Damning PIP report shows culture of fear and mistrust – Olney

The virtual ink was barely dry on Geoff Crocker’s harrowing piece about his son’s PIP interview when a comment from Sarah Olney on the damning report by the Independent Reviewer of the PIP implementation, Paul Gary, popped into my inbox.

The report is highly critical and outlines that the fundamentals are just not working.

A key conclusion of the Review is that public trust in the fairness and consistency of PIP decisions is not currently being achieved, with high levels of disputed award decisions, many of them overturned at appeal

My findings point to the need to build very considerably on current action to improve the way PIP is administered, continuing the direction of travel proposed in the first Review. They include recommendations to improve the way the right type of evidence is obtained, used and tested in assessments; to strengthen transparency; and to broaden audit and quality assurance in assessment and decision-making.

In other words, there’s not a lot that’s going right.

Imagine, for a moment, that you’ve gone through the stress that Geoff describes just going for the interview. Then you find that you have been denied PIP. Then you have to endure the further stress of an appeal just to get the help that you desperately need to get on with your life, to work. PIP is not a luxury. It’s there to help people with long term conditions with the extra costs that these pile on.

The only time between the end of September and Christmas last year that I went somewhere that wasn’t a hospital or a supermarket was to attend a fringe meeting at the Scottish Liberal Democrats conference in Dunfermline. I spoke at a fringe meeting held by RNIB Scotland at which PIP was discussed. One of the speakers, who has no sight at all, told of sending off her form, which took about a day to complete with the help of a friend. The response was a huge pile of bumph to READ from the DWP. Not what you would call accessible. This was all talked about in the context of the Scottish Government setting up a system to distribute these benefits which have been devolved to them. How do you establish a system that is accessible, fair and has the trust of all those who use it and those who advocate on their behalf?

The problem is that the Scottish Government is moving fairly slowly on this. They have the powers now, but they are building the system over the next 3 years. Their social security bill will be published in the Summer and they are generally going about it in the right way. At the moment they are recruiting a couple of thousand people to go on “experience panels” to help shape the new system in a way that works for people and is easy to navigate.

The report into PIP shows that disabled people in Scotland are being let down by both governments, though. The fault is with the Tories for desperately shoddy and inhumane implementation, but you just wonder if the Scottish Government shouldn’t just step up and get the new system in place a bit quicker – especially if we’re going to be having the push for another independence referendum dominate the political landscape for the foreseeable future.

Of course, we Scots going off and doing our own thing doesn’t help people south of the border. This is a system that is in dire need of fixing. We’ve seen already this week that the Liberal Democrats tried to kill off Government cuts in eligibility but the Labour Party in the Lords didn’t support them.

In her comment today, Sarah Olney said:

This report is damning.  It shows that the government are betraying the most vulnerable in our society.  Running through this report like a stick of rock is the the lack of trust.

When even tribunal Judges say they are sceptical about the thoroughness of the process you need to listen. This has to be a wake up call. Enough is enough.

The SNP Government may be slow, but their general approach and attitude to this is in the right direction, which is much more than can be said for the Tories running the DWP. Both Governments need to act to stop the real suffering endured by disabled people trying to navigate an opaque system that doesn’t understand their needs.

* Caron Lindsay is Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice and blogs at Caron's Musings

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3 Comments

  • Lorenzo Cherin 30th Mar '17 - 11:46pm

    Caron, in the article , good comments , Sarah Olney in the Commons , excellent mp, Labour in general , useless non opposition, Tory government , draconian inhumane, SNP, more hot air than all the lot combined going on about independence when they have the power to do nearly everything those of us in England have to , alas, look to the Tories for !

  • Lorenzo, to be fair, the SNP Government has the right attitude. I just wish they’d move a bit faster.

  • Lorenzo Cherin 31st Mar '17 - 1:44pm

    Caron, thanks, I see what you mean , but the SNP constantly look to a day when they, you, in Scotland , can achieve , apparently , so much more , if they , you , as a country were independent, when, as you rightly show , Caron, they can do things now , so should !

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