The statistics show that, although the backlog of claims has reduced slightly, for the first time since the benefit came into force, hundreds of thousands of people are still waiting for an assessment.

Gray’s review notes a number of recommendations designed to improve the claimant’s experience, including reviewing the PIP claims process so that it moves away from a ‘one size fits all’ model and supports a more tailored approach based on the needs of the claimant.

Mencap is calling for PIP to work effectively to support people with a learning disability with the extra costs they face, as part of the charity’s Hear my voice general election campaign.

The campaign aims to ensure the next government addresses the key issues facing the 1.4 million people with a learning disability in the UK and their families by giving these individuals a platform to make their voices heard.

James Bolton, policy officer at Mencap and expert witness to the Public Accounts Committee on PIP, says:

Today’s official statistics on PIP are extremely worrying. Hundreds of thousands of people are waiting for an assessment. Although the backlog has reduced slightly, this reduction has been far too slow and is still causing considerable undue distress and anxiety to thousands of disabled people.

We welcome that the Minister, Mark Harper, has made PIP his main priority, but todays statistics raise serious questions about whether the government can keep to its promise that nobody will wait more than 16 weeks for an assessment; a target which is itself unambitious and unacceptably long, and still forces people with a learning disability to wait and worry for far too long. Given this, we are seriously concerned about the millions of extra people are due to be reassessed from the end of next year.

Gray's review recognises the serious flaws and failures in the PIP claims process – failures which Mencap has raised concerns about time and time again. In particular, Gray’s acknowledgement that we need to move away from a ‘one size fits all’ model and use a more tailored approach based on the claimants needs highlights one of many flaws that have plagued the process since its inception.

People with a learning disability have told us that the extreme waiting times – which often exceed a year – combined with the completely inaccessible claim process are causing stress, anxiety and financial hardship. This dire situation simply cannot continue.

We urge the government to fully accept and implement the recommendations of the Gray review and to act with urgency to reduce the completely unacceptable, damaging and frankly dangerous backlog of claims.

James Bolton goes on to highlight one simple suggestion from Paul Gray that would significantly improve the process:

We welcome Paul Gray's recommendation to improve the collection of further evidence for claimants, as we believe this is vital at reducing the number of face-to-face assessments that people with a learning disability will undergo, and all of their claim to be assessed fully on paper.

-ENDS-

For more information, please contact the Mencap press office on 020 7696 5414 or media@mencap.org.uk.

* DWP official PIP statistics: www.gov.uk/government/collections/personal-independence-payment-statistics

** Paul Gray’s Independent Review of PIP assessment process:www.gov.uk/government/publications/personal-independence-payment-pip-assessments-first-independent-review

Notes to editors

About Personal Independent Payments

Personal Independence Payment (PIP) helps with some of the extra costs caused by long-term ill-health or a disability if you’re aged 16 to 64.

The rate depends on how your condition affects you, not the condition itself. You’ll need an assessment to work out the level of help you get. Your rate will be regularly reassessed to make sure you’re getting the right support.

About Mencap

There are 1.4 million people with a learning disability in the UK. Mencap works to support people with a learning disability, their families and carers by fighting to change laws, improve services and access to education, employment and leisure facilities.

Mencap supports thousands of people with a learning disability to live their lives the way they want.

www.mencap.org.uk  

For advice and information about learning disability and Mencap services in your area, contact Mencap Direct on 0808 808 1111 (9am-5pm, Monday-Friday) or email help@mencap.org.uk.

About Mencap’s Hear my voice campaign

People with a learning disability – and the millions of family members, carers and support workers connected to them – can make their voices heard on the issues that matter to them at the 2015 General Election.

Hear my voice is a campaign designed to provide a platform for people with a learning disability and their families to make their voices heard. There are a lot of different ways to get involved, from sharing what matters to you, to holding an event to get people with a learning disability registered to vote.

Through grassroots campaigning, Hear my voice will ensure the next Government improves the lives of people with a learning disability.