Whilst improvements have been made in the backlog for Personal Independent Payments (PIP), the backlog for Employment and Support Allowance remains at 280,000 people with an average wait for a decision of 23 weeks.
Dan Scorer, Head of Policy at the learning disability charity Mencap said:
It is unacceptable that there is still a backlog of 280,000 Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) claims. Worse still individuals have to wait an average of 23 weeks for a decision to be made on their benefits. While waiting, people are forced to live on a much reduced assessment rate of ESA. Even on the full rate of ESA, some people have said they have to choose between feeding themselves and feeding their children. These delays cause immense stress and anxiety for people with a learning disability who are faced with total uncertainty about their financial future.
The DWP has been aware of problems with the benefits assessments for a number of years, yet people with a learning disability who rely on the support from benefits are still suffering from a system that fails to help the people it is designed for. This is evident given the shocking fact that 54%* of appeals lead to the original award decision being overturned. These problems, combined with further proposed cuts to Employment and Support Allowance, have led many people with a learning disability to be fearful of where the support they rely on for their independence will come from.
Notes to editors
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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org
What is a learning disability?
A learning disability is a reduced intellectual ability which can cause problems with everyday tasks – for example shopping and cooking, or travelling to new places – which affects someone for their whole life.
People with a learning disability can take longer to learn new things and may need support to develop new skills, understand difficult information and engage with other people. The level of support someone needs is different with every individual. For example, someone with a severe learning disability might need much more support with daily tasks than someone with a mild learning disability.
Learning disability is not a mental illness or a learning difficulty. Very often the term ‘learning difficulty’ is wrongly used interchangeably with ‘learning disability’.