PIP delays leave disabled people out of pocket

Rosie Waters, chief executive of Citizens Advice North Herts

Rosie Waters, chief executive of Citizens Advice North Herts - Credit: Citizens Advice North Herts

Personal Independence Payment (PIP) offers benefits up to £157 per week, and is a lifeline to people with an illness, disability or mental health condition.

But on average, it takes five months to get an assessment with an eye-watering backlog of 327,000 people.

632 new PIP applications were made by residents in North Herts and Stevenage between February and April 2022, with Citizens Advice North Herts and Citizens Advice Stevenage helping 1,112 people with a PIP issue in the last 12 months.

Assessment delays results in support being held up, placing claimants in difficulty trying to make ends meet. In particular, disabled people are struggling with the rising cost of living and are often less able to reduce spending on essentials like utilities.

Rosie Waters CEO, of Citizens Advice North Herts, said: “Getting a grip on the PIP assessment backlog could make a real difference to people locally. We know that there are many people facing desperate choices as they deal with the rising cost of living. This money could make a huge difference.”

Catherine Bennett, Community Engagement Manager at Citizens Advice North Herts, said:

“PIP can make a huge difference for those struggling with day-to-day activities. If you need extra help due to illness, disability, or a mental health condition you might be eligible - but the application process can be challenging.

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“PIP is assessed on your needs rather than for a specific condition or whether you’re on a specific medication, which makes PIP qualification difficult to predict.

"If you struggle with things like preparing and cooking food, washing and bathing or communicating with others, it’s worth applying, and if you have difficulty walking outside you might qualify for the PIP mobility component.

“To apply, contact the Department of Work and Pensions to fill in the initial claim form. It’s best to call on 0800 917 222 and complete it on the phone. An additional, more detailed form follows, to give details of how your condition affects your day-to-day life, before undertaking a medical assessment.”

Find out more about Personal Independence Payment, including how to apply and guidance for completing the forms, on the Citizens Advice website.