PIP is designed to assist those with disabilities, long-term illnesses, or mental health conditions in covering additional living expenses, such as medical equipment or transportation.
Recent research from Citizens Advice reveals that over 430,000 people in England and Wales are currently awaiting a PIP review, with some enduring delays of over two years, forcing them to bear extra costs. These delays come at a time when disabled individuals are among the hardest hit by the cost-of-living crisis, with twice as many reporting difficulty covering their essentials each month. Additionally, nearly 61% of people referred to food banks by Citizens Advice in the past six months were disabled or had long-term health conditions.
Citizens Advice’s latest report shows a 19% increase in people seeking assistance with PIP review-related issues in the last six months compared to the previous year, far outstripping the rise in PIP applications. The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has been unable to keep up with the demand, despite 210,000 new PIP claims made between January and April 2023.
Citizens Advice warns that people often wait for months, sometimes even years, for a PIP review, resulting in substantial stress, anxiety, and financial implications. These delays can also disrupt access to other benefits like the warm home discount.
One case that exemplifies the issue is Steve’s. He lives with long-term health issues and faced a lengthy review process that worsened his health and financial stability plunging him into debt. Despite needing support for his health, he couldn’t afford it during the review period. Ultimately, after a long period of unnecessary hardship, Steve was granted an enhanced PIP award in May 2023.
The DWP has made efforts to reduce wait times for new PIP applications from six to three months, but many individuals still face extended waiting periods for payment reviews. Citizens Advice is calling on the government to do more to ensure disabled people receive adequate support. Their recommendations include using paper-based decisions to bypass time-consuming health assessments, backdating increased PIP payments, and preventing disruptions to benefits linked to PIP entitlement.
Delays not only create financial hardship but also take an emotional toll on individuals. In a time of rising prices, it is essential to have an efficient and effective system for helping people with extra living costs.
For those struggling to make ends meet, solutions may be found on our website www.cawnac.org.uk or call us on Adviceline at 0808 278 7906. All support provided by Citizens Advice is free, and as a charity, donations allow us to assist more people. Details for making donations can be found on the website, or cheques can be sent to Citizens Advice West Northants and Cherwell, 26 Cornhill, Banbury OX16 5NG.