Hundreds of thousands hit by benefits backlog

Benefit tales

Hundreds of thousands of people have been affected by a benefits backlog, the government has said.

More than 700,000 people are waiting for assessments for employment and support allowance (ESA), it said.

Minister for Disabled People Mike Penning blamed the delays on Atos, the contractor carrying out controversial fitness-to-work tests. Atos has said its staff have been “vilified” and abused for doing what was asked of them by ministers.

Asked in Parliament about implementation of benefits reform, Prime Minister David Cameron said changes should be carried out “in a way that works well” rather than to an “artificial deadline”. He was responding to a question by Labour MP Katy Clark, who asked why the majority of those who had applied for the personal independence payment (PIP) had yet to receive a decision.

PIP started to replace the disability living allowance from April 2013.

An official from the Department for Work…

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