55% of those reassessed for PIP in Tower Hamlets see support cut or stopped altogether

The Mayor of Tower Hamlets John Biggs has called on the government to take urgent action to overhaul the way that assessments are carried out for the Personal Independence Payment (PIP) for disabled people.

PIP replaced Disability Living Allowance and recent government statistics show that since 2013 nearly half of people (46%) in the UK claiming the older Disability Living Allowance lost out when reassessed for the new PIP benefit.

Across Tower Hamlets 2,255 people out of 4,132 – the equivalent of 55% – receiving Disability Living Allowance saw their support either decreased or stopped altogether when they were reassessed for PIP.

PIP is a form of social security support that is intended to help disabled people meet the extra costs they are likely to face as a result of their disability. That support is vital as the total number of people living in poverty in families where someone is disabled is 5.5 million according to the latest figures, an increase of around 28% since 2010.

The introduction of PIP has been extremely controversial and around three-quarters of cases that go to appeal are found in favour of the claimant.

In January 2019 the Office for Budget Responsibility highlighted that the introduction of PIP was actually projected to cost more than the system it was replacing.

Mayor of Tower Hamlets John Biggs said: “It’s shocking that over the last six years nearly 2,300 disabled people in Tower Hamlets saw their level of support decrease or stop altogether; that’s over half of all disabled people who had to go through the reassessment process.

“The PIP assessment system is clearly failing people who rely on much needed support. The reassessment process is incredibly stressful and it can be catastrophic when the support is reduced or withdrawn.

“The government must act to ensure that assessments are accurate and carried out sympathetically by someone with appropriate expertise so that disabled people receive the support they need to live as independently as possible and participate fully in society.”

Councillor Rachel Blake, Deputy Mayor for Planning, Air Quality and Tackling Poverty, said: “The various changes the Tories have made to the welfare system have had a major impact on residents in Tower Hamlets, from the rollout of universal credit to the introduction of the PIP system. The changes are pushing more people into poverty when social security is supposed to lift people out of it.

“Labour councils across the UK are on the frontline against damaging central government policies, like changes to the benefits system. Tower Hamlets Council has invested £6.6m into our Tackling Poverty Fund and we’re campaigning on behalf of residents to highlight just how damaging the welfare changes have been.”

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