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Fewer than half of claims for new disabled and sick benefit approved in parts of Teesside

Fewer than half of claims for payment under a controversial government benefit for disabled and sick people are being approved in parts of Teesside.

Figures released today show that, nationally, 51% of Britons applying for Personal Independence Payments (PIPs) ended up receiving the money.

But the proportion is as low as 26% – or just over one in four claims – in some parts of the country.

On Teesside, Redcar parliamentary constituency had the lowest approval rate at 47%.

In the two Middlesbrough constituencies, 1,090 claims have now been determined.

The approval rate was 49% in Middlesbrough and 48% in Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland.

In Stockton North the figure was 55% while Stockton South’s was 51%.

PIPs were introduced in April 2013 to replace Disability Living Allowance for 16-64 years olds.

Payments are worth between £21 and £134 a week and go to sick and disabled people with a long-term health condition.

Eligibility is determined by medics employed by private companies, usually at a face-to-face assessment lasting up to two hours.

Department for Work and Pension figures showed the approval rate for new claims was 26% in the parliamentary constituency – the lowest in the country.

That compares with an approval rate of 68% in Scotland’s Western Isles and Stoke-on-Trent South.

Nationally, around 100,000 people have either withdrawn their claim or had it refused.

Reassessments of the existing 1.7m claimants of DLA began in October but was effectively paused after a backlog of 780,000 cases built up.

In June this year the House of Commons’ Public Accounts Committee said the new system had been ‘rushed’ through, creating a ‘fiasco’ in which ‘many’ people faced six-month delays, and terminally ill people were waiting one month on average for their payment.

Payments had been due to begin in the north of England from April 2013 but only 360 assessments had been done by the time the programme was launched nationally two months later.

The Department for Work and Pensions expects 600,000 fewer people will receive PIP by May 2018, compared with its projections for DLA. It expects this will lead to annual savings to benefit spending of £3bn from 2018/19.

The latest figures, up to the end of July 2014, show 80,100 PIPs were awarded nationally under ‘normal’ rules, out of 177,000 new claims considered closed by the department. Some 22,100 PIPs have been awarded under special fast-track rules for people with a terminal illness, out of 23,100 closed claims.

In all, 490,400 new claims have been lodged under the new system.

Source –  Middlesbrough Evening Gazette,  17 Sept 2014