Disabled people in Moray are struggling because of changes being made in the way they are assessed for new Personal Independence Payments (PIPs).
The issue has been highlighted in a report this week from the House of Commons public accounts committee, who describe the introduction of PIPs and changes to benefits for disabled people as a “fiasco”.
Although the new system has only been in place for a short time local MP Angus Robertson has said that he is already dealing with examples from constituents where the time being taken to decide cases is over six months.
The payments are intended to help those suffering from a disability or health condition to mitigate the costs associated with that condition. But Mr Robertson insists that the scheme has been rushed through – resulting in a shocking impact for claimants in Moray mainly because of the delays they are facing before their case is decided.
The MP said: “The report’s findings on PIP are alarming and here in Moray I already have early cases where people are really struggling.
“PIPs are awarded to people who have significant health issues such as disabilities, strokes, seizures and many other very serious conditions. For it take six months to provide support in these circumstances is utterly reprehensible.
“The findings of the public accounts committee simply back up this casework experience and are extremely alarming. This type of welfare support is for those who really need it – not six months down the line but as soon as possible after a major issue occurs for them.”
Chair of the public accounts committee, Labour MP Margaret Hodge, added: “The implementation of PIPs has been nothing short of a fiasco. The DWP has let down some of the most vulnerable in our society.”
Mike Penning, the minister for disabled people, insists that he has already introduced a “faster system” for dealing with claims under the new system.
He said: “The old DLA system was extremely outdated, with the majority of claimants getting the benefit for life without systematic checks on their condition.
“New PIPs include a face-to-face assessment and regular reviews to ensure support goes to those who need it most.
“The PAC report is based on old statistics. I have introduced a faster process for people with terminal illnesses, with clearance times reducing to our target of 10 days.
“A higher proportion of people are getting the highest rate of financial support for daily living under PIP than DLA.”
However, Mr Robertson insists that more had to be done to reduce the difficulties being faced by his Moray constituents, saying: “The failures of the Department of Work and Pensions in Whitehall in implementing PIPs has meant some of the most vulnerable people in our society have been forced to turn to food banks and loans while their claims have been decided.”