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LDDA - The Liberal Democrat Disability Association

Government cuts leave sick and disabled facing SIX MONTHS wait for vital cash

September 16, 2014 10:36 PM
In http://www.mirror.co.uk

Sick and disabled people will still be left waiting six months for vital cash despite a Government pledge to cut waiting times.

David Cameron's new Minister for Disabled People Mark Harper admitted the system of health assessments for Personal Independence Payments (PIPs) is "not in good shape".

But Labour's Debbie Abrahams slammed the Government for sacking 1,000 of its own workers - including 600 experienced assessors - to save cash.

She said: "1,000 DWP staff were made redundant - and this was the same time when there was a backlog of PIP assessments. PIP is a mess."

The Coalition has promised to cut the huge backlog which means thousands of vulnerable people face long waits for money to pay bills and adapt their homes.

MPs have been inundated with complaints about constituents waiting months for their PIP to come through.

And despite their pledge to improve matters, Mr Harper admitted people will still wait four months for their assessments - and up to two months more before cash finally arrives.

"We're actually looking at a six-month process," fumed Work and Pensions committee chair Dame Anne Begg.

"Do you think that's an acceptable length of time for someone who has developed a disability, and suddenly has a lot of associated costs?

The committee was told the average wait for Disability Living Allowance - which PIP is replacing - was just a month and a half.

Mr Harper refused to give the current average wait for PIP cash before a tranche of official figures are released next week.

But he made clear even his new four-month target for assessments would be an improvement on the current situation.

"I'd like it to be faster - but there's no point getting ahead of ourselves," he said. "It's moving in the right direction."

The Government has blamed its private contractors Atos and Capita for the delays.

Noel Shanahan, director-general of operations at the Department for Work and Pensions, insisted the sacked workers "would have been at the wrong grade."

But he admitted the DWP is now bringing in large numbers of staff from other departments to try to deal with the backlog.

Mr Shanahan said: "My task is to run an operation that is as efficient as possible, and to meet the demand with the headcount we've got."