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Govt response to PIP delays

07 January 2014

On Monday 6 January Mike Penning responded to a series of questions, from MPs, on the Personal Independence Payment (PIP) claim process.

Mr Jim Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what guidelines his Department has issued on how long a disability assessment for a personal independence payment should take.[181158]

Mike Penning: The Department has not issued any guidance on how long an assessment for PIP should take as it is important for us to get the assessment right and to give claimants the opportunity to tell the assessor how their health condition or disability effects them on a day-to-day basis. The length of assessments can vary considerably based on a number of factors including the claimant's individual circumstances.

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Sheila Gilmore: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what the maximum length of time is within which primary contractors are required to complete their part in personal independence payment assessments; and what assessment he has made of contractors' performance since 1 April 2013.[181169]

Mike Penning: We expect that once we are in a steady state the end-to-end assessment process, from DWP referring the case to the assessment provider to the assessment report being returned to DWP, should be completed within 30 working days in 97% of cases with on average no case taking longer than 40 working days. The key requirement is to produce high quality assessments.

Our provider's performance has recently highlighted that in some cases the end-to-end assessment process is taking longer than originally anticipated. We have built robust expectations of performance into the contracts with the assessment providers and have a full set of service level agreements setting out the Department's expectations for service delivery, including quality of assessments and the number of days to provide advice to the Department. The contracts include a range of remedies which allow the Department to take action on minor as well as more significant poor performance and ultimately the Department has the right to terminate the contract if there is sustained underperformance.

Officials meet regularly with assessment providers to discuss their performance in line with their contractual obligations and to ensure that all the steps in the assessment process are as smooth as they can be.

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Derek Twigg: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many personal independence payment claims to date have been delayed since the applications were first made; what the average length of delay was; and how many of those delayed applications involved claimants with cancer.[181819]

Mike Penning: I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave to the hon. Member for Stretford and Urmston (Kate Green) on 11 November 2013, Official Report, column 516W.

Since the introduction of PIP new claims in April, we have been closely monitoring all aspects of the process. Our latest analysis is telling us that the end-to-end claiming journey is taking longer than expected both within DWP and with the providers. In particular providers are telling us that the assessment process, including booking appointments, gathering further evidence and providing assessment reports to DWP, is taking longer than expected. We are working with providers to ensure that all the steps in the process are as smooth as they can be.

Although PIP is a new benefit, and the Department does not have a target for completion of claims while processes are bedding in, we do deal urgently with special rules claims for terminally ill claimants. We are making a number of changes within the Department for claimants and support organisations including establishing a dedicated telephone claims line for terminally ill claimants to make a new claim to PIP; creating a more rapid transfer of information between the Department and Assessment Providers and reducing the time it takes to get a DS1500 form in support of the PIP claim into the Department.

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Caroline Lucas: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions where final responsibility lies for delays with personal independence payment assessments; what the causes are of those delays; and if he will make a statement.[181823]

Mike Penning: Since the introduction of PIP new claims in April, we have been closely monitoring all aspects of the process. Our latest analysis is telling us that the end-to-end claimant journey is taking longer than expected both within DWP and with the providers.

As PIP is a new benefit we are looking closely at how long the claimant journey, which is available at:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/pip-claim-process-overview-the-claimant-journey

is taking against original estimates.

We are working with providers to ensure that all the steps in the process are as smooth as they can be. We continue to look at our processes to ensure that satisfactory arrangements are in place to assess a person's entitlement to PIP.

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