Macmillan Cancer Support has launched a petition calling for the DWP to reduce the waiting time to hear back about PIP (Personal Independence Payment) claims, to 12 weeks. The charity’s website says it currently takes around 18 weeks before a decision is made, while financial support charity Turn2us estimates it at 20 weeks.
The campaign has been backed by Sarifa, a woman from London who cares for her husband and son, and who has experienced delays in receiving PIP.
Sharing her experience on the charity’s website, she said: “The process of claiming PIP can be very difficult. I support a group of women with cancer who are trying to access it.
“Some of them are now talking about whether they’re going to be eating or whether they’re going to be putting the heating on while they wait to receive PIP.
“It is having a massive impact on their mental and emotional wellbeing. I’ve had women coming to me in tears because they don’t know how they’re going to manage during the long wait.”
READ MORE: TV Licensing shares what it ‘will never do’ in fight against scams – key warning signs
The petition calls on Work and Pensions Secretary, Chloe Smith, to take action to reduce the waiting time faced by claimants.
PIP provides funds for people who live with a disability, illness or health condition, to help cover their extra costs.
Sarifa spoke about how her health and daily finances were greatly impacted when her PIP payments were stopped.
She said: “At one point, my own PIP payments were stopped. It was really detrimental to my health because of the financial implications.
“That’s how I understand what life can be like for the many people who are waiting an average of 18 weeks for their PIP payments.
“I had to restrict things like spending on nutritious food because I couldn’t afford it. I had to restrict seeing my family and friends as I couldn’t afford the cabs I need due to my serious mobility needs.
“I fought to get my payments back, and now that I am receiving what I am entitled to, it means I can see my loved ones and look after my health again.
“We need the UK Government to pay PIP now, so others like me don’t have to put their lives on hold, suffer, or get into debt.”
READ MORE: Britons could slash energy bills by £112 a year with quick combi boiler change
At the time of writing, more than 4,100 people have signed the ‘Pay PIP Now’ petition.
A DWP spokesperson said: “We understand how difficult and life-altering a cancer diagnosis can be which is why we’re committed to getting people the support they’re entitled to as quickly as possible, and we will backdate awards to ensure no one misses out.
“We support millions of people each year and continue to improve our PIP service by boosting resources and opening up assessments by phone and video, with process times now down by eight weeks on last year.”
The department said there has been a “gradual improvement” in the waiting times, which have reduced from 26 weeks in August 2021 down to 18 weeks at the end of August this year.
PIP claims under the special rules for people with a terminal condition are fast-tracked and are cleared on average within three working days.
Claimants can get up to £156 a week in PIP payments, with support available to people who have a range of physical as well as mental conditions.
The benefit has a daily living component and a mobility component, with a lower and upper amount available depending on what support a person needs.
PIP is not means tested and can be claimed by people who are employed, and the payments are tax-free.
Applicants are assessed to determine what level of support is appropriate, and people can appeal a decision if their application is refused.
People can also appeal their decision if they think they are entitled to more money or if they feel the PIP award should be extended for longer.