The Government are committed to delivering PIP in a safe and secure way. Full roll-out of PIP started in July in a controlled way, allowing us to test and improve the service before scaling it up. From October, and in line with previously published plans, we began the full national roll-out of PIP. I look at the statistics twice a week. We control PIP and it has been in a settled state for about nine months now, which is widely reflected

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among all the stakeholder groups that I engage with. That process and the claimant journey will continue to improve. We continue to work with stakeholder groups and claimants, looking at ways to improve communication and the process. Nevertheless, it is widely recognised that the process is now in a settled state. Claims are now taking an average of 11 weeks from start to finish, which is much quicker than we anticipated when we produced PIP. As of October 2015, 611,000 are receiving PIP and new applicants to Motability are now split 50:50 between PIP and DLA.

The hon. Member for East Kilbride, Strathaven and Lesmahagow (Dr Cameron) talked about mental health. Unlike DLA, PIP considers the impact of someone’s condition on them and not just what condition they have, and it treats all impairment types equally. So, 21 % of PIP claimants with a mental health condition get an enhanced rate of mobility, compared with just 10% of such DLA claimants, and 68% of PIP claimants with a mental health condition get enhanced-rate daily living, compared with just 22% of such DLA claimants. That is an example of how the improved assessment process is getting people to the right level of benefit—the level they should be receiving. We considered mental health at every stage of the design process, and that awareness has been built in to the activities that are examined.

A number of hon. Members have highlighted individual cases. Without all the evidence, it would be inappropriate for me to comment on a specific case. However, it is important to point something out. Many people have talked about a figure of 14,000 people; actually, there are now 24,000 more people using the Motability scheme than there were at the start of 2013, when we began introducing PIP. So, there are many, many more winners now, which is an important point to remember.

If people in individual cases, like those set out today, believe that an assessment is wrong, they have the option of a mandatory reconsideration, which looks at evidence afresh and allows for a late submission of evidence—

Ian Blackford: Will the Minister give way?

Justin Tomlinson: I am just tight on time, but if I can give way, I will. If people are still unsatisfied, they can go to an independent appeal that is separate from our Department. Those who lose an appeal, which is a relatively small proportion of the total number of claimants, have had that opportunity to present their case.

My hon. Friend the Member for Bath (Ben Howlett) made a brilliant point when he said that in a utopian world, and former Governments have tried this, as a Department we would have all the relevant information at our fingertips. However, the “supercomputer” did not quite work, which is a shame as it could have helped hugely. A lot of the appeals that are won are not won because we made the wrong decision. We made the right decision on the evidence that was presented. However, when we send out the letter explaining why an applicant has not been unsuccessful and has not received what they believe they are entitled to, it sets out why. A lot of people then go, “Oh, actually, while I submitted my GP’s”—

Ian Blackford: Will the Minister give way on that point?

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Justin Tomlinson: I will be tight for time, but I will do my best. Very quickly.

Ian Blackford: Given the fact that in many cases people are going through the appeal process, would it not be right for them to retain the ownership of their vehicle until the appeal process is finished, rather than losing the vehicle, particularly if they live in a rural area where losing a vehicle puts them at a massive disadvantage?

Justin Tomlinson: I understand that point, but it is a long-standing principle that benefits are not paid pending an appeal. A negative decision means that there is no entitlement to benefits, so we would not normally pay benefits unless the decision is overturned on appeal. That is true of all Governments for all time, which is a point that the hon. Gentleman himself has made. Again, with devolution there will be opportunities to do things differently. However, as it stands, that is how things are.

Generally, decisions are overturned on appeal because additional evidence is presented. We will continue to do all we can to make it as easy as possible for people to get hold of that information, because it makes a significant difference.

For those people who are no longer entitled to Motability, there is a transitional support package, and discussions conducted by staff in my Department before I became a Minister meant that the Department was able to secure a £175 million package for transitional support. That gives significant help to DLA claimants who leave the Motability scheme. They can keep their car for seven weeks; they are allowed to buy their own vehicle; and most of them will receive up to £2,000 in benefits, which is normally enough to buy a used car. Motability helps to pay to adapt new non-scheme cars and it provides advice on matters such as car insurance. That support is paid for by donations from Motability Operations, to make things as smooth as possible.

A number of Members have powerfully raised important points. We keep a very close eye on the Motability scheme, but the overriding factor is that PIP is being delivered in a controlled and measured manner, and we are making sure that we deliver it to the most vulnerable people in society. As I have said, we see a much higher number of applicants securing the highest rate of benefit under PIP compared with the number who secured it under DLA.

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Mr Philip Hollobone (in the Chair): I call Alan Brown to sum up.

5.27 pm

Alan Brown: Thank you, Mr Hollobone, for calling me to speak again.

I started out by saying that it would be ideal if this debate did not need to happen. Unfortunately, it needs to happen and the convincing testimonies from all around Westminster Hall today show us that we have a long way to go.

There have been some excellent contributions. I thought that the Minister gave an excellent response, and was very genuine. However, his response still seemed to ignore the fact that the system is wrong; it is not working, and he must reflect on that. I believe that he is much more genuine than his predecessor was, but, as I say, the testimonies given here today prove that the system is not working.

The Minister also said there were more winners than losers. Again, when we consider the testimonies that we have heard, it does not feel like that at all. I go back to the 20 metres/50 metres argument. I accept that there is not an absolute rule, but I will quote the Library briefing paper on the Motability scheme:

“Under the final PIP Regulations, individuals who do not need a wheelchair only qualify for the enhanced rate mobility component if they can only move short distances of no more than 20 metres, rather than 50 metres as in the previous draft.”

I am reading that from the Library briefing paper. It is possible that the Library is wrong, but can the Minister confirm that? And if the 20-metre distance is not part of the guidance, even though there might be a repeat test, can he ensure that every assessment centre in this country knows that and does not use it to remove enhanced mobility from people?

I finish with those remarks and I thank all hon. Members for their contributions.

Question put and agreed to.


That this House has considered the Motability car scheme.

5.28 pm

Sitting adjourned.