The DWP has confirmed in its latest personal independence payment (PIP) statistical release that many planned award reviews are on hold, but that claimants will continue to receive their current level of benefit until a review takes place.
In the DWP’s latest PIP Official Statistics to January 2022, published yesterday, the DWP admitted that planned reviews of PIP awards that were given for a fixed period are not all taking place because staff are working on “other parts of the process” instead.
“Planned award reviews are currently on hold in some cases which frees up resource to process registrations in other parts of the process but delays clearances for the award reviews themselves.”
In fact, the number of new claims is up 20% compared to November to January of last year. So, a deluge of new claims is the “other part of the process” that staff are working on instead. The bottleneck appears to be primarily in getting claimants assessed by Capita and Atos (IAS).
However, in the same document, the DWP do confirm that claimants who are waiting for their award to be reviewed will continue to receive PIP at the same rate.
“Any PIP claim where an award review is waiting to be processed continues to receive their pre-review level of benefit. Customers whose needs have changed and who are awaiting a review may instead register a change of circumstance.”
The confirmation that awards will continue in payment will come as a great relief to many thousands of claimants who have been left in a state of anxiety and uncertainty by a lack of news from the DWP about their award review.
PIP ward reviews backlog set to last
There are now over a third of a million (340,000) new claims ‘in progress’, meaning that they have yet to be completed and are probably mostly waiting for an assessment.
Waiting times for decisions on new claims have gone up from 19 weeks a year ago, to 22 weeks now. Of this, most of the wait is for an assessment, up from 15 weeks a year ago to 17 weeks now.
Given the size of this backlog and the effect of the pandemic on people’s physical and mental health, which means new claim numbers are likely to remain very high, there seems little chance of Capita and Atos getting on top of things any time soon.
So, claimants awaiting a planned PIP review may be waiting a long time yet.