Disability Benefits system a 'Hostile Environment' - Watchdog chief

Andrew McDonald, the former chief civil servant who oversaw MP expenses has labelled the Tory's benefits system as "Kafkaesque", after having his disability benefit stopped after being diagnosed with Parkinson's disease and prostate cancer.


“I was shocked by the way this was being administered against the interests of some of the most disadvantaged people in the country,” he said. “PIP is beset by profound administrative failures which work to the disadvantage of disabled people."

“My personal interactions with the process were perfectly pleasant; but the system as a whole does create the impression of it being a hostile environment and one where two of the foes are complexity and the sense that it is not a level playing field”.

“I thought this was a system to give people a hand up; in practice they encounter a sleight of hand that is completely out of kilter with the best traditions of British public service in which I was not only raised but worked for most of my career.”

Official figures show that over 71 percent of decisions to stop PIP payments are overturned on appeal, with more than 100,000 people having wrongly had their benefits stopped since 2016.

Marsha de Cordova, Labour’s Shadow Minister for Disabled People backed up the former top civil servant. “Disabled and ill people throughout society are suffering as a result of the hostile environment created by this Conservative government within the social security system." she said.

“People such as Andrew McDonald face a deeply flawed social security system that too often lets them down. A system that in this case denied someone PIP despite having terminal cancer.

“Labour will scrap the cruel PIP and Work Capability Assessments and introduce a tailored and supportive framework that treats ill and disabled people with dignity and respect.”

DWP spokesperson said: “We constantly seek to improve the quality of PIP assessments. We have undertaken two independent reviews of PIP and most recently announced that we will pilot video recording of assessments, to help increase people’s trust in the assessment process."

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