Welfare reform affecting thousands of vulnerable Suffolk people leaves many in financial fear

Trimley resident Adrian Schoeberl, 57, has been waiting more than a year to find out what he will re

Trimley resident Adrian Schoeberl, 57, has been waiting more than a year to find out what he will receive on the new PIP system. He is very angry with the people managing the benefits system. - Credit: Sarah Lucy brown

Changes to the way thousands of the region’s most vulnerable people receive welfare support are in chaos, leaving many people fearing for their financial futures.

We launched an investigation into the handling of applications made during the changeover from Disability Living Allowance (DLA) to Personal Independence Payment (PIP) – a key component of the Government’s welfare reforms.

The reforms have been widely criticised -there have been severe delays causing ongoing distress to claimants, of which there are more than 6,000 in Suffolk and north Essex.

Although the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) claims its case handling has “improved significantly” in recent months, our investigation found numerous concerns from charities and claimants in the region, including:

- Unnecessarily rigorous, complicated and time consuming needs assessments

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- Delays, some of several months, in being told how much money – if any – claimants will receive to survive on

- People in real need missing out on vital financial support

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- Claimants being made to feel stressed and like “second-class citizens”

- Lack of support from the agencies tasked with managing the changes

- A third of claims being rejected by the DWP, but more than a quarter being overturned on appeal

- A quarter of existing DLA claimants were deemed ineligible for PIP

- Local charities say welfare reforms are now dominating their casework

- Calls for the new government to offer funding protection as a priority.

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