again.
Given the fear that many people have of the DWP taking away their benefits, it is likely that many people will have absolutely no desire to have their award reviewed, even if they are assured that they will not have it cut as a result.
In 2018, the DWP said that it believed up to 220,000 people might be entitled to a higher award and that the process could cost up to £3.7bn by 2023.
However, the latest figures show that with over half of all PIP claims having been considered, fewer than 6,000 claimants have received a payment as a result and back payments have totalled just £28 million.
The full figures are:
- around 720,000 cases have been checked against the MH decision
- around 820,000 cases have been cleared against the RJ decision
- Most of these cases have been checked against both decisions.
Around 5,900 payments have been made:
- 3,400 for MH cases, totalling £17 million, so an average of around £5,000 per claimant
- 2,500 for RJ cases, totalling £11 million, so an average of around £4,400 per claimant
- Fewer than 100 claimants have received payments for both
With more than half of all claims having been checked and many of the rest destined never to be checked, the number of awards looks likely to be less than a twentieth of the 220,000 that the DWP originally estimated. Whilst some of that number would be people who had yet to make a claim in 2018, future claimants are unlikely to have been such a high proportion of the total by 2023.
And the cost of back payments so far is less than 1% of the original estimated cost of the process.
In the absence of any explanation for the huge differences in the outcome of the review so far, it would be hard not to suspect that something underhand has taken place.