Tom Pursglove, minister for disabled people, admitted this month that waiting times for PIP and ESA inquiry lines have been too long, but says that PIP claimants will have to wait until the end of the summer to see an improvement.
Pursglove was answering an oral question from Labour MP Kerry McCarthy about waiting times for PIP and ESA calls.
In response, he told the MP:
“The Department recognises that wait times for the PIP and ESA inquiry line have been too long. To reduce waiting times, we are recruiting more staff and, in the short term, are diverting staff to support better performance. PIP recruitment is expected to reduce waits by the end of summer, while ESA waiting times have improved significantly in recent weeks . . . What I can say, hopefully to reassure the House, is that we are seeing 600 additional agents recruited for PIP from April and for ESA 160 additional agents will be put on telephony through both recruitment and redeployment.”
Whilst 600 new staff does sound like it should lead to a big improvement in waiting times, we don’t know how many staff are currently employed in order to learn what sort of percentage increase in staffing this adds up to.
And, of course, the ultimate test will be whether claimants can actually get through and then get a useful answer to their questions. Much of this will depend on how well the 600 new staff are trained.
So, we’ll continue to ask readers to comment on their experiences on our PIP Enquiry Line page.