Disabled people in the Highlands have successfully appealed against a decision to deny them benefits almost 1,000 times – prompting calls for a fresh review of the DWP assessment and appeals process.
Figures obtained under freedom of information laws show 970 assessments for Personal Independence Payments (PIP) have been successfully challenged by people in the Highlands from April 2013 to December 2018.
There were a total of 1,300 appeals during this period – meaning the success rate for appeals was 75 per cent.
PIP is being rolled-out across the UK to replace Living Allowance (DLA) as the main benefit for disabled or ill people. To receive this benefit, claimants have to endure controversial assessments, conducted by private companies on behalf of the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP).
Kate Forbes, MSP for Skye, Lochaber and Badenoch, said: “I know that disabled people across the Highlands rely on these financial lifelines to live independent lives. These payments are not a luxury, they are a necessity.
“For the DWP to get these cases so consistently wrong suggests a systematic hostility towards people in need.
“I can think of people that have come to my constituency office, who have lifelong disabilities or illnesses who’ve had to reapply, or been denied, or had to appeal. They already face challenges in their daily lives and this additional pressure is nothing short of traumatic. It is such an arduous, invasive process.
“The Tory government’s punitive approach to the system simply isn’t working. It’s failing vulnerable people, withdrawing support from those who need it most, and leaving people out of pocket and unable to afford the basic essentials.
“It’s vital that these fundamental flaws in the current assessment appeals process are urgently addressed.”