DWP PIP payments are being stopped due to internal errors

  • Post last modified:May 22, 2024
  • Reading time:6 mins read

I’m supposed to be writing about something completely different right now, but as I was working on that I got some news that made my blood curdle. The DWP has stopped my PIP (Personal Independence Payment).

An expected DWP PIP review

On 5 April, I received a text from the DWP saying the review into my PIP claim had opened. Even though the review period is four years and it’d only been two since my last review, I had been expecting this. They said the forms would be with me in two weeks. 

As a disabled person who has spent the last 20 years in the DWP system, this news filled me with dread. Once again I would have to dredge up the worst and most traumatic parts of my life, for someone who doesn’t know me or my conditions to decide if I was worthy of support. 

On 20 April I attempted to contact the PIP helpline because the form hadn’t turned up, but I was cut off after 45 minutes. I’d spent the day before across the media analysing the prime minister’s speech in which he declared unemployed disabled people the enemy.

Finally, on 25 April the forms turned up, with the deadline of 4 May. Allowing postage time that gave me just five days to complete the form – which was 40 pages long and required such information as whether I was incontinent. The day before this, a UN report on the government found them to have dangerously failed disabled people.

I sent the forms back on 30 April and heard nothing.

Writing on DWP chaos is my job

Whilst I waited the Tories unveiled their plans to “reform” the very benefit I was applying for.

They said that the financial assistance I and so many rely on (because life is so much more damn expensive as a disabled person) wasn’t practical. Instead, they proposed a system where people are given vouchers. This would work alongside disabled people being required to invoice their expenses to the DWP and have them paid back.

And I gladly ripped their plans to shreds. How are we supposed to wait for something to be paid back when we don’t have the money in the first place? Will our energy suppliers or housing take vouchers? All the while I pushed the nervous thoughts to the back of my mind about the fact that I could lose the benefit that enables me to live my life.

My own terrifying chaos

Then finally on Tuesday 21 May I received word. My PIP was being taken away, because apparently, I hadn’t returned the form in time.

I rang the helpline and waited over half an hour whilst trying not to cry. When I finally got through I tried to explain the situation to the advisor.

“Do you have proof of postage?”

“No, it was a free post envelope, your envelope”.

I was put on hold again, and when she came back she informed me a case manager would call me back. A little while later he did, and informed me my form hadn’t been received until 17 May – almost three weeks after I sent it. He told me that because the case had already been closed they’d have to submit a “mandatory consideration”, an appeal of sorts for them to reopen the case. 

To be clear this isn’t to decide whether they should award me the benefit. No, it’s to decide whether they’ll even look at the forms. The actual assessment could take over a year, as the current wait time is 59 weeks.

My DWP PIP entitlement, lost – and countless other people’s too

There’s no way of knowing whether this was the fault of the failing postal service or that the DWP simply hadn’t read it. I suspect a combination of both. Either way due to government error, I now will be without a vital benefit for around two months.

And I’m not the only one this has happened to.

When I shared my frustrations on Twitter I received dozens of replies and DMs from people all having the same or worse experiences. Forms being sent out past the deadline to return them, returned forms lost, benefits stopped because the DWP sent the forms to the wrong address, the list goes on and disabled people suffer because of the government’s incompetence. 

You have to laugh then (if I don’t I’ll cry) at the fact that the DWP is proposing an elaborate system where they reckon they’ll process thousands of expenses claims a month when they can’t even open the post they already get.

I see every day the cruelty that the DWP and this government subject disabled people to. However, I was truly lost for words that they so casually would just cut my benefits off, all because of their own error. 

The Tories are doing everything they can to blame disabled people for the state of public services, but you only have to look at the state of the DWP to see who’s really harming this country. 

14 years of a revolving door of ministers, slashed budgets, and carving off services to their mates has left the DWP on its knees. And disabled people are paying the price.

Featured image via the Canary

Source link