Benefits and Work has been looking further into the statistics for PIP mobility awards on mental health grounds and our research continues to provide grounds for serious concern. On the face of it, there appears to be a high degree of manipulation of award results.
Earlier this month we looked at awards for anxiety and depression, before and after the decisions in MH and RJ.
We found that, as expected, award rates increased after the two cases were implemented in June 2018, but we also discovered that within a year they had fallen back almost to their previous levels.
This is not something that should have happened. Award rates should have remained significantly higher.
We have now looked at the award rates for all the conditions the DWP considered would be affected by MH, as a group.
And the result is the same.
According to the DWP’s estimates, as a result of the MH case alone, 6% of the entire PIP caseload should have moved from no award of the mobility component to enhanced and a further 6% from no award to standard. In addition, 2% should have moved from standard mobility to enhanced.
Around three quarters of all PIP awards include the mobility component.
Yet, as the graph below shows after an initial surge when MH was implemented, the standard rate in particular drops down to the same level it was before June 2018, before beginning to rise again.
The enhanced rate falls though not quite so low as it had been, before beginning to rise again.
(The greyed out areas on the graphs, show times at which the DWP suffered various technical issues which may have had an effect on statistics. From March 2020, this includes the lockdown and switch to telephone assessments. Blue is enhanced awards, orange standard).
For comparison, we have also included below a graph of all the other conditions not included in the group expected by the DWP to be affected by the MH case.. As can be seen, no similar variations occur at the time of the MH decision.
To give a broader picture we have included graphs covering a longer time period and showing the level of nil awards for the whole period as well. The green line represents No Award - when it rises it means a smaller proportion of claimants are getting any award of the mobility component. The first graph below shows the conditions affected by MH, with some very large variations once telephone assessments were introduced in early 2020.
The final graph shows all the other conditions, not thought by the DWP to be affected by the MH decision. Once again there are large variations when telephone assessments begin.
We are currently unable to look any further into the statistics as the DWP’s Stat-Xplore system is apparently down for maintenance.
There may be other explanations for the way the mobility statistics behave, other than manipulation of award rates by the DWP. Asking the DWP directly seems a particularly pointless endeavour, as we currently can't get straight answers to the simplest of Freedom of Information requests, but we will continue delving.
In the meantime. if you are currently making a claim for PIP or about to have your award reassessed, do make sure you understand how the PIP rules relating to 'Going out' (Planning and following journeys) should apply to you, because there's a good chance the DWP will be applying them quite differently.
Members can download our guide to PIP claims and reviews, which has nine pages solely on the subject of planning and following journeys.