More than half of Newham’s disabled win tribunal appeals against government

Disabled People Against Cuts protest outside Parliament against government cuts to Personal Independ

Disabled People Against Cuts protest outside Parliament against government cuts to Personal Independent Payments (PIP), March 2017. Picture: Victoria Jones/PA Images - Credit: PA Archive/PA Images

More than 400 disabled people in Newham were wrongly stripped of their benefits, the Recorder can reveal.

Figures obtained from the Ministry of Justice show more than half of decisions to take away personal independence payments (PIP) from claimants in East Ham to those in Victoria Docks and North Woolwich were overturned on appeal.

We revealed last month how more than 2,000 east Londoners fought to regain their money — and won.

“The PIP assessment is clearly not working,” said James Taylor, head of policy and public affairs at disability charity Scope.

“This means thousands of disabled people are being forced to go through the appeals process just to get the support they are entitled to.”

PIP gives people with health conditions or disabilities weekly payments for everyday costs. The benefits are vital to thousands because of the barriers facing them in work or education.

The government introduced the controversial system four years ago in a bid to cut welfare costs, while also insisting the change would not reduce the amount paid to claimants.

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Through a Freedom of Information request the Recorder obtained data for E postcodes, which show 68 per cent of Newham claimants had their appeals overturned.

More than 600 appeal hearings took place in the last two years, with 427 decisions in favour of claimants.

Appeal hearings rose by more than a third between 2015/16 (265 hearings) and 2016/17 (361).

The data cover the following postcode areas: East Ham, E6; Forest Gate, E7; Manor Park, E12; Plaistow, E13; Stratford, E15, and Victoria Docks and North Woolwich, E16.

Figures for the Olympic Park district, E20, were withheld.

While private contractor Atos carries out PIP assessments in London, the Department for Work and Pensions decides on appeals.

“Only a small proportion of all decisions are overturned at appeal — just four per cent of PIP assessments,” said a DWP spokesman. “In the vast majority of successful appeals, decisions are overturned because the claimant provides new evidence to support their claim which they initially did not provide.”

He said eight pc of the 2.6 million decisions between 2013 and 2017 were appealed against.