March 2014 – Major Delays in PIP Assessment
Despite using a phased roll-out programme, the assessment process for PIP has taken much longer than expected. Backlogs developed so quickly that by 25 October 2013, the DWP had made only 16 per cent of the number of decisions it expected.
Part of the problem was that the DWP expected that 20 per cent of claims would fail to match data in existing benefit systems but the actual proportion was around 83 per cent, increasing the work it has had to do to check claims.
Also by October 2013, over 166,000 people had started new claims for PIP - nearly three times the volume expected.
The assessment process was also hampered by the lack of trained Atos assessors meeting the agreed standards and claimants taking much longer to complete the application than expected.
As a result, claimants are experiencing long delays to benefit decisions, and the DWP is not able to tell them how long they are likely to wait, potentially creating 'distress and financial difficulties' according to a National Audit Report published this week. It recommends that the DWP set out a clear plan for informing claimants about the likely delays they will experience while plans to improve performance take effect, or in the event of problems in the future.