Halifax MP’s anger over ‘appalling’ wait times for disability benefit appeals

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Halifax MP Holly Lynch has hit out at the Government for its ‘appalling’ treatment of disabled people in Halifax after new figures revealed waiting times of close to a year for some benefit appeal cases.

Appeal decisions for Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) and Personal Independence Payments (PIP) are successful at tribunals over 60 per cent of the time according to the latest figures.

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However, the waiting time for an appeal, during which recipients’ payments are stopped, are locally as high as 40 weeks in some cases.

Ms Lynch has called on the Government to urgently act to bring down these waiting times which she says cause ‘real misery’ for claimants.

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“These cases are about getting help for people with long-term illnesses and disabilities and it’s appalling that many are left in limbo for months while waiting for a decision” she said.

“It is hard to appreciate the distress faced by individuals who find they are without any income and must fight to overturn a wrong decision.

“I‘ve dealt with numerous cases in my office where benefits have been suddenly stopped, often resulting in motability cars taken away, and lives plunged into financial uncertainty.

“These are life-changing decisions, and it’s a disgrace that Government incompetence is creating such an agonisingly slow and difficult system.”

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Disability appeals cases from Halifax are currently heard at a tribunal at either Bradford, Huddersfield or Leeds.

Figures for 2017/18 show an average wait time for a decision on PIP of 28 weeks in Bradford, 40 weeks in Huddersfield and 26 weeks in Leeds.

Decisions on ESA are taking an average of 25 weeks in Bradford, 39 weeks in Huddersfield and 24 weeks in Leeds.