The new benefit for disabled persons, the PIP (Personal Independence Payment) replaced the previous Disability Living Allowance.  The start of the process was, we understand, a telephone call to DWP to assess if the claimant may be entitled to the PIP, this takes on average 20 minutes to complete. Once agreed you may then make a claim, a booklet is sent by post to be completed and returned. Until recently the claimant then received a text message confirming receipt of the claim, this then becomes the claim start date and any award backdated ot that date. The text message informed that 'you will be contacted by a health professional if you need to attend a consultation and it can take 26 weeks or longer for an assessment. You do not need to contact us unless your circumstances change'.  The claimant then had to wait a further 8 weeks once they have been assessed for the claim to be processes.  Existing claimants we note will be invited to swap over to PIP over a two year period depending on their postcode, as is detailed on the timetable for PIP guidelines on the DWP website, but for new applicants especially, our research shows that the whole claiming process is too long, so long in fact that there has been a High Court case in June 2015 regarding PIP application delays (for 2 test cases) or 9 months or more.  It was ruled that the delays were unreasonable and unlawful but had not breached their human rights.  The Government reactioned to this was to state that there had been problems with the initial rolout of the PIP's but the DWP was looking at where it could learn lessons.  Accorcind to the website forms should be received within 2 weeks of the initial call but they no longer give any time frame for the progression of the application.  Disables claimants are waiting longer to complet the rpocess and for the PIP benefit to be awarded than other state benefits.  Waiting times given for some other enefits range from 9 to 11 working days. In addition many other benefits may be applied for concurrently this is not true for disability related benefits. A successful aware of the PIP must be obtained before application for additional linked benefits such as Carer's Allowance or a blue badge.

Department of Work & Pensions:- The Department is committed to ensuring Personal Independent Payment claimants receive high quality, objective, fair and accurate assessments.  Since its introduction, this Department has been closely monitoring all aspects of the process including the performance of the assessment providers.  PIP has been introduced in stages so that, if necessary the Department can slow down the rollout to enable further improvements to be made, and be assured that the assessment providers are able to deliver both in terms of quality and time taken.  The number of clearances by providers and the Department rose continuously in 2014 and the number of outstanding claims has continued to fall each month, back to business-as-usual levels.  The Department is now operating at a normal level of work which means it generally clears at least the number of claims it receives each week.  The average claimant wait for an assessment has reduced by more than three quarters since June 2014 and claimants are now waiting 5 weeks for an assessment, which is well within the 16 week target.  There will always be some cases which naturally take longer to determine due to complicating factors (eg the claimant repeatedly cancels their face-to-face appointment). However the Department works closely with providers to identify such cases and ensure they are dealt with as a priority.  Furthermore any delays experienced in the new claims process will not affect the date from which the claimants are paid; successful claims will be paid from the date the claim was initially made.  It should always be noted that, while people are waiting for their claim to be processed PIP is not the only means of financial support from the benifits system.  There are a range of other benefits including Jobseeker's Allowance, Employment and Support Allowance and Housing Benefit.

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