The Tory administered DWP have confiscated over 51,000 motability vehicles as they turf disabled people off their Personal Independence Payments. The rate of motability vehicle confiscations has now increased to 900 cars a week according to the charity Muscular Dystrophy UK, and people are getting rightly furious about it.
Last week I highlighted the case where the DWP scrapped a woman’s PIP payments in order to save £6,000, so she lost her motability car, only to then award her over £65,000 in Access to Work payments in order to take taxis to and from work four days a week for the next three years!
Amongst the thousands of disabled people per month to have their motability vehicles snatched by the Tories, there are obviously going to be hundreds of equally absurd cases, where people needed their vehicle to get to work, see family, attend medical appointments and generally maintain their independence, and avoid relying on other people or public services for assistance.
The Tory DWP’s pathetic and astoundingly deceptive response to this situation was to imply that the PIP assessment process is fair because only “a fraction” of PIP decisions are overturned on appeal.
When we look into the details we find that this “fraction” is an astounding 65% appeals ending in success, which means that almost two thirds of all disabled people who appeal against their refused PIP claim eventually manage to get the decision overturned (after having endured very high levels of stress, uncertainly, anxiety and depression).
While technically correct (65% is indeed “a fraction”) the DWP’s spin on this story is absolutely despicable.
Instead of admitting that the 65% successful appeals rate is an absolute travesty, they’re playing cute statistical tricks to make the problem seem a lot smaller than it is.
The DWP claim that two million PIP decisions have been made since 2013, and that the 65% of successful appeals is only a drop in the ocean compared to the total number of decisions made, but this 2 million statistic is absolutely worthless if we’re not told how many of the total number of decisions went in disabled people’s favour, because who on earth would ever appeal a decision that actually went in their favour?
It’s actually impossible to find out what percentage of this 2 million figure should obviously have been discounted because the initial decision was positive, because for some reason the Tories outright refuse to publish these particular statistics.
It doesn’t matter how much deceptive statistical trickery the DWP engages in to make their system look acceptable, the PIP assessment process is clearly catastrophically flawed if almost two thirds of appeals are successful. But just with various other catastrophic Tory welfare reforms (the Work Capacity Assessment regime for disabled people, the draconian sanctions regime, the catastrophically botched Work Programme, and the Universal Credit fiasco) the Tories plough on regardless.
In fact the Tories recently automatically renewed the contract with the private outsourcing corporation Capita to carry out these flawed PIP assessments until 2019 without conducting a proper value for money assessment, investigation into the quality of service provided, or competitive tender for the work.
The fact that Capita was handed an automatic extension to their contract to run the PIP assessments clearly shows that the DWP were lying through their teeth when they claimed that “we constantly review our processes to make sure they are working in the best way possible”.
This absolute guff is completely incompatible with the action of just letting an outsourcing contract roll over without putting it out to tender, or doing a review to see if better value for money could be achieved by bringing the process back in house, or even by just scrapping it altogether.
It’s absolutely clear that the Tories care an awful lot more about making sure their corporate outsourcing buddies get to extract huge slices of the welfare budget, than they do about the stress, suffering, anxiety, depression and outright fury of disabled people who are having their independence taken away from them as a result of this hopelessly flawed Tory administered corporate assessment regime.