More than 100 more new disability claims in Bristol – as number doubles nationally

More than 100 more people claimed disability benefits in Bristol in July than a year earlier, research shows – as the number doubled across England and Wales.

A view of signage for the Department of Work & Pensions in Westminster, London.
A view of signage for the Department of Work & Pensions in Westminster, London.

More than 100 more people claimed disability benefits in Bristol in July than a year earlier, research shows – as the number doubled across England and Wales.

The figures come as a shadow minister says the Government "can't ignore" the growing backlog in disability assessments.

The personal independent payment is awarded to people with long-term physical or mental conditions, in order to help them continue with everyday tasks.

Analysis of Department and Work and Pensions figures from the Institute for Fiscal Studies think tank shows the number of new claimants in Bristol rose from 86 in July 2021 to 236 in July 2022.

Across England and Wales, the number of new PIP claimants doubled over this period, from 14,800 to 32,200.

The IFS said that worsening health was likely behind the rise and that there had been an increase across every age group, and for most major conditions.

Nationally, around a third of new claims were for mental or behavioural conditions, with the proportion rising to 70% among those aged under 25.

Sam Ray-Chaudhuri, a research economist at the organisation said: “Whatever the cause, significantly greater spending on disability benefits looks like it will be one of the consequences of this concerning trend.”

More recent figures show 22,586 were entitled to PIP in Bristol as of July – putting them among 2.7 million people entitled to the benefit across England and Wales.

The IFS also found that more than 250,000 people were waiting to have their disability claims assessed as of July.

Jonathan Ashworth, the shadow work and pensions secretary, said ministers "can’t ignore these findings".

“The backlog in assessments for disability benefits must be tackled and employment support must be reformed, as Labour has proposed, to offer specialist help to those who want to find work,” he said.

Poor health and a rise in the number of people with disabilities and long-term conditions may also be impacting the economy.

The Office for National Statistics estimates that around 2.4 million people were out of work due to long-term illness across the UK between September and November.

While this was down from a peak of 2.5 million from July to September, it was up from the 2.3 million people out of work at the same point in 2021.

Mr Ashworth said this amounted to "a monumental waste of human potential".

“Helping people find appropriate and supportive work is good for them, good for society and good for the economy,” he said.

A DWP spokesperson said it is committed to ensuring people can access support "as quickly as possible".

“We are constantly making improvements to our service by boosting resources and opening up assessments by phone and video.

“The latest statistics show clearance times have greatly improved, returning to pre-pandemic levels,” they added.