More than half of all North Lanarkshire residents who have appealed against a decision to deny them benefits won their case, it has emerged.
Since 2013, 1680 people – 59 per cent of all to have lodged appeals against decisions to refuse Personal Independence Payments – were successful.
PIP is replacing Disability Living Allowance and claimants have to undergo assessments conducted by private companies hired by the Department of Work and Pensions.
The figures for North Lanarkshire were contained in information released by the DWP in response to a Freedom of Information request.
Coatbridge and Chryston MSP Fulton MacGregor said: “Disabled people rely on these financial lifelines to live independently and be part of their community.
“For the DWP to get these cases so consistently wrong suggests a systematic hostility towards people in need.
“The Tory government’s punitive approach to the system simply isn’t working. It’s failing vulnerable people, withdrawing support from those who need it most, and leaving people out of pocket and unable to afford the basic essentials.
“The UK government’s disastrous record on welfare shows why Scotland should have the power to take our own approach – rather than leaving these powers at Westminster.
“In the meantime, it’s vital that these fundamental flaws in the current assessment appeals process are urgently addressed.”
The figures are from the DWP’s own appeals database, with claimants’ postcodes used to identify their local authority area.
The DWP says that since PIP was introduced, 3.9m decisions have been made up to December 2018 in Great Britain as a whole, of these 10 per cent have been appealed and 5 per cent have been overturned.
The Citizens Advice Bureau Scotland says PIP is among the most common issues on which it gives advice, and that one of the biggest problems is that the assessment procedures are often unreliable in determining what social security support disabled people are entitled to. It also describes the appeals process as “stressful and lengthy” and calls for a new system which is less reliant on face to face assessments and has improved appeal procedures.
Kinga Kosakowska, executive manager of Motherwell & Wishaw CAB, said: “The high percentage of successful appeals is not surprising and is indicative that the current system is not working for people impacted by ill health.
“What these figures don’t capture, is the significant amount of people who don’t appeal incorrect decisions. The reasons for this can include: lack of understanding of the appeals process; lack of awareness of the support available to challenge decisions ; fear of losing existing benefits; poor health; worry that the stress of the appeals process may further impact health.
“We would encourage everyone who feels they have been turned down for PIP unfairly, to seek support from their local CAB or North Lanarkshire Council who will support and advise how to proceed.”