New figures from Citizens Advice Manchester reveals queries about Personal Independence Payments (PIP) have now overtaken Employment Support Allowance (ESA) as the most common problem people come to the local charity for help with.
As national Citizens Advice releases its latest Advice Trends report, Citizens Advice Manchester figures show that in the last year the charity helped people with 1,994 problems with PIP.
PIP is a benefit for people aged 16 to 64 with a long-term health condition or disability. It is gradually replacing Disability Living Allowance (DLA), except for children under 16. Since it was introduced in April 2013, national Citizens Advice has helped people with over 460,000 issues relating to the new benefit.
Citizens Advice Manchester finds the issues people are experiencing with PIP mirror the challenges claimants faced with ESA after it was introduced as a replacement for Incapacity Benefit.
Just like with ESA, Citizens Advice Manchester finds people are confused about whether they qualify for PIP and others are experiencing distress and financial troubles as decisions about their applications are delayed. Challenges over judgements and appeals are also increasing as many complain about inaccuracies in their medical assessment.
The top three PIP problems reported to Citizens Advice Manchester in the last year are:
- 668 queries about eligibility for PIP.
- 445 making and managing a claim issues, including problems with delays.
- 399 problems with challenges and appeals.
Andy Brown, Citizens Advice Manchester Chief Executive said:
“Sick and disabled people are being let down by PIP failures. Citizens Advice Manchester helps people on a daily basis who are finding the PIP process confusing and distressing. ESA was previously the biggest issue for the local service but PIP is now the number one problem.
“The Government needs to simplify the process and make sure medical assessments get it right first time to avoid delays. Citizens Advice Manchester can provide help or support with your PIP application.”
Figures published in June 2015 from the Department of Work and Pensions show delays for PIP have fallen to an average of eleven weeks for new claimants. However, national Citizens Advice evidence shows some people are still waiting over a year and that delays to decisions have resulted in many people falling into debt with some relying on support from family members.